Mercer County Commission
July 5, 2017
The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. by Chairman Duane Scheurer with the meeting being videotaped. Present were Commissioners Wes Gunsch, Gary Murray, Wayne Entze, Dwight Berger, State’s Attorney Jessica Binder, and Auditor Shana Brost. Others present during portions of the meeting were: Ashley Miller, Sheriff Danzeisen, Ken Miller, Shelly Sailer, Darwin Knutson, Jim Albers, Jim Theurer, and Dan Ahrens of BHG News.
Entze moved to approve the minutes from the June 21st meeting. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Gunsch moved to approve the bills, excluding the Treasurer’s bills, and to include the bill from the ND State Fire & Tornado fund in the amount of $5215.39. Murray seconded. The following vouchers were approved for payment: Beulah City Park District, $17947.00; Beulah Fire Protection District, $613.52; Beulah School District, $100722.95; Center Stanton School District, $9717.05; City Of Beulah, $52252.34; City of Golden Valley, $2763.68; City of Hazen, $45278.38; City of Pick City, $2971.18; City of Stanton, $5513.75; City of Zap, $6170.86; Glen Ullin Rural Fire District, $13.31; Glen Ullin School District, $995.68; Golden Valley Rural Fire District, T375.77; Halliday Public School District, $17.84; Halliday Rural Fire Protection, $371.36; Hazen City Park, $10533.26; Hazen Rural Fire Department, $2165.63; Hazen School District, $62034.79; Hebron Public School District, $4526.37; Hebron Fire District, $241.45; ND State Treasurer, $1909.20; Soil Conservation, $2206.58; SW Water Authority, $2209.33; Stanton City Park, $899.11; Stanton Rural Fire, $431.07; Underwood School District, $8895.54; Zap City Park District, $453.58; Zap Rural Fire Protection, $674.80; Custer Health District, $6259.03; Thomas Kaspari, $200.00; McClean Mercer Library, $6799.65; Mercer McClean Counties, $2658.20; Mercer County Ambulance Service, $7730.43; Mercer County Fair Association, $11.57; Mercer County Historical Society, $399.70; Mercer County Regional Airport, $4062.03; Water Resource District, $6199.99; Warrant 56244-56289 & Direct Deposits 8803-8865 $241284.02; Mercer County Treasurer, $11554.04; Guardian Life Insurance, $273.00; Aflac, $1443.75; Assurity Life, $1943.65; Mercer County Treas., $13316.60; Mercer County Treas., $41408.11; Mercer County Treas., $3500.07; CMFG Life Insurance,$1943.65; Mercer County Treas., $22245.12; Mercer County Treas., $5202.49; Annuity Premium Reserve, $1220.03; Nationwide Retirement, $11770.99; NDPERS, $16924.63:Annuity Premium Reserve Account, $451.58; Collection Center Inc., $1587.65; CMFG Life Insurance, $340.58; Guardian, $91.00; Mercer County Auditor, $97060.08; Mercer County Treasurer, $3544.24; Nationwide Retirement, $1110.94; NDPERS, $32176.07; Advanced Business Methods, $168.40; Ameripride, $18.23; Barbot Funeral Home, $450.00; Bauer Built, $1348.98; Bergstrom Electric, $69995.00; Beulah Job Development, $606.34; BHG, $625.51; Elden Stenseth, $4200.00; Jessica Binder, $583.20; Bismarck Tribune, $256.47; Bloom’N House, $48.00; Bob’s Photo, $8.49; Braun Intertec, $5973.75; C & M Erectors, $3391.25; Cardmember Services, $1247.59; City of Beulah,$87.15; Cofell’s Plumbing, $98376.89; Contegrity Group, $31983.56; D & E Supply, $102.59; D’Andreas, $50.12; Dent Master, $314.94; Dick’s Vacuum Service, $3360.00; Don’s Auto, $493.68; Downtown Gas, $555.36; Filter Care, $81.46; Fireside Office, $73578.00; Jesse Folkerts, $259.20; Global Equipment Company, $4916.71; Grazzini Brothers, $52050.90; Hazen Hardware Hank, $155.85; Industrial Fabwork, $745.00; Interstate Engineering, $7637.12; J & M Hardware, $49.98; J-S Sanitation, $870.00; Free Karges, $1566.00; Klein McCarthy, $384.23; Krause Super Valu, $46.71; LaQuinta, $560.26; McArthrur Tile Company, $13400.00; Kurt Milbrandt, $15.00; MDU, $95.72; Napa, $1100.77; NASRO, $25.00; NDAAO, $105.00; NDDOT, $365.40; ND Department of Health, $500.00; NDLTAP, $50.00; Nelson International, $625.00; Neuberger Oil, $1611.00; NW Tire, $338.16; Northwestern Equipment, $381.71; OK Automotive, $181.39; Amanda Palmer, $207.36; Rachel Poitras, $58.47; Radisson Hotel, $44.20; RDO, $640.56; Carmen Reed, $270.62; Michelle Renner, $147.10; SBM, $74.80; Simplexgrinnell, $1995.00; Steinbrecher Painting, $92851.25; Straightway Construction, $479474.30; Straighway Construction, $5215.39; Sweeper Metal, $15773.18; The Hub, $93.80; Thor, $46053.11; Tower Communications, $555.00; Trans Trash, $1200.00; Twin City Hardware, $61092.39; Venture Marketing, $29.95; Verizon Wireless, $1243.68; Wagon Wheel Lumber, $772.34; West Dakota Lumber, $80.94; WRT, $1053.00; Workforce Safety, $250.00. