Walworth County Commissioners Thursday, Jan. 4, elected Scott Schilling to serve as chairman in 2018, with Jim Houck elected to serve as vice-chair.
The election was held by secret ballot by request of commissioner Houck.
Schilling requested to have some time to decide on commission appointees before he makes those decisions. Commissioner Kevin Holgard pointed out there may be appointments that are not needed, as he said he served as the commission representative for purchases and had not received one call concerning that part of the county’s business.
Schilling asked that the commission review the appointments and there will be a discussion about making changes to those appointments at the next meeting.
The commission also had had a lengthy discussion about whether they could require a reporter from the county designated newspapers to be present at the meetings in order to report on them or to get the information about the meetings from the video tape.
Commissioner Holgard questioned if that could be a requirement of designating a newspaper as the official county newspaper. He said he didn’t think information should be passed through a third party, such as Walworth County Assistant Ryan Badten.
Walworth County State’s Attorney Jamie Hare told the commission that the designation had to do with printing the official minutes and not about meetings report. He said the county would not be able to dictate how a newspaper covers the meetings.
Holgard said the commission had designated Hare to the be the county spokesman for news reporters after commissioners decided department heads and other county employees were not allowed to speak to reporters. He said if the newspaper reporter wants information on what happened in a meeting, it should be through Hare and not Badten. Hare said he would be the point of contact from now on, and he would answer to the commission if there were any further conflicts.
Auditor Becky Krein told the board Walworth County Emergency Manager Shannon Thompson had resigned from that position. Krein told the board two commissioners, highway supervisor Penny Geotz and two members of the county weed board had met concerning the resignation. It was decided that the two positions should remain combined and the county should advertise for a full-time position at $36,000 per year plus benefits. That position is combined with the county weed supervisor job.
There were several people who want to be a part of the hiring process, including members of the weed board, county commissioners and Warhawk Emergency Manager Tim Schweitzer, but they won’t be able to meet until later this month. Until that time, the Walworth County Sheriff’s office will administer any emergency situations.
In other business the Walworth County Commissioners:
• Approved Bank West in Selby, Dacotah Bank, Great Western and Wells Fargo banks in Mobridge as official depositories of the county.
• Approved the salary for commissioners at $10,192 per year.
• Authorized the publican of a complete list of salaries all officers and employees of the county.
• Approved raising the hourly wage of the election officials to $15 per hour for poll workers and $17 per hour for poll supervisors.
• Approved the fee allowed by funeral directors for services at $2,500.
• Approved resolution WC 2018-03 establishing the salaries of elected officials as follows: treasurer, $44,012; auditor, $46,033; register of deeds, $44,012, State’s Attorney, $73,158; sheriff, $53,286; and coroner $150 per call.
• Approved inmate housing contracts with Logan County, N.D. and Perkins County, S.D. at the established rate effective Jan. 1.
• Heard commissioner Schilling say he would continue to remove snow from the courthouse until the commission can decide if they want to purchase equipment for snow removal and allow the janitor to do that and lawn care as part of his duties. The decision will be made at the next meeting after Badten researches the cost or if the county has equipment that could be used.
• Tabled a decision on whether to have new heat registered installed in the offices that have only one working register. A bid was submitted for the work, but more information on the why the registers were capped and whether the work should be put out for bid can be reviewed by the commission.