Grant County Court minutes from Aug. 8, 2018:
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 Rob Raschio, Administrative Assistant Laurie Wright, Frances Preston, Katy Nelson, John Morris, Rick Minster, Charlene Morris, Sharon Livingston, Vicki Thompson, Didgette McCracken, Beth Spell, Judy Kerr, Reporter Rick Hanners, Reporter Logan Bagett, Dave Traylor, Gordon Larson, Ed Guzman, Teri Corning-Sevey, Kathy Schnider, Shilo Burton, Colleen Malaney, Rachael Vaughn, and Pastor Wes Aasness. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Aasness.
CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims and extension district warrants #16-19.
AGENDA. Judge Myers advised Item E (Investing County Funds) needs to be removed due to the Treasurer’s absence and Item M (request to begin application process for domestic violence shelter grant) needs to be removed from today’s agenda per Sally Bartlett’s request. In addition review of the contract for Fair stage set-up needs to be added as Item O. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to accept the agenda as amended.
ANNOUNCEMENTS. Judge Myers attended a meeting at the JD Fire Hall on July 26th with Eastern Oregon Counties Association (EOCA) regarding the proposed Forest Plan Revision. On July 27th Myers participated in interviews for a new Custodian and on July 28th he sponsored a golf team for the hospital fund raiser through his small business. July 30th Myers met with the Regional Director from Oregon State University Extension to view the Keerins Hall building and discuss the possibility of remodeling the building in the future for the Extension Office. Also on July 30th Myers met with the new Grant School District Superintendent. Myers met with Susie Snyder from OTEC to audit the Courthouse for possible LED lighting upgrade on August 6th and said bids will be solicited in the next few weeks for electrical bids. Myers traveled to La Grande on August 7th for a Northeast Oregon Housing Authority meeting and attended an IGC meeting on August 13th. August 16th he will attend a Mental Health Advisory Board meeting. The new Custodian will start work on August 20th. Myers will go to a Substance Abuse prevention meeting at Blue Mountain Hospital on August 21st.
Commissioner Raschio met with a number of constituents regarding the proposed Forest Plan Revision and also with several department heads regarding needs they may have. Raschio is still working to bring himself up to speed on current county issues. Raschio also attended the EOCA meeting on July 26th.
Commissioner Hamsher attended the EOCA meeting on July 26th and also attended a Farm Bureau meeting. Hamsher continued to meet with cell phone representatives regarding the lack of cell service in the Monument Area. Hamsher reported US Cellular now has Monument on their list as an area with no cell coverage (which means they do not have to do a survey of the area) and have them on a list to get a tower maybe next year. He spoke with the Fair Manager and also attended the meeting with the Regional Director from OSU and toured the Keerins Hall building. Hamsher has been speaking with Scott Fairley of Business Oregon about possible funding sources. He talked with Representative Lynn Findlay and Congressman Greg Walden’s office regarding the Forest Plan Revision. Hamsher has continued to speak with ranchers about how the Forest Plan Revision will affect their grazing.
9:09 am Dan Becker, Hazel Owens and Ken Bouches entered.
MINUTES. MSP: Raschio/Myers -- to approve the July 25th minutes as amended.
9:13 am The court took a short break so the Forest Service could set up their presentation.
9:14 am Steve Beverlin entered. 9:18 am The court returned to session.
MALHEUR NATIONAL FOREST - PRAIRIE CITY RANGER DISTRICT. Ed Guzman, Prairie City District Ranger, presented the Cliff Knox Project to the court members.
9:19 am Kathy Stinnett entered.
Guzman said this project is a restoration project and a PowerPoint was presented to the court. Maps were displayed showing the location of the project at the southern end of the Prairie City Ranger District. Existing conditions were explained within the project area including diseased trees and encroachment from conifers into Aspen stands. Guzman said the aim of this project is to improve forest health, increase resilience, and to contribute to economic diversity and stability of local communities including some commercial thinning. Teri Corning-Sevey explained the proposed thinning including attempting to get Juniper encroachment under control. Guzman and Corning-Sevey answered audience questions. A map was displayed showing different proposed treatment areas. Guzman discussed the plan for Riparian restoration and Aspen and Mountain Mahogany restoration.
