Commission hears economic development update
The Emery County Commission met for their yearly meeting in Green River. The commission voted to approve a $250 donation to the Emery County Business Chamber to help with their kick-off event planned for October. County Attorney David Blackwell said he is helping the group with their articles of incorporation and bylaws.
Mike McCandless from the Emery County Economic Development office as well as planning and zoning director gave an update. He has recently returned from Louisiana where the Business Expansion and Retention Program of Carbon and Emery counties has received a worldwide award. They were granted the top award for communities of less than 50,000 in population. The BEAR program is now in its fourth year. The program cost $38,000 to operate with Carbon and Emery counties each donating $5,000. The remainder of operating monies have come from grants for drug education. BEAR has conducted classes on prevention of drugs in the workplace with the help of Four Corners Behavioral Health.
From this low operating capital big things have transpired with $1.2 million in cash directly coming into area businesses. These monies have been grants, low interest loans and other creative ways of financing new businesses and expanding existing businesses in the two county area. BEAR has three Vista employees who visit local businesses and conduct interviews. These interviews identify the needs of the employers. The needs of the business are then addressed and everything possible is done to solve any problem a business may be having. The BEAR program has been able to identify numerous businesses in Emery County. The Workforce Services has a list of 199 businesses and the BEAR program has been able to identify 500 businesses in Emery County. These include owners who have multiple businesses. The BEAR program makes 1,000 visits a year to businesses. When a business needs a referral then the referral is kept track of until the referral has been met and taken care of, that way problems are resolved and not forgotten. BEAR is good at outreach and staying in contact with the businesses.
At the convention where the award was given there were 450 people present from around the world. McCandless had the opportunity to teach and speak about the BEAR program and its success.
McCandless said the money for the VISTA staff will end in April. Between now and then BEAR is looking at alternative funding to maintain these three positions.
Other counties in Utah are interested in the work of the BEAR program and these counties might be able to contribute funds as the Carbon and Emery BEAR programs provides services for them with the software and other helps.
Another project for BEAR has been the development of a rural Utah economic development program. The governors office is very positive about this. This rural Utah economic development program will be run from the Southeastern Utah group with Ethan Migliori.
BEAR is also looking at funding from Workforce Services to do survey work for them.
Fast Track grants are available statewide, but Emery and Carbon counties have received 78 percent of the grants because of the BEAR program and letting businesses know what options are available to them. "There are other eligible counties, but because we are organized we are able to take advantage of this state money," said McCandless.
In other economic development news, McCandless reported the road is being bladed leading to the Mancos Hills Industrial Park. Jones and DeMille is doing the engineering for the roads and designing the culverts.
Blue Castle, the company involved in the nuclear power plant is waiting on the results of the water rights hearing and they should know something by October.
McCandless reported they are still working on legislative bills to bring natural gas service to Green River and Emery as well as other rural communities. The bill if it becomes law will approve a small fee to be added to gas bills to contribute to a fund to begin service in underserved areas. Dennis Stowell is sponsoring the bills, two bills one for the natural gas and one to expand electrical capacities in rural Utah. Also included would be seed money for renewable energy projects. Green River and Emery are listed in the top five of priority communities that need natural gas and Kanab is another in the top five. It is estimated to cost $7 million to bring natural gas to Green River. The cost is somewhat less for Emery. After the communities that need natural gas are funded then the fund would go away.
The posters for the Marshalls and TJ Maxx department stores featuring Emery County will be out soon.
The planning and zoning department is working on updates to the county plan. One area that will be discussed in the September meeting in Green River will be a change to the mountain ordinance. It will bring the plan up to state code. There are concerns at Joes Valley around the Trail Mountain resort area. The changes in the ordinance will address the concerns.
The Emery County Travel Bureau approved advertising on Delta airlines. There will be two minute spots shown on flights across the US and some overseas flights as well. These will run next April and May. The spots will run for approximately a month or longer.
