Mercer County Commission
April 5, 2017
The meeting was called to order at 9:00 AM CT by Chairman Scheurer, also present was Commissioner Murray, Commissioner Gunsch, Commissioner Berger, State’s Attorney Binder and Auditor Brost, with the meeting being videotaped. Commissioner Entze was absent.
Others present during portions of the meeting were: Ashely Miller, Darbie Berger, Wanda Knutson, Jim Albers, Ken Miller, Elroy Opp, Eric Urness, Sarah Flath, Chris Friez, Donn Stephen, Roy and Ashley Rasch, James and Janet Connelly, Wes Klein, Bill Behling, Colette Schilling, Brad Seifert, Donald Reichenberg, Gary Gierke, Chris Glenn, and Jim Theurer.
Gunsch moved to approve the agenda. Murray seconded. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Murray moved to approve the minutes of the March 15th meeting. Gunsch seconded. Berger stated he did not abstain from voting on the Treasurer’s bills at the last meeting as the minutes reflected, he was told he was not allowed vote on them. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Gunsch moved to approve the bills, excluding the Treasurer’s bills. Murray seconded. The following claims were approved for payment Aecom, $1792.20; Advanced Business Methods, $1396.32; Action Motor Sports, $53.90; Ameripride, $18.23; Bergstrom Electric, $117804.60; Beulah Job Development, $606.34; Beulah Public School, $26.38; BHG, $2064.71; Braun Intertec, $3293.75; Bronson’s, $3985.51; Butler Machinery, $620.43; Cardmember Services, $234.82; Center Machine, $1841.35; CHS Inc., $23666.07; City of Beulah, $85.36; City of Golden Valley, $29.00; City of Hazen, $34500.00; CHC, $495.00; Cofell’s, $116117.00; Comfort Suites, $573.30; Comfort Inn, $391.00; Contegrity Group, $31687.73; Corner Express, $46.00; Ronald Crowley, $131.30; D & E Supply, $827.34; D’ Andreas Hotstuff, $109.78; Direct Med, $753.97; Distribution Now, $840.94; Eide Ford, $192.35; Wayne Entze, $256.50; Expressway Suites, $4778.25; FUO, $1939.92; Filter Care, $193.26; Fireside Office, $62.34; Fred Pryor Seminars, $299.00; Friends of Lake Sakakawea, $100.00; Galls, $2036.84; Hazen Drug, $1.20; Hazen Hardware Hank, $43.87; Hazen Star, $36.00; Implentation Specialists, $67.50; Industrial Fabwork, $2140.00; Interstate All Battery, $209.96; Interstate Engineering, $15396.50; J & L Automotive, $966.38; J & M Hardware, $429.59; J-S Sanitation, $946.00; Free Karges, $303.60; Dena Kemmet, $60.00; Knife River Care Center, $15000.00; Krause Super Valu, $377.27; Lexis Nexis, $186.43; Light and Siren, $$183.00; Larry Lueck, $144.95; Lyle Signs, $412.02; Mac’s, $50.96; Menard’s, $104.97; Mercer County Shop, $3906.58; Midwest Doors, $5611.00; Mobile Binders, $566.68; MDU, $121.41; Morpho Trak, $3839.00; Napa, $1950.50; Nancy’s Designs, $17.00; NDACO, $440.00; NDDOT, $11.50; ND Secretary of State, $36.00; ND State Radio, $540.00 ND Surplus, $54.00; NDSU Extension Service, $50.00; NDSU Extension Service, $10.00; NDSU, $30.00; Neuberger Oil, $790.00; NW Tire, $1635.71; Nova Fire Protection, $19085.00; Rachel Poitras, $25.89; Postmaster, $98.00; Puklich Chevrolet, $317.85; Qualification Targets, $432.70; Quality Appliance, $145.50; Radisson, $327.60; Ramada, $1819.10; Ramada Grand, $79.00; Ramkota, $99.00; RDO, $2931.17; Red River Children’s Advocacy Center, $120.00; Red Wing Shoe Store, $697.47; Redwood Toxicology, $648.00; Carmen Reed, $164.16; Retterath Real Estate, $675.00; Safariland, $895.00; Scheels, $1834.32; Skraba’s, $249.55; SBM, $209.61; SW Water, $44.19; Straightway Construction, $69300.00; Stroup Insurance, $100.00; Taser International, $5044.90; Ryan Taylor, $70.00; Terrance Ternes, $50.20; Leonard Tesky, $65.00; The Attic, $619.00; The Hub, $70.96; Tower Communication, $555.00; Trans Trash, $600.00; Twin City Hardware, $4937.31; Venture Marketing, $29.95; Verizon Wireless, $1937.28; Vision West, $350.00; WDLA, $65.00. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Murray moved to approve the Treasurer’s bills. Gunsch seconded. The following claims were approved for payment: SBM, $79.32; NDACO, $70.00; ND County Treasurer’s Association, $250.00. Gunsch, Murray, and Scheurer voted aye. Motion carried.
