Commission Minutes – February 27-March 3, 2023
9:30 AM CONVENE
PRESENT: Steve Baldwin, Chairman, Kevin Braun and Roy Rost, Members; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder
FALLON COUNTY COURTHOUSE
The Pledge of Allegiance was held in the Commissioner’s Office to start off the week.
9:30 AM AGENDA/NON-AGENDA ITEMS – PUBLIC COMMENT
No one appeared for Public Comment.
9:45 AM PERMISSION TO HIRE JUSTICE OF PEACE COURT CLERK/Anna Straub, Justice of Peace-via conference call, Julie Straub, HRM
Anna thanked the Commission for allowing her to appear by phone. They interviewed for the 9 hour per week Justice Court Clerk position and had a great interview. Julie stated we would like to hire Jill Hildebrand for the position of Justice Court Clerk. Commissioner Baldwin asked if Jill had applied for the city position also and if that worked for them. Anna stated yes, she had applied for the City Court Clerk position as well and was accepted. Commissioner Rost asked when she would start. Jill will start tomorrow.
Commissioner Braun made the motion to grant permission to hire Jill Hildebrand for the Justice of Peace Court Clerk position. Commissioner Rost seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.
9:55 AM Anna hung up the phone, leaving the meeting. Julie left the meeting.
10:00 AM ROAD/SHOP UPDATES/Mark Sieler, Road Foreman; Mitch Overn/Carl Overland, Shop Mechanics
Review and sign encroachment permits for MDU-Mark signed Encroachment Permits for MDU.
Road Updates-Rock channel within wetlands (Baker Lake)-The Road Department will get a couple more loads (80 yards). They are currently hauling scoria to the Landfill and stockpiling for their roads. Kevin Hill, Golf Course Superintendent will load reels, (for Golf Course equipment), to be taken to Billings to be sharpened. Mark has to make a trip to Billings and will take those up as well.
Commissioner Rost visited with Mark Feland, RDO at the MACo Convention regarding equipment that needs to be traded. The Road Department will get a list of equipment for the Commission so they can prepare for budget purposes. Will get bid specs together as well, in preparation for bid. The Commission would like the Road Department to assist Jeff Frank, Manager of Landfill Operations with the Landfill loader bid specs as well. Jeff feels the Landfill loader is a priority; they think there is another year left on the buy-back for that loader. The Road Department needs to prepare to go to bid for a blade and the shop loader.
Mark Feland, RDO is supposed to be in Baker today.
Shop Updates-They are working on Golf Course equipment, one at a time. Mechanics changed out an EGR valve on the Landfill loader. They further discussed getting a list of needed equipment for budget purposes.
10:22 AM Carl and Mitch left the meeting.
10:29 AM Richard Menger, Sanitarian joined the meeting.
Rich had nothing to report and left the meeting.
10:32 AM Rich left the meeting.
10:32 AM 2023 CRUSHED ROAD MATERIAL BID OPENING
Present: Shannon Hewson, Brosz Engineering; Mark Sieler, Road Foreman
No Bids were received by mail, electronically, by fax and no bids were presented at the bid opening.
Shannon discussed the bid opening with a local contractor who indicated the gravel crushing timeline was too early, due to possible spring rains. Other factors were also discussed as the reason no bids were received.
Discussion took place regarding the County getting its own pits for road material and renting a crusher. They will need to hold on to some of the remaining gravel for washouts and other road repairs. The Commission discussed what changes could be made to the timeline and sending this back out to bid. Shannon stated if no bids are received for the next bid opening, per MCA, the Commission can negotiate moving forward.
10:53 AM Mark left the bid opening.
10:54 AM PROJECT UPDATES/Shannon Hewson, Brosz Engineering
Sign Joint Powers Agreement between Fallon County and City of Baker for replacement of box culvert for 2023 Street Improvement Project.
The Commission will sign this later today after hearing from the County Attorney.
Golf Course Irrigation O & M Plan-Shannon is assisting the Sanitarian with this plan. Also discussed the 6th Street West box culvert plans and manual.
11:09 AM Shannon left the meeting.
11:30 AM DISCUSS/DECISION-LANDFILL CONTAINER USAGE & BILLING FOR OTHER DEPARTMENTS/Jeff Frank, Manager of Landfill Operations; Kimberly Jensen, AP Clerk
At this time, the meeting was cancelled.
11:30 AM Commissioner Braun was excused to tend to other County business at the Ambulance Garage.
11:45 AM PERMISSION TO HIRE EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS DISPATCHER/Brenda Hoeger, Emergency Communications Dispatch Supervisor; Julie Straub, HRM
This meeting was cancelled.
11:50 PM Commissioner Rost made the motion to recess. Commissioner Baldwin seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 2 Ayes. 0 Nays. 1 Absent. (Commissioner Braun). The motion carried.
