By Taylor Risse
At the March 6, 2019, meeting of the Bennett County Commissioners a motion was made to hire Terry Smokov as highway superintendant at $45,000 a year plus benefits with a six month probation, following executive session. Smokov accepted the offer and started on Thursday, March 7. The board asked Smokov to come to each meeting and give an update on what’s going on.
Craig Dillon, representing the Oglala Sioux Tribe met with the board again about the Tribe purchasing the Grass property. The entire board was in agreement that it’s a good idea and Dillon should proceed. Dillon informed the board he’d be back to give an update.
In other meeting action, James Cross with the Oglala Sioux Tribe met with the board concerning the Allen highway. Cross informed the board that the road needs to be chip and sealed and the Tribe doesn’t have the money to help fix the road.
A haul road agreement will have to be made and signed for the Hisle road, when gravel starts getting hauled out of the May pit. The Potato Creek bridge is suffering from all the hauling last year.
Cross told the board that neither the Tribe nor KLJ (the engineering group that helped build the Allen highway) has documentation of the right-of-ways being turned over to the Tribe. Auditor Susan Williams also did not have the document on file. Commissioner Rolf Kraft said he would look for the document in his personal files.
Cross wants a meeting to be set up between the South Dakota DOT, the Tribe, and the commissioners make a plan for taking care of the road. Cross is willing to set up the meeting.
Cross presented the board with an estimated cost to chip and seal the 6.3 miles from highway 18 to BIA 22. The cost would be $166,493.20.
It was decided that before a group meeting is held, Commissioner Kraft needs to find the document concerning the right-of-way and the commissioners need to see where they stand on the issue.
Cross will get more figures for chip and sealing the road to present to the board.
Auditor Williams will contact Cross when the board is ready for another meeting.
Jerry Bennett met with the board to give a highway department update.
Bennett informed the board that Rod Roulliard had contacted him and is trying to get a grant to work on the road that Bennett County uses to haul out of the May pit. Roulliard wanted to know if Bennett County was going to continue to haul so he could use the numbers in his grant.
Commissioners Rod Kirk and Judd Schomp went to the May pit to look at the gravel. Kirk thinks the gravel will work better if it’s crushed bigger. Dakota Construction is using a screen machine to get some of the sand out.
Commissioner Schomp told Bennett he had received calls regarding snow plowing near Vetal. The complaint was that the plow was leaving a lot of snow on the ground and there’s no sense in driving all the way out there to leave snow.
The board asked Bennett if the highway crew could write more detail on their time cards instead of just writing “maintenance.”
Highway crew earning over time and working 50 hours a week was questioned again. The board understands working 50 hours in the summer time, but in the winter time, they don’t think it’s needed.
Commissioner Kirk stated, “There is just no way to get 50 hours in, in the winter time.”
Commissioner Schomp stated that the crew should be saving over time hours for when there is a snow storm on weekends.
The county manual states that county employee time is limited to 40 hours and over time is based on supervisor’s okay.
Bennett informed the board that the highway crew was hired at 50 hours a week.
Commissioner Kraft told the board, “It was discussed to either give them (the highway crew) a higher hourly wage or working them 50 hours so they would end up with the money but the hourly rate wouldn’t be as high. It comes out even. That’s how it got to where it is.”
A problem that concerns the board is if there is a weekend storm and the crew has to go out to plow roads, they’re then putting in 30-40 hours of overtime in on top of their 10 hours they already have. Commissioner Schomp said, “If they didn’t already have the 10 it may be easier to motivate the guys to come out on Saturday or Sunday when they’re actually really needed to be there.” Bennett responded that the crew goes out really good on weekends and worked on Christmas two years ago.
Bennett said that if the crew’s hours are cut to 40 a week, the guys will look for other jobs and won’t necessarily be available on weekends when needed.
An automatic supplement of $16,929.32 was approved to the Law Budget.
Stephen Parkes presented the board a letter of appointment to be signed for him to look for grants for the county. Parkes wanted a formal agreement between the county and himself stating he could look for grants. The Letter of Appointment is for a six month trial period. State’s Attorney Sarah Harris updated the board that she has been on the grant website and Kimmie Clausen has been sending her information once in a while that may be beneficial for the county.
The contract was approved between the county and Mr. Parkes.
Auditor Williams informed the board that the county may be getting contacted about a Poor Lien.
It was approved to surplus an auditor computer desk at no value.
Executive session was entered with State’s Attorney Sarah Harris and Sheriff Paul Williams to discuss the law department.
The board was informed that the Martin City Council has invited the commissioners and the Sheriff to their March 13 council meeting. Commissioners Kraft, Bond and Schomp will be in Pierre at the workshop and Sheriff Williams will be at a grant meeting in Rapid City.
The April meeting dates were changed to coincide with the Director of Equalization meetings. April meetings will be held on April 9 and 17 at 9:30 a.m.