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March 17, 2018

2/19/2018 2:33:00 PM
Election-judge mandate eased by county board
Precincts that have trouble finding five election judges for the March 20 primary will be permitted to make do with three, following a vote by the Crawford County Board.

Board members Thursday approved a resolution that reduce the required number of election judges to three per precinct. This should help less populous precincts that have had problems finding five people to work the polls.

"It's difficult to find election judges," Crawford County Clerk Fayrene Wright told the board. "It's a never-ending struggle."

Most election judges are retirees and, given the timing of elections, those eligible to serve are frequently out of the area to avoid colder weather, Wright explained.

The resolution, based on a change in state law made a few years ago, will provide precincts with more flexibility. It will not, however, force precinct to turn away people willing to serve as judges. Those that can seat five judges are still free to do so.

"We will not prohibit anyone from serving who wants to," Wright said.

Another change discussed Thursday takes the county one step closer to selling the Commercium.

Board Chairman Gareld Bilyew said the long-awaited agreement with American Tower Corp., the owner of the cellular service tower behind the county-owned office building, has been finalized.

ATC will begin paying rent for the land on which the tower stands, staring with an initial payment of $20,000. After that, the county or any future owner of the Commercium will get $400 per month.

The county wanted to resolve the tower issue before selling the building. And while it seemed to be the final hurdle, Bilyew pointed out another has arisen.

An underground storage tank exists beneath the property. Abandoned since 1985, more than six years before the county purchased the Commercium, the tank still contains 2,500 to 3,000 gallons of fuel oil. The tank was not even properly registered with the state until county officials found out about it recently.

The tank must be removed and, rather than dispose of the oil, the county is willing to give it away. Anyone who can properly remove and store it elsewhere, is welcome to it, Bilyew said.

The county is seeking bids for the tank removal. The county highway department will repair the surface once the tank is gone.

The highway department is also working to replace a pair of bridges in Martin Township.

Board members approved an inter-governmental agreement and a financing agreement concerning one bridge 1.5 miles northeast of Pierceburg. Under the agreements, the county will pay 20 percent of the replacement price, while the federal government will take care of the rest.

Also approved was an initial engineering agreement for a second bridge near the first. That project will not begin for 18 to 24 months, County Engineer Justin Childress said.

The department is also purchasing a new Volvo dump truck to replace and two International trucks that have experienced repeated maintenance issues.

Also Thursday, Sheriff William Rutan said the county jail passed its recent state inspection "with flying colors" although it still needs additional staff.

Rutan also said his department handled 50 accidents in January, including 13 weather-related wrecks that occurred during a three-hour span of a single day. Deer caused another 16 crashes.

Certified Public Health Administrator Darla Tracy presented the annual report on the Crawford County Health Department.

The department brought in almost $1.3 million in revenues last year, most from fees for services.

Those services ranged from health screenings and immunizations to food inspections, education and working with WIC recipients.

In other business, the board:

• Re-appointed Greg Nye and Diane Parham to three-year terms on the Crawford County Airport Authority Board.

• Was told county voters may finally be able to start early voting in the normal way Tuesday, if a state candidacy challenge is resolved today. County offices are closed Monday for Presidents Day.

• Learned that Twin Rivers Vocational Education System will move its office out of the Commercium.

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