Grant County Court minutes from Sept. 13, 2017:
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 Jim Hamsher and Boyd Britton, Administrative Assistant Laurie Wright, Katy Nelson, Representative Cliff Bentz, Dave Traylor, Doug Ferguson, Beth Spell, Reporter Logan Bagett, Alan Hickerson, Jim Sproul, Angie Jones, Judy Schuette, Gordon Larson, Judy Kerr, Billie Jo George, Elaine Eisenbraun, and Pastor David Hoeffner. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Hoeffner.
9:04 am Gail Beverlin entered.
CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims and extension district warrants # 29-38.
HAND CHECK. The court had approved one hand check for payment on August 30th and another hand check for payment on September 8th.
AGENDA. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to accept the agenda as amended. Kimberly Lindsay’s presentation was cancelled.
ANNOUNCEMENTS. Commissioner Britton said the highlight of his last couple of weeks was traveling to Ontario for the ceremonial signing of the transportation package. Britton thanked Rep. Bentz for his great work on the transportation package.
9:05 am Nick Green entered.
Britton reported he has had a lot of people stopping by his shop expressing concern with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and the amount of bow tags sold each year. Britton advised the audience there will be a “Meet and Greet” at the Elk’s Lodge today with DHS and encouraged those who might be interested in becoming foster parents to attend. Britton said he forgot to thank Emergency Management Coordinator Ted Williams for his great work during the eclipse. He also gave kudos to Deputy Clerk Brooke Griffith for her good work.
Commissioner Hamsher met with Representative Walden’s aide Tucker Billman and ranchers regarding grazing issues. He said Prairie City remains under full water restrictions. Hamsher worked on the Junior Rodeo and NPRA Rodeo and also attended the Queen’s Dance after the rodeo.
Judge Myers attended a presentation about aquifers with Elaine Eisenbraun and others on September 1st. Myers met with Curt Shelley and Nick Green regarding the potential for new housing to be built in John Day. On September 8th he conducted a name change hearing and said the fly in scheduled for the Airport on September 9th was cancelled due to the smoke in the area. The fly in will be re-scheduled. Myers attended the Airport Commission meeting on the 11th and on the 15th he will attend an internet task force meeting. He will play in a fund raising golf tournament on Saturday and will also perform a wedding. On September 19th Myers will attend a Northeast Oregon Housing Authority meeting in La Grande and will go to a presentation regarding mega-fires on the 21st. Myers announced Katee Hoffman started work for the County on Monday the 11th as our new Veteran Services Officer.
MINUTES. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve the August 23rd minutes as amended.
9:16 am David Thunell entered.
REPRESENTATIVE CLIFF BENTZ. Representative Bentz presented a legislative update to the court. Bentz said this is his 10th year as a representative and thanked the court members for their support during this process. Bentz showed a PowerPoint presentation to the court which included pictures of the snow damage from last winter and pictures from the legislative session in Salem. Bentz explained where the estimated budget deficit figures were derived from during the session. He said the Democratic party wanted to raise taxes where the Republican party wanted to cut spending first. Bentz showed slides of the tax bills that were proposed during the session.
9:26 am King Williams entered.
He said out of all of the numerous tax bills proposed only two passed. Bentz said he is asked to present bills to the House by his constituents and he does so and explained the process. Bentz stated the Republicans only supported the transportation package if the low carbon fuel standard tax (LCFS) was fixed. He expressed his opinion that the LCFS was put into place to attempt to force the public to purchase electric vehicles. Bentz explained the changes made to the LCFS and said it is fixed now. A handout was passed out to those in attendance showing what is in the bill.
9:46 am Zach Williams entered. 9:50 am Ron Lundbom and Frances Preston entered.
Bentz showed charts of the money Grant County and the incorporated cities in the County will receive under the new transportation package. The County should receive over $700,000 per year under the new transportation package. Bentz reported he is still working on the monument issue in Malheur County along with issues regarding water, fire, elk, cougars and wolves. Rep. Bentz answered questions from the audience and encouraged those in attendance to bring their ideas and expertise to him regarding issues they would like addressed by the legislature.
10:00 am Julie Ellison entered.
Discussion followed about the potential new carbon tax for the next legislative session.
10:22 am The court took a short break. 10:29 am The court returned to session.
