Grant County Court minutes from Oct. 19, 2016:
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 Chris B. Labhart and Boyd Britton, Administrative Assistant Laurie Wright, Rick Minster, Judy Schuette, Beth Spell, Judy Kerr, Jim Sproul, Sally Bartlett, Rob Seaver, Dan Becker, Kay Steele, Mike Cosgrove, Doug Ferguson, Francis Kocis, Reporter Logan Bagett, Scott Fairley, and Haley Walker. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Commissioner Britton.
CLAIMS. The court had reviewed and approved claims and extension district warrants #219-220. A claim from the Sheriff’s Department was red flagged for being over budget for vests.
AGENDA. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to accept the agenda as presented.
ANNOUNCEMENTS. Commissioner Britton traveled to Silverton last Wednesday after court for an OTC meeting to discuss issues regarding transportation. In the last week Britton also attended a Farm Bureau meeting where agriculture and predator control were discussed.
Commissioner Labhart attended an eclipse meeting last Wednesday and said there was a good turnout and 10 to 50 thousand people are still expected. He drove the VA van to Boise last Thursday, attended lunch at the Senior Citizens Center on Monday and went to an Oregon Solution meeting and an LCAC meeting on Wednesday of last week.
9:05 am Kathy Smith entered.
Tomorrow Labhart will be driving the VA Van to the Boise VA Hospital and going to an EMS meeting on Friday. Labhart added the Farm Service Bureau will be opening a satellite office in John Day.
9:06 am Susan Church entered.
Judge Myers performed a wedding here last Wednesday and last Thursday he met with Laurie Wright and Sharon Harris from CIS (the counties insurance carrier) regarding risk management. Last night Myers met with Sally Bartlett at the Canyon City Council meeting to discuss the hazard mitigation process and plan. This morning Myers met with Rex Burkholder from Oregon Solutions at the Outpost.
9:08 am Elaine Smith, Kurt Shelley, and Elaine Mezzo entered.
Tomorrow Myers will perform a wedding, attend a Mental Health Advisory Board meeting and in the afternoon participate in an Eastern Oregon Association of Counties conference call. Myers will travel to Pendleton on Friday for a meeting regarding the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision at the Umatilla National Forest headquarters. Next Monday Myers will assist with interviews for an assistant cook at the Prairie City Senior Center and will travel to La Grande on Tuesday for a Community Connections meeting.
MINUTES. MSP: Labhart/Myers -- to approve the October 12th minutes as presented.
RIGHT OF WAY EASEMENT. The court reviewed a Right of Way Easement to Oregon Trail Electric Co-Op. This is an easement for OTEC to put in a junction box at the Airport for future hanger owners to be able to access power. Airport Manager Haley Walker explained OTEC will own the transformer and owners will only need to pay a fee to have the power installed from the junction box to their hanger. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to grant the easement to OTEC and circulate for signatures.
9:14 am Dave Traylor entered.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan. Economic Development Coordinator Sally Bartlett requested court approval to hire a contractor for the Canyon City Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan. Bartlett explained an RFP was advertised but no responses were received even though it was advertised in three different newspapers numerous times. The county attorney advised that since it was advertised so extensively a contractor could be contacted and chosen. Bartlett received some contractor’s names from the State and received a bid from one that she contacted (Winterowd & Brooks LLC) in the amount of $20,000. The Canyon City Council had a meeting last night and provided a vote of confidence to hire Winterowd & Brooks LLC. MSP: Britton/Myers -- to approve hiring Winterowd & Brooks LLC as the contractor for the NHMP and authorize Judge Myers to sign.
Engineering Needs. Bartlett said as this process moves forward they will be putting in for a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) to assist with some of the actual work that will need to be completed. The grant is approximately $400,000. Barlett explained her thoughts on moving forward with engineering for flood prevention and said she has prepared an RFP for engineering services and she believes this needs to be kept confidential for now to keep everything fair for future bidding. Myers said this grant could also possibly provide funds to purchase one home that is in the flood zone and use the land to mitigate flooding danger. Doug Ferguson of Ferguson Surveying and Engineering said his understanding is that the money could not be used to purchase a home. Bartlett stated she still would like to put this in the application because she wants everything documented and if it is denied she will continue to try to locate other funding. The court agreed by consensus that Bartlett should move forward on this. Scott Fairley thanked the county for allowing Bartlett to work with the City of Canyon City on the hazard mitigation grant. Fairley believes the City of John Day is also in support of the grant for flood mitigation.
PUBLIC COMMENT. Judge Myers offered public comment to the audience. Britton asked Fairley how much time he thought the county still had to get assistance from the State for a water impoundment. Fairley said the money is still available and believes as long as funding is there this can move forward.
9:32 am Rylan Boggs entered.
Fairley stated it would be helpful to have a local group assist with locating impoundment sites. Ferguson added it is very difficult to locate impoundment sites. Labhart advised there was a group of people that met this morning with Oregon Solutions and asked Fairley to explain what Oregon Solutions does. Fairley explained the difference between Oregon Solutions and Oregon Consensus. Britton asked Fairley to urge the State to keep Bates Pond and allow improvements.
