Rice Lake issues brought up by County Commission

The was a lot of tabling of issues at Tuesday’s meeting of the Ward County Commission.

Perhaps the topic that produced the most discussion was that of emergency pumping being conducted by the Rice Lake Recreation District, an ongoing attempt to get the growing lake in check.

While having obtained permission from the county previously, their permit has since expired; the district still has the necessary permission from the state.

Representatives of Rice Lake will be summoned to speak with the commissioners at the next meeting and will need to bring along an engineer to discuss the specifics of their pumping efforts.

In other flood worries, Dave Merritt, director of the Roosevelt Park Zoo, requested permission to use the County North Building to store the animals in his care should the Minot zoo be flooded again this year. The commissioners were receptive to the idea, as did advisers to the commissioners.

“I’d like to see us help them if we can,” said Sheriff Steve Kukowski, citing that the zoo has not had any revenue for the two years it has been in recovery from the 2011 Souris River flood.

After some joking about the stink of fish-eating birds like penguins and pelicans a motion was carried to allow for the temporary storage of zoo animals in the County North Building should another disaster occur.

Bonding update

“You want the lowest total interest rate,” said Myron Knutson of the Fargo office of Public Financial Management, the firm handling the sales of tax-revenue bonds which will provide the capital to fund the Ward County Office Building, jail expansion, and courthouse renovation progress.

The strategy of developing as many securities into the bonds as possible to develop the highest bond rating was discussed heavily.

Based on current information and analysis on the costs of the projects the bond total will be about $33.5 million but that is subject to change.

Bidding for the bonds will be held on May 6. Bids will be awarded and the sale authorized the following day, May 7, which is the next regularly scheduled meeting of the commission.

IT Update

Ward County IT administrator Jason Blowers has read each of the submitted 40-page proposals from companies bidding to design and maintain a new Ward County website. He said that he has written the “pros and cons” of each proposal down and will have a finalized analysis for the proposals ready for the commissioners by May 7.

“All of these are preliminary quotes because we don’t have a building yet,” said Blowers of his projected equipment list, for the eventual move to the new Ward County Office Building when the project is complete. He’s planning the move to save the most amount of money in movement costs and so that the transition will be “a gentle, calm awakening over a mass exodus.”

There was also some discussion drafting a policy for acceptable use over devices, such as employee smartphones and tablets, onto the county network to avoid the possibility of sensitive county information being let out should an employee device go lost, stolen, or missing.

Other business

– The commissioners approved two county highway projects. Both the county-wide crack seal and seal-coat project and the separate county-wide road striping projects are to be conducted over the summer with a projected end-date of Sep. 1.

– A request from Leslie Getzlaff to park her food truck, named “The Wife’s Kitchen,” in a county parking lot during the construction of the expansion projects was tabled by the commissioners to make sure they are in the legal clear to allow a private enterprise on public lands. For the idea itself, though, the commissioners seemed to feel that it was a good idea as it would add convenience for the workers during the project. One concern, brought up by commissioner Jerome Gruenberg, was that people would have to walk to her food truck and not use the lot as parking for eating, which Getzlaff agreed with. Another concern was whether the precedent set by Getzlaff’s truck would force the county to allow any food truck to park there. Getzlaff said she is one of the few with the proper licenses and insurance to operate such an enterprise.