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Commissioners appoint Tom Loew deputy sheriff

MORRIS -- On Tuesday, the Stevens County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve an employment agreement for a new chief deputy sheriff that will be filled by current deputy Tom Loew.

In the past, three sheriff’s deputies rotated the responsibilities of the chief deputy. This rotation could sometimes cause confusion about the chain of command when the sheriff was not available, said Sheriff Jason Dingman.

Promoting Loew to chief deputy sheriff will provide needed structure in the department, Dingman said.

Loew submitted a letter of interest in the position after it was posted internally in September. Loew will take on some supervisory responsibilities as well as continue to serve as a deputy in the department.

Appointing a full-time chief deputy was one of the changes Dingman indicated he planned to make when he was took over as sheriff in January.

Commissioner Ron Staples said he disagreed with a provision in the agreement that that stated the chief deputy would follow provisions of the Stevens County Employee Handbook for vacation, sick leave, other leave and severance, unless those benefits are less than what other Stevens County deputies receive.

“What we’re doing there is we’re giving him union benefits but he’s not a union member, correct?” asked Staples. “We’re going to set a precedent for supervisors that they’ll all want the union benefits but be exempt employees.”

“We’re giving him whatever the deputies are getting currently,” responded Stevens County Aaron Jordan. “It’s not fair that supervisors get less of a benefit than the people they’re supervising.”

Commissioner Phil Gausman said he agreed with Staples about setting a precedent for other county supervisors with the agreement.

When it came time to vote, Staples and Gausman voted against the agreement, while Commissioners Donny Wohlers, Jeanne Ennen and Bob Kopitzke voted for the agreement. 

Highway Department prepares for winter as usual

Stevens County Engineer Brian Giese told the board that the department will be installing snow pole hitches and wing posts on equipment beginning in the middle of this month.

At this point, the department is planning on the same number of drivers and routes that they ran  last year. However, there was some indication that the city of Donnelly may be interested in also being plowed by representatives from the county, Giese said.

At the end of last winter, the county filled in plowing in Donnelly after the city’s maintenance staff member resigned. 

In the mean time, staff at the highway department are working to complete roadside mowing and begin working on a series of drainage projects the board approved Tuesday. Upcoming ditch projects include:

  • silt removal and maintenance on County Ditch 1,
  • tree removal and a culvert replacement in County Ditch 3,
  • trapping beaver, removing a dam, and installing a buffer strip in County Ditch 4, and
  • tile replacement in County Ditches 13, 16, and 18.