IN THE COUNTY COURT OF THE STATE OF OREGON
IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF GRANT
FEBRUARY 1, 2012
Pursuant to notice made to the newspaper of general circulation throughout Grant County, the radio station in Grant County 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 Mark R. Webb, Commissioners Scott W. Myers and Boyd Britton, Secretary Mary Ferrioli and Chaplain Richie Colbeth. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States flag. The invocation was given by Chaplain Colbeth.
PROGRAM. MSP: Webb/Britton -- to accept the program as presented
Webb met with US Representative Greg Walden's Aide Riley Beshue for lunch yesterday to discuss stream bank restoration issues.
Myers would attend a Commission on Children and Families board meeting at 5:30 pm February 2 at the state building to discuss possible fiscal changes beginning July 1.
Britton reported on a meeting he attended at the federal building with the USDA Farm Service Agency regarding plans to consolidate services and close the local FSA field office.
MINUTES. MSP: Webb/Myers -- to approve the minutes of January 25 as amended.
FINANCIAL AUDIT. Court members reviewed and approved Engagement Letters and Audit Contracts for the Grant County and Grant County Extension & 4H Service District 2011-2012 audit process. The documents had been previously provided by Oster Professional Group CPAs. MSP: Myers/Webb -- to authorize Judge Webb's signature on the Engagement Letters and Audit Contracts for Grant County and the Grant County Extension & 4H Service District.
COMMITTEE. The court officially accepted the letter of resignation from the Library Advisory Board recently received from Carol Faulkner and Adele Cerny. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to accept the resignations of Carol Faulkner and Adele Cerny from the Library Advisory Board and send a letter of thanks for their service.
TRAVEL REQUEST. Webb said he has been invited to participate in a Dry Forest Investment Zone Outreach Week event with the Sustainable Northwest team February 21-24 in Washington DC. The DFIZ includes 15 counties across eastern Oregon and northern California. The goals of the project are to increase the health of forested landscapes and the vitality of rural communities, businesses, and entrepreneurs in the DFZ. A regional model will be developed to increase the viability of sustainable forest stewardship in which rural communities participate and prosper.
Webb asked the court for permission to participate. Costs for airfare, meals, and ground transportation would be fully reimbursed by Sustainable Northwest. Hotel costs are paid directly by Sustainable Northwest. Webb felt it was fruitful to have an elected official present to participate at this meeting. Myers felt it was a good investment. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve Judge Webb's request to attend DFIZ Outreach Weed in Washington DC at their expense or our expense or a combination of the two.
TITLE 3. Court members reviewed and signed the Personal Services Contract with Forest Resources Affairs, LLC for the Title 3 Healthy Private Timberlands Project. The court had approved this Title 3 project contract at their January 18 meeting. MSP: Webb/Myers -- to authorize Judge Webb's signature on the Personal Services Contract with Forest Resources Affairs, LLC for the Healthy Private Forest Timberlands Title 3 Project. Britton voted no, because he'd like to change some of the focus of the project. Myers said that it may be possible to address that issue, the way the contract is written.
COMMUNITY COUNSELING. The court reviewed an Interim Administrative Agreement with Community Counseling Solutions, Inc. to 1.) Provide research and information on Electronic Health Records and 2.) Provide additional management oversight to the Health Department staff. An initial draft of the agreement was discussed with Health Department representatives during the court's January 25 meeting. Legal counsel Ron Yockim had reviewed the final document and provided some changes to language which were recently incorporated. Yockim also provided Webb with the statutory requirements the county needs to meet in order to declare a sole source procurement under ORS 279B.075. Webb thought due diligence has been done in declaring a sole provider. He had determined Blue Mountain Hospital is unable to provide the scope of work outlines in items 1 & 2. Britton felt we could sign this agreement. Myers expressed appreciation for the extra time and trouble to establish sole-provider status. He asked about risk involved with oversight of county employees by CCS. Webb pointed out that staff oversight would not include any disciplinary decision since that responsibility belongs to John Combs and the court. All court members signed the agreement.
9:45 am -- Ashley Daniel and Andrea Officer entered
VICTIM ASSISTANCE. Victim Assistance Program Director Ashley Daniel requested approval for Victim Intervention Specialist Andrea Officer to attend the End Violence Against Women International Conference being held in San Diego CA April 2-4. Officer was present for the discussion. Daniel believed the experience would be a direct benefit to this position. She said VAWA Rural grant funds will cover the training cost. Total anticipated expenses include registration $450 / airfare $350 / lodging $584 / mileage $160 and meals $ 200. Britton asked
about some of the curriculum to be presented at the conference. MSP: Webb/Myers -- to approve Andrea Officer's attendance at the EVAW International Conference in San Diego April 2-4. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to waive current county per diem requirements while attending this conference.
