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County Court minutes

Published on October 29, 2015 4:56PM

Last changed on October 30, 2015 8:53AM


Access the County Court Agenda and approved Minutes on the Commissioner’s page at www.gcoregonlive2.com

OCTOBER 21, 2015

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, Frances Preston, Jim Sproul, Billie Jo George, Judy Kerr, Doug Ferguson, Lena Varley, Bruce Ward, Brooks Smith, Larry Blasing, Dave Traylor, Scott Fairley, Angel Carpenter and Pastor Ron Roberson. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Roberson.

CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims and Extension District Warrant Nos. 46-52

AGENDA. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to accept the agenda with discussion on the Vance Creek Culvert replacement; a letter to agencies from legal counsel about the Sheriff’s Public Lands Natural Resources Plan, a letter from the court to the agencies Sheriff Palmer’s went to, and 12-week Emergency Manager appointment.


Britton said he was mistaken last week about the National Board on Geographic Names accepting the county’s recommended names. (It has not been adopted yet.) He was in Baker County yesterday and chatted with Commissioner Bill Harvey about geographic names in his county. Britton had various meetings recently with Scott Fairley and Doug Ferguson; he felt last Thursday’s public meeting on the Canyon Creek Channel had been done well by Mr. Ferguson.

Myers attended the Canyon Creek Channel meeting Thursday evening and helped with Victim Assistance Program Director interviews in the morning. Friday morning at the airport he helped with Airport Attendant interviews. Monday he participated in a Juniper Ridge Acute Care Center exercise yard site visit. Tuesday he had a conference call with ODOT about finding alternative travel routes for the Vance Creek culvert project. He will participate in a meeting tomorrow with permitting agencies about Canyon Creek Channel Rehab. Yesterday he toured Dry Soda Lookout and Miller Mountain with NOAA rep Marilyn Lowman to look at potential sites for portable solar powered rain gauges connected to a satellite.

9:10 am -- Les Percy, Corry Rider, Shannon Springer, Caleb Maplesden, King Williams, Zach Williams, Brenda Percy and a New Reporter Kyle Spurr entered

Labhart also felt Doug Ferguson did an excellent job at the Canyon Creek Channel Rehab Project meeting at GUHS Thursday evening. Monday he toured the Juniper Ridge Acute Care exercise yard then attended a recreational facilities planning meeting Tuesday. Tomorrow he will participate in OSU Open Campus interviews at the ESD and present EOCCO Local Community Advisory Committee information to the Blue Mountain Hospital board. Monday Labhart will be in Pendleton for the EOCCO board meeting. Next week Labhart will be absent from court to Elk hunt with his family. He displayed and explained his NOAA weather radio that he uses associated with Red Cross.

MINUTES. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve the October 14 minutes as presented

CANYON CREEK CHANNEL REHAB. Doug Ferguson (Ferguson Surveying & Engineering) updated the court on the Canyon Creek Channel Rehabilitation Project. Last week property owners received a letter about the county’s proposal to construct a temporary emergency flood berm along the banks of Canyon Creek from the southerly city limits of the Town of Canyon City to the confluence of the John Day River. The letter is notice that Ferguson Surveying and Engineering will be performing field survey work on or near landowners’ property, looking at special conditions, and doing preliminary staking of the location and height of the berm. Some discussion followed about an incorrect phone number on the meeting notice that was corrected in a subsequent Planning Department mailing. Ferguson and Labhart talked about a need to coordinate with local contractors on what/when work is needed. Ferguson talked about how contracts can be developed with local contractors. Treasurer Kathy Smith pointed out we are moving forward without a funding source being identified (other than for Road Department employees). Britton felt the funding source could be identified once a legal opinion is received from county counsel. It was noted that conversations have been going on about reimbursement through OEM an FEMA. Ferguson felt it is very important to keep moving on available funding. Myers thought liability for volunteers was also an issue to be kept in mind. He added that the county has registered its volunteers who are covered under the county’s policy. Tomorrow Myers will attend a meeting with permitting agencies.

9:30 am – OSP Officer Tom Hutchison, Jesse Madden, and Michael Madden entered

Dave Traylor suggested making an emergency declaration; however, state representative Scott Fairley and Doug Ferguson felt it was not needed for the short term project. Fairley added that any funding could possibly come from the federal government. The possibility of severe flash flooding was discussed. Ferguson thought debris dams could be a factor and said all we can do is prepare now as best we can for the possible degree of risk. In-stream flow gauges and weather monitoring alert systems were discussed as well as the effects of a catastrophic 100-year flood.

PLANNING COMMISSION. The court accepted the resignation of Carolyn Mullin from the Planning Commission. Planning Director Hilary McNary had recommended that the senior alternate Steve Parsons be promoted to the regular position that Mullin vacated. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to accept the resignation of Carolyn Mullin and send a letter of thanks, plus move senior alternate Steve Parsons to the regular position vacated by Mullin as recommended by the Planning Director.

