Grant County Court minutes from Nov. 22, 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, Jim Spell, Beth Spell, Ryan Nehl, Mike Stearly, Katy Nelson, Vicki Thompson, John Morris, Jim Sproul, Frances Preston, Reporter Logan Bagett, Brandon Smith, Matt Wenick, Robert Waltenburg, Chris Labhart, Sherry Nehl, Billie Jo George, Mike Stearly, Josh Walker, Zach Williams, Reporter Rick Hanners, and Pastor Dave Hoeffner. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Hoeffner.
CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims and extension district warrants #66-72.
AGENDA. MSP: Myers/Hamsher-- to accept the agenda as presented.
ANNOUNCEMENTS. Commissioner Britton said all of the court members attended a Farm Bureau – AOC meeting at the Airport where Senator Ferrioli’s proposal regarding land use was discussed. Last week Britton went to the Chamber of Commerce installation of officers.
9:05 am Dan Becker, Nancy Nickels, and Eva Harris entered.
Britton continued to discuss the forest plan with people.
Judge Myers also attended the meeting at the Airport on November 10th and said he does have some concerns with the proposed plan presented by Ferrioli. On Monday the 13th Myers and Laurie Wright met with SAIF claims representatives. He attended the AOC Conference last week in Eugene and said it was a good conference and a valuable time to network with other county leaders and to discuss local issues.
9:10 am Curt Shelley entered.
Last Friday on the way home from AOC Myers conducted a wedding and will also perform a wedding today at 3 pm. On the 27th he has a heritage foundation meeting.
Commissioner Hamsher attended the meeting at the Airport regarding proposed land use changes. Hamsher went to AOC and attended various different meetings and said it was interesting to meet with other commissioners to discuss similar issues they are having and what they are trying to do to resolve them. He traveled home on Friday and attended a planning meeting in Prairie City. On Sunday evening he attended the coronation for the Fair Queen and talked with citizens about concerns they have regarding 911 and internet services. Hamsher added while he was at the AOC he encouraged other commissioners to write letters to the legislature to request additional 911 funding.
9:14 am Steve Fischer, David Thunell, Julie Ellison, Ken Olson, and Shelley Myers entered.
MINUTES. MSP: Britton/Hamsher -- to approve the November 8th minutes as presented.
PUBLIC HEARING – CREATION OF GC DIGITAL NETWORK COALITION. Judge Myers advised this is a public hearing to discuss proposed Ordinance 2017-01 to the audience. Myers explained ground rules to those in attendance and advised this is the first of two hearings regarding the ordinance and no decision will be made today. It was requested that the court not read the entire ordinance and Myers read the title only. Myers said this is the ground work for a possible future Intergovernmental Agreement that will lay out the specifics. John Morris stated he doesn’t really use the internet but has concerns that future FCC regulations could force the County to be locked into this agreement.
9:22 am Steve Beverlin and Cynthia Harris entered.
