Photo by Brett Nachtigall/Fall River County Herald-Star
The Fall River County Jail sits alongside the Fall River County Courthouse in the north part of Hot Springs.
By Cathy Nelson
HOT SPRINGS – The Fall River County commissioners asked Chief Executive Officer Michael Gouloff of Elevatus Architecture to have his company conduct a feasibility study for a new or remodeled county jail. Gouloff spoke to the commissioners at their meeting on Thursday, Nov. 2.
Elevatus, which is located in Fort Wayne, Ind., has worked all over the country, Gouloff said. With Gouloff were Dillon A. Redding, architect, and Douglas Dukes, who is project executive of justice and a former sheriff. Elevatus started justice work in 1983, Gouloff said.
“We look at what is the best for each county,” Gouloff said. “Each one is different.” He explained that they interviewed people and took a tour of the jail, and that they came to the commission meeting to introduce themselves. They planned to meet with each commissioner after the meeting.
“Come back with a study at the next meeting,” said Commissioner Joe Allen. Gouloff said they will come back on November 16 and then, will give a formal presentation of their design in December. The cost of the study is $6,000.
Sheriff Lyle Norton said he had spoken to the Black Hills Council of Local Government and that there were not many grants available for jail improvement.
Maverick Junction, where Highway 79 meets Highway 18/385, was another topic of interest at the commissioners’ meeting. Carol Foster of Hot Springs said she was speaking on behalf of group of people who have ideas on how to improve the safety of the corner. She explained that they had sent a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) asking them to look at the intersection. One suggestion was to have an on ramp and an off ramp.
Foster presented a letter she and Barb Rosane received from DOT Engineer Rich Zacher, that explained that the DOT conducts regular reviews of highways and intersections to ensure that they stay acquainted with the highway safety and traffic volume at those locations. He explained that they had taken steps to eliminate the most prevalent crash type, accounting for almost one-quarter of the crashes in the last 10 years. “Those crashes would occur when southbound motorists were slowing to turn right during slick conditions and would then slide through their turn, crashing into eastbound motorists waiting to enter the intersection,” he wrote. “To address those crashes, we installed a high friction surface, consisting of epoxy covered with fine rock on the road surface. Since making that improvement five years ago, that type of crash has been eliminated.”
Representative Trish Ladner (R-SD) said Zacher has been very responsive to the problem and is willing to look at the corner. “I was very encouraged,” she said.
Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller (R-SD) said, “Rich is very willing to work with us; we should wait to see what happens with Rich.”
Sheriff Lyle Norton said while he was at the scene of an accident at the Maverick corner recently, where a semi had crashed into a motorhome, the trucker told him that he could not see the motorhome.
One of the suggestions from Foster’s group is to lower the grade on the lanes, so that cars trying to enter north and south can actually see the traffic coming, and also to start the turn lane southbound at the top of the hill at 79 to turn into Hot Springs
The group had several other suggestions, including closing the Coffee Cup entrance at the corner, which would make the traffic enter the Coffee Cup by means of the north or south entrances to the service road and also to lower the speed of the traffic to 45 mph.
When Foster asked for a letter of support from the county commissioners, they agreed to send a letter to the state DOT expressing their concern.
Turning to other highway matters, county highway Superintendent Randy Seiler told commissioners that the county received about $40,000 worth of gravel for free from the solar farm near Oelrichs. He said that the solar farm also gave the county about $2,000 worth of other equipment, such as safety vests, highway cones, and water. “The solar farm is operating,” Seiler said.
Later in the commission meeting, Veteran Service Officer Dan Cullen gave the third quarter report for veteran services. For July there were 32 awards totaling $134,773.94. In August there were 23 awards, totaling $134,465.91, and in September, there were 31 awards totaling $152,1453.81.
The commissioners discussed the letter they received from the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners asking for support for the establishment of the National Center for Public Land Counties, which promotes responsible land management and fosters collaboration among counties nationwide. Without protection the grazing and logging rights could be taken away. Commissioner Deb Russell said, “This will offer protection for some of us in the rural area.”
In other business the commissioners approved the following items.
• Purchase three-year SonicWall protection for $5,680.26, for security for 46 computers
• Project Boundary Fence will perform a cybersecurity assessment of the Fall River County system and will advise the county of any weaknesses.
• Plats for Anderson Engineers