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Davison board discusses inmate help for tree cleanup

Davison County's commissioners discussed Tuesday using help from the state's prisons to clean up downed trees and branches from recent storms.

The idea came from Commission Chairwoman Brenda Bode, who admitted it might be a longshot during the board's regular meeting at the Davison County North Offices in Mitchell. The county could use help cleaning the ditches and she thought it would be at least worth exploring.

"I will put my toe in the water on this," Bode said. "I live a ways out and just on county roads — just on county roads — the amount of broken trees and broken branches is humongous."

Bode asked for Planning and Zoning Administrator Jeff Bathke and Deputy Administrator Mark Jenniges and Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg to gather on the feasibility of using inmates from state corrections facilities to potentially help clean up downed branches.

If the Federal Emergency Management Administration approves the county and state's emergency declarations, the costs of tree debris removal can be reimbursed, provided it is properly documented, Jenniges said.

"I think it's something worth looking into," Bode said. "We have shortened Rusty's staff to the point where they're focused on the roads. ... I think it falls on us to think of a plan."

County road report

Weinberg also provided a report on the county's road situation, in light of large amounts of precipitation lately.

He said he expected work on Red Arrow Road, or 406th Avenue, to be reopened Tuesday or today to the point where traffic could move through the area.

"It won't have blacktop on it but it will be open," he said.

Weinberg said he has enough culverts and gravel on hand to complete repairs for this construction season. He said the county has completed its assessments of needed repairs and expects to be prepared.

"I don't have any extra ones but I have every one we're going to need," he said. "... We're going to be alright on roadwork gravel. We have enough material to do this and the emergency stuff."

Weinberg also said they will go township by township for the ensuing road repairs, likely starting in Mitchell Township, where five repairs are expected. From there, county workers will go to Beulah and Blendon townships and work south from there. He said the department will advise township officials and the public about when they will be next on the list of projects.

He said gravel roads in the county still have to be traveled with a lot of caution, describing the current conditions as "pretty soft."

Other business

The commissioners also:

• Discussed the feasibility of installing electronic speed signs that would alert a driver to the speed of their vehicle on 252nd Street, aka Cemetery Road.

• Approved the Highway Department to work four, 10-hour days during the summer months, starting April 29, and approved Gerald Koch and Marlin Magstadt to work part-time for the Highway Department, starting April 29.

• Received the annual report for the county's business with District III Planning and Development, of Yankton.

• Met as the County Board of Equalization.

• Approved bills and timesheets.