PRESENT: Steve Baldwin, Chairman; Kevin Braun and Roy Rost, Members; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder
FALLON COUNTY COURTHOUSE
1:15 PM AGENDA/NON-AGENDA ITEMS – PUBLIC COMMENT
No one appeared for Public Comment
1:30 PM FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT/DeAnna Herbst, Member of the Public; Darcy Wassmann, County Attorney; Brenda Johnson, Member of the Public
This meeting was recorded by Brenda Johnson via live feed on Facebook.
The reason DeAnna was meeting was to inform, or ask about, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). DeAnna asked Darcy if she was familiar with the (FOIA) for open meetings and……. Darcy commented that she was a little bit familiar. DeAnna brought booklets with her that she had printed off. DeAnna spoke of Mike Meloy, who is an Attorney at the Meloy Law Firm in Helena who has been practicing law for over 47 years and is the Chief Legal Counsel in the (FOIA). As soon as she read the booklet extensively and looked at the codes, she called Mr. Meloy and told him about a few of the things that had been going on here with the commission and a little bit about her issue with her wages and the fact that there was no resolution made publicly to add the General Office Clerk position to the matrix. DeAnna stated she brought the matrix for the year she was hired; the position was not on there. DeAnna stated the position was not added until the following year. DeAnna spoke of another former employee that fell under that category as well (Chayni Varner). DeAnna stated Chayni was hired as the Administration Clerk at the Health Department and was offered $7 per hour less than what the county job matrix stated. Further stated there was no public resolution, and she had all the minutes printed out and there was no public resolution made.
DeAnna explained Mr. Meloy told her he would have gladly taken her case against the three (3) Commissioner’s and Fallon County, however the dollar amount to him was so much less than what a normal attorney would get that what she would have received he would eat up in fees, which DeAnna felt was pretty interesting. DeAnna explained she felt like the county discredited and discounted the work she did for the Clerk of Courts office. They not only took from her, also took from her kids and her family. They also took from Chayni’s kids and her family. DeAnna described it as pretty despicable. DeAnna challenged the commission to look up and see if there is a resolution in the minutes and further stated she had them all printed out. Stated if a resolution was found, it was put in the minutes after the fact because she had them all printed out. Again stated….there was no public resolution.
Page 3 of the booklet. “The public has the right to expect governmental agencies to afford such reasonable opportunity for citizen participation in the operation of the agencies prior to the final decision as may be provided by law”. DeAnna then referred to the Fallon County-Bobby Thielen case. DeAnna asked how much Susan Swimley (Land Attorney for the county) cost for this case/how much she was paid. Commissioner Baldwin stated he didn’t know off the top of his head. DeAnna asked if they could get it. Commissioner Baldwin replied he was sure they could. Commissioner Braun stated it was in the claims. DeAnna wanted to know where the claims were. Commissioner Braun stated they were posted every month in the minutes. DeAnna stated she
had asked numerous people; Jerrie Newell for one said she had never seen it. DeAnna asked if they would want to guess. Darcy stated she did not know. Commissioner Braun stated he would have to go back and look at the claims to give an exact figure. DeAnna asked if it was 6 figures or close. Commissioner Braun stated no, not even close. Commissioner Rost stated there was no reason to speculate because it is in the claims. Commissioner Braun stated it is in the minutes, all the claims are in the minutes. The Clerk and Recorder stated they are not on the web page in the minutes. The Commission did not realize that, but the claims are in the hard copy minutes and if anyone wants the information, they can come here to get them. DeAnna asked the commission if they had complied with Judge Murnion’s judgement yet. Commission stated they had.
Page 12-Regarding closed meetings- DeAnna asked if the commission always noted why they were going into closed session. Commission Braun asked for clarification, as per legal issues, or….? DeAnna stated yes, they have to by law. Further stated a lot of times it says closed session but there is no reason. Commissioner Braun stated ever since he has been a commissioner it has said closed session-litigation. DeAnna stated sometimes it is not litigation and explained that litigation is court. Commissioner Rost stated, or it says Personnel. Commissioner Braun stated personnel or litigation. DeAnna stated they have to give the person the right to privacy, and they can waive their right to privacy. The Commission all acknowledged they knew that. Commissioner Braun stated they do that every single meeting. Commissioner Rost stated the Commission asks if they want the meeting open or closed. Commissioner Braun-So if the person chooses to have it open….Deanna – she heard from one individual that they were not given the right. Commissioner Braun-Not since he has been here. Deanna-Didn’t think Commissioner Braun was a commissioner when that person contacted her.
Page 14-“Explain, in open session, the reason for closing a meeting”. DeAnna-You can’t just say litigation every time. Commissioner Baldwin replied, they don’t. Deanna-Okay, but if you just say personnel issue….…according to Mr. Meloy that is not information. Commissioner Rost -That is not enough information. Deanna –Yeah, for the public, because you are accountable to us. Commissioner Rost-Right. Commissioner Braun-Explained the Commission has had this discussion a lot with Attorneys, with MACo, and Darcy. Going forward the commission is going to list the person’s name. It can state the individual’s name and their lawsuit; individuals name and discipline, or the individual’s name and whatever it may be. That not only helps the public, but it helps the county 20 years from now if they have to go back and say whatever happened to X at that time. Deanna-That’s fine and further stated she had sent Mr. Meloy some of our minutes and he said they were not acceptable. Mr. Meloy told her, if the county did not know what we were doing was wrong, someone needed to tell us how to do it; he challenged DeAnna to do that, so here she is.
