Grant County Court minutes from Dec. 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, Reporter Richard Hanners, Chris Labhart, Rick Minster, Sherry Nehl, Vicki Thompson, Nancy Nickel, Katy Nelson, Billie Jo Raines, Judy Kerr, Frances Preston, Elaine Smith, Nick Green, John Morris, Jim Sproul, Harriet Crum, Mary Ellen Brooks, Alan Hickerson, Kathy Gillam, Judy Schuette, Jim Spell, Beth Spell, Haley Walker, Dan Becker, Ron Rue, Sandy Rue, Brandon Smith, R.W. Field, Ryan Nehl, Josh Walker, Todd McKinley, Zach Mobley, Shannon Adair, King Williams, Ken Brooks,and Pastor Mark Majors. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Majors.
CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims and extension district warrants #73-82. Commissioner Britton declared a conflict on a claim to Boyd Britton Welding.
AGENDA. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to accept the agenda as presented.
ANNOUNCEMENTS. Commissioner Britton was out of county for most of last week for his daughter’s wedding and said being away really made him appreciate Grant County. He will attend a meeting on Thursday with Oregon Solutions to look at potential projects in Eastern Oregon. Last Saturday Britton announced at the 26th annual Timber Trucker’s Light Parade. Britton also spoke with Mark Owens (Harney County Commissioner) who along with Todd Nash (Wallowa County Commissioner) will be representing Eastern Oregon counties in Washington, D.C., regarding the Forest Plan Revision.
Judge Myers attended the Carrie Young Memorial Auction on December 1st and reported it was a huge success. He went to a communications meeting at the John Day Fire Hall on December 5th and later that afternoon opened surplus bids at the Road Department. Myers participated in an Airport Commission meeting on December 11th. Today is the Christmas Potluck and gift exchange from noon to 2 and then he will go to a LYPSIC meeting upstairs. On December 14th he will go to a Mental Health Advisory board meeting and then attend a 911 Task Force meeting in the evening. On December 18th, 20th and 21st he will conduct employee performance reviews.
Commissioner Hamsher met with an area rancher and toured the East Fork of Bridge Creek with some Forest Service personnel. He attended a rodeo committee meeting and met with the Fair Manager to discuss several things. Hamsher said he spent a lot of time speaking with constituents regarding proposed broadband.
MINUTES. MSP: Myers/Briton -- to approve the November 22nd minutes as amended.
ROAD DEPT. SURPLUS SALE RESULTS. Myers announced the results from the bids received on December 5th for the recent surplus sale are posted on the bulletin board in the lobby of the courthouse for review.
9:09 am Valerie Maynard and Julie Larson entered. 9:12 am Julie Ellison entered.
PURCHASE OF ADDITONAL COUNTY CAR. Myers advised those in attendance that Judge Kathy Stinnett had purchased a new vehicle and mentioned she would be willing to sell her 2005 Ford 500 all-wheel drive car to the county for use as an additional county car. The County currently has one vehicle available for employee use and it is frequently in use and unavailable. Having county cars available for employee use saves hundreds per month in mileage payments. Three online quotes were obtained for comparable vehicles: ’05 with 125,612 miles for $5000; ’05 with 81,383 miles for $6,988 and ’06 with 107,508 miles for $6,999. The private party value for Stinnett’s car from Kelley Blue Book is $4,373 and Stinnett would accept $4,200 for her vehicle. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to move forward with the purchase of the vehicle from Stinnett in the amount of $4,200.
9:15 am Pete Hettinga entered.
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT. Undersheriff Zach Mobley presented an update to the court regarding Forest Patrol. Mobley advised he would like to set this position as a part time position so there is flexibility depending on how much funding is available. Mobley said there is a current contract with the Forest Service that doesn’t expire until December 2018. The operating agreement is the contract that will expire this December and they will be renewing this as well. Myers asked if there would be any push back from the union about hiring part time employees who are not union. Mobley said the current part time employees are non-union employees and this has not been an issue.
9:17 am Reporter Logan Bagett entered.
Britton asked if the Sheriff, Mobley and Judge Myers had met with Forest Service personnel. Mobley said the contract will remain the same as it has been and he has met with R.W. Fields and others and has kept advising Judge Myers about the status of what he is working on. Mobley said he was told by Dan Smith that the contract will be the same as other counties have with the Forest Service. Fields reported the contracts work well. Mobley stated the Sheriff’s Department enforces the same laws they do normally and not federal laws. Each entity enforces the laws they normally do and work in cooperation with each other. Mobley would like to have a part time position that is dedicated to working on this contract and trained in the areas. Myers reminded the court that during the budget process the budget committee encouraged Deputy Mobley to get this contract back in place. MSP: Hamsher/Myers – to approve moving forward with hiring of a part time Forest Patrol Deputy. Myers and Hamsher voted yes, Britton voted no because he would like to see the proposed contract first.
