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Commissioners pass conditional use permit

By Jennifer Harms

Lincoln County Commissioners met Tuesday, November 22 in the Lincoln County Courthouse boardroom to discuss agenda items throughout the county. Board members present were Joel Arends, Tiffani Landeen, Michael Poppens and Jim Schmidt.

Planning Director Toby Brown joined the Lincoln County Commission meeting to discuss a previous conditional use permit that was denied at the October 17th meeting. East River Electric is attempting to build a 12,000-square-foot maintenance facility five miles Northeast of the City of Lennox on 276th Street and the I-29 exit.

A representative for East River Electric Power Cooperative, Inc., Jerae Wire, stood in front of the Commission to address the changes that East River Electric has made since the October 17th meeting. East River Electric has 14 substations in Lincoln County, serving 11,840 members. The main concerns of the previous meeting were draining concerns, screening and landscaping, a security fence, township communication, utility facility classification, and a clear picture for future plans.

“In Lincoln County we have 113 miles of transmission lines already and that number is growing very rapidly with the population growth,” Wire said.

The proposed sight will allow good access to the highway, interstate, and service area south of Sioux Falls. The highway access is kept to a road intersection and the driveway has a clear view and slower traffic for both the safety of residents and East River Electric workers.

“We worked with the township to have one single North facing approach,” Wire said.

The lot will also allow enough room for employees to pull their pole trucks in and turn around on their lot to not impede traffic.

“We do intend to store all of our equipment inside, but poles will go outside in case they are needed in an emergency,” he said.

Trees and landscaping will also be added to the property and a chain link fence will surround the building for added safety.

“Our Civil design work has been updated to catch drainage and run into a drainage pond in the southeast corner of the site. Drainage from the north and east will flow through the right-of-way ditch,” Wire said.

Permits have been updated with support from LaValley township. East River and LaValley Township have entered into a Road Maintenance agreement to continue throughout the construction period. Motion passed.

Building Superintendent, John Rombough presented to the Commission the only bid for electrical work needed for the 4-H Showring building.

“The bid was for $15,950.03 from Miller Electric in Ethan, South Dakota. I was anticipating more bidders, but this number does fall in line with the numbers I was hearing from people that I thought might bid it but didn’t because they would not be able to complete the work before the end of this budget year,” Rombough said.

Betty Otten of Tea addressed the Commission during the public input.

“Per the Lincoln County video on August 24, 2021, John had $44,900 in his budget to do a 4-H project, however, bids came in way over budget. He said he could come up with another $10,000 from his budget, but that project would still be $44,000 short. Using the sale of equipment from the closed dump station and other rental funds for the 4-H to me is wrong. These are taxpayer funds and should have been used for other projects like roads and etcetera. After discussions he had with the 4-H foundation, they only wanted to release $10 to 15 thousand for that project regarding the dirt work. Taxpayers have spent almost one million dollars on this 4-H project, $750,000 on the property, and $94,109.36 on-site grading and a couple of other things. Have these expenses ever been paid back by the 4-H Foundation, and now again today we have an additional request for $8,500 and $15,950 for the 4-H property. Why are Lincoln County taxpayers for these expenses when it should be paid for by the 4-H foundation? Who is paying for the bills, the county or the Foundation? I urge you to make the 4-H Foundation responsible for all of these expenses now and going forward,” Otten said.

Rombough was given a chance to address Otten’s concerns.

“My understanding is that our agreement was the County would pay for the utilities side of the project and the 4-H foundation would raise the money for the structural improvement to the facility,” Rombough said.

Commissioner Landeen asked if any reimbursements were made for the utilities, but none have been. The question was asked how much the 4-H foundation had raised for the cost of the building. Rombough stated that $190,000 plus had been raised by the foundation. Motion passed to move forward with the bid.

Sheriff Steve Swenson asked to board to reclassify a current position in the Sheriff’s Office from a Deputy to a Sergeant.

“The reason we need to reclassify a position is as we grow, we have more staff out and my goal would be to have a supervisor on duty 24 hours a day, with the deputies,” he said.

Currently, the Sheriff’s Office is calling supervisors out around 200 hours a year in overtime.

“It’s not a concern of the money in overtime, but the burn out factor of working an additional 200 hours,” he said.

The cost of a promotion will be roughly $7,000 per year in increased wages. The overtime savings will offset the wage increase in the budget for the Sheriff’s Office and provide supervisor coverage for 20 hours per day. Motion passed unanimously.

Chief Civil Deputy State’s Attorney, William Golden, informed the Commission that there have been two separate occasions where waterpipes have leaked in the basement of the Courthouse have reaching court records causing water damage to the records.

“The concern here is that the records for the court being stored in the basement is a risk, and we need to find another option,” Golden said.

After exploring options, Golden recommended to the Commissioners that digitizing the records would be the best alternative.

“There are around 130 boxes of records in the basement, and I got a quote of $52,800 to get them all scanned in and remove them from the basement all together,” he said.

Active Data will bring the documents to a secure site and scan the documents in before the end of the year. Motion approved.

The Lincoln County Commissioners will meet again on Tuesday, Dec. 6.


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