RESOLUTION. The court considered a resolution Placing Responsibility for Unhealthy Federal Forest Lands Conditions on Those Persons (President of the United States, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives) Most Responsible for Untenable National Forest Policies. Myers had concern about possibly losing what leverage we have at the local level by “putting it all” on Washington DC. Britton named all of Senate and House delegates who are working hard to represent our issues. He felt only identifying the President of the United States and the Secretary of Agriculture was better. Labhart agrees Congress is not doing anything and said the President does not set policy for agencies.

MSP: Myers/Britton -- to decline signing the resolution as presented with the possibility of drafting another one based on the discussion.

WOLVES. Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife met in Florence October 16 and is soliciting comments about the potential delisting of wolves in Oregon. The Commission will consider three options at their next meeting in Salem November 9 -- to delist wolves for all of Oregon, to delist wolves only in eastern Oregon, and to not delist wolves (no action). The court talked about submitting comments on this proposed action. Labhart supported delisting for all of Oregon. Myers agreed and noted the state is attempting to move away from the Wolf Plan. He said legal counsel could draft the court’s comments and he plans to attend the ODF&W Commission meeting in Salem November 9. In response to Britton’s inquiry, OSP Officer Tom Hutchinson provided information about how a recent incident involving a person who shot a wolf (without intent) in Grant County is being handled. There was some discussion about the county’s 2003 Ordinance Prohibiting the Keeping of Exotic Animals.

SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET HEARING. At 10:00 am a Supplemental Budget Hearing was held to consider funding for Community Addictions and Mental Health Services in the total amount of $649,100 that includes $600 SE03 administration; $165,000 mental health; $65,000 alcohol & drugs; $65,000 prevention; $15,000 gambling prevention; $20,000 gambling treatment; $90,000 DD02 administration; $90,000 target case management; and $60,000 DD55 APS. Myers said during the budget process the state had not informed the county of these pass-through funds. Treasurer Kathy Smith reviewed the summary of proposed budget changes and explained the State of Oregon now requires this funding to pass through the governmental agency for mental health services. The county does not receive an administrative fee. Labhart opened the hearing. Myers recited the resolution in its entirety. No comment was received. MSP: Labhart/Myers – to close the budget hearing. MSP: Labhart/Myers – to adopt Resolution 15-22 in the amount of $649,100.

COMMUNITY CONNECTION. The court reviewed and signed a 2015-2017 Contract with Community Connection of Northeast Oregon to provide for District 13 Type-A planning and services to senior citizens residing in Grant County. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to allow Judge Myers to sign the Contract between Community Connection of Northeast Oregon, Inc and Grant County for 2015-2017.

SNOW REMOVAL. The court reviewed and signed a 2015-2016 as provided by the Road Department. It is the fifth year of a 5-year extension option with a $92.54 per hour rate like last year. MSP: Labhart/ Myers -- to sign the Contract Renewal for Snow Removal on Grant CR 24 and Baker CR 502 with Iron Triangle, LLC

10:10 am -- The meeting was relocated to the Canyon City Community Hall (upstairs) to accommodate the large number of people wishing to attend. Those present were Richard Gray, Tom Hutchinson, Zach Mobley, Ken Olson, John Bremner, David Thunnell, Ron Morgan, King Williams, Russ Young, Zach Williams, Brad Armstrong, Rich Fulton, Ken Kulis, Gloria Kulis, Mike Springer, Corry Rider, Brenda Percy, Les Percy, Jason Kehrberg, Michael Madden, Jesse Madden, Shaun Robertson, Dan Bishop, Shannon Winegar, Rod Winegar, Jason Hatfield, Bob Phillips, Alysia Hafer, Larry Blasing, Gregg Haberly, Byron Haberly, Dave Gunderson, Terry Justin-Griffith, Doug Ferguson, Jody Smith, Kyle Spurr, Angel Carpenter, Steve Beverlin, Ryan Nehl, Cliff Bentz, Frances M. Preston, Judy Kerr, Elaine Smith, Caleb Maplesden, Jim Sproul, Jay Carniglia, Ken Holliday, Brenda Bateman, Brett Brownscombe, Scott Fairley, and Bruce Eddy. NOTE: No audio recording is available for this meeting.

CANYON MEADOWS DAM. Governor’s Natural Resource Policy Advisor Brett Brownscombe, Eastern Region Regional Solutions Coordinator Scott Fairley, Bruce Eddy (ODFW) and Brenda Bateman (OWR) were scheduled to discuss the removal of Canyon Meadows Dam to reduce safety risks. Oregon House Representative Cliff Bentz was also present, along with the individuals identified above on page 3.

