Cavalier County Commissioners met with full agenda and listen to two presentations on GPS and wind towers

On Tuesday, October 3rd, the Cavalier County Commissioners held their regularly scheduled bimonthly meeting.

Posted on 10/5/17

By Lisa Nowatzki

The panel approved the minutes of the last meeting and vouchers before opening the discussion for old business.

More than 15 residents in Munich continue to wait for Vanguard to come back and assess the value of their property. The problem stems from the Vanguard representatives coming to assess the homes during the harvest season.

Because the assessors did not leave cards, the residents do not know if the data collectors were actually at their house. The board discussed contacting Vanguard to help set up a website where owners can go to fill out information on their properties as a possible solution for overlooked residents.

Vanguard wants to continue with the information they have gathered and finish up the first set of estimates. Their goal is to see how close the preliminary valuations are and then interview the residents who want to dispute their initial findings. If Vanguard insists on moving forward without collecting the data from missed homeowners, then consensus was to abide by the company’s decision.

Since most of the information has been collected, Lisa Gellner, the County Auditor, and the board discussed billing customers from the initial figures provided by Vanguard.

The time frame for completion of the Vanguard project is January 2018, with hearings to commence between the last of February and the first of March 2018.

After discussion of old business, open discussion was called for during which Gellner told the commissioners that some county employees are not using their comp time before their vacation time. Gellner stressed that excess comp time gets paid in cash, and the county does not have money in the budget to pay out comp time.

The board voted to get a legal opinion from the State’s attorney to see if the county can pay comp time like vacation time, on a “use-it-or-lose-it” basis. Meanwhile, commissioners agreed to talk to their respective county employees and stress that they have to use comp time hours before they use vacation hours.

A second open discussion question talked about concernered easements. Some of the commissioners wanted to know if easements carry over from different utilities and if easements expire? After a short discussion, the group agreed that North Dakota state law requires easements to end at the 99 year mark.

The questions stem from the location of several poles on county roads. The poles in question sit on the side of the road and not the right of way. Terry Johnston, Road Supervisor, said that he would check on the locations and to have Ross Feil send a letter to him.

Regarding road work, Johnston also stated that Cavalier County has no active paving or chip-sealing to be done. He also told the board that $380,000 of federal money for the fiscal year 2018 is available. He also wants to update winter maps for later projects.

The Brickmine Bridge is complete. Because the project was so small, it did not qualify for any federal aid. A small ribbon cutting ceremony may be planned for the reopening of the repaired bridge. However, because funds are limited, the ceremony may be delayed or canceled.

The commission also asked Johnston to explore cheaper options for bridge building and construction. Cavalier County has a large number of bridges that will need repairs in the future. Johnston agreed to gather information and do a cost comparison for the board to review. He also reminded the group that bridge funds were separate from road project funds.

The commissioners also discussed maintenance workers using chainsaws to clear the trees by Hennager’s farm in the dip area. The consensus was that maintenance workers can do the clearing because the work is routine maintenance.

The commission approved the nomination to hire  two new snowplow operators, one for Langdon and one for Osnabrock. Hiring will depend on a clean background check and a negative drug test. They discussed not hiring another driver if he does not obtain and pass the written portion of the CDL-B license test, which is a condition of the hiring process.

In other business, the board approved the raffle permit for Our Lady’s Preservation Society. Also, Monica Porterfield and Janelle Bata were approved as state fair delegates.

The commission needed clarity on who’s responsible for the maintenance of cemeteries with no church association or churches that have been abandoned and torn down. The confusion arises from some churches that are disbanded or torn down but their members are still maintaining the cemetery. The board wants a list of who is responsible for what cemetery.

After a short break, RDO gave a presentation on their GPS monitors featuring TopCon products that use the Tierra system. Their products have the capability to do geo-fencing and job tracking. One of the great selling points of TopCon is that it can be retrofitted and used for a variety of equipment.

Another positive facet is that it is an after-market solution for all types of equipment.  The equipment is easy to install-only three wires need to be plugged in. The product comes with an internet interface. The system is also customizable for a mixed fleet like Cavalier County’s. It uses 4G technology that will not be obsolete any time soon. The cost is $395 for the equipment and around $21 a month for technical support.

NextEra Energy also gave a presentation on their plans to re-power Langdon’s wind tower groups known as Langdon One, which has 79 wind towers and Langdon Two, which has 27 units.

The company plans to start next year with the removal of the nacelles. Part of the re-power will include installing new generator assemblies and gear boxes. New rotors are also schedule to be put in. The installation includes a better lighting and ice and fog detection system for the turbines. The new lid system is better than the current system, especially where aircraft are concerned.

During the presentation, NextEra Energy inquired about the permit process for a radius permit to widen certain county roads for the transport of the large crane needed and for the semi-trucks to bring in the large props. The board voted to consult the State’s Attorney for some answers regarding  permits for the project.

The company assured the board that it plans on using local materials and local workforce as much as possible. One concern  expressed by a commissioner was about the company doing work on the towers during harvest season. How would this affect local farmers?

The board was also concerned about the damage done to the roads by large trucks and equipment. Who will be responsible for repairs? The members felt that if the company caused the damage, then they should pay for the damage. Again, the decision was to consult the State’s Attorney to figure out what options the county has if the road construction and roads are not left in the same shape or better than when construction began.