County looks into land swap with Martin Addiction Recovery Center

By Taylor Risse

The November 14 meeting of the Bennett County Commissioners was well attended with all five commissioners present, along with commissioner elects Judd Schomp and Rod Kirk, State’s Attorney Sarah Harris, Amanda LaCroix, Jeff Siscoe and Jolene Donovan in attendance.

The October 17, minutes were approved with the line, “The Board reviewed claims. Rocky Risse made a motion to approve claims subject to delinquent taxes. Rolf Kraft seconded.” being changed to say, “Jeff Slattery made a motion to approve claims subject to delinquent taxes. Rolf Kraft seconded.”

In highway department business, it was decided to not paint the center lines in the county at this time. Every two years the state offers to paint the highway center lines on a 60/40 agreement; the state pays 60 percent and the county pays 40 percent.

The temporary hire of Ed Johnson was approved at $12 hourly, effective October 23.

Jay Nies was approved as a highway volunteer.

Commissioner Rolf Kraft brought to the board a complaint from Mary Thomsen about the culvert that goes under the Tuthill road. The culvert is clogged which causes the water to sit on her land with nowhere to go.

Scott Bauman met with the Board again to discuss Bauman’s purchasing an excavator to push up gravel themselves. Commissioner Rocky Risse was at the Bauman pit on Wednesday, November 7, and said that there are around 100 loads of gravel pushed up. 

Bauman told the board that they have an excavator on hold right now and what they want to do is try out a system of pushing up gravel with the excavator and having the county’s loader there to keep the pile pushed back from the edge of the pit. If this system works, Bauman’s will purchase their own loader to use.

If Bauman’s pushing up the gravel works, the price will go from $1 per ton to $3 per ton to accommodate the excavating fees. To help with billing, gravel will stay at $1 per ton and excavating will cost $2 per ton. In doing this, the County will not have to have equipment at the pit or supply manpower to push up gravel.

Before anything is decided, they are going to try the excavating system to see if it works. 

Bauman asked what drivers are being paid to haul gravel, as he has two people interested in hauling out of the Bauman pit. He was told they were receiving $5 per loaded mile. 

It was approved to allot an additional $175,000 for hauling gravel. This spring, $60,000 was allotted for hauling. It was unclear how much of the original $60,000 is left.

Rod Kirk brought up that gravel is about to be put on his road, but before they do that, they need to crown the road more, right now it is too flat. Commissioner Rocky Risse stated that you want a flat road to put gravel on so the deepest part of your gravel is in the middle.

The 2018 General Election votes were canvassed and approved.

Bennett County Assessor, Jeff Siscoe, brought to the board Cindy Babby’s request to abate the taxes on her house. Babby’s house burned down in a fire and she is wanting the county to abate the taxes from the day of the fire on. Babby’s request was approved by the Commissioners.

It was approved to abate the remaining $615.01 taxes on the Wanda Williams house after the $3,100 purchase.

The Commissioners voted to approve the tax deed sale of the Wanda Williams property at $3,100.

A contract with Game Fish and Parks for the rent of office space was approved at $400 a month.

There was a six percent increase to the county’s health insurance. The insurance will have to be renewed at the next meeting. It equals around $400 a year per employee. Auditor Susan Williams recommended leaving it as is, and renewing the insurance.

It was voted to ask for bids for 35,000 tons of crushed gravel at one inch crush for hauling out the May pit. 

An indigent request for medical assistance was denied due to the requester having available resources.

There is a district meeting November 13 in Burke. Commissioner Rolf Kraft stated he might go.

Tracee Livermont with Martin Addiction Recovery Center (MARC) met with the Commissioners to discuss a land swap. MARC is in the process of getting funding to build a new facility. Their current facility is beyond repair. What MARC wants is to swap their current lot, which is located straight west of the courthouse, for the Justus Building lot. Positives listed for doing a land swap would be MARC could build their new facility while still having a building to operate out of and clearing the lot next to the courthouse could open it up for possible expansion to the jail or other areas. 

Nothing is in stone yet for MARC’s funding, a meeting is being held after Thanksgiving with the foundation they’re going through. 

Livermont stated that she will be attending the next City Council meeting to see if they could help with removing the old building after a new one is built.

Commissioner Fanning asked if there was a swap, would they need to use the existing building until the other one is built? Livermont responded that yes, they would. 

If it is agreeable, MARC would pay to demolish the building and clear the lot in exchange of the back taxes on the Justus lot.

Livermont stated that their fiscal year runs from June 1 - May 31, and in last year’s fiscal year they helped 485 new people.

It was decided to have State’s Attorney Sarah Harris write a letter of intent stating that if MARC’s funding goes through, a land swap will be done and MARC is allowed to use the county’s building free of rent, until their new building is built.

The next meeting will be Wednesday, November 21.

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