Commissioners approve request for a zipper; set date for budget hearing

At Wednesday’s regular meeting the commissioners met with John Stokes, the road and bridge supervisor who requested approval to purchase an asphalt zipper with a heavy duty drum.

The unit will be used for road repairs and utility trenching. It can “zip” open a 300 foot trench, 30 inches wide and six inches deep in 20 minutes, a job that would normally take two days. On a road it can repair 6/10th of a mile with three inches of asphalt, 20 feet wide in seven hours, replacing the normal time of four days.

Commissioner Cyndi Johnson made a motion, seconded by Sandy Broesder to pursue the purchase of the Asphalt Zipper. Cost of the machine is $153,000. Motion passed on a vote of 2-0.

The commissioners set Aug. 25, 10 a.m. in their office for a public hearing on the proposed county budget for FY-2010-11.

A service agreement with the 341st Communications Squadron out of Malmstrom, AFB and the Belgian Hills Communications Site was approved.

The Squadron will have use of the site and the Air Force agrees to pay its share of the utility services for the site.

In other business, a contract amendment was approved regarding the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The amendment extends the time during which program funds must be obligated from Sept. 19 to March 19, 2013.

Drawdown requests, numbers 2-3, were approved for the Neighborhood Stabilization Grant. Number 2 is in the amount of $63,318.69 and Number 3 is for $40,863.66 for the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) program.

On a vote of 2-0, the commission approved the MACo Workers’ Compensation Trust Agent appointment/service agreement naming Northern Montana Insurance as the county’s agent for the purpose of providing loss control and claims services in coordination with and approval of MACo loss services for the county.

A resolution was adopted stating the county had no objection regarding the application filed with the DEQ for a change of ownership of a motor vehicle wrecking facility.

The Auto Rescue LLC has purchased the Conrad Salvage and Recycling LLC and applied to the state to conduct the current wrecking facility under new ownership.

Sheriff Tom Kuka made a request that the commission allow an exception to the personnel policy regarding starting wage for the recently hired deputy sheriff, Andre Harris.

Harris has completed the Montana Law Academy and is a member of the Montana National Guard.

In view of Harris’ certification prior to be being employed by the county, Kuka requested that the pay steps be waived and he be given the full wage of the sheriff’s deputies as of his date of hire.

The requested waiver affects only the new employee’s wage and he must still comply with all probationary requirements.
County policy also states that employees must complete six months probations prior to being paid for leave to the MNG, however, Harris will commence special training that will be useful to the county in his position and Sheriff Kuka requested a waiver of the six month probationary period before allowing compensation for the officer during the absence for MNG training.

The pay would be for the length of time allowed in the personnel policy and federal law, regardless of the actual time Harris is absent.

Commissioner Johnson moved that Harris receive the hourly pay rate of a non-probationary employee from the date of hire, but he be required to fulfill all other criteria of a probationary employee and that Harris be paid during MNG training, for the length of time allowed in the personnel policy and federal law regardless of the actual time he is absent during his probationary period of employment.

The motion received a second from Broesder and passed 2-0.

The commissioners were presented with proposed subdivision plats for Dyer and Elings one-lot minor subdivisions and the Walston minor three-lot subdivisions.

The county planning board had made a recommendation to conditionally approve these preliminary plats with conditions for each plat.

Sandy Shirley and Barb Judisch met with the commissioners regarding permission for the landowners along a prospective waterline to connect to the City of Conrad water service.

The commissioners provided them an application for easement paperwork, and advised them the county attorney will be contacted in regards of Ag fencing already in place inside the easement request.

The commissioners meet every Wednesday at 10 a.m. in their office to conduct county business. The public is always invited to attend these meetings.