Vicki Thompson asked if this agreement would obligate the County or individuals to spend money at this time. Myers said the ordinance does not obligate any funds at this time. She further asked if the County could back out of the future agreement and Myers said that is true. Eva Harris spoke in support of the ordinance and said she would benefit very much from fiber optic internet for her business. Frances Preston expressed her understanding that the two main beneficiaries of the internet would be the Forest Service and the hospital and wondered if they could be asked to participate in the coalition and pay a portion. Myers advised today is to discuss the ordinance and not the coalition agreement. He said he isn’t sure if they have been approached about the project. Ryan Nehl advised the Forest Service is involved and very interested in the project and said he fully supports the project. Nancy Nickel spoke in support and stated her opinion that this is not an amenity, but critical to business development and attracting and keeping youth in our community. Curt Shelley said Grant School District is in support of the ordinance and the students would benefit. Jim Sproul believes if the County is going to be involved in this all communities should be supported, not just Seneca and John Day. Sproul asked how the expense would be addressed and said it would be cost prohibitive to individuals. Myers stated expenses have not yet been established. Beth Spell is a substitute school teacher and mother of three children who moved to larger areas due to the lack of jobs here. Spell explained a lot of teachers are basing lesson plans around internet content and supports the ordinance. Brandon Smith grew up here, moved away for 20 years and then moved back, and said he is fully in support of this as a parent and small business owner. John Morris offered the option of installation of an internet tower and said people should think about this. Josh Walker grew up here, went into the military and then moved back to Seneca. Walker operates an online business and said when he first received internet service here it was okay, but now due to all the users it is insufficient. Walker fully supports the ordinance and stated no new subscribers can sign up with CenturyLink in Seneca or down the canyon due to lack of capacity. Vicki Thompson expressed her support for the ordinance. Thompson has Ortelco but still has occasional issues with it. Robert Waltenburg explained Oregon Telephone is at capacity and mirrored Curt Shelley that this is a win-win for our students. Chris Labhart advised last year a family with two children and a parent who was a teacher moved away because of lack of internet service. Dan Becker runs a computer repair and consulting business and said he has worked with numerous internet providers and fully supports the County being involved in this endeavor. Becker said a lot of consumers run businesses out of their homes and would benefit. Frances Preston believes there are surveys from across the country showing fiber optics are failing at a rate of 80% and would like more research conducted on other options. Preston is not in support of the project. Curt Shelley as an individual expressed his support for the project as a parent. Shelley would like his children to have the opportunity to find work and be able to live here. Zach Williams supports moving forward with the project. Williams said moving forward will allow the County to look into what the possible costs will be. Eva Harris was also an early DSL customer of CenturyLink and advised it has become very unreliable. Harris signed up for Hughes Net satellite service and said if a lot of users are on it then it also becomes slow. Harris again said she is very much in favor of the project. Ken Olson is in favor of moving forward with the project and added he was on the internet task force. Olson thinks some of the negative comments being made are due to lack of understanding. Nancy Nickel said broadband has become like other public services such as sewer and water service. Nickel expressed her opinion that Commissioner Hamsher has a conflict of interest because Prairie City opted out of the agreement. Myers said he appreciated everyone’s attendance and comments.
9:55 am The court took a short break. 10:02 am The court returned to session.
10:02 am Andrea Officer, Kim Neault and Zach Mobley entered.
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE. Justice of the Peace Kathy Stinnett requested court approval to purchase software that will enable her office to have a LEDS (Law Enforcement Data System) certified terminal. This software would allow the Justice Court to access driving records and criminal histories for Court purposes. The Court Clerk has completed the necessary background check and is approved to have unescorted access to the system. The initial cost is $154 with a $69 annual fee and will be paid from the JC computer programming budget line. MSP: Hamsher/Myers -- to approve purchase of the software in the amount of $154 and the annual $69 fee to be paid from the Justice Court computer programming budget line.
VICTIM ASSISTANCE. Victim Assistance Director Andrea Officer requested court approval for an allocation of funds to offset shortages in the VOCA and CFA grants for personnel services in the amount of $2,512.54. This would be paid from the victim assistance contingency fund which currently has over $19,000 in it. The grant monitor has approved the expenditure. MSP: Myers/Hamsher – to approve the allocation of $2,512.54 to be paid from the victim assistance contingency fund.
Officer requested court approval for herself and Shelly Whale Murphy of Heart of Grant County to attend the OVW Rural Grantee Orientation Conference in Washington, DC. This is a mandated conference they were unable to attend in 2016. The estimated cost is $2,575 which includes airfare, mileage, meals, motels and associated travel costs and would be beneficial as Officer begins to write the new grant for funding. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve travel to the conference to be paid from VAWA Rural grant.
Officer also requested court approval to attend the OVW Advanced Victim Assistance Academy training on restitution procedures and law to be held November 27th and 28th in Portland. The cost will be $412.48 and is budgeted in the VOCA grant. MSP: Hamsher/Myers -- to approve attendance at the training in Portland in the amount of $412.48 to be paid from the VOCA grant.