10:00 am - News Reporter Scotta Callister, Mark Hensley, Greg Bremner and Al Cothum entered
CR 63. Roadmaster Mark Hensley met with the court to discuss options for the County Road 63 project. An itemized preliminary project cost estimate from Ferguson Surveying & Engineering for a S. Fork John Day River Bridge Construction project totaling $720,072.90 was provided. It was explained that the bridge bents, new road alignment and new creek channel have been designed. Remaining engineering consists of acquisition of the Joint Permit / wetland delineation, acquisition of right-of-way, drafting the final construction plans, and preparation of the contract documents. Hensley said this project started out with replacement of a 12 foot box culvert at under $200,000.00. Then, that lead to curve realignment and a bridge with involvement by DSL, Corp of Engineers, and ODF&W. Then, that lead to a 60 foot span concrete bridge, wet-land mitigation, and relocation of Pine Creek totaling over $720,000.000. Hensley recommended not doing work on a road with such low travel [<50 vehicles / day] because it would be money not well spent. Webb agreed. Hensley suggested just widening the east approach on the bridge, placing rip-rap, shoulder extension and new guard rails, then new cold mix over the top which would get us about 20 years. He added there is nothing structurally wrong with the bridge other than old age. Webb had seen the road and believed Hensley's recommendation would give us a good road. Britton understood the bridge could be rehabilitated in the future, if needed. In response to Myers' inquiry, Hensley explained the county's bridge inspection process. MSP: Webb/Britton - to move forward with Hensley's suggestion not to construct the bridge, but complete widening, rails and an overlay as indicated for the reasons described.
IZEE-PAULINA HIGHWAY. Roadmaster Mark Hensley spoke with the court about changes in volume, rock quality, and rock crushing costs with De Atley's $64,000.00 change order request for the Izee-Paulina Highway project. Hensley said, in a sense, we would still be saving about $200,000 on this contract. After Hensley reviewed the issue, it was the consensus of the court to move forward with the change order. Hensley was previously authorized to sign change orders for this project.
SAFETY POLICY. Roadmaster Mark Hensley and Safety & Risk Manager Greg Bremner discussed the incident report and drug and alcohol policy. Hensley said he learned the county's incident / accident reports are inadequate for the Road Department. He felt they are vague with no follow up. For instance, he said, three incidents at the Road Department have gotten SAIF and CIS insurance, and legal counsel involved in the process. Bremner had prepared new documents which were distributed to the court. Hensley said the department's goal is to fulfill legal needs, make the system more functional, and have a positive result for employees and the county. He felt safety awareness could be enhanced by the crew and management learning what is important.
Webb agreed the county would need to get up to speed with its safety program and thought Hensley and Bremner should move forward.
Bremner talked about incidents at the department and addressed the SAIF 300 and county incident / accident forms. He suggested that employees get more involved with answering questions on the incident / accident form. Bremner talked about last week's meeting with SAIF rep Scott Brown about making changes to the form to better address safety concerns. Bremner and Hensley also described alcohol and drug testing associated with CDL laws and requirements. Webb clarified that SAIF had recommended the scope would need to be enlarged. It was pointed out that alcohol and drug testing, associated with an accident, protects both the county and the employee. It was the consensus of the court to allow the Road Department to proceed with improvements to the safety program as discussed.
10:45 am - King Williams and Zach Williams entered
Hensley also asked the court about sponsoring an upcoming AOC eastern Oregon Public Road Officials meeting to be held in John Day at the Outpost. Myers felt it was good for public relations. Webb and Britton agreed with county sponsorship of this meeting.
11:00 Ashley Daniel, Andrea Officer, Cleo McCluskey, Debby McClellan and Kathy Smith entered
PER DIEM / CELL PHONES. The court discussed new language presented for the Employee Handbook on per diem and cell phone policies to address motions passed at the January 18 meeting. Deputy Clerk-Bookkeeper Debby McClellan explained changes she incorporated in existing Training and Travel policy about the new up-to $40.00 daily rate for meals EXHIBIT A. She added that language addressing more accountability was also included. Myers sought clarification on the gratuity being included in the individual meal rate. Myers personally believed the $40.00 daily rate should not be viewed as an "entitlement" to expend public funds. Webb believed if the county was willing to spend the lump sum, it would show trust and respect for the employee. Legal Assistant Cleo McCluskey clarified that a conference sponsored meal wouldn't be included in the daily rate. Britton believed McClellan did a good job incorporating the court's changes. However, he wanted to see itemized amounts for breakfast, lunch and dinner deleted because he felt the $40.00 daily rate and 25%, 50%, or 75% allowance for a partial day is all that's needed in the policy. It was suggested that a meeting with Department Heads be held to explain details of the new policy. Discussion followed about how per diem policy is being handled by Harney and Crook counties, the need to provide receipts for expenditures, and the need for Department Heads to take more management responsibility to assure that employees' expenditures are reasonable and Travel Expense Reports are accurately completed. Webb and Britton both liked the per diem policy used in Crook County. McClelland thought adding the words "reasonable and prudent" was better than using a 10:00 am cut-off time for 75% per diem. Britton agreed. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to accept the per diem contributions as presented with 15% gratuity and remove itemization for breakfast, lunch and dinner rates, and add the words "reasonable and prudent" to Item 6. Myers voted no. MSP: Britton/Webb - to keep the original motion, except strike Item 6, insert the Crook County language, and use the $40 rate. Myers voted no. Daniel said she would contact Crook County to obtain their policy language. Treasurer Kathy Smith questioned who would be determining who is "reasonable and prudent." She believed everyone would have their own definition. Britton thought we have good employees who are reasonable and prudent and would look after the interest of Grant County.
