By Deb Hendrickson
Newly-elected County Commissioners David Bakley and Kyle Harris were sworn in, officially beginning their four-year term, at the January 5 Bennett County Commissioners meeting. Commissioner Kyle Harris attended the meeting via Zoom. Commissioner Jeff Slattery was appointed as Chairman and Commissioner Rod Kirk was appointed as Vice Chairman.
The 2021 yearly board designations were assigned and approved as follows: Roads: Commissioners Bakley and Kirk; Law: Commissioners Bakley and Slattery; City Relations: Commissioners Schomp and Harris; 4-H Promotion and Expansion and Fair: Commissioners Harris and Schomp; Courthouse Building: Commissioners Kirk and Slattery; Library: All five Commissioners.
The minutes from the December 16 and December 30 meetings were reviewed and approved as presented.
Highway Superintendent Justin Friese asked, “We now own 74,000 tons of gravel, what do you want to do with it?” The gravel is located at three different pits, approximate quantity each pit: 20,000 ton at Ferguson’s; 19,000 at Whipple’s and 35,000 at May’s. Friese stated he believed that the May gravel would need to be mixed with a binder before it can be spread on any county road. Commissioner Schomp stated he recently drove up to the May pit and looked at the gravel again. He would like to try and screen it one more time to remove more of the sand, spread it out and see how it goes. Friese commented that they had tried to put some on Hisle Road, and it didn’t work. Commissioner Kirk asked Friese to take enough of the gravel to cover a quarter to a half mile out to County Road 289, mix it with some of the clay on the road and try it.
Discussion was held pertaining to using an excavator for extracting gravel as well as for other projects. The board agreed, but since the county currently does not own one, the option of leasing or renting was discussed. Schomp stated he saw one for sale online for $35,000. No action was taken.
Scott Bauman from Bauman Gravel Pit was present to get clarification on how the county was going to handle gravel purchases for the new year and if the board was still interested in purchasing from his company. He stated that the company is currently undergoing some changes and if future purchases were going to be made from him, payment may need to be broken down into gravel purchases and equipment charges. The board assured Bauman that more gravel would be purchased from him at some point in the future and splitting the bill wouldn’t be a problem.
No bids were received for the Highway Department’s 2006 Dodge pickup.
Gravel permits came under discussion. Once again, Schomp reiterated that his thoughts are to let the county haul all the gravel they need and wait until fall before granting any permits. There was a motion made and seconded, but after further discussion, the motion and second were rescinded. The issue was tabled until all five commissioners could be present at the next meeting.
Gravel bids were tabled until the next meeting.
Bennett County Sheriff Paul Williams questioned if the 50 mph speed limit signs on Old Highway 18 had been removed. Friese verified that the 50 mph signs had been replaced with 30 mph signs. Williams also suggested there may need to be some research done relating to the proper shape and colors on a mandatory speed limit sign versus an advisory sign since there is a significant difference. Sheriff Williams also stated that the Attorney General’s Office had just approved the department for a 100% grant to purchase one more integrated dash and body camera and docking station. Although the grant was approved, the equipment has not been ordered yet. He also suggested getting started with the random drug tests since the department was all set up and ready to go.
The Tuthill and Vetal Volunteer Fire Department’s rosters were approved as read.
Yearly designations pertaining to the legal newspaper and bank for 2021 were approved.
A motion was made and passed to approve the employee wages for 2021.
The Hughes JDC and Charles Mix contracts were approved and passed.
The next scheduled meeting is January 20 at 9:30 a.m. in the courtroom at the courthouse.