Mandan News

Snow power outages declared an emergency by Morton

The Morton County Commission Tuesday declared a disaster emergency because of the Oct. 4-5 snowstorm that toppled several hundred power poles and left 2,000 people without power.

Commissioner Bruce Strinden said the declaration was made to make affected power cooperatives in Morton County eligible to receive federal and state emergency funds if available.

Two phone messages were left for the Rural Electric Cooperative, but the spokesman could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Commissioners approved a conditional use permit for Fred Berger to create a 2,000-animal feedlot 17 miles north and west of Mandan. Strinden said the county determined the 40 acres was already zoned agricultural and met the one-half mile setback required away from other properties (rural residences, businesses and churches).

The property is near the Oliver County line, Strinden said. The feedlot proposal is separate from a previous feedlot proposal that Berger made. Berger decided to move that project outside Morton County, Strinden said.

Next, the state Health Department will decide if the project complies with drainage, odor and water table regulations. The state agency must permit the feedlot before it can operate.

The commissioners also approved Klein McCarthy Architects in Minnesota and Al Fitterer of Mandan to design a $50 million jail for Burleigh and Morton counties. The Burleigh County Commission did the same on Oct. 9. The design will be ready to be shown to the public by February or March, before the June 10 home rule charter and jail sales tax vote.

Commissioners from both Burleigh and Morton counties hope voters favor a plan to use a half-cent sales tax to pay for a jail that can hold more than 450 inmates from both counties.
The hired designer will give more details about the jail location in southeast Bismarck, cost and and structure layout. Each county will offer their own version of a home rule charter and sales tax ballot. The plan is that Burleigh County will carry about 87 percent of the jail costs and Morton County, the balance. It’s estimated the half-cent sales tax would pay for the jail in six years or less.

Oil impact
The county has received a $158,478 state oil impact grant to allow it to hire one new deputy and buy two more patrol vehicles.

The county will pay $52,826 of the 75-25 cost share agreement. “They will be for west of Mandan in Glen Ullin, Hebron and New Salem areas,” Strinden said. Western Morton County borders the oil patch and is receiving more calls for patrol officers, he explained. The grant is for two years. After that the county will have to pay for the deputy.

Section line
Commissioners denied Melvin Fischer’s request to improve a section line road 12 miles southwest of Mandan. County Commissioner Andy Zachmeier said County Engineer Mike Aubol found that rocks and holes did not create an access hazard for residents who lived next to the road. Fischer does not own land next to the section line road, but used the section line road to move equipment on his property, said commissioners. He said road improvements would save him two miles of travel.

Surrounding landowners were not interested in improving the road to increase public access, Aubol said. Without their support, “it’s not feasible.” The two-mile shortcut did not merit the expense for the other landowner, he said.

The Tribune phoned Fischer, but his wife said he could not be reached comment.

By LeAnn Eckroth, Lee News