Canyon Meadows Dam is located on USFS ground and is owned by ODFW. It was built on a prehistoric landslide and there were leakage issues early-on. During the meeting several events were cited: (1997) OWR recommended opening the outlet gate, (2009) ODFW conducted an evaluation and held public meetings, (2010) ODFW proposed dam removal vs. repair based on the 2009 evaluation, and (2012) ODFW issued the most recent assessment report. State officials reported the cost of repairs and ongoing risk is high, especially with the condition of the dam. Risk management plans previously developed for safe removal of the dam had not been carried out, until now, due to the high intensity of the Canyon Creek Complex Fire. The removal plan has been approved by the Forest Service and is expected to be a 5-day process estimated to cost $200,000 at the most. It was mentioned that this dam is #1 among all high risk dams in Oregon. Post-fire downstream public safety concerns and increased uncertainly are driving factors at this time, plus a short weather window. Brett Brownscombe and agency representatives said the value of water impoundments is a new conversation that is taking place among state officials. Brenda Bateman referred to a county report from the 1990’s identifying other storage sites. She noted that OWR has a legislatively established grant program available for water storage projects. The state is committed to and has been providing important assistance in fire recovery and in the Canyon Creek Channel Rehab process, e.g. monitoring devices are underway to alert potential hazards. Brownscombe said the state will remain committed to assisting the county, regardless of what happens to the dam.

Three options were considered by the state: 1.) “Repair” was addressed in the 2012 report of assessment, but it is no longer prudent post-fire. 2.) “Convey” to county and let the county repair, but ODFW and DOJ have concerns about the forfeited water right and declaring surplus property. Federal land review, state and federal inspections of condition, permitting, and a liability transfer agreement are needed. There is no clear answer on liability transfer. 3.) “Notch” the dam, but it is too narrow to stabilize. Bruce Eddy questions whether the dam can attenuate / slow water. He said it would store some water and material, but the structure is “fragile” and the weak top would fail.

Court members expressed appreciation of the state’s ongoing support and assistance. They advocated for saving the dam, and asked for more time to look at it again and debate its condition. The county wants to save the dam and be part of the solution. Myers respectfully asked for a stay of action until we’re convinced or guaranteed there will be a replacement storage impoundment for the county. Brownscombe said “since the fire, time is not our friend.” Britton wondered if the state could lease the dam to the county, repair the existing dam, or construct a dam further upstream. He wanted to see the NEPA documents allowing removal of the dam. Britton called on Doug Ferguson (Ferguson Surveying & Engineering) to talk about the studies he conducted in 2009 and 2010 about potential “fixes. Ferguson said he had not seen the state’s 2012 assessment report, and so much is not known (to him) about the condition now (post-fire). He said he would prefer getting a new dam up stream. The court also voiced concern about finding a better alternate route on Hwy 395 during Vance Creek and Sheep Gulch culvert replacement. Scott Fairley planned to talk with Paul Woodworth (ODOT) about a bypass.

After state representatives and the County Court discussed removal of the dam to reduce safety risks, the audience was allowed to ask questions. Local rancher Ken Holliday talked about the huge loss of acreage that the county suffered as a result of the fire. He believed the county’s relationship with state agencies would be jeopardized if “we go backwards” on progress made with natural resources over the past several years. Shaun Robertson suggested the court put a stop to the action and wait for the state to approach the county on equal footing. He wanted to know what the process was to impound water at other sites. Bruce Ward thought it would be smart to cooperate on digging test holes this Monday (before Hwy 395 is closed) and then take the dam out if necessary – with a promise the county will get another water impoundment.

12:30 pm – The meeting recessed briefly for lunch before resuming in the Courthouse at 1 pm. All court members, the Court Secretary, Rob Stewart, Kathy Stinnett, Kathy Smith, King Williams, Zach Williams, Russ Young, Larry Blasing, Dan Bishop, Jesse Madden, Frances Preston, Jim Sproul, Steve Parsons, Elaine Smith, Billie Jo George, Judy Kerr, Brooks Smith, Caleb Maplesden, Steve Beverlin, Ryan Nehl, Eagle News Reporter and Kelly Workman (KJDY Radio) were present.

LIBRARY. Librarian Vicki Waters had asked for approval for Oregon Telephone Corporation to install and provide broadband Internet services at the library. The current Centurylink Internet connection is slow and inefficient and can hardly run 2 computers at once. OTC has fiber running in front of the library and can guarantee a faster download/upload speed. The OTC cost would be $85.90/month which is $40 higher than the Centurylink $49.95 monthly charge. Some additional equipment will be needed to network multiple computers and submit / strengthen the Wi-Fi signal that’s estimated to cost $405. The library budget can afford all of this expense, except for the $250 installation fee. Today, Treasurer Kathy Smith reported that Waters was able to get the one-time $250 fee reduced to $99. MSP: Britton /Myers -- to accept the librarian’s request for a new Internet provider.

