Grant County Court minutes from Nov. 28, 2018:

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 Rob Raschio, Administrative Assistant Laurie Wright, Sasha Fertig, Kate Cueno, Bob Foxworth, Leisa Cooke, Amanda Lindsay, Mary Lou Welby, Dan DuShey, Frances Preston, Katy Nelson, Judy Kerr, Reporter Rick Hanners, Sharon Livingston, Sam Palmer, Sheriff Glenn Palmer, John Morris and Pastor Flora Cheadle. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Cheadle.

CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims and extension district warrants #57-69 on November 14th. The court had reviewed and approved claims on November 20th.

HAND CHECK. The court approved a hand check to Steve’s Hometown Toyota for purchase of a used vehicle for the Veteran Services Officer.

AGENDA. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to accept the agenda as presented.

SHERIFF. Sheriff Palmer advised the court that he was contacted by the Clackamas County Medical Examiner regarding some unidentified human remains discovered up Vance Creek that have been in the custody of the Sheriff’s Department for many years. DNA testing was completed on the remains several years ago, but no identification was made. The History Channel will be producing a show and would like to pay for new DNA testing on the unidentified remains. Palmer believes this may lead to another homicide investigation and wanted the court to know this could create additional costs to his budget.

9:02 am Dan Becker entered.

ANNOUNCEMENTS. Judge Myers attended the AOC Conference during the week of November 13th with Commissioner Hamsher and Commissioner Elect Sam Palmer. On November 19th Myers attended an IGC meeting regarding the new 911 dispatch center. Myers met with the Safety Committee on the 20th and on November 26th he conducted an employee performance evaluation. Yesterday Myers attended the Forest Plan Revision resolution meeting to speak on wilderness issues. Also on the 27th Myers assisted with a survey as Mental Health Advisory Chairperson at CCS and then traveled to Burns to meet with OSU representatives and others to discuss a possible shared AG/Natural Resource Advisor. This afternoon Myers will meet with road department personnel to discuss some personnel issues and will travel to Ontario tomorrow with the Veteran Services Officer to pick up a used vehicle.

Commissioner Hamsher attended the AOC Conference and went to numerous meetings. He said he spoke with Senator Wyden’s aid and Senator Walden’s aid while at the AOC meeting. Hamsher also spoke at the Forest Plan Revision resolution meeting yesterday and will travel to Pendleton this afternoon to speak again.

9:08 am King Williams entered.

Commissioner Raschio congratulated Sam Palmer on his election win and advised he and Palmer have been speaking frequently. Raschio attended the Forest Service objections yesterday and spoke during public participation. Raschio reported he has wondered in the past if the division within our community was caused by personality division or policies. It was pointed out at the meeting that we need to have two sawmills running in our community and to get Prairie Wood Products going again. Raschio sent the Cramer Fish Study to Douglas Young (USFS) and the Public Forest Commission Report to Randy Phillips (USFS) and believes there are people in Washington, DC who are willing to listen to our needs. Raschio has talked with citizens who would like the court to re-establish a county historian position. Raschio plans on continuing his open dialogue with Commissioner-elect Palmer.

MINUTES. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve the November 7th minutes as presented. Raschio abstained from voting since he wasn’t in attendance during the last court meeting.

MALHEUR NATIONAL FOREST. Sasha Fertig presented the Ragged Ruby Project to the court and respectfully requested they not be videotaped during the presentation because it makes them uncomfortable. Fertig introduced Kate Cueno, Bob Foxworth, Leisa Cooke, Amanda Lindsay, Mary Lou Welby and Dan Dushey. Fertig presented a PowerPoint to the court and showed a map of the location of the project. She explained the goals of the project and said the next step in the project is to complete the 45 day comment period for the environmental impact statement. The statement is available online on the Malheur National Forest website.

9:18 am Reporter Logan Bagett and Mike Stearly entered.

Upland restoration activities and road use include thinning (commercial and non-commercial), road maintenance and temporary road construction. Fertig explained one of the two alternatives and said one alternative allows for less thinning in order to protect Pine Martin habitat and reported there have been confirmed sightings of Pine Martin in the area. Pine Martin are not protected, but are one of the USFS monitoring species. Discussion followed regarding Pine Martin. Fertig, Cueno, Welby and Lindsay answered questions from the audience. Fertig showed the proposed thinning areas on a map and said they are treating as much as they can based on the regulations they must work under. Watershed, fisheries and wildlife habitat restoration would include aspen restoration and bat gate installation. Prescribed burning of either 34,000 acres or 31,000 are also in the plan and would be done after the silviculture treatments are completed. Road system changes would include opening, closing, seasonal closing and decommissioning. Myers advised those in attendance the maps are available online or people are welcome to view the court’s copy. Dushey reported most of the roads proposed for closure are already closed by debris.