Page 18-DeAnna explained this is the big one. “Must public agencies meet at specific times on specific days”? DeAnna-No but explained they should read the Attorney General opinion for 1998. “A county commission which establishes the hours of 9:30AM to 5:00PM Monday through Friday, as its regular meeting date for public notice purposes is not in compliance with Montana’s public participation constitutional provisions and statutes”.
DeAnna-This has been a big thing for people in our County. When she was out talking, they were pretty upset that they could not come in and watch what the three Commissioners do, because they work 9-5, or, because they are putting crops in the field. According to Mr. Meloy you are not in compliance with Montana’s public participation constitutional provisions and statutes. Deanna-What could they do? Commissioner Braun asked if every single commission/public body in the State of Montana was out of compliance. Deanna –No, and further stated Yellowstone County meetings are streamed online and you can go back and watch them on their channel and asked why that wasn’t done here. Commissioner Braun-How would they get public participation if nobody comes into the office? DeAnna – Try having a meeting at night and see who comes. Darcy-Asked for clarification regarding which case Mr. Meloy was referring to. DeAnna stated it was the AG opinion from 1998. Darcy-Felt the commission can’t say they are meeting 8-5 for general business; they have to be specific regarding what they will be meeting about; general business is not okay. Deanna-They can hold hours 8-5 but must list what they speaking about, such as a road or ……….Commissioner Braun-That is why they have an agenda. Darcy-It needs to be specific to let people know. DeAnna will contact Mr. Meloy and get the exact parameter of the opinion, felt Darcy could be correct. Darcy-Felt it would be nice to know what is meant by that.
Page 28-“Public Officials, as a body, as an elected official can be recorded, videoed or audioed at any time when acting in capacity”. Commission-Acknowledge they all know that. DeAnna-Nobody needs to make us aware that they are recording. Public Officials don’t need to ask, yes/no are you recording?……You just need to assume at all times that you might be being recorded. DeAnna-In the minutes somebody was asked if they were recording, and the person was told that they needed to make the Commission aware. Commissioner Braun-As his right, whether he is a commissioner or not, he can ask anybody in the room, no matter which side of the table he is on, if he is being recorded. DeAnna-They have to assume as an elected official, when acting in the capacity, that they are going to be recorded. Commissioner Braun-He has the right to ask.- DeAnna-He can ask but should just assume he is being recorded. No one needs the consent of the public official. Commissioner Braun stated the Commission has had people come in, the commission knew they were recording, but they never asked. DeAnna-referred to the law; “consent is not required”. Commissioner Braun-He was not asking for consent, but for his own well-being as a commissioner. DeAnna-You are elected by us, the people that are recording. Commissioner Braun-He has the right to ask if he is being recorded and he can assume he is. Told her to check the laws.
DeAnna and Commissioner Braun had further discussion regarding this.
DeAnna was visiting with Gary Lang, former county commissioner and asked him some questions that she was concerned with. Gary had a question for her. Why does Fallon County need an HR person? DeAnna told him she had no idea. Gary told her the county had run for lots of years without HR. Deanna-HR is supposed to be an advocate for the employees; this HR person here is not. Asked if the commission wanted to guess what counties don’t have HR. Commissioner Rost-He knows there are a lot of counties that don’t have HR, they rely on MACo for their HR questions. A lot of the smaller counties that don’t have the money go to MACo. DeAnna–There are some pretty large counties that don’t have HR. Dawson County payroll clerk does HR, when needed; she doesn’t get any extra money for it. Carbon County-No. Yellowstone County has HR-It is combined with their payroll. Hill County, Rosebud County, Custer and Roosevelt County’s-No. DeAnna-Another thing Gary stated was that this HR person stated she compares our wages, DeAnna clarified (not hers anymore), but everyone else’s wages to Custer, Carter, Wibaux, Dawson, that we are right where we should be. Gary stated that is not right, when he was in office there was a matrix of counties and it went with how much money the counties had/made and that is what the pay was based off of, not what our neighboring small counties. Gary said it doesn’t make any sense to compare to those counties. DeAnna thought that was interesting and also added, she had heard from our HR -person probably 5 times that our wages are comparable. DeAnna-If we are going to compare wages with surrounding counties of everyone else, why don’t we compare wages of our HR compared to other Counties. DeAnna-Guess what Custer County HR makes – $0 because there isn’t one—Carter, Wibaux, Dawson, $0. DeAnna-She knows how we can save a lot of money.
