BELLE FOURCHE-During Public Comments at the latest Butte County Commission meeting November 21, several questions were asked and answers were given.
Katie Hoffman started out the Public Comment session asking pointed questions concerning 3J Towing and the revocation of the towing company from Butte County towing rotation. She mentioned that it seemed that the timing of removal from rotation and that it looked like the County did not consider the laws that the towing company was required to follow. She commented that it was a potential abuse of power. She further pointed out that the company was not allowed on the agenda at the last meeting and could only comment on the matter during Public Comments. She remarked that she felt the sheriff was trying to create a monopoly.
Vice Chairman James Ager allowed comments from States Attorney McCartney and Sheriff Lamphere to address Hoffman’s concerns. Following a summation by McCartney during which she listed events that led to warrant being issued, she explained that there were inconsistencies in what had been posted on social media and the facts of this case. She explained the additional steps taken by the car owner, her representation, the States Attorney office, 3J Towing, and Circuit Court.
The owner of 3J Towing responded that he could not find a case number for any criminal suit the business was part of. However, McCartney gave him the case number and he said he would find it as soon as possible.
McCartney stated that “at no time did anyone from my office attempt to force 3J Towing to return the car for free” as had been said in social media.
Sheriff Lamphere stated that a court order is a legal process. “We have to trust the system as we are officers of the Court as as well. If a company is not going to comply with a Court order, we are not going to work with them until this is resolved,” he said.
A court order was served to 3J Towing and refused by an employee to accept the order. Since the owner of the towing company then provided a written refusal to follow the court order. Lamphere said that resulted in the Sheriff’s Office removing the towing company from rotation until the situation is resolved.
Rose VanSickle asked for more information on what and why commissioners approve agenda items.
There was a question about the last commission meeting minutes by Bob VanSickle. He asked for clarification of the wording following an executive session. He reminded the commissioners that no action can be taken in executive session, but only in open session. Auditor Annie Capp explained that the intention of the wording in the minutes was to reflect that no action was taken after the executive session had ended.
Dale Simanton reprimanded the commissioners on money spent for the proposal of the new coun- ty offices. Although the project will not proceed, Simanton said that it was a waste of money to even pursue the idea.
The commissioners went on to approve the latest bid for the Courthouse roof. The previous bid had to be revised when the contractor realized that the new roof would need a membrane that would seal the entire roof to prevent any leaks. The previous idea would not stand up to high winds. The new bid came in at $47,776.30. Work will progress as soon as possible.
An approach on Owl Creek Road was approved by the commissioners. Raymond Teats applied for the approach that is located approximately threetenths of a mile from the Arpan Road intersection. It will be used as a driveway to his home.
Glen and Sondra Boggess asked the commissioners to approve an Agreement for Voluntary Right of Way donation. Their plan is to move the fence, put in a temporary fence and then to replace the fence.
Sheriff Lamphere took some time to give a summary of his recent trips to the southern border and Washington, DC. He explained that there was minimal cost to the county, since the travel expenses were paid by a federation group. His group met with legislators to encourage them to secure the border. He attested to the ideas that a secure border benefits Butte County.
“It will make a difference in our county,” he said. “There will be fallout at some point.”
Deputy Bailee Hahne has graduated from the police academy and is ready to begin service as part of the Sheriff’s Department.
The open deputy position has also been filled, according to Lamphere.
Jasen Saivong was approved for another four years as Veterans Service Officer. Commissioner Karol Herman cited that he was doing a very good job and the commissioners look forward to having working with him as VSO.
Capp reported that the Audio/ Visual project is going forward. The company is waiting for parts and hope the project will be done by the end of the year.
A potential web developer has come forward, according to Commissioner Ager.
The next regular meeting will be Dec. 7 at 9:30 am in the Butte County Courthouse.