County talks Star Valley nuisances

The owner of the three former State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy homes that now sit in the right of way on one of the streets in the subdivision on the property that was at one time STAR Academy said moving the homes has been “more of a challenge than he ever imagined.”
At the May 10 meeting of the Custer County Commission Tom McDill joined the meeting via phone from Austin, Texas, saying he has been working on moving the homes and would come to the next commission meeting to discuss the situation.
“Your biggest concern is my biggest concern also,” McDill said. “How quickly can I get the houses down the road?”
The amount of time the homes have been sitting on Galaxy Trail in what is now Star Valley Subdivision is unclear (although it has been several months at a minimum), but McDill said lining up state highway permits, trucker availability and utilities has proven confounding. McDill said he plans to set the homes up as a future auto mechanic shop on Little Italy Road west of Custer.
Commissioner Craig Hindle asked McDill if he had come to an agreement with the planned truck driver yet, with McDill saying he was waiting on numbers from the truck driver in question, while adding he was looking for backup truck drivers.
The commission earlier in the meeting passed a motion to authorize state’s attorney Tracy Kelley to serve McDill with a notice saying he must remedy the situation within 30 days by removing the homes from the right of way.
McDill said he had earlier discussions with Kelley, saying it’s hard to get served with papers in Austin. McDill said if Kelley were to mail him papers he would consider himself served. Kelley said during her last conversation with McDill she told him she would mail him a letter explaining charges that had been filed against him for obstructing a right of way and failing to remove a nuisance from the right of way. Attempts to have him served were unsuccessful. Kelley said she would attempt to have the sheriff’s office in Austin serve McDill again but would also mail the papers.
“Hopefully those will get moved and we won’t have to deal with the issue any further,” she said.
The commission also heard from county highway superintendent Jess Doyle who told the commission of a county resident who lives on Hazelrodt Cutoff just south of its intersection with Lower French Creek Road who was upset that snowplows knocked over four fence posts while plowing.
Doyle said he went and looked at the area with commissioner Mike Busskohl, and the situation is unique in that there is only a 33-foot right of way up to the intersection of Lower French Creek Road, half of the typical right of way on a county road. Doyle said the smaller right of way doesn’t give the county plows much room to work.
“She’s angry about it, but they (fence posts) are right next to the road. I explained to her we have to go somewhere with the snow,” he said.
With regard to replacing the posts, Doyle said he is hesitant to put a steel T-post right next to the edge of the driving surface of the road, saying it creates a hazard. It is also unclear where the lot line is located.
Doyle said the road had not been surveyed recently, and he would prefer it be done and have the county’s sign installer on site at the time the survey is done so delineator posts could be put up as close as every 10 feet.
“I don’t know how else to remedy it,” he said. “The other option given by the state’s attorney was condemnation of property, which is going to make everybody angry, or downgrading the road to no maintenance, which is going to make everybody angry.”
It’s unclear why the right of way on that particular stretch of road is only 33 feet, other than it was a “sin of the past.” Doyle said there is a state statute that says if a county road has been maintained by the county for 20 years or more it should automatically have a 66-foot right of way, but added Kelley does not agree with that position.
The commission eventually agreed to have a survey done and work off those results.
Brenden Hendrickson, county airport manager, addressed the commission along with Travis Hirschey of Mead & Hunt, the engineering firm hired by the county to help give guidance to upgrades at the Custer County Airport. The two discussed bid openings for the planned taxiway extension at the airport, saying a pair of bids was received, with the low bidder being Moss Rock Excavation and Landscaping of Custer, along with Simon Construction or Rapid City. The low bid was for $604,000, which Hirschey said was in line with engineer estimates.
The project would see 275 feet of taxiway constructed at the airport, which would provide more space for hangars. The project would allow for more based aircraft and better use of the airport, Hirschey said.
The project would be funded through two grants, one being the Airport Improvement Grant (AIG) program, and the other the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIL).
The county has around $533,000 in the AIG fund, which does not cover the cost of the project, but Hirschey said the state is stepping in and helping pay for some of the project. Local share of the project is 5 percent, with the state paying 5 percent and the Federal Aviation Administration paying 90 percent.
The BIL grant would be for around $154,000, which will help pay for construction administration services, material testing and other such items. That is also a 5 percent local match. The commission approved applying for the grants.
Finally the commission heard from county library director Jessie Phelps, who gave the commission a library update, saying the library has reduced its physical collection by 2,000 items the past year as it pulls out-of-date materials from its shelves. Despite that, Phelps said, circulation is up, although program attendance is down and new library cards are down significantly. She attributed the latter to less people moving to the county.
Phelps also announced she was resigning her position as library director, saying her final day is June 30. Her husband has accepted a position in Kentucky, which will allow them to be closer to family.
“I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve Custer County and the library,” she said. “It’s a great job.”
Commission chairman Jim Lintz thanked Phelps for the work she had done.
“We appreciate you being here,” he said. “We will miss you.”
In other news from the May 10 meeting, the commission:
• Approved the hiring of Aaron Davis as commission legal counsel. Davis will make $200 an hour. Davis said he had lived in the county for five years.
• Voted to have Lintz sign the 2023 striping agreement for Sidney Park Road. The state pays 60 percent of the cost, while the county pays the remainder, which usually runs the county around $1,400.

User login