Charlie DeLorme from San Juan County is going to come and work with the travel bureau and assist them with worldwide advertising. "We are getting visitors here from around the world, but the county isn't taking full advantage of these visitors and what they can bring to the county," said McCandless.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks thanked McCandless for the outstanding job he does for Emery County.
The commission approved an amendment to the Boarding House Ridge Communication site permit.
McCandless had a planning and zoning question during the citizen concerns he said the cities are unclear on the enforcement issues dealing with planning and zoning. The county provides the inspections through Sunrise Engineering, but each city is responsible for its own planning and zoning enforcement. McCandless said the roles need to be defined and each city needs to know they are responsible. Commissioner Horrocks said he will bring the matter before the council of governments.
In the commission reports Commissioner Horrocks said he attended the CRIK meeting and it was held in Castle Dale. They discussed what is going on with the display in the lobby of the College of Eastern Utah prehistoric museum. They discussed how to get more partners involved in the promotion of Castle Country. They met with the new director of the CEU museum and he seems very outgoing and looking for community involvement for the museum.
The commissioners attended the opening of the Tie Fork rest area on SR-6. Videos will run at the visitor center there at all times. Emery County has videos advertising the golf courses and attractions in the county.
Horrocks reported the public lands council is proceeding with the land use bill. He also attended the Emery County Business Chamber meeting. The commissioners toured the Lila Canyon mine and it is an exceptional facility.
Commissioner Laurie Pitchforth said the Tie Fork rest area is a beautiful facility and encouraged people to pack a picnic and go there for a visit. "There is a lot to see there and to enjoy," she said. "The landscaping is done at the care center and it's beautiful. Stoddard Sprinkler and Landscaping did the job and it looks great. It is going to be a fabulous facility for our county. It is such an addition to the community. The east wing will be complete by Friday. The care center is planning an open house on Sept. 11 during Peach Days. The Emery County Business Chamber is working hard and they are excited. They have a great vision and they are planning a kickoff event in October. The event will feature a guest speaker and lunch. They will give ideas on how to make your business better and we hope all the businesses will support the new organization."
Pitchforth said the Association of Governments is involved in a new housing project where the people cooperate and help build their homes as well as other family homes in exchange for low interest loans for the homes. The cooperative housing will be for Carbon and Emery counties.
The drug coalition met, "They are trying so hard to make a difference. There is a drug called Spice that is a manmade substance that is legal and its sold as incense. People are smoking it for a marijuana like high. Hopefully the legislature will make it illegal. It looks like sagebrush," said Pitchforth.
The RSVP is having a recognition dinner. On Sept. 10 will be the senior citizen bbq at Bear Creek campground," said Pitchforth.
Commissioner Gary Kofford said he and Capt. Kyle Ekker, Sheriff LaMar Guymon and Mary Huntington from personnel; attended a risk management training in Cedar City for three days.
Broderick and Henderson are the low bidder on the food bank building. They will begin work by Sept. 1. Lila Canyon has 20,000 ton of coal on the ground and they are awaiting the road to be completed enough to get trucks to the mine site. Lila Canyon is in the process of gathering bids for the hauling of the coal. By late September they hope to be hauling out of the mine. "It is a real plus for the county to have that mine. It will add to the tax base. It is good for the citizens of Emery County," said Kofford.
The consent agenda items included the hiring of Brinne Dawes, Marqui Moss and Eli Oliverson as part-time lifeguards working 19 3/4 hours a week with no benefits. Sheriff Guymon requested approval for the promotion of Alexander O'Neil and Mike VanWagoner from correction officer I to correction officer II for being a POST certified corrections officer for at least two years. Morris Sorensen requested approval to hire Natalie Gardner as a 3/4 time secretary working 32 hours with pro-rated benefits.
The wellness clinic will be on Oct. 20-21 at the Emery Medical Center. Flu, pneumonia and tetanus vaccines will be given to county employees. Cost for the wellness visits will be $173-$177 depending on age and gender. Employees who participate in the wellness clinic will be given an additional four hours of paid vacation.
The next meeting for the Emery County Commissioner will be held Sept. 14 at 9 a.m. in the commission chambers.