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Davison commissioners lecture Senate staffer over political issues

Davison County commissioners gave an earful to a U.S. Senate staffer during their regular Tuesday meeting at the courthouse in Mitchell. Carmyn Egge, a staff assistant for Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., visited the commissioners. They let loose a barr...

Davison County commissioners gave an earful to a U.S. Senate staffer during their regular Tuesday meeting at the courthouse in Mitchell.

Carmyn Egge, a staff assistant for Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., visited the commissioners. They let loose a barrage of concerns including the need for an approved federal budget, a growing number of people on food stamps, and the need for a highway bill that will assist rural areas and municipalities.

Nearly 40 percent of county bridges are in need of repairs, noted commissioners John Claggett and Denny Kiner.

"We don't have that kind of money," Kiner said.

Claggett lamented a 40 percent loss of net worth nationally following the recent recession.

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"How can we ask for more money for infrastructure when all that money is being sucked away?" he asked. "The federal government is getting bigger, and we're getting smaller everywhere else."

"We don't need bullet trains and high-speed rail," he added. "We need roads."

Highway business

Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg said the impending loss of one employee and medical issues with another are leaving his department short of manpower.

Weinberg said Troy Sipes is leaving county employment to work for the city of Mitchell, citing better pay and benefits, effective June 14. The commissioners gave Weinberg permission to advertise for a replacement at $12.50 an hour with a 50-cent raise in six months.

Weinberg said another worker recently presented a doctor's note which states the employee -- who was not identified during the meeting -- can't work in temperatures over 80 degrees or in conditions with excessive vibration. The stipulations limit the man to truck driving duties, Weinberg said, "until I get more information."

He said filling slots with part-time help is difficult because a commercial driver's license is needed to operate some vehicles.

Weinberg said Weed Supervisor John Geidel has asked to be relieved of spraying duties and move to other full-time employment in the department. The move will require the county to add a half-time position. Geidel will continue with weed control until a replacement can be found. Weed control duties require state certification for the correct handling of herbicides.

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"He will be a hard man to replace," Commissioner Gerald Weiss said.

Weinberg also reported that the latest damage has been repaired on 247th Street, about 1.5 miles west of state Highway 37. The road, which serves the Poet ethanol plant in Loomis, has broken up because of heavy inbound grain loads.

Other business

In other business, the commissioners:

* Increased, at the request of Treasurer Brenda Veldheer, Deputy Treasurer Bridget Larson's pay from $10.35 to $13 an hour. Veldheer said Larson was hired as a Deputy 3 and later assumed Deputy 1 duties, and her pay should be raised to reflect those increased responsibilities. The commissioners also approved the promotion of Bernice Houska from Deputy 3 to Deputy 2 and increased her pay to $15 an hour. Houska, who has been with the office nine years, was making $14.32.

* Approved the purchase of an Epson Stylus Pro 9700 wide format inkjet printer, which will be shared by county offices, from Elite Business Products of Sioux Falls for $4,682. The unit, said Zoning Administrator Dan Sudrla, will be used for planning and mapping purposes and other projects. The unit is capable of printing on paper up to 44 inches wide.

Rejected bids were from Business Products Inc. of Mitchell, for $4,995, and from A&B Business Products, which has an office in Mitchell, for $5,285.

* Approved a request from Chief Deputy Steve Brink to purchase a $2,000 Lidar pinpoint laser radar gun for departmental use. Brink said the highly accurate gun will allow deputies to pick individual cars out of traffic. Eighty percent of the cost will be covered through a law enforcement grant and the county's portion will be $400.

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* Were informed by Brink that the Sheriff's Department has had no information from county insurers regarding hail damage repairs. "It's important to maintain these newer vehicles," Brink said.

The Sheriff's Department will begin securing repair estimates in an effort to help speed up the process, he said. Auditor Susan Kiepke said her office has not received any feedback on county claims.

* Approved two plats: 25 acres of D. Nemec Tract A at the corner of 250th street and 406th Avenue, as recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission; and a plat or Lot F (6.6 acres) and Lot G (1.9 acres) of the J.A. Harris First Addition to the east side of 406th Avenue, as recommended by the commission. The latter property is northwest of Mitchell and just north of Firesteel Creek.

* Approved 4-H Youth Adviser Alice Nickelson's request for Becky Muhs and Gary Freier to join the Davison-Hanson Combined Extension Board. Commissioner Kim Weitala will also represent the county on the board. Hanson County board members will be Gary Jarding and Nancy Schroeder, and Commissioner Carl Nordwald.

The group's first meeting was Tuesday. Its primary focus, Nickelson said, will be the local Extension budget and 4-H adviser appraisal.

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