Grant County Court minutes from Dec. 9, 2020:

Pursuant to notice made to the newspaper of general circulation throughout Grant County, the radio station, county website, 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 Scott W. Myers, Commissioners Jim Hamsher and Sam Palmer, Administrative Assistant Kim Puckett, Reporter Logan Bagett, Reporter Steven Mitchell, and Pastor Levi Manitsas. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Manitsas.

HAND CHECK. The court approved outside of normal claims day check #60651, 60652, 60653.

AGENDA. MSP: Myers/Palmer-- to accept the agenda as amended by leaving open December 30th if needed for another court date.

ANNOUNCEMENTS. Judge Myers performed a wedding on December 1st. On the 2nd the court members had a meeting with Community Counseling Solutions (CCS)/Health Department via phone regarding how the vaccine will roll out. There was also an Emergency Meeting on the 2nd for CARES Act funds to accept those funds and sign a contract in order to allocate into the community. There is about $500,000 for small businesses to distribute through Community Lending Works a contractor out of Eugene. Myers had a walk-through at the Fairgrounds Pavilion to look at the completed project. There was a short list of things that were not complete and will be finished as soon as possible. He had a live meeting using proper social distancing with the Senior Centers Investment Committee to discuss investments with their assets at the John Day Senior Center. On the 8th Myers had a zoom/phone meeting with The Family Heritage Foundation, but only 7 of the 18 members attended by phone resulting in them being unable to conduct business.

Commissioner Palmer attended the same meeting with Community Counseling Solutions (CCS/Health Department via phone concerning the vaccine and when it will roll out. Palmer sat in on interviews for the 4-H committee for the Intermediate Awards. He continued the weekly calls with the State Representatives, Senators, and other County Commissioners. He traveled to Enterprise for an Eastern Oregon Counties Association (EOCA) meeting regarding to the Blues Intergovernmental Council (BIC) and access. Palmer had a phone conversation with Representative Owens to follow up.

Commissioner Hamsher attended a National Association of Counties (NACO) briefing call where they were highlighting what piece of Legislation may be coming down for the new Coronavirus Relief Bill. He said that it seems to have a lot of bipartisan support and that there would be funds in it for Counties and Cities to use as revenue replacement. Hamsher said a good part of this bill is that once funds are distributed to the State, the State is required within 15 days of receipt of the funds to distribute out to the Cities and Counties. He attended a Whitehouse briefing call regarding the vaccine on a nationwide level. He also attended the meeting via phone Commissioner Palmer referred to in Wallowa County. He had a weekly County Commissioners Covid meeting and a League of Oregon Cities (LOC) meeting. He participated in the weekly call with State Senators and Representatives. Hamsher talked with Gina from Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) regarding what the State is recommending if the Cities within the County cannot spend their CARES Act funding and how it can that be transferred over to the County to put to use. He has been talking with numerous business owners trying to encourage them to get the grant applications in and explaining how the program will work and what the time frame is. He hopes that some can finally get some help. All that is needed at this time is to demonstrate a 25% loss in revenue in comparing one month from this year to last year. He had a meeting with a neighboring Commissioner trying to get a grant program set up for one of the town’s in his County. Hamsher said he also talked to several restaurant business owners on how the new metrics will work, he was pleased to announce they have removed the positivity count for Counties under 17,000 in population.

MINUTES. MSP: Myers/Palmer -- to approve the minutes as presented.

COMMUNITY WILDFIRE PROGRAM. Irene Jerome gave the court the annual update on the work she has been doing with the Community Wildfire in 2020. She provided the court with the updated draft of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Please see below for Discussion/Presentation Topics:

Title 3 General Accomplishments

Provided significant input, editing and expertise for the update of the Grant County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan.

Invited and presented at the Oregon State Fire Prevention conference in February. Grant County remains the leader in Firewise Community establishment in eastern Oregon.

Worked with Prairie City Rural Fire chief Marv Rynearson and Prairie City High School Student Jonathan Haskins to gather data in both Prairie City and the surrounding area for the web-based Interra program which is used throughout Oregon by fire officials.

Provided key participation with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Grant Soli and Water Conservation Assistance (SWCD), Malheur National Forest, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), Blue Mountain Forest Partners and others in development of a Joint Chiefs Fuel reduction project in the John Day Valley. Due to obstacles presented by Covid-19 application for Joint Chief’s funding has been delayed until 2021.

Served as chair for the Grant-Harney Fire Prevention Co-op which has (arguably!) been the most highly functioning Fire Prevention Co-op in Oregon until this year. Various issues such as loss of Mark Howell, United States Forest Service (USFS) Blue Mountain Fire prevention tech and the onset of Covid-19 have created setbacks in the cooperative program.

