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Commissioner Minutes March 18, 2019

March 26, 2019

March 18, 2019

The meeting was called to order at 8:36 by Commissioner Borner.  Commissioner Berry and Carlson were present.

Pledge of Allegiance.

Commissioner Carlson made the motion to approve the agenda.  Commissioner Borner seconded the motion.   Motion carried.

Commissioner Carlson made the motion to approve the minutes from the March 11, 2019 meeting after fixing a few grammar issues.  Commissioner Borner seconded the motion as amended.  Commissioner Berry abstained because he was not present for the meeting.  Motion carried.

Commissioner Borner said that HB 403 State Granted Tax Abatement for Signal Peak Mine was passed out of committee without the amendments.

Commissioner Borner and Commissioner Carlson attended the LEPC meeting.  Ms. Borner said there were not a lot of people present. Commissioner Borner and Road and Bridge Supervisor Stockert went to the MARS meeting with the DNRC.  Mike Ruggles said that it is ok if Mr. Stockert worked on the County Right of Way to fix the berm on #4 Road, to protect the road, deter flooding and save city infrastructure. Before during and after pictures need to be taken. Commissioner Berry said that he talked to George Greimsman and he said that emergency vehicles can go on his land if #4 road is non passable during a flood if he can use the fairgrounds. (as long as the fairgrounds are passable) The Commissioners would like to have a conversation with Mr. Greimsman and Mr. Brewer regarding the issue.

Commissioner Borner and Commissioner Carlson are going to meet on March 19, 2019 at 9:00 to go over all of the hail damage and get a list of big projects and will call Owners Representative Mark Qualman to see if he will work with them to get bids for completion of the projects. Commissioner Berry was invited to join.

Commissioner Berry said that he has many messages in to Mr. Walker, the realtor for Wells Fargo, to ask for a walk through of the building.  Mr. Berry is hoping to hear from him and do the walkthrough today. (walkthrough at 1:00)

The Commissioners will call Servpro again about getting into the Extension Office to start cleaning up the mold.

The Commissioners will talk to Accounting Supervisor Angel to see if there are funds to fix the Steps at the Courthouse in this year’s budget. The Commissioners will be talking to Owners Representative Mark Qualman about doing the bids for this also.

Commissioner Carlson talked about the Flood Plain violation that has been sitting for the last 2 years. The violation was reported in the Community Assessment visit and needs to be addressed to avoid FEMA program suspension. Commissioner Borner has called the resident in violation but was not able to make contact.  Area realtors should be notified that there is a violation because the violation will go with the property if it is sold. The Commissioners will try to reach out again.

Maintenance Supervisor Jett gave her weekly report to the Commissioners. Ms. Jett gave the Commissioners a copy of her boiler license.  Ms. Jett will be out of town this weekend and Kim Taylor will be checking the boiler.  If Mr. Taylor is not available Commissioner Carlson can check it. Commissioner Carlson is going over the bids received for the boiler work in the Courtroom.  Ms. Jett will check on the lock replacement at the Commons.

Road and Bridge Supervisor Stockert and Secretary Kenner gave their weekly report to the Commissioners. They are working on the right of way berm on #4 Road and hope to be done by the end of the week.  Ms. Kenner looked at the Public Works Program and found maintenance on Cameron road clear back to 2004.  Information requested on the petition of Cameron Road is on the thumb drive supplied. #5 of the petition does not exist.  County Road maintenance is exempt from Sage Grouse restrictions. Commissioner Berry said that he received a call about a culvert on Alec Roy Road.  Mr. Stockert said that it is on the list but the creek has been running all year.  The resident may have to go to Big Wall Road. Sheriff Lesnik joined the meeting.  Mr. Lesnik asked about barriers during flooding?  Mr. Stockert said they will be putting up cables.

Sheriff Lesnik gave his weekly report to the Commissioners. Mr. Lesnik is concerned that the public will not follow barricades during flooding. Mr. Lesnik thinks we should start talking to the public about land owner fire mitigation. (J. K. Kuzara joined the meeting) Mr. Lesnik told the Commissioners that he is going try to get a grant for a service dog.  Mr. Lesnik said that there is an officer who has committed to the life of the dog and it will be a good step in battling drug trafficking. If Musselshell County assists in another County and there is any drug money, we will get 20% of that money will go into our drug fund.  Mr. Lesnik told the Commissioners that they will more than likely have to get a new boiler for the Sheriff’s office. Mr. Lesnik is working with Ambulance Director Solberg regarding the hail damage to the jail.

