Emery County is at the top of the list, the unemployment list that is. The county has the highest rate of unemployment for the state and it hovers between 10-11 percent. Delena Fish from the Department of Workforce Services gave the Emery County Commission an update on her department. She pointed out there are some bright spots on the horizon with the hiring of 21 individuals to work at the new ALCO store which is coming to Castle Dale. Four of those positions are in management and one manager is coming from the Price area, but the other hires are all local people. She said ALCO was impressed with the high quality of the workforce and the people that were interviewed. Fish reported they received 255 applications and 150 people were interviewed. Fish said they had some busy days when the people from ALCO were there interviewing, but, "It was exciting." Fish also reported on a company recruiting for four positions which deal with transcriptions and those hired will work from their home at a