Grant County Court minutes from Dec. 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, Beth Spell, Judy Schuette, Jim Spell, Jim Sproul, Judy Kerr, Reporter Rylan Boggs, and Pastor Wes Aasness. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Aasness.
9:01 am Pat Holliday and Reporter Logan Bagett entered. 9:04 am Elaine Eisenbraun, Amy Charette and Allen Gillette entered.
CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims and extension district warrants #248-252.
AGENDA. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to accept the agenda as presented.
ANNOUNCEMENTS. Commissioner Britton attended a TEC board meeting last week.
Judge Myers assisted with Veteran Services Officer interviews on December 16th and advised Jeff Wilcox was hired and will start on January 9th. Today he will conduct an employee evaluation and name change hearing.
Commissioner Labhart drove the VA van to Boise last Thursday and gave presents out at the care center in Prairie City last Friday. On Monday Labhart attended a Regional Community Advisory Council in Boardman. Labhart will be leaving court this morning to attend Joan Bowling’s funeral and this afternoon will go to the DA’s office to say goodbye to DDA Matt Ipson and welcome new DDA Mara Houck. Tomorrow Labhart will attend the Christmas dinner at the John Day Senior Citizens Center and thanked Boyd and Bonnie Britton for sponsoring the dinner.
MINUTES. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to approve the December 14th minutes as presented.
EXTENSION OFFICE INTERNET SERVICE. The court reviewed an agreement with Oregon Telephone Corporation to provide internet service to the Extension Office. Myers explained the change was due to the need for increased internet speed and less internal internet filters. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to approve the agreement with Oregon Telephone Corporation and authorize Judge Myers to sign.
RESOLUTION 16-29. Treasurer Kathy Smith submitted Resolution 16-29 to the court for approval. The resolution created a new budget line item for the Assessor’s Office for the maintenance agreement for the new copy machine in the office. MSP: Labhart/Myers -- to approve Resolution 16-29 as presented and circulate for signatures.
C-2 PROPERTY LEASE AMENDMENT. The court reviewed Amendment 7 to the C-2 Property Lease for the old road department building and lot located at 323 S. Humbolt in Canyon City. The amendment extends the lease agreement to June 30, 2017. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve Amendment 7 to the C-2 Property Lease and circulate for signatures.
NORTH FORK JOHN DAY WATERSHED COUNCIL. Elaine Eisenbraun presented a year end update to the court regarding the North Fork John Day Watershed Council. Eisenbraun said they had a phenomenal year and had a record gross revenue year along with hiring a record number of youth. Eisenbraun presented a hand out to the court giving an overview of 2016 activities and gave examples of some of the projects they completed over the course of the year.
9:18 am Valeen Madden entered.
Labhart expressed his concern with possible funding issues next year and said he intends to keep fighting for funding even after he is out of office. Valeen Madden explained how a typical restoration project is developed and implemented. Eisenbraun gave examples of how funding works for projects.
The watershed council is currently doing work beyond its boundaries and Eisenbraun advised they contacted some landowners and received very positive responses to the expansion. She said the expansion has been done, but without court approval OWEB won’t recognize the expansion.
9:32 am Steve Beverlin entered.
Eisenbraun requested court approval of the expansion. Labhart asked for audience input. Pat Holliday would like it on the record that as a landowner she is opposed to the expansion and sees no new benefits or services that are not already provided. Holliday added she has nothing against the watershed council, but is concerned the board won’t include a member from the expansion area and also the effect on production/agriculture. Eisenbraun explained the current make up of the board and by-laws of the council and said the by-laws require the board to be diversified and have members from each area. Myers stated in his opinion offering a letter of support at this time might not be a good idea and suggested a letter could be drafted saying the court doesn’t oppose the expansion instead of being in support of it. Britton doesn’t see the benefit in the court signing a letter of support since the watershed council has already expanded and isn’t convinced the expansion is in everyone’s best interest. Labhart asked if not recognizing the boundaries affected funding. Eisenbraun said it would. The watershed won’t receive more funding than it currently receives. Labhart agreed with Judge Myers about drafting a letter saying the court doesn’t oppose the expansion. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to prepare a letter stating the court does not oppose the expansion with legal review. Britton said he would support the letter as long as it doesn’t approve the boundary expansion. Myers and Labhart voted yes and Britton voted no as he would like this discussion to be tabled and looked into further.