9:38 am Jim Sproul entered.

Sproul asked if any of road suggested for closure are RS2477 roads or constructed prior to 1977. Dushey said there are no RS2477 roads in the project, but some of the roads were constructed prior to 1977. Fertig showed a map of trails that will be worked on and explained proposed improvements and changes. A Public Open House will be held next Wednesday from 5:30-7:30 pm at the Malheur National Forest Supervisor’s Office. Comments must be received or postmarked by December 17, 2018.

9:46 am Eva Harris and Vicki Thompson entered.

Raschio suggested the court as a body support Alternative 2 of the project and submit comments.

9:48 am The court took a short break. 9:58 am Mike Elliott and Chris Vrontakis entered.

9:59 am The court returned to session.

PUBLIC COMMENT. Sharon Livingston read a portion of an article in the Capital Press regarding de-listing wolves on one side of Highway 395. She said we have wolves here in Grant County and urged the court to write to the legislature in support of this, but said don’t count on support from Senators Wyden or Merkley. Hamsher said the court is working on this and he is trying to contact former members of the Wolf Committee to get it re-established. Livingston thanked the court for their support. Raschio suggested inviting Commissioner Nash from Wallowa County and an employee of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife to a court meeting in January to discuss this issue. Myers advised he has seen three wolves on the Malheur National Forest and one on the Wallowa Whitman. He reported there has been one confirmed wolf kill in Logan Valley.

10:06 am Surveyor Mike Springer.

SAIF PRESENTATION. Mike Elliott and Chris Vrontakis from SAIF Corporation presented a plaque to the court in recognition of 100 continuous years as a member of SAIF. SAIF provides Workman’s Compensation insurance to Grant County. Vrontakis said this policy was started in 1918. Elliott thanked Grant County for the long term partnership. Vrontakis advised there are only four policy holders in the state who have been policy holders for 100 years and of those only one other county that is about to reach 100 years.

10:10 am Darren Yriarte entered.

LAW ENFORCEMENT IGA. The court reviewed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Prairie City for the Sheriff’s Department to provided police services to Prairie City. Prairie City would pay $40 per hour for the services with provided hours not to exceed 1,040 hours (or $41,600) per fiscal year. The IGA is for an initial 1 year term and would auto renew each year unless cancelled in writing by either party. At the end of each fiscal year the IGA will be reviewed by the parties to determine whether changes or modifications are necessary. MSP: Raschio/Myers -- to approve the IGA with Prairie City and authorize Judge Myers to sign. Hamsher recused himself from voting on this.

RESOLUTION 18-34. Treasurer Julie Ellison had prepared budget Resolution 18-34 for court approval. The Resolution moves funds from the general fund contingency to the general fund all other line item in the amount of $56,000. This funding is to reimburse the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) for the billing errors during the Connect Oregon 4 Airport runway project and was previously approved by the court. Myers read a portion of the resolution to those in attendance. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to approve Resolution 18-34 and circulate for signatures.

RESOLUTION 18-35. The court reviewed budget Resolution 18-35 prepared by Ellison to transfer funds into the senior citizens personal services from general fund contingency for the court approved pay increase for the seniors cooks. The total amount transferred would be $4,368. Myers read a portion of the resolution to those in attendance. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve Resolution 18-35 and circulate for signatures.

RESOLUTION 18-37. The court reviewed Resolution 18-37 to transfer funds from veteran’s service materials & services to capital outlay for the purchase of a vehicle for the VSO in the amount of $23,485. Myers read a portion of the resolution to those in attendance. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to approve Resolution 18-37 and circulate for signatures. Raschio wanted to commend Katee Hoffman on the work she is doing for our veterans and believes she was a good hire. Myers and Hamsher have also heard positive comments regarding Hoffman’s work.

SURVEYOR. County Surveyor Mike Springer discussed the lot line adjustment requested by Yriarte’s for county property bordering their property. Springer surveyed the property in September and presented maps showing a 30 foot property line adjustment where the County would give up 30 feet of the lot. The map has not been recorded yet and if approved Springer would prefer the deeds be recorded first. Myers offered to discuss price negotiations with Yriarte. This change would not change the current zoning of the property. Myers reported the Roadmaster has requested if this is approved the Yriarte’s not make any changes until after a chip seal project is completed on Humbolt. Myers would include this in negotiations. MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to accept this map and description and allow him to move forward with negotiations of price. Raschio would like to look into changing the lot from 8A & 8B for clarity in the future. Springer explained how this would likely be done with a re-plat and new lot number. Hamsher suggested speaking with the Assessor to find out how much value this would add to Yriarte’s lot and what the increase in taxes would be.