Accounting Supervisor Angel gave her weekly report to the Commissioners.  The auditors will be back on April 22, 2019 and Ms. Angel has sent requested claims and tax information to them. Ms. Angel was asked about available funds for the replacement of the outer step of the Courthouse.  Funds would be part of the general maintenance fund and part capital improvement. The Commissioners may add the steps at the Sheriff’s office to the bid and they will give all information to Owners Rep. Mark Qualman. The Commissioners told Ms. Angel that they noticed some strange claims that were done from the repair & maintenance for the breakroom such as toner.  Ms. Angel will look into it.

Public meeting for the State Burn Permit System.

J.K. Kuzara and DES Coordinator Fisher were present.

Public comment:

Mr. Kuzara said that he is opposed to the new burn permit system because he sees no benefit for the safety of the people of Musselshell County and it further removes accountability. Some people don’t have cell phones or computer availability. Commissioner Carlson said that he thinks there are some aspects of information regarding the system that are not being conveyed. The County will still be in control of when and where people can burn, it is just the State software we are using. Commissioner Borner said that the fee is for software and administration of the software.  With the proposed initial fee of $6.00, $3.00 goes to the State for the software and the remaining $3.00 is for whoever is inputting the information for the permit. The fees can always be revisited. Ms. Borner said this all came about when the 911 director wanted burn permit calls eliminated from dispatch because it was taking time away from other calls. Mr. Kuzara asked where was the data that the calls disrupt dispatch and that is what they get paid for.

Close of public comment and public meeting.


DES Coordinator Fisher gave his weekly report to the Commissioners. Commissioner Berry said that he can see where the permit system can help dispatch but can also understand Mr. Kuzara’s point. The first year will get all the feedback and see how it goes. Commissioner Carlson said that he thinks as a Board they should start looking for a full-time DES Coordinator to make for an easy transition when Mr. Fisher goes to part-time. Mr. Fisher wants to finish the FEMA buyout program first. Commissioner Berry thinks it is a good time with the new budget year.  We will be running the ad for applications as soon as it can get in the paper until the 1st of May 2019. Mr. Fisher sent a letter to the resident that has a Flood Plain Permit Violation.  Mr. Fisher is going to check on the timeframe for 1 of the property owners in the FEMA buyout that wanted to get their own appraisal.  Mr. Fisher is sure that it is 30 days and he thinks’ it is getting close to the deadline. Mr. Fisher will be going on daily rides from Dean Creek to Melstone to check on the river.


The Commissioners went on a walkthrough of the Wells Fargo building.


Jon Goffena met with the Commissioners regarding the Mills Park baseball field.  Mr. Goffena asked if he could move the silt that has piled up from flooding.  The Commissioners said yes he could and to just add it to the pile that is there. Commissioner Borner told Mr. Goffena to record everything that is done, volunteers names, date and time worked and to take pictures of before during and after for records for FEMA for when it floods again. Mr. Goffena said that he has talked to people at John Deere and they are willing to donated equipment to help fix the field and Northern Seed will donate enough seed for 5 acres.  Commissioner Borner will contact Mr. Goffena when there are meetings with Roundup Reach and the Watershed Coalition to discuss the ball field. Commissioner Berry also suggested Mr. Goffena go to the Signal Peak Foundation for funds.


Kathy Thompson with Stahley Engineering called and asked us to forward the Farrel Bridge Environmental Assessment to her for the Coal Board.


Public Comment:

Tom Hougen, Bernie Ruhland, Virginia Carlson, Virgil Merfeld, James Borner, Edith Sloan, Scott Adkins, Deb Adolph, Danny McCaffree, David Erickson, James Hatter, Virginia Merfeld, Larry Lekse and troy Evans were present.

Larry Lekse gave Commissioner Borner a letter from Robert T. Goffena (available for review at the Clerk & Recorders Office). Commissioner Borner read the letter to the public.


