Heather Rookstool April 27.jpg

John Day City Councilor Heather Rookstool speaks about Fourth Street repairs at a city council meeting.

A meeting between John Day and the Grant County Court about repairing flood damages to Fourth Street may happen but is still in the works.

John Day City Councilor Heather Rookstool said she sent an email to each member of the Grant County Court and got a response from County Judge Scott Myers and Commissioner Sam Palmer.

Rookstool told the commissioners she wanted to follow up with the court regarding previous emails sent to them about helping repair Fourth Street.

Palmer responded to Rookstool and said he is willing to meet any time, especially since it creates a hazard if it’s not addressed.

“The county also has assets that are beneficial to having this fixed,” Rookstool read from the email she received from Palmer. “I’m not sure how to get Scott or Jim to the table, and I’ve talked to Scott and he remains reluctant. I haven’t talked to Jim yet, but I will. Thanks for reaching out.”

The email she received from Myers on April 22 stated that the county’s legal counsel is reviewing the proposal.

However, Councilor Paul Smith clarified that the Fourth Street repair request has nothing to do with the attorneys. A separate request for a loan from the Road Reserve Fund to fund joint road investments to spur land development had been sent to the county attorney.

Rookstool proposed setting up a meeting at 6 p.m. May 11 and said Palmer seemed interested.

“I think Sam really does want to get together,” Rookstool said.

Palmer told the Eagle that the Fourth Street project is a “public safety issue” that needs to be addressed.

“It’s turning into ‘I hate Nick Green, don’t give him anything, make him fail, maybe he’ll leave,’” Palmer said. “That’s what a lot of it is, but I tell you, if somebody got hurt or killed or had issues, there’s no way I could live with myself.”

He said the county has assets in the area and thinks the county shares a “little bit” of the cost burden, but not the “whole piece.”

The estimated cost to repair Fourth Street, which was damaged by flooding in 2019, is $1.6 million, according the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s scope and cost report.

FEMA will cover 75% of the cost with a 25% match required, $398,281, according to a letter sent to the county from City Manager Nick Green on April 1.

The city council and budget committee approved the city’s budget for fiscal year 2021-2022 that anticipates $400,000 from the county to cover the match cost of the grant from FEMA.

“If the county declines this request, we will need a loan for this amount to complete the project,” John Day Manager Nick Green said in the budget message.

Smith said in a meeting on April 20 that the council has gone to the county several times verbally and through emails with no response from the court regarding the Fourth Street repairs.

John Day and the Grant County Court met in a work session on Oct. 14 where they talked about the Fourth Street project, but no decision was made afterward.


Rudy Diaz is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at rudy@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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