Haakon Co. Commissioners hear four assessment appeals, Quinn resigns as emergency manager
The Haakon County Commissioners had a full docket of business during their regular meeting on Thursday, April 13, 2023. States Attorney Tom Maher gave a brief report and commended Sheriff Fred Koester and Philip City Police Chief Ben Buls for their skillful handling of a couple recent, potentially violent, situations. According to Maher, these incidents could have escalated but were very skillfully handled by these two law enforcement individuals.
Librarian Bailey Brock has submitted the library annual report. Brock met with the commissioners to report on the summer reading program. She also reported that there is still a propane smell in the Midland Library. They are continuing to work on this ongoing problem.
Emergency Manager Lori Quinn was present and requested an executive session. Upon exiting executive session, commission president Lincoln Smith presented a letter of resignation from Lori Quinn for her positions as emergency manager and states attorney secretary effective at the end of April.
Tom Wilsey of Broz Engineering presented a power point presentation on the county sign project. This is a federally mandated project and is being funded by the federal highway department through safety program funding. Broz Engineering will drive every road in the county and record what signs are needed. County residents will notice more signs when the project is complete. The plans must be presented to the state by July. The state will review the plan and return it for corrections. After correction are made, bids will be let to complete the project. Every sign in the county will be a new sign to meet reflective requirements unless the existing sign is certified to be up to code. No road names will be changed. Old signs will be returned to the county. Wilsey estimates that the project will be completed in 2024.
SD Public Assurance Alliance (SDPAA) representative, Becky Brunsing met with the commissioners to present an insurance quote. Brunsing explained several of the components of the policy. SDPAA is member owned and was formed to provide insurance coverage to public entities. Currently the county is insured by Sandra Heaton with BankWest Insurance. Heaton met with the commissioners later in the meeting to present an annual quote from BankWest Insurance.
At approximately 2:15 p.m. the commissioners recessed as a board of commissioners and convened as a board of equalization to hear four assessment appeals. The first appeal presented was from Steve Clements. Clements’s appeal was based on soil classifications and usability of the land. Cassie Wendt assisted Clements in explaining the reason for the appeals. Clarifications were given by Director of Equalization Sara Pfeifle. After discussion and explanations, the commissioners voted to deny the Clements appeal. The Harty and Schofield appeals were approved. The Stoeser appeal was discussed. There were several items on the appeal and some corrections were made after Pfeifle went to the property to assess. The commissioners voted to approve the DOE’s recommendation.
The commissioners reconvened as the board of commissioners and DOE Pfeifle presented her monthly report. They went into executive session for an evaluation of the DOE.
Val Williams met with the board on behalf of the Haakon County Highway Department. Williams reported on the activities of the highway department and fielded questions from the commissioners.
Haakon County was the recipient of a Bridge Improvement Grant (BIG) from the South Dakota Transportation Commission. To be eligible for this grant a county must impose a wheel tax and have a County Highway and Bridge Improvement Plan to detail proposed county highway and bridge improvement projects within the county for the next five years. The grant awarded to Haakon County was $2,059,616.94. The bridge on Grindstone Road will be replaced. There are two other bridges in the county that are being repaired as weather permits. One of the ordered trucks has arrived and will be picked up in Pierre. Williams requested an executive session for personnel. Two commissioners will interview two applicants for the highway department superintendent position. In the future, Williams will be notifying residents when road work will affect travel routes.
The Haakon County Commissioners’ meeting can be watched in full on the Ravellette Publications Facebook page and the auditor’s minutes can be read in a future issue of the Pioneer Review.