Sheriff says wage and benefit package makes it difficult to retain deputies

By:  Charlie Radatz

(This reporter apologizes for mistakenly submitting the incorrect computer file for publication in last week’s paper regarding the Nov. 27th meeting of the Richardson County Commissioners.  The following is the correct information on that meeting.)

 During the Nov. 27th meeting of the Richardson County Commissioners, Sheriff Pounds updated the Board on the business within the Sheriff’s Office and the Law Enforcement Center.  He reviewed with the Board the current distress warrants that he and his staff are working to collect.

 Sheriff Pounds reported that District Courtroom security check is being done at the entrance to the Courtroom by Law Enforcement Center staff.  A brief discussion was also held concerning the courtesy holding of cell phones while persons enter the District Courtroom.  The Board stated that signs should be posted regarding the prohibition of cell phones and the penalty for possessing them in the District Courtroom and that persons should be informed that it will be their responsibility to find a safe keeping place for their cell phones while in the District Courtroom.   The County and the County Sheriff will not be responsible for the safekeeping of cell phones.

Sheriff Pounds presented to the Board an inter-local agreement with Nemaha County for Law Enforcement Mutual Aid and Assistance.  

The Board requested that County Attorney, Doug Merz review the agreement before taking action on it.

 Sheriff Pounds also reported that he is working the schedule to provide the 24-hour call service coverage in the County.

A quarterly safety committee session was held during the meeting.  During that session, Sheriff Pounds submitted a letter expressing his opposition to the recent decision of the County Board to discontinue requiring extra security measures during the Courthouse hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  

The Sheriff submitted a second letter regarding the safety of his deputies responding alone to calls involving violence with weapons.  Both letters stated retention of sworn and certified officers was difficult with the current wage and benefit package that Richardson County offers to its Sheriff’s deputies.

Also during the safety committee, session Courthouse Maintenance Supervisor Tammie Beckner reported that work is always being done to keep the sidewalks clear of ice and snow.  Highway Superintendent Steve Darveau reported that the stairs on the north side of the Courthouse should be closed off during inclimate weather as it is very difficult to keep them clean of ice and snow. He also recommended that a snow blower attachment be bought for the skid steer for use around the Courthouse.  The Board also requested that Mr. Darveau contact local contractors to inquire on the cost and availability of the snow removal for the Courthouse block.

Highway Superintendent Steve Darveau, Jr. updated the Board on the routine maintenance being done on county roads and bridges. 

Darveau also discussed the maintenance of roads following the recent heavy snowstorm. He reported that crews were out some on the evening of Sun., Nov. 25th and that crews began their work the following Monday about 4:30 a.m.  Most roads were cleared by that evening.        

Commissioners recessed their regular meeting agenda to go into an executive session at 10:15 a.m. with Pam Vice, County Assessor to discuss personnel matters and for the protection of a reputation of an individual(s).  They returned to regular session at 10:20 a.m.

Also during the Nov. 27th meeting, the Board reviewed the idea of combining the duties of the Noxious Weed Control Superintendent with the Emergency Management Agency Director.

Commissioners voted to approve a proposal from the Nebraska State Auditor to perform the FY end June 30, 2019 audit for Richardson County at a cost not to exceed $15,000.00 and to perform the audit for 2020 and 2021 at the same cost.   

The Board adjourned its meeting after voting to allow payment of all claims that were submitted subsequent to their previous session.

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