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Entze moved to approve the Treasurer’s bills. Murray seconded. The following vouchers were approved for payment: Darbie Berger, $28.00; Mainstay Suites, $332.10; SBM, $15.84. Gunsch, Murray, Entze, and Scheurer voted aye. Motion carried.
The board reviewed the Nurse’s Quarterly report. No further action was taken.
The board discussed the upcoming board appointments and directed Auditor Brost to send letters for reappointment to expiring Weed Board members. No further action was taken.
Auditor Brost discussed with the board a rock Ray Kruckenberg offered to the county for display. The board directed Brost to have Kruckenberg either call the Mercer County Museum or the State Historical Society. No further action was taken.
State’s Attorney Binder discussed the letter she sent out requesting the topic of Workplace Investigation to be placed on the agenda. State’s Attorney Binder stated at the last meeting the board was aware Mr. Berger claimed Binder was harassing him and she was willing to ignore it as baseless and ridiculous but after the meeting learned he reduced similar allegations in writing and implicated to Ms. Brost there are several employees involved. Binder stated as she noted in her letter the Policy Manual states harassment work issues need to come to her so she deemed that as such. Binder noted under the Policy Manual the board has the authority to appoint a committee or an investigator to follow up and look into the allegations and as she suggested she believes the board should enlist Sheriff Danzeisen to find an independent person to do the investigation. Since Binder doesn’t know the exact allegations, she didn’t think the Sheriff’s Department should do it. Gunsch asked the Chairman if he could ask Sheriff Danzeisen what the procedure would be. Danzeisen stated he would call in another sheriff from a different county to look at the allegations and interviews would be done to find out what the situation is and find out if there are any policy or criminal violations. Whoever comes up will be put up in a hotel and all paid expenses Danzeisen added. Gunsch moved to move forward with the workplace investigation and to have Sheriff Danzeisen appoint an investigator. Murray seconded. All voted aye. Motion carried.
The board gave their portfolio updates.
Next the board discussed with Auditor Brost the salary budget and budget hearing dates. The board asked Brost to work up numbers for a 0% COLA/ Step +1, 1% COLA, 2% COLA, and 3% COLA. Brost will bring the numbers back to the next board meeting. Auditor Brost stated she would like to have the budget hearings with the departments in August to hear all the requests so the board had the month of September to work through the numbers. The board set the budget hearing dates for the afternoon of August 16th and all day on August 24th. No further action was taken.
The board recessed at 9:28 AM.
The board reconvened at 10:00 AM.
The board discussed road issues with Road Superintendent Ken Miller. Miller presented Utility Occupancy Application and Permit #1694 from West River Telecommunications. Murray moved to approve Utility Occupancy Application and Permit #1694 issued to West River Telecommunications to bore under section line road for the installation of new fiber optic facilities. Entze seconded. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Miller updated the board on the Knell Pit stating they started reclaiming and next will move to the Krein Pit. Miller added they started hauling out of the Pfliger Pit last week and will start crushing next week.
Berger asked Miller where he is in the negotiation process for the land near the crossroads that was offered to the county. Miller stated he offered $2500/acre but the landowner wouldn’t take less than $6000/acre. No further action was taken.
