Commission reports on flood funds
The Emery County Commissioners met for two meetings in September. During the Sept. 11 meeting, Commissioner Jeff Horrocks read excerpts from Pres. Barack Obama's proclamation to commemorate Sept. 11, 2001. Pres. Obama recommended everyone perform service in honor of those who passed away that day.
The commission approved the contract with the Utah Department of Agriculture for mitigation of the invasive species, Russian olives. The cooperative agreement with Utah State Parks was approved for funding for the access road to Millsite State Park. It will be a two year and $2 million project.
Another project is the Ferron Bridge project. Nielson Construction was awarded the bid for this project.
The commission discussed the dropping of KODJ 94 and replacing it with KRPX. The commissioners said they have had a lot of comments on the subject and those comments leaned towards keeping KODJ and dropping one of the country stations. This will be done on a 60 day trial. Citizens can voice input to the commission during this trial period.
Sheriff Greg Funk approached the commission to request 200 passes to the Emery County Aquatics Center for incentives for the NOVA program. The passes would be used for students who are accomplishing their goals along the way to graduation from NOVA. One of the goals is staying away from video games and TV for a week. The sheriff said there are 186 students enrolled in this anti-violence, tobacco, drugs and alcohol program. At graduation there is a pizza party and the students are given a T-shirt, but he would like to see incentives along the way for the students. Sheriff Funk said it could be beneficial to the pool too and bring more families in to swim.
The commissioners said they have not given any free passes to the pool. They are concerned too many organizations would approach them for passes and you can't give passes to some groups and not others, so they have not given any to avoid having any issues.
Andy Urbanik from Castle Country Radio commented that the radio stations and the Emery County Progress newspaper could sponsor the NOVA program free swim passes. They will trade advertising on the radio and the newspaper for the pool and then the NOVA program can have 200 passes for the incentive program for NOVA. The commission agreed to that approach.
The county voted to be the entity that can receive the grant money from the NRCS for funding to help with flooding issues related to the fire. The grant is for $215,000 to help with debris removal along the creek and for safeguards for the Huntington culinary water system.
In the commission reports, Commissioner James Nelson said there are spots on ETV 10, advertising the electronic use of the library system. He attended the fire district meeting. The identity theft workshops had good attendance with 21 people in Green River and 73 people from the western end of the county attending. It's a huge issue. The county will put a link to the attorney general's office so people can go online and learn more.
Commissioner Laurie Pitchforth said she attended a summit for senior citizens in Price that discussed medicare and medicaid. They presented a book to seniors to help them get through some of the red tape involved. She is trying to get more of these books to give to local seniors. The senior citizen lamb fry at the Huntington City park was a success. She attended Peach Days and the patriotic program and field of flags in Ferron.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks said he participated in the patriotic program as a veteran. There were speeches, poems and songs and it was a very nice event. He attended an energy summit with energy producers. Sen. Hatch and Sen. Lee were in attendance. The importance of the Uintah Basin for energy production was stressed and the taxes, jobs and benefits of energy production were discussed. The energy summit will hopefully become a yearly event. The Utah Association of Counties has formed a military task force to help military families as they serve and when they return home. Commissioner Horrocks also attended the local government trust meetings. There were meetings on the open meetings act and education about what can and cannot be done in closed meetings. He will pass the information he learned to the other commissioners.
Commissioner Nelson said the grazers are having issues. The cattle cannot go on the burned area. The grazers have put in a lot of work seeing the cows stay out of those areas with electric fence and extra herders.
In the second meeting of the month the commission approved Allison Weaver as a custodian, 90 day temporary workers include: Leanne Seely as a worker at the Museum of the San Rafael, Sherrie Fausett in the clerk/auditor's office, Cardell Sackett, economic development office and Earl Nelson, road department.