GRANT COUNTY JAIL AMENDMENT #4712-2. The court received notification from the Department of Corrections (DOC) that the jail amendment previously submitted by DOC and signed by the court did not contain the correct PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) language. The Department of Justice submitted this revision containing the appropriate PREA language and requested the court resign the amendment. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve revised Amendment #2 to IGA #4712 and circulate for signatures.
9:24 am Mike Stearly entered.
AIRPORT MANAGER JOB DESCRIPTION. Airport Manager Haley Walker presented a revised job description for her position to the court for review. Walker reviewed the current job description at her employee performance evaluation and realized it did not adequately portray the actual duties and responsibilities of the position. Walker is requesting that the revised job description be sent to LGPI for wage placement and understands the rate may go up or down depending on the review. The Airport Commission supports revision of the job description. Walker requested that if the rate drops the court hold the position harmless and maintain the wage at its current level due to the responsibilities of the current position. HR Manager Laurie Wright said she fully supports this revision going to LGPI for review. MSP: Hamsher/Britton -- to approve of the revised job description being sent to LGPI for wage placement.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT GRANT #17-512. The court reviewed the Oregon Military Department Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Emergency Management Performance Grant No. 17-512. This grant provides up to $39,696 in grant funds for emergency management to the county for Fiscal Year 2017. The agreement expires on June 30, 2018. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve Grant #17-512 and authorize Judge Myers to sign.
COMMUNITY CONNECTION AGREEMENT- GRANT C2015-OR-505A. The court reviewed an agreement between Community Connection of Northeast Oregon (CCNO) and Grant County for Supportive Services for Veterans Families Program. This agreement provides reimbursement from CCNO for the Senior Program Manager’s payroll costs associated with the SSVF program and travel and training costs not to exceed a total of $6,250 ($5,500 personnel/labor and $750 other). This agreement is retro-active to 2015. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve agreement C2015-OR-505A and authorize Judge Myers to sign. Myers added Veanne does a great job with all the programs she administers and tracks.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. Economic Development Coordinator Sally Bartlett presented a written request to the court for approval to purchase two new desks for her office and to switch internet providers. Myers advised Bartlett is moving from her current location into Suite 10 at the L-Building where the Extension office used to be located.
Internet: Bartlett explained she wished to switch the office internet and fax from CenturyLink to Oregon Telephone Company. The estimated cost from Ortelco is a onetime fee of $569.97 for equipment and possibly a $600 fee for Peripheral if needed. The current monthly cost of the internet and fax line from CenturyLink is $165 to $190 per month and the cost would increase by $40 to $60 for Ortelco. The costs are for Suite 10 and Suite 7 and include 3 outlets. Bartlett advised the internet with Ortelco would be substantially faster and no long distance charges would be included with the service. The cost of the equipment would be charged to the “Old Title III” money and the monthly service fees would be paid from the economic development telephone line. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve the purchase of equipment and change of internet/fax service to Ortelco.
Desks: Bartlett obtained three quotes for two new office desks: Quill ($379.99); Office Depot ($449.99); and Walmart ($487.98). Bartlett recommended purchasing the desks from Quill. The cost of the desks would be paid from the economic development project development budget line. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve the purchase of the two desks from Quill in the amount of $379.99 each to be paid from the project development budget line.
ASSESSOR. Assessor David Thunell sent a written request to the court for approval to install a Point and Pay system in his office so that tax payers could have the option of making payments with a credit or debit card. There will be no cost to Grant County by offering this form of payment. A letter from the court will need to be sent to the Bank of Eastern Oregon to allow the Treasurer to open a new transfer checking account to receive the payments. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to authorize Thunell to install a Point & Pay system.
APPRECIATION & RECOGNITION. Britton would like the court to sign a letter of appreciation and recognition to Burke O’Brien, retired Morrow County Roadmaster for all of his past help and efforts. Britton will draft the letter. MSP: Hamsher/Myers – to approve a letter of appreciation to O’Brien.
9:37 am The court took a short break. 9:45 am Shaun Robertson and Rob Raschio entered.
9:49 am The court returned to session.
