IN THE COUNTY COURT OF THE STATE OF OREGON IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF GRANT
Access the court’s weekly Agenda and approved Minutes on the Commissioner’s page at www.gcoregonlive2.com.
DECEMBER 17, 2014
Pursuant to notice made to the newspaper of general circulation throughout Grant County, the radio station, county website, and e-mail distribution list, a regular meeting of the County Court was held at the County Courthouse in Canyon City OR.
9:00 am -- Call to Order. Present were Judge Scott W. Myers, Commissioners Chris B. Labhart and Boyd Britton, Secretary Mary Ferrioli, Jim Sproul and Pastor Marci Collins. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Collins.
CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims and Extension District Warrant No. 254.
AGENDA. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to accept the agenda with discussion on accruals for an employee on medical leave.
ACCRUALS. Myers said a motion was made earlier to extend accruals through the December pay period for an employee on medical leave. He recommended the county amend the motion -- to pay the insurance premium in the December pay period, if county donations fall short. He added that we have done this in the past. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to pay the insurance premium in the employee’s December pay period, regardless if the 120 hour minimum is met.
9:05 am – Hal Smith and News Reporter Scotta Callister entered
Britton reported on a Regional Solutions meeting he attended in John Day. He also attended meetings with the Forest Service and Blue Mountain Forest Partners on the Revised Blue Mountain Forest Plan. Britton had also been in contact with a member of each governing body of surrounding counties.
Labhart drove the VA van to Boise and attended a Library Board meeting last Thursday. Friday he participated in a conference call with the AOC Health and Human Services Committee. Tuesday he visited with Kirby from Congressman Walden’s office about PILT approval and SRS funds. Labhart met yesterday with Mark Witty about a possible road extension into 7th Street. He will attend the county’s Christmas Potluck today. Tomorrow he has a hospital board meeting and Friday he’ll attend the Christmas party and Bob Houser’s retirement party at Blue Mountain Care Center. Monday he travels to Pendleton to attend the RCAC and EOCCO board meeting.
Myers had a Heritage Foundation annual meeting last Saturday. Today he’ll attend the Early Learning Council meeting at 2 pm. Tomorrow at 9 am he meets with Mark Witty and the City of John Day to begin discussing a proposed project to extend the 3rd street extension to 7th Street. Monday the 22nd he’ll participate in a quarterly Northeast Oregon Housing Authority board meeting conference call. Tuesday he’ll travel to Heppner with Shane from ODOT to view a demonstration compost site for roadside animals that Shane Giffin would like to see developed locally. DEQ and ODOT would provide incentives to that development. The farewell gathering for Outgoing DA Ryan Joslin is tomorrow at 1:30. Friday the 26th Myers plans to unlock / lock the Courthouse front door for Circuit Court.
9:15 am – Brooks Smith, Jerry Cowger, Bruce Strange, Leon Skiles, Ted Phelps, Judy Kerr, and Larry Vote entered
MINUTES. MSP: Britton/Labhart -- to approve the December 10 minutes as corrected.
PUBLIC HEARING. At 9:30 am the court held a hearing to consider the dissolution of the Monument Rural Fire Protection District under ORS 198.920(c), as recommended by legal counsel. All board members resigned in November and the county advertised in the district for three qualified volunteers, but received no applicants. According to ORS 198.920(3) if there are no district board members, the court may act as or appoint a board of trustees to prepare the plan for dissolution and liquidation under ORS 198.930. Myers noted there has been no demonstrated interest in keeping the rural fire district. MSP: Labhart/ Myers -- to open a public hearing on dissolution of the Monument Rural Fire District under ORS 198.920(c).
Proponent testimony was given by Jerry Cowger, former Secretary Treasurer, who supports dissolving the district at this point. Larry Vote, former Recording Secretary, was in favor of dissolving the district. Ted Phelps, former board member, voiced support of dissolving the district.
9:35 am -- Bob Phillips entered
Opponent testimony was given by Britton who understands why board members resigned, but disagrees with County Counsel. He would like to hold the district open for a couple of years because of all the work it took to put it together. Britton thought someone could step up and volunteer in the future. Myers said liability insurance and other responsibilities would have to take place for the district to continue. Britton felt money in the fund we have now can be used to offset current / past expenses incurred by the county.
Myers pointed out that dissolution would require establishing a board of trustees to develop a plan for the liquidation of property. Larry Vote recommended having liability insurance for the trustees’ actions.
Bruce Strange said that interested individuals in the area are all in or approaching their 70’s; the young people are just not interested. He couldn’t justify having a tax base for the district when the fire truck is not allowed at the fire hall – too many people in the Monument Kimberly area have taken sides over the situation. Strange thought the dynamics of this community would never change unless new residents move to the community.
