Notes from Commissioner Galen Niederwerder

The Meade County Commission met in session Wednesday, November 23rd.

We always begin the meeting with a prayer led by one of the Commissioners, and since it was the day before Thanksgiving, I shared a story about  the first and second Thanksgivings.  It’s a very interesting story, but too long to go into here; you should Google it.

The one item that seemed to have everyone’s attention was Commissioner Alan Aker’s offer to resign, if asked by the Commission to do so.  That offer apparently stemmed from an article in the Meade County Times and Rapid City Journal, noting his absences from several meetings over the last few months since his reinstatement.  That article led to an editorial in the Journal calling for his resignation. This offer was very unusual, to say the least, and I do not know why he made it.  None of his fellow commissioners had ever considered asking him to resign; it’s a pretty slippery slope once board members start calling for fellow members to resign - you might be the next one asked.

And even if we did want him to, there’s no legal basis for the Commission to do so.  According to Deputy States Attorney Ken Chleborad, the law in South Dakota states a commissioner can only be removed for: misconduct, malfeasance, nonfeasance, crimes in office, drunkenness, gross incompetency, corruption, theft, oppression, or gross partiality.  And it takes a court action to accomplish that; the Board does not make such a determination.  So, as Chair, I declined to allow discussion on the item; the other Commissioners could have over-ruled the chair, but no-one made a motion to do so.

We also discussed placing a guard rail in front of a house, which is too close to the public right-of-way on Ft. Meade Way.  An accident occurred there after the storm and came within several feet of the dwelling.  The only reason I placed it on the agenda was to address a potentially dangerous situation; however, remarks from the homeowner quickly sunk into a diatribe of accusations against the Sheriff’s Office.  Sheriff Ron Merwin wasn’t able to be at the meeting, and Commissioner Aker spoke up to stop the homeowner from continuing her verbal assault until the Sheriff could be available to defend himself and his department.  To his credit, the Sheriff has agreed to meet with a group of homeowners regarding speed enforcement, and the Commission will also take up the matter at our first meeting in December. 

There are two positions open on the Planning Board, and we are soliciting applications at this time.  (Just contact the Commissioner’s Office.)  I would like to see some applications from the rural part of the county; even though we’re not affected as much out here, it would be nice to get a different perspective sometimes.  The pay is $100 per meeting, plus mileage.

We were honored to recognize as Veteran of the Month Mr. Ben Wallace.  Ben served four tours of duty in Vietnam; a total of 49 months.  He re-upped for a fifth, but his commanding officers sent him home.  He lived for many years in California, before deciding to move to Sturgis after attending the Rally several times.  By the way, he said the Fort Meade Veteran’s Center is the best VA Center he’s ever visited.  Thank you again, for your service, Ben.