Final details on reservation policies for Codington County’s Memorial Park may be decided at the county commission meeting on Feb. 1.
Steve Molengraaf, county facilities manager, reviewed the proposed changes during Tuesday’s commission meeting at the courthouse. Molengraaf can’t attend the Jan. 25 meeting, so the setting of policies for the 2023 camping season will likely be established the following week.
One change seems certain – reservations for campsites can’t be made more than 95 days in advance. Currently, they can be made a year ahead.
If a group of individuals is reserving one of the park’s buildings or picnic site, then a reservation can be made a year in advance. Another change to that policy would also make reservation fees nonrefundable.
All reservation fees will likely see an increase to better reflect what state and city are charging for their campsites. The county fees would increase from $2 to $5 for campsites and from $5 to $10 for a building.
“I like the fact we're just really getting in line with everyone else and what everybody else is doing,” said Commissioner Troy VanDusen. “It really seems like it's going to streamline things for us. If I want to camp or if I want to reserve a site out there, I know that I can do it within this timeframe. It's just like the state and the city. It just makes sense.”
County road repairs from wind farm construction cost $8.4 million
Much of Tuesday’s meeting was occupied by a review of the county’s haul-road agreement with NextEra Energy. The review was conducted by Waylon Blasius of Banner Engineering of Brookings. Banner oversaw the road repair.
NextEra's wind farm recently opened.
The company offered $11,484,475 for road repairs needed in Codington County as a result of construction of the wind farm. The work was put up for bid with Duininck Inc. of Prinsburg, Minn., being the lower bidder at $8,049,425.
Blasius said most of the work to repair 60 miles of county roads that were damaged has been completed at a cost of $8,011,852. When spring arrives, another $179,000 will be given to the county to complete chip-sealing a 6-mile stretch. And $30,000 will go to a subcontractor for additional seeding and mulching of road shoulders.
Banner’s fee for design, engineering and testing will be $200,000, pushing the final repair total to $8,420,852.
Blasius’ four-page report noted that 86,000 tons of asphalt pavement and 58,000 tons of gravel surface were used in the repairs, along with 14.5 miles of asphalt roadway being reclaimed, stabilized and repaved and 16.5 miles of asphalt roadway being milled and repaved. In al, 480,000 feet of roadway was striped.
Both the commissioners and Blasius noted how well the work progressed.
“Considering all the additional traffic that occurred during the last two years, it’s amazing how good all the roads came back together,” said Commissioner Myron Johnson, who lives adjacent to one of the roads that was repaired. “It’s kind of refreshing when I talk to my neighbors and most of them are very pleased with the project and how well it came together. And then they’re really happy when they found out the wind people were paying for it. That was frosting on the cake.”
Blasius said he and county Highway Superintendent Rick Hartley discussed the success of the repair of the roads, some badly damaged by wind tower construction.
“When you’re doing 60 miles and 400-some approaches, you can’t have perfection because it’s not possible, especially when you’re doing the work under live traffic,” Blasius said. “It’s never new. It’s not like you have a ribbon-cutting and this is first person to drive on it.”
He also said county citizens should be grateful that NextEra abided in full with the haul-road agreement that was set before construction began.
“It took a lot of effort from multiple parties and a lot of patience by the county patrons,” Blasius said.
Commission Chairwoman Brenda Hanten thanked Blasius and Banner Engineering for their efforts in shepherding the reconstruction. Hartley thanked Banner and those involved with the project.
“This was a huge project, a way bigger project than what the county could have taken care of ourselves,” Hartley said. “I’m pretty proud of all the stuff that got done with this.”
In other actions, the commissioners:
• Approved the purchase of a John Deere 6130M tractor for $104,431, side-mount and rear-mount John Deere mowers for a total cost of $48,804, and a Crysteel truck box for $49,430. Bids for all four items were handled by Sourcewell. The John Deere equipment will be supplied by Kibble John Deere of Watertown. The truck box is being supplied by Northern Truck of Sioux Falls.
• Approved the 2022 county employee wage scale, which includes a raise of 1.75%.
• Discussed but took no action on the re-approval of the liquor license resolution. Based on updated census information, the purchase of the one available license would cost $83,412, or $18 for every county resident. Renewal costs are $850 for each of the five claimed licenses. The commission wants to further examine the cost, which Auditor Cindy Brugman said has deterred interested parties.
This article originally appeared on Watertown Public Opinion: Reservation policy change likely for Memorial Park