Commissioners vote against new blade

By Taylor Risse

A regular meeting of the Bennett County Commissioners was held on Wednesday, April 7, with all commissioners in attendance.

The March 24 meeting minutes were approved as presented.

It was approved to surplus six V-Plows at $100 each and the board will accept sealed bids for the V-Plows.

Highway Superintendent Justin Friese informed the board that Steve Livermont will cut up the wrecked plow at Blackpipe for scrap.

Friese updated the board on what the crew has been up to. They are pulling ditches on Project 1 which is 198th avenue in western Bennett County and Project 2 has had shoulders pulled which is 289th street.

In eastern Bennett County, the crew has been working on pulling shoulders on the Miller Hill road, 226th avenue.

There are two John Deere plows down. The one has a water pump out and on the other one, an operator ran over something and caused quite a bit of damage. The operator is no longer with the department.

Wade Iszler with RDO was at the meeting to present a quote on a 2021 John Deer 772G road grader.

Iszler gave two purchase options, a seven payment and a six payment plan. The quote did not include a wing or a plow. The pricing included seven years warranty.

The 2021 machine has been in Martin for the highway crew to try out.

Friese told the board that last year, the highway department spent $261,000 on repairs.

Auditor Angie Hicks informed the board that to use money out of the snow fund they will have to bill that fund for all snow removal done between 2015-2020 and then move that money to the road and bridge fund since the snow fund is restricted money.

Commissioner Jeff Slattery asked what it would cost an hour to run the machine, Iszler responded that it would cost approximately $40 an hour.

Deep discussion was held about the cost of the blade and what they would do after the payment plan was done. 

Slattery pressed the issue of the payment cost. The counter argument was made that the county is spending more than a payment cost in repairs each year and the machine would be under warranty.

Part of the payment plan was to trade a 143 CAT for $60,000. It came to light that there is still one more payment to be made on that CAT, which is approximately $18,000.

Commissioner Judd Schomp suggested keeping the road grader here, cutting the losses with the CAT and get a machine that is under warranty.

Schomp added that this is the third spring in a row when the county needs to be blading roads and only has two working road graders.

Slattery replied that the road graders are going down the roads and things aren’t getting taken care of.

The commissioners went into executive session alone to discuss personnel. After a while, Friese, Auditor Hicks, Treasurer Jolene Donovan, and State’s Attorney Sarah Harris joined the executive session.

Once regular session convened, Iszler gave updated payment amounts with the $18,000 taken off the CAT trade-in amount.

Schomp’s opinion was to lease the machine.

Commissioner Dave Bakley’s stance was to pay off the CAT, fix it, and trade it next year.

Commissioner Blu Donovan added that the CAT isn’t going to be worth $60,000 next year for trade.

The decision needed to be made that day, because the blade was already in Martin and a truck was coming down to bring back the other John Deere and would take the 2021 back to Rapid City when it left. 

Schomp made a motion to lease the 2021 road grader using the six payment option and making a payment up front and RDO will pay off the CAT.

It was discussed that having the warranty is so important because everything is so computerized now, it makes it harder to work on by yourself.

The grand total of the new machine was $330,743.15 before trade with warranty, not including the wing and plow.

When the motion came to a vote it failed 3-2. Schomp and Donovan voted aye; Kirk, Slattery, and Donovan voted nay.

Friese confronted the board saying, “We buy new stuff for the Sheriff’s office and we [highway department] cover more miles than they do.”

Iszler told the board that the pricing will stay good through October if the board changes their mind.

Nathan Novak came before the board do discuss various issues throughout the county regarding the fence dispute from last meeting, roads being graded, and farming ditches.

Novak expressed that his stance on the fence still stands as it is a new fence.

Schomp responded that the fence is on Sterkel’s land, making it Sterkel’s fence.

State’s Attorney Harris remarked that she hasn’t had a chance to look into the matter but will get it done.

Novak talked to the board about not getting a road grader out their way. Novak stated his dad’s road had not been graded in over two years.

Novak’s next concern was farming road ditches. 

Kirk replied that it is illegal to farm ditches. 

Friese added in that the highway crew has starting taking the ditches back but it is a slow process.

Slattery explained that it is a neighbor to neighbor deal. If the neighbors can’t get along they need to reach out to the Sheriff’s office. Neighbors need to work together on fences, farming along roads, etc.

Schomp explained to Novak that, “Here is the thing with Bennett County, we don’t want to encroach in your business. We want everybody to live a life and have their freedom. We don’t want to get in people’s business, we don’t want to send someone out to measure every fence. We don’t want to get into that. We want neighbors to be neighbors and get along.”

The fence issue was brought up again and discussed more.

Harris interjected that no decision was going to be made today so give her time to look into it.

Resolution #3-2021 was approved to cancel outstanding checks.

With no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned.

The next meeting will be April 21, at 9:30 a.m. at the courthouse.

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