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Haakon County Commissioners discuss aerial fire fighting options

With the high rate of wildfires occurring in the region, the Haakon County Commissioners took steps to help local fire fighting units in case a wildfire should threaten Philip.

Emergency Manager Lola Roseth and Roger Williams, assistant fire chief for Philip, presented information to the commissioners at their Tuesday, August 1, meeting regarding information gathered at a firefighters meeting in Faith. Williams explained that the county is eligible to participate in a program in which airplanes and helicopters can be accessed to fight wildfires. The county would be responsible for 10 percent of the costs with the state paying the other 90 percent.

The price for each trip a plane makes is $2,195. Each trip would be one load of water or chemical fire retardant. That would be $219 per trip for the county to pay. Williams noted that the price would be for just this year's fire season. He also said the split percentage changes from year to year. Williams said the option would only be exercised in an extreme emergency.

Roseth also asked the commissioners to approve the naming of six individuals who call for the aerial support. Prior to this meeting, Roseth was the only person that could make such a call. She noted that if she was not available the county could be in trouble. She added that it would be best if the chiefs and assistant chiefs of the three fire departments in the county be on the list. Williams noted that if the fire was large enough, all three departments would be at the fire and generally discuss the best way to handle a fire.

The commissioners approved the decision to go with the air support cost share for this year. The commissioners can renew the option each year as needed.

They also agreed to name Marty Hansen and Roger Williams from Philip, Reuben Vollmer, Jr. and Randy Nemec from Midland, and Curt Arthur and Donnie Schofield from Milesville to the call list. This also will be updated yearly.

Roseth also presented to the commissioners a very basic pandemic flu preparedness plan. The commissioners are to review the ideas in the plan. She noted the plan could be used for other disasters.

Kenny Neville, Haakon County Highway Superintendent, updated the commissioners on his department. He noted that the emergency bridge repair northeast of Philip may not even get started until November. That is the soonest the state can organize a start date. He and the commissioners discussed the best way to pay for the project as funds they thought were available are not. The bills for the project will not be submitted until 2007, so the project could possibly be worked into the 2007 budget.

He noted an error in the wage scale for the highway department's new employee, Brad Dekker. The board approved the correction and Dekker's pay would be adjusted accordingly.

In other business the commissioners:

•reviewed the county health nurse report as submitted by secretary Coreen Roseth;

•approved raffles for the Haakon County Friends of the Library and the Midland Senior Citizens Center;

•approved an easement for the City of Philip south of the John Kangas home;

•approved membership in the Central South Dakota Enhancement District;

•approved meeting attendance for county officers and commissioners;

•approved a replating of land near Midland for Judy Foshiem;

•reviewed letters from their insurance carrier and will have Judy Olney give them more information;

•approved last month's meeting minutes and payment of claims;

•spoke with Legislative-Audit auditor, Dave Schlosser; and

•worked on the budget for two hours Tuesday afternoon.