Official Newspaper for the City of Bison, Perkins County, and the Bison SchoolDistrict APublication of Ravellette Publications, Inc.
P.O.Box 429 • Bison, SouthDakota 57620-0429 Phone: (605) 244-7199 • FAX (605) 244-7198
Volume 30Number 48May 16, 2013
County Commissioners have a full plate
Roads, bridges, law enforcement are major issues
By Beth Hulm
It’s a really busy time for countylawmakers. Not only are CountyCommissioners working to get aComprehensive Plan and ZoningOrdinances in place, they are ne-gotiating with The City of Lem-mon and Adams County to fixRailway Street, the farm to mar-ket road on Lemmon’s north sidethat is the truck route to South-west Grain; they are having con-versations with Bison Townshipregarding both a box culvert and afailing bridge; and, they are in-volved in a contract with the Lem-mon Police Department and theCity of Lemmon to create county-wide law enforcement. In additionto all of that, it’s time to start writ-ing the budget for 2014 and High-way Superintendent Tracy Buerhas engaged them in conversationtostart putting money away to re-do the Bixby Road, west of Bison.Lemmon City Councilman Gar-rett Schweitzer told the countyboard last week that RailwayStreet “is quite possibly the worstone in the county.” Lemmon nativeand project engineer Craig Mizera,HDR, Inc., Bismarck, accompa-nied Schweitzer to the meetingand Chuck Christman, chairmanof the Adams County Commission,was there, too. North Dakota hasoil and gas money and Christmanisurging his state legislators tosupport funding for the street.South Dakota doesn’thave bigmoney available but G. Schweitzerurged Perkins County Commis-sioners to talk with their legisla-tive representatives, tooThe City of Lemmon is workingwith South Dakota DOT on afunding package and Schweitzerfinds them to be “very lenient.”Railway Street is a county roadall the way through Lemmon butSchweitzer said that the City willshoulder the responsibility for thesection that’s inside the city limits. Adams County will pay for whatlays in their state. SouthwestGrain will also cooperate, accord-ing to Schweitzer.Perkins County’s share would bethe Theater Road to the state lineon the west side and the corporatelimits on the east. The estimatedprice tag for the county’s sharewould be more than $2 million.The overall design so far is towiden the road and to apply 12inches of gravel and then 6 inchesof asphalt. Perkins County Com-missioners call that a “Cadillac”model and Road SuperintendentBuer thinks it’s being made toodifficult. He suggests grinding upthe current road, laying new basefollowed by chip seal and oil beforespreading a new mat. “The key isthe base,” he said.“We have one shot at it.” Mizerasaid. “Let’sdo it right.” Some slop
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Public Hearing leaves no clearanswers for school board
By Beth Hulm
Bison school board chairmanDan Kvale may not have gottenexactly what he and the rest of theboard were hoping for on Mondaynight. In his opening comments,during a public meeting held inthe school cafeteria, Kvale said,“We really want some guidelines.”Opinions were varied, however,and, in the end, to build new or torepair the current school will be aboard decision.Board members have been skit-tish about spending big money – an estimated $75,000 – to have anengineer do a walk-through of theschool to identify problem areasand provide a cost estimate for re-pairs. They would be even moreuncomfortable proposing a bondissue for funding a new multi-mil-lion dollar school without firsthearing what school patrons haveto say.The decision to build new or tofix what is there is the “cross-roads” that the board now finds it-self at, according to board memberEric Arneson. At another public meeting, acouple of months ago, patronsleaned towards – and were excitedabout – a brand new school. Thisweek they were more cautious.The ultimate goal would be to beeconomically wise while, at thesame time, creating a buildingthat will stand the test of time.“Weneed to be very careful andthoughtful,” said Phil Hahn, Bisonarea businessman and formerschool board member. He sug-gested a 10-year plan and not to“jump into this thing,” adding, “It’salot of work for the board but it’swhat the community needs you todo.” Admittedly,in 10 years costswill rise and Kvale said that inter-est rates won’t stay at the currentlow rate either. “It might be a oncein a 100-year opportunity,” hesaid.Hahn estimated that a totallynew school could end up costing asmuch as $15 million. Faith’snewschool came in at $4.1 millionwhile Harding County spent $9.7million on theirs, according to fig-ures gathered by business man-ager Bonnie Crow. Faith did notadd a 2nd gym, a cafeteria, a shopor a library.Bruce Hendrickson, Meadow-area rancher and also a formerschool board member, leans to-wards a new school. The currentold building needs a lot of work.