DeAnna-Noticed from the January 23rd-27th minutes, in a meeting, either HR or one of the commissioner’s accused Lisa of lying and asked which one of them was it? DeAnna-Let me tell you a little bit about somebody who lies. When she was working in the Clerk of Court’s office, Keli Bertsch was still the Deputy, our HR person came in, who is our Safety person, to check on things. Keli asked why do we have the signs everywhere, these stupid red signs that tell us where the exit is and that the vault isn’t an exit? HR replied, until personal people stop suing government entities, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry will require these signs. Keli replied to HR, well, it looks like a kindergarten classroom in here, it looks stupid. The next day DeAnna subbed and afterward she contacted the Montana Department of Labor…..First she called Dawson, Yellowstone, Missoula, Roosevelt, Sweet Grass and Wibaux and asked them if they had these signs; they all said no. DeAnna-Why wouldn’t they have to have them if we do. She then contacted the DOL and spoke to Bryan Page, Head Safety Bureau Chief and explained what was going on and that she had called all of these counties. DeAnna stated Mr. Page literally laughed out loud at her, laughed and stated there is no regulation, it is not required by the MT DOL or OSHA. DeAnna-Why is that? Who is checking on what she is doing? Any of you? So, we just walk around with these stupid signs in the place.
DeAnna-One of the commissioners had asked an employee why they needed to go to the doctor and wondered if they should be doing that. According to Mr. Meloy, it’s highly illegal and unethical. DeAnna could not find in the employee handbook where an employee has to check in with the commission and check back in with the commission when they go to the doctor’s appointment. DeAnna asked if any of the commission could find where it says that; claiming she looked all over and could not find it. Commission-It has nothing to do with checking in or checking out when going to the doctor, it has to do with when they are going to be absent for a couple of hours per day, etc. Deanna-Where does it say that in the employee handbook; does it say that in the handbook and asked Commissioner Braun if he knew where it is was, she would like him to show it to her because she could not find it. Darcy-Is the Commission the employee’s supervisor? Deanna-No. Darcy, they have their own supervisor that is not the commission but were asked to check in with the Commission? Deanna-Uh Huh. Commissioner Rost was not aware of that. Commissioner Braun-The only people that check in with them are the people that are directly under them. If it’s under another department, then they don’t. Deanna-Again questioned why it wasn’t in the employee handbook. If that is what the commission requires, why don’t the other heads require that as well? Commissioner Braun believes it is in the employee handbook. Deanna passed the handbook over to him. Commissioner Braun-Was not going to look for it today but he will look. Deanna-Okay, it’s not in there and according to Mr. Meloy, it is illegal. Darcy-Asked if it is illegal because the commission is asking about a doctor, or it’s illegal to ask somebody to let them know when they get back to work? Deanna-If it is not in the employee handbook, it cannot be specific to certain people and if it’s people that are under the Commission it needs to be in the employee handbook. DeAnna sent Mr. Meloy the employee handbook. Commissioner Braun-People can’t come and go, if we are the supervisor. Deanna stated she realized that. Commissioner Braun asked for clarification on what she was asking. Deanna-It needs to be in the employee manual for everybody; that’s the problem, the employee does not see that in the employee manual and if they are the only ones being asked to do it and nobody else is being asked to do it. DeAnna knows there are numerous other people that walk out of this place. Commissioner Rost-Other supervisors are not asking their….. Deanna-Supervisors may not know that somebody is just walking out. Commissioner Rost-That they are leaving.
Deanna-Recently she was approached by 4 community members to have a community watch group, basically an accountability board to the Commission. They would take turns coming in and video and audio recording the commission sessions because they are worried the Commission is not doing their job. If the Commission is not doing their job, it is their job to make sure the Commission does their job. They are getting that together; so, it will be being done, somebody will be coming in and video and audio recording the commission sessions, so that the other people that can’t make it, will know what is going on and not just reading about it in the minutes. The meetings don’t represent inflection in voice, don’t reflect attitude, anything like that. It’s just words, and this way the commission can be held accountable to the people who put them where they are. Commissioner Braun-Looks forward to that. Deanna- Good. Commissioner Braun-Feels it will prove some of what DeAnna is saying completely false. Deanna-Okay. Commissioner Braun-That is a fact.
Deanna-Okay, well, in the minutes from January 23rd-27th, Commissioner Braun told the person he was extremely disappointed. DeAnna-There are a lot of people in this Community that are extremely disappointed in the 3 of them, extremely. Commissioner Braun-when we talk about individuals, there are things about those individuals that cannot be disclosed, that behind the scenes the 3 commissioners know that they cannot just come out in the minutes and say, this is what is going on, this is why I am disappointed. To protect that person’s…
Deanna-She gets the minutes, she knows the person that sent the text messages or whatever. DeAnna-It is an embarrassment for the 3 of you, it’s an embarrassment. That is how some people in this county feel, probably not all of them. Commissioner Braun discussed hearing both sides when DeAnna is visiting with one individual and their explanation of the text messages. Stated the door is open every single day they are meeting, and they welcome anybody to come in here and sit down all day long if they so choose. DeAnna-That is why she is here and further discussed the January 23rd minutes. She just read those minutes about a week ago. She didn’t know about them until another employee (extremely disappointed with the Commission) from the county told her to read them. Commissioner Braun-The thing that disappoints him is that people don’t come in here and talk to them. If you are disappointed, walk into this office; state your case, just like you are doing right now. That door is always open and that is the second time I have said it. Come in here and state your case instead of running downtown and talking to everybody…..I am really disappointed in those 3. We are public officials, walk through the door, and state your case. Call him, every single number he has rings to his phone.