Jim Albers, Maintenance Engineer, presented two (2) estimates on the painting of the Law Enforcement Center. Steinbrecher Painting estimated $58,620 for the walls and an additional $1500 for the floors. Oxentenko estimated $16,200 for both the walls and floors. Albers stated he accepted the quote from Oxentenko and they would begin work on July 6th. Gunsch stated the payment would come out of the Building Maintenance fund, and was not part of the Courthouse Expansion/Remodel project. Albers stated he had nearly $65,000 left in his budget, and besides the painting the ductwork and rec roof would need to come out of that budget line. Gunsch moved to accept the estimate from Oxentenko in the amount of $16,200 and the additional $6,475 if the walls/floors required a second coat. Entze seconded. All voted aye. Motion carried.
The board recessed at 10:22 AM.
The board reconvened at 10:33 AM.
Chairman Scheurer indicated that the next item on the agenda is “Executive Session-Pursuant to 44-04-19.1(5) and 44-04019.2 NDCC-Attorney Consultation Re: Bruner DOL Claim.” Berger excused himself due to a conflict of interest. This item must be discussed in executive session. The legal authority for closing this portion of the meeting is NDCC Section 44-04-19.1(5) & 44-04-09.2. The topic or purpose of this executive session is for attorney consultation re: Reasonably Predictable Civil Litigation.” At this time, a motion would be in order to discuss the next topic in executive session rather than in an open meeting. Is there such a motion? Motion made by Commissioner Gunsch, seconded by Commissioner Murray to enter into executive session. There was no discussion on the motion. On roll call vote Gunsch, Murray, Entze, and Scheurer voted “Aye”, motion carried. The executive session will be recorded and all members of the governing body are reminded to limit their discussion during the executive session to the announced topic. Any collective decision, collective commitment, or other final action by the governing body must occur after it reconvenes in an open meeting, unless final action is specifically required by law to be taken during executive session. The prohibition on taking final action during the executive session does not apply to providing guidance or instruction to our attorney. We will now ask the members of the public who are attending the meeting to leave the room. We will be adjourning the executive session and reconvening the open portion of the meeting as soon as possible. The minutes will show that the executive session began at 10:32 AM CT and was attended by Chairman Scheurer, Commissioner Entze, Commissioner Murray, Commissioner Gunsch, State’s Attorney Binder, Auditor Brost, and Brian Schmidt via telephone. Noting Berger excused himself due to a presumed conflict. The minutes will show that the executive session was adjourned at 10:56 AM CT. The public has been invited to return to the meeting room and we are now back in open session.
Next on the agenda was Darwin Knutson to discuss the reimbursement of attorney fees and denial to access of the court system. Knutson began his conversation by apologizing to Chairman Scheurer for his conduct the last time he was at a meeting and for the comment he made that was unbecoming. Knutson requested for his family and other families who have acquired the financial burden for a grievance filed against his wife, Clerk of Court Wanda Knutson, be reimbursed their attorney fees. Chairman Scheurer told Knutson he is not an employee of the county. Knutson stated he was not but he is speaking on his wife’s behalf. Scheurer stated it would be a different matter if Knutson’s family who is employed by the county was sitting here asking for the reimbursement. Scheurer asked Binder for her legal counsel. Knutson stated his wife has given him permission to speak on her behalf although he is not her Power of Attorney. State’s Attorney Binder stated a formal claim was filed and was defended through the county through the North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund, who in turn hired an attorney. Binder stated she is under no obligation to provide attorney services to anyone inside or outside of the county, she only represents the county—in which she did. Binder added the case is now closed. Binder noted there was significant communications throughout the case, she defended the county, and now the case is closed. The board was notified of this.
Knutson stated he would like to talk about Mercer County denying him access to the court system and he has some serious claims. State’s Attorney Binder called for a point of order. Binder stated under the North Dakota Century Code she has the sole discretion in the county of filing criminal cases which require the finding of probable cause to do so and that is her obligation of the court. Knutson stated that is Binder’s opinion. Chairman Scheurer told Knutson he was going to tell him one more time this was a point of order and thanked him for coming in. Knutson told the Board of County Commissioners he would see them in District Court and he was informing them of that.
There being no further business the meeting was adjourned at 11:16 AM. The next regular meeting is scheduled for July 19, 2017, at 9:00 a.m. in the courtroom of the Mercer County Courthouse, Stanton, North Dakota.
Approved: Duane Scheurer, Chairman
Attest: Gwyn Bosch, Deputy Auditor