“No matter how much you stick init, it’s still going to be an old build-ing,” he said. Amongst the things on a long to-do list are a new parking lot on theeast side (recently estimated at$150,000); duct work for the cur-rent coal furnace or possibly a sec-ond furnace for better heat distri-bution (the last one was $373,000in 1998 and was a used model); fix-ing leaking roofs; new plumbing inacouple of areas; handicap acces-sibility throughout; providingcampus security and possiblybuilding a new shop.Todd Goddard and Fritz John-son, Prairie City, and Scott Storm,Meadow, took the opposite point of view. New buildings require up-keep and maintenance, too. “Stickyour money into fixing the oneyou’ve got,” Goddard said.Jim Goddard, Prairie Cityrancher,doesn’tthink that theboard can get a bond issue to pass.“I don’t know if you can get themto vote for it.”Brad Seidel, Bison, said, “Onceare-model starts, you have tobring the whole building up tocode.” Hendrickson added that a
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About six months ago, theLemmon Police Committee ap-proached the Perkins CountyCommission and Perkins CountySheriff’s Office regarding thepossibility of combining their po-lice department into the Sheriff’sOffice. Based upon this request,acommittee was formed to lookinto this possibility. The commit-tee was comprised of two CountyCommissioners, the Lemmon Po-lice Committee, and the Sheriff.The City indicated that overthe last six years, they have hadproblems not only recruiting, butretaining a third police officer.The City has had 12 different of-ficers in this position over thattime period. It is very difficult torecruit qualified officers to asmall, rural police department,and a larger department offersmore opportunity and can attractqualified applicants. The Sher-iff’sOffice has only seen one newDeputy in that same six yeartime-frame. Alarger Sheriff’sOffice will help with law enforce-ment coverage issues for the Cityand County, such as when one of the Deputy’s has to be in court orwhen a Deputy is on vacation,there will be others to respond tocitizen needs, county wide. Acombined force should also allowfor better trained staff that canmore quickly handle the tasks athand.If this agreement is put intoplace, the staffing levels will staythe same as they have been. Thesheriff and two deputies will re-side in Bison, while threedeputies will reside in Lemmon.Thetwo current Lemmon policeofficers would become deputysheriffs. As the law enforcement agree-ment was worked through theearly phases of discussion, theSheriff put together an estimatedannual cost for the County toprovide law enforcement to theCity in 2014. This cost came inat$201,088. This provides forthe three deputies and all opera-tional costs.Some of the terms of thisagreement include: The City,County, or Sheriff can terminatethis agreement by giving 180days written notice; All Cityequipment will be inventoried.When an item is replaced or pur-chased as a new item with Cityfunds, it will be tracked. In theevent that the agreement wouldbe terminated, all items on thatlist would be returned to the City,including replacement vehiclesthat the City has paid for.The Sheriff will be part of theCity’s annual budget process.The cost of inflation and other in-creasing costs may be negotiatedand mutually agreed upon. Thisprocess may be done annually oras needed. The Sheriff will trackthe City funds just as the Cityhas done in the past. In theevent that any party would ter-minate this agreement, the Citystill has all their funds identifiedso they can pick up right whereweleft off and stand their policeforce back up and get it opera-tional. It is believed that by pro-viding for the option of being ableto return the city equipment, andthe full funding by the city,cre-ates a safety net for the citizensof the city and county.The Lemmon Police Commit-tee, Perkins County Commission,and Sheriff’s Office have donemuch research into this agree-ment. Agoal of this proposedagreement is to provide the bestpossible law enforcement andsafety for all citizens within thecounty, as we deal with changesand look toward the future. Duediligence must be done to makethe best decision for all the citi-zens in Perkins County.
Highlights & Happenings are on page 24