The county approved the secure rural schools allocation. The county receives $350,000 from this fund and 85 percent goes to schools and roads and 8 percent is allocated by the forest service RAC. Seven percent goes to the county general fund. Ray Petersen, public lands director sits on the forest service RAC. This body recently committed $160,000 for repair work on the problems in Huntington Canyon due to flooding. The commission approved the personal property tax exemptions. The board of equalization closed for the year and the commission adopted the changes approved by the board of equalization.
The commission set dates for budget work meetings beginning Oct. 2 from 8:30 a.m.- 10 a.m; Oct. 3-9-noon; Oct. 10- 9-noon; Oct. 15; 9-noon and 1-5 p.m; Oct. 16-9-noon. More work meetings will be set as needed.
The commission approved the veteran, circuit breaker and blind tax abatements as well as the low income property tax abatement.
The commissioners approved the report prepared by Mike McCandless, Ray Petersen and Val Payne. This report will be sent to the state public land coordinating office. The report answers the questions from HB-176. The county is the first to be subject to this new state law as they go through the process of gaining state approval for the Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2012. The report is 32 pages.
Commissioner Nelson said it is a well written report.
Kathleen Clarke is the director of the state public land coordinating office. She has expressed the need to get this worked out and use Emery County's work as a template for other counties wishing to write public land management plans.
Commissioner Horrocks said the county is approaching four years with the public lands bill. The public lands council put a lot of work into it. Commissioner Pitchforth commented that Ray and the others have done a great job with the report and she is currently reading the report.
Commissioner Horrocks called for the commission reports. Commissioner Nelson said he's been involved with the FEMA report created to detail the problems associated with the Seely fire and subsequent flooding. He said you have to see those flash flood areas to believe the devastation there.
He was with Ray Petersen when he presented the land bill to Sanpete County. They voiced concerns and want to be kept aware of what Emery County is doing. The commissioners attended training in Midway.
The commission is working with Huntington City to repair damages to the Huntington Creek channel. The commission received training on the health issues and regulations that are coming down from federal to state and down to local. Commissioner Nelson was involved with the mental health board in selecting a new director. Jan Bodily the current director is taking another position elsewhere. Karen Doland is the new director for Four Corners Behavioral Health.
Commissioner Pitchforth said there was a lot of information given at the UAC training including sage grouse and RS-2477 road issues. She said she likes the networking at these conferences and the help you receive from other commissioners. She told of the work with the NRCS grant and hopes this money will continue during the flood clean-up. A preconstruction meeting was held for the painting project on the San Rafael bridge. A preconstruction meeting was held for the Ferron bridge project.
Commissioner Pitchforth thanked Kent and Julie Wilson for cooking at the senior lamb fry and Al Shakespaere for entertaining. A new director was selected for the Emery County Recreation District, Jake Atwood was hired to replace Gaylee Jeffs who is leaving. "This was a hard process. There were some good applicants and I think Jake will do a great job," said Commissioner Pitchforth.
Commissioner Horrocks said he had attended jail meetings with the state where the discussion centered around using beds in county jails for state prisoners that are low to medium risk. The counties agreed they should work with the state to house these prisoners. The state could build a new facility for the high risk inmates. There was also talk of a set amount that the state would pay the counties for the housing of state prisoners so there wouldn't be competition amongst the counties.
Commissioner Horrocks said the September RAC meeting for the DWR was held in Castle Dale and fishing was discussed. The portion of the Huntington Creek affected by the fire has seen almost 100 percent fish mortality. There is still good fishing above the burn area in the fly zone below Electric Lake. The commissioners attended a meeting with Rocky Mountain Power concerning the Gateway South transmission lines. Commissioner Horrocks went with Mike McCandless up Huntington Canyon to look at the damage to the North Emery Water Users pumps and equipment that have sustained much damage with the flood and debris flows in Huntington Canyon. He said the Melon Days celebration in Green River was well attended and very nice.
Commissioner Nelson said they may need to add a paragraph to the letter to FEMA concerning the damages by the fire and floods to include the damage to the North Emery Water Users pump and equipment.
The next commission meeting will be on Oct. 9 at 9 a.m.