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Annexation and library issues highlight commissioners meeting Tuesday a.m.

A small parcel of land on the edge of Philip, along with the proposed new library were items of discussion at the Haakon County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, April 4.

In a recent transaction, Krofam Inc. sold a building and land to Kennedy Implement. The land is outside of the city limits. At the March commissioners meeting the board referred the city’s request to Haakon County States’ Attorney Chip Kemnitz for review. Kemnitz informed the commissioners that the city would need to publish and approve a resolution that states which parcel of land would be annexed into the city. The county would not need to take any action on the matter. Along with the annexation of the parcel of land, the streets on either side of the parcel would then become part of the city’s street system.

Vern Foland and Keith and Lucille Emerson, along with members of the library board Shirley Kangas and Phyllis Hajek, and Friends of the Library President Diane Fitch met with the commissioners concerning the proposed new library facility.

Foland and Emerson were concerned with the cost of the proposed library and any burden it could possibly place on the taxpayers. Foland felt that it might be feasible to install new plumbing without having to build new restrooms. Commissioner Rita O’Connell noted that it was not just getting plumbing to the courthouse, it was the plumbing within the courthouse that was disintegrating. She said she is concerned with having a broken water line flooding the courthouse.

Foland also had concerns with the new library taking up part of the parking lot north of the courthouse. He said he would prefer to see the library built somewhere else. “I’m not against the library,” said Foland, “but I don’t like it hooking up to the courthouse and mixing it up with the plumbing in the courthouse.” He added, “I don’t think the county should be mixed up in it.”

Commissioner Mel Smith noted that the plumbing issue also involved meeting American Disabilities Act requirements. Bathroom doors would have to be enlarged to accommodate wheelchairs and the women’s restroom on the second floor has a step issue.

Emerson urged the commissioners to look into hiring individuals or companies to thoroughly research the possibility of replacing the plumbing. Smith stated they had tried to get people to give an estimate on the work and those people wouldn’t give an estimate. Replumbing the courthouse would involve cutting into the marble walls and floors to access the old plumbing.

“Do you have some signed authority that you can abandon these bathrooms?” asked Emerson. “It needs to be thoroughly looked into before you can abandon them,” he added.

The current library is funded by the county and is officially under the county’s jurisdiction. Emerson questioned who would own the library when it was built. He was concerned that the taxpayers would end up footing the cost for maintenance, janitorial services, utilities and librarian wages.

Don Eymer, board of commissioners president, noted he be-lieved that at some point in the future the county may have to support the library with a tax levy. Fitch noted that the Friends of the Library are working on making the library a self-supporting agency. This would be done through grants and fund-raisers, she said. “We don’t have any worries about raising the money for building and maintaining the library,” Fitch said. “Given the chance, we think we can raise the money to build and maintain the library. We think we can do it without hurting the taxpayers of the county.”

Karyl Sandal, Register of Deeds, said she would be willing to donate a parcel of land near the courthouse if the library board would be interested in building there. “That does not do us any good. We are in it for the bathrooms,” said Smith. Eymer stated what he had been hearing was not the bathroom issue but that people are concerned with the aesthetics of the proposed library.

Commissioner Obie Brunskill said if the project was done right the proposed library would not detract from the courthouse but enhance it. Smith said he had no qualms about the looks of the building as Kent Kennedy was working on the project.

Commissioner O’Connell stated that while some people were noting that Haakon County was decreasing in population, she felt the library would be an asset to the community and make it more attractive to possible residents. “I choose to take a positive ap-proach,” she said. “We have a beautiful hospital and other businesses that are expanding that might draw new employees to town. I choose to be positive that we will grow.” Librarian Alison Kattlemann noted that people from as far away as north of Creighton come to the Haakon County Public Library. “Philip has something really good going. Capitalize on that.”

In other business the commissioners:

•awarded culvert bids to Huron Culvert and Tank for metal culverts and Cretex Concrete Products for concrete items;

•reviewed the county health nurse’s report;

•approved to switch from overtime to comp time;

•approved for commissioners and elected officials to attend the spring workshop in Pierre on May 11;

•approved an agreement with Capital Area Counseling;

•approved to join NACO with membership payment of $340;

•approved to lease new copier/ printer;

•reviewed Director of Equalization Rita Merrill’s yearly report;

•set April 11 to meet as board of equalization;

•approved surplus of steel gates and autogates; and

•approved February meeting minutes and claims.