Mr. Hougen said that it looks like this is a all personality deal and that here were funds appropriated for a road that shouldn’t have been built. Mr. Hougen asked if Road and Bridge Supervisor can fix any road he wants?  Commissioner Borner said that if it is in his budget he will come in and report his big projects worked on. Mr. Hougen asked if Cameron Road was reported?  Commissioner Borner said yes it was.  Commissioner Berry said he disagreed.  Commissioner Borner and Commissioner Carlson said it is in the June 2018 and August 2018 minutes. Commissioner Borner said that there has been a history of some Commissioners not listening to or reading reports and that is why we are recording all meetings now. Mr. Hougen said that ultimately the Commissioners are responsible.


David Erickson said that at the time the County Commissioners didn’t have a problem taking $13,000.00 of Federal money to replace culverts in the creek and now they are saying that it is not a County Road.  I have been a part of that road and lived on that road since 1978 and it has always been maintained and the snow has always been removed. Do the Commissioners give Tom Stockert a list of roads at the beginning of the year for him to work on?  Commissioner Borner said that in 2015 Mr. Stockert was handed a road project list.  Cameron Road was #19 on that list. Ms. Borner also had a copy of the road list from 2010 and Cameron Road was on the list.  Before Mr. Stockert was hired the Commissioners decided what roads were worked on. In 2016 Mr. Stockert asked to remove those numbers because of calls on why he was working on project #10 when #4 isn’t done yet when there was a weather incident or availability of gravel etc.  The Commissioners at that time agreed and Mr. Stockert would just report what roads they were working on. Mr. Hougen asked when it became a County Road because he has a 1985 fire map and it is not on that. Commissioner Borner read minutes from May of 1979 concerning building a road to the newly purchased Merfeld property in Township 8 North, Range 23 East, Section 26, where the County said they would start working on their section of the road that needs built. Commissioner Borner said there used to be 5 gates on that road, the County put in 2 cattleguards and a culvert and they used to plow us out to the house. Mr. Lekse said to look in the road book and pull the petition that starts the process and that DES is who took FEMA around to look at roads that needed work after the 2011 flooding.


Mr. Hatter said that Virginia Merfeld should be able to let everyone know what happened back then.


Commissioner Borner said that she is sure her mother could explain it all but the point is, is that she is being accused of having that road worked on when in fact it has been perceived as a County Road and worked on for the last 40 years.


Mr. Hougen said he isn’t blaming Commissioner Borner he is saying it is all Commissioners and they should have to approve what roads are being worked on.


Mr. Evans said that the investigation is against Commissioner Borner.

Commissioner Borner said that the criminal investigation is against her for improperly spending County money on Cameron Road. The investigation is going on and the reason there are so many people here is because of the hypocrisy that the investigation is against her. Mr. Erickson said just be honest, there is a vendetta against Nicole.


Mr. Lekse said if it wasn’t her it would be whoever owned the property.  Ms. Borner said that she doesn’t own the property. It is your district and you spent the money. Mr. Lekse said he did not have a vendetta.


There was a disruption to where Commissioner Borner said if everyone was going to talk over everyone else, they will have to address the Chair before they speak.


Mr Hougen again said that he thinks it’s a personality issue and they should not spend money on a road that only has 1 family on it.


Virgil Merfeld said that the road is used by more than 1 family and that there were 4 or 5 people in the room that use it not to mention that it gives access to BLM Land so it’s a hot hunting area.


Ms. Adolph said that they had a road in the 90’s that was not a County Road and they didn’t want it to be a county road.  There were hours and hours spent by many people and it became a County Road.   No one lives on it. Ms. Adolph is not complaining because a lot of the public use it.  Cameron Road is also used a lot by hunters.  There are other roads that are maintained that only have 1 family on it. One of those roads they worked all summer on and it ended up trashed and thank goodness Mr. Stockert worked on it and a lot of them were ruined before he came and I don’t want to see Mr. Stockert leave. Also Ms. Adolph would like to know that before this became a criminal investigation did anyone of the Commissioners go back into in all the minutes, documentation and recorded minutes because the official minutes do not reflex everything that could have been said.


Commissioner Berry said that he put in a resolution to do an investigation that was voted down and I have not asked for a criminal investigation. I am not part of the investigation. I asked for it here and it was voted down.