9:55 am Joe Rausch, Erik Romstad, Colleen Malaney, Amy Mathis, Tony Bertel, Sarah Bush, Justin Hadwen, Hazel Owens, Angie Yost and Kathy Schnider entered. 9:59 am Mark Webb entered
PRAIRIE CITY RANGER DISTRICT. Acting District Ranger Joe Rausch presented the Summit Creek Restoration Project to the court. Rausch asked his staff to introduce themselves. Rausch advised this is the environmental assessment portion of the project and encouraged input. A PowerPoint presentation was presented giving an overview of the project. The proposed commercial thinning, riparian treatments and prescribed burns were explained. Rausch intends to contact all grazing permit holders within the project boundary to get their input and explain the project. He said the intent is to improve grazing while getting cattle to move away from riparian areas. Britton stated he is pleased grazing permit holders will be contacted. Proposed road maintenance, construction, decommissioning and closures were explained. Rausch explained a closed road can be reopened in the future if necessary, but a decommissioned road is eliminated completely. Public comment will be accepted regarding the project for the next 30 days. Project information is available online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=42450. Forest Supervisor Steve Beverlin explained the possible funding sources for the project. Labhart told Rausch he also appreciated the fact that the grazing permit holders would be contacted and involved.
DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY TRAINING. District Attorney Jim Carpenter sent a written request to the court for approval to send new Deputy District Attorney Mara Houck to the Justice Reinvestment Training in Salem. Normally Carpenter would attend this training, but this year would like to send Houck in his place. The program covers the lodging expense. Carpenter requested approval of approximately $300 to cover the cost of meals and mileage. This would be paid from the District Attorney’s travel/training budget. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to approve Houck attending the training and authorize meals and mileage expenses to be paid from the DA’s travel/training budget.
10:30 am The court took a short break and Commissioner Labhart left to attend a funeral.
10:38 am Allan Mullin and Jason Kehrberg entered.
10:41 am The court returned to session.
ZONE 1 LANDS. Allan Mullin and Mark Webb requested court approval of a Zone 1 Fire Protection Plan for Mullin’s property. Grant Soil & Water Conservation District Manager Jason Kehrberg advised GSWCD just received a 1.2 million dollar grant. The grant will be used for treatments of approximately 6000 acres of commercial thinning and 2000 acres of juniper treatment. Kehrberg advised Blue Mountain Forest Partners and the Oregon Department of Forestry assisted with acquisition of the grant. Britton said he had a discussion with ODF regarding Zone 1 lands and he encouraged ODF to work with landowners regarding fire protection. Britton thinks ODF continues to be willing to discuss this issue. Mullin stated he would be better able to treat his land if he could burn after treatment with the assistance of ODF. Britton wanted it on the record that he and Mullin have a business relationship and he sells items to Mullin. Myers advised both of his sons work for ODF as firefighters. Webb feels there is a lot of frustration with ODF fire management in the county. Myers said he sent Webb and Mullin’s questions to Ron Yockim for review. Webb read ORS 476.310(2) aloud and advised he and Mullin are following statute in providing a fire protection plan for his land. Mullin’s would like to have the fire protection plan approved by the court today. Discussion followed regarding Mullin’s plan. Webb said the equipment and resources in Mullin’s plan exceed those of ODF. If the plan is approved ODF would need to be notified so the Zone 1 assessment stops for Mullin’s land. Mullin believes in the future the county court should develop criteria for landowners to meet with regard to fire protection plans for Zone 1 lands.
11:19 am King Williams and Ken Holliday entered.
Britton would like more detail in the fire protection plan presented by Mullin. Ken Holliday said Zone 1 landowners need a form of redress because the Zone 1 assessment seems to be taxation without representation. Webb believes Zone 1 lands allow landowners some leverage with ODF per state statutes. Myers and Britton decided to table this discussion until next week’s court date. Discussion continued regarding statutory requirements of Zone 1 lands, possible liability issues and the benefits and drawbacks of having Zone 1 lands in the county. Myers said county counsel has been contacted and will render services to the county (not Webb or Mullin) regarding this issue. Britton said no answer would be coming from the court today and Mullin stated this is what he has come to expect from government. (A lot of laughter followed Mullin’s statement).
PUBLIC COMMENT. Jim Sproul requested a list of the people Elaine Eisenbraun presented to the court that did not object to the expansion of the North Fork John Day Watershed Council. Myers said he would attempt to get the list. Webb said he was contacted by the NFJD Watershed Council and all he was asked was if he was opposed to the expansion, not if he supported it. King Williams advised he received the same question from the NFJDWC. Britton introduced Jordan Noyes from Senator Greg Walden’s office. Noyes said it is an exciting time and they are gearing up for the new congress. Noyes also said it has been fairly silent with regard to the Owyhee National Monument issue. Judy Kerr wished the court a Merry Christmas. Myers thanked everyone for their attendance and wished everyone a Merry Christmas.
11:54 am -- Adjourned