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Courthouse employees concerned with new library and restroom plans

Haakon County Courthouse employees weighed in with concerns to the proposed new library and restrooms plan at the Haakon County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, March 7.

Register of Deeds Karyl Sandal, Director of Equalization Rita Merrill, Treasurer Patti Rhodes, and Sheriff Larry Hanes met with the commissioners in regards to the proposed new restrooms that would be connected to the new library. The commissioners have outlined these details at numerous meetings during the past year. It has been their plan to abandon the courthouse’s existing restrooms once an annex, housing new restrooms, is built in conjunction with the new library.

Rhodes was concerned that they would have to leave their offices vacant if they needed to use the restrooms. Commissioner Rita O’Connell said they could lock the offices with a note stating they would be back in a few minutes.

Hanes was concerned about escorting jurors and prisoners during jury trials. Commissioner Mel Smith stated, “We have approval on that.” O’Connell went on to explain their findings concerning that matter in regards to Judge Max Gors. She noted too that the county could provide extra bailiffs for escorting jurors.

Hanes questioned that if the electricity went bad, “Would we abandon that too?” Smith informed Hanes that the approximate cost of $125,000 to install new restroom facilities was a much better deal. Sandal asked the commissioners about the possibility of abandoning the existing plumbing and installing new. This had been discussed at a number of previous meetings. The board had asked Dustin Lurz to look into the cost of replacing the plumbing. O’Connell noted that Lurz had talked to other businessmen in his field and they wouldn’t even touch it. The plumbing runs under the marble floors and between the partial marble walls.

Sandal continued, “Why do we have to have a million dollar library hooked to our bathroom? I don’t think people have been told that it will take our lawn and parking (on the north side).”

The library is estimated to cost $750,000 according to library board sources. The plan calls for the restroom annex to connect to what is now the west window in the courthouse’s community room. The community room would be refitted for a hallway. The community room would actually gain a few feet when the existing library wall is removed.

Merrill was concerned with the library being farther forward than the courthouse. “That is a bad idea,” she said. “It should sit back and be even with the courthouse.”

O’Connell showed those present a floor plan of the project and explained the layout. “Cost-wise, I don’t think we can come anywhere close to this plan,” said O’Connell in regards to the plumbing issue.

Merrill approached the commissioners in regards to three properties and mistakes made in their assessments. One property had been taxed as county when it is located within city limits; one property had been assessed twice, once as a residence and once as part of a farm incorporation; and a property that should have been listed as owner/occupied but the necessary paperwork had not been filed by the owners. She said corrections will be made and the commissioners gave their approval on those plans.

The commissioners approved a resolution to hire Rose Engineering to do inspections on the 39 bridges in Haakon County.

Meetings approved for county employee attendance included: Kenny Neville, annual highway superintendents short course in Deadwood March 15-17, March 9 road meeting in Rapid City; Merrill, assessor conference in Brookings May 30-June 2, assessor program meeting in Pierre in May; Kevin Graber, day off on March 13; spring workshop for county employees in Pierre May 10-11; and Nancy Neville, products meeting in Rapid City on March 21.

They discussed a proposed annexation for the City of Philip to bring the old Dakota Case building into city limits. The proposal was passed on to the state’s attorney for review. Auditor Shirley Dennis is to draft a letter to the City of Philip in regards to the American Disabilities Act and access to the courthouse where the city’s offices are located.

They signed an amended contract for the WIC program and contracts with Hughes and Meade counties for prisoner care.

They also approved meeting minutes from February 7, 2006, and claims for February.