Grant County Court minutes from Sept. 21, 2016:
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, Administrative Assistant Laurie Wright, Jim Spell, Rob Stewart, Dennis Hopkins, Craig Palmer, Charlotte Hopkins, Jim Sproul, Mary Ellen Brooks, Rob Seaver, Mike Cosgrove, and Pastor Flora Cheadle. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Cheadle. 9:03 am Judy Kerr entered.
CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims.
AGENDA. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to remove from the agenda Item B – the bid opening for the PA system for the fairgrounds. There is confusion regarding the bid advertisement. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to accept the amended agenda.
ANNOUNCEMENTS. Commissioner Labhart chaired the Senior Citizen Board of Director’s meeting last Monday, will be attending an LCAC meeting at noon today and also a Chamber of Commerce meeting at 5 pm today at the Elks Lodge. Labhart will drive the VA Van to Boise tomorrow and on Monday he will attend a Regional Community Advisory Council meeting in Enterprise.
Judge Myers attended the last meeting regarding Bates Pond last Thursday and advised a consensus was not reached as one unidentified individual did not agree with the rest of the group. Myers said FirePro was here on Monday and Tuesday testing the fire suppression equipment in the county buildings and will return on the 28th to test the courthouse alarm system. The Secretary of State will be at the courthouse at 1:30 on the 28th as well.
9:12 am Editor Sean Hart entered.
Myers reported there will be a walking tour on the Oxbow on the Middle Fork, but he doesn’t plan to attend. On Friday Myers will attend a District 1 meeting in Baker City.
Commissioner Britton attended the Blue Mountain Forest Partners meeting last Thursday and said the BMFP were disappointed they didn’t have more of a turnout for the field trip they took to view possible road closures in the Camp Lick Area. Britton also went to the Bates Pond meeting and commended Myers on his patience. Britton stated Watermaster Eric Julsrud did a very good job at the meeting and Britton believes since a consensus was not reached this would be a good time for the county to offer alternatives to the pond issue. Next week Britton will attend a SEACT meeting in Burns.
9:15 am Kara Kohlfield entered.
MINUTES. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve the September 14th minutes as amended.
PUBLIC HEARING – AMBULANCE SERVICE AREA. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to open the public hearing for the ambulance service area. Kara Kohlfield, Blue Mountain Hospital District EMS Director introduced herself and presented a proposed Ambulance Service Area Plan (ASA) to the court.
9:22 am Reporter Logan Bagett entered.
Kohlfield explained how the ambulance service area works in a rural county. Kohlfield stated nothing has really changed with the ASA other than she provided clarification regarding volunteers. There is an ASA in place currently, but Kohlfield said one must be completed every 5 years and the ASA presented is the general format used by the State. Myers advised this was being handled as an emergency based on County Counsel Ron Yockim’s recommendation so this ordinance can be put into place immediately. Kohlfield explained that if another franchise wanted to offer ambulance services they would need to be approved by the county court. Myers explained the process for public input to the audience. Britton asked Kohlfield to explain any changes with this plan and why it is being completed. Kohlfield said it is State mandated to have a plan in place and once approved by the county it must be sent to the State for final approval. Kohlfield plans on updating the current maps to clean them up and said she had to make some adjustments for Dayville and Mt. Vernon due to the loss of EMT’s in those areas. The John Day ambulance responds to Dayville and Mt. Vernon now. Kohlfield explained the process for volunteers to become certified and the different options along with incentives the hospital provides. Volunteers are paid for calls they go on, but can choose to waive payment.
9:36 am Dave Traylor entered.
Kohlfield further explained what the ASA covers. Copies of the ordinance were handed out to the audience. Labhart pointed out this agreement does not address staffing, just the area served by emergency services.
1st round in-favor: No response was offered. Kohlfield reiterated the ASA is a State requirement that explains the service area and how it is covered, including ambulance maintenance and insurance. The ASA does not address staffing issues.
1st round opposed: Jim Sproul asked if this agreement provided one sole provider. Myers believes another franchise could come here with court approval. Dennis Hopkins feels like the county is too big for the hospital district to serve and they are not doing a good job. Mary Ellen Brooks doesn’t think an open franchise is going to help because of the distances that must be traveled. Kohlfield replied the ambulance service has mutual aid agreements in place with surrounding counties. Discussion was held regarding how the ambulances are funded. Rob Stewart feels there is a huge volunteer issue here and the hospital should be actively recruiting for volunteers. Kohlfield advised the hospital has no control over the rules and regulations regarding EMT certification and a lot of people choose not to volunteer once they realize what is involved in order to become certified. Kohlfield said if the ASA wasn’t adopted she believes the State would then get involved.
