The Emery County Commissioners voted to hold a county signing for the Community Covenant program. This program lends support in the community for military members and their families as well as veterans. Sgt. Ryan Palmer attended the commission meeting to talk about the program. He said the program was started in 2008 by the Department of the Army and it has spread to all branches of the service. Emery County cities already participating include Castle Dale, Emery, Ferron, Huntington, Cleveland, Orangeville and Green River. Sgt. Palmer said there are programs in place to help veterans and this program helps build a network and puts a face on what the communities are doing. The Community Covenant program acts as a liaison between the military and the communities. It helps those who live in the community become aware of the resources that exist for them. Those leading the Community Covenant program meet often to discuss the program and give out new and pertinent information for veterans and military families.
The county has expressed an interest in becoming part of the Community Covenant program. Commissioner James Nelson said he has attended many of these Community Covenant programs and finds them to be very patriotic occasions. Patriotism is near and dear to the heart of Emery County residents. Soliciting support for our veterans and military families is a worthy cause noted Commissioner Nelson.
Commissioner Laurie Pitchforth said she has attended several of the programs and believes it will blend well with what the communities are already doing to help military families. She thinks the county really needs to step up and follow through if it takes on the commitment of being a Community Covenant participant.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks said he is a veteran and is very touched by the program and he sees its benefits. It's very difficult to understand the hardships these military families go through. "Emery County wants to participate in this program," said Commissioner Horrocks.
Sgt. Palmer said he would prepare the signing documents. The signing will take place on Nov. 13 during commission meeting upstairs at the county building at 9 a.m.
The commission ratified the state of emergency declaration for the drought, fire and floods which have plagued the county. They had to sign this document earlier to get emergency funds coming to the county to help with flood control and clean-up and other projects related to the fire.
Brenda Tuttle, the clerk/auditor presented the tentative budget for 2013 to the commission for their approval. The revenue is close to the same as in prior years. It may look like there is an increase in the sheriff's office budget, but it's due to moving the salaries into the department.
A budget hearing will take place on Dec. 18 at 6 p.m. at commission meeting.
Jacob Sharp, director of the Castle Valley Special Service District presented his 2013 tentative budget. He said it is similar to other years. The revenue and wages are about the same. In 2013 the road maintenance and chip seal project will be in Castle Dale and $700,000 has been budgeted for that. One million has been set aside for street projects throughout the county. The sewer improvement project in Clawson has $280,000 set aside there. The debt service for repayment of the bonds is going down after it reached its highest levels the past couple of years. Sharp said the tentative budget was approved in the district board meeting on Oct. 18.
The commissioners approved both tentative budgets.
Improvements to the access road for Millsite State Park was approved. This is a cooperative agreement between Emery County and Emery County Special Service District. The project will begin in 2013.
The commission approved a tax adjustment for a green belt property for an Emery County resident.
Kris Bell will put together a gift from Emery County for the Utah Association of Counties convention. The gift consists of items made in Emery County or gifts from Emery County businesses.
The noxious weed agreement was signed for 2013, Emery County will contribute $7,500 to this fund. This fund has been used for Russian Olive removal and they have become quite efficient at this.
The Huntington airport insurance was renewed and the premium was down a little.
Commissioner Nelson reported Sen. Orrin Hatch had visited the county. Shannon Hiatt attended pool training. Commissioner Nelson attended the resource development meeting in Green River. Budget hearings have been held and Commissioner Nelson said these meetings were traumatic. He will attend a centrally assessed meeting at UAC. The county will meet with Kathleen Clarke on the public lands bill. He met with the NRCS to secure emergency funds for flood repair. Emery Water Conservancy District has also secured funds for removal of debris along Huntington Creek. Commissioner Nelson indicated the The damage to Huntington Creek is extensive. There are many stakeholders involved including the farmers and their water diversions. With the beetle killed trees, fire and flooding there have been massive changes to Huntington Canyon this year.
Damage has occurred in campgrounds and trails and new debris catch basins have been installed to help catch the debris before it reaches the river.
Commissioner Nelson said in some places soil has washed away and it's down to the bedrock. It has been a traumatic experience and this pressure filled situation will be an ongoing problem. Worries now with winter setting in will be avalanche danger.
The Army Corp of Engineers must approve anything that's done. The NRCS cannot contribute to the forest service so the funding must pass through the county. Work has begun below the forest service boundary. There is a large debris pile west of Huntington City that is going to be cleaned up to prevent it from being washed farther down the canyon and possibly taking out bridges in the area. Huntington power plant must also be protected from debris flows. The power plant supplies power to seven western states.
Commissioner Pitchforth reported it was great to be back in the commission room after being forced into the downstairs portion of the county building due to bat damage and clean-up efforts upstairs.
She thanked the tech department that had to set computers and equipment up downstairs for the commissioners and other upstairs offices. "I want to thank UDOT and Nielson Construction for the fabulous road between Castle Dale and Ferron. The Ferron Bridge project has been put on hold until next spring. I attended the fly-in at Huntington airport and it is a great event. The improvements at the airport are more than justified. I met a lot of fun people at the event and there are people coming into our county. I met with the purchasing policy committee and we will discuss the changes in next month's commission meeting. We went to the CIB to secure funding for the weed and mosquito building and to help support Huntington City with the flood issue. Festive Friday was a great success, their next event will be for the holidays."
Commissioner Horrocks said the CIB funding for the weed and mosquito building was a $427,000 grant. The building will be constructed near the county road shop. Johansen and Tuttle will be the engineers. The contract will be signed and sent back and that project will be ready to roll. Commissioner Horrocks said he thought the fly-in at the airport was a great success too. There was one mishap where a plane was blown off the runway, but due to the pilot's quick action no one was injured. The young eagles took 98 young people up in airplanes for rides. The backcountry pilots flew into the backcountry strips in the county. Commissioner Horrocks told of the UAC military task force and he is a member there and they are trying to take care of veterans and wounded warriors. This is to thank veterans and give back to them. "We are always indebted to our veterans," said Commissioner Horrocks.
Commissioner Pitchforth said the Lion's Club is looking for new members. They have expanded to be a countywide organization. They help the blind, give scholarships, get glasses for those in need and many other projects. They have donation jars out in the community. They invite interested people to join this volunteer service club.
The next commission meeting will be on Nov. 13 at 9 a.m.