County road status for Lisk Creek Road approved; gate options on minimum maintenance roads reviewed


By Kay Braddock

  Approval of county road status for Lisk Creek Road, north of Terry, during Tuesday’s regular Board of County Commissioners meeting, led to a discussion of whether unlocked gates could remain on minimum maintenance roads.

State statute prohibits any obstruction on county designated roads that prevent public use of the roadway.  
Although Lisk Creek Road, petitioned last month to be designated as a county road by Karol Willardson, doesn’t have a gate, North Bad Route does. The board has not yet designated North Bad Route Road or Chester Lane Road as county roads, which were both petitioned to be listed as county roads during the same January 3 public hearing.
Willardson sought county road designation for Lisk Creek Road to ensure public access to her deeded property – a practice occurring throughout eastern Montana as lending institutions have begun declining loans on property with no public access. 
The board approved county road designation for Lisk Creek Road with the stipulation that signage addressing safety concerns would be adopted. Signs would include a speed limit and posting the road as a minimum maintenance road. 
It was suggested that all minimum maintained roads within the county would be specifically identified, clearing up the matter as to which roads could include gates. It was also suggested that gates allowed on minimum maintained roads couldn’t be locked and must be easily opened.
No formal proposal was adopted addressing gates on minimum maintained roads.
Commissioners will hold a public hearing during their regular Feb. 29 meeting, addressing the petition to abandon Coal Creek Road, brought by Dennis Teske. Discussion on North Bad Route Road and Chester Lane Road will take place during their Feb. 21 meeting.
The following items are edited excerpts of commission minutes from January meetings.
a During the January 3 meeting, commissioner Marie Davis informed the group that Doug Hjorth will sell gravel to the county for .35/yard. Commissioner Todd Devlin also stated that DeLynn Meidinger has a good gravel pit that he would allow the county to take gravel from for no cost. Commissioners along with Road Foreman Mark Trask put figures together to show Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway actual costs for repair work that needs to be done to the Mildred Road due to damages caused by BNSF Railway trucks as they traveled along the roads during the spring of 2011. BNSF crews were traveling the road to fix railway damages in the area caused by extensive spring rains.
  •  Commissioners visited with Trask about road employee wages and the possibility of increased salaries, to be more competitive with other counties, encouraging present employees to stay with the county. Commissioners agreed to look at the situation further when the new budget is addressed.
  •  Todd Devlin was appointed to remain chairman of the board for 2012. 
  •  Discussion about having minutes available at the commissioner meeting from the previous meeting was addressed, to keep the commissioners aware of unfinished business. Commissioner Deanna Bockness suggested making a priority list for each year as to the issues they wish to address and resolve. 
  •  Commissioners agreed to designate 9 - 10 a.m. for road issues with Trask and Gary Pfiefle for all future meetings.
  •  Lance Kalfell visited with commissioners about the possibility of BLM contributing to the county when it comes to the influx of mineral interest in Prairie County.
  •  Commissioners discussed the best use of the office in the courthouse now vacated by Department of Public Health and Human Services. Commissioners agreed to use the room as a multi-function room for meetings, along with using it as the commissioner room.
  •  During the January 17 meeting Trask visited with the commissioners about the agreement signed between Prairie County and Douglas Hjorth in which Hjorth agreed to sell 6,000 yards of gravel to the County for .35/yard. Trask also presented the commissioners with a proposed estimate from Otto Construction to crush and stockpile 1 1/2 inches of the gravel for the cost of 5.25 a yard while rejecting 10 percent of the fines and if fines exceed 600 yards then a handling fee of 2.50/yard will apply. This brings the final cost to $35,000. Commissioner Davis made a motion to accept the proposed bid from Otto Construction. Seconded by Bockness. Motion carried. The gravel will be used to repair damage to the Mildred Road caused by BNSF trucks. BNSF has committed $35,000 for the damaged road. Upon request from BNSF, Devlin will send documentation of how the funds will be used. 
