The Cavalier County Commission met on Tuesday, April 19 with a full agenda that led to extensive discussion on issues.
Posted on 4/23/16
By Melissa Anderson
The commission met first with Cavalier County Tax Director Pam Lafrenz who gave an update on where the department is on getting assessments ready for the upcoming equalizations. Lafrenz also requested that her temporary assistant, Stephanie Reko, have her days increased from two and half to four days a week. Lafrenz justified her request by citing backlogged work to be completed, errors on many records that need to be corrected, soil assessments being corrected, and the upcoming Vanguard assessments as reasons for her request.
Lafrenz also suggested that Reko could be a floater and work in other departments when needed such as when the Clerk of Courts Office requires a person during jury trials.
Cavalier County Treasurer Cindy Stremick also vouched for Lafrenz needing the extra help as she stays late quite frequently trying to catch up.
The commissioners discussed the request at length with Commissioners Nick Moser and Tom Borgen citing concerns that the position was supposed to be temporary and that if made permanent, what would happen if the workload lightened and the position was no longer needed? Lafrenz stated that the workload was unlikely to decrease anytime in the near future making the position relatively stable as well as Reko expressing interest in learning more about the duties of the tax directors office and assessing. The commission tabled the issue until next meeting due to large agenda.
The commission met with township supervisors from Mt. Carmel and Dresden Townships to discuss the heavy road usage on the 107th street which is a shared stretch of road of the two townships. Van Howatt spoke on behalf of Mt. Carmel township and stated that the heavy usage by semi trucks and trailers was a result of work being done on a nearby bridge that had redirected traffic to the township roads. The township supervisors accrued additional costs in maintaining the road last fall and requested that the county assist in maintaining the road this summer until the bridge repair is finished. The commission felt this was a reasonable request and agreed to conduct extra road maintenance at the discretion of supervisors and commissioners until the bridge repair is finished sometime this summer.
Cavalier County Emergency Manager Karen Kempert addressed the commission about the hazard mitigation plan. Kempert is currently working on the plan and will be traveling to area meetings to discuss it with city leaders and various emergency units. The hazard mitigation plan is what keeps the county eligible for various emergency services grants and the current plan expires in 2018. The approval process takes about a year to be completed.
The commission then met with Cavalier County Weed Officer Leon Pederson to discuss the upcoming season. Pederson presented his report and stated that this year he has included a landowner exclusion clause which will allow landowners to excuse right of ways they own to be excluded from chemical spraying for weeds. This option comes with the requirement that the landowner must then manage any and all weeds in the excluded zone. If not managed, the county will spray that excluded area.
The commission then met with the roadmen of Cavalier County. The discussion ranged from when gravel would be available and how much to equipment and how it was holding up. The commission then discussed the upcoming retirement of two of the roadmen and how soon they should advertise the positions in order to allow the retiring roadmen to train in the new hires.
The commission met with Bruce Wirth to discuss the cost of snow plow trucks and the necessary attachments such as plumbing in for the sander and adding on the plow wing, box, and hoist. Wirth explained that the necessary attachments to the trucks alone cost around $71,000 from all the suppliers he contacted. The trucks ranged in prices but were around the $120,000 mark for brand new which is what Wirth recommended. After some discussion on options Commissioner Stanley Dick stated that if the county cannot afford new equipment then it needed to save up until they can afford to buy new because it made no sense to buy old and have it cost as much as a new one to try and keep it running.
The commission met with representatives from Honeywell to discuss the issue of leaking boiler pipes in the basement. The concern is that with the pipes leaking, the Courthouse Maintenance Director Terry Girodat is unable to blow fans as asbestos has been discovered where the primary leak is. The commission and representatives discussed options and it was decided that all new piping would be needed in the basement. First, the asbestos material must be removed before the work can begin on the pipes. Girodat explained that he is working with Cavalier County Job Development Authority on finding and applying for a grant to get funds for the removal of the asbestos. The goal for the renovation and retrofitting of the pipes to the boilers is to hopefully have the project completed before next winter.
In Other Business
• The commission received a letter from Richard Flanders raising concerns about dust control treatment for the City of Munich should the county approve it. The commission discussed the letter and the issue of dust control for not only the City of Munich but other requests as well that have come in for dust control. The issue was tabled so that the commissioners could seek more input from citizens on the issue.
• The commission met with Mostad Insurance representatives to discuss what should and should not be placed on lists for insurance coverage and where items should be most appropriately placed. After discussion and clarification, the commission asked that Cavalier County Auditor Lisa Gellner continue working with Mostad on the master list of items to be insured.
• The commission met with Shauna Schneider who gave an update on behalf of the Cavalier County Water Board. Schneider informed the commission on various updates including the Tongue River project that has the Senator Young Dam listed. Schneider also went over improvements and renovations planned for the Mt. Carmel Recreational Area.