Blu Donovan appointed to open Commissioner seat

By Taylor Risse

The Bennett County Board of Commissioners began their February 3 meeting by entering executive session for personnel purposes with Auditor Angie Hicks and State’s Attorney Sarah Harris.

Upon resuming normal session, it was unanimously decided to appoint Cole “Blu” Donovan to the open seat.

Donovan was present at the meeting and after being sworn in, took his place at the head table.

Donovan will take the place of Commissioner Kyle Harris on all board designations.

A motion was made and approved to hire Weathercraft Roofing of Chamberlain to replace the courthouse and law department roofs. The bid was approved for $81,064 for the law department roof and $344,102 for the courthouse roof.

The January 20 meeting minutes were approved as presented.

Jerald Lyon was present at the meeting to discuss the bill he previously submitted to the county for installing two culverts. The payment request was denied at the last meeting.

The original agreement made last year, was for the county to provide two culverts and Lyon would install them at his cost.

Due to misunderstanding, Lyon thought he would be paid to install the culverts.

Commissioner Judd Schomp informed Lyon that it has always been policy to pre-approve work done to county roads.

Discussion was held regarding the precedent it would set if the county agreed to pay a bill that was not pre-approved.

Commissioner Judd Schomp made a motion to stick to the decision from last meeting and not pay. Commissioner Rod Kirk seconded the motion. 

Chairman Jeff Slattery stated he didn’t mind paying the bill due to the miscommunication and the fact that they would have had to pay someone else to do it.

New members Dave Bakley and Blu Donovan asked to table the issue until they could learn more information.

It was agreed to table the issue until the February 17 meeting.

Scott Bauman addressed the board on the Bennett County/Jackson County haul agreement from Fish Creek Road into Long Valley.

To work on the road takes a whole day for a Bennett County blade operator due to the distance.

Bauman stated he would be interested in helping blade that road since he has a blade and is right there.

Bauman’s main interest is being under the county’s insurance so he’s covered if something was to happen.

Auditor Hicks said she would check with the insurance to see how he needs to be listed whether it is as a part-time employee, seasonal employee, etc.

Bennett County Treasurer Jolene Donovan asked the board what policy to follow when it comes to paying holiday pay for the highway department. The highway department is currently working four, ten hour days and the policy manual states that holiday pay is not to exceed eight hours.

Kirk stated that if the crew has Monday off, they need to work Friday.

Bakley added that to balance it out, the crew would have only had to work two hours on the next Friday.

Slattery suggested leaving the policy as is and only paying the eight hours.

Auditor Hicks asked what should be done if someone’s regular day off is also a holiday, do they get that pay?

It was decided that no, they don’t get the holiday pay.

Highway Superintendent Justin Friese informed the board they have been hauling gravel up by Mansfield’s.

Wade Iszler with RDO was at the meeting to present quotes for a 300 Excavator and 2017 772G Motor Grader.

The excavator would be a two month rental purchase with the proposal written to bring the machine to Martin and try out. Bennett County rented a 250 excavator last year.

Iszler was asked what rental costs would be and he replied for the 250 it would be $9,440 plus freight a month and for the 300 it would be $11,235 plus freight a month. The month is a 28 day month and equals 160 hours or less.

If purchased, warranty would be full machine warranty for seven years. If rented, it would be under full warranty.

The 2017 772G motor grader, six wheel drive has 2,363 hours on it with an option to trade in the CAT motor grader.

The current warranty on the grader runs out on July 1, 2021, to extend the warranty for three years it would cost an additional $9,923.

Schomp brought up the idea of buying a brand new machine that has seven years of warranty and exchange it after seven years.

Iszler agreed that most people follow that policy.

The wings and rippers that the county already has could be used on the new blade.

Bennett County would need to have a front lift group put on the blade which would add extra cost.

Later in the meeting, Iszler came back with better estimated numbers for a 2021 motor grader with a front lift group and a seven year, 7,000 hour warranty for $326,600.

RDO is offering a $60,000 on the CAT blade as either a down payment or a trade in.

Payments a year for seven years would be $43,380 and for six years it would be $49,825.

Schomp suggested if they are looking at buying a brand new blade, the highway crew should attend classes on how to run and operate the new blades.

The board thanked Iszler for his time and decided to wait on any decision until more discussion can be held.

Discussing gravel bids for 2021 was tabled until Schomp has time to compile the list.

The board received a letter from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture - Wildlife Life Division asking them to appoint someone in the county as the designee. In the past the board has always appointed the Martin Volunteer Fire Department Chief, it was decided to keep that trend and appoint the Chief as the designee.

It was also required to appoint two designees to the Black Hills Council of Local Governments. The board appointed Blu Donovan and Jeff Slattery.

In new and old business, a PA system for the courtroom was discussed. State’s Attorney Harris informed the board that she doesn’t feel it is necessary to have one and if they did she wouldn’t use it in grand jury trials due to confidentiality issues.

No decision was made on the matter.

Auditor Hicks brought up creating a profile on a public service website which is similar to Purple Wave but you can sell small things like desks up to big things like equipment. There is no cost in using the site.

The board said there was no issue in creating a profile.

Board members have a chance to go to a New Elected Official’s conference in March, commissioners who can go will get back to Hicks.

With no further business to discuss the meeting was adjourned.

The next meeting will be Wednesday, February 17 at 9:30 a.m.

502 Second Avenue, Martin, SD 57551 • 605-685-6866 •