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Commissioners host GHS students at February meeting

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The regular meeting of the Potter County Commissioners on Feb. 4 reviewed road projects, discussed the 4H program, and welcomed students from the GHS government class as just part of the monthly agenda.
Potter County State’s Attorney Craig Smith talked about some tax issues and the possibility of upcoming sales, but gave some direct attention to the problem the county has by not having handicapped access to the courtroom. He explained that every time there is court or a commissioner meeting held on the third floor of the courthouse, it creates a problem and while the issue is not pushed, he believed that sometime it will be. Options need to be considered, with one possibility being the electric chairs that slide along the stairway. He said that they deal with it when the problem does arise, for example, by changing the location of court if need be. Several county courthouses are faced with similar situations, and Smith said he was bringing it in front of the commission primarily for their information.
He also said that there may be some trials coming up within the next few months.
Students from the Gettysburg High School senior class joined the meeting as part of the Student Government Day, which hosts students in government offices to help them learn more about the workings of local government.
Highway Superintendent Steve Smith presented a report to the board. He talked about some equipment that needs to be surplused and new ditch hitches needed for the mowers. Research is being done to determine what kind of mower would be needed for the summer, and it was decided to purchase the equipment through the local John Deere dealership.
Smith talked about a Community Access Grant available up to $200,000 at a 60/40 split, specifically for the FAS 155 road north past the fairgrounds off Hwy 212, which has 3/4 of a mile where they could grind it and resurface. Ted Dickey from NECOG will help with the grant.
Smith said that part of the road gets a lot of breakup from heavy traffic starts and stops. It was agreed that if a grant could be obtained to cover 60 percent of the project, it would be well worth doing. If grants are awarded, they have two years to complete the project.
Another FAS road at West Whitlock needs repair and chip seal, so a grant application would be submitted for work in 2016 at an estimated project cost of $135,000. The road is approximately 2.5 miles.
There was a lengthy discussion on the county’s bridges. The Suicide Road bridge is old and in bad shape, but the section line cannot be closed since it is necessary for access to state land.
Smith gave a summary of the roads and what the average costs are associated with maintaining them.
Falyn Hogg, who is the 4H adviser and works with the extension office, gave the board a calendar of activities. She told the board that last year Potter County had an eight percent increase in 4H membership, and this year is also on track for an increase. She told the board that all the computers she has in the her offices throughout the four counties she serves are very old and most have died in the last year, so she has borrowed one that she is rotating between multiple counties at this point. She would like to get one and split the cost between the four counties she serves. The computer she is looking at is around $900 with everything on it. The commissioners agreed that splitting the cost four ways would be the most effective. She got approval from the board to have a college student work during the summer as part of  an internship at no cost in exchange for college credit.
Sheriff Curt Hamburger shared his report with the group. There was discussion about a proposed bill in the legislature that would allow all elected officials to carry a concealed weapon without a license, which was, fortunately, defeated. There was also talk about how his department is using social media, and a donation of money to the church fund which helps transients who pass through town and need assistance. He explained the 24/7 program to the students in the room, and told them it requires people with DUI or drug convictions to be tested every 12 hours to make sure there are no related chemicals in their system.
The sheriff will be teaching the Safety Pup program to elementary students up through the sixth grade in Hoven, which focuses on anti-bullying along with safety and internet awareness. He said that Gettysburg has the DARE program presented by the city police department, so this is a program for the Hoven kids. He explained that the Safety Pup is more of a sheriff’s program, and said he remembered it when he was in elementary school with Sheriff Jerry Simon teaching the program. He commented there was a Safety Pup costume at one time, but they haven’t been able to find it.
There was discussion about the city putting up the electronic radar speed signs on the edge of town and that they are very effective. He will check with grant programs to see if they can get some for the Hoven area or some of the county roads coming into town.
There was also talk about rerouting the traffic around Hoven during road construction on the main street through town and how it would impact the business community.
Keith Scott, GHS government instructor, came into the meeting to thank the government officials for hosting the students. Students from other offices joined the commissioner meeting and were released to attend the Government Day luncheon hosted at the American Legion. The meeting was adjourned so the commissioners could join the group for lunch.
The next meeting has been moved from Tuesday to Thursday, March 6 at 8 a.m. in the county courthouse.
The minutes of the meeting are published in the Feb. 13 edition of the News. They are also available online at www.pottercountynews.com and www.sdpublicnotices. com
–Molly McRoberts

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