Commissioner Rob Raschio's last court meeting

Commissioner Rob Raschio speaks at his final Grant County Court meeting Dec. 19. He was appointed to fill in for Boyd Britton and will be replaced by Sam Palmer, who defeated Gordon Larson in the November election.

The Grant County Court unanimously approved a $6,750 request by CASA of Grant County at their Dec. 19 meeting, pending a final decision on where the funding will come from in the county budget.

CASA Executive Director Hannah Hinman made the request one week earlier after explaining the organization’s fundraising challenges and the need to increase the amount of local support.

Commissioner Rob Raschio, attending his last meeting as an appointee before Commissioner-elect Sam Palmer takes his seat, said he had spoken to local staff at the Department of Human Services about the difficulties CASA faces.

Raschio said DHS figures on the number of foster children in Grant and Harney counties are not the same as those presented by Hinman, and DHS did not implement the differential response policy here that has been blamed for increasing the number of foster children elsewhere in the state. He said he invited a DHS official to speak to the court.

In other county court news:

• Judge Scott Myers said he had been waiting for county counsel advice on the structure and makeup of a proposed Water Resource Committee, which would advise the court on water issues.

Shaun Robertson, representing the task force that proposed the committee to the court, said the committee would fall under the umbrella of a proposed Natural Resource Committee.

Robertson noted that water conflicts tend to be in-basin versus out-of-basin and consumption versus nonconsumption. He also said he intentionally did not invite state and federal agencies to the task force meetings.

Commissioner Jim Hamsher motioned that the committee be made from the existing task force members. Myers asked Robertson to send the names to the court so they could be reviewed. Raschio said he wanted to be sure Grant County cities were represented.

• A court discussion on changes to the county’s policy for reimbursing travel expenses drew a number of elected officials and other department heads.

Raschio’s proposal for flat fees and a check-off form to simplify the process encountered pushback from Myers, who cited past abuses by county employees, and County Clerk Brenda Percy, whose department handles expense reports.

The court agreed to bring the matter back when the county budget is being drafted.

• Grant County Economic Development Coordinator Sally Bartlett reported that Title III funds from the May authorization of the Secure Rural Schools Act totaled $81,486.

Search and rescue and emergency services account for $75,000 of the funding, with the rest going to the Firewise Communities Program and the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

• The court approved the future appointment of Sam Palmer as the county’s public health administrator, a new position mandated by the state. Palmer, who has worked many years as a nurse, will be appointed after he takes office in January.

• The court approved an ordinance establishing a planning department fee for naming roads. When added to the existing cost of street signs installed by the county, the cost is estimated to be $500.

• The court approved Roadmaster Alan Hickerson’s request for $5,344 to provide backup heat for the department’s offices.

• The court’s next meeting will be on Jan. 9.

Richard Hanners is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be contacted at rick@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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