CANYON CITY --The Grant County Court last week authorized the road department to start contract talks with a Boise, Idaho, architectural firm to design a new facility.

Glancey, Rockwell and Associates will design the new building, which will be about 1 3/4 miles west of John Day on Highway 26. Estimated cost of the project is $1.4 million, said Mark Hensley, county roadmaster.

A panel of six interviewers - the three county court members, the roadmaster, and the road department's shop foreman and office manager - selected the firm from a field of three based on a rating system.

Once completed, the project will unify all of the road department's functions in a single location, Hensley said.

Among other business Wednesday, the county court:

- Discussed the county's construction of County Road 80, the new access road planned for the airport area. The county crew will perform the work on the road, which cost is estimated at $1.1 million; $500,000 of that will come from an Oregon Department of Transportation grant.

- Approved the application for a $25,000 state Financial Aid to Municipalities grant to run a sewer line from the new city sewer line to the airport buildings. The county will pay a $5,000 matching amount. The individual owners of the buildings will pay to hook up to that line, said Gary Judd, airport manager.

In combination with the city's planned water and sewer system improvements at the airport and the adjacent industrial park, the area will be designated "shovel-ready," making it eligible for more clout in the state's promotion of industrial expansion, said Judge Dennis Reynolds.

- Approved a $127,500 contract with Dice Construction to rehabilitate and repave a bridge on County Road 29 over the north fork of the John Day River.

- Approved a voice-monitoring system for county prisoners on house arrest. The prisoners deemed eligible in court will pay for the computerized system, which will randomly call them at home and use voice-identification software to make sure they remain where they are supposed to be. The system is similar to the one in use in Deschutes County, said Undersheriff Jim McNellis.

- Approved three contracts for health-care medical claims and other services through the county Health Department.

- Approved the attendance of Dana Brooks, director of the county Commission on Children and Families, at an eight-day leadership training workshop at Kah-Nee-Ta Resort. The cost is $2,995, and she will seek a scholarship to help defray the cost, which was included in the recently adopted budget.

- Discussed the growing number of vacancies on the county's volunteer committees. One committee, the Transient Room Tax Review Committee, has only one member and six vacancies. The committee - two must operate motels, bed-and-breakfasts or other accommodations - reviews how the Grant County Chamber of Commerce spends the $50,000 to $60,000 annually generated by the $2-a-night room tax and $1-a-night RV space tax.

- Accepted a $3,000 state grant to the county Planning Department.

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