9:45 am – Shannon Voigt and Wanda Voigt entered
MSP: Britton/Myers -- to cease with rounds two and three of proponent and opponent testimony.
Britton suggested an adjustment to the resolution to note that all board members have resigned. Myers said the statutes require the amended Resolution to be filed with the Secretary of the district, if one exists. He asked if liability insurance of district members “as trustees” could not be secured, would they prefer the court act as trustees. All of the former board members agreed. Labhart asked past board members if all assets were accounted and stored at this time. Cowger said the only asset not stored on county property is the fuel tank and stand which they‘re working on having delivered. Proceeds from liquidation would go to the General Fund. Cowger suggested the jaws-of-life and related equipment be donated to the EMTs at either Monument or Long Creek. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to have the County Court act as trustees of the Monument Rural Fire District and sign Resolution 14-44.
9:55 am – Kathy Smith and Lane Burton entered
CHRISTMAS EVE. The court considered cancelling next week’s meeting Christmas Eve and, if so, closing county offices. Treasurer Kathy Smith and Assessor Lane Burton were present. Myers explained that employees who have accruals may use them, if they do not want to work Christmas Eve. Britton felt it was the court’s duty to be here in case a citizen has something to bring before the court. Treasurer Kathy Smith noted that when some offices are open and others are closed it is difficult because the Clerk’s office provides postage and copy services to other departments. It was noted that Christmas Eve would not be a county holiday, but gives offices the opportunity to close to the public. Assessor Lane Burton said his office always has things to do, but it has been slow this time of year. Myers thought having the day off would allow additional travel time for employees who travel to see family. It was noted that so far there is no court business until the December 31 meeting.
Hal Smith felt that keeping offices open half a day would allow citizens an opportunity to do business.
Jim Sproul said the Public Access Advisory Board would request a meeting with the court next week. Myers didn’t know until now that the board wanted to meet with the court next week.
Myers and Labhart were willing to hold a meeting next week. Britton suggested that other county offices be allowed to close. Labhart pointed out that the Clerk is required to work 6 hours if the county does not close its offices.
10:05 am – Clerk Brenda Percy and Wanda Voigt entered
Britton asked Percy if it would inconvenience citizens if offices were closed. She said Land Title would be closing at noon. Burton said he wouldn’t mind working until noon. Myers recommended a compromise by closing at noon. MSP: Labhart/Myers -- to allow county offices to close to the public December 24 starting at noon.
JUSTICE COURT. Court members considered Judge Kathy Stinnett’s request to upgrade to a Kyocera monochrome multi-functional digital system from TEC Copier Systems. The cost quote previously received is $3,582.00 (delivered) plus the maintenance agreement for an annual fee of $399.00. This system would eliminate the need for one printer currently in use which could go to surplus. Stinnett previously recommended the cost come from the Equipment Reserve Fund. Treasurer Kathy Smith explained that TEC won’t give more than a government discount, which Britton inquired about earlier. Britton suggested getting this done sooner rather than later and not wait until the next budget process. Britton acknowledged and appreciated Labhart’s concern with the budget. MSP: Britton Myers -- to allow Judge Stinnett to purchase the Kyocera monochrome multi-functional digital system from TEC Copier Systems with an annual maintenance agreement. Myers felt that waiting for the budget process to be completed would set the office back from meeting the current need. Labhart asked for the equipment be leased rather than purchased because it could be outdated when the office goes to digital records. Smith explained her conversation with Stinnett about this equipment’s potential use by another department in the future.
COMMUNITY COUNSELING SOLUTIONS. The court reviewed a letter to Community Counseling Solutions requesting a meeting to discuss the FY 15-16 budget. When CCS Director Kimberly Lindsay was at last week’s meeting there was discussion about scheduling a more in-depth conversation on mental health and public health finances for next year. Myers reported on his discussion about the letter by phone yesterday with Ms. Lindsay. Today Britton informed him that the letter may not be necessary and Myers concurred based on his conversation with Lindsay. Labhart agreed. Lindsay already knows the county wants to receive the 13-14 financial audit and first quarter 14-15 financial statement for mental health and public health by the end of December. And, Lindsay plans to meet with the court either January 7 or January 14 to discuss financials for 15-16.
