County welcomes new hires, shuffles offices

Katee Hoffman was hired as Grant County's new veterans service officer in 2017.

Road, building and office projects were the highlights for the county in 2017, Grant County Judge Scott Myers told the Eagle.

Roadmaster Alan Hickerson said preparation work was completed on County Road 18 near Magone Lake, including cattle guards and brush-clearing, in preparation for chip-sealing in 2018.

Federal government crews in 2018 will rebuild County Road 73 near Drewsey, which has a bad base and pavement, Hickerson said. Work will begin on the Granite road project in 2018, with seven miles of 33-year-old pavement and four new bridges needed to replace culverts. The county will provide a 10 percent match for the project, which could run around $8 million in total, Hickerson said.

New hires for the county include Katee Hoffman in the Veteran Services office and Allison Field at the Economic Development office. Myers said Field’s grant writing abilities will be an asset for the county.

With the OSU Extension Office relocated to the Madden Business and Education Center in John Day, a shuffling of offices is underway at the county’s L Building on Highway 26, with the Economic Development office moving into the former Extension Office location. The Emergency Management and Veteran Services offices likely will also relocate to the L Building, Myers said.

Both the Treasurer’s and County Court offices were remodeled in 2017, with new carpeting and painting, Myers said.

New reader boards and a new audio system were installed at the Grant County Fairgrounds, Myers said. Planning continues for remodeling Keerins Hall — bids are being collected for a new roof, which could be installed in spring 2018. Myers said volunteers likely would hang new siding on the hall.

A leaky library roof in November 2016 resulted in about four months of remodeling and repair, Library Director Vicki Bond said — including a new roof, a new wall, painting and a new carpet. Books and bookcases had to be temporarily moved during the project, which concluded in late March. A new bike rack will be installed outside by February 2018.

Looking forward, the library will offer a program through the Dollywood Foundation and sponsored by Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative that will provide one age-appropriate book per month for children for their first five years, Bond said. Other programs include the monthly Lego Night, a music program starting in April and the Summer Reading program.

Grant County and other Eastern Oregon counties were represented at numerous Forest Service meetings in 2017 during the Malheur National Forest Plan revision, Myers said. County representatives were successful in relaxing grazing regulations and reducing the number of acres set aside for wilderness study areas or potential wilderness, Myers said.

Commissioners from Harney and Wallowa counties traveled to Washington, D.C., when the Forest Plan was presented. The final environmental impact statement for the Forest Plan is expected to be completed by July 2018, and work will begin next on the Malheur National Forest’s Travel Management Plan, Myers said.

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