Merrill to step down as Haakon County's director of equalization

Following a 30 minute executive session, Haakon County Director of Equalization Rita Merrill's resignation was accepted by the Haakon County Board of Commissioners at their February 2 meeting.

Merrill had noted previously that she was considering retiring from her position. She plans to step down July 1, 2010. The board approved for her to work part-time while she trains a new director of equalization. Merrill noted that her appraisal license is effective until 2013, which would allow her to help the new person with appraisals.

With one year of plumbing renovations under their table, the Haakon County Board of Commission is looking at possibly their most expensive project to date.

Dustin Lurz and Tom Swift approached the board with the proposal of proceeding into the next phase. They told the board they would like to begin renovating the first floor men's restroom, the third and fourth floor men's and women's bathrooms and any utility sinks on those floors.

The third floor has three restrooms as the judge's chamber has a private restroom.

The fourth floor currently only has one operating restroom. The adjacent bathroom is being used for storage. Lurz noted that they could plumb that restroom so a sink and toilet could be added later if desired. The first floor men's restroom would be made handicapped accessible. All these restrooms and utility closets are located on the south side of the courthouse. All plumbing running to the basement would also be replaced.

The commissioners asked Lurz and Swift to prepare estimates for the work. The board asked Haakon County Auditor Patricia Freeman to prepare a worksheet for them that reflects the money budgeted for the renovations as well as money left over from the last project. The commissioner's will possibly discuss the matter prior to March's regular meeting via a conference call.

Lurz noted that they are about a week away from finishing the latest phase and it will be finished below budget. The two previous phases were also completed under budget.

In the last year three phases have seen the first and third floor women's restrooms, vent pipes, basement pipes and roof drains replaced. When Lurz first proposed the renovations he estimated nine different phases. That has now been brought down to five. The last phase would be the sewer lines that leave the courthouse and connect to the city's sewer system.

Kenny Neville, Haakon County highway superintendent, informed the board that the bi-annual bridge inspection is this year. The county has 38 bridges that are 20 feet or longer that have to be inspected. The board approved to hire Brosz Engineering, Inc., Pierre, to do the inspections. The county also has numerous bridges under 20 feet that do not have to be inspected.

The board approved for highway department employees to attend a safety meeting in Wall February 18 and for Neville to attend a safety meeting in Pierre in March. Neville said the safety meetings are requirements by law.

Approved by the board were the December 30, 2009 and January 5, 2010 meeting minutes, warrants, meetings and travel for county employees to attend County Day at the state legislature, and a library workshop in Sturgis. They also approved a raffle request from the Philip High School Rodeo Club. They approve payment for an indigent burial.

Reports reviewed by the commissioners included the sheriff's, veterans service officer, library and the county health nurse. They discussed maintenance for the generator that runs the third floor electrical units in an emergency.

The board tabled a request by the Capitol Area Counseling Service. The board would like more information regarding how many people in Haakon County are served by the counseling group.

A discussion regarding the replacement of the courthouse's boiler was held. Freeman noted the new system's cost of $77,300 would be paid for entirely through grant funds. The dollar amount reflects the cost of the boiler, installation, removal of the original steam system, the old fuel oil system, new pipes to bring propane into the building and new wiring for the boiler. Also included is a $3,000 adminstration fee that would be paid to the Central South Dakota Enhancement District for their work in obtaining the grant.

The board will meet in regular session on Tuesday, March 2, 2010.