DeAnna- How did he get the text messages? Commissioner Braun-The individual walked into the courthouse and handed them to him. DeAnna-Discussed employer’s limiting employee’s freedom of speech on a private line. Commissioner Braun-No, everybody can say what they want. Deanna-Yeah, it kind of sounds like that. Commissioner Braun-No, it doesn’t because we brought that individual in here and asked her about it in a public setting. Deanna-Did you give her a heads up what you were going to talk to her about so she could prepare. Commissioner Braun-It was a public meeting. There was no discipline, discipline was not talked about, and personal issues were not talked about. Deanna-There wasn’t a letter written for discipline for her? Commissioner Braun-No. DeAnna-There wasn’t? Commissioner Baldwin-Not for that meeting. Commissioner Braun-It is on the agenda for tomorrow.
DeAnna-Steve I am just going to point this out.
Commissioner Braun-I’m going to point something else out for you real quick. If that individual feels that it’s gone over the boundary or boundaries, and it’s got that personal, she or he can ask to close that door or stop the meeting and say we are done here today, we’ll visit about this again. It was in a public setting; it was a public question, things happen. DeAnna-I think you knew that you had ambushed her. Commissioner Braun-No
DeAnna-Yes, that was her opinion, she’s entitled to her opinion. When she read the minutes that’s exactly what she thought. Just her opinion.
Deanna-Steve, my grievance that I filed. The investigator read me your statement, really disappointed. Everything you said was not what you said to me, at all! She pointed to Brenda Johnson (she was there). Brenda heard everything you said, I had you on speakerphone. I’m really disappointed. I just wanted that to be on public record. Commissioner Baldwin-Okay.
Deanna-That is it. I just want you guys to do better.
Commissioner Braun-One more question. DeAnna is here talking about the public’s right to know, but you are accusing me of ambushing somebody. Deanna-That is her opinion. Commissioner Braun- That’s why he was asking about her opinion. When that happens, like we just had happen, that undermines us in the current position over there and puts us in…… Would you rather see us ask her if she wants a closed meeting to discuss it, or what are they supposed to do. You have the laws there. DeAnna-Would have thought they would have told her what information they had acquired, and gave her the opportunity to, if she had to defend herself, defend herself, or if she needed legal counsel, to get legal counsel here. Commissioner Braun-So the individual when they asked her about the information, in the minutes, she said, she knew what it said. She admitted she said it, she was angry. DeAnna that is her right. Commissioner Braun-That is her right. Was that an ambush then, should we have stopped the meeting? DeAnna-No but did they tell her previously, was it prior? It wasn’t on the agenda. Commissioner Braun-Recruitment was on the agenda; that goes to recruitment. Recruitment has been on the agenda for the 2 years since he has been here. DeAnna -That is a fine line. She has solved the recruitment problem. The Commission should sign up for EMT courses. Some further discussion on qualifications, etc.
DeAnna-Will contact Mr. Meloy and Darcy will look at the attorney general’s opinion.
Commissioner Braun-Remember, communication works both ways with this office. If the public does not come visit us…..Deanna-It takes someone to step forward, someone to open the door a crack because a lot of people don’t come in out of fear or fear of retaliation.
DeAnna thanked the Commission for their time.
1:56 PM DeAnna, Brenda Johnson and Darcy left the meeting.
2:00 PM EXTENSION DEPARTMENT UPDATES/TRAINING PLAN/Amanda Williams, County Extension
Updates-Cloverbuds continue for Fallon and Carter County’s; the Carter County Shooting Sports Invitational was held in Baker on Feb 3rd and 4th; Community Crafts having been going over very well, with great attendance; both Carter and Fallon County has Shooting Sports Award nights; 4H fruit sales ended on February 24th; Fallon County Foods Festival was held February 25th; Kodie and the Ambassadors attended the Red Butte Rambler 4H club meeting; Kodie and Amanda will both be teaching workshops in Culbertson March 17th-19th (would like Jolinda to be able to work all day the 17th). The Commission has no problems with Jolinda working more hours when needed. If the need continues because the work is there, her hours can be revisited. March 22nd is tentatively scheduled to be fruit delivery date and Amanda will be at Baker High School for Career Day. (Jolinda will be in the office all day). Upcoming travel/trainings-Amanda will be traveling to Wibaux for a tenure meeting (a few of the Extension Agents are working together on their tenure information-which is due August 1st); Attending the Miles City Garden Club on March 25 (Pollinator talk); Shooting sports leaders training will be held March 29-April 1st-Have a few people interested in attending; Attending management excellence online training twice per month (January – April).
