Despite new open carry legislation, the Moody County Courthouse and other county properties will be off limit to all weapons, the County Commission has decided.
The law, which permitted open carry beginning July 1, allows for the county commission to enact stricter rules, which will be posted at the entrances of the building.
“I don’t think we need to have everybody carrying guns inside the courthouse,” said Sheriff Troy Wellman. “Right off the bat, I think we should go on the record.”
State’s Attorney Paul Lewis said both concealed and open carry would be forbidden.
“There’s a time and a place for that firearm, and that is not in the courthouse,” he said.
Open carry legislation was generally opposed by sheriffs and state’s attorneys across the state.
“There is a lot of concern at all levels. Those that have a very locked down building feel more secure,” Lewis said. “Across all the counties, it’s just consistent heartburn.”
In other county business,
•Commissioners heard about budget needs next year for some departments.
Wellman said the Sheriff’s Office will need one new car for about $50,000 and new cameras in the cars for about $45,000. He also increased his repair budget because it has been too small recently.
The county highway department needs a new truck because equipment is wearing out, said Marc Blum, highway superintendent. In the last year, the county has spent $50,000 on the three trucks it has to maintain them. The oldest is a 2004.
The ambulance service needs about $8,000 to add a sleeping room for a second staff member when both of the employees live out of town. That scenario is more common now because the county has only three full-timers instead of four and relies more on part-time help. Most of those employees live out of town.
The money would cover putting up walls to make a room in part of the training room and covering the purchase of a recliner and two new beds.
The county also needs a new minivan to replace the one with 120,000 miles on it, said Marty Skroch, assistant to the commissioners and county human resources director. Through a state bid, the county could purchase one at a base price of $21,679, he said.
•The board of adjustment said that a house could be built near Highway 34 south of the Royal River Casino because it meets county requirements, even though it is next to another home.
Tony Hanssen applied for a permit to build the home on land he has purchased, but neighbor Bill McFarland opposed the idea, saying it will devalue his property, raise his taxes and cramp his rural lifestyle.
“I’m just saying I want my space,” McFarland said. He also told Hanssen, “I’ve got a shooting range in my backyard. You will be hearing guns go off a lot.”
County rules say there can be up to two houses on a quarter of a quarter section of land, and Hanssen met all other requirements, commissioners said. The county also had approved the site for a home in the past, but it was never built before the property was resold.
Property owners who meet the requirements should be allowed to build, said Commissioner Dan Miles.
The approval also follows county protocol.
“History shows we have approved second houses on a quarter-quarter as long it meets all of the requirements,” said Chairman Rick Veldkamp.
•Commissioners approved a jail contract with Minnehaha County to take Moody County inmates if there is room. The daily rate is $97.34 compared with $96.43 last year. The county has contracts with several jails to take those who need to be incarcerated.
•Commissioners challenged some bills with Avera McKennan, including one in which a patient was initially seen for injuries received from falling down while intoxicated outside of a bar. In that case, the patient eventually was given a rape kit, but the hospital also charged the county for testing and treatment for the initial injuries.
“Are they billing for other things that aren’t part of the sexual assault kit?” Skroch asked.
The county argued that those injuries were not reported as coming from an assault. The county also questioned how it is being charged on mental health holds.
Avera administrators said they will look into how the cases were billed and get back to the county.
“The key is going to be what’s in our medical record,” said Mary Wickersham, who oversees Avera’s business office. “We need to find a way to prove to you through our documentation what happened to that patient.”
•The county highway department has gotten its contract from the state under the Bridge Improvement Grant program for the Christenson bridge, northwest of Flandreau. The $1.37 million grant is designed to cover 80 percent of the construction, with the county paying the remainder.
The bridge may go out for bids as early as next May, Blum said.
In a separate award of money, the county will get $463,152 in federal money to use within three years. The county has preliminarily identified three of the worst bridges on its list and will look at how far the federal money will go.
In addition, the Doyle bridge, northeast of Flandreau has been completed. Originally, work was scheduled to be done late last fall, and the contractor was fined $13,500 for not completing the project in the contracted time.
•The commission gave approval to a second person who wants to use a metal detector on the courthouse grounds. Travis Kreger of Lake Poinsett can work the grounds on the same day as the other hobbyist, the commission said.