Ms. Adolph said she was asking the Commissioners as a whole. This is not only a hardship on Commissioner Borner, it is on Mr. Stockert and this whole County.  Look around at what it is creating. Someone should have done their research first because all of this is in record and should not have gone this far.


Rich Borner said the road was redone, nothing new added and it’s not like a new road was cut, it was just maintained.  Commissioner Borner said yes and on the major project list from 2010, #19 Cameron Road, build up, culvert, cattleguard and gravel all road.


Secretary Hagstrom added that every time the Road Department comes in to meet with the Commissioners, they have an agenda that is read word for word.  It lists roads being worked on or roads that have been worked on.  If it was on that piece of paper it was read out loud and may have not gotten into the official minutes.  But there are copies.


Mr. Merfeld said that if this road is fixed correctly it may cost some upfront but in the long run couldn’t it save the County money? Commissioner Carlson said that, that is Mr. Stockerts way of thinking, bring the road up to standards and it lasts longer. Before Mr. Stockert it was fixed in patches. Mr. Borner asked who the Commissioners were that hired Mr. Stockert? Commissioner Borner said that it was Larry Lekse Bob Goffena and Bryan Adolph.


Mr. McCaffree said that he thinks that when it is a major fix, he thinks there should be Commissioner approval. Also 1 mile west from where this, is an old grated road and that was Cameron Road.

Commissioner Borner said that we didn’t build the road, what Mr. Stockert did was fix the road that has been traveled on for over 40 years.  Everyone knows, especially all you old ranchers that County Roads migrate, everyone knows that it is nothing new.  Everyone seems to forget that Mr. Stockert was handed a road project list when he was hired.  Cameron Road was #19 on that list. He was also handed the County road maps that he uses to go out and fix all the County Roads. We are a very rural County.  The Merfelds are not the only people that live at the end of a County Road. It is a misconception to say that a road was built. A portion of a road was fixed.  Former Commissioners and Commissioner Berry, even though he says he had nothing to do with it but was because he obviously had conversations with these gentleman, and started the whole thing with a resolution to investigate why public funds were spent on a non-County Road when he was a Commissioner and it was in the minutes when the road was being fixed Mr. Stockert also let the Commissioners know that he was getting gravel from the Raths gravel pit and we signed the claims for the Rath’s gravel pit.  So, Mr. Berry has culpability as well and here is to the point.  I am the one being criminally investigated because of a petition Mr. Lekse put for forth, seemingly forgetting that he accepted $12,000.00 of FEMA funds and wants to blame it on DES, but they are the ones that signed and accepted that money.


Mr. Hougen said that it’s the lack of people like Troy Evans coming in and creating problems.


Mr. Evans said that he has been coming to these meeting for 15 years and this is the first time he has ever seen Mr. Hougen at a meeting.  Mr. Hougen said that he doesn’t have a problem.  Mr Evans asked if he, himself was the one creating the problem? Mr. Hougen said Mr. Evans creates problems.


Commissioner said that she doesn’t think that’s fair and they have spent almost a half hour on the public comment portion on Cameron Road and I am going to end it with this and I think Ms. Adolph said it earlier.  This is a colossal waste of County energy and time. I am not the one that started this, but I am defending myself and I will see it to the end.


Mr. Erickson asked who brought the charges up against Commissioner Borner? Commissioner Borner said Larry Lekse. Mr. Erickson asked who was representing him?  Commissioner Borner said the County Attorney.  Mr. Erickson said he is confused, isn’t it the County Attorneys job to protect the County? Ms. Borner said the reason they did criminal is because then she can’t be represented by the County and had to hire her own Attorney. Conversation is done on Cameron Road is there other public comment that does not concern Cameron Road?


Mr. Ruhland said that he has a request.  In the years he has had a business 5 times has he had to move.  If the County has a backhoe that has an extended arm go down to the County owned property behind what used to be the slaughter house, and break the ice up that is where the problem is.   Commissioner Carlson said that the problem is for us breaking up the ice on the berm is that we are responsible for what happens downstream if a problem is cause by what we do. It’s to big of a risk and where do we start? Commissioner Borner said that’s what the mitigation program is for, to relieve the issues that are happening, with which Mr. Lekse got over $700,000.00 to get his property out of taxpayer money I don’t care that it was federal is was all tax payer money. Mr. Ruhland said that the Busy Bee wants a million.  Commissioner Borner said they are not a part of the buyout program but Mr. Lekse, the Butcher Block and a few others were in the program to specifically address that problem. We realize that the process is slow but there are rules and regulations. Mr. Ruhland said the same piece of equipment was at the fairgrounds on the bridge breaking up the ice last year.  Commissioner Borner said it wasn’t, but thank you for your comment.


