Haakon Co. Commissioners hear concerns and department reports

The Haakon County Commissioners met in regular session on Thursday, February 9, 2023. During the public comments portion of the meeting, Ben Buls spoke to the commissioners about the need for a culvert on Hilltop Dr. which goes north and south in front of his house. The commissioners and District Attorney asked Buls to speak with Highway Superintendent Val Williams and the state highway department to discuss possible solutions and report back.
Becky Brunsing of SD Public Assurance Alliance (SDPAA) then met with the board to explain this insurance program to the commissioners. The SDPAA website states that the organization is “member owned and helps protect municipalities, counties, townships, conservation districts, and special districts from liability and property loss exposures.” Over 450 South Dakota local government entities currently participate in the SDPAA, including 58 of 66 counties in the state. The commissioners agreed to have Brunsing work on a quote that they will consider at a later date.
Katrina Gartner from the equalization office informed the commissioners that she had been contacted by an out of county individual for a list of county residents and their mailing addresses. She was wondering what to charge for this service. After some discussion it was recommended to Gartner that she investigate how other counties handle this request. Maher stated that he will meet with Gartner and Director of Equalization (DOE) Sara Pfeifle to determine a possible course of action and report back to the commissioners. DOE Pfeifle then gave her monthly report on other activity in the office. She is currently working on cleaning up the owner-occupied listings. Forms have been mailed to property owners and Pfeifle is waiting for those forms to be returned. Philip city residents’ property valuations have increased due to previous year sales. Midland residents will see a decrease in valuations. Assessments will be printed and can be mailed or emailed so Pfeifle will be inserting a note in the mailing asking property owners if they would like to receive correspondence via email. She also explained Map Factors to the commissioners.
Tom Swift and Kim Pinney met with the commissioners to discuss the replacement of the screens that were damaged in the June storm. The courthouse windows did not originally have screens, so they were added later and there is no way to hold them in place to install them from the inside.  Swift was asking for approval to hire a lift and operator to assist with the installation of the upper floor window screens. Approval was given for Swift to get the lift arranged so that when the lawn is firm/frozen they can finish the project right away. Pinney also discussed the parking lot with the commissioners. Pinney will talk to Gibson Concrete about getting an estimate of the cost of a new sidewalk and will report back to the commissioners to make a final decision. Another subject discussed was the generator that the county will be installing to operate the courthouse in the event of another power outage like the one in June of 2022. The commissioners voted to order the generator.
Emergency Manager Lori Quinn informed the commissioners of some classes that FEMA wants all elected officials to complete. Quinn also spoke with the Emergency Management Regional Coordinator about coming to Philip to present a condensed workshop to the commissioners about the purpose of an emergency manager. This presentation could be done following the March regular meeting.
According to Sheriff Fred Koester, the new sheriff’s pickup has been ordered. He also reported on the three county prisoners and the current daily prison costs at various jails.
Val Williams, highway superintendent reported on various equipment repairs, then she discussed gravel crushing with the commissioners. Other various road, bridge, and graveling issues were discussed. When weather conditions allow, the road crews are out blading roads. Williams also said that she has received some job applicants. The commissioners then voted to go into executive session for personnel with Williams, Auditor Stacy Pinney, and DA Maher. Upon exiting the executive session, commission president Lincoln Smith announced that Williams “wouldn’t mind stepping down from the highway superintendent position and going to the assistant to the highway superintendent” which was her previous position. The county will advertise the highway superintendent position.
Auditor Stacy Pinney gave a detailed insurance payment report concerning the June 2022 storm. Pinney also went through the department inventory lists. Some items need to be placed on the surplus property list and other items are broken or missing. One concern was the obsolete laptop computers. Pinney will contact Ron Larson about how to dispose of these computers. The commissioners approved the entire surplus list with the proper disposal of the laptops.
A live feed of the commissioner’s meeting can be watched on the Ravellette Publications Facebook page and you can read the auditor’s meeting minutes in a future issue of the Pioneer Review.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Haakon County Commissioners will be held on Thursday, March 9, 2023, in the commissioner’s room on the second floor of the Haakon County Courthouse.

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
E Mail: ads@pioneer-review.com

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