Mud-running mayhem in Mount Vernon Township
Cooler heads prevailed Tuesday as Davison County and Mount Vernon Township officials came together in an effort to combat rural "mud-runners."
At the regular Davison County Commission meeting in Mitchell, Township Chair Ron Baker walked the five-person board through a recent situation in which locals are driving trucks through 255th Street between 399th and 401 avenues — leaving the stretch of road in a muddy mess. While Baker would ultimately get back to the issue of disabling "mud-runners" from accessing the roadway, his initial complaint focused on a situation with the Davison County Sheriff's Office.
On Sunday, Baker said the truck drivers were back out tearing up the road, and when a Davison County deputy arrived on scene, a situation arose between the deputy and Baker and innocent bystander Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg. Baker said the deputy twice told him to "back away" under threat of arrest when he tried to participate in the conversation, which didn't sit well with him.
"Our problem here is we've got two attorneys telling us it was not taken care of properly," Baker said, noting that the township chair should be able to participate in discussions on local matters.
Davison County Sheriff Steve Brink said the deputy was wrong, and only mentioned the deputy by his first name, "Greg," once during the discussion. Davison County only staffs one deputy with that name, Greg Nelson.
Once the two sides put the dispute behind them, they returned to the matter at hand.
Township Board member Dave Deinert said he'd like the portion of roadway gated, although half of it is located in Beulah Township and will require the neighboring township's approval.
Davison County Deputy State's Attorney Jim Taylor said the township could deem the road dangerous and have it blocked off for repairs. It was blocked, and mud-runners are suspected to have stolen a sign barricading them from entry to the road.
If that isn't the process the township pursues, he had some bad news.
"Like it or not, a public right-of-way is a public right-of-way," Taylor said. "The only way to keep people out of it is to vacate the road."
At the meeting's end, however, Taylor had far better news for the Mount Vernon Township.
"Mud-runners, we know who you are, and you're going to pay," Taylor said.
Earlier in the meeting, Taylor suggested there may be an opportunity for the township to recoup funds for damage done to the road.
By the meeting's end, Baker was gracious for the opportunity to chat with local officials.
"We understand it's not easy for you guys either," he said to Brink and Chief Deputy Steve Harr.
So what can Mount Vernon Township do when they catch the ne'er-do-wells in the act again? Taylor suggested calling the authorities and providing as much information on the suspects as possible.
Baker asked if the suspect could be detained, but Taylor was not on board.
"I do not recommend that at all," Taylor said.
In other regular business, the commission:
• Approved minutes from the previous meeting, approved bills, denied welfare requests as recommended and approved timesheets.
• Heard citizen input from Diane DesLauriers, who was concerned with the Mitchell Township's removal of trees along the right-of-way.
• Met with Gregory Geppert, of the Weed Department, to approve weed chemical bids as recommended.
• Met with Ramon Shultz, of Tech Solutions, regarding iPads and cellphones for county use. The county discussed the storage of county data on personal devices. Shultz said people need to understand there's a difference between personal and business data on their devices. Shultz suggested a quick chat with department heads next week.
• Reminded that they Davison County offices are closed Monday, April 2.
• Heard an update on the Davison County Jail. Corrections Administrator Don Radel said the video security system upgrade is "97 percent" completed. He also gave a brief update on the 24-7 Sobriety Program and the new inmate telephone system.