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Not enough officers to patrol roads, sheriff says

Press Photo by Mike Hricik Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy speaks at a County Commission meeting on Monday morning at the County Courthouse.

Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy, in what has become an ongoing plea for help, told the Stark County Commission on Tuesday that the need for his officers to conduct security at the courthouse in Dickinson has dramatically impeded his office’s ability to enforce the law.

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A lack of staff has sometimes left no one to patrol county roads, Tuhy said at the county commissioners meeting.

“There’s times when we’ve got three guys tied up in three courtrooms,” he said. “Then there are guys tied up with transportation to and from the jail.”

A committee tasked with improving courthouse security has only met twice since forming last year, Tuhy said.

Stark County Commission Vice President Jay Elkin suggested charging a $100 fee to pay for a security presence at the courthouse. Tuhy partially agreed, saying that efforts to apply for grants have failed. But Tuhy said he doubts that people would agree to such a fee.

Commission President Russ Hoff said county leaders need to come up with a solution to the problem soon, especially if an emergency occurs. That means moving forward with a set of safety recommendations.

“It’s something that we need to move along on,” Hoff said. “It’s something where we’ll say, ‘Why didn’t we get going on this?’”

Members of the courthouse safety committee include Tuhy, Stark County state’s attorney Tom Henning, county planner Steve Josephson and Commissioner Peter Kuntz.

In addition to security concerns, the commission addressed other matters.

Stark County emergency services director Bill Fahlsing said he will host a meeting soon for members of the public to hear about the county’s air ambulance options.

The meeting will be Thursday, July 31, at the Biesot Activities Center in Dickinson. A time has not yet been set. Residents will be able to directly ask officials questions.

Two companies — Spirit Lifeline and Sanford Health Air Ambulance — will present their pitches to county residents.

Spirit Lifeline would charge the county $128,812 for helicopter flights to area hospitals for all residents. Normally, such flights would cost about $25,000 each.

Sanford has recently extended a counteroffer to Spirit Lifeline’s initial offer.

Hoff said he hopes the city of Dickinson will help pay for an air ambulance plan, since a majority of the county’s residents live there.

“The city really should be a part of this,” Hoff said.

Josephson outlined new amendments to the county’s zoning ordinances, reintroducing industrial noise standards and adding design standards for communications towers.

New parking space rules for industrial and manufacturing warehouses were re-established.

The county previously amended its zoning ordinances in 2012 to prepare for development in the midst of the Bakken oil boom.

Hoff said he was frustrated that any changes were necessary.

“We paid an organization to put together a plan that didn’t end up being final,” Hoff said.

Elkin contended that more development in the area will necessitate more changes.

“This is going to be a work in progress all the time,” Elkin said.