May 2009 – State & Province News
According to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. violated federal law by subjecting a class of women to sexual harassment and firing one woman for complaining about it. The EEOC said that a Fisher supervisor engaged in sexual harassment, including a barrage of comments and innuendo that created a hostile work environment. It also alleges that a woman who complained about the behavior suffered retaliation and was forced to resign because of the harassment, retaliation, and the employer’s failure to provide appropriate preventive or remedial relief. “Our investigation revealed that Fisher’s supervisor was permitted to use the workplace as his playground, and if you did not play, you paid,” said Chester V. Bailey, EEOC Phoenix district director.
Despite objections from a neighboring business, the Minnehaha County Commission’s decision to allow a gravel pit in Sioux Falls was upheld by the South Dakota Supreme Court. The Associate Press reports that the high court’s unanimous ruling said that county officials properly reviewed all factors necessary under zoning ordinances prior to granting the permit. Myrl & Roy’s Paving Co. will be allowed to mine gravel per its agreement with Benson Farms. Permit conditions include the construction of a 6-foot-high berm that will be planted with trees and other vegetations between the business and the mine, as well as a haul road for gravel. The permit also addressed dust suppression, noise restrictions, and other issues.
South Dakota has a $115 million list of shovel-ready highway projects to finance with ARRA funds and could be in a position to collect money other states can’t spend, a state transportation official told the Associated Press. Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist told a legislative committee that the state’s share of the stimulus package is $189 for highway construction, and half that total must be committed to projects within 120 days. He noted that states that can’t meet the deadline could lose funds, with the money being redistributed among states that did meet the deadline. “Call me greedy, I’ll take the money, and I’ll find a use for it,” he said. The Senate committee is working on a funding package that provides money for state road projects that aren’t eligible for the federal funds.
Polaris Minerals said that, despite a net loss of $9.8 million during the first full year of operation for its Orca Quarry, it still hopes to build a granite quarry in Alberni Inlet. According to Mike Westerlund, director for corporate development, 80 percent of its material is shipped to California where bad weather and a 100-day period during which the state had no operating budget adversely impacted its business. “We’re happy to see that they have a state budget (now), and a lot of projects that were stalled are now starting back up,” he told the Alberni Valley Times.
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