• Sheriff, attorney asked to look into what can be done
BROOKINGS – Area residents have been complaining about transients living under the U.S. Highway 14 bridge crossing Interstate 29, and the Brookings County Commission has asked the sheriff and deputy state’s attorney to see what can be done to make them move along.
Brookings County Sheriff Marty Stanwick told the commission Tuesday that he has received some complaints about transients living under the bridge and the debris they are leaving there.
“It’s within city limits, also, so actually city police have been putting a little more effort to watch that area, and I think (Department of Transportation) came out and cleaned up that area,” Stanwick said.
“I called DOT to see if they would run them out of there, and they said there’s no state statute that gives them the power to move them out of there. So, I hope we can change some things.”
Commissioner Alan Gregg said he has also heard complaints from residents.
“I mean, they’re littering that whole area up,” Gregg said. “I’ve gotten several complaints where they’ve stopped in the shop and complained about that. I just think there’s something we could do – an ordinance countywide or something.”
Gregg also cited safety concerns, referencing an April 25 accident in which a man, a transient from Indiana who was running naked across I-29 near Brookings, was struck by a drunk driver and killed.
Also, trash assumed to be from transients living in that area is seen around the underpass and in a nearby valley, Gregg said.
Stanwick said the problem is that I-29 is state land, and it is difficult for the county to regulate what happens there.
“I think (a law) has got to come from the State of South Dakota, myself,” he said. “It’s something that we’re going to pursue, though, and keep working on it.”
Stanwick added that he hopes to work with the state, including getting help from local state legislators to address the issue.
“I believe it’s got to be a problem, not just in Brookings County but Codington County,” the sheriff said. “Because the same transient works both areas – you’ll see them in Brookings County, and you go to Watertown and they’re working over there, too.”
Gregg said the county could look into what actions other counties and cities have taken in a similar situation. He asked Stanwick and Kratochvil to work on the issue.
Contact Charis Prunty at email@example.com.