Brenda Wade Schmidt
County Commissioners learned that Moody County could use one additional deputy next year, and also that the new ambulance was delivered last week.
The ambulance came just in time after the other main ambulance was damaged when a tire blew and the vehicle went in the ditch on Interstate 29.
No one was hurt and no patient was being transferred on the return trip to Flandreau after a transport, said Marty Skroch, assistant to the commission. While that ambulance is in the shop, the county will use its third and oldest ambulance as backup. That ambulance is being traded in for the newest vehicle.
The new ambulance is $179,125.
Sheriff Troy Wellman said sheriff office calls are on track to increase by more than 1,000 this year, after already increasing 1,000 between 2016 and 2017. So far this year, deputies have responded to 673 more calls than the same time a year ago.
Wellman and some other county department heads presented a preliminary look at their budgets to county commissioners at the July 3 meeting.
A former study showed the county needed three additional deputies and 2 dispatchers, he said. That is even more apparent with the additional calls, he said. “The numbers continue to go up more and more each year,” he said.
Calls include traffic stops, removing dead animals from the road, scheduled checks of property, drug tests that end up with a violation, civil paper deliveries and jail transports, for example.
The additional calls are partly attributed to drug use in the county, but there isn’t one thing that stands out as adding up to hundreds of more calls, he said.
“I think more people are paying more attention to their surroundings with the world we live in.
Drugs factor into it, yes. The economy seems to get tighter and tighter so there are more fights at home,” he said.
While it might seem to Flandreau residents that there are many officers in town, that is because they see cars for the city, tribal police and highway patrol, he said. Sheriff deputies are typically going out of town and patrol other communities and roads in Moody County. “Our cars are coming and going through this town,” he said.
With the other departments also patrolling in Flandreau, there could be as many as seven cars in town at once, he said.
“But there’s been times there’s been seven out at one time, but we’ve had to call people from home on their time off because we aren’t able to keep up,” he said.
“There’s times when there is one of us gone, it gets hard to fill the shifts,” he said. The county has been relying on some part-time hours, but Wellman said that the hours needed could increase to a full-time position in next year’s budget request. Another officer also would mean that he would need another car, but it would be possible to get by with an older car with 170,000 miles on it that the county recently had repair work done on for use as backup. “It would get us by a little while,” he said.
Scott Lewis, the maintenance director for the county courthouse, said commissioners should consider work on repairing the veranda walls because it has been ignored for years and does have stability issues.
“I’ve been waiting to show up one day and a section of wall being on the grass,” he said. “Eventually, we’re going to have some real issues.”
Marc Blum, highway superintendent, got the commissioners’ approval to trade in a piece of machinery that isn’t used, in order to buy two other pieces that would be more helpful. The difference is about $5,500.
Terry Albers, emergency management director, said the county is due to upgrade a recorder for Sheriff’s Office calls but could get by for maybe another year with what it has. The six-year-old equipment is typically considered for replacement at year five, but the county doesn’t have a problem with it yet.
By law, the county must have a recorder so if it does break down, the county would need to spend nearly $15,000 immediately to replace it.
Commissioners suggested putting it in next year’s budget in case it is needed but said it can stay there if the recorder doesn’t need replacing.
For the rest of the story see this week's print edition of the Enterprise