  •  Trask also mentioned to commissioners that there is a possibility that he will need to have some mineral searches done before he pursues getting gravel from various pits in the county. Commissioners will allow Trask to ask Prairie Abstract and Title to do such searches as needed.
  •  Devlin advised Mark to visit with DeLynn Meidinger about getting some gravel from a pit on Meidinger’s land.
  •  Gary Pfiefle gave an update on the road easement process. Pfiefle stated that there are 30 county roads that have complete easements. Due to some the fact that some of the roads previously declared as county roads did not have full easements at that time, Pfiefle had the commissioners sign amended easements for those roads. Commissioners signed amendments to Resolution 12-13(Pine Unit Road), 12-14 (Hatchet Creek Loop Road), 12-23 (Ismay Road), 12-26 (Hughes Road), and 12-30 (Hauk Road).
  •  Davis inquired about selling the old fire-damaged road shop. Trask would like to keep it available for cold storage. Commissioner Devlin stated repairs to make the shop more useable should be reviewed. 
  •  Pfiefle stated that he had visited with Quinn Haughian about getting a letter addressed to him similar to the one the county had issued to Ward Joel Jackson III  about having no interest in a road on Haughian’s land. Commissioners advised Pfiefle that they wish to hold off on that letter for now.
  •  Commissioners visited with Attorney Bunke about the TransCanada Road Haul Agreement. Bunke stated that he would have it finalize before day’s end.
  •  Winnie Harmel from the Council on Aging Board gave an update on the Prairie Community Center activities. Harmel verified to the commissioners that the bylaw change earlier presented to the commissioners was approved by Council on Aging board members. It states that if a board member misses three consecutive meetings s/he will be eliminated from the board. Harmel questioned the commissioners as to who was actually the supervisor of the Center’s director. Commissioners advised that it was the Council on Aging Board. 
  •  Commissioners discussed a replacement for the Food Bank Board vacated by Margie Feickert. Commissioners will visit with Health Nurse Janet Fredrickson about possibly placing 3 local ministers on the Board, which would include Jack Runner, Leon Rathbun and Jacob Hanneman.
  •  Commissioners met with Sheriff Bill Klunder, Public Safety Board Chairman Fran Fleckenstein and Town of Terry Mayor Ron Kiosse about the possible disbanning of the Public Safety Board. Also in attendance was County Attorney Garry Bunke. Commissioners asked Bunke to provide them with an opinion as to what he feels the responsibilities are of such board. Kiosse stated that he would like to see the board stay in existence but that it operate correctly and by the guidelines stated. 
  •  Kiosse questioned whether the Town of Terry needed to get their own permit from BLM for use of the gravel pit. Devlin stated that he thought the town needed to have it’s own permit.
  •  County Attorney Bunke brought over the completed Road Haul Agreement for Commissioner signatures. 
  •  Commissioners visited with Sheryl Morast about old court files that are located in the Prairie Abstract Office. Morast would like to get rid of the boxes stating they could not be destroyed. Commissioners will contact Albert Picchioni of Al’s Mini Storage to see if he was any storage units for rent an or lease. 
  •  Commissioners asked Sheryl Morast if she would be interested in becoming the Trustee to Cemetery Improvement Fund. Morast stated she would be interested. A petition will be sent to District Court Judge Richard Simonton to sign an order for Morast to be the new Trustee to the fund due to the previous Trustee Dale Hubber moving from the county.
  • Commissioners signed an amended Contract for Legal Services between Garry Bunke, County Attorney and the county commissioners for service to be provided to the Seniors of the County effective from January 1, 2012 through June 30, 2012. There is $500.00 budgeted for such services.
  •  Deputy Clerk and Recorder Piney Helmuth presented the Commissioners with a letter addressed to Judge Simonton with the descriptions of the current commissioner districts, with no changes to be approved. Commissioner Devlin signed such letter.

Published February 8, 2012

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