9:39 am Elaine Smith entered.
Guzman and Hazel Owens explained why tree-tipping is used and different scenarios for when and why this is used for stream restoration.
9:43 am Eva Harris entered.
This project is on the Malheur River which contains threatened Bull Trout. Most of the project area would receive some sort of fuels treatment. The slide show included maps of proposed Fuel Treatments, Wildlife Habitat Designations and Road Activities. Guzman answered questions regarding road system changes.
9:55 am Pat Holliday entered.
Myers asked if money was going to be spent to open roads for activities in this project wouldn’t it make sense to leave them open and let them naturally close themselves over time. Guzman said they are taking public comments to receive input on items such as this.
Corning-Sevey answered questions about designating replacement old growth timber. The project is in the 30 day scoping period which ends on August 20th. Two open houses are scheduled: August 14th at the Prairie City Senior Center at 5:30 pm and August 15th at the Harney County Chamber of Commerce at 5:30 pm.
10:07 am Shannon Springer and Dan Morrow entered.
10:07 am The court took a short break. 10:09 am Shaun Robertson entered.
10:14 am The court returned to session.
BLUE MOUNTAIN FOREST PLAN REVISION. The court members discussed the proposed Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision. Myers said this is intended to be a short discussion between the court members and to update the public on where the court is on this matter. The court members met last week with the Eastern Oregon Counties Association regarding the proposed Forest Plan Revision to discuss the plan and next steps. The court commented on portions of the plan in 2014. Hamsher said there was talk at the meeting about sharing objections with other counties. Preston said there is a process for people to join as interested persons within 10 days after the objection period closes. Pat Holliday asked if the court planned on filing objections. Myers said the court has been reviewing previous comments to determine where they are currently and believes the county court collectively and individually will be commenting. Sharon Livingston said the court has more power than an individual citizen and would like the court to make comments. Shaun Robertson asked if the court members would take input from citizens and Myers said he is always willing to accept comments from the public. John Morris said it is very important that the court comment on previous comments that were made. Hamsher would like the court to join EOCA as an interested party. Raschio said the court may have to decide if they are willing to pay for litigation in the future regarding the Forest Plan Revision and agreed with Hamsher about joining the EOCA as an interested party. Raschio expressed his opinion that it might be better for the court to be prepared to litigate travel management rather than the Forest Plan. Elaine Smith urged the court to stand up and protect the rights of our citizens and our customs and culture. Raschio said he is working to figure out where the court comments link into the current plan. Robertson believes the court needs to take public comment on this plan and that this will help with understanding the plan. He urged the court to take public comment on this and to create deadlines for the public to comment to the court because the objection time is running out. Judy Kerr said new items have been added to the Forest Plan and people should be allowed to comment on these. Dave Traylor said the economy has been mentioned, but the paramount issue is public safety and the court has a responsibility to ensure public safety. The 2015 Canyon Creek Complex was mentioned by several people in the audience as an example of the threat to public safety. Hamsher would like to set up a meeting to accept public comment. In Myers opinion it would make more sense to take comment via email to the court members.
PUBLIC HEARING – ORDINANCE 2018-02. Myers opened the public hearing at 10:35 am. The court held the first public hearing for Ordinance 2018-02 – In the Matter of Adopting a Reduced Redemption Period for Tax Foreclosed Properties. There are currently two properties that have been foreclosed on that are in the redemption period and are dangerous and nuisance properties.
10:36 am David Thunell entered.
