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County lists priorities for possible stimulus funds

With the scent of federal stimulus money strong in the air, the Davison County Commission on Tuesday listed project priorities for any windfall funds that might blow in the county's direction.

Commissioners tour jail
Laura Wehde/Republic Davison County Jail Administrator Don Radel leads a tour for county commissioners through the jail Tuesday afternoon. Longtime roof leaks at the jail will soon be solved with the addition of a sloped roof that will eliminate leaks from standing water. Radel demonstrated the jail's new computerized central control system, which gives jailers simultaneous views of all hallways and holding areas. Pictured in the photo is Dick Ziegler, left, County Auditor Susan Kiepke and Gerald Weiss.

With the scent of federal stimulus money strong in the air, the Davison County Commission on Tuesday listed project priorities for any windfall funds that might blow in the county's direction.

They also spent their regularly scheduled meeting considering a list of deteriorating blacktop roads that could be returned to gravel and, in an afternoon session, took their annual tour of the county jail.

Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg presented the commission with pre-engineered stimulus projects forwarded by the county to the state Department of Transportation.

They include:

- The completion of road construction on 247th Street from Highway 37 to the Poet ethanol plant in Loomis. That means the addition of a 5-inch asphalt polymer mat at a cost of about $1.5 million.

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- Two box culverts: one on 401st Avenue between 253rd and 254th streets; and another on 247th Street between 399th and 400th avenues.

- A bridge over Enemy Creek on 406th Avenue between 258th and 259th streets.

- A tentative addition was the paving of 16 miles of Highway 41 with a 2-inch mat at a cost of roughly $2.4 million.

While any funding is uncertain at this time, Commissioner Gerald Weiss remains hopeful any extra cash could free up funds for repairs on County Highway 41 if that project is rejected from consideration.

In the meantime, the county must use available cash to fix its roads. Weinberg said that means the county can't afford the upkeep on all current asphalt roads. It now costs about $120,000 to $130,000 a mile for a 2-inch asphalt mat, he said.

"We need to try to get our road system to a manageable level," said Weinberg, "and 170 miles of blacktop is not a manageable level."

Under the plan presented to the commission Tuesday, some asphalt roads will not get future repairs. If the commission accepts the recommendation, the targeted asphalt roads will be allowed to deteriorate and would, at some future date, be ground up and maintained as gravel roads.

Weinberg said his recommendations were based on the fact that alternative blacktop roads would be available nearby. Also, the road segments targeted are not used as heavily as roads closer to Mitchell and other towns.

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The roughly 36 miles of county road that could return to gravel include:

- 247th Street from the Poet ethanol plant in Loomis west to the county line. Traffic counts on this section of 247th Street are 109 to 129 vehicles per day. That contrasts with the newly-paved section of 247th Street from the ethanol plant east to state Highway 37, which gets about 436 to 505 vehicles a day, said Weinberg.

- 406th Avenue (Red Arrow Road) from 265th Street to 257th Street. This section of road gets about 50 vehicles a day. Within three to five miles of Mitchell, the same road gets about 535 vehicles a day.

- 403rd Avenue (Betts Road) from 254th Street north to 247th Street.

- 245th Street from 402nd Avenue west to Highway 37.

- 411th Avenue (south of Ethan) from 265th Street south to the county line at 268th Street. The road is currently in good condition and could easily last another 10 years, said Weinberg.

- 265th Street (north of Ethan) from 411th Avenue about one mile east to the county line at 412th Avenue.

Weinberg said gravel roads can be easily maintained, they don't have load limit requirements and dust problems can be controlled with magnesium chloride.

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Even so, he said, "It's a difficult call to grind up a road that's been asphalt for a long time."

Commission chairman Jerry Fischer agreed, and said, "We can't do things as we used to."

After a noon recess, commissioners reconvened their meeting at the county jail, where Jail Administrator Don Radel conducted an annual tour of the facility.

Longtime roof leaks at the jail will soon be solved with the addition of a sloped roof.

Radel demonstrated the jail's new computerized central control system, which is equipped with cameras that give jailers simultaneous views of all hallways and holding areas.

In other road business, commissioners:

- Approved seasonal overweight permits, at $150 each, for Bollock Hay Grinding, Hollaway Construction, Puetz Corporation and Miedema Sanitation.

- Approved Tessier's bid of $3,341 to replace two air handling units at the county fairgrounds. The unanticipated expense means the county, which earlier paid nearly $1,200 to repair a truck transmission, has used up its $4,000 maintenance budget for that facility and may have to supplement that budget line.

- Approved assorted requests for travel expenses, including a request for commissioners Dick Ziegler, Gerald Weiss and John Claggett to attend a March 18-19 spring workshop in Pierre.

- Acknowledged that the balance of the auditor's account with the treasurer is $5.839 million for the month of January. n After a brief discussion, decided not to accept an invitation from the city of Brookings to participate in the I-29 Corridor Initiative. "We wish the city of Brookings well," said Commissioner Dick Ziegler, who said he would prefer seeing a similar initiative for Interstate 90.

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