Gunsch moved to appoint Jeff Gegelman to the Mercer County Housing Authority to fill an unexpired term to expire June 2020. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Murray moved to accept the acknowledgment letter from Rath and Mehrer. Berger seconded. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Murray moved to be a Business Supporter of Friends of Lake Sakakawea contributing $100. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Treasurer Darbie Berger presented a duplicate warrant #52152 to CoreLogic in the amount of $7.43 for an overpayment on taxes in 2015. Gunsch moved to approve duplicate warrant #52152. Berger seconded. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Jim Albers, Maintenance Engineer, discussed cleaning the ductwork in the existing jail while the prisoners are out in May and June. Albers said it has been four (4) years since it has been done. Albers presented an estimate from Dick’s Vacuum Service in the amount of $3,360. Gunsch moved to approve the estimate from Dick’s Vacuum Service in the amount of $3,360 to be taken out of the Maintenance budget. Murray seconded. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Albers discussed the fresh air duct in the basement of the LEC building. Albers stated snow was sucked into the fresh air intake during the blizzards in November and December, and since the duct is insulated it will begin to mold when the temperatures warm up. Albers added the North Dakota Fire and Tornado denied the insurance claim. Albers stated he has received one quote for the repair work. Scheurer stated he should have more than one quote. Gunsch moved to table the discussion until there is at least two quotes. Murray seconded. Gunsch, Murray, and Scheurer voted aye. Berger No. Motion carried.
The board reviewed the monthly financial statement. No further action was taken.
The board reviewed the monthly landfill tonnage report. No further action was taken.
Murray moved to approve Liquor Licenses 415 and 416 issued to Dakota Waters Resort for semi-annual on/off sale of beer and on/off sale of liquor. Berger seconded. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Berger gave his portfolio update.
Jim Theurer, Contegrity Group, gave the board an update on the Courthouse Expansion/Remodel. Theurer reported the tapers are done and priming will be finished by Friday. The south parking lot work will begin on April 17th. Straightway Construction hired a new block layer to start in two (2) weeks.
The board recessed at 9:45 AM.
The board reconvened at 10:00 AM.
Ken Miller, Road Superintendent, presented the board with an updated 80,000 lb Heavy Weight Fee Schedule. Miller noted there were a few changes to match what the state requires, but the fees didn’t change. Gunsch moved to approve the revised 80,000 lb Heavy Weight Fee Schedule. Berger seconded. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Miller discussed the Dan Knell fence located on County 27 north of Hazen that the snow laid over. Miller stated Knell would be out of the clear zone where he wants to move the fence but Miller would like to see a stipulation on the move if the county wrecks the fence from pushing snow back, Knell would be liable. Berger moved to allow Knell to place his fence within the county’s right-of-way, but the county will not be responsible for the fence due to snow damage, road maintenance, or expansion of roads. Murray seconded. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Gunsch moved to send out the letter to the North Dakota Department of Transportation that was presented to the commission from Eric Urness, Interstate Engineering, in reference to the intersection if Highways ND 49 & 200. Murray seconded. Gunsch stated he spoke with the mayors from the City of Zap and Hazen and a councilman from the City of Beulah and they were all in agreement something needed to be done. Gunsch added Representative Seibel and Senator Unruh stated they would also have discussions with the NDDOT. Berger asked what would be wrong with having a 4-Way Stop at the intersection. Gunsch stated that had been tried and also a stoplight was there at one time, and there were still fatalities. Urness stated a roundabout would be the best solution. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Miller discussed the County Agreement for Construction of Federal Aid Project (Safety Program) for the proposed new railroad signal install by BNSF Railway Company. Miller stated it would be a 90/10 split, so the county share would be $25,000. The signal install would be on the crossing located on County 19. Urness stated his budget numbers are higher than what he is projecting for chip seals, so there should be extra dollars there. Gunsch moved to approve the County Agreement for the install of the railroad signals on County 19. Berger seconded. All voted aye. Motion carried.
