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Dawes County and the U.S. Forest Service will begin working on an agreement soon that will possibly see the Forest Service take on maintenance of at least two county roads.

Pine Ridge District Ranger Tim Buskirk approached the county about the possibility last week, seeking assistance in keeping private landowners from blocking access to Forest Service lands via county road. Individuals in the Horseshoe Bend area and on what the Forest Service calls R708 are pulling chains across what are classified as open county roads, effectively preventing access to public lands.

“One option is, what if the Forest Service took over the maintenance of those roads in exchange for county support to keep them open?” Buskirk asked at the most recent county commissioners meeting.

The Forest Service would also erect signage to clarify where public and private lands begin and end, to keep visitors to the area where they are supposed to be.

Commissioner Webb Johnson expressed support for the idea and advised Buskirk to begin working with Road Superintendent Larry Hankin and Deputy County Attorney Adam Edmund on a proposed agreement.

In other business last week, the commissioners approved a 30-day notice to call its bonds on the courthouse elevator project. The county plans to pay the bonds off in January, well ahead of schedule, as it prepares to potentially bond a large road repair project for Dunlap Road.

The county also opened bids on its project to replace the West Dakota Junction Road bridge. Only two bids were submitted for the project, with Norfolk Contracting submitting the lowest bid at $159,675. Fuller Construction had the second bid at $189,450. The commissioners took the bids under advisement and are expected to make a decision at the Dec. 11 meeting.

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