PUBLIC HEARING – CREATION OF DIGITAL NETWORK COALITION. The court held a second public hearing regarding Ordinance 2017-01 which ratifies creation of the Grant County Digital Network Coalition in accordance with ORS 190.085 and Judge Myers called the hearing to order at 9:50 am. Britton suggested Judge Myers read the title of the ordinance only. Myers did so. Katy Nelson asked if passing this ordinance is necessary in order to get the state funding. Myers said it is not mandatory that the County join this agreement; the money would still go to the City of John Day. Billie Jo George asked in what form the money is coming and if it had to be paid back. Myers advised his understanding is the money must be reported on, but does not have to be paid back. Nick Green said the 1.8 million does not have to be paid back and how the funds are spent will be decided by the board of the directors of the coalition. Frances Preston read a portion of the ordinance about the parties involved and asked for clarification on who exactly is “Grant County”. Preston does not approve of Ordinance 2017-01 and wanted this on the record. Dan Driscoll spoke as a member of the Farm Bureau and read a letter from Jeff Thomas opposing the ordinance and asking the court to work with current private providers. Driscoll as a private citizen said he doesn’t think the county should sign the ordinance because it isn’t mandatory. Green wanted to clarify that he has been speaking with the CEO of Ortelco and has numerous times. He advised they are working on scheduling a meeting in January with Ortelco and CenturyLink and the intent is to bring the service here and work with other entities. There are numerous different ways this could work between public and private entities. Shaun Robertson expressed his opinion that this meeting is to hear citizen testimony, not a question and answer session. Robertson isn’t opposed to having better internet service in the county, but rather wants more research completed in order to utilize the funding in the best way and to get it to Long Creek and Monument. Robertson believes the responsible approach is to stop this process right now and added due diligence should be completed. Robertson commended Green on his work getting the funding from the state, but urged the court to ask more questions and do more research before signing the ordinance. Elaine Smith agreed with Robertson that the most important thing would be to get internet to areas like Long Creek, Seneca and portions of John Day where it is needed. Smith expressed concern future costs for the project would end up costing taxpayers and opposes the ordinance. Judy Schuette disagreed with some things being said and believes the court has the information necessary to begin moving forward. Schuette asked if all of the communities were approached about this. Hamsher said he doesn’t think Long Creek and Monument were and Green agreed. Schuette expressed her support of the ordinance and believes this is an opportunity that should not be passed up. Pete Hettinga stated he is adamantly opposed to any form of government competing with private enterprise. Hettinga created a cost spreadsheet which he provided to the court and said he estimated the cost to get the line to John Day would be around 5 million. Hettinga advised he received some of his estimated numbers from the CEO of Ortelco and from a board member of Oregon Trail Electric. He explained his figures to the audience and court members. He said there is more fiber available than people realize. Harriet Crum opposes the ordinance and said we are a rural community and the county can’t afford it. John Day City Councilman Shannon Adair expressed her opinion that this isn’t a private versus public project and the more voices who participate and are at the table for this the better. Adair said participating in the process is very important. Vicki Thompson agreed with Adair and her understanding is the purpose of this venture is to look into the costs and the main point of this is to complete the research for the project. Ken Brooks stated he lives in Fox and as large tax payer in the county he isn’t opposed to high speed internet, but is concerned that rural areas of the county are not offered the same opportunities and benefits. Nancy Nickel compared internet service to other public services such as roads, water and sewer services that everyone pays for and asked those in attendance to try to imagine what it would be like if roads or water and sewer systems were private instead of public. Nickel doesn’t see how putting a broadband line in would be competing with private companies because they will also benefit from it. Jim Sproul commented the ordinance mentions power of condemnation and if the county weren’t involved the City of John Day would not have the right of condemnation outside of the city limits so he thinks this is why the county is included. Sproul also expressed concern with the potential for fire damage to suspended fiber lines. King Williams is in support of the ordinance and the county needs a seat at the table. Rick Minster also supports the ordinance and wants the county to have a seat at the table for discussions about the project. Minster said federal money was used by Ortelco to put in some of the fiber lines. Mary Ellen Brooks does not support the ordinance and doesn’t think taxpayers should have to pay for fiber to John Day, she said let them pay for it themselves if they want it. Myers advised the ordinance does not mention anything about taxation or financial costs to the county. Hettinga stated this should go before the voters like the 911 measure did. Rob Raschio stated not every spending measure must be decided by the voters and that is why we have elected County Court members to represent us. Haley Walker said in her opinion the most important part of this is for the county to have a seat at the table. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to close the hearing. Myers advised the audience that talks have been ongoing with Ortelco and CenturyLink and will continue. Myers added that the court could have passed this ordinance as an emergency instead of taking public comment. He said competition is also not a bad thing and the coalition can work in concert with the private entities. Hamsher would like to see a revised broadband agreement prior to signing the ordinance and would like this matter tabled until that happens. Britton said it is a very normal process for entities to create ORS 190 organizations. Britton stated this ordinance does not obligate the county to anything, it just allows the process to move forward. He believes this is a good step forward and again reiterated that this does not obligate the county in any financial way. MSP: Britton/Myers – to approve and circulate Ordinance 2017-01 for signatures. Britton and Myers voted yes, Hamsher voted no and said he can’t support the ordinance until he sees the revised broadband agreement.
PUBLIC COMMENT. Myers offered an opportunity for public comment and none was received.
11:00 am – 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 ****