Assessor David Thunell explained that after a foreclosure judgment is entered there is a two year redemption period in which the owner can redeem the property. Oregon law (ORS 312.100 and 312.122) allows for a reduced redemption period on properties subject to waste, not occupied and have suffered substantial depreciation in value. Myers read Ordinance 2018-02 to those in attendance. Myers offered opportunity for testimony. Elaine Smith asked if the proper persons were notified about this hearing date. Thunell said they were and have been notified throughout the foreclosure process. He said they get an Ownership and Encumbrance report from Land Title and notify any and all interested parties.
In-Favor: Dan Becker spoke in favor of the Ordinance. Eva Harris spoke in favor. Judy Kerr spoke in favor. Charlene Morris spoke in favor. Sharon Livingston spoke in favor. Dan Morrow spoke in favor. Beth Spell spoke in favor.
Thunell said one property in Long Creek has been abandoned for 10 years and one in Prairie City burned and is a safety hazard.
Owners of Record: None.
Interested Parties: None.
Myers read through the instructions for conducting the hearing. The next hearing will be on August 29, 2018 at 9:15 am. Raschio will be absent during the next hearing because he will be in trial. Myers and Hamsher advised it only takes two signatures to pass the Ordinance. MSP: Myers/Raschio – to close the hearing.
10:49 am Tonya Cates, Shanna Hunt, Stephanie Williams, and Steve Fischer.
ASSESSOR. Assessor David Thunell gave a department update to the court and introduced his staff. Thunell answered questions from the audience regarding tax foreclosed properties and the reduced redemption period that was discussed in the public hearing today. Thunell explained his role as Assessor and Tax Collector and the responsibilities of his department. Properties are physically assessed every five years to ensure accuracy of the tax value placed on them. Thunell explained some of the tools they utilize to come up with values. His staff spends a lot of time assisting customers with property questions such as location, value, etc. Once a month his office gets deeds from the Clerk to ensure their ownership and address records are accurate. In October tax statements are sent out and a 3% discount is applied if paid by November 15th. Last year about 82% of property owners paid in full. Thunell said after 4 years of unpaid taxes a property is sent to the District Attorney to begin the tax foreclosure property. Thunell advised the current market trend is showing property values increasing. He explained how properties are appraised including using current market data. Judy Kerr told Thunell that his staff is awesome. Raschio thanked Thunell for his time and presentation.
FAIR CONTRACTS. Fair Manager Mindy Winegar had sent two contract to the court for approval. The first was with Coventry & Kaluza to provide entertainment during the Fair at a cost of $4,000. The second was with Spitfire Cocktails to provide a VIP Bar during the Lonestar concert where the contractor agreed to pay 15% of all net sales (25% of net sales over $5000) to the County. MSP: Raschio/Hamsher -- to approve the contract with Coventry & Kaluza and circulate for signatures. MSP: Raschio/Hamsher -- to approve the contract with Spitfire Cocktails and circulate for signatures.
LGPI MEMBERSHIP DUES. This discussion was tabled at the last court meeting. Myers discovered LGPI can still be used for assistance, but a discount won’t be given if not a member. LGPI services are not utilized very often. MSP: Raschio/Hamsher – to deny payment of dues to LGPI.
COLONIAL LIFE CAFETERIA PLAN. The court had reviewed the cafeteria plan from Colonial Life. This plan allows for pre-tax deductions on eligible Colonial Life policies and is similar to AFLAC. Employees can voluntarily participate in these insurance plans if they choose to. MSP: Rascho/Myers -- to approve the cafeteria plan and authorize Judge Myers to sign.
BUDGET RESOLUTION 18-21. Myers read portions of the Resolution to the audience. Resolution 18-21 transfers funds from different funds into unemployment reserve as follows: General Fund $9,111, Road $17,800, Fair $200, Community Corrections $300, Airport $200 and Senior Citizens $200. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to approve Resolution 18-21 and circulate for signatures.
BUDGET RESOLUTION 18-22. Myers read the Resolution to the audience. Resolution 18-22 transfers funds from Capital Outlay to Maintenance in the amount of $6,300 for repair of an HVAC unit at the Mental Health Building. This was an unanticipated repair that was not budgeted for in the current fiscal year. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to approve Resolution 18-22 and circulate for signatures.
