Grant County Search and Rescue received three letters in support of a program aimed at helping school children learn about outdoors preparation.

SAR Coordinator Dave Dobler read a letter to the Grant County Court on March 27 from the family of Lucas Cavalle, who went missing on Fields Peak and was recovered Dec. 6. The family acknowledged that their son was not dressed properly or prepared for his day hike during severe winter weather.

Dobler also read a letter from the Letosky family. Joe Letosky Jr. and Joe Letosky Sr. drove their trucks into the Deer Creek area and got stuck in deep snow Feb. 21. They had some emergency gear but needed assistance from SAR personnel. Their trucks were still there, Dobler said.

He also read a letter from Ed Westervelt, whose vehicle got stuck in deep snow in the Middle Fork area. Westervelt tried to hike cross-country to his cabin and nearly froze to death.

Westervelt was fortunate his cellphone was able to reach 911 dispatch and had hypothermia when he was found by SAR personnel. He promised in his support letter to completely match Dobler’s $2,500 request to the court for the educational program.

The court approved the funding, which will be used to pay for whistles, glowsticks, flashlights and other items that will be handed out to children at Humbolt Elementary, Seneca and Prairie City schools during the presentations.

In other county court news from March 27:

• The court approved a request from Roadmaster Alan Hickerson to purchase a $36,000 used DuraPatcher machine that uses a chip sealing-type method to repair road shoulders and fix potholes.

The machine is easy to use and maintain, Hickerson said. DuraPatchers are in high demand this time of year and could be loaned out to the local cities, he said.

• The court renewed a $6,000 contract for the sheriff’s office to provide forest patrols to the Forest Service.

• The court approved a letter to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee urging support of fully funding federal payment-in-lieu of taxes to counties with federal lands in their jurisdiction.

“PILT provides critical resources to nearly 1,900 counties across 49 states to offset lost property tax revenue due to the presence of tax-exempt federal lands within their jurisdictions,” the letter said.

The letter noted, without steady and fixed annual PILT payments, the counties face difficulties providing essential services to its residents and visitors, including law enforcement, search and rescue, education, road maintenance and public health.

• The court approved a first reading for an ordinance updating the county’s building permit fees as required by the state’s Accela online filing system. A second reading of the ordinance will take place April 24, and the system will go live April 29.

In news from the April 10 county court meeting:

• The court approved a resolution allowing Commissioner Jim Hamsher to sign legal documents in place of Judge Scott Myers for a federal Community Development Block Grant that will be used to pay for a new Heart of Grant County domestic abuse shelter.

• The court appointed Lance Zweygardt to the OSU Extension and 4-H Service District Advisory Council and Stephen Baldwin to the Senior Citizens Advisory Council and the Wolf Depredation Committee.

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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