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 24, 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, Jim Sproul, Tom McHatton, Marc O’Dell, News Reporter Scotta Callister, Al Cummings, Shannon Voigt, Cheryl Sprauve, Public Forest Commissioner Nicky Sprauve, Justin Galbreath, JC Oliver, Wanda Voigt, Judy Kerr, Hal Smith, Alec Oliver, Terry and Billie Jo George, Howard Gieger, King Williams, and Forest Supervisor Steve Beverlin, and Assessor Lane Burton. Secretary Mary Ferrioli was previously excused for vacation. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States flag; the invocation was given by Commissioner Britton.
AGENDA. MSP Britton/Myers -- to accept the agenda as presented with Britton’s update on Canyon Meadows Dam.
CANYON MEADOWS DAM. Britton has been working on Canyon Meadows Dam and understands ODF&W is willing to let the county invest in the dam to see if it can possibly be fixed. Britton has talked with Doug Ferguson of Ferguson Surveying & Engineering and Oregon Water Resources Dam Inspector Keith Mills who are on board with a proposal to excavate to see what is actually there. Britton said Doug Ferguson is working up a budget which Britton felt would be less expensive than the previous estimate by the state. He plans to bring more information to the court when that’s available. Britton said it would primarily be a recreation dam. Britton asked if there were any questions.
Jim Sproul felt it might be helpful to obtain the old engineering reports about earlier construction of the reservoir that are available.
Assessor Lane Burton asked Britton to identify who he has support from on this. Britton said that ODF&W and Doug Ferguson support this and he has not heard anyone through the county say they don’t like the idea of resurrecting the dam.
In response to Labhart’s inquiry, Britton provided background on ODF&W’s ownership of the dam and previous inspections and studies that had been conducted. He remarked on a previous proposal for ODF&W to give the dam to the county to alleviate the state’s liability. He noted that the dam is located on Forest Service property. Britton suggested letting OPRD manage this recreational resource if it can become operational.
Myers attended a City of John Day and School District No. 3 meeting last Thursday to initiate discussion on the possibility of extending 3rd Street to the 7th Street complex with a bridge across the river which might be possible in FY 17-18. JC Oliver suggested adding a foot bridge that could be used to alleviate street congestion during fair.
Labhart commented on the county’s Christmas Potluck last Wednesday. He had lunch at the John Day Senior Center and attended a hospital board meeting last Thursday. Friday he attended the Blue Mountain Care Center Christmas party and Bob Houser’s retirement party. Monday he had a RCAC meeting in Pendleton and met with Brooks Smith to get information on how road closures were handled when he was Forest Ranger. Next Monday he will attend a Blue Mountain Hospital Employees Appreciation open house.
MINUTES. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to approve the December 17 minutes as amended. During minutes review some discussion took place about a proposal that ODOT and DEQ would like to see completed i.e. constructing an animal waste composting facility in the county similar to the model located in Heppner. Brief discussion took place about wolves. JC Oliver mentioned it would probably be beneficial if private landowners would have access to such a facility.
STOCKGROWERS. JC Oliver introduced President Alec Oliver and Vice President Justin Galbraith who are new officers for the Stock Growers Association. Melissa Helmet is the new Secretary-Treasurer.
HAND CHECK. The court reviewed and approved an $877.62 hand check issued to OTEC December 18 for the relocation of a meter on Eagle Peak. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to approve the hand check that was sent to OTEC.
MONUMENT RURAL FIRE DISTRICT. The court, as trustees of the Monument Rural Fire District, signed a Joinder to Trust Agreement to continue the district’s liability insurance with WHA Insurance beyond January 1, 2015 and until February 2015. As trustees, the court will be conducting the district’s liquidation process (Findings of Fact and Plan of Dissolution) over the next three weeks. MSP: Myers/ Labhart – to authorize Judge Myers to sign the Joinder to Trust Agreement as presented.
PUBLIC ACCESS ADVISORY BOARD. The board met last Friday and made a recommendation to the court today about the Forest Supervisor’s intent to move forward with signing CFRs in January. The board unanimously felt this action, and the CFR Order signed September 30, 2014 by then Forest Supervisor Teresa Raaf, are in direct violation of Grant County Ordinance 2013-01. The board recommended the court advise the Forest Supervisor not to sign the proposed CFR closure and consider retracting the CFR Order signed September 30, 2014. Board members present today were Jim Sproul, Billie Jo George, Tom McHatton, Howard Gieger and Judy Kerr. Copies of the board’s November 6 meeting minutes and the September 30, 2014 MNF Order had been given to the court.
Chair Jim Sproul reported on the board’s December 16 meeting with the Forest Service about possible access issues on the Magone Project. At that time the board learned of the forest’s intent to sign CFR’s in January. The board posed questions -- 1.) If and when was the court informed of the September 30, 2014 action? 2.) If informed, why was the board and the public not informed of that decision? 3.) What does the court intend to do to rectify the situation?
King Williams was confused about the Forest Service signing the CFR (Code of Federal Regulation). He didn’t think our local Supervisor would sign a CFR, only Orders pursuant to a CFR. He questioned which NEPA documents were referenced in relation to closure of the roads.
Myers didn’t remember being brought into discussions on closures on the south end. He thought most of those decisions were made prior to our Ordinance. Sproul felt any modification/restriction would be in violation of the Ordinance.