TRANSPORTATION. Commissioner Boyd Britton stated our cities are doing a great job with the water and sewer systems, but struggle with infrastructure. He said the cities must apply for funding for road repair and since they are unable to perform the repairs themselves the funding is spent extremely quickly on engineering and hiring entities to do the repairs. Britton would like to see the County take over all the management of municipal roads within the County and said it is legal for the County to enter into agreements with the cities to provide this service, he had provided the ORS’s to this effect. He said we already have a road department in place that does a great job of maintaining our county roads. Britton doesn’t expect a decision to be made today; he would like to just open the discussion on this subject. Britton suggested the large projects a city might need would still be hired out, the County would just perform maintenance on the existing roads. City Manager Nick Green said the City of John Day would be very interested in looking into this. Green added this is a time for everyone to look at creative funding. Doug Ferguson agreed with Britton that none of the cities have the expertise to complete street construction or repair. Jim Hamsher (as Mayor of Prairie City) stated he believes we need to push for more timber sales to increase revenue to the cities. He would like to see the County look at loaning money from the road department fund to the cities for infrastructure repair at a higher interest rate than the current fund produces. Hamsher stated this funding would be easier for the cities to access and would allow the cities to make repairs without placing additional burden on the road department. Road Master Alan Hickerson reported the County has assisted cities in the past with chip sealing projects. Judge Myers expressed concern that if the County takes over city roads and bridges then the County also takes on the liability for those bridges and roads. Myers is not in favor of taking over the bridges and roads at this time. Britton said he isn’t talking about taking over the bridges and roads; just entering into maintenance agreements with the cities. He would like to get together with the Mayors of the cities to discuss this proposal. Hamsher believes the maintenance issues could be addressed by loaning the cities money for repairs and this would benefit the road fund. Britton encouraged Hamsher to contact County Attorney Ron Yockim about the legality of this and agreed the notion has merit. Myers said the County has helped the cities out when possible and it has worked well. Myers expressed his disappointment that city mayors were contacted about this issue, but the road department and road advisory council were not. He doesn’t believe this may be the best use of road funds. Britton said he isn’t talking about using road funds; he is talking about utilizing the new transportation funding. Myers again said he isn’t necessarily in favor of this idea, but he doesn’t have a problem with having further discussions with city mayors. Ferguson would like to see a committee get together to discuss this idea. Britton believes the road department is doing a good job and has the capacity to handle additional work with the same work force they currently have.
11:05 am Ryan Nehl entered. 11:06 am Dan Becker entered.
Frances Preston stated she believes the road department is doing a good job currently in assisting the cities and said she is disappointed that the only city represented today was the City of John Day and she feels this matter should be investigated. Britton said she is mistaken and he contacted other city mayors. Dave Traylor stated legal counsel should be consulted prior to these types of discussions. Myers said he will be contacting legal counsel. Judy Kerr suggested contacting the Road Advisory Board for suggestions. Britton said this is just a concept idea at this point.
11:14 am Dave Halemeier, Sasha Fertig, Amanda Lindsay, Rosie Gonzalez and Laurie Montgomery entered.
MALHUER NATIONAL FOREST – CAMP LICK. Blue Mountain Ranger District Ranger Dave Halemeier and NEPA Planner Sasha Fertig presented the Camp Lick project to the court members. This project is now in the objection filing period which started August 23rd and ends on October 10th. A PowerPoint presentation was shown to those in attendance. Fertig discussed silviculture treatments, riparian & upland watershed restoration treatments, prescribed burning, road activities, sign installation and range fence construction. Approximately 8,700 acres would be commercially thinned. The prescribed burning would take place over a period of 7 to 10 years and not all be done at once. The project also contains three forest plan amendments: dedicated old growth unit changes, removal of trees equal to or greater than 21 inches in diameter at breast height and harvest within late and old structure stands. Only those who have previously submitted written comments, during the scoping or comment periods, may object. Fertig has a list of those with standing to object and can be contacted at 541-575-3061 or email@example.com . Judy Kerr asked what economical benefit this project would supply to the community. Halemeier said the commercial harvest of approximately 25 million board feet would be an economic benefit. Kerr also wanted to know if the riparian restoration would be like what is being done on Beech Creek. Halemeier said it would be and he invited her to visit Camp Creek to see what the riparian restoration looked like there after one year. Jim Sproul asked if any salvage was planned for burned areas in the project and Fertig said there was not. Discussion about decommissioned roads followed. Halemeier said the roads are decommissioned to prevent further resource damage and added the County Court has been very vocal over the last few years about justifying road closures. Traylor asked why salvage wasn’t conducted after burn operations for trees that are damaged. Halemeier said most of the trees damaged are not large enough to be salvageable and are left as snags for animals. Traylor believes there would be more support for these projects if salvageable timber was harvested after a burn.
11:52 am The court took a short break. 12:01 pm The court returned to session.
PLANNING DEPARTMENT. Planning Director Hilary McNary had presented a written request to the court requesting a monthly stipend for her internet usage. McNary explained her county telephone service used to be through CenturyLink, but after the county installed the new telephone system she cancelled the service she had through CenturyLink for the Planning Department at a savings of approximately $105 per month. After cancelling the CenturyLink service she no longer had internet from CenturyLink and began to use her personal internet service for work which caused an increase in data usage. McNary requested a stipend from the county in the amount of $25 to pay for the data utilized for her work. McNary believes the additional data use is being caused by the new telephone system installed by the county and is only asking for the cost of the additional data, not for her personal internet service usage. The $25 per month would be paid from the Planning Department telephone budget line. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to approve an internet stipend of $25 per month to Hilary McNary to be paid from the Planning Dept. telephone budget line.
