Cavalier County Commission updates policy for closing of courthouse

At the recent Cavalier County Commission meeting held on January 17, the commission reviewed the closing of the courthouse due to inclement weather.

Posted 1/20/2017

By Melissa Anderson

The courthouse department heads and the employees presented a request that the commission review a proposal for how the decision is made to close the courthouse. Recent snowstorms and weather events  have caused many employees who live outside of the City of Langdon to be unable to make it to the courthouse.

The proposal lists the decision making as the responsibility of the commission chair and the Cavalier County Sheriff. Once a decision is made to either postpone opening or to close entirely, the Cavalier County Auditor would inform the rest of the county employees as soon as possible. The original proposal also stated that should an employee be unable to make it to the courthouse and the courthouse was open, that employee would be charged with a vacation/sick day.

The commission and several department heads and employees present discussed the last aspect of the proposal at length. The commission and many employees felt that it was unfair to penalize rural employees of the courthouse who couldn’t make the drive into the City of Langdon during inclement weather. Cavalier County Sheriff Greg Fetsch especially voiced that when no travel is advised in this part of the state and especially in the county, that rural employees should not be expected to risk the drive into work.

The commissioners agreed that with the current condition of county and township roads that it does not take much to make the roads impassable and dangerous to travelers. For the employees that live within city limits, so long as the streets are passable, the expectation for them to try to come to the courthouse when it is open still stood.

The commission amended the proposal submitted by the department heads so that when employees could not make it in, they would not be forced to use a vacation/sick day. There was also discussion between the commission and employees present concerning the possibility of abuse of the policy. The commission felt that periodic review would show abuse if any were to occur.  The proposal was adopted and effective immediately.

Cavalier County Emergency Manager Karen Kempert brought forward three items for the commission to consider. The first was proposals for creating a hazard mitigation plan for the county. There were three submissions with Kempert recommending the proposal from Paramount Planning. Paramount Planning had the lowest bid, and Kempert felt confident that they had the most concise plan. The commission accepted the bid from Paramount Planning for the creation of a hazard mitigation plan.

The second item Kempert discussed was the Text 911 initiative that was implemented in October of 2016. Kempert stated that Cavalier County emergency equipment is not capable of receiving the text alerts and had been using a location in the Red River Valley. That location will discontinue providing the service, and instead, the texts would be directed to a location in Bismarck. Kempert stated that a little over $10,000 is required to offset the cost of the new location. Kempert gave several situations that text 911 could make a difference and stated that the funds would come from the 911 budget. The commission agreed to the expenditure.

The final item presented was to notify the commission that the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services was giving away meals ready to eat (MREs)and empty sandbags. The commission could not use the MREs but felt the sandbags may come in handy this spring. Kempert was directed to see if any neighboring counties would be going down that could bring a pallet back.

The commission discussed the purchasing of a new snowplow truck to replace the truck that is currently in Commissioner Nick Moser’s district. The commission reviewed the list of trucks currently in use within the county with road supervisor Terry Johnston. The commission decided to replace two snowplows this year instead of one and a motor grader. The commission will place advertisements in the paper requesting bids for snowplows similar to the snowplow that was recently purchased from Butler Machinery.

In Other Business

• The commission met with Johnston and a representative of KLJ Engineering to discuss upcoming road projects.

• The commission reviewed and approved  the amended expenditures for 2016.

• Cavalier County Treasurer Cindy Stremick presented the pledge of securities at Choice Financial, Farmers and Merchants State Bank, and the Bank of North Dakota. The commission approved all the pledges.

• The commission approved the termination of the contract with Cavalier County Memorial Hospital for the HR services.