Miller informed the board the road department has been pulling shoulders and doing gravel road maintenance. No further action was taken.
Berger, Gunsch, Murray, and Scheurer gave their portfolio updates.
Murray moved to recess the regular meeting and open the Coyote Creek Public Hearing for the temporary closure of the following section line roads: East-West section line road between SW ¼ Section 36 T143N R89W and the NW ¼ Section 1 T142N R89W; East-West section line road between SW ¼ Section 24 and NW ¼ Section 25 T143N R89W; East-West section line road between SW ¼ Section 25 and NW ¼ Section 36 T143N R89W. Chris Friez, Coyote Creek Mining Company, stated the public hearing is to close three (3) half mile untraveled section lines. Friez stated the Voigts brought up issues of access and Commissioner Gunsch asked for an access agreement to be done by today. Friez stated he had a draft access agreement to Voigt’s attorney on March 16th and followed up on March 20th with an email and no return contact and again on the 24th when they stated they would be in touch when they had time. Friez followed up and stated he could be available anytime within the week the Voigt’s attorney was available but received no response. Friez stated Voigt called Mr. Brinkman, Coyote Creek, about moving cattle over the weekend and they were moved on Sunday and things went well. Friez stated he, Voigt, and Brinkman met on Monday to discuss the changes Voigt wanted made in the access agreement. Monday afternoon Friez sent the revised access agreement to Voigt’s attorney but they wanted to discuss the agreement tomorrow. Friez noted Coyote Creek had direction from the commissioners at the last meeting to come up with an access agreement and they have been trying to get it done, but it’s not yet done. Chairman Scheurer there was a lot of discussion at the last meeting, but none of it had to do with closing these particular section lines. It appears to Scheurer that the mine is going out of their way to help Voigt run his farming operation. Scheurer stated at this point he does not see why these section lines should not be closed and noted there was no public there to testify against the closure. Gunsch moved to temporarily close East-West section line road between SW ¼ Section 36 T143N R89W and the NW ¼ Section 1 T142N R89W; East-West section line road between SW ¼ Section 24 and NW ¼ Section 25 T143N R89W; East-West section line road between SW ¼ Section 25 and NW ¼ Section 36 T143N R89W that interfere with surface coal mining operations. Murray seconded. Gunsch stated he would like to see both parties get along which is why he made the motion to table it at the last meeting. Gunsch stated he realizes the county has to keep the mine in operation, but there may been some confusion with the commission and it is not their business to make sure both parties get along. Berger stated he has heard scuttlebutt about lawsuits and all sorts of things but it is still up to the Mercer County Commission to decide if they want a section line closed or not and it’s nobody else’s jurisdiction but the county’s. All voted aye. Motion carried. Berger stated he is hoping that they can get away from the county commission meetings being dueling point for landowner and coal mine opposition. Adding, it’s not the place for it and it is a waste of taxpayer money. Murray moved to close the public hearing and go back to the regular meeting. Gunsch seconded. All voted aye. Motion carried.
The board recessed at 10:41 AM.
The board reconvened at 11:00 AM.