2nd round in-favor: Jim Spell requested clarification regarding “threatened failure of services” and if not having EMT’s in outlying areas would fall under this category. Spell stated he is not advocating one way or another, but he does think this could be utilized to address current EMT issues. Kohlfield said no other franchises are interested in coming here. Mike Cosgrove stated this is just an agreement for a service area and he supports the ordinance.
9:55 am Steve Parsons entered.
2nd round opposed: Dennis Hopkins said the time it takes to get to his house is not adequate and he is against the ordinance because the ambulance is not doing a good job. Myers pointed out this ordinance does not address response times. Jim Sproul stated when you are discussing a sole provider you must address response times. Myers advised the ASA must be in place before anyone else could come into the county because the agreement defines the borders of the ASA and without the ordinance the process cannot move forward. Kohlfield explained mutual aid agreements in place with surrounding counties and these remain in place even without the ASA.
3rd round in-favor: Jim Spell supports the ASA with the understanding this is a mechanism to address issues brought before the court. Craig Palmer agrees with Spell. Mary Ellen Brooks supports the ASA as long as Blue Mountain Hospital does a better job supporting its volunteers and assisting them with costs. Britton asked if it would help the hospital if the court reached out to BMCC to request them to not require the 6 person minimum for EMT classes. Cosgrove pointed out the Stewart Scholarship could be an avenue for people to apply for. Labhart stated money is not the problem, staffing is because people don’t want to get involved.
3rd round opposed: Dennis Hopkins is still opposed and believes the county is too large for one entity to cover and make decisions that are good for all.
MSP: Myers/Labhart – to close the public hearing and deliberate toward a decision.
The court discussed the ASA and need for advisory committee members appointed by the court.
MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to rescind Ordinance 2010-02 and to approve the Ambulance Service Area Plan, and to approve Ordinance 2016-02 as an emergency and circulate for signatures.
FAIRGROUNDS PA SYSTEM BIDS. Britton advised he asked Steve Parsons to attend court today to discuss his concerns with the electrical bid process at the fairgrounds. Parsons said he did not see the advertisement in the newspaper for the PA system last week and believes it was pulled after the fair board met. Parsons went through his concerns regarding the specifications listed on the bid sheet and stated he would hold the county court personally responsible for potential violations of Oregon statutes. Parsons explained different problems he sees with the specifications and confusion regarding who is providing what services. Myers stated because the bid was advertised the court must open it today and decide what to do. Parsons created a drawing approximately 4 months ago and gave it to the Fair Manager showing necessary specifications. It was pointed out the bid should have been sealed and not emailed as the invitation to bid stated. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to reject the bid for cause. Parsons added the costs for the reader boards and PA system are much higher than originally quoted three years ago and said he budgeted $45,000 just for the electrical when this process started.
10:35 am Dan Becker entered.
WINDOW CLEANING SERVICES BIDS. Myers opened bids to provide window cleaning services to the county buildings. Two bids were received, one from Hoffman’s Yes We Do Cleaning, and one from Wes’ Window Cleaning Service. Hoffman’s bid was in the amount of $2985, and Wes’ bid was in the amount of $4,610. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to award the window cleaning contract to Hoffman’s Yes We Do Cleaning in the amount of $2,985.
MONUMENT RURAL FIRE DISTRICT EQUIPMENT. The court discussed the distribution of the remaining equipment of the Monument Rural Fire District (MRFD). The distribution can now take place since the MRFD has been officially dissolved. Myers explained the background to those in attendance of how the court became involved with MRFD. Myers said he contacted the two entities that donated fire trucks. Prairie City would like the fire engine they donated returned to them and Cloverdale would like the fire engine they donated given to a fire department in need. Myers would recommend equipment donated to or acquired by MRFD be donated to the City of Monument Fire Department and to encourage Monument City Fire to donate items they don’t need to other fire departments. Britton agreed with Myers that this would be a good solution. Myers would also like the fuel tank currently stored at the road department to be returned to Monument City Fire. MSP: Myers/Britton – to return the fire engine to Prairie City and to donate the remaining equipment to Monument City Fire Department, including the fuel tank currently at the road department.
UNEMPLOYMENT MANAGEMENT SERVICES. The court reviewed a proposal submitted by Jeff Lawrence of The Lawrence Company to provide unemployment management services to Grant County. The County currently utilizes Equifax for these services. Myers explained these services are to assist with unemployment claim tracking and possible litigation. The current cost with Equifax is $300 per quarter and Lawrence is proposing providing this for $400 per year. MSP: Myers/Britton – to accept the Lawrence Company proposal to provide unemployment management services to Grant County after ensuring bids were not required. Myers and Britton voted yes, Labhart voted no because he thinks an RFP should have been completed for this.
