County road workers were assigned to 10-hour workdays starting Tuesday as the first step in addressing concerns aired at a public meeting last week.
Road and bridge superintendent Randy Crawford verified that a temporary work schedule would start immediately after county commissioners suggested it Monday.
The work schedule will continue until immediate problems are addressed. Workers will not earn overtime but will instead receive 1½ hours of compensatory time off for every hour worked past 40 hours.
Commissioners suggested having road workers take those hours off on days when weather or equipment repairs prevent them from performing their jobs.
“This isn’t going to be solved overnight,” Crawford said after Monday’s commission meeting. “I wish I had an answer, I wish I knew everything. But I’d be in a damned rubber room in a mental hospital if I did.
“Sometimes I’m glad I don’t drink, but sometimes I wonder why I don’t.”
Still under investigation is whether workers can be forced to take paid time off when weather or equipment repairs do not allow them to do their jobs.
“The only issue that really needs to be clarified is whether we can or will require employees to use ‘comp’ time when they are off for a ‘rain day,’” County Clerk Tina Spencer said Tuesday.
Commissioners will meet again Friday, when they hope to have answers to such questions, and reviewing other ideas they brainstormed Monday.
Ideas included having people with road issues fill out a form with a road department secretary instead of calling Crawford or stopping workers while on the job. Officials also have asked county schools to submit updated bus routes to determine priorities for road work.
Another suggestion was installing a global positioning system to track road workers and create a record of what roads have been repaired. Not all commissioners were sold on the idea, however.
“We need to trust the employees,” Dallke said.
“Trust but verify,” Chairman Dan Holub responded.
Before spending more than three hours discussing ideas, Holub had asked commissioners about the previous week’s public meeting: “Everybody have fun Monday?”
Dallke responded that he was glad to hear from citizens, but “I wish they could give us time to change things. Everybody wants to attend a hanging.”
Commissioner Lori Lalouette, who is Randy Crawford’s spouse, said: “The complexity of the situation and everything that’s involved — I don’t think people see it. Until I came in here and went through the budget I don’t think I understood it that well myself either.”
Holub was surprised how many people attended the public meeting.
“Not even the casino got people out like this,” he said. “Lots and lots and lots of frustration. I understand that. I live on those roads, too.”
Holub also said lack of agreement over courses of action was one of many problems.
“We’ve got internal problems with people who have different ideas on how to fix them,” he said. “It’s going to be like eating an elephant — one bite at a time. It won’t happen quickly or even before the election.”
In other business:
- Commissioners disapproved of any further interest in a proposal from Jeff Berger with Van Keppel, a construction equipment firm, for an excavator track hoe due that could be used to help with roads. “We do need that piece of equipment someday,” Dallke said, “but I don’t know if we need it today.”
- Commissioners approved a $45,390 bid from Middlecreek Corporation to fix the Kanza bridge between 250th and 270th Rds. Commissioner Randy Dallke suggested submitting the project for federal disaster relief funding. The bridge has been closed for a week because of erosion of its underpinnings. Middlecreek said it was able to start work this week.