Commission Approves $25,000 Payment to Consultant
The Emery County Commissioners approved a $25,000 payment to Dynamic Feedback in the Sept. 16 commission meeting. In August of 2002, Keith Allred, a professor from the Harvard School of Law was hired to conduct a nationwide survey on whether or not a monument in the San Rafael Swell was a good idea. The survey also contained questions concerning wilderness and other public lands issues. This survey was not completed and the process came to a halt with the no vote by Emery County citizens. Dr. Allred also conducted several meetings with the various user groups in the Swell to gather input for his final report and the questions for the survey which was to be completed by January of 2003. This final report was never issued, but Dr. Allred is entitled to compensation for the work which he completed prior to the Nov. 2002 election. The amount in the contract for payment of his services was $97,000 which the State of Utah and the federal government, namely the Department of the Interior would share costs. The county was a partner in the fact finding mission on the feasibility of a monument, but not listed in the contract as a monetary contributor.
When the monument went through the referendum process and was put on the ballot in Nov. 2002, it was voted down by the Emery County voters. Where did this leave the process that was begun in August 2002 by the governor, county and the BLM? Everything seemed to come to a halt because to continue would be against the wishes of the Emery County voters. Now, in Sept. 2003, $25,000 will come from the Emery County coffers to aid in the payment of this obligation to Allred and his company Dynamic Feedback.
The commissioners said the state has been stuck with this bill for Dr. Allred and has sent a $50,000 payment and is requesting that Emery County help out with those expenses if possible. Commissioner Gary Kofford felt like if the county was going to heal anything with the state office that they should step up and contribute to this bill.
Clerk/Auditor Bruce Funk expressed reservations in the payment and stated that in the contract the state would provide the money for the county to pay for Dr. Allred's services. The matter was never addressed in a commission meeting or in a public meeting about contributing to this payment and originally the county was not going to put any money into it. With the vote against the monument, Clerk Funk seemed to feel Emery County citizens would not be in favor of such a payment.
The commission determined that for the sake of future relations with the state, that they should step up and pay for it.
Emery County is now the home to a new flight instructor, Rob Midgley, who is living in Orangeville and available for flight training. He is working to get things up and running as far as being fully insured and legal for operations. He will be advertising his services in the near future. He has been working with the continuing education department at CEU to lay the work for a ground school which will begin in January. He said they need eight students to begin this class. He said there are probably many pilots in the area who haven't flown for awhile and they hope to remedy that situation by making more planes available for rental at the Huntington Airport.
They are also looking for commercial ventures such as flying gas pipelines, electrical lines and aerial surveillance.
Commissioner Ira Hatch said they have firmed up the contract with Jones and Demille to prepare the airport improvement plan. A joint planning meeting will be held on Oct. 7, at 10 a.m. for anyone interested in having input to identify the present and future needs of the Huntington Airport. Commissioner Hatch also said he wanted the economic development council to take an active role in helping develop the airport plan to maximize economic development opportunities in the county.
The commissioners approved a request by County Assessor Kris Bell for the closing of the board of equalization. This means there will be no further changes to property taxes as the 45 day window for appeals and changes has closed.
The commission approved the appointment of Dixie Swasey, county recorder, to be the Veterans Affairs contact person to receive all information about Veteran services and opportunities. Swasey mentioned that Terry Scow from the Department of Veterans Affairs would be conducting workshops at the Utah Association of Counties meetings on the services available to Veterans and making sure Veterans know about the available programs.
A contract was approved for the maintenance of the Green River Library with the Thayn family. The contract includes a monthly amount for all cleaning, snow removal and lawn maintenance at the library.
Clerk Funk presented the check edit list, additional claims and requisitions to the commission for approval. Expenses discussed were: the water situation at the Green River Sheriff's Office, the bill is $400 for the month for water; a portable diagnostic kit for the road shop is being purchased and this will be used for CAT equipment and will save the road department money.
The commission approved a change in the Ferron branch librarian moving to Orangeville to become the assistant branch librarian and Colleen Murdoch becoming the branch librarian in Ferron. They also approved the hiring of Jana Lee Luke in a three quarter time position in the Clerk/Auditor's office. They reported there were 37-40 applicants for this position. A three step increase was approved for Brenda Dugmore in the Clerk/Auditor's office.
Pat Snowball, personnel director, had been advised at the previous commission meeting to do some research on a request by Lisa Johnson, widow of Jeremiah Johnson who was killed while on duty for the county as a deputy. Lisa Johnson had written a letter wondering why families of those who had lost their provider while on duty for the county were dropped from the health insurance and she requested the county reevaluate that policy. Snowball and Commissioner Hatch had checked into the request and the commission denied the request to continue health insurance coverage for Lisa Johnson and family.
Commissioner Kofford reported that the county had a booth in the state fair that was prepared by Linda Schade from the extension office. Commissioner Hatch reported on the wilderness public hearings that were held recently in Castle Dale, Green River, Huntington, Cleveland, Orangeville and Ferron. He said they had some good input from those attending. The commission has not yet met to discuss the findings of those meetings.
Work is beginning on the South Moore Cut-off road. Brown Brothers Construction has the contract on the project and the construction period is 150 days. This is a joint highway committee project and is being built with 93 percent federal funds and a 7 percent contribution by Special Service District #1. Commissioner Hatch also reported that he will be meeting with the joint highway committee to request the funds for Phase II of the project. You must be under contract before you can request additional funds for a project. The Moore Cut-off road will be completed in four-five phases with paving being the last phase.
Commissioner Sitterud reported that the wilderness meetings had been good informative meetings and the general consensus seemed to be to move forward to protect Emery County. He said that when UAC writes their bill that the county would come back with more public meetings to bring that information forward to the people.
Commissioner Hatch reported that there had been another confirmed horse with West Nile in Emery County.
The next commission meeting will be held on Oct. 7 at 4 p.m.