Martin County declares disaster

FAIRMONT — Martin County commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday to declare a state of emergency in the county due to the most recent winter storm.

Martin County Chief Deputy Corey Klanderud gave a brief recap of the volatile spring season and stated why the declaration would be helpful.

“With all the recent weather events we had this spring, from rapid snow melt to high winds and a considerable amount of damage that is affecting some rural co-ops that are looking for assistance, by doing an emergency declaration we can provide support for that.”

Sheriff Jeff Markquart also weighed in.

“This covers everybody, but right now it looks like it’s going to be our co-op and power companies,” he said. “I know Federated Electric had about 37 to 38 poles that they’ve replaced so far in Martin County. So this is just a way of trying to capture funds, which is going to affect everybody.”

Also speaking about the effects of recent weather, Highway Engineer Kevin Peyman gave a brief update on the status of the county’s gravel roads.

“With last week’s rain, snow and slush it did a number on all of our gravels, so they’re in pretty rough shape,” he said. “We did bring in all the blade-men and a few trucks on Saturday. We don’t try to do that unless we have to but there were some that were pretty much impassable and it had gotten cold enough so we did bring them in.

“They worked from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday and we had a few trucks haul some gravel in to some of those spots and it really helped a lot. We don’t have any of our gravels that are currently closed. Hopefully we can get them shored up here in the next few weeks.”

Turning to another matter, the board approved a motion for a sheriff’s deputy to be assigned as the school resource officer at Granada-Huntley-East Chain. The district will be responsible for 66 percent of the cost of the position, with the county responsible for the other 34 percent. Klanderud said he would work with County Attorney Terry Viesselman to draft a contract.

In other business, commissioners approved a motion to amend a grant agreement with Frontier Communications. The county was awarded a $1.7 million grant in partnership with Frontier for the purpose of expanding broadband services throughout the county. Frontier’s construction team was concerned that the final completion date and all eligible reimbursements might edge past the original contract completion date of June 30. The amendment moved the contracted completion date to Dec. 31.

Commissioner Tom Mahoney shared his thoughts on the issue.

“I would say I’m pretty disappointed in Frontier that they didn’t get this done,” he said. “This has been going on for a long time and there’s a lot of issues with Frontier people out there. We’ve had problems in Ceylon and Northrop just with their construction, and it’s just disappointing they didn’t get it done.”

In other action, the board:

o Approved a motion to authorize the promotion and hire of Dustin Splinter as maintenance superintendent for the Martin County Highway Department.

o Accepted the resignation of Martin County Victim Witness assistant Emily Ibarra.

o Approved a motion to appoint Jessica Korte to the Martin County Auditor/Treasurer position to fill the remaining term of James Forshee, who will be retiring in July. The effective date of Korte’s appointment will be July 8, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2022.