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Staples elected Stevens County Board chair

The Stevens County Board of Commissioners met for the first time in 2011 on Tuesday in the County Courthouse. From left, County Engineer and Coordinator Brian Giese and commissioners Larry Sayre, Jeanne Ennen, Phil Gausman, Paul Watzke and Ron Staples listen to a report from county Auditor/Treasurer Neil Wiese.

Ron Staples was elected chair of the Stevens County Board of Commissioners and two new members were seated for their first meeting on Tuesday.

The board met for the first time in 2011 to reorganize, finalize committee assignments and take care of other routine business.

Newly elected board members Jeanne Ennen and Phil Gausman were seated after taking their oath of office on Monday.

Staples was elected chair on a 3-2 vote, with Ennen and Gausman joining Staples voting for the motion. Commissioners Larry Sayre and Paul Watzke opposed the nomination. Sayre initially nominated Watzke to serve as chair but Ennen, Gausman and Staples voted the measure down.

Watzke was elected vice chair by unanimous vote.

In other county business:

•County Engineer and Coordinator Brian Giese said the county spent about $70,000 for ice and snow removal through December. That doesn't bode well since January through March are typically the snowiest months during the year, he said.

In 2009, the county spent $356,000 on snow and ice removal after spending about $36,000 of that - about half of what was spent last month -- from October 2008 to December 2008.

The county will monitor roads and intersections to determine if there is a need to employ blowers to move snow further away from where it has been plowed. Giese estimated because of the amount of snow on the ground already it will be necessary to plow after any period of significant wind.

"It may just come to be that this will be a pretty heavy year," Giese said.