10:47 am Mark Webb and Zach Williams entered.
EASTERN OREGON COUNTIES ASSOCIATION. The court discussed and reviewed the invoices submitted by the Eastern Oregon Counties Association for dues for fiscal year 16-17. Myers explained the EOCA has a lobbyist that works for renewal of PILT funding and SRS funding for rural schools. The invoices are in the amount of $10,800 for dues and $3,250 for debt retirement. Myers feels this is a question of what services we are getting for our money. Britton would like to talk to some members prior to deciding if the dues should be paid. Mark Webb asked if the road department or general fund would pay the dues and it is his belief the road department should pay for this as the road department benefits the most. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to authorize payment of the $3,250 debt retirement to be paid from road department funds.
LOCAL COMMUNITY ADVISORY COUNCIL. Three volunteer applications were received for the Local Community Advisory Council. Rhiannon Bauman , Cindy Kalin and Shelly Whale-Murphy have all requested appointment to the LCAC. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to approve the volunteer applications and appoint Rhiannon Bauman, Cindy Kalin and Shelly Whale-Murphy to the Local Community Advisory Council.
PUBLIC HEARING ZONE CHANGE ZC-16-02. 11:00 am MSP: Myers/Labhart – to open the public hearing and take a quick break. 11:07 am the court returned to session. Planning Director Hilary McNary opened the hearing and summarized the request for zone change submitted by Tom Buce. The request was submitted to the Planning Commission who recommended the zone change be presented for acceptance to the county court.
In-favor of zone change: Tom Buce advised he is here to answer any questions raised. Judy Kerr asked McNary to explain how this process works and McNary did so.
Jim Sproul asked where this zone change was located and Buce stated up Dick Creek and in this process he made sure the zoning change would not affect other landowners in the area. Myers said this is actually a more restrictive zoning than what the current zoning is. It is currently multiple use range and would change to primary forest.
Opposed: No one offered opposition testimony. Neutral: No one offered neutral testimony.
Since no opposition or neutral testimony was offered McNary advised the court they could now ask Buce any questions they may have, close the hearing and deliberate towards a decision.
Labhart asked Buce if he had considered power to the property and Buce advised he had, but the cost would be extremely high and not feasible. Myers asked McNary if there was any opposition at the planning commission meeting and McNary said there was not. MSP: Myers/Labhart – to close the public hearing. MSP: Labhart/Myers -- to approve zoning change ZC-16-02 for Tom Buce, changing the zoning from Multiple Use Range to Primary Forest.
PUBLIC COMMENT. Dave Traylor said the Blue Mountain Eagle has an article in it today stating the Grant County Public Forest Commission was nullified and he wants to know why the forest commission wasn’t notified about the hearing. Myers said the hearing was on the Circuit Court docket and he wasn’t notified either. Labhart advised he was in attendance at the hearing as was Judge Myers and county counsel defended the county court and the forest commission at the hearing. Mark Webb said no individual was allowed to testify because this was a summary judgment determination and explained how the process works. Webb also said if a measure is unconstitutional then it doesn’t matter how much voter approval a measure receives. Traylor asked if this meant any decisions the forest commission entered into in the past would be invalid. Webb believes once the order is signed any agreements made in the past by the forest commission would be nullified. Traylor said this shouldn’t be a problem as they did not enter into any binding agreements, just good faith agreements. Judy Kerr asked if a final decision was available and Webb stated not yet, but it will be publically available when completed. Webb reiterated the court decision was not based on how popular the measure was, what kind of voter approval it passed with, or how well motivated it was, it had to do with what the measure said and the constitutional requirements it had to meet. Any citizen could have brought this challenge to the court.
Kerr saw in the newspaper a prescribed burn was announced by the Forest Service near what was Squaw Creek and the name used in the announcement was different. Kerr asked Britton if the name change decisions had been made by the National Geographic Names Board and Britton said not yet, he is still fighting for the change to be Sullens Creek and Sullens Meadow, but the process takes time.
Webb wanted those in attendance to know the county court requested Ron Yockim to defend the Public Forest Commission and Yockim provided a vigorous defense of the forest commission, so any issues they might have should not be with the county court.
Rob Stewart is very concerned about the lack of ambulance service in the rural parts of the county and needs to be addressed. Britton believes the hospital is working on this, but they have rules and regulations they must follow as well. Labhart pointed out there are not enough volunteers to man the ambulances in the rural towns. Stewart has no problem with the ambulance service area, but he does agree there are problems with service in rural areas of the county. Labhart said this is being discussed at the meetings now. Mike Cosgrove explained the reason BMCC requires six students in a class is because they have to pay the instructor and if they have less than six students they lose money.
11:36 am -- Adjourned