SALE OF PUBLIC HEALTH BUILDING. Springer provided maps to the court members outlining the proposed lot line adjustment between the public health building and L-Building. The lot line adjustment must be approved by the City of John Day before sale of the property can move forward with Community Counseling Solutions. Myers advised this has been ongoing for some time and a price has been agreed upon. The John Day Planning Commission will not approve additions to the existing building unless additional parking is included. The lot line adjustment Springer prepared allows for the necessary parking. Raschio suggested including wording in the agreement to ensure the parking cannot be blocked off in the future. After the court approves the adjusted lot lines an application must be submitted to the City of John Day Planning Commission for approval along with a $300 application fee. MSP: Hamsher/Raschio -- to approve the lot line and moving forward with this sale with the addition of adding that parking cannot be blocked off to the agreement and to authorize Myers to continue negotiations. MSP: Raschio/Hamsher – to authorize Judge Myers to sign the Planning Application with the City of John Day and approve the $300 application fee.

NACO DUES. The court reviewed the invoice received from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for membership dues for 2019 in the amount of $450. NACo provides advocacy at the federal level for counties for programs such as PILT and SRS funding among others. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to approve payment of the 2019 NACo dues in the amount of $450.

COURTHOUSE LED LIGHTING CONTRACT. The court had previously awarded the LED lighting upgrade project for the Courthouse to Red’s Electric Service, Inc. The court members reviewed the contract with Red’s Electric for the lighting upgrade. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to approve the contract with Red’s Electric and circulate for signatures.

10:41 am Treasurer Julie Ellison entered.

PAPERLESS COURT BINDERS. The court members discussed going paperless for the court binders and utilizing electronic tablets such as iPads. This would not only save paper and staff time in binder preparation, but would allow the commissioners to review documents and emails with the tablets. Myers said this will allow the court members to receive items more timely and allow them to send documents out much easier. Raschio believes this allows for more public transparency and whole heartedly supports this. Hamsher stated this will allow the court additional time to review documents. Wright advised this will allow the Commissioners to utilize the tablets for use and doesn’t feel they should be required to supply their own equipment. Palmer asked Wright how much time she spends preparing the court books. Wright estimated around an hour, it depends on the amount of documents. Sproul expressed concern that some documents must be signed. Myers said hard copies will be made for signature as necessary. MSP: Myers/Raschio -- to approve purchase of i-Pads from ESD with covers and iPencils for each court member.

PUBLIC COMMENT. Frances Preston asked what the selling price was for the public health building and also for a summary of the negotiations for a natural resource consultant. Myers reported he met with Didgette McCracken of OSU, Harney County Judge Pete Runnels and other representatives for OSU to discuss sharing a Natural Resource Advisor. Harney County would pay for a half-time position, Grant County would pay for a half-time position and the two positions would possibly share an office. Myers advised these discussions are just beginning. Hamsher pointed out the court has not had this discussion yet. Myers reiterated discussions are just starting. The negotiated price for the building sale is $400,000 and the funds may go into the general fund or be utilized for building repairs or remodels.

10:58 am Planning Director Hilary McNary and Planning Assistant Shannon Springer entered.

Raschio wanted to note having a Natural Resource Advisor was important for the court, but the court needs to be the body that communicates with the Forest Service.

Eva Harris thanked Raschio for clarifying the amount to be repaid to ODOT. The resolution was simply a rounded up figure, not the actual amount to be reimbursed to ODOT. Judy Kerr expressed concern that if OSU hired a Natural Resource Advisor they planned to advertise nationwide. Kerr said there is an initiative requiring local involvement in matters like this and asked the court to look into this. Hamsher again said the court has not yet had this discussion and suggested maybe the court should look into a natural advisory committee. Raschio believes having professional assistance on natural resource issues is important.

PUBLIC HEARING – ROAD NAMES. Judge Myers opened the public hearing at 11:05 am. Assistant Planner Shannon Springer provided information and Resolution 18-36 to the court members for review. Springer reported she received a petition from Silvies Valley Ranch requesting the following names be assigned to private roads on the ranch: Riata Lane, Romal Road, Saddle Horn Drive, Hixon Road, Rosette Lane, Tapadara Lane and Hondo Loop. Springer said none of these roads provide access to any roads other than those on the ranch and the roads are already physically there. Kerr asked why this was county business since the road are located on private property. Springer stated it is county business for safety reasons (like law enforcement or ambulance services). Springer showed the names to Valerie Maynard at dispatch and the Sheriff and Undersheriff and none of them had any concerns about the names. Springer asked if anyone in attendance would like to testify.

