BELLE FOURCHE-A few changes were made for the 2024 Butte County Commission year. After the commission closed out business for 2023, business for the new year took place. Commissioner James Ager was voted in as Chair with Commissioner Karrol Herman as Vice Chair.
Meeting times were set for the first and third Tuesdays of each month with each meeting beginning at 9:30 am. with evening meetings the second Tuesday in March, June, and September beginning at 6 pm. In addition to regular meetings, there is an additional meeting in June and November for post-election audits.
According to Chair James Ager, the commission has scheduled an additional meeting at the end of December to close out the 2024 year.
With the addition of the new audio/visual system, Executive Sessions will be moved upstairs to the county courtroom. According to Auditor Annie Capp, the glitch with the new system has been addressed. Architectural Specialties responded to her inquiry that they found that turning the camera off, stops the stream but is not recognized by YouTube, losing the signal. By leaving the camera on and moving to another room, this problem will probably be eliminated.
Petitions are ready at the Auditor’s Office for openings in several county elections. There are openings in County Commission District 2 and 4, the States Attorney, County Treasurer, Precinct Committeeman & Committeewoman, and Conservation District Supervisor.
Presently, District 2 is held by Karrol Herman and is for a four-year term. District 4 is held by Stan Harms and is also for a four-year term. The States Attorney, held by LeEllen McCartney, is for a four-year term, as well as a four-year term for the County Treasurer. The Precinct Committeeman and Committeewoman covers 18 precincts and the Conservation District Supervisor is a four-year term.
Petitions can be picked up in the Auditor’s Office or printed from https://sdsos.gov/elections-voting/nominating-petitions/download-nominating-petition.aspx anytime now and must be returned to the auditor’s office by March 26, 2024 with the required number of signatures and notarization.
There is a Candidate Calendar and more information on the Secretary of States website under Elections and Voting, 2024 Election Information.
During business at the December 29, 2023 meeting Sheriff Fred Lamphere discussed a letter received from Belle Fourche Chief Cherveny with a request for a letter of intent from the Butte County Commission stating their interest in engaging in a long-term lease with the City to rent space for the Sheriff’s Office and Dispatch Center.
Sheriff Lamphere commented, “There are benefits to housing together.” He will follow-up for more details.
There was discussion surrounding the potential need for an ordinance to help prevent safety and liability issues along Redwater River that is experienced by Butte County and Lawrence County. According to Lamphere, private property rights need to be followed, but there is a need for the liability issue to be addressed.
“We need to work on educating the people,” he said.
Commissioner Chad Erk questioned the ability to enforce any ordinance. Lamphere pointed out that it would be a joint effort of both counties.
During public comment Dale Simanton urged the commissioners to choose a candidate from the northern area of Butte County that is ag related.
Katie Hoffman pointed out that people (commissioners) need to show up on time for the meetings. She would also like to see the budget reflect what the tax dollars reflect in a more realistic manner.
Travis Ismay would like to see the new year start with a prayer at the beginning of each meeting. He added that he hopes this year is blessed in this county.
During an earlier meeting on December 29, 2023 local fire departments were represented and spoke to the commissioners. Don Tishmack, Newell Fire Department, and Mark Hespe, Butte County Fire Protection, thanked the commissioners for their support. They spoke on equipment purchases, grant funding, and said that any available funding would be used to purchase needed equipment. Some new PPE equipment has been purchased through grants with the exception of Butte County Fire Protection, since they were not eligible because of the time frame of less than a year.
The commissioners voted to transfer $100,000 from the General Fund Cash account to the Fire Cash account. Commissioner Chad Erk abstained from the vote due to being part of the local fire department.
Sheriff Lamphere reported on a letter he had received from Senator John Thune concerning border security. He later added statistics to explain the fiscal burden to the taxpayers of South Dakota.
There are an estimated 9,000 illegal aliens that live in South Dakota. Illegal alien households add 3,875 students to local schools. The average cost to South Dakotans is $4,742 per illegal alien. Taxpayers are supporting education, police, legal and corrections, plus healthcare, public assistance and general government services expenses. This amounts to a burden of $165 per South Dakota household annually.
More can be learned at www.FAIRUS.org.
The next County Commission meeting will be January 16 at 9:30 am.