Hardingrove Road closed to thru traffic

Sliding down ... Given this area’s unstable soil, roads along ridgebacks are prone to sluffing. Hardingrove Road, which serves as a mail and school route, is sliding downward. Highway department crews have tried repairs at the first sluff.

Another sluff-off along Hardingrove Road, just to the east of Billie Parsons' has caused enough concerns for Kenny Neville, Haakon County highway superintendent, and the Haakon County Commission that they have declared the road closed and any people who travel it do so at their own risk.

The board signed a work order to start proceedings for the repairwork under the Federal Aid Secondary road designation. Neville said the process from the signing to actual work is about four years. To temporarily fix the area the county could hire the work done for upwards of $80,000. Or, the highway department could rent the larger equipment needed for the project for about $40,000. The fuel, labor and any material costs would have to be added to that figure. Neville said it would take three to four weeks for the highway department to cut the road and build a berm to try and stabilize the area.

"I don't know where to get the money for either one of the two things," said Neville. The commission members noted there were no funds even for the $40,000 proposal.

"For myself and my department I want to close it," Neville said. He said he did not want the liabilityof someone driving into the slide area.

Glenn Parsons met with the board regarding their Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance policy and renewal options. He discussed the differences between his proposed plan and that of Avera Health. Areas that Parsons stressed were, the limited health network that Avera had, their limit for ambulance services, and deductible limits in various areas of service. He noted that according to his figures he could not see where the other insurance agent could guarantee such a small increase in policy costs in future years.

While discussing the matter later in the meeting, they called Parsons to come back in to answer more questions. In regards to emergency doctors who are not part of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield network, Parsons said those doctors won't file the paperwork with the insurance company. But if the employee brings the paperwork to Parsons he would submit it for them, and the company would pay, at this time, about 40 percent of the bill. He also discussed the county's low deductible rate they have currently. He said most employers have the deductible at a higher amount.

Commission Chairman Gary Snook said he was concerned about Avera's limited network outside of South Dakota.

Commission Member Rita O'Connell related a phone call from an individual who had read a recent story in the Pioneer Review about the county and Avera. She said the person let her know about problems he/she and fellow employees had had with Avera.

Board members spoke about the customer service aspect of having the insurance representative in town. Bsed on that and the numbers board approved the insurance plan submitted by Parsons.

Nancy Haigh, a member of the Haakon/Jackson 4-H Leaders Council and the county fair board, Adele Harty, Haakon County Extension livestock educator and Jessica Eikmeier Jackson County youth development educator met with the commission in regards to the future of 4-H in Haakon County.

Haigh outlined options that were discussed at a meeting with 4-H leaders, fair board and Extension board members. Those individuals selected the top three options they liked.

Each option also included the amounts for a full-time or a part-time support person. Haakon and Jackson counties would continue to evenly divide that salary.

Option A was a three county scenario in which South Dakota State University stated that while they would not pay any wages for a youth advisior, they would pay benefits up to $6,000. The counties would be responsible for the salary. Jones County has stated they would like to be part of the group.

Option B involved four counties. The option would include the first three counties, plus either Stanley, Bennett or Mellette County. The counties all have to be connected by border to at least one of the other counties. At present Mellette was proposing to adjoin with Todd County, Bennett County was looking at staying by themselves, and Stanley and Hughes counties joined forces years prior, and would probably not split. SDSU would pay for a .45 full time equivalant youth advisior. In order to qualify for the .45 FTE either four counties had to join forces or there had to be more than 2,500 youth in a group or a single county. Counties with more than 10,000 youth qualify for one full-time person. Minnehaha and Pennington counties were the only two that met the full-time requirement.

Option C was Haakon and Jackson counties staying together without any other county involved. The counties would be responsible for all costs.

Haigh outlined a few activities that Haakon and Jackson county 4-H youth are involved in, such as horse quiz bowls, horse judging, livestockology, Western Junior's livestock and home economic events, Black Hills Stock Show, state and county horse shows and rodeos.

The educators have been actively involved in activities such as after school school programs, ag in the classroom, aiding at FFA events and their interviews, summer workshops, and horse safety training.

Commissioner Ed Briggs said, "I think we need to try and support it if we can." Snook noted that Option A was actually less cost to the county than what is currently budgeted. The general consensus of the board was for Option A with a part-time support person. Snook was concerned about the future, if it couldn't be funded, but said it could be budgeted for a year at a time.

Director of Equalization Kevin Pfeifle let the board know that he passed his certification exam. He was approved to attend an assesor's conference May 24-27 in Chamberlain and a workshop June 2 in Pierre. He noted his office would be closed those days.

Neville presented the board with a proposed road haul agreement for the Keystone XL pipeline. He was approved to attend the summer highway superintendent's meeting in Pierre, June 8-9.

The board approved the warrants for the past month. Meeting minutes with corrections were approved for the April 2, regular meeting, and special meetings of April 12 and 19 and the board of equalization meeting on April 12.

The board approved payment of $1,343 for the election software contract.

Tabled were evaulations for Pfeifle and Neville and the auditor/ treasurer's report.

The next regular meeting for the commission will be Tuesday, June 7, 2011, at 1:00 p.m.