Training-Amanda explained Kodie will be helping Amanda train the new employee. Amanda explained she is still the supervisor; however, Kodie understands the day-to-day office duties. Commissioner Rost asked that Amanda stay engaged and asked if Kodie was okay with doing the training. Amanda stated Kodie is okay with it but wanted to make sure the Commission is okay with her training the new employee. The Commission has no problems with Kodie assisting with the training.
4H Fruit-Will be delivered to the Exhibit Hall, 4Hers will come and pick it up that same day. The remaining fruit will come to the office. Amanda discussed last year’s kerfuffle with 4H fruit delivery, hopeful that does not happen this year.
2:15 PM Amanda left the meeting.
2:15 PM COMMISSION WORK SESSION
The Commission reviewed revenues received, reports, emails and other correspondence, board minutes and agendas.
Darcy informed the Commission she approved the Joint Powers Agreement between Fallon County and City of Baker for replacement of box culvert for 2023 Street Improvement Project.
Commissioner Rost made the motion to approve and sign the Joint Powers Agreement between Fallon County and the City of Baker for replacement of box culvert for the 2023 Street Improvement Project. Commissioner Braun seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.
The Commission accepted the resignation letter received from Bridget Schwartz.
The Commission received a check in the amount of $308,694 from Bridger pertaining to their project. The funds were received based on the Road Haul Agreement.
Approve/Sign Fair Contracts
The Commissioners reviewed and approved 1 Fair Contract to be filed for record.
Approve/Sign Building Demolition Agreement
The Commission approved and signed the demolition agreement between Fallon County, City of Baker and Roy Rost. Per the agreement, Fallon County will reimburse 50% of the tipping fees paid by Mr. Rost for the disposal of a house.
Approval to close Public Health Office to allow staff to attend training
The Commission approved closure of the Public Health Office on April 19th so the staff can all attend a mandatory regional immunization workshop in Miles City.
Decision to submit County Assessment of Public land Research Center Invoice for processing
Commissioner Rost explained the Public Lands Research Center invoice. To begin with $4,000,000 was slated for Montana, however, NACo lobbied, and the State of Montana instead received $100,000,000. Counties received this money; they are asking for 10 percent back from each county to start a legacy fund. This would be a one-time payment of which Fallon County’s portion is $1,852.87. Counties will get their money back if there is not 100% participation.
Commissioner Braun made the motion to process the invoice for the County Assessment of Public Land Research Center in the amount of $1,852.87. Commissioner Rost seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.
Sign Amendment 21 to the Fallon County landfill Engineering Consulting Services Agreement
The Commission reviewed and approved Amendment 21 to the Fallon County Landfill Engineering Consulting Services Agreement with Barry Damschen Consulting, LLC in the amount of $6,600-January 1 – December 31, 2023.
Approve quote for low water cutoffs of PV boiler
The second quote has not been received.
Review/Comments to MDT on Preliminary Field Review/Scope of work report for the STPS 494-1(7)2 South of Plevna-South (10227000) project on S-494
The Commission will contact MDT regarding the report received and the proposed scope of work for this project.
Review Workforce Housing (County Land) Appraisal/Determine best process for sale of land
The appraisal was reviewed; no further determination has been made at this time.
Decision/Health Fair Sponsorship
The Commission made no decision at this time.
Permission to purchase washing machine for courthouse/Lynda Herbst, Inside Custodian Supervisor
The Commission granted permission for inside maintenance to purchase a new washing machine.
2:45 PM COMMISSION MINUTES APPROVALS FOR FEBRUARY 13-17, 2023
Commissioner Braun made the motion to approve the February 13-17, 2023 minutes. Commissioner Rost seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.
3:00 PM AMBULANCE BILLING QUESTIONS/PROCESS DECISIONS/Heather Havens-via phone; Julie Straub, HRM; Kim Bryan, Mindi Murnion
Julie passed out the updated job description and discussed information added in the essential functions. They have completed the preauthorization for Medicaid. Discussed details of the process-EOB’s will be printed off and filed; are still working through the RN trip report process; will need to figure out the process for Public Health to acquire patient insurance for billing purposes. They are confident they can work that out (if Fallon Medical Complex does not have access, Public Health will contact the patient directly); submitter code will be needed before Public Health can bill. Discussed whether the county wants to use a collection agency-FMC uses CBI. Dahl Memorial employee is assisting in training Public Health to complete the Ambulance billing process. Dahl Memorial will bill Fallon County for the employee’s time and that will be billed to the Ambulance budget.
Discussed the new EMS Program Manager assisting with portions of the billing/collections process. The EMS Program Manager could be trained to do the collections and billing for standbys, etc. It would also be helpful if this person could complete the credentialing as well. Discussed completion of the EMS Policy Manual, which also includes billing procedures. Discussed the increase in hourly rate for Heather to complete the extra duties. Discussed that as $2.00 per hour.