BUDGET RESOLUTION. Court members reviewed Resolution 14-43 Making Budgeted Transfers from General Fund to Airport totaling $30,000.00 and to Senior Citizens totaling $46,594.00. In response to Britton’s inquiry, Smith stated this is operating capital that was budgeted for transfer. These departments do not have enough revenue to operate without help from the General Fund. Smith said that state and federal funds have been going down, so the county needs to think about how long these departments can be supported. She added the state no longer allows the county to be the Senior Authority, so an administrative fee is now being paid to Community Connections of Northeast Oregon. Myers recited the resolution. MSP: Myers/Labhart – to circulate for signature Resolution 14-43 Making Budgeted Transfers from General Fund to Airport and Senior Citizens are presented. The court agreed that the county needs an administrative entity to help manage the variety of senior programs currently operating in the county.
SCENIC BIKEWAY. The court reviewed a letter of support for an Oregon Parks and Recreation Department application for the designation of a Logan Valley Scenic Gravel Bikeway. The letter was requested when Malheur Cycling representative Mike Cosgrove was here last week. Britton had asked for additional time before signing the letter.
Today, several local citizens were present for discussion. Myers summarized Cosgrove’s previous presentation and recited the proposed letter of support. Sproul suggested taking the word “scenic” out. Public Forest Commissioner Brooks Smith said the word “scenic” can be an issue point, but the environmental document has not been done on this yet. He understood the Forest Service and Blue Mountain Forest Partners had also been asked for a letter of support. Smith said, if approved by the state, there would be a formal public process for this designation.
Shannon Voigt said the right-of-way goes through his private property and he would fight this to the bitter end. He referred to Oregon’s Clean Water Act and Oregon Department of Agriculture requirements for which he is responsible as a landowner. Voigt described the sanitation problems and general litter in the field that bicyclists leave on his property. He doesn’t think we need more of this activity since bicycle areas are available in the county -- other than through private land on the Logan Valley railroad grade. He recommended the county not support this designation. Labhart asked about snowmobile trails and confirmed with Voigt that none of those are located on private property. Labhart noted the county is not supporting the designation, only the application to start the process.
Sproul concurred with Voigt and also felt the Public Access Advisory Board should be included in the decision to provide general support.
Hal Smith said Mr. Cosgrove could move forward without the general support of the county. He felt it was incumbent for the court to come down on the side of the private property owners. Smith noted there was a previous situation where an OPRD letter of support turned out not to be helpful to the county. Myers understood Smith’s reference to a previous OPRD letter of support for a trail. He said, in that case, the court learned later it would have been better to step back from it.
Bob Phillips did not support the letter because he felt something like this might become exclusive to bicyclists, as far as access to public lands. He added that the snowmobile association does not trust the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department because it has been trying to take over the Snowmobile Association’s grooming program. He supported the private property owner and suggested (if the letter is sent) that use by other types of recreation be included. MSP: Labhart/Myers -- to not sign the letter to Oregon Parks and Recreation Department in support of the Logan Valley Scenic Gravel Bikeway application and designation because it’s not needed for Mr. Cosgrove to go forward. The motion passed unanimously. Britton talked about the “law of unintended consequences” and misperceptions bicyclists who come here from other areas can have about natural resource management. Brooks Smith didn’t think enough review was done and the motion would force Mr. Cosgrove to conduct the work that is necessary.
Public Access Advisory Board. Board Chair Jim Sproul reported the board’s information gatherer met with the Forest Supervisor to obtain information on the Magone Project. They obtained copies of CFRs signed by the prior Supervisor, and discovered the forest intends to go forward in January with wide-spread signing of CFRs. Sproul felt it would conflict with the Ordinance and needs to be addressed. The board will meet Friday and make a recommendation for the court to address next week. Sproul requested that the court ask the Forest Service for an updated CFR list for the north half of the county to see if those may affect the Magone Project. Judy Kerr provided additional detail on the forest documents that the board received which are well over 300 pages. Labhart felt we would be focusing on the Magone Project, not the south or north areas of the forest (CFRs). Labhart asked Sproul about the number of board members at the meeting which constituted a quorum, but had not been advertised. Labhart felt it was important for the court to hear this information from the Forest Service. He asked Brooks Smith to provide further information about forest road documents.
Public Forest Commissioner Brooks Smith explained CFR documents and the associated public process including NEPA. He thought the Supervisor was probably validating the CFRs that were previously reviewed and need to be signed. Smith said it could be beneficial to sit down with a forest rep for an explanation of those documents.
HR Manager. Budget Committee member Hal Smith said it seems the county’s HR position has been stalled. He implored the county to move forward with hiring a full time HR Manager because this critically important work for the county needs to be performed by an experienced professional.
11:15 am – Adjourned
Respectfully Submitted, Mary R. Ferrioli, County Court Secretary