Commissioners approve enhanced WIFI system for the courthouse

By Deb Hendrickson

The first item on the agenda addressed by the Bennett County Commissioners at their regular meeting on November 18 was a telephone conference call with Chris Bernard from Golden West Technologies in Rapid City. 

Bernard explained what benefits the courthouse could realize by installing a booster to their current WIFI system. He said installing a centrally-located wireless access point would expand the wireless coverage within the courthouse. This system would enable anyone inside the courthouse the ability to pick up a signal and connect to it to use their wireless devices.

Commissioner Schomp asked, “Is the public going to be able to have access to this WIFI without jeopardizing the courthouse security?” Bernard stated that the public could be denied access if that is what the board wants, but there is a way to set up a completely separate virtual network where there is no transmission of information from one signal to the other.

The quote Golden West submitted for the system, which is a one-time only fee, is $527.56. No additional monthly fee will be applied. There was some discussion held whether or not one system would be adequate or if eventually there may be a need to add an additional system at the same cost. 

Jesse Clifford from West River Computers in Martin was present at the meeting and verified much of what Bernard told the board. 

Commissioner Fanning moved to purchase the booster with public access and to check on the cost of a stronger system rather than facing the possibility down the road of having to go with two boosters. Commissioner Kirk seconded and the motion carried.

The minutes from the November 5 meeting were approved as presented.

Discussion was held pertaining to the raises that the county employees receive. According to Bennett County Treasurer, Jolene Donovan, employees are given a raise at the end of their probationary period, but have never been given a raise at their one-year anniversary. Every employee is given an annual raise on January 1. She also stated she can only remember employees receiving one bonus check in the last 16 years.

Highway Superintendent Justin Friese reported that the blade they had the motor replaced in and just got back from Rapid City is now back in Rapid getting the hydraulic pump replaced. Since it is under warranty, Friese asked to have everything looked over.

Commissioner Kirk asked Friese about hauling more gravel out to Old Highway 18. Kirk said, “There are still some holes that need some dirt in them. I told them we would put some dirt in them.” Friese was asked to take the semi load of gravel that is at the county yard out and lay it on the Old Highway and then to let it go until next year.

The county has three pickups all with transmissions out of them that Friese asked to be placed on surplus. After discussion was held, the 2000 Ford and the 2006 Dodge will be put on the next meeting’s agenda to be declared as surplus. It was decided to consider replacing the transmission in the 1995 pickup. This pickup was being used for spraying, and has low mileage. Transmission pricing is being researched. This item will also be placed on the agenda for the next meeting. 

Replacing the fence along County Line Road adjacent to John Witt’s property came under discussion. No one from the board indicated they’d talked to Brosz Engineering to see if replacing the fence was on the contract. Fanning stated he was against replacing the fence. He also stated he’d talked to Steve Hahn and he indicated that the fence replacement wasn’t in the contract. Because Mr. Witt’s fence is typically under water, due to its location, Fanning suggested Mr. Witt check with USDA or his insurance to see if there may be some assistance there. The item, pending further research, will be put on the agenda for the next meeting.

Bennett County Sheriff Paul Williams reported that the department would like to install a new outside antenna for some equipment they just purchased. He told the board the pole on the north side of the building that currently has sirens mounted to it will be utilized and the department will mount the antenna. The REA will remove the sirens and shorten the pole at no charge to the county.

Commissioner Schomp expressed his concern about the $20,355.00 October invoice from the Hughes County Finance Office for the Juvenile Detention Center. He asked Sheriff Williams if there may be any help available from the State or if any Covid money could be utilized. 

 “I’m working on it,” Auditor Hicks said, “because they can submit for assistance through the Covid money to help with that. So, I’m working on getting it submitted.” 

Schomp asked Sheriff Williams, “Are you guys at the Sheriff’s Department working with any of the Legislators to get the State to maybe take a little responsibility for them?”

Sheriff Williams said the department has worked with the Legislators a lot, and has a Lobbyist up there who keeps track of everything. “We were doing well with the juveniles except for the last few months,” he said.

After the discussion, a motion was made and passed to pay the October claims.

The annual liquor license renewal for Boomdocks was approved.

The roof bid specs were discussed and after Auditor Hicks makes a few minor corrections to the wording were approved to be advertised for bid.

A transfer of $300.00 was approved to cover a shortage in the Law Library Fund.

State’s Attorney Sarah Harris asked the board if she could purchase a drop down projector screen for the courtroom. Cost of the screens she researched were are all under $1,000.Payment for the purchase would come from funds that have been accumulating through the State Juvenile Diversion Program she has been utilizing.

Recognition for Mickie Thayer who just met all requirements to hold the professional designation of “Certified Appraiser Accessor” will be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.

Mayor Rayhill, the Martin City Council, City Police Chief Petersen, City Attorney Sara Frankenstein, Sheriff Williams, Chief Deputy Erwin, Deputy Curtis, and State’s Attorney Sarah Harris met in executive session with the Commissioners pertaining to personnel. When they resumed, there had been no action taken.

Commissioner Schomp asked Treasurer Donovan when the list of delinquent taxes would be published. She stated that the list would be printed in the Booster on December 16.

The next regular meeting of the County Commissioners will be on Wednesday, December 2, 9:30 a.m. in the courtroom at the courthouse.

502 Second Avenue, Martin, SD 57551 • 605-685-6866 •