Pennington County Highway Department crews began work to reinforce the pilings on the Bradsky Road Bridge on Tuesday so that the weight limit can be increased, allowing residents to get back the services they had lost.
Thomas Wilsey, Highway Department supervisor, told Pennington County commissioners at their meeting Tuesday that work had begun to place forms around six of the interior pilings of the bridge. The forms will be filled with concrete to reinforce the pilings.
The work should be completed in about a week and is estimated to cost from $8,000 to $12,000, Wilsey said. However, traffic will be reduced to one lane while the work is being done.
When the work is completed by Monday, the bridge inspector will provide a new weight rating, which Wilsey said he expects to be between 20 and 21 tons, up from six to 10 tons — depending on the type of vehicle. It had been 24 tons until an inspection in November revealed that the pilings were severely rotted.
The bridge provides the only way in or out of dozens of homes, many which rely on hauling water, hay, propane or other heavy loads for basic needs or their incomes. Residents were present at the Feb. 7 commission meeting to voice their concerns, saying emergency services were also affected.
The bridge is scheduled to be replaced this year through a cooperative program between the state Department of Transportation and the county. Wilsey said state officials told him the project is scheduled to take bids in March.
In other action Tuesday, the commission:
• Struck down a variance request for the new Vacation Home Rental ordinance. The request was to allow a vacation home on a lot that is less than the required one acre in a suburban residential district.
• Did not reinstate Commissioner George Ferebee to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Commissioner Mark DiSanto's motion in executive session died for lack of a second.
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During discussion it was revealed that the other commissioners do not believe Ferebee's septic issue is resolved and he, therefore, has a conflict of interest in serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Ferebee told Assistant State's Attorney Jay Alderman that he has not applied for a permit for his septic system. Alderman replied that the next step is to reschedule a trial.
Ferebee was charged in November 2015 with violating a county zoning ordinance that requires a permit and regular inspections and pumping of a septic tank on his property.
In November, a trial was canceled after Ferebee had reached an agreement to comply with the regulation in exchange for having his charge dismissed. He had 90 days to comply, either by obtaining an exemption from the ordinance by moving his septic system to a lot that is at least 40 acres or by having the septic system pumped, inspected and permitted and paying the corresponding fees. The 90-day period ended Tuesday.
All the other commissioners except DiSanto noted their opposition to reinstating Ferebee. Ferebee responded that when it comes to committee assignments, "The bottom line is, I'm either qualified or not. End of story."
• Voted to increase a salary offer to a candidate for the position of public information officer for the Pennington County Sheriff's Office. The position will start at grade 14, step 20, or $24.44 per hour.
Human resources director Nick Stroot said they were not ready to name the candidate.
• Interviewed two candidates for the open county liaison position on the Rapid City Public Library Board of Trustees. Paulette Schenk and Scott McGregor answered questions about how they see the library adapting and serving clients as technology changes.
Commissioner Lloyd LaCroix suggested and the majority of commissioners agreed to wait until the March 7 meeting to fill the position.