County rejects wording of road grant

County Commission Chair Carla Bruning presented Commissioner Tom Ehrichs a plaque at the Dec. 29 meeting for his eight years of service to Moody County. Ehrichs, who chose not to seek another term, will be replaced by Randy Hemmer at the first meeting in January.

The Moody County Commission is rejecting a grant that was awarded for road maintenance near the new dairy southeast of Trent.
The way the grant is written, it has the county participating in the $35 million project, providing financial assistance for the overlay of roads, said State’s Attorney Paul Lewis. But the grant award is so vague that it could mean the county is liable for more than it should be, he said at the Dec. 29 commission meeting.
“The prob that we all have with this document, you really don’t know what’s being expected of us in this county agriculture agreement,” Lewis said. He recommended sending it back for complete rewriting. “Send it back to prepare something that makes sense.”
About a month ago, the South Dakota Transportation Commission announced it had awarded the county $460,000 in an agri-business grant for economic development to improve roads to Riverbend Dairy, near 481st Avenue and 242nd Street.
In any approval of an agri-business in Moody County, the county, township and business need to agree on how roads will be maintained when used by trucks coming to and from the business. Typically, a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, such as a dairy, is asked to continue to make sure the roads are kept in the same condition as before the facility was built, and the business agrees to pay for any wear and tear.
The county does have an agreement with Riverbend owner John Bidart of California, pledging that he will pay for the 20 percent of the road costs not covered by the state, said Kendra Eng, zoning administrator.
In other county business,
•Commissioners approved a variance for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s solar panels at Prairie Junction. The panels are installed, and the need for a variance initially was overlooked.
The county received a complaint from Jane Witte, calling on behalf of her son, who said that the panels were too close to their adjoining property, said Eng. But another property owner, Todd Voss, said he has no concerns because the panels are not a permanent structure and that space should be able to be used, if needed.
The solar panels are being used to provide energy to Prairie Junction and are not generating energy that would be sold. This is one of 11 solar sites for the tribe, which is generating power for various buildings.
The panels should be 50 feet away from the next property, according to county zoning requirements. But the panels are much closer to the property line, within 7 and 10 feet.
“If this had been on my radar, we definitely would have asked for the variance ahead of time,” said Lacy Neuenfeldt, a lawyer who represents the tribe. The panels were placed where they are so that trucks would have room to turn around at the truck stop, she said.
•The total amount the county will receive in Cares Act money will top $550,000, said Auditor Kristina Krull. The county has been reimbursed for dispatch and sheriff salaries and supplies. The county also received a small grant to help pay for added election costs because of COVID-19. Krull said she is applying for any money that she qualifies for.
•Bart Sample of Flandreau said a person renting property for a mobile home lot died and there aren’t any heirs interested in the mobile home, which is still on his property. Because the county paid for the person’s funeral, he asked commissioners if they want to take possession of the home. Rent is current on the Trent property, he said.
Lewis said state laws don’t offer the county that option in the case of a burial, even though a lean is an option in other incidents where money has been spent by the county.
Commissioners said Sample is free to get possession of the mobile home through other means, such as paying any taxes owed and getting the title or petitioning the issue in court.
•County first responders are beginning to be vaccinated for COVID-19, said Tawny Brewer, human relations administrator.
•Commissioners approved contracts for jail space in Union and Charles Mix counties. The daily cost in for the Union County contract is $55 a day to house an inmate. The cost in Charles Mix county is $65 a day.
•Commissioners approved the hiring of Lorileen Ollerich as a dispatcher. She previously worked for the county from 2004 to 2014 and has recently moved back to the area. She will be paid $17.55 an hour, effective Jan. 4.

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