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Commissioners Reflect On ‘21; Eager For 2022

Rebuilding and repaving Lawrenceton Cutoff Road and the connecting Roth Road was one of the county’s top achievements in 2021. Here Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson and Associate Commissioners Randy Ruzicka and Karen Stuppy join road and bridge foreman Scott Schmieder and potential bidders for the job in examining one of the worst sections. (HERALD File photo)



Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson, First District Commissioner Karen Stuppy and Associate County Clerk Michele Gatzemeyer were able to think of many county accomplishments in 2021. (Second District Commissioner Randy Ruzicka was out of town for the holiday.)

Several were road projects, while others were more of an office achievement and not seen by the general public.

Among the latter category were doing a salary study of county employees and updating the employee manual, which Stuppy said had long been ”on the back burner.” Along with that, the county’s internal control policies were revised.

“It doesn’t seen like a lot, but it is a big deal,” Stuppy said.

Nelson believes the county’s handling of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds was one highlight of 2021.

He takes pride in the county dispersing more than $2.8 million of CARES Act funds without a single audit finding.  This was despite being audited four times.

“They audited us and didn’t find anything, so they audited us again and didn’t find anything,” Nelson said. He credited Gatzemeyer with a lion’s share of the credit, constantly checking with attorney Ivan Schraeder to make sure any money disbursed met the vague and often contradictory federal guidelines.

“There was not a penny wrong after four audits,” he said. “I’m so glad we survived it. A lot of entities received a lot of improvement that was needed with that money.”

Out of the “drawer full” of applications, the county disbursed funds to local schools, the nutrition center, Helping Hands and other groups.

It was only right to scrutinize “on the front end,” Nelson said, since “It’s not our money, it’s the taxpayers’.”