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County receives update on jail

By Staff | Nov 7, 2013

The Pierce County Board of Commissioners met for its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday and listened to a report from Mike Graner, the director of business operations at the Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center.

Graner expected to make an offer this week to a candidate for the director of security position. The previous director of security and the jail administrator were removed after incidents occurred iun a two-month time frame at the facility. The facility had an escape and an inmate jump out of a moving transfer vehicle this summer.

Graner also informed the board that the five counties (Bottineau, McHenry, Pierce, Sheridan and Wells) the jail serves are likely to see an increase of about $10 a day per inmate. The current rate is $55. The jail is seeking to fill an opening for a female correctional officer. The board approved family medical leave for a correctional officer in a separate position.

The county received more than $2.3 million in state funding for three projects, including improvements on N.D. 3 east, N.D. 17 north to the county line and a project eight miles west and five miles south Rugby. The projects are subject to change. A proposal from Wold Engineering was approved for the three projects.

The commission approved county bills, four abatements and the minutes from the October meetings.

Two lengthy discussions took up the majority of the meeting. The first involved a concern brought by District 1 Commissioner Joe Bohl, who stated his disapproval of an incident involving Sheriff Matt Lunde.

The Pierce County dispatch log from Sept. 24 includes a call from a citizen in Bismarck, who claimed to see a Pierce County Sheriff’s vehicle run three red lights without emergency lights (red and blue) on. Lunde told the commission at the October meeting that he accidentally flipped flashing red lights on after spilling a can of pop while returning to a hotel where he was staying for a training conference.

“He tried to insist it was an accident,” Bohl said. “After some thought, I became really disappointed about the nature of how he would outright lie to us and we wouldn’t know better than that.”

Lunde, who has been filling in as the jail administrator, acknowledged crossing intersections with red stop lights, but maintained that he was unaware that his own red lights on the cruiser were on.

“I apologize for the incident,” Lunde said. “I wasn’t purposely running lights through Bismarck, North Dakota. It wasn’t meant to embarrass or misrepresent the county.”

Bohl said it was important to bring the issue up in front of the board instead of in a one-on-one conversation because the jail is on probation and he is concerned with the county earning its credibility back with the state. Bohl also voiced the concern with state’s attorney Galen Mack.

Other commissioners shared the concern, but also voiced approval of Lunde’s role in assisting the jail in recent months.

The board also heard from Gary Goldade and Greg Brossart of the Christenson Township. After a lengthy discussion about Goldade’s options for pumping water out of his property, the board and Duane Hawk, of the Pierce County Water Resource Board, advised the neighbors to settle the matter together.

A motion was approved to purchase a digital call logger because the present 9-1-1 is having operation problems. A six-month lease agreement was approved for Social Services to move into the old i design location on Main Avenue. Mary Hermanson, director of Social Services, was present and requested future updates on a bid to move her department into the old jail facility.

Other motions carried included: $284,784.00 to Butler Machinery Company from Highway Distribution Fund for a motor grader; a transfer of $100,000.00 from Highway Distribution to Road and Bridge Fund; and a transfer of $100,000.00 from County Poor Relief to Social Welfare Fund.

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