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Commission returns to virtual meetings for November

By Sue Sitter - | Nov 14, 2020

After an Oct. 27 conference call vote to close all county buildings due to an increase in COVID-19 cases until further notice, the Pierce County Commission held a virtual monthly regular meeting Nov. 3.

Commissioners heard a report from Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center Administrator Mike Graner.

Graner told the commissioners the inmate population at the facility in October reached a high of 96 and a low of 86. The average inmate population for October sat at 89. The jail’s population for early November was 82 inmates. Thirty-nine inmates were booked in October, while 35 inmates were released for the month. Graner also reported a full roster of correction officers at the facility, with 24 of 24 positions filled. Graner told the commission officials had placed a mask mandate on employees and inmates in the facility to combat the spread of COVID-19. Graner reported a substantial impact from the global pandemic to the facility.

Graner noted the facility saw an $18,658.48 loss for the month of September, and a year-to-date loss of $146,419.21. Graner also said workers had installed a new water heater in the jail.

Graner also answered questions at a public hearing at 9 a.m. Nov. 3 related to submitting a community facilities grant application to the United States Department of Agriculture. Graner said the jail had requested $55,687 in the grant, which would amount to 50 percent of the eligible costs to upgrade the jail’s security system. Graner reported conversations he had with a loan specialist with the department indicated the facility may only be eligible for 35 percent of the funds needed for the project. Commissioners voted to sign a document expressing significant community support for the project.

In other business, the commissioners voted to rescind a county burn ban that had expired Oct. 31.

The commission also reviewed a proposal submitted by Otis Elevator, Inc. to modernize the elevator in the Pierce County Courthouse. Correspondence from the company said parts of the courthouse’s elevator are becoming obsolete, and estimated a $65,000 cost for the project for county budgeting purposes.

The commission also approved a $5,000 transfer from the county wireless fund to county 9-1-1 funds.

The commission heard from a county resident who shared concerns about ditches along 27th Avenue Northeast, where illegal dumping has occurred.

Jessica Tagestad of Wold Engineering told the board via conference call a project to reshape and regravel a stretch of county road nine miles south of Rugby and seven miles east of North Dakota Highway 3 would cost $462,000 in total. Tagestad said the final estimate payment for the contract would come from the North Dakota Department of Transportation, with Pierce County paying 20 percent.

Pierce County would also be responsible for 20 percent of the cost of 10 miles of graveling and reshaping from US Highway 2 to North Dakota Highway 19. Pierce County Auditor Karin Fursather reported funds remaining for disbursement to the project amounted to $17,000, in retainage and the county would cover 20 percent of that amount.

The commission also approved a purchase of a Toro 50 inch mower from Rugby’s Hardware Hank store for county use. They also voted to approve a kiosk temperature scanning machine for use in the county courthouse at a cost of $1,995.

The board also approved one residential property tax abatement request and heard from Dave Migler, who reported costs for ditch mowing would be assessed to a county taxpayer.

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