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County hears jail security system updates

By Sue Sitter - | Jan 16, 2021

Work on a security system upgrade began Jan. 12 at Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center, according to information presented to Pierce County commissioners by Mike Graner, administrator of the facility.

Graner told the commissioners at their regular meeting Jan. 5 the improvements would bring the jail’s camera and door system up to date.

The jail has hired Fargo firm ECI Systems to upgrade the Wonderware and VideoXpert security software currently in use.

Graner told the Tribune the contractor would also replace 20 cameras in the facility with new high-definition models. More camera system additions and upgrades would be made incrementally in the future.

In the Jan. 5 meeting, Graner said the facility received a grant of $8,087.99 from the North Dakota Attorney General’s office to purchase nitrile gloves, a water bottle filling station, a backpack electrostatic sprayer and a temperature scanner. These items would be used to help the facility manage the spread of COVID-19.

The inmate population at HACTC averaged 78, with a high of 85 and a low of 72, according to Graner’s report. The jail housed 78 inmates as of Jan. 5. The jail booked 30 inmates in December and released 38 inmates during the month. Five Pierce County residents were booked at the facility in December and six Pierce County residents remained in custody at the jail as of early January. Graner noted the jail was fully staffed in December.

The jail saw 22 positive COVID-19 cases during December, Graner said, triggering a lockdown and suspension of visitation and volunteer services.

Commissioners also heard from Pierce County Tax Assessor Kelsey Siegler, who gave a slide presentation on soil types for land value assessment.

Siegler recommended the county use a detailed system to determine soil types rather than relying on general descriptions, which can be less accurate and more subject to opinion.

Siegler told commissioners Pierce County has 5,384 total land parcels. Owners of 1,352 of the parcels, or 25 percent, would receive notices of increase for their land’s tax valuation. Another 1,203 landowners would see valuation increases for their parcels but would not receive notices, Siegler said.

Of all parcels in the county, 47.5 percent would have valuation increases. Siegler said 179 parcels would not change in value. Tax valuation for 2,650 parcels, or 49.2 percent would decrease.

Commissioners voted unanimously to move from a general soil description system to a detailed system for land valuation. They also voted to place the tax valuation of Pierce County land at 93 percent of the average $686.44 per acre land valuation.

Siegler said she planned to present information on the detailed soil system for land valuation to rural property owners at an upcoming Pierce County township meeting, to be held Jan. 20 at 1 p.m. at the Pierce County Memorial Hall.

Meyer Township residents and Pierce County Water Board representative Joe Bohl joined the commission meeting.

Joe and Florine Seil, Cheryl Rayer, Tom Harmel, Cory Atkinson, Roger Tank, Jared Arlien and Meyer Township board members Jim Blessum and Brian Blessum discussed a need for road repairs on a 1/4 – mile part of 34th Avenue Northeast between township sections 26 and 27.

Seil told the board he wanted to see the road section repaired, or possibly replaced with a new one going around a pond in section 26.

Seil said he had been told the roadwork would cost about $85,000.

Pierce County Auditor-Treasurer suggested Meyer Township residents put a measure to increase mills for the project from 18 to 35 mills on their next election ballot to offset some of the costs.

Fursather said the township board would have to decide how to repair the road. She offered to provide information to the board.

In other business, the commission heard an update from Wold Engineering about road projects in the southern part of Pierce County extending to the Benson County line. Bids for the project would be released in April.

Commissioners also approved abatement applications from three Pierce County property owners, one with a homestead credit applied, one with a veteran’s credit applied and one for demolished property in Balta.

Pierce County Commissioners will next meet Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 8 a.m. in the Pierce County Courthouse.

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