County agrees to share medical costs
Published: Thursday, April 4th, 2013
Two weeks after making his initial plea to have Custer County pay for the cost of medical bills from an injury he said he suffered while working for the county, former county weed and pest department employee Gerald Wendorff was back before the county commission at its March 27 meeting.
Wendorff was a temporary seasonal employee of the county at the time, so he was not on the county’s insurance, although he was entitled to file for Workman’s Compensation. Wendorff said he hired a lawyer in the past to work on the issue, but that the lawyer was trying to go after disability, which he did not agree with. He said he believed eventually his lawyer had taken care of the issue and the bills had been paid, but he recently was informed he was being taken to small claims court for a $3,300 bill from services he received at Custer Regional Hospital.
Wendorff’s injury was to his rotator cuff in his shoulder. The state denied Wendorff’s Workman’s Compensation claim because he failed to notify his employer of the injury within the time allowed—three days. Wendorff disputed that at the previous meeting, saying he informed former weed and pest department director Bill Kirsch of the injury immediately after he began to feel pain, but continued to work until the pain was so severe he had to go to the doctor—a week and a half later.
Wendorff didn’t do much talking at the March 27 meeting of the commission, saying he “said his piece” at the last meeting.
Commission chairman Travis Bies said because it had been determined that 75 percent of Wendorff’s injury had occurred prior to working with the county during his Workman’s Compensation hearing, he felt the county should pay the 25 percent balance.
Commissioner Phil Lampert agreed with that recommendation.
“If the injury happened at the work place, the 25 percent should be our responsibility,” he said.
Wendorff reiterated his stance that he had reported the injury in a timely manner to Kirsch, who he said told him to just do paperwork before the injury finally became unbearable.
“I know what’s going on here. The insurance company and someone else didn’t want to see me have any benefits,” Wendorff said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The county eventually unanimously voted to pay the 25 percent of the total bill—$840—to the collection agency.
In other news from the March 27 meeting, the commission:
• Heard from county highway superintendent Gary Woodford, who said final plans for the Cheyenne River Bridge are in their second review, which has delayed the project. Woodford said he now expects the project to be put out to bid in May instead of April and construction will probably begin in June and run into next year.
Woodford also said final plans for the 8th Street bridge in Custer are complete and bids for that project will be taken in June. The bridge will be a modular-style bridge paid for entirely by the federal government. The current bridge was constructed in 1936.
Finally, Woodford said the Forest Service is reviewing the county’s Mountain Pine Beetle Grant application to determine whether a permit is needed to cut where Forest Service land meets county right-of-way. All other counties have agreements to take trees off the National Forest to sell commercially, but, because the county doesn’t intend to do that, the county will leave the trees on the ground after being cut and let the Forest Service remove them.
The plan is to take trees affected by the pine beetle within 100 feet of the center line on county roads, to prevent them from eventually dying and falling into the road at a later time.
• Heard from county emergency management director Mike Carter, who said there were several small fires started by people burning slash piles after the recent snowstorm. He said the problem is that conditions to burn the slash piles existed only for a short window after that storm and problems were created later when people were still burning piles.
Carter said he plans to meet with state officials to discuss the new burn permit application process, which is now online and has very little restrictions. He said volunteer fire departments spend a lot of time putting out small fires when instances like this occur, which is taxing on the departments. Carter also said he recently met with some campground owners to see if an agreement can be reached to limit fire restrictions on campfires if the summer is too dry.
• Learned from commissioner Jim Lintz that he met with the new weed and pest board and is “very satisfied” with the group, saying they are heading in the right direction and should be a strong board.
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