BC Commission Talks Flooding, Jail, Raritan Bridge Project and Much More

TR Staff
Staff Writer

By Tina Olson
The Barnes County Commission met in the Commission Chambers at the Barnes County Courthouse for their March 19th meeting.
Sue Lloyd, Barnes County Emergency Manager, was first on the agenda in presenting a flood forecast for Barnes County. In talking with Rich Schueneman, North Dakota Flood Control Project Section Supervisor at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, she reported that Lake Ashtabula was a 328 cfs, 1,258 ft., which leaves us with a 50% chance of the Sheyenne River reaching 18 ft. by this spring. Lloyd shared information obtained from Schueneman that the Cooperstown area snow is heavy in moisture but the Maddock area is not. With that in mind and if the slow melt continues we remain in a relatively safe place for flood control.
Currently there are 156,000 sandbags on hand with Lloyd requesting the funds to be placed on standby if additional ones are needed for purchase. Lloyd indicated it is only a matter of her making a phone call to Northern Bag and Box Company of Fargo to obtain more sandbags should she feel there will be a need for more than the 156,000 currently on hand.  Lloyd indicated that the sandbags run 14¢ per bag. The sand used to fill the bags would possibly come from that the Highway Department has left over. The city is also discussing the idea of utilizing the Winter Show Building for a filling station if the need arises.
In the event of a flood the Barnes County Highway Department will serve as the hub for all Emergency Services and Flood Management meetings as needed.
Lloyd mentioned that she is meeting with the Red Cross today to review and make sure all Shelter agreements are in place. She will also check the status of the pumps on hand with the county to make sure everything is operational and ready to go.
Dana Lindemann, Social Services representative, approached the commissioners next with a request to display the North Dakota Heart Gallery in the Courthouse Rotunda during the celebration of Government Week, April 15-19. Commissioners were in full agreement and the request was granted.
Sheriff Randy McClaflin shared that a current background check procedure has been put in place, a process that all contractors and staff hired to do work for the county are required to go through.
McClaflin discussed current issues with monitoring of employee vacation and holiday pay earned. Short staffing have created issues with a few of his employees in not being able to take vacation and are facing the challenge of their vacation expiring on their anniversary dates. Commissioners motioned to pass the issue on for review by the policy board.
Jennifer Feist, Director of Development for the Barnes County Development Corporation, shared with the commission that 2.5 acres, plus or minus, has been set aside upon approval, for the construction of the new correctional and rehabilitation center in the I-94 corridor. The commissioners thanked Feist for her aid and work on the project and voted to stake out the land.
Kerry Johnson, Barnes County Road Superintendent, and Shawn Mayfield, KLJ Engineer, presented the commissioners with an update on the Raritan Bridge implementing a double-box culvert. The bridge is located in the SE quarter of the Raritan Township, engineering contract cost will be $15,500 based on hourly work. The total estimate for the project is just shy of $300,000, Mayfield said. The commissioners moved to hire KLJ for the work.
Johnson also shared an update about the recent storm, saying that he was very proud of his team, working 4 persons short, and still being able to clear the roadways in less than 3-1/2 days. The commissioners thanked Johnson and all of the Barnes County Highway Department employees for their hard work, especially through this winter, working weekends and tireless hours to keep our roads clear and safe for residents.
Jeff Williams, Barnes County Social Services, approached the commission and discussed the formal complaint he has recently filled against the the Barnes County Commission. Williams feels the employees of Barnes County are not the commissioners’ priority, which is shown in their choices to not close the courthouse in the event of a winter storm, putting employees’ safety at risk. Williams would like to amend the policy to make it read that if an employee chooses to remain home in a winter storm, they can use vacation time or take the day without pay to do so. The commissioners shared discussions with Mr. Williams which ended in an agreement that the policy will be passed on to the board for review.
Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson Engineering (KLJ) Kris Bakkegard, Division Leader, and Matt Lange, Main Company Project Manager, formerly introduced Jason Manlove, KLJ Engineer. Manlove will become the new direct contact person for the commission as Shawn Mayfield is relocating to Rapid City, SD, late spring to early summer.
Joe Pesek, Eckelson Township Supervisor, addressed the commission with the request of aid in a controlled burn of the Mack property, located in Eckelson. Pesek asked that the Barnes County Commission assist in 3/4 of the estimated $2,000 bill for cleanup of the property. The discussion ended with a consensus from commission but no official action has been agreed upon until Pesek returns from meeting with his township officers for approval. The group has discussed planting a natural flower garden in the current mentioned location after cleanup.
Stan Horst, Barnes County Courthouse Maintenance Engineer, spoke on the necessary bids he has received to repair the Rotunda ceiling. Commissioners voted approval to move forward with the project as presented.
The Barnes County commission meeting was closed, with the next meeting being held April 2nd.