Any other comments?


Mr. McCaffree said that years ago they used to blow up the jams, why can’t we do that. Commissioner Borner said that she would love to be able to go back to the wonderful way things were done a long time ago but there are rules and regulations.


Mr. Lekse said that yes he did get over $700,000.00 from the FEMA buyout, but the Commissioner’s are the ones that offered it to him. All Commissioners said yes they did.   Mr. Lekse said that he is personal representative for the Estate of Theodore Lonon and put in paperwork to be added to the buyout.  Commissioner Carlson said the paperwork that you gave was after the application was submitted and added as a add on. It was submitted but it was up to FEMA to accept. Mr. Lekse asked if FEMA did?   Mr. Carlson said he hadn’t heard back from them.   Mr. Lekse said because the paperwork isn’t available in the file, he was at the DES office and gave them a copy so they could track it down. Mr. Lekse said that Mr. Carlson assured them that it was in the buyout.  Mr. Carlson said it was submitted. Mr. Carlson said they should have it at the office, they have moved files around over there. Mr. Carlson has a copy in his records he kept.


Edith Sloan asked Commissioner Borner is she had to hire and pay for her own Attorney.  Commissioner Borner said she did. Ms. Sloan said that Lekse, Berry and Goffena have been in on it? Commissioner Borner said yes and all the people that signed the petition.

Mr. Evans said he understands that there are State Gas Taxes that are collected for miles of county Roads.  Is Cameron Road one of those Roads? Commissioner Carlson said that it has been for the last 15 years as near as they can tell. Ms. Merfeld is been longer than that.  Commissioner Borner said that it is available on line.


Mr. Leskse asked in your trip to Helena, you went and testified on behalf of Chair of the Board and you corrected that, you sent a letter saying you were testifying as an individual.  Commissioner Borner said yes. Mr. Lekse asked Ms. Borner if she turned in time and expenses for the County to pay for that?  Commissioner Borner said no she did not but she could. Ms. Borner said she didn’t because she didn’t want to run into this shit. It was decided with the Board that she could go up and testify, but thanks Larry.


Ms. Adolph said that she sees there was a resolution for training on how to treat other employees.  She saw in minutes that there was some strong language used against Tom Stockert.  Commissioner Borner said that her and Commissioner Carlson are working on getting training on how to treat people because she believes that you set the tone at the top for the employees and the County and it’s something the County has been struggling with for a while.


End of public comment.


Item #1 to adopt the New State Fire Burn Permit System with a $6.00 fee attached was tabled after discussion that they may need to get the data from 911 Director Solberg on how the new system would help dispatch and to refine the public information. Item #2 to discuss and sign the Oil & Gas Lease from 1889 Energy Group, LLC for various properties in Musselshell County was tabled until Commissioner Berry talks to Senator Richmond about certain parts of the lease.


Commissioner Carlson made the motion to sign Resolution 2019-13 – Musselshell County Emergency Declaration. Commissioner Berry seconded the motion.  Motion carried.


Commissioner Carlson made the motion to purchasing the Black Mountain Software for managing the TIF District Funds, submitted by Treasurer Hetrick.  Commissioner Berry seconded the motion.  Motion carried.  Accounting Supervisor Angel said she would like to get clarification from the Department of Revenue on when the TIF District should start.


There being no further business there was a motion to adjourn.  Motion carried.


February Payroll – $115,831.68                                                          Check # 23577 – 23604

February Claims – $804,617.78                                                          Check # 64629 – 64765

March 19, 2019 Commissioner Borner and Commissioner Carlson met with Accounting Supervisor Angel and went of the outstanding insurance claims and put together a plan. Sheriff Lesnik stopped in during the meeting and visited about a secure impound building.

Last modified: July 30, 2019

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