Forest Supervisor Steve Beverlin believed the Order signed September 30, 2014 pertained to Harney County. He identified the NEPA documents cited in the Order – Badger, Beaver Rock, Blade, Boundary, Buck Springs, Calamity, Cove, Cove Beaver Dam, Cow Cabin Salvage, Crater, Dairy Road, Dairy, Driveway Eagley, Gabe, Green Ant, Boardman Jane, Joaquin Miller, Juaquin Sale, Jordon Springs, Malheur Travel, Marshall Divine, Mineral, Myrtle Park, Ochoco, Ochoco Travel Plan 92, Parasol, Pine Springs, Crater, Silvies, Tin Can, Upper Pine, W-2, Wallow. Sproul said the board was not going to discuss Harney County; however, some of these roads either originate or travel into Grant County.
Beverlin said the FS would review the Order signed September 30 to see if any of those roads are in Grant County and then bring those to the court.
Sproul asked Beverlin if it was still his intent to sign CFR’s in January. He quoted from the document the board presented to the court today to clarify -- “Forest Closure Order should reference NEPA document and rational for the closure.” Beverlin said the intent was to follow that CFR process. He talked about signing the Order that allows the FS to enforce those closures and the forest’s intent to bring that to the court. In response to Sproul’s question, Beverlin said he that NEPA documents have a shelf life for as long as they remain viable, with no significantly changed conditions.
Billie Jo George asked about the public involvement requirement. She understood the public was not asked to participate in this process. Beverlin explained that the posting date on the document means that is when it is made available to the public at the front desk. He was not sure if the News Release has been made available yet or not.
Judy Kerr understood District Officers are expected to also post a visible signage of the reason for closure at the site of closure. Beverlin believed that was correct and that was their intent. Kerr said considering the limited FS budget that’s a very a large endeavor. Beverlin referred back to the Order signed September 30 which is additive based on additionally completed NEPA and encompasses decisions that were made a long time back. Beverlin said he preferred stand-alone orders for each project so the process can be followed more easily. Kerr sought and received information from Beverlin about much earlier closures that she understood may have been additive.
Britton thanked Beverlin for coming here today and being so forthcoming. He wondered if, perhaps, Forest Supervisors previous to Teresa Raaf and Steve Beverlin didn’t do their job with these old CFR decisions. Britton didn’t think Beverlin should have to be coming forward now with these old decisions just being signed now. Beverlin explained that the FS is now trying to be more timely with this process and engage the public. Britton also asked about the FS’s similar engagement with Harney County.
Myers believed Mr. Beverlin would keep his word and give the county the opportunity to voice its concerns within this process. He felt if all parties are willing for this to work within the process then it will work. Myers honestly believed the FS would follow the process and offer our participation in that process. He felt, given time, we may see a different result than we’ve seen from past Supervisors. Myers pointed out that Mr. Beverlin has heard the concern and is committed to go back and review those roads listed in the Order to see if any of them in the southern area are in Grant County. At that point that information will be presented to the court for engagement with the board and we’ll see where we will go forward, if that is the case. He clarified that the he will not sign CFRs in January, but will get started reviewing those roads in January.
Tom McHatton was interested in looking back at all of those NEPA documents to see if they were posted, because he does not recall any public notice. Beverlin explained the FS cannot legally enforce a NEPA decision road closure until the CFR Closure Order is signed.
Britton remarked on all of the changes, especially from a forest health perspective on the forest, and interaction within the community since 1990. He suggested that the previous NEPA process may no longer be valid.
King Williams remarked on the good interactions at this forum today which the board had brought forward. He thought this has pointed out that the process of working together really works.
Billie Jo George had some concern. She had to initiate a FOIA request with the FS to get a copy of the document. George wondered why the document would be given to the Grant County board if all of the road closures were in Harney County. She thought that was wrong. She wanted the public to know that over 3,000 roads are listed in that document. Beverlin explained the Harney County roads document was given because the FOIA asked for the most recent CFR closure document.
Howard Gieger pointed out the county must abide by the Ordinance and, if the FS is going to close a road the board needs to know about it. Myers agreed and pointed out once again – this is all new for us and we’re all getting a feel for what’s going to work and what isn’t going to work. Myers thought it will work -- as long as we all can get along and honor requests when they are made appropriately. He felt it would get better yet than it is currently. Gieger hoped the parties could all work together too; he also hoped we aren’t already on a slippery slope. He would like to see the court write a letter to Mr. Beverlin requesting that he either review or rescind the September 30 Order, and allow the board and the court to review these documents.
Nicky Sprauve asked about the county’s process for enforcing violations of the Ordinance. Myers indicated that we don’t know that at this point and the Ordinance does not address enforcement. He felt that enforcement may be something that County Counsel could address. Myers added that we are here today to try to mitigate any violation of the Ordinance.
King Williams felt the Ordinance was like any of the rules the FS is required to follow. He explained the legal process that’s currently in place if someone were to file an objection against the FS.
Comments were made among the attendees about legal processes available and the current interactive forum we have now which is needed to remedy this situation. Labhart noted that the process used for Galena worked; he hopes that process works the same way for Magone and Big Mosquito.
PUBLIC COMMENT. An opportunity for comment was given, but none was offered.
11:50am -- Adjourned
Respectfully Submitted, Mary R. Ferrioli
County Court Secretary