Routine meeting for Ward County

The most intriguing thing about Tuesday morning’s Ward County Commissioners meeting is that the commissioners held an “executive session” behind closed doors for about 10 minutes.

Prior to the start of the actual meeting, commission chairman Jack Nybakken announced that during the private session the commission decided to place a county staff member under administrative leave pending some investigation by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation. No other details about the incident were given.

There was a short Ward County Social Services meeting prior to the regular meeting where commissioners approved routine bills for county social services, with the exception of an unemployment check for $3,500 for employees the commissioners felt were fired for due cause.

“Maybe it’s right, but I don’t feel comfortable with it,” said commissioner John Fjeldahl, expressing the shared opinion on the commission that the check was an error and should not be sent.

Roza Larson, state’s attorney for Ward County, believes that their time for challenging the check may have passed but said she will look into the matter to see if they have more time.

It was also decided that new scanners for Social Services, which were recommended by the county IT Department, will be purchased now and that the possible purchase of a copier, which doesn’t need replacement at the moment, will be discussed at the end of the year.

Capt. Bob Barnard reported the Ward County Sheriff’s Department received one bid from Westlie Motor Co. to supply the six new police vehicles the commission authorized at a previous session. No other bids were received because, largely, Ford is the only car company that has the type of smaller SUV the department was looking for. The commissioners approved the bid for purchase.

“They’re actually just a little bit cheaper than they were last year,” Barnard said. “And there is money in the 2013 budget that you previously authorized for the purchase of those vehicles.”

A gravel pit ordinance presented by Dana Larsen, county engineer, will be presented to the Planning and Zoning Committee at its Thursday meeting before coming to a vote before the commission upon suggestion by Roza Larson. There was particular “verbage” in the text of the ordinance that some commissioners, particulary Alan Walter, felt was too vague. They also wanted some changes to the penalties.

Other business

Commissioners also accepted and approved the co-funding of a federal hazard mitigation grant for continued disaster relief in Ward County.

Commissioners approved two routine memorandums presented by Seth Hagen, Ward County Tax Equalization director, with the exception of reducing the “true & full value” of a county grain elevator because they felt it gave undue opportunity to the company.