Compensation proposals for county employees and elected officials were raised during the Grant County Court meeting May 8.

Justice of the Peace Kathy Stinnett said she fully supported creating a full-time human resources position for the county, and she offered some suggestions on how to reorganize the county’s compensation system.

Stinnett suggested eliminating some job categories as well as stipends for work outside of a job description. She also described the benefits of implementing a step system based on training and merit.

Commissioner Jim Hamsher said he agreed that employees should be paid for what they do and not for how much education they have. He noted that some employees handle responsibilities far beyond their official education levels and that they might leave if not compensated for that work.

Commissioner Sam Palmer raised his earlier suggestion that Hamsher be compensated for taking on additional work during the April floods while County Judge Scott Myers was absent for medical reasons.

Laurie Wright, who will head up the county’s new human resources office, said that suggestion could “open up a can of worms” as other elected officials would request the same benefit and then the process would “snowball” to other employees.

Wright also addressed earlier opinions raised in a court meeting about appointing someone to fill in for Myers in his absence, noting that only the governor could do that.

Hamsher said he agreed with Palmer and suggested putting the commissioner compensation topic on a future court agenda.

In other court news:

• The court approved several requests from Grant County Roadmaster Alan Hickerson, including purchasing a new low-boy trailer to haul road graders, advertising for a new position at Long Creek and purchasing a shipping container to store flood supplies.

Hickerson said he’d like to store pallets of filled sandbags, bales of unfilled bags and a sandbag-filling machine in the shipping container to keep the bags out of harmful sunlight and ready for instant use.

Hamsher said the April floods caused an estimated $1.5 million in damages to public property and maybe more than that to private property. He said one landowner needed numerous dump truck loads of material to repair a private road.

• The court appointed five volunteers to the Transient Room Tax Review Committee: Jenny Shaw, Karin Barntish, Larry Pierce, Bob Quinton and Mike Springer.

• The court issued a proclamation designating the month of May from this year forward as Older Americans Month in Grant County.

The proclamation noted that, according to U.S. Census estimates, 29.6 percent of the county’s residents are 65 years or older compared to 17.1 percent for the state and 15.6 percent for the nation.

Hamsher pointed out that many committee volunteers serving the county are older people.

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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