New language on cell phones was reviewed in response to the court's January 18 motion to create a new policy. Myers asked how many people would meet the criteria. Webb thought there would be no more employees getting reimbursed than those who are already using cell phones. Daniel asked if Andrea Officer would be allowed to have one since her grant states she is to be on call. Webb said the policy essentially applies to people who have county cell service now, and grant funds are not relevant to the criteria. The policy is not intended to change the number of county employees who are required to carry a cell phone. Webb indicated that he would have a $55 per month charge for data service which currently is not in place, and the Roadmaster would probably have a $35 per month charge. Other cell phone service that's currently in place for the DA's office was clarified with Daniel. MSP: Myers/Britton - to approve the new cell phone policy as presented -- with a copy of the bill required for the first reimbursement and again each January and July thereafter.
11:45 am - The court meeting was recessed until the next agenda item at 6:30 pm.
At 6:30 pm the meeting resumed. Present were all court members and Library Advisory Board members Roberta Gilmore, Louise LeDuc, John Aasness, Jandy Torland, and Scotta Callister, plus Librarian Vicki Waters.
LIBRARY ADVISORY BOARD. The court had scheduled a meeting with its Library Advisory Board members to discuss ongoing communications and the working relationship between the board and the court. Participants are listed above. Webb said at the last board meeting he attended the board shared things with him that were the board's responsibility to share with the entire court. Since two board members have since resigned, he didn't know if the board's feelings had changed. However, Webb's sense was the board had serious complaints about the court that need to be shared. Myers noted that the court has seen some of the concerns in the emails and letters that have transpired. Webb wasn't interested in having the court's relationship with the board being complicated in the future. He felt there are some attitudes on the part of board members that need to be addressed. Webb asked the board how it wanted to proceed.
LeDuc personally wanted to get past the difficulty, see what the future holds for the library, and make it successful for the Librarian and the county. Callister hoped the board can move on and still be able to come up with ideas and proposals that can be taken in an open context rather than colored by past bad blood. She believed future communications would be a big step toward working together in the future.
Aasness agreed and said the problem needs to be solved so we can "get above it." He personally wanted to know the legal boundaries of the board. Myers noted that legal counsel could be involved with that clarification. Aasness thought problems need to be solved if the court and board is to get along in the future. Webb offered to have legal counsel comment on the statutes as they apply to the advisory board making recommendations. Aasness understood the board has certain authority, unless the governing body stipulates otherwise. He referred to the county's Resolution that defines the role and responsibilities of the Library Advisory Board. Outside of the statutes, Callister felt the board and court need to have a working relationship that involves trust and respect between the two groups.
Webb agreed that statutes aren't the real issue today. Rather, it's an understanding of the attitudes and issues that came out at that board meeting. Webb asked the board if it agrees with statements in a letter the court received on January 6 RE: Recent Hiring Process. Included was "egregious actions by the court that sees itself accountable to no one, the court repeatedly treating the board with distrust and disrespect, and the contemptuous attitude the court has taken toward the people of Grant County, treating us as if we neither want nor deserve better."
If the board still thinks that, Webb wondered how the board honestly thinks there can be a healthy working relationship. Louise LeDuc acknowledged that those board members who felt most strongly the court had acted irresponsibly are no longer on the advisory board.
Board members talked about their concerns and opinions. Court members responded with explanations to the concerns expressed, and reasons and situations influencing the action taken, including budget considerations to provide some additional funds for training and services. The court sought clarification about the board's concern of miscommunications, misunderstandings, and angry feelings. Generally, board members felt it was a "two-sided problem with issues on both sides," and they were surprised at the hiring decision - thinking the board would be contacted before the decision is made. It was felt communications needed to go both ways and the board should have been notified about the hiring decision, as a courtesy. Webb explained, at the time, the county had two part time employees that were doing the work of three. He understood the board's concern about not being notified before the decision was made. However, he was frustrated because the conversation taking place now is what he expected to have that night at the board meeting. He expected to talk with the board about why the court made the decision it did and acknowledge the court didn't follow everything the board suggested. Webb also wanted to share what the court wanted to do to help the library and Librarian move toward the things the board has planned - but he wasn't given an opportunity to do that. The Librarian felt the board had demonstrated anger and a lack of respect for the court - that the public did not need to see.
The county planned to clarify the pertinent statutes. The board was going to contact LEO and the state library to see if there are practical benchmarks for our library within the context of Grant County and the library budget.
8:05 pm - Adjourned Respectfully Submitted, Mary R. Ferrioli / County Court Secretary