County poverty rate shows improvements

Carla Bruning was elected chair of the Moody County Commission at its Jan. 7 meeting. From left are Tom Ehrichs, Dan Miles and Bruning.

Bruning elected commission chair

Moody County’s poverty rate was lower in 2018, compared with 2015, with fewer people reporting incomes under the poverty line. But a program provider for the poor says the numbers might not be accurate.
In 2018, the American Community Survey through the US Census Bureau, showed an estimated 10.7 percent of Moody County with incomes below the poverty line, said Cindy Dannenbring, executive director of the Inter-Lakes Community Action Partnership. That comes with 14.3 percent in 2015.
With a population of 6,579 people in the county, 704 people fall in that range.
“I tend to think this isn’t real accurate for Moody County,” she said. She expects the upcoming census to show that poverty numbers are higher.
The ICAP agency provides numerous services to low-income residents in the county. Between August 2018 and July 2019, the agency provided weatherization, Head Start services, income tax help, 60’s Plus meals, garden seed, utility assistance, transit rides, school supplies, rental assistance, parenting classes, holiday gifts and referrals to other programs.
“The school district is very grateful that we have Head Start back in the community,” she said. The program has 21 children ages 3 to 5 enrolled in Flandreau and sees four children in their homes.
Transit rides are another popular service with the local bus providing 7,570 rides to county residents during that timeframe.
While services won’t change, the transit will be managed in the future by the Rural Office of Community Services in Wagner, through a merger of transit services in the state. “We’ve always had such a great program here, and we don’t want that to be diminished,” Dannenbring said.
With numerous nationalities and support services in the community, Moody County is a model to the rest of the state, she said. “The mutual respect here of whoever’s in your community is amazing. It’s the talk of the state.”
In other business,
•Commissioners elected Carla Bruning as chair, replacing Rick Veldkamp, who was elected vice chair.
•Commissioners approved the employee pay for 2020 at an increase of 2 percent, which was part of the budget for the year.
•Commissioners are looking at regulations of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations to see if there need to be changes made to zoning rules. One area of concern is to make sure large CAFOs are far enough away from private property so that they don’t damage ground owned by neighbors.
The issue came up when workers were building Wildwood Dairy south of Egan and a neighboring farmer got runoff into his field. The commission wants to look at changing setback requirements to protect neighboring property owners.
•The county will buy a 2020 Dodge Caravan to replace its older van. Cost is $21,262 through Wagner Auto in Pierre, which matches the state bid. The vehicle could be available in 90 to 120 days.
•Commissioners approved a new on-call wage scale for EMTs with the ambulance service. Part-time ambulance employees and drivers have been paid $3 an hour to be on call.
Ambulance Supervisor David Prokulevich said it would be better to pay the EMTs who typically come from out-of-town $4 an hour for being on call, $1 more than drivers. The increase would mean those EMTs would earn $96 for a 24-our shift in which there were no calls, making it more appealing to come to Flandreau.
“Hopefully, with that, we get a few extra EMTs,” he said.
Moody County has seven part-time EMTs but because most of them have other jobs, it would be better to have a bigger pool to call on in order to fill all of the ambulance shifts, he said.
Commissioners unanimously approved the request.
•Commissioner John Schiefelbein is working with a company to see how much it would cost to make and install wrought-iron railings for stairs on the north side inside the courthouse. There is an area where there is nothing to hang on to.
“The steps are curved a little bit there. It’s really dangerous,” he said, adding it could lead to a lawsuit. “And we don’t want people getting hurt in the first place.”

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