JAIL POLICY – RECORDS INSPECTION. Corrections Manager Josh Wolf presented a proposed policy for adoption regarding records inspection by members of the public. This policy is a requirement to meet state standards. Myers suggested changing the time for inspection from 8 am to 4 pm instead of 5 pm. MSP: Hamsher/Raschio -- to approve and adopt Policy A-204 for records inspections, duplication and fees with time change of 8 am to 4 pm.
11:17 am Kathy Stinnett and Kelly Barber entered. 11:18 am Shannon Springer entered.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. Economic Development Director Sally Bartlett requested court approval for approval of a billboard advertisement for the Farmers Market. Economic Development received a grant from the Ford Family Foundation for advertising and marketing for the John Day Farmers Market. There is one billboard available in the John Day/Canyon City area and Bartlett requested court approval to advertise the Farmers Market on this billboard. The agreement for billboard advertising is for one year at a cost of $175 per month. The cost would be paid from the Economic Development Project Development and Marketing budget line which includes the funds received from the Ford Family Foundation grant. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to approve the agreement for the billboard at a cost of $175 per month to be paid from Economic Development Project Development and Marketing and to authorize Judge Myers to sign.
PLANNING DEPARTMENT. The court received a letter from Planning Director Hilary McNary which explained their need for a new copier in the Planning Department. The current machine has surpassed its life expectancy and is beginning fail and is no longer supported by RICOH. Planning Assistant Shannon Springer said the current machine was purchased in approximately 2007 and has reached a point it is no longer working well. Springer said having an upgraded copier in her office could also benefit other departments. Other departments would be able to use the copier and it would also be available in case the Clerk’s copier was down for maintenance. Springer explained she needs a copier with scanning capability, but doesn’t need color capability. Myers suggested tabling this discussion until Springer can get lease prices to compare to the purchase prices she provided. MSP: Raschio/Myers – to table this discussion to a future court meeting.
FAIR CONTRACT STAGE SET-UP. This contract was denied on June 27th pending further review of possible liability. Fair Manager Mindy Winegar reported to the court that Grant Union/Doug Sharp have agreed to purchase liability insurance and will provide proof of the insurance to her prior to Fair. The contract is to set-up and tear down the stage for the Lonestar concert at a cost of $1000. MSP: Myers/Hamsher – to approve the contract with and circulate for signatures.
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE. Justice of the Peace Kathy Stinnett presented a request to the court for part-time office help. Stinnett said this is not the first time she has made this request to the court and hopes she has provided enough information to the court. Stinnett advised the court that it is difficult to describe all of the different functions of her office. She provided a sample to the court members of all that is involved with a simple traffic ticket and the different stages involved in the legal process. Stinnett summarized a report her department must send each year to the Department of Justice showing the number of cases processed through Justice Court. The case load has been increasing each year. Myers asked how another part time employee would assist in her office. Stinnett said she has tried to use temporary relief help and has also asked for assistance from other employees when needed, but they still struggle to keep up. Hamsher asked if her office would be open on Friday’s if she had extra help and she said it would. Stinnett currently must do a lot of her own clerical work. Stinnett explained the current work schedule in her office and how she must be extremely cautious about not having ex parte contact with defendants. Charlene Morris stated after listening to Stinnett she agrees that she needs additional assistance in her office. Stinnett said the letter of support written by Tammy Wheeler was unsolicited, but pointed out that the Harney Co. Justice Court has 1.5 FTE employees and they don’t even hear misdemeanors. John Morris said as a victim being owed restitution he doesn’t like not having access to the court on Friday. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to approve a 19 hour part-time position for Justice Court. The funding source will need to be found after the return of the Treasurer. Hamsher asked if Stinnett would commit to be opening at least half a day on Friday. Stinnett replied she would commit to her office being open at least a half day on Fridays.
11:59 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 ****