Participated with Grant County Search & Rescue (SAR) on search and rescue exercise in Bear Valley and mock wildfire evacuation in the Upper Laycock Creek Rd Firewise Community.

Continued to work with various communities to establish new Firewise Communities and maintain existing Firewise Communities.

Updated the Grant County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) with the help of the coordinating committee.

Held annual CWPP meeting on October 20.

Grant County Firewise Communities Update

Canyon Creek Lane is Grant Counties newest officially recognized Firewise Community.

Upper Laycock Creek Road and Pine Creek Firewise Communities remain interested and engaged in the program.

Middle Fork and Ritter Firewise Communities are losing interest. With Covid-19 it was impossible to have any type of community building activity this year which is critical in these dispersed areas. The residents of these areas continue to shift and changed and the Firewise concept is still extremely relevant due to the new residents moving into the County every month. Because internet is either nonexistent or speeds are not sufficient to support video conferencing this has not been a viable option during these times of separation. Ideally the 2021 year will provide opportunities for gathering again.

Prairie City and the surrounding area, the Top Road area out of Monument, and the Dayville area have residents that have expressed interest in the program. Local community engagement is necessary to move these communities forward.


A draft version of the updated CWPP was provided to the County Court in December of 2019. Unfortunately, that draft was not finalized for various reasons most notably the onset of the pandemic and the lack of a meaningful way to gather communities for input. It was Jerome’s hope during the spring that the fall would provide opportunities to engage with residents across Grant County. Obviously that has not happened. Jerome gathered input to the extent possible and updated the CWPP, a draft of which the court will receive shortly. This document will be finalized directly after the first of the year. Additional or further revision can take place at any time in the future as necessary.

The purpose of the CWPP is for communities to take full responsibility and advantage of wildland fire and hazardous fuel management opportunities offered under HFRA legislation. The CWPP allows a community to evaluate its current situation with regards to wildfire risk and plan ways to reduce risk for protection of human welfare and other important economic, social or ecological values. The CWPP may address issues such as community wildfire risk, structure flammability, hazardous fuels and non-fuels mitigation, community preparedness, and emergency procedures. The CWPP should be tailored to meet the needs of the community.

Specifically the CWPP will focus on developing a County strategy that utilizes a three pronged approach in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas by blending 1) fuels treatment, 2) emergency management, and 3) fire prevention. Areas of focus under each area are outlined below:

Fire Prevention

Continue to actively participate in the Grant-Harney Fire Prevention


Continue outreach and education efforts to all county landowners.

Continue to implement Firewise Communities USA program in Grant County.

Continue to integrate Firewise building practices into Grant County building standards throughout the County.

Develop a succession plan to retain a fire prevention coordinator to manage the Grant County CWPP and Firewise Communities program when Title 3 monies are exhausted.

Continue to develop and implement a county-wide GIS system to manage this CWPP

Fuels Treatment

Prioritize fuels reduction in high risk areas on private lands and work with ODF to implement

Prioritize fuels reduction work on federal lands adjacent to the WUI in conjunction with federal agencies

Work closely with USFS, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and NPS officials to create fuel breaks next to private lands and to minimize hazardous fuels on federal lands.

Seek cost efficient methods and outlets for disposal of fuels generated from hazardous fuels reduction projects.

Develop incentive based fuel reduction and maintenance plans on private lands.

Emergency Management

Complete a road hazard assessment to address and identify potential problems for evacuation and fire apparatus response during a wildfire situation and actively seek opportunities to implement improvements to rural roads.

Maintain and update County evacuation plans as necessary.

Identify needs and assist with fulfillment of those needs for local fire districts.

Work with the USFS to keep roads open critical for emergency services access.

Continue to improve coordination and documentation between the various emergency response agencies and systems in the county.

Work with Grant County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) to develop county-wide communications via strategically located radio towers/antennas.

EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION. The court members signed Certificates of Appreciation for employees with 5 or more years of continuous service to the County. Judge Myers read the employee name and years of service from each certificate. Mike Alley-20 years, Joe Bennett- 5 years, Laurie Cates -5 years, John Harper-5 years, Anna Marie Kuhn-10 years, Jamie McKay-10 years, Zach Mobley-10 years, Glenn Palmer-20 years, Shannon Springer-15 years, David Thunell-15 years, Mindy Winegar-5 years.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA) WILDLIFE SERVICES. Shane Koyle the new supervisor from LaGrande gave the court an update on the Predator Control Program and its future structure in Grant County. Koyle stated that they will receive State and Federal money along with Grant County’s contribution.

