The board of county commissioners of Emery County met in their regular public session Jan. 8. The 4 p.m. meeting was sparsely attended, in fact, with the exception of associate pastor Bob Toomer of the Independent Baptist Church of Castle Dale,who led the gathering in the opening prayer, no members of the general public were at the meeting, only those who had agenda items to discuss or were employees of the county itself.
With Commissioners Randy Johnson and Drew Sitterud present, Commission Chairman Ira Hatch conducted the meeting. At the onset of the meeting Commissioner Sitterud made a motion to table two agenda items, the first being the appointment of the 2002 chairman of the board of commissioners and the second being the review and approval of commission responsibilities. Commissioner Hatch stepped down as chairman of the board of commissioners and seconded the motion with Commissioner Johnson opposing. The motion passed.
The next item on the agenda was a discussion of planned road construction on State Route 10 to Poison Springs Bench. Thomas R. Christensen, a Utah Department of Transportation project manager, discussed UDOT's intention to create passing lanes on the north end of Huntington to Poison Springs Bench. The project would create four lanes of highway throughout the majority of the corridor, which includes the traffic heavy and congested area near the airport and industrial complex. Christensen said UDOT was looking to begin construction in the summer of 2003 after impacts to the area and environmental documents are complete.
"Average daily traffic for that section is tremendous. To get a safe highway through that bottleneck is the key thing," said Commissioner Hatch.
It was also mentioned that the electronic signs placed above SR-6 at Helper and the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon would be operational on Jan. 15 and provide motorists with information on conditions of the highway.
Commissioners also discussed with Kleston Laws of UDOT the closure of access roads to public lands off of Interstate 70. Commissioner Johnson indicated that closure of the roads was last discussed as a concept and now the restrictions are in place with boulders blocking the roads.
"We have blocked some off because access is limited on an interstate highway," Laws said.
Commissioner Johnson said his only complaint with UDOT was that he felt it should have been announced that access to the roads would be blocked, especially after the roads had been open for such a long period of time.
The next item on the agenda was consideration and approval of a bill of sale for the power line to Horn Mountain. The county owned the power line which led from the central warehouse to Horn Mountain. The reason the county decided to sell the power line to Utah Power, according to Commissioner Johnson, was the upgrade in equipment at the communication site and a request by Texaco for three phase power for its wells in the area. With ownership of the power line going to Utah Power, the company would now be responsible for maintaining the line. Commissioner Johnson made a motion to approve the bill of sale and the motion carried without objection.
The next item on the agenda was consideration and approval of a tax abatement for a building owned by Green River Bible Church. Jim Fauver, Emery County assessor, voiced his concern that granting a tax abatement for the church did not meet the qualifications for religious exemptions, which requires that the building be used exclusively for religious or charitable purposes. After some discussion Commissioner Johnson made a motion to exempt but only after clarification of exemption status.
The next item on the agenda was the consideration and approval of tax abatement at the request of Ferron City for property the city had purchased at 215 South State Street in Ferron. Commissioners agreed to abate taxes from the time the property became city property (which was Sept. 19), and that the city should be held responsible for taxes up to that time because the city agreed to those terms in the purchase price with the owner of the property.
The next item on the agenda was the consideration and approval of a contract with the state of Utah for acquiring GPS and GIS data. The contract was for the state to provide $28,700 for collection of the data by the county, $20,000 for staffing and $8,700 for mileage in the effort to map RS2477 roads in the county. The contract was accepted without objection.
Kathy Justice was next approved as the director for the 2002 Emery County Fair. The agreement was for $5,000, with another $1,500 for miscellaneous expenses.
Check edit list, additional claims, requisitions and dispositions were next discussed and approved.
Pat Snowball, personnel director, next discussed personnel actions.
During citizen concerns, Bruce Funk discussed with the commissioners his concern over a letter that the county had sent out supporting an initiative by Castle Valley Ranch, near Emery, for the transfer of Bureau of Land Management Land to School Institutional Trust Lands so that the land could be leased by the ranch for the purpose of creating a hunting park. Funk's concern was that transfer of the land to SITLA with eventual lease to Castle Valley Ranch would close access to public lands.
The letter of support in question was drafted and mailed to SITLA and BLM in September of 2000.
Signed by members of the Emery County commission, public lands council, economic development and the Utah State Travel Division, the letter voices its support of the concept as a way to enhance the economic development of the county. It was discussed that the letter was in support of the concept, but the county was outside of any decision between BLM and SITLA concerning the transfer. Representatives of BLM have indicated that they have no plans to act on the proposal in the immediate future. The final two items on the agenda were consideration and approval of commission meeting minutes and commissioner reports.