The De Smet News

Roger Lee steps down after 12 years in county commission

Roger Lee steps down after 12 years in county commission

Roger Lee’s term as a county commissioner in District 5 will soon be ending. Lee has put in 12 years of service to this community. Before he left office, I wanted to share some of his thoughts and reflections with you.

How did you become interested in being a commissioner?

I wanted to be active in the community and do good and do what was right. As a state representative in the minority party in Pierre, it was somewhat frustrating for me trying to get things accomplished. As a county commissioner it was easier to get tasks done and I felt like I was doing good.

What have been some positives for you as a commissioner?

Some of the projects we have done, like courthouse renovations. I’d also say the people and employees. Making sure the employees are paid fairly and they have good benefits. If you want to keep good people you must treat them well. That’s probably the main thing I would have to say.

We had to grind up some blacktop roads for several reasons. That was not a very popular project, but it was something I felt like we had to do. It took six or seven years to accomplish it. We took 31 miles, but it was a situation where we were putting a lot of money into the roads. The roads were just eating the money and the situation wasn’t improving at all.

Historically, a lot of things have changed in our community. One of the big changes is farming. You have a lot of farms that are bigger with larger equipment that has gotten heavier over the years.

Frankly, some of the roads couldn’t support the size and weight.

When you have blacktop roads and you don’t have the right base or structure, it cracks up, breaks and potholes develop. These roads cost a whole lot of money to repair and replace. Because of that fact, you’re just better off to have it go back to gravel and you’ll save an awful lot of money by not repairing it all the time. Yes, you’re grading it, yes you are graveling it, but we didn’t take this action lightly.

If there is movement under the blacktop it will eventually crack and destroy the road. We had several studies done and we had help from the South Dakota Department of Transportation. SDDOT recommended we grind up certain roads that didn’t have the correct base to handle the blacktop.

This decision was not very popular. In fact, it was very controversial. But here again, sometimes you must make hard decisions that aren’t popular with everybody, but what is best for the county and its taxpayers.

Any negative?

I don’t have too many negatives. I think sometimes people don’t fully understand the decisions commissioners have to make. They may be tough decisions and maybe not popular with everybody, but you make the decision knowing it’s the best for the people, the county and the taxpayer. Sometimes those decisions can be controversial, so you may run into a little trouble. If you want to be a good commissioner, you got to do what you think is right.

Posted on 12-13-2018

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