ROAD DEPARTMENT. Alan Hickerson, Road Master, requested approval from the court to re-purpose one of the older trucks into a water truck. They have a 1986 Kenworth transport truck that would make a good water truck, kits for converting a transport truck into a water truck are available and the price is quite a bit cheaper than buying a good used water truck. The kit has been priced out at $30,743.39 with county mechanics doing all the labor. It’s a great plan but if they use one of the transport trucks for a water truck they will need to replace the transport truck and want to do it at a good price. Joe Bennett found a used truck at Hageman Inc. in Umatilla that would fit the needs, it would need a little work on the back frame rails but Joe could do it in the shop. The price is $47,500. The total price of this project would be $78,243.39 and out of this deal the Road Department would get a fourth water truck and an omissions compliant transport truck which he believes is going to be of more importance in the current political climate in Oregon.MSP: Palmer/Myers --to approve the purchase of the Water Truck Kit in the amount of $78,243.39. The Road Department would like to purchase a sandbag machine from Todd Smith. About three years ago when Canyon City Creek was running over its banks, Todd Smith came down to the sand shed with his equipment and started making sandbags, a lot of sandbags in a short amount of time. It was very impressive. Smith is willing to sell the machine for $8,500, Hickerson believes this would be a good investment for Grant County and it would give the Road Department two sandbag machines, one manual and the other power. MSP: Palmer/ Myers --to approve the purchase of the Sandbagger Machine in the amount of $8,500. The Road Department would also like to purchase fork lift forks for the backhoe in Long Creek, currenty to move or unload pallets, they have to use a chain or do it by hand. The price of the Forks is $800. MSP: Myers/Hamsher--to allow the purchase of the Fork Lift Prongs for the Long Creek Shop.

COMMITTEE VOLUNTEERS. Volunteer applications were reviewed by the court along with member resignations.

Airport Commission: Robert Watt, Robert Baggett, Doug Ferguson, Scott Myers requested re-appointment to this board. MSP: Myers/Hamsher to re-appoint Robert Watt, Robert Baggett, Doug Ferguson, Scott Myers with terms to expire December 31, 2022.

Budget Committee: On hold pending committee review of applications.

College Advisory Board: Didgette McCracken requested re-appointment to this board. MSP: Myers /Palmer -- to re-appoint Didgette McCracken with a term to expire December 31, 2023. Kristi Moore requested appointment to this board. MSP: Myers/Palmer --to appoint Kristi Moore with a term to expire December 31, 2023.

Extension & 4H Service District Advisory Council: Beth Spell requested re-appointment to this board. MSP: Myers/Palmer --to re-appoint Beth Spell with a term to expire December 31, 2023.

Fairboard: Courtney Montague and Doug Cox requested re-appointment to this board. MSP: Myers/Palmer to reappoint Courtney Montague and Doug Cox with terms to expire December 31, 2023.

Mental Health Advisory Board: Kathleen Hoffman and Colleen Lindley requested appointment to this board. MSP: Myers/Palmer-- to appoint Kathleen Hoffman and Colleen Lindley with terms to expire December 31, 2023.

Natural Resources Advisory Committee (NRAC): Jim Bahrenburg, Dan Becker, and Billie Jo George requested re-appointment to this board. MSP: Myers/Palmer --to re-appoint Jim Bahrenburg, Dan Becker, Billie Jo George to this board with terms to expire December 31, 2022. Further appointments were put on hold pending committee review of applications.

Planning Commission: Margie Walton requested re-appointment to this board. MSP: Myers/Palmer --to re-appoint Margie Walton to this board with a term to expire December 31, 2024.

Senior Citizen Advisory Committee: Susan Cavender and Karen Stubblefield requested appointment to this board. MSP: Myers/Palmer --to appoint Susan Cavender with a term to expire December 31, 2021 and Karen Stubblefield with a term to expire December 31, 2023.

Southeast Area Commission on Transportation: Doug Ferguson requested re-appointment on this board. MSP: Myers/Palmer --to re-appoint Doug Ferguson with a term to expire December 31, 2023.

Wildlife Advisory Board: John Morris and Kenneth Moore requested re-appointment to this board. MSP: Myers/Palmer --to re-appoint John Morris and Kenneth Moore with terms to expire December 31, 2023. Bob Pugh requested appointment to this board. MSP: Myers/Palmer--to appoint Bob Pugh with a term to expire December 31, 2023.

ASSESSOR. The court reviewed Order #2020-09 in the matter of Refund of Real Property Taxes 2020 & 2021 in the amount of $2934.49, MSP: Myers/Palmer --to approve and sign Order #2020-09 to Refund Real Property Taxes.

PUBLIC COMMENT. Public comment was accepted.

10:50 am Adjourned

Respectfully Submitted,

Kim Puckett

Administrative Assistant

**** Please note the court minutes are a summary of the court proceedings. An audio recording of each court session is available, after approval of the minutes, by contacting Kim Puckett at 541-575-0059 or **


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