3:54 PM Kim, Mindi left the meeting. Heather hung up the phone, therefore leaving the meeting.
Employee Handbook-Commission was asked where in the Fallon County Employee Manual it discusses employees reporting to their supervisors. Julie will find this information and report back.
3:55 PM Julie left the meeting.
3:56 PM PROCEDURES FOR NOTIFYING THE COMMISSION OF ABSENCES/UPDATES/Kevin Hill, Golf Course Superintendent
Absence procedures-The Commission stated Kevin needs to inform the commission when he will be gone; there is a form in the employee handbook that he needs to fill out prior to absences. They understand if he gets sick or other unforeseen issues come up, otherwise he needs to fill out the form if he is going to be gone. This helps the commission field questions if individuals are unable to locate him; the commission is aware. The Commission does not have a problem with Kevin taking time off, as long as they have been notified and as long as he has adequate leave to cover the time.
Kevin did text letting the Commission know the roads were going to be closed, but the roads were not closed. The road closed information came from the Bowman side. Kevin stated ¾ of the year he can’t take vacation or sick leave and it is also difficult due to the unpredictable snow events. Feels he is not a typical employee due to his commuting and should get 10 extra days. The Commission stated the county has several employees that live in the country and commute. Kevin needs to be sure to get 40 hours per week in and can do so by flexing hours on a Saturday, etc. Commission discussed unpaid leave/loss of benefits if unpaid leave is taken. Kevin feels he cannot take vacation during the summer months. The Commission stated as long as Kevin plans ahead and has things set up, he can take vacation during the summer months.
HCT-The Commission will make a decision regarding the HCT process and equipment purchases next week. Permission to purchase a drop seeder at approximately $400, rather than a drill seeder which is much more expensive. The Road Department has agreed to take the cutting units to Billings for Kevin.
Discussed the leaks being the biggest priority at the golf course; the Commission may look at getting a contractor to help with the leaks. The Commission asked Kevin to flag the leaks; this will help the contractor.
Commissioner Rost stated the priority should be the leaks, the greens and mowing the roughs. Commissioner Braun added the fairways should also be on the priority list and then they can re-evaluate.
4:17 PM Kevin left the meeting.
4:51 PM Commissioner Rost made the motion to recess. Commissioner Braun seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2023
9:30 AM RECONVENE
PRESENT: Steve Baldwin, Chairman, Kevin Braun and Roy Rost, Members; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder
FALLON COUNTY COURTHOUSE
9:55 AM Brock Collins, Member of Public; Julie Straub, HRM joined.
10:00 AM PRE-DISCIPLINARY MEETING
The Commission accepted Lisa Mitchell’s resignation letter.
10:05 AM Commissioner Baldwin recessed until 11:00 AM.
11:00 AM DISCUSSION/DECISIONS REGARDING THE EMT ROSTER AND PLAN MOVING FORWARD/
Patti Morris; Brittany Renner; Rod Kilsdonk; Steve Schweigert; Scott Kilsdonk; Brock Collins; Dale Butori, DES/911 phoned in; Darcy Wassmann, County Attorney; Brad Mosher, Fallon County Times
Commissioner Baldwin opened the meeting and stated the Commission feels this is a vital piece of our community and wants to move forward, if we can, in the best way possible and thanked everyone for coming.
Patti Morris was the spokesperson for the group and led off by saying how thankful they are for the Baker Police and the Fallon County Sheriff’s Office. They could not do it without them, but when they do it without them, they miss their presence greatly.
They want to know what the commission’s plans are and how does that look for them. They want to be able to recruit new members; they feel they have the best knowledge and would like HR out of the recruitment part.
They would like the county to pay for the training and suggested getting a teaching firm to teach the class. They do have three (3) that can train; however, they all have other jobs or obligations. They would like to get a schedule and plan to offer classes every 2 years.
They would like to be involved in hiring the new EMS Director, possibly part of the hiring committee (not decision making). They would like the Director to have a public presence in the community, to be seen. Examples were given; possibly a sport team taking state and the Ambulance Service leading them into town.
Dale asked when hiring a director, what is their preference. Do they want an EMT or just a business person; is it a must that they be an EMT because we can cast a wider net if they are not an EMT. Commissioner Braun stated the Commission had that discussion. Scott stated you may cast a wider net, but you may not get the catch you want. Patti feels they should be in the medical field, an EMT versus an RN, due to the difference in training. Steve S stated even if they are licensed, they need that knowledge in the field. Dale asked about hiring an RN or retired RN. Scott stated a retired RN is not preferable, it is not the same thing, not even close. Rod stated an EMT or prior EMT experience would be great; they would like someone that can relate to them, even though they understand the county needs someone that can do the paperwork. Commissioner Rost stated they can put it out there that way, but wondered how long they would advertise that way. Rod asked if they would be full or part-time. Commissioner Rost stated full or part-time, either way finding people is the challenge. Steve S feels the director needs to be in the courthouse rather than at the Ambulance garage; they need to be visible.