Bill Behling, Business Development Manager for Capital Power, discussed with the board the Garrison Butte Wind Energy Project. Behling stated Capital Power is a growth orientated North American power producer headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada who develops, acquires, constructs, operates, and optimizes power generation from a variety of energy sources. Behling stated they have nine (9) construction projects (supercritical coal, natural gas, and wind) totaling 2116 MW since 2005. Behling stated they have the transmission easements for the project and plan to start construction the second quarter of 2019. Capital Power has seven (7) years of data showing a strong wind resource. They have also started on the environmental studies. Capital Power is in for the long haul because it is projects like this that support their shareholders. Behling asked the board what he would need for local permitting. Gunsch asked where the Garrison Butte Wind Energy Project would be located. Behling stated it is in Township 146 North Range 86 West or Main Street on County 27 north to ND HWY 1806. Chairman Scheurer stated Land Use Administrator, Colette Schilling, would be able to help Behling with all necessary permits and then there would be a public hearing at the Planning & Zoning Board and again with the commission. Berger asked about the employment, he stated he is one that is becoming unemployed because they are using Great River Energy’s transmission line asking how that is a benefit when it is actually detrimental to him. Behling stated the employment benefits are they will employ 100-150 people during construction and will have 8-10 operators on the wind farm for 30 years. Berger stated there is 65 of them losing their jobs out at GRE. Berger asked about coal severance dollars and who is going to make up that difference. Behling stated wind power is not designed to replace coal; it is designed to produce power for the Amazons, Googles and Facebooks of the world that are only looking to buy wind power. Berger stated one of the reasons the Stanton Station is closing down is because they are going to use the transmission line for wind power. Berger stated he read in the paper someplace that Manitoba banned wind power and asked Behling what is going on with that. Behling stated he didn’t know about Manitoba. Murray asked how many towers Behling expected in the Garrison Butte Wind Energy Project, and Behling stated roughly 50. Chairman Scheurer thanked Behling for coming in.
Next on the agenda was the resolution regarding board appointments. Chairman Scheurer reminded everyone that it is not a public hearing. Gunsch asked what it was all about. Berger stated he requested a public hearing because people are not happy with this resolution and it served its purpose by getting him and Gunsch off the Planning & Zoning Board and other boards are not happy to lose experience. Scheurer stated the thought process came from the North Dakota Association of Counties (NDACo) and it was their recommendation. State’s Attorney Binder stated the resolution states if the county only has one (1) applicant and it is the incumbent, it can be waived. Gunsch stated the intent with the resolution was to get more public interest in the boards. Berger stated people were there to testify and asked the board if they were going to allow it. Janet Connolly and Ryan Flemmer both spoke in opposition to the resolution stating over the next few years they will lose many years of experience on the Weed Board, which currently holds 77 years of combined experience. Scheurer stated they made the resolution to get new interested members involved. Gunsch thanked the Weed Board and commended them for a job well done, but reiterated the intent of the resolution was not to lose years of experience but to let someone who may be interested serve on the board. Scheurer stated since there is one commissioner absent today, the board can take another look at it. Gary Gierke stated the resolution should not have been written after Cass County’s policy, rather written for Mercer County. State’s Attorney Binder stated she modeled the language after Cass County but the amount of time on limits was up to the Mercer County Commission and this is no different than using resources. Binder added it was put in place so the boards did not become stagnant. Berger moved to do away with this resolution. Due to a lack of a second, motion died. Berger moved to make term limits on elected officials and commissioners. State’s Attorney Binder stated there are no term limits for elected officials in state statute. Due to a lack of a second, motion died.
Chris Glenn, A&B Pipeliners, LLC, discussed with the board the 89 mile Tesoro pipeline (60 years old) that has 41 anomalies and stated the Department of Transportation regulates different stages and gave them 14 days to fix the anomalies in Morton, Mercer, and Oliver Counties. Glenn stated the Frost Laws that were recently put on is the issue of getting the work done legally since the truck is 50,000 lbs and with the machine 86,100 lbs. Glenn noted they would dig two (2) anomalies a day and the line is being shut in because of the anomalies. Glenn stated he has approval from Morton County and has a meeting set up with Oliver County. Murray stated it seems like an important thing to fix. Gunsch moved to grant the variance to A&B Pipeliners, LLC to repair the pipelines but they are responsible for all road repairs and communications with the Road Superintendent. Murray seconded. Gunsch, Murray, and Scheurer voted aye. Berger voted No. Motion carried.
There being no further business, on motion duly made and second, the meeting was adjourned at 12:10 PM CDT. The next regular meeting of the commission will be April 19, 2017 at 9:00 AM CT in the courtroom of the Mercer County Courthouse, Stanton, North Dakota.
Approved: Duane Scheurer, Chairman
Attest: Shana L. Brost, Auditor