With the start of a new year, the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners voted to appoint a new Chair and Vice-Chair. Appointments normally follow a rotational basis, and tend to be non-controversial. Com-missioner Ron Antony was unanimously elected Chair, replacing Gary Johnson. Commissioner Greg Renneke was unanimously elected Vice-Chair, replacing Ron Antony.

After much discussion, the Board voted to update the gopher bounty. Under the new rules, townships will be able to set their own gopher bounties (or, not set them at all), with the county matching up to $2. Commissioner Johnson said it was only fair given the topological variation across the county, which impacts the overall number of gophers killed.

The Board agreed to maintain the current fairground storage rates through the end of the year. Glen Kack urged the other commissioners not to make any changes. Instead, the Board voted to make fairground rates part of the fee schedule, meaning they could revisit the rates in December. According to County Administrator Peg Heglund, Yellow Medicine rates are already lower than our comparable neighbors.

The Board furiously debated whether to change the minimum salary for the office of County Attorney (currently held by Keith Helgeson). Because the position is elected, and not appointed, commissioners struggled with how to match the salary with the qualifications of possible candidates. County Administrator Heglund suggested possible solutions such as setting a minimum salary and then negotiating increases to match qualifications.

Other commissioners, however, expressed their disagreement with this approach. “We are treating this like an appointed position, and it’s not,” said Commissioner John Berends. “This is an elected position, and we should leave it up to the voters.” Although several commissioners shared their reservations about electing an unqualified candidate, the Board eventually compromised and agreed to maintain the County Attorney salary without changes.