Dale asked how they would recruit a new director. Commissioner Rost stated they would send it out to all the papers but are open to any suggestions. Discussed advertising in specific trade publications such as JEM or EMS World as well as local, regional and state-wide.
Patti stated they need to make sure they have some way to communicate with the director immediately. Rod told Dale he would be included in their group text; Dale appreciates that. Dale assumed everyone had been brought up to speed (regarding interim EMS Director). Dale does not want this job any longer than he has to but is happy to help; it is a much-needed service. Dale will help and support them in any way he can; he cannot cover call. Steve S, but Dale can drive. Dale said, yes.
Patti stated they would like to be allowed flexibility; realizing they do have jobs or other obligations. They don’t want to feel guilted if they don’t take call. Patti discussed the amount of time they commit and the pay; they haven’t asked for more money. They do not feel valued. Darcy asked how we can curb or stop that; wondered what is happening to make them feel that way. Rod stated when there is no one on call, he feels he has to step up, there is no one else. Darcy, you need more people. Rod discussed different expectations for volunteers versus paid staff, it is that way even in his industry. They felt undervalued, such as the covid money that others received, and they did not, and they were front and center. Commissioner Rost stated there were parameters. Commissioner Braun explained it was a bonus; could have something been different, probably but this was the recommendation made by the salary commission. Patti asked if the Commission had the ability to do it again. The funding was not COVID funding; it was recommended by the Salary Commission and budgeted accordingly.
They feel micromanaged; they would like a little more power back in their department. The Medical Director has control, it falls under his license, and he does not have a presence at their meetings. Brittany explained Dr. Sullivan is willing to take this on but does not want to step on Dr. Espeland’s toes. Commissioner Braun asked if it was possible for him to do this when he is gone. Brittany stated he would, he is very good about returning messages. Discussed procedures they are able to do but are not allowed to do by the current medical director. The Commission asked if our insurance would cover the procedure discussed. Dale asked if the past directors had asked Darryl to attend meetings. Steve S. stated the director had to make a doctor’s appointment to be able to talk to him. Dale asked if we could move on and find a resolution. The Commission stated the answer was yes. Dale stated they may have to bump up the insurance coverage. Patti discussed making do with what they have even though they have lost two (2) members.
Patti discussed needing a new ambulance; they are behind schedule as far as that goes.
Patti answering a question posed to them. Do they have to have an EMT in the back of the ambulance with the flight crew? The state license states it. Can a driver get a flight crew with only 1 EMT in the back? Dale is checking on that answer but has not heard back yet. Patti stated the flight crew is not familiar with the location of their supplies/equipment. Steve S stated you can get waivers for lack of people for a short term only. There has to be two (2) people in the ambulance before leaving the barn. Patti stated it is their duty, with teamwork and communication, to make our community the safest and best place to live.
Commissioner Braun stated in the short-term the commission plans to bring someone in to help. They are going to get contract paramedics for 90 days. If not, they can do it. Roy discussed 24/7 coverage (there would be 2 individuals coming with 1 on and 1 off).
They plan to get an ambulance director hired and get the medical director changed. Discussed the time it would take to get new members trained, (9 months) or longer. The Commission stated they are in hopes they can get someone here as soon as the 6th of March. They are also working with the Fire Department to have drivers.
Brittany-They have their monthly meeting on Monday; possibly the fire fighters could come to the meeting.
Dale stated the fire department will not want to be beholding to a schedule. Steve S stated they will send the schedule to Dispatch; Dale will put himself on the schedule. Brittany said she will be taking night call. Rod stated he is the only one on call Wednesday-Saturday; Brittany is on call Sunday. Commissioner Braun stated they are counting on them to let the Commission know if this will work. Dale asked what the paramedics would be doing in the down time. Steve S-Stated maybe they can help with supplies etc. so they are familiar with our equipment, etc. Discussed restocking and refueling after a run. They will need to get the pharmacy issues taken care of.
11:56 AM Anna Straub joined.
Discussed locating a company to come and teach a class. They will work on an advertisement for the recruitment. Discussed whether or not to have HR work on the recruitment process.
12:01 PM Anna left the meeting.
Patti stated they need to make them aware the classes do not guarantee you will be hired. Discussed recruits paying for the books; if they pass the class, they can get their money back.
Patti stated they will miss Lisa and they appreciated her; their hearts are broken.
12:07 PM-Everyone left the meeting except Brad.
Commissioner Rost made the motion to approve the staffing service agreement with Best Practice Medicine, with the County Attorney’s recommendations. Commissioner Braun seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.
12:14 PM Commissioner Braun made the motion to adjourn. Commissioner Rost seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.
s/Steve Baldwin, Chairman s/Brenda J. Wood, Clerk & Recorder