Temporary bridge crossing approved

At the Wednesday morning business meeting, commissioners, on a 3-0 vote approved a request for a temporary bridge crossing.

The Montana Alberta Tie Line (MATL) is in the process of constructing a transmission line from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada to Great Falls.

The right-of-way for this line crosses Wingina Road near Bullhead Road in Valier.

The only access to a small portion of this project is between two separate culvert bridges both posted with 10 ton limits.

The project is to set up a temporary bridge structure that will span over one of the existing 10 ton limit culvert bridges in order to gain the needed access.

Once construction activity for  this section of the transmission line is complete, the temporary bridge will be removed and Wingina Road will be restored to its pre-project condition.

Signs alerting the public will be placed north and south of the bridge. The heaviest vehicle using the temporary bridge is about 150,000 pounds.

The bridge will be installed on or about May 14 and removed on or around May 28.

On a somewhat related topic, an excavation agreement was approved allowing Prewett Excavating and Construction to engage in excavation on and under Showdown Road for the purpose of installing eight inch PVC irrigation pipe.

The job description for seasonal weed district workers as presented by Weed Supervisor Pam Converse was approved on a 3-0.

John Shevlin, representing the Pondera Shooting Sports, met with the commissioners to see about the possibility the group might be able to acquire surrounding land at the building complex for parking and target range areas.

Part of the proposed expanded parking area would bring the area about 160 feet closer to the Conrad Airport runway.

The commissioners reviewed maps with Shevlin and will contact the FAA regarding the clear zone before taking any action.

On an in-house matter, the commissioners approved the renewal of the county’s group health insurance plan with Joint Powers Trust (JPT).

The premium will increase by approximately nine percent, however, the county can receive a three percent decrease in the premium if it agrees to an additional one-year commitment and 70 percent of the employees on the plan agree to participate in wellness education sessions.

With the three percent credit, the premium for employee-only coverage will increase from $425.47 to about $450 per month.

There was also a discussion on the county contribution to the employee group health insurance raised by Commissioner Cyndi Johnson.

She noted that the county’s contribution is significantly lower than those of surrounding counties.

In addition, should there be an oil and gas boom  here, “the amount of  the contribution by the county may be a factor in keeping our employees,” she said.

Commissioners will be discussing these and other factors regarding the county’s contribution amount, including the potential to impose a permissive mill levy which is allowed under Montana law to fund an increase in the county’s contribution toward the employee’s insurance premium.

The commissioners meet every Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. in their office to conduct county business.

The public is always welcome and encouraged to attend to see their government at work.