EMERGENCY MANAGER. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to postpone discussion about appointing a temporary Emergency Management Coordinator until next week.

WORK SESSION. A work session was held at Commissioner Labhart’s recommendation to discuss coordination between the County Court, the County Sheriff and the Forest Service. Labhart sent a formal letter of invitation to Forest Supervisor Steve Beverlin and Sheriff Glenn Palmer last week. He asked for a work session because last week’s newspaper quoted the Sheriff saying “I ask for things from the Forest Service to do my job and I get the door shut in my face. I’m having a heck of a time getting out to do my job.” Beverlin and Palmer were asked to submit questions or concerns to the court before today. Sheriff Glenn Palmer did not submit questions and declined to come to the work session. Myers recited a letter previously provided by Mr. Beverlin in its entirety. The letter asks four questions about coordination that he feels have the most pressing need for clarification; he also says he’s hopeful the meeting will be the beginning of improved communication between the Malheur NF and the Sheriff’s Office.

• Did the court authorize the Sheriff to send the October 9, 2015 letter to the Chief, Regional Forester, and Forest Supervisor stating, “The Grant County Sheriff is pleased to advise you that Grant County, Oregon is asserting the coordination process with the U.S. Forest Service.” (NO)

• Does the Sheriff have statutory authority to represent or commit the county in such matters without county approval? (NO)

• Did county counsel review and approve the October 9, 2015 letter? (NO)

• The Sheriff stated in the letter that “This marks the first time our county has asked for coordination and has provided a County Public Lands Natural Resources Plan for that implementation of coordination.” Was the plan approved per public notification and other requirements set forth in state or federal statute? (NO)

Beverlin asked if the Forest Service is meeting the county’s needs and desires for engagement, and if other things would help how the Malheur moves the forest plan forward or engages in team communication. Myers believed the last 18 months or so of further inclusion early-on in the (forest’s) process has been very good. He also said staff has always been open and receptive to his questions. Britton was pleased with how the forest has performed with accelerated restoration and timber sales. He said we have a mill that’s running, people working, and some guarantee of product that will hopefully bring in people to take advantage of this resource. Britton felt the Malheur NF has been coordinating with the court well and doing excellent work along with BMFP. Labhart appreciates that the county has been having regular meetings with the Malheur over the past year or two. Labhart asked Beverlin if he is “shutting the door in the Sheriff’s face” when he comes to ask for things from the Forest Service. Beverlin said he has not -- he has tried diligently through emails, phone calls, letters, certified letters, and talking with other individuals in the county to try and encourage the Sheriff to meet with him, but he has declined to do so. Beverlin does not know how to coordinate with someone if they won’t talk to him. Labhart pointed out the Sheriff is an integral part of our Ordinance, along with the court members, but the Sheriff never shows up when the Malheur comes to coordinate on projects and the scoping process. Labhart does not understand why Palmer does not show up if he wants to be part of the process (as stated in the Ordinance). Beverlin has provided hard copies of documents specifically for Elk 16, Big Mosquito, and Wolf Vegetation projects to the Sheriff’s Office. He said he values the opinion and search & rescue ideas or whatever concerns the Sheriff would like to talk about. Labhart asked Beverlin how the Forest Patrol Contract had operated in the past and what happened to end that annual renewal. Beverlin said the Sheriff has declined to accept the contract the past two years. Myers described some elements of the forest patrol contract which would bring about $30,000 + to the county. Labhart and Beverlin talked about the forest’s inability to hire local people through the Sheriff’s Office to do road patrols on Forest Service land. Myers noted that some road guards had been provided during the fires in August. Britton felt the meeting should stop, as it’s unfair to continue when the Sheriff is not here. Britton suggested taking up this issue at a date and time certain when the Sheriff can assure the court of his participation. Myers agreed. Labhart recited a letter he received from Sheriff Palmer indicating, rather than coming to court, that he and Mr. Beverlin can sit down and talk about it. It was noted that has not taken place and is not happening. Britton hoped there’s an incentive now for the Sheriff to reach out to Mr. Beverlin. Myers offered the county’s assistance in facilitating a future meeting between Beverlin and the Sheriff. Beverlin appreciated the offer and the opportunity for a work session; he would continue to reach out to the Sheriff and include him to the extent he can. Labhart asked for and received approval from the court to make legal counsel’s draft opinion on the Sheriff’s Public Lands Natural Resources Plan available to the public. Labhart recited legal counsel’s summary statement of the opinion.

1:30 pm -- Adjourned

Respectfully Submitted,

Mary R. Ferrioli / County Court Secretary


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