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Stark County commission deals with 2018 budget, weeds and courthouse developments

The Stark County Commission approved its 2018 budget on Tuesday morning with an extra caveat to hire a new full-time staff member to help the Sheriff's Department with the 24/7 drug program.

Construction nears completion on Stark County's new courthouse in Dickinson. (Grady McGregor / The Dickinson Press)
Construction nears completion on Stark County's new courthouse in Dickinson. (Grady McGregor / The Dickinson Press)

The Stark County Commission approved its 2018 budget on Tuesday morning with an extra caveat to hire a new full-time staff member to help the Sheriff's Department with the 24/7 drug program.

At September's County Commission meeting, Sheriff Terry Oestreich told the commission that the 24/7 program, which prioritizes testing and monitoring of drug offenders rather than incarceration, is spreading their staff and resources thin. Currently, the staff member overseeing the program is only able to dedicate half their time to working on the program, which insufficiently covers needs of the program, according to Oestreich.

Oestreich also reported to the commission that his department has recently noticed an uptick in drug citations in Stark County. Oestrich said one of his deputies who recently transferred to the Southwest Narcotics Task Force called Stark County's drug situation as "worse than (he) even dreamed of."

Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning said drug cases take a while to get to his office but he has also noticed that drugs ranging from opiates, meth, cocaine and marijuana remain a persistent problem in the county.

"Any thought that there was a reduction in drug crime (after the oil boom) was a mistake," Henning said.

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Stark County Road Superintendent Al Heiser told the commission many property owners in Stark County are still neglecting to cut their weeds, and the problem will only get worse if the weeds aren't cut before winter.

"The first time we get a big snow and the weeds aren't cut, the roads are going to block," he said.

Rod Cockeram of Scull Construction updated the commission on construction of Stark County's new courthouse in Dickinson. He reported that work on the courthouse is close to completion and will likely come in under budget. Commissioners commended him on his company's work.

The commission approved a request by the Guy Moos, president of Baker Boy, to declare Oct. 4 as Manufacturing Day, to celebrate and promote manufacturing in the region. Moos also announced that, along with five other manufacturers, Baker Boy will host an all day Manufacturing Day event at DSU's Biesiot Activities Center on Oct. 4, educating people about manufacturing and job opportunities in the region.

"Manufacturing in southwest North Dakota is critical for the economic vitality of the area and the country," he said.

The commission announced that they will be holding a special meeting next Tuesday, Oct 11, at 11:30 a.m., following a special meeting by Stark County Planning & Zoning at 10 a.m.

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