Roads still major discussion at BC Commissioner meeting

By Taylor Risse

A regular meeting of the Bennett County Commissioners was held on Wednesday, May 1.

The April 17 minutes and the April 17 Board of Equalization minutes were approved as presented.

Highway superintendent Terry Smokov gave his road update stating, “The weather is not in our favor. When roads get dry enough to work on, it either rains or snows.”

The highway crew has spent a lot of time doing maintenance in the shop getting things ready for when it dries up.

A local resident questioned whether gravel is being put on the north two miles of the Hisle road. Smokov was going to contact the resident to discuss the matter.

Smokov asked the board, “Who exactly controls the Allen road north of Boomdocks? There is a culvert caving in and another one settling and it needs fixed.” 

Commissioner Rolf Kraft presented a letter that was sent to the Tribe when the road was built saying the county gives them the right of way to build and maintain a paved highway. The Tribe began work after receiving the letter, so the presiding board assumed they agreed with the terms to maintain the highway.

Tony and Rosie Ward met with the board to discuss cleaning out the culvert going under their driveway. Tony informed the board that the culvert is completely plugged. He has talked to Hahn’s Construction, and they can clean out the culvert for $75 an hour. Ward wanted to know if it was subject to one contractor since Steve Livermont has been hired to clean culverts.

There was a question regarding the culvert being under a personal approach but the ditch that is plugging the culvert is the county’s. The culvert is on the county’s right-of-way and the county’s ditch is full of sediment which has buried the culvert.

Auditor Susan Williams suggested to the board that they get an opinion from their State’s Attorney.

Commissioner Jeff Slattery gave the opinion that if someone is willing to clean the culvert, let’s get it done. Smokov told the board that he would go look at the culvert and get a plan made.

Smokov told the board that the Caterpillar 120 is up and moving.

On Wednesday after the meeting, an engineering firm came and looked at the county line road and the road south of Vetal to give an estimate for fixing the roads. 

Smokov informed the board that he has been looking into precast cement culverts instead of metal culverts to put throughout the county. The cement culverts are more expensive but do last longer.

Commissioner Judd Schomp told the board he’s been in contact with Mike Shay with the National Guard, discussing how the National Guard could help the county with road repair. The National Guard looks for weekend missions to do for their training. They look for short lengths of road to fix or rock hauls to do. The county can make a “wish list” of what projects they would like to have done and send it to Washington, D.C., to be considered for a National Guard mission.

Commissioner Slattery updated the board on the bridge going to the Bauman Pit in Jackson County. The bridge is now fixed so when the roads are ready, gravel can start being hauled.

It was estimated that there are around five roads that are still impassable by a vehicle and between six and 12 roads that are impassable by semis.

Smokov told the board that he is getting positive phone calls from the community regarding the road repair progress.

Some discussion was held about complaints coming from local residents about secondary roads getting fixed. Smokov said that main roads are going to get fixed before secondary roads.

Stephen Parkes met with the board again to discuss writing grants for road aid. Parkes requested two things from the board; that they identify their priorities, and that they rate the roads and find a solution. Parkes presented a key on how to rate roads throughout the county. Smokov has the highway crew reading on how to rate the roads so when they’re out working they can rate the roads as they go across them. After the roads are rated, they will need to find an estimated amount on what it will take to fix each road. 

Executive session was entered to discuss highway personnel.

A malt liquor license was approved for Boomdocks.

An addition was approved to the Personnel Policy regarding paid holidays. The addition stated, “All other days designated by the President of the United States or the Governor of the State of South Dakota as a state-wide or nation-wide holiday.” 

Jeff Siscoe met with the board to discuss hiring either a new Emergency Management Director or a Deputy Assessor. Commissioner Schomp stated that he would like to keep Siscoe as the Emergency Management Director since he does such a good job. For either job, whoever was hired would have to take certification classes. Commissioner Slattery gave the opinion that it would be easier to hire a deputy assessor than an Emergency Manager. It was decided to hire a 24 hour a week deputy assessor and to offer full benefits. Whoever is hired will have to take classes and become a certified assessor. 

Siscoe gave an update on federal aid for damage relief. The deadline to submit assessment amounts was May 1. The state will make a major disaster declaration to the President, and if he okays it, then FEMA will come in and the county should receive close to 75% relief,. The process could take up to six months.

Bennett County reported $210,000 worth of damage, not including the labor to fix the roads. It was assessed that there will be $125,000 worth of labor either by Bennett County employees or a contractor.

Auditor Williams reminded the board that the Randall Reservoir meeting is May 20, in Winner.

Commissioners Kraft and Schomp attended a meeting with the Tribe on Friday, May 3, to discuss the Allen highway.

The board was informed that the Martin Addiction Recovery Center is no longer interested in land swapping with the county for the Justus lot. They have decided to go in another direction but offered the building and the lot to the county. The board decided to reach out and see what they would want for the lot.

During the public portion of the meeting, Commissioner Schomp brought up the idea of taking the surplus Taurus police car to the county grounds near the shop with a For Sale sign, so people can see it when they drive by. The board decided that was a good idea and Auditor Williams would add it to the Notice of Bids ad in the paper.

The next meeting will be May 15.

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