September 17, 2019

Outcome of hearing will not affect Lake County - Daily Leader Extra : Local News

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Outcome of hearing will not affect Lake County

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Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2019 3:11 pm

Jay Gilbertson, manager at East Dakota Water Development District, assured Lake County commissioners on Tuesday morning that downstream neighbors would not be significantly impacted by the outcome of a hearing regarding maintenance of the Lake Thompson outlet.

"No matter what they do, nothing is going to change," Gilbertson said. "There's too much water in the lake."

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Water Management Board will hold a hearing on a motion from Kingsbury County in the Floyd Matthew Training Center in Pierre at 11 a.m. on Sept. 11.

Lake County was officially notified because the county intervened in 2013 when Kingsbury County sought to have an elevation set for the outlet. At the time, Shelley Nelson, who was serving as the Kingsbury County Commission chair, said no engineer would look at a maintenance project on the outlet because no outlet elevation had been set.

Following two hearings, the elevation was set at 1,675.5 feet. The issue affects Lake County because the Lake Thompson outlet enters the Vermillion River which flows through the southwest corner of the county.

While Gilbertson said he was hesitant to call Kingsbury County's motion to allow maintenance of the outlet a "feel good" action on the part of the commission, he described it as "a non-issue."

"Kingsbury County commissioners are making an effort to address local concerns," he reported.

Before summarizing the pertinent points, Gilbertson said the 90-plus page document regarding the motion had been sent to Lake County State's Attorney Wendy Kloeppner.

With no rain, the lake water level would drop to normal levels in about 97 days, he indicated. If the vegetation is cleaned out, that time would be reduced to 96 days. With modest excavation, it would be further reduced to 94 days.

"I can't believe anyone would be willing to put up the money to do that for very little gain," Gilbertson said.

He anticipates the board will approve "nominal maintenance work."

"The consequence should be of no concern to downstream folks," he stated.

Commissioner Roger Hageman questioned that, noting Lake County has enough water already. He suggested that instead of investing money in a study, the funds could be used to repair roads.

Gilbertson talked about improvements which have been made, including culvert replacements, and reiterated, "There is to be minimal effect downstream."

He assured commissioners that no earthwork is being proposed and pointed out that "there's too much water in every lake in South Dakota."

Gilbertson indicated he was planning to attend the hearing and is not concerned, in part because there's no plan to pay for any work which is approved.

In other business, the commission:

-- Approved a rental agreement with Janet Haak to hold "Barrels for Beth and Becky" at the 4-H buildings and grounds on Sept. 22.

-- Approved a resolution canceling nine checks which have not been presented for payment and sending $412.37 to the state Treasurer's Unclaimed Property Division and $84.60 to the California State Controller.

-- Discussed a request to lower the speed limit on 241st Street near Chester. Shelli Gust, commission administrative officer, said the commission considered this in 2014, but she could not explain why an ordinance was not previously approved.

Published records show ordinances for speed zones on both 464th Avenue and 241st Street near Chester were approved on their first reading but opposed by the township board on their second. The matter was sent into committee and the result was an established school zone on 464th Avenue.

Gust reported both Sheriff Tim Walburg and the Highway Department support the recent request. Commissioner Deb Reinicke asked Gust to see whether state statutes limit how the speed limits could be set.

-- Approved a $30-per-month stipend for Highway Foreman Tim Tolley who uses his personal phone for work-related calls.

-- Approved the provisional budget for 2020. Total appropriations for 2020 are $9,121,211, with $5,156,423 in the general fund, $2,836,298 in the road and bridge fund, and the remainder in other designated funds.

County Auditor Bobbi Janke reviewed the changes made at the last meeting which resulted in an increase to the published budget in the amount of $110,948. Changes at the Aug. 20 meeting included adding one position to the Highway Department, adding health insurance to one position in the Highway Department, and increasing the revenue for Emergency Management by $4,500.

The provisional budget was approved without further discussion.

-- Approved one utility occupancy application from East River Electric and four utility occupancy applications from Midco.

-- Approved an automatic budget supplement for the Sheriff's Department in the amount of $5,982.12, in part from the sale of animals involved in a criminal case.

-- Approved a resolution supplementing the 2019 budget with $100,000 from the Catastrophic Legal Expense Relief Program and $226,622.12 for the overlay project which exceeded the budgeted the cost.

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