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT. Undersheriff Zach Mobley asked the court for approval to hire a part-time Forest Patrol Deputy. The position will be approximately a 20 hour per week position and will be funded from Forest Service contracts, an OSSA grant and the Forest Patrol Salaries line in the department budget. The position will be responsible for Forest Patrol and would also be a search and rescue coordinator and in charge of Title II and Title III reimbursement tracking and requests. There is $15,000 in the current year’s budget for forest patrol salary and $7000 from the Forest Service and $5000 under the OSSA Snow Patrol Grant would also be used to fund the position. This position would not be for a certified deputy (which is not required for part time personnel). The person hired would be trained in-house. Myers commended Mobley for working towards healing relationships that have been damaged in the past. Steve Beverlin read a portion of a letter from Sheriff Palmer from 2011 and a past email from Palmer in which the Sheriff refused to participate in forest patrols. Beverlin stated the current contract with the Forest Service expires in December and was specifically for the Rainbow Gathering. Beverlin advised he would have appreciated a heads up on this matter. Mobley advised he has been speaking with Captain Fields and Dan Smith and Smith assured him the money in the current contract would carry over into the next year. Beverlin requested assurance that the Sheriff would actually comply with a signed contract. Beverlin also stated he has signature authority on contracts. Britton thanked Mobley for his hard work on this, but believes more discussion needs to happen. Britton encouraged Mobley to continue meetings with the Forest Service and get the Sheriff involved. Vicki Thompson would like to see the Sheriff commit to working cooperatively with the Forest Service. Frances Preston asked the court to please not include politics in this matter and respect the fact that Undersheriff Mobley came to court today to protect citizens and asked the court to make a decision today. Beverlin wanted it on the record that his comments today in no way downplay the work Mobley has been doing and he appreciates it. Billie Jo George believes saying that the Sheriff does not work with the Forest Service is not accurate. Jim Sproul said the Sheriff sent Mobley as his representative and then politics entered into it. Myers again thanked Mobley for his preparation and attendance and asked Mobley to involve the Sheriff in further discussions. MSP: Myers/Britton – to table this discussion for a future court date.
CHRISTMAS POTLUCK. The annual Christmas Potluck for employees was discussed. The best date for this would be December 13th after county court from noon to 2 pm. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve December 13th for the Christmas Potluck from 12 pm to 2 pm.
RESOLUTION 17-31. Treasurer Julie Ellison had prepared Resolution 17-31 for court approval. This resolution is to amend Resolution 17-29. The money that was received in Resolution 17-29 was received without having an appropriation to the budget and so it must be corrected. Resolution 17-31 is to receive the $14,598 from the State for marijuana taxes into the general fund revenue line and then to appropriate this money into the general fund contingency line. Myers read a portion of the resolution to those in attendance. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve Resolution 17-31 and circulate for signatures.
ODOT COMMUNICATION SITE LEASE – FALL MTN. The court reviewed the Fall Mountain Communication Site Agreement with ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation). This lease is a renewal of the current lease set to expire on December 31, 2017. ODOT has radio equipment at this site and pays an annual lease fee of $600 to the county. The new lease will expire on December 31, 2023. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve the lease with ODOT and circulate for signatures.
PUBLIC COMMENT. Nancy Nickel said in the past County Court was always very civil and she is concerned with the current climate in court. Nickel stated people need to understand the court deals with complicated business and being disrespectful is counterproductive. Beth Spell asked if the court held a vote and one member didn’t vote does that mean that member abstains. Myers said once two members vote sometimes the third member may not say anything. Britton stated when someone votes no the court generally asks for a reason in order to understand why. Eva Harris advised as a member of the audience she becomes concerned when a court member doesn’t voice their vote. Harris said this causes confusion. Hamsher expressed his understanding that a reason for a no vote does not have to be explained; only a conflict of interest/abstaining must be verbalized and explained. Nickel said knowing how a court member voted lets the public understand where they are coming from.
MSP: Britton/Myers – to adjourn the meeting. 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 ****