JAIL GENERATOR SERVICE AGREEMENT. Corrections Manager Josh Wolf requested approval for a generator maintenance agreement for the jail’s generator. He received a quote of $300 annually from E C Power Systems who currently maintains the Airport’s generator. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve the maintenance service agreement with E C Power Systems.
AIRPORT DISADVANTAGE BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM. Airport Manager Haley Walker had sent a 3 year Disadvantage Business Enterprise Program to the court for approval and signature. This agreement is required in order to receive federal assistance for the Airport and the FAA requires that the DBE plan be updated. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve the DBE and authorize Judge Myers to sign after review & approval by county counsel.
HEART OF GRANT COUNTY MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING. Corrections Manager Josh Wolf sent an Agreement with the Heart of Grant County to the court for approval. This agreement establishes guidelines for the provision of victim services to inmates in the custody of the Grant County Jail in the event of sexual assault or harassment. The agreement needs to be in place in order to meet PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) requirements. Judge Myers added it is rare for a jail to pass a PREA audit on the first attempt, but our jail did so. Britton said Josh Wolf is doing a great job as the Corrections Manager. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve the Memorandum of Understanding with the Heart of Grant County and circulate for signatures.
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE PRO TEM. Justice of the Peace Kathy Stinnett sent a written request to the court for approval of appointment of Riccola Voigt as Justice of the Peace Pro Tem. Stinnett explained that due to her nephew being a State Policeman now she has a conflict and cannot adjudicate the tickets he writes. Voigt is an attorney and has been a Pro Tem for Stinnett in the past. Voigt will be providing these services as an independent contractor and County Attorney Ron Yockim prepared a contract for these services. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve the contract and appointment of Riccola Voigt as Justice of the Peace Pro Tem for a one year period and to circulate the contract for signatures.
FAIR NPRA RODEO CONTRACTS. Fair Manager Mindy Winegar sent two contracts to the court for review and approval. The first contract was with Copper Ridge Band to provide music with a full band for the dance after the rodeo for a cost of $1000 and the second contract was with Spitfire Cocktails to provide a bar for the dance after the rodeo and requires a percentage of sales be paid to the county. These contracts were apparently misplaced and are being signed for services already rendered. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve the contract with Copper Ridge Band and the contract with Spitfire Cocktails and circulate for signatures.
COMMUNITY CONNECTION OF NORTHEAS OREGON CONTRACT. The court reviewed a contract between CCNO and Grant County. Myers advised he is on the board of directors for Community Connections and this is a standard operating agreement. This contract provides funding for senior services throughout the county and is a contract entered into every two years. The expiration date for the contract is June 30, 2019. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve the contract with CCNO and authorize Judge Myers to sign.
PLANNING DEPT. LETTER OF SUPPORT. McNary sent a memorandum to the court advising the members that on August 30th she received an email from Tim Murphy, Farm and Forest Lands Specialist from the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD), regarding an assistance grant opportunity for the county. The grant opportunity provides assistance to the county to update the farm and forest zones. McNary has routinely updated the County’s Land Development Code to keep pace with changes in state laws enacted by the legislature and reported the updates were last completed in 2013. She offered her opinion that this would be a beneficial opportunity for the county to ensure our Land Development Code is fully compliant with the state laws for farm and forest lands. The DLCD is requesting a letter of interest from the County for this project. The project is not a competitive grant application and no matching funds from the County are required for it. McNary provided a letter of interest to the court to utilize if they so wished. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to approve the letter of interest submitted by McNary and authorize Judge Myers to sign.
COMMERCIAL APPRAISAL – 528 & 530 E. MAIN ST., JOHN DAY. The court reviewed an engagement letter from Langston & Associates of Boise, Idaho, to provide re-appraisal services for the L-Building complex and current Health Department facility. This re-appraisal would determine market value for the facility at a cost not to exceed $6,500. The anticipated completion date of the project would be 5 weeks from the date of engagement. Britton would like an itemized statement after the appraisal due to the extreme cost of the appraisal. Hamsher would like the cost of the appraisal added to the purchase price if the county decides to sell the buildings. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to enter into the letter of engagement with Langston & Associates and authorize Judge Myers to sign.
PUBLIC COMMENT. No public comment was received.
12:19 pm -- Adjourned
**** Please note the court minutes are a summary of the court proceedings. An audio recording of each court session is available, after approval of the minutes, by contacting Laurie Wright at 541-575-0059 or firstname.lastname@example.org ****