New hires for Perkins County

Perkins County Commissioners approved two new employees when three of them, establishing a quorum, met for the regular March meeting last Tuesday.
Sheriff Kelly Serr has hired Peter Schmeling from Wisconsin as a deputy to be stationed in Lemmon. Schmelling has 4-1/2 years’ experience as a correctional officer and is a canine handler. He comes with his dog. Both will need to be certified in South Dakota and Schmelling will need to complete law enforcement training in Pierre. His wage was set at $20.59/hr. effective March 20. His parents are Pastor James and Martha Schmelling, who live in Bison.
Highway Superintendent Cody Green now has a full working crew. The commission approved the hiring of Isaac Jones at $19.23/hr.
Advertising is set to begin soon for a deputy in the Equalization office. That office has been one person short since last fall when Eric Jackson resigned his position there.
“Full depth reclamation” of the Summerville Road is moving forward. It’s a project shared between Perkins County (40%) and South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (60%). Bids are being advertised and will be awarded at a public meeting on April 6.
The Foster Bridge project could be in peril. Originally, Federal Emergency Management granted Perkins County $37,000 to put that bridge back to its original condition. The county is now looking at complete replacement of that bridge, which FEMA will not contribute funds to. The State of South Dakota granted $152,700 but has a 2024 deadline for its use. If the work cannot be completed by that time, the grant will be lost. 
The county will use some of the state’s money to hire Brosz Engineering to draw up the design plans and Green will start a conversation with FEMA, hoping to secure new funding. He said that it is “up in the air right now” as to how the project can move forward.
Bids for gravel crushing of 60,000T were opened at the designated time of 11:00 a.m. Four contractors submitted bids, which ranged from a total dollar amount of $268,800 to $474,000. The bid was awarded to low bidder Aggregate Construction, Minot, ND. Green said their bid was comparable to those received last year for the project at the Marty pit.
Bids were also to be opened for blading of the county’s secondary roads at 10:30 a.m. No bids were received.
Mel Utter, Bison, gave a brief report for SD Game, Fish and Parks concerning wildlife damage management in 2022. He reported that 109 requests for coyote assistance resulted in 670 kills and $16,970 spent to achieve those numbers. He also reported 6 requests for beaver control, resulting in 19 captures.
Bruce Hintz, South Department of Legislative Audits, phoned in his report after completing the audit of the county’s 2020 and 2021 books. His only written comment regarded cash collected during the county fair with “no adequate control” over how that cash is handled. 
Although it isn’t a “significant deficiency,” Hintz added that it was “important enough to merit the attention” of the county commission, suggesting that they implement some form of oversight control.
Sheriff Serr visited the board room to explain aid from SD Wildlife Fire Suppression, should help ever be needed in the event of a fire. That agency will send trucks and men, at no charge, when available, to help with the mop-up following a fire. However, when air assets are required, it can become very expensive for the to have them come . Therefore, the resolution that passed a vote of county commissioners last week, named the county’s fire chiefs as those authorized to request those services. Serr explained that assistance would only be called if there was concern over life or limb or the loss of somebody’s homestead.
He would work with the fire chiefs to make the actual request. Currently, fire chiefs throughout the county are Doug Jerde, Wade Henderson, Arlen Hatle, Josh Beckman, David Kopren, Allen Palmer, Brent Dirk and Chad Baumgarten. 
Serr also sought approval to apply for $16,986.93 in Homeland Security dollars to be used for updating radios in his office. He also announced an increase in daily costs – to $95 – for prisoners housed in the Meade County Jail.
Finance Officer Sara Stadler offered 10 parcels for tax abatements. Most were properties that had been missed in the Director of Equalization office previously and one was due to a house fire, causing the owner to move out.
Stadler also added four properties to the tax roll. Each had previously been tax exempt and have now been purchased by private individuals. 
Director of Equalization Corina Kocer offered a power point presentation of how property assessments are arrived at. She used 2021 numbers to arrive at the 2023 assessment. “The market has been crazy,” she said. Sales within the county have been well above assessed values. Ag properties are assessed based on productivity, cash rents and statistical data.
It’s a complicated formula. Commissioner Mike Schweitzer told Kocer, “You get it because it’s your job to do it.”
Kocer offered her 10-year reappraisal schedule of 15,979 parcels throughout the county. At the top of her list for 2022 – 2032 are townships, starting in the northeast corner of the county and working southwards, moving to southern townships after that and then to the west side of the county and, finally, in 2028-2029, to central townships. The Town of Bison would be reappraised in 2030, Lemmon’s commercial district in 2031 and residential Lemmon in 2032.
The equalization process begins this month for cities and townships. Commissioners, acting as the county board of equalization, will open their books on April 11, the same day as their regular April meeting. They will close the process on Wednesday, April 26.
In other county business last week, Stadler will apply for continuing National Opioid Settlement dollars ($4,000 was received last year) as a result of a class action suit against pharmaceutical companies; Lacy Hoff and Patti Benson were appointed to the Mental Health Board; and a recent boiler issue was discussed. After Johnson Control did a thorough cleaning, the boiler issue was resolved.

The Pioneer Review

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Philip, SD 57567
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