9:41 am Kathy Stinnett entered. 9:43 am Jim Carpenter entered.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY. District Attorney Jim Carpenter presented a request to the court to approve a longer training session for the new Deputy District Attorney once hired. Carpenter said his current Deputy DA Matt Ipson has given his notice and wishes to move back to the west side of the state. Ipson would like to be finished before the end of the year. Carpenter explained the cases the Deputy DA handles to those in attendance. Carpenter said the position has been advertised in the local paper as well as at Oregon law schools. Carpenter would like to have a two week training period in which Ipson can train a new Deputy DA and get the new person up to speed on his case load. The cost for this would be $2207 which includes salary and taxes. This position is a grant funded position. Carpenter believes his budget can cover some of this cost because he does not plan to attend a prosecutor’s training in the spring and so this would offset some of the expense. Carpenter explained what type of applicants he expects to receive. Britton thinks a week should be enough for training. Labhart asked Carpenter if he believed a week was long enough to transfer cases to a new deputy. Carpenter doesn’t think it is, although the very serious Measure 11 cases have already been transferred to the Department of Justice in anticipation of Ipson leaving. Myers said he was concerned that after allowing additional training to a department during last week’s court meeting if they continue to do this it will set a precedent. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to decline the request for a two week training session and continue with the allowed one week.
9:58 am Zach Williams, Glen Johnston, Nicky Sprauve, and Roger McKinley entered.
PUBLIC FOREST COMMISSION. Dave Traylor asked the court for an update on the status of the Circuit Court decision regarding the dissolution of the Public Forest Commission. Myers told those in attendance that as of this morning the court had not received an explanation of Judge Cramer’s decision. The County Attorney did provide some Oregon Statutes that address appeal times. Labhart spoke with Ron Yockim yesterday and no findings regarding his decision have been received from Judge Cramer and as of today and the circuit court clerk’s advised they have also not received findings. Jim Sproul asked if the county intended to appeal the decision. Myers said he feels it is unfortunate the decision came out as it did, but he does not intend to appeal. Myers stated after reading what Judge Cramer wrote he doesn’t believe this initiative should have ever been on the ballot. Sproul asked the court to vote on whether to appeal. Myers said this isn’t on the agenda for a vote, but the court could come to a consensus. Nicky Sprauve asked why the members of the Public Forest Commission weren’t notified about the alleged hearing. Sprauve said the Judge is kind of shady and wants to know why they are all now labeled as felons and criminals. Myers pointed out this was not a criminal case, it was a civil case and this court has no control over what the circuit court does. Sprauve began talking about his opinion of Judge Cramer and Britton told him the court would not allow him to talk like that about a Circuit Court Judge. Roger McKinley said he believes the county court has been against the Public Forest Commission since its inception. Sprauve said this is not over and he wants it on the record and his rights have been violated by the kangaroo court upstairs and called Judge Cramer a coward. Labhart said the only way he found out about the hearing was by looking at the television upstairs in the lobby, he wasn’t notified and Sprauve could have done the same thing. Myers told Sprauve that the court has provided everything they know to those in attendance. Sprauve threatened a protest and thinks his rights have been violated. Britton feels appealing this would be a waste of money as it is a point of law and he has no intention of appealing the decision. Traylor stated the reason for the request today was only to find out what information the court had and they have provided that. Sprauve stated Judge Cramer is on the take. Mike Cosgrove asked the court if anyone had seen anything accusing the Public Forest Commission members of being felons and Myers stated absolutely not. Sproul said the initiative process is a valuable tool for citizens to use to enforce meaningful laws, rules and regulation within a county and the initiative was reviewed by the Secretary of State in 2002. Sproul stated the last two initiatives have been rejected and if another is rejected it will be obvious what is going on. Myers reiterated his belief that this initiative should never have been put on the ballot. Susan Church understands the initial vote was for something that never happened. Myers told her she was right and it was set up to take over management of federal lands if they were ever turned over to the county by the federal government, but this never happened and likely never will. Myers thinks when this initiative was put on the ballot the intentions were good, but it has since been found it should not have been placed on the ballot. Sproul asked if the court had used the Public Forest Commission and Myers said not as a body, but the court has asked for opinions from members of the commission. Traylor stated Grant County has always been proactive and there was a rumor that federal lands might at some point be given over to local control and so that is the reason the initiative was created and the intent was honorable and honest. Elaine Smith advised the Oregon Republican Party has sent a resolution requesting public lands be turned over to the states. She thinks the resolution was sent to the National Republican Party and she believes it was passed. Smith wanted to know how the court found out about the hearing and Myers said he found out the morning of the hearing. Smith feels someone dropped the ball on this and the forest commission should have been notified. Traylor suggested a checklist be created of everything going on in the courthouse so that pertinent individuals could be contacted. Traylor said he has suggested this in the past. Myers said it is not this court’s responsibility to post circuit court information. Sproul reported the Public Forest Commission is going to meet tonight and are requesting the public to attend and give input on whether they want the commission to continue. Labhart asked if an agenda was published in advance to notify the public and Sproul said they don’t post an agenda and he’s giving notice now. Labhart said not posting the agenda 24 hours in advance is not following public meeting laws. Judy Schuette asked if minutes were available and Traylor said he takes some notes and anyone can come and review his notes and believes they are following the law. Kay Steele believes without minutes there is no public record of what the commission has done and without a record of what has been done in the past, or what the commission intends to do in the future, the voters of this county cannot make informed decisions about the value of the commission. Steele feels this is an issue because voters can’t be educated about the commission without knowing its history and this isn’t how a democracy is supposed to be conducted. Labhart wanted it to go on the record that he has not read Judge Cramer’s decision yet and he will not make a decision on whether or not to appeal until he reads the decision. Dan Becker asked if the forest commission still existed. Myers said in their eyes they do. Becker thought that after the order was rendered the forest commission no longer existed under the laws of the State of Oregon. Traylor advised the meeting will be held tonight at the Squeeze-In at 5:30 pm.
10:37 am -- Adjourned