Opposed: None received.

In-Favor: None received.

Neutral: None received.

MSP: Myers/Hamsher -- to approve the requested road names and Resolution 18-36 and circulate for signatures.

McNary said the court asked her to come up with fees for road naming. McNary gave each court member a document showing what she would recommend for fees and said she will be presenting this during the December 19th meeting. She also reported the ODOT rock quarry decision was appealed to LUBA, but as of now the Planning Department has not been served. MSP: Hamsher/Myers – to close the public hearing.

PUBLIC COMMENT. Kerr urged the court re-establish the county historian position and believes this position is important to the history of our county. Raschio suggested finding out from local museums and possibly the local historical society what assistance they could offer. Raschio said he thinks what Kerr is looking for is more of a road historian. Myers believes Diane Browning was hired as a road historian for the county from around 2005 to 2007. Sproul said at the Forest Objection meeting yesterday Browning had a map from around 1908 or 1911 showing roads and dates of inception that covered miles of Grant County.

11:25 am The court took a short break. 11:26 am Kathy Smith, Assistant Librarian Chris Ostberg, Librarian Vicki Bond and Dolores Ostberg entered.

11:38 am The court returned to session.

LIBRARY ADVISORY BOARD. Library Advisory Board Chair Kathy Smith advised the court that the Library Board recommended the Library discontinue use of the bookmobile at the end of November. Demand for bookmobile services at the outlying schools is down to the point that it is no longer cost effective to run it. The Library staff could mail books or utilize one of the county cars to deliver books to the outlying schools for much less cost and it would only require one staff member to do this instead of two like the bookmobile requires. Discontinuing bookmobile service would also allow staff to spend more time in the Library taking care of day to day operations. The bookmobile has exhaust issues, when going uphill fumes leak into the cab and this is causing headaches and nausea to employees. Librarian Vicki Bond said anyone who has a library card and an e-reader can check books out online and books can be mailed easily at no cost to patrons. Bond reported years ago many books were checked out, but now the only books checked out seem to be from K-4 grade. At the end of May 2019 this can be reviewed by the court to determine if the bookmobile should be sold or put back into use. MSP: Raschio/Myers -- to discontinue bookmobile services for now and place this discussion on the court agenda for review in May of 2019. Vicki Thompson believes this is also a safety issue and liability to the county given all the other options available due to the size and condition of the bookmobile.

PAYROLL SERVICES. Myers said this discussion was held by the court previously when Clerk Brenda Percy requested a stipend to prepare payroll. A revised job description without payroll included was sent to LGPI at that time and the position came back with the same wage scale placement. Myers reported about a week ago the Clerk announced she will no longer prepare payroll, but advised she would continue to prepare payroll as a courtesy through the end of December. Myers asked Solutions for a cost estimate for their firm to prepare payroll. Myers also asked District Attorney Carpenter if an elected official refused to do something that is in their job description if it was an ethics violation and was advised it was not.

11:53 am Clerk Brenda Percy entered.

Raschio reported this is not a mandated requirement of the position and he personally spends over $1000 per month to have payroll prepared for 8 employees in his law firm. Percy originally requested a stipend of $537 per month (the same amount received by the Tax Collector) to prepare payroll and would be willing to continue preparing payroll for this stipend amount. MSP: Raschio/Myers – to approve payment of a stipend of $537 to the Clerk to prepare payroll beginning with the December pay period. Preston asked if Percy would be willing to continue if paid the stipend. Percy advised she would. Kerr asked if this could be something added to the Deputy Clerk’s duties. Percy said the Deputy Clerk has her own duties and would not have the time. Percy pointed out this isn’t just payroll preparation; it is preparing and submitting quarterly reports and other reports such as PERS reporting. Myers hopes the decision to pay this stipend heals some rifts within the building. Bond asked what would happen if Percy were ill. Percy agreed it is important to have someone else trained to complete payroll. Raschio believes this should begin with the Deputy Clerk and Percy said she will begin training her. Myers thinks whoever prepares payroll should receive the stipend. Ellison pointed out the Clerk is ultimately responsible for payroll preparation. Preston believes if the Deputy Clerk were to prepare payroll she should be compensated. Myers stated any changes to a job description would need to be approved by the court and reviewed for wage placement.

12:03 pm – Adjourned.

Respectfully Submitted,

Laurie Wright

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 Laurie Wright at 541-575-0059 or ****


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