County denied library grant; commissioners work on overtime, memorials, road policy and zoning

The South Dakota Office of Economic Development refused the application for a CDBG grant because regulations state that a project connected to a government agency cannot be funded. The rules can be interpreted to allow for re-application if the project were not connected to the courthouse; i.e. if the library was free standing.

"I can't believe it took them this long to tell us we couldn't do it," stated Commissioner Melvin Smith. The commission is unanimously resolved to continue supporting a new library, though it is split on where the location should be. Commissioners Don Eymer and Lawrence Schofield are not in favor of a building erected next to the courthouse, while Melvin Smith, Neal "Obie" Brunskill and Chairperson Rita O'Connell would like to see it on courthouse land.

Overtime hours versus trade-off hours for employees was also discussed by the commission. Highway department employees often need to work many hours of overtime during periods of harsh weather. Brunskill and Smith will look into legalities and review the "memorandum of understanding" policy used by the City of Philip. The topic will be on the commission's next meeting agenda.

Hans Hanson requested the commission allow a site west of the American Legion Hall to be used as a fallen veterans memorial. Hanson would like to put spruce trees and a marker in honor of area veterans from World War I up through the current war. The commission will look into the current leases of that ground, the possibility of moving over the 4-H fair activities, the amount of ground necessary and water supply access for the trees.

Extension Agent Adele Gelvin and Steve Clements explained the "memorandum of understanding" that must be agreed on between County Commissioners and the SDSU Extension Services.

Though the state pays Gelvin's salary, the county must supply office space, computers, phone, a secretary and travel/meal reimbursements. Meals during overnight business trips must be paid at state rates of $5 for breakfast, $9 for lunch and $12 for supper. Gelvin admitted to using lesser actual vouchers, rather than full-rate reimbursement requests for meals. Non-overnight meals are recorded as Gelvin's income and require a W-2 form. The memorandum is signed by O'Connell and the Director of County Extension Services.

The highway department crew is currently graveling near Midland on warmer days and working in the shop on colder days. A 220 John Deere tractor has been marked as surplus and will be sold. Its motor is bad and the hydraulics are not working. Highway Superintendent Kenny Neville is requesting a county policy that private roads and country drives not be built, graded or plowed. "In an emergency in the middle of a blizzard, it would be a totally different story," said Neville.

Director of Equalization Rita Merrill brought before the commission the subject of zoning. Land near the airport is under federal regulation, but Haakon County has no county-wide zoning regulations. There are currently no rules stopping a landowner from putting up a feedlot next to and upwind from his neighbor's house. "Nobody tells you before they build anything," commented Merrill. The other commissioners agreed with O'Connell that, "most times these things (zoning regulations) are good, but the people are going to look at it as more government regulation."

The next meeting for the Haakon County Commissioners will be at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6, in the Commissioner's Room in the courthouse.