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County to hold off on paying fugitives' bills

Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy speaks during Tuesday's Stark County Commission meeting.

Discussions became heated when questions of who would pick up the medical tab for Alabama fugitives; one murderer and three accomplices, were raised at Tuesday morning's Stark County Commission meeting.

"They (fugitives) were not served with any documentations of arrest while they were hospitalized, from Stark County ... they were (served) from Alabama," Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning said.

Henning said he suggests the commission look into the billing a bit further before making any payments.

"I would question, at this moment, the responsibility of Stark County," Henning said.

When Stark County Commission Vice Chairman Ken Zander asked Henning what the fugitives have racked up in medical bills, Henning said he did not have the information.

Zander said later that the county received a bill from St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Center for the initial treatment of Jacquelin Mink as well as Ashton Mink.

"Those bills total in the area of $60,000," Zander said.

Ashton Mink's hospital bills were for gunshot wounds reportedly sustained to the hand and hip.

Zander said he did not know the dollar amount for each person.

Zander said the county has not received a medical bill from Medcenter One in Bismarck for fugitive Jacquelin Mink, whose injuries are believed to be self-inflicted. She suffered from gunshot wounds during a police shootout at a Gladstone farmstead on June 6.

Zander said from what he understands, Jacquelin Mink is being billed directly for her medical bills since formal charges hadn't been presented to her at the time of hospitalization. Without presenting formal charges, fugitives are not in Dickinson police custody, Zander said.

Commission Chairman Duane "Bucky" Wolf said one of the fugitives has a $900-a-month medication bill, but could not specify which one.

The fugitives are being held at the Southwest Multi County Correction Center. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday however Henning said he received a motion for a continuance as one of the attorneys said there is too much information to go through prior to the trial.

Deputy need questioned

Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy addressed the commission Tuesday morning on a recent grant the sheriff's department received.

Two officers resigned in the last month from the department, he said.

Several commission members proceeded to grill Tuhy as to why the turnover rate is high.

"Some of the hassles they've got to put up with, who needs it ... with the activity we've had this year alone," Tuhy said. "Money is a motivator just like anything else ... hours, family life, stress, everything plays a role in it."

Commissioner Jay Elkin expressed a fierce opposition to hiring another officer.

If a deputy is hired, he or she would begin in January, Tuhy said. A vehicle already exists for the potential deputy and Tuhy said the only expense for a deputy would be a uniform.

"If it's going to be denied, why did we put in for the grant?" Tuhy said. "It could affect our future."

Elkin attributed his opposition to the idea that area populations have not grown.

The commission tabled the decision to move forward with hiring a deputy until the sheriff's department provides budget and staff numbers.

In other business

r Stark County Sheriff's Department had 701 calls for service in July, Tuhy said.

r Tuhy said the South Sakakawea Narcotics Task Force had seven cases submitted for prosecution in July: One hash, three marijuana, one methamphetamine and two prescription drugs.

r The Southwest District Health Unit requested a $85,855 increase in its budget due to a 26 percent increase in insurance costs, said SWDHU Administrator Sherry Adams. The budget increase request will be brought to the Stark County Commission budget meeting next month.

r The library received a new "bookmobile" in January which has been completely paid for. The library now has more than 99,882 items.