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Pierce County commissioners discuss updates for courthouse phones, jail security

By Sue Sitter - | Sep 12, 2020

Funding a new security system for the Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center in Rugby was a topic for discussion by Pierce County Commissioners at its regular meeting Sept.1.

HACTC Administrator Mike Graner told the commissioners he was applying for a USDA grant to fund an upgrade of the jail’s security system. Graner said he needed signatures from Chair David Migler and Pierce County State’s Attorney Galen Mack. The grant for the upgrade would require a 50 percent match from Pierce County.

Graner later said in a phone interview he was working on an application called the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant program. “It’s a pretty lengthy application,” he said. “It’s about 78 pages long.”

“We’re definitely looking at the grant side of things,” Graner said. “We’re an eligible area (in Pierce County) because of our rural status and the funds can be used in facilities such as the correctional facility to improve technology, which is our focus.”

“We’re looking at using any possible funds through this opportunity to upgrade our closed-circuit TV system, our surveillance cameras and also the software that runs our master control station, which allows our officers to open doors, answer call buttons, call up cameras, et cetera,” he added.

“We’ve received two different quotes on completing this upgrade,” Graner added. “They vary pretty significantly.”

“One of the quotes is coming in at about $184,000, and the other one’s at $111,000,” Graner noted. “So we have spent some time now making sure (the estimates) are comparable – apples to apples situation.”

Graner said the project would be completed in phases if the grant were awarded.

“What we would initially look at doing in the first stage of this would be to simply upgrade 20 of our cameras. Currently we have 89 cameras in use every day. So we would have, with the camera replacements, a slow project in the sense that we try to do 20 every year over four to five years,” Graner said.

Graner estimated project costs would be closer to the $111,000 estimate

“It’s $111,000 to $120,000,” he said. “When I reached out to the USDA officer out of Minot, she and I discussed a $120,000 project, and if I understand correctly, this is a match program where, I believe, the grant would provide 50 percent of that, so we would have to provide the other 50 percent.”

“We hope to have all the documents signed and proofed and have it delivered to the USDA by October 1, because that’s when their fiscal year starts,” Graner said, adding, “I think it’s going to be a little bit before we hear back on it once it’s submitted.”

When Graner met with the commissioners, he reported an average of 87 inmates were housed at HACTC during the month of August, with the population peaking at 94 and dipping to a low of 84 inmates.

Commissioner Ashley Berg told the board Pierce County hired Erik Kuntz as the county’s new community service coordinator. Kuntz began his new job Sept. 8.

Pierce County Auditor Karin Fursather reported indirect costs for the Northern Prairie Human Service Zone, which includes Pierce County, would be paid by the state at a rate of 100 percent of their value in 2018. Additional costs would be paid from Pierce County’s general fund.

In other business, the commissioners voted to designate the Pierce County Courthouse as the official polling location for the 2020 general election Nov. 3. Hours for polling were set at 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The board also approved August financials, bills and meeting minutes.

The board also voted to purchase a new telephone system for the courthouse for $8,686.95 and buy equipment currently rented from North Dakota Telephone Company for $692.62.

Real estate appraisals also went before the board for review. The board set a date for a hearing for the appraisals on Oct. 6 at 9:30 a.m.

The board also reviewed and approved three applications for property tax abatements and voted to issue a call for bids on premium diesel fuel, propane and gasoline.

In other business, Commissioner Terry Hoffert told the board he was investigating costs for a shed to house lawn equipment for the library.

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