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HACTC top tier confident

By Staff | Aug 8, 2014

Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center business manager Mike Graner presented his monthly report at the Pierce County Board of Commissioners regular meeting Tuesday.

After the board approved HACTC’s bills for July, Graner stated he was pleased with the way the organization continues to improve and function. The jail had a profit of $67,000 in June. Graner said a taser was purchased and two more are likely to be purchased for security.

Chief of Security Darren Heidbreder said he will receive taser training, so further staff training can be done in-house. Heidbreder said HACTC also is looking into purchasing a pepper ball gun, which shoots paintball-like ammunition filled with pepper spray. The spray can subdue an inmate without entering air ducts and affecting other cells.

“My biggest concern is staff getting hurt,” Heidbreder said. “We want to do anything we can do to prevent staff getting hurt.”

He said Grand Forks and the state corrections are using the equipment, which is deemed more effective because the balls can be shot at walls, whereas tasers require one-shot accuracy.

District 2 Commissioner Mike Christenson and Migler voiced support. The gun would require an initial investment up to $1,000 followed by about $200 per year for upkeep, according to Heidbreder.

Graner said an annual tour by the U.S. Marshal service was satisfactory.

Graner said July’s average inmate count was 105.

He said the jail went live with its new management system July 30 and the old system will be phased out by the end of September. HACTC is one of five pilot sites for the system, which has 484 hours of course work for training correctional officers. Forty hours of continuing education courses is required every three years.

He expects the system to help cut down on overtime due to training and meets a “huge” area on the state’s security audit following last year’s two prisoner escapes.

HACTC is still looking to fill as many as four positions and incentive for current staff is added with a new corporal rank.

Migler asked if the firing of a female correctional officer, who had an inappropriate relationship with an inmate, was affecting the facility. Graner said there hasn’t been backlash.

“The saddest case right now is what happened to us isn’t as bad as multiple other incidents at facilities in the state,” Graner said. “It’s sad people allow themselves to get that way. As much as you try to train against that, people will make bad choices. We’re fortunate we caught it when we did.”

Sheriff Matt Lunde expressed support for Graner and Heidbreder and stated he wanted to appoint Graner as administrator.

District health budget

discussed

Lake Region District Health Unit administrator Allen McKay presented the proposed budget for 2015. The mill levy is projected to bring in the following amounts for the district’s counties: Benson County $115,440; Eddy County $47,728; Pierce County $112,563; Ramsey County 190,860. The figures are based on 2013 valuation.

McKay explained that land values are rising, so mills are worth slightly more.

Although Benson County’s population is estimated at 2,000 more people than Pierce, Benson’s valuation is less than $1 million more. Benson’s valuation is slightly more than 26 million compared to about 25.4 million for Pierce.

In discussions of costs, District 5 Commissioner Dave Migler questioned how many hours the county nurse should be working.

Road conditions discussed

Migler and District 1 Commissioner Joe Bohl discussed road conditions in Hillside and Rush Lake Townships, respectively, because of rising water. Migler said he’s received opposition from neighbors to a proposed alternate route to Stanley and Travis Peterson’s property.

Wold Engineering representative Jessica Tagestad said the Peterson road is being looked into and she will get a projected cost.

The board approved a $47,000 change order Tagestad presented from contractor Knife River Materials for the N.D. 3 overlay project shared with Rolette County. Tagestad said most of the paving is done and money still may be saved.

She said preliminary setup has been done for the Orrin Road project.

Bohl stated repairs are needed for the north-south Knox road.

Proposed RV park discussed

Anamoose native Ted Mertz visited with the commissioners about a 22-lot RV park he wants to build at Antelope Lake in Hillside Township. The total proposed area is 62.7 acres. The commissioners voiced support, but advised Mertz to speak with the zoning board.

Work on 2015 budget begins

Fursather shared the governor’s proposal to combine most of the county levies into four main funds: general operations, road funds, capital construction and judgements. Counties will keep their weed control and human service levies separate. The law enforcement center would be included in the general operations fund.

Sheriff’s 4-wheeler

financing approved

The board approved a $1,000 maximum budget for 4-wheeler use per year. Lunde stated that he’s used his personal 4-wheeler. The board prefers to reimburse the sheriff’s department for usage instead of purchasing a vehicle. The county will pay a fee of $50 each time a personal vehicle is used for sheriff’s work.

County puts question

on ballot

The board approved a resolution to add a measure to the November ballot asking to raise 9-1-1 services fee from $1 to $1.50 to offset the costs of upgrades. 9-1-1 coordinator Carrie Vallier informed the commissioners that United Telephone isn’t going to pay for the upgrade for Next Gen 9-1-1 service. The state is requesting counties buy into the same new system at a cost of $120,000. A monthly fee of $2,000 to $3,000 will be added for maintenance. The county currently pays $1,500 per month.

Community service update

State’s Attorney Galen Mack said Bottineau and McHenry Counties have yet to sign the joint-powers agreement calling for equal funding from those counties and Pierce for the Heart of America Community Service Program.

Other news

The board approved July minutes and bills previously paid; ordered other bills paid; and approved July’s financial report. A motion was approved to transfer $100,000 from County Poor Relief to Social Welfare Fund. The July treasurers check was approved in the amount of $2,833.02. Payment in the amount of $10,021.41 was paid to Hillside Township from the 2013 Disaster Fund.

The board approved custodian Butch Fursather’s request for two vacuums for the court house and social services building (old jail) at a cost of $968 each.

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