Emery County Commission Elects New Chairman for 2003
The Emery County Board of Commissioners met in their regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 7 at 4 p.m. Those present were Commissioners Ira Hatch, Drew Sitterud and Gary Kofford. Also present was Sheriff Lamar Guymon and County Attorney Dave Blackwell.
The first item on the agenda was the appointment of a chairman for the year 2003 and the reading of the commissioners responsibilities for 2003. Commissioner Drew Sitterud was approved as the chairman of the board. Commissioner Hatch will be responsible for: airport, BLM, clerk/auditor, COG, conservation LWG, extension, Green River County Complex, Green River Medical Center, personnel, public lands, road department, senior citizens, travel councils, tri-county water board, weed/mosquito and workforce services. Commissioner Kofford: animal control, attorney, chamber of commerce, courthouse, civil defense, fair, fire district, justice court, landfill, library, mental health, planning/zoning, public health, public lands, treasurer, forest service and wildland fire. Commissioner Sitterud: ambulance, AOG, assessor, canyon country, data processing, division of wildlife resources, economic development, GIS, housing authority, museum/history, nursing home, RC&D, recreation district, recorder, TV/communications and the sheriff's office.
The next item was a request by the Headstart program. They said they have been located in a smaller doublewide trailer. They have been operating in the county since the late 60s. Their current location is too small and in poor condition. They are also renting a small office in downtown Castle Dale. They are at a critical point in their existence and are interested in the old jail on the hill in Castle Dale. They are interested in providing a facility which can house the program for a long time. They would sell the doublewide at their current location and use acquired funds for remodeling at the new facility. They would also look at financing for additional money. This would be a good solution for them, they pointed out.
Commissioner Hatch responded that they have been approached by other entities also interested in the old jail facility. He stated that the facility would not be available for sometime, but in the next two-three months they would be in a position to know how to proceed; the building is currently being used for storage.
Communications equipment for the sheriff's office is still in place at the old facility. Commissioner Sitterud mentioned that the Headstart would be interested in a long term10-15 year lease on the building. They would be responsible for the remodeling and all maintenance and utilities. Commissioner Hatch said they would take the proposal seriously and would sit and discuss it with them when they get to that point.
The Headstart pointed out that they would need time to sell their current building to raise the funds for the remodeling and have everything in place for the beginning of their next school year. They also wondered if the county would be in a position to apply for grants for remodeling from the CIB board or other avenues. The commissioners said they would look into that possibility.
The next item on the agenda was the discussion of a position on the Castle Valley Special Service District Administrative Control Board. The position is that formerly held by Dorr Hanson of Huntington. The open position is an at large position with the person living in the north end of the county. Commissioner Hatch explained that the board is comprised of 11 members, one from each community with three at large members appointed by the commission. The commission determined that they will begin advertising immediately for this vacant position.
The next item on the agenda was the consideration and approval of the emergency medical services and ambulance grants. Sheriff Guymon explained that this is a grant they apply for every year which is used for training and also this year they will be installing towers in the geographical areas which currently do not have access to a communications tower. These towers are used for paging. These grant funds do not become available until the first part of 2004 but must be applied for at the current time. Funds will also be used for defibrillators for the ambulances. Sheriff Guymon pointed out that these grants do not require a match.
Sheriff Guymon said there are dead spots in their response area where personnel cannot be reached. The receivers will be placed at fire stations which will set the pagers off. Green River has a grant to take care of their needs and the Castle Dale/Orangeville area is already covered by the tower currently in place.
Sheriff Guymon said they do respond outside of their service area down into Grand County and as far as the Red Creek rest area, if they are requested to do so. The grant applications were approved.
The next item on the agenda was the airport improvement project. Commissioner Hatch explained the things that are taking place at the county airport in Huntington. He said the Emery County Special Service District number one is responsible for transportation in the county. They have been working through the Utah Department of Transportation on various projects; one of which is improvements at the Huntington Airport.
The Huntington Airport is a cooperative project to update and upgrade the airport. The UDOT will provide grant monies for these improvements. The airport is in need of a layout plan to be in line for future monies. These current improvements will aid in the progress of consideration for future monies. An architect will need to be hired to design the improvement plan to discuss the placement of hangers, fueling areas, placement of the wind sock as well as other items.
Current improvements include widening the shoulder, improved lighting and upgrades, improvements to the drainage system and the installation of a unicom system for updated weather and forecast reports for pilots. The amount of $225,000 is being used for the project. The county will meet a 10 percent match of $22,500 which will come from the ECSSD#1.
Troy Atwood from Atwood Aviation is the manager at the airport. He said the unicom system will really open up safety for the airport. He said when you hear Price mentioned on the weather broadcasts that the information is coming from an automated unicom system. This updated information helps pilot prepare their flight plans.
The commissioners voted to approve the interlocal agreement with the ECSSD#1 for the airport improvement projects. Commissioner Sitterud said he has heard many good comments on the operation of the airport.
Clerk Bruce Funk said they need to standardize a name for the airport because they have many people calling them who cannot find the name in the phone book. The airport is known as the Huntington Airport, but Atwood Aviation provides the telephone. It was determined that Atwood would contact Emery Telcom to have the airport listed in more than one place in the directory. The Huntington Airport telephone number is 687-9475.
The next item on the agenda was the approval of the check edit list, additional claims, requisitions and dispositions. Commissioner Hatch reminded everyone of the memo sent out which stated purchases need to be made by a certain date in December so that the clerk's office can clear the books for the year. This is something that will be looked at again before the end of the year so all major purchases can be made by a certain date. Commissioner Hatch stated that considerations would still be made for priority items.
Commissioner Sitterud welcomed the newly elected officials present to the commission meeting and said he looks forward to working with them in the future.
The next item on the agenda was Pat Snowball, personnel director. Snowball said that Shaun Bell had completed his post training and was now eligible for an increase from corrections officer to patrolman. The increase will become effective the next pay period. The request was approved.
The next item was a sheriff's request to approve the promotion of Administrative Sergeant Bill Downard to a lieutenant. The request was approved.
The next item was the promotion of Detective Jeff Thomas to a patrol sergeant.
Commissioner Sitterud mentioned to Sheriff Guymon that they need an organization plan to keep the commission posted on long term plans for the sheriff's office.
Snowball asked for a routine salary increase for Mistie Christiansen from the clerk/auditor's office. The increase was approved.
Commissioner Hatch mentioned that these were all people who have done a good service to Emery County and he feels good about their promotions.
The next item on the agenda was the approval of the commission minutes from the previous meeting and also the minutes of a special meeting held on Dec. 4.
The next item was an update on the Green River annexation. The county is proceeding as if it were a done deal. The legislature in special session changed the law of the effective date of the annexation from Jan. 6 to Jan. 1. County Attorney Blackwell said the Grand County Attorney is not inclined to change their response and they have contacted him but have not as of yet received a response. Blackwell assumes that the court will set a hearing date on the injunction that Grand County filed.
Anyone arrested in Green River will be brought to the Emery County facility. Grand County has also moved out of the John Wesley Powell Museum. The museum is currently closed for a couple of weeks afterwhich Green River City will operate the museum. The county will be meeting with Green River City to form a contingency plan for the further operation of the museum. The museum will continue to operate using the transient room tax from Green River City and the county.
The transient room taxes from the last quarter of 2002 will be sent to Grand County. The state tax commission has said that Green River City doesn't qualify for any net increase in the tax base. At this point in time the budget stands with no increase.
Commissioner Hatch said that Grand County opted to collect the transient room taxes themselves and avoid the collection fee charged by the state tax commission for doing so. Emery County at the present time is undecided as to whether they will collect the tax themselves or use the services of the tax commission.
Commissioner Hatch said that all of the elected officials and employees should be commended for bringing Emery County through a tough budget year. "The county is in good shape and we couldn't have done it without the help and support of all the departments and we feel good about it," said Commissioner Hatch. "We were able to fund a 2 percent cost of living increase for employees and we appreciate the effort everyone made to balance the budget and put a little back into the fund balance."
Commissioner Sitterud said the courts building is nearing completion and they will be walking through the building and developing a punch list on Jan. 16. No plans are currently being made for the remodeling of the current courthouse, but an architect will be hired to develop plans after the courts vacate the building. The next commission meeting will be held on Jan. 21 at 9 a.m.