Money and unsafe road issues plague Haakon County Commssioners

The Haakon County Board of Commissioners received more bad news December 7 when Kenny Neville, Haakon County highway superintendent informed them that the Hardingrove Road has been sliding off along a ridge area, this after a year with high bills in the mentally ill and support of the poor funds, and trying to find funds on which to run the county.

Neville said the road, east of Billie Parsons, is caving in on the east edge. Neville said he is trying to find funding to repair the road. He currently has state engineers scheduled to look at the situation to see what can be done. He noted that he does not want to close the road, but that it might come to that. Neville stated he doesn't know how to stop the problem and that is why he asked the state engineers to look at the situation. He added the road cannot be moved either because of the terrain.

Commissioner Don Eymer noted that the road is situated along a hog back and it is pretty steep. Neville said that parts of the ridge has slide to the east and west of the road. Neville said the highway department has tried to repair the road twice to no avail, and now a section further up the road is beginning to slide.

The road connects Quinn Road to the east to the Milesville Road to the west. It also has a newer bridge crossing Plum Creek, said Neville. Eymer noted that people in that area use the road as a cut across. Neville added it is a mail road as well as a school road.

Neville did have some good news for the board as he located a program in which the county can lease tractors for five dollars per operating hour up to 600 hours. After 200 hours on a tractor it is returned and a new one is obtained. He noted he can go through Kennedy Implement for the New Holland tractors.

Neville stated he has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for an extension on road repairs using FEMA dollars. He said they are nearing completion of the work, but had to stop to get mowing done. He noted because the county tractors broke down the department was unable to get all the mowing of road ditches completed.

Commission Chairman Nick Konst informed the board that he began receiving several phone calls November 19, from area business owners stating they had not yet received payment for their October bills. Konst noted the bills had been approved for payment at the November 4, 2010, meeting after the board had reviewed the county's financial standing and determined their were enough funds to cover all the bills. He said Haakon County Auditor Patricia Freeman had opted to not pay the bills because she believed the county fell short in funds in some of the accounts. He stated that if the board approved them for payment then they should be paid. The board was never contacted by Freeman that she would be delaying payment.

The commission reviewed the financial statements from the past month, which included recently paid taxes. All warrants for November claims were approved for payment. Brunskill asked that a special meeting be held prior to the December 28 meeting that will close out the accounts for 2010. The board will meet Wednesday, December 15, to look at their finances. "I hate to be doom and gloom," said Commissioner Gary Snook, "But, I don't think we can withstand another year like this one."

Kay Couch approached the commission in regards to the feedlot expansion at Philip Livestock Auction. Thor Roseth, owner of PLA was also on hand to answer her questions.

Couch first questioned the commission as to why there was no ordinance to oversee these types of situations. Commissioner Neal (Obie) Brunskill noted that the matter had been brought up in previous years and the majority of county residents were not in favor of zoning ordinances within Haakon County.

Roseth answered Couch's questions about the water containment system, fly control, dust control, disposal of dead animal, planting of trees to reduce wind and road damage. He said the animals would only be in the lots during winter months, when odors are at their lowest and the animals are fed a high roughage diet which also helps keep down odors. The problem with flies would also be a non issue during the colder months.

Roseth noted his water containment system is in compliance with all Department of Environment and Natural Resources requirements. Currently there are no regulations for dust control, but if some were to be implemented, he assured Couch PLA would meet those standards. All dead animals will be disposed of by the same manner they are currently using which meets DENR requirements.

Adele Harty, Extension livestock specialist, meet with the board concerning how the Extension office has been charged for copier use in the past year. She noted they had never been charged in the past for the copier use so had never budgeted for the cost. Then this year they are being charged and have no money in the budget to cover the $977 they have been charged. She stated that the months they were charged for did not coincide with the months in which they made a high number of copies. Harty added that had they known they would be charged, they could pass half of that cost to the Jackson County office because of the agreement between the counties. She noted that the month of July when the office did make a huge amount of copies for an Extension program they were not billed for the copier use. Harty stated that her office had grant dollars that would pay for those copies.

Freeman stated that her office and the Extension office seemed to make the most copies, but all the offices are billed routinely for copier use, in amounts ranging from about $150 to over $500.

The copier also serves as the auditor office's printer. Harty asked the board what would the procedure be for next year and if the minimum number of copies on the contract could be increased so that the county is not paying the higher rate for copies over the 6,200 amount.

The board approved a raffle request that is raising funds for Stetson Jones' medical costs. They approved pay increases for Kristin Martin, county health nurse assistant and Carla Smith, deputy auditor. The meeting minutes from November 4, 2010 were approved. The veterans service officer's report by Terry Deuter was reviewed.

Also receiving approval was a plat for Scott and Diana Olivier and a Women and Infant Children contract amendment for 2011.

Tabled until the next meeting was a request for financial assistance from a resident of the county.