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Commission votes to extend courthouse voting hours Nov. 3

By Sue Sitter - | Oct 17, 2020

The Pierce County Commission voted at its regular October meeting to expand the hours the county’s lone polling place will be open on Election Day Nov. 3.

Commissioner Terry Hoffert moved to rescind the previous 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. polling hours for the Pierce County Courthouse decided on in September, then moved to change them to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the courthouse for the 2020 General Election. After Commissioner Mike Brossart seconded both motions, the commissioners approved them with a unanimous vote.

The commission also attended a budget meeting for Lake Region District Health Unit by conference call. Also present were commissioners from Benson, Eddy and Ramsey County.

LRDU Administrator Allen McKay presented the 2021 budget, which included $146,848 requested from Pierce County. According to information provided by Pierce County Auditor-Treasurer Karin Fursather, the requested amount “is based on the taxable valuation of each county in the district.”

Hoffert and Commissioner Mike Christenson pointed out an error on the budget’s salary study and questioned the amount requested by McKay.

McKay told Hoffert and Christenson the budget used funds carried over from the previous budget for the salaries. All commissioners from Ramsey, Eddy and Benson Counties voted “aye,” along with Pierce County Commissioners Brossart and Mike Christenson. Pierce County Commissioners Ashley Berg, David Migler and Hoffert voted against the budget.

In other business, Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center Administrator Mike Graner presented the commission with September financials and population numbers from the facility.

Graner reported a deficit of $17,488.44 for the facility in August. Graner said the inmate population September sat at 89, with a high of 93 and a low of 84. Graner added the jail housed 91 inmates as of early October with 42 bookings and 48 releases. The jail held seven inmates from Pierce County in September with four in custody. Graner noted the jail was fully staffed with 24 of 24 correctional officers on duty for the month.

Graner also told the commissioners the public health nurse would give county employees flu shots Oct. 15.

In other business, the commission approved a tax abatement application to reduce the true and full value of a property in Rugby’s Southview Estates and approved an update for the Pierce County Emergency Operations Plan.

The commission also updated a county burn ban, approving a fire emergency declaration and burn ban “to include recreational burning, garbage/pit burning, burning of farmland, cropland and/or ditches and the use of fire to demolish structures when the North Dakota Fire Danger Index is in the ‘High, Very High or Extreme’ index and/or a ‘Red Flag Warning’ has been issued for Pierce County.” The declaration and burn ban will expire Oct. 31.

The commission also approved a minimum sale price on bids received for property acquired through tax deed action and voted to sign a letter of support for a USDA loan application by Good Samaritan Health Services Foundation for updates on an elevator for Heart of America Medical Center.

The commission also approved bids to supply diesel fuel, propane and gasoline to the county by Envision of Rugby. The commission approved a bid to supply the county with premium diesel and gasoline submitted by Harper Oil of Rugby.

The commission voted to table county road projects presented by Jessica Tagestad of Wold Engineering.

Commissioners also reviewed a letter concerning a project passed by the North Dakota Agriculture and Transportation Interim Committee. The project would allow “road trains,” semi tractors with multiple trailers similar to those used in the Australian Outback, to be used on North Dakota roads. The commission sent a letter urging North Dakota District 14 Representatives John Nelson and Robin Weisz and Senator Jerry Klein not to support the project.

The commission also voted to select Donald Jelsing and the county NDSU Extension agent to represent Pierce County on the North Dakota State Fair board.

Fursather told the commissioners she had applied for a $5,000 grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life for election expenses incurred due to COVID-19. The county received the grant.

The commission also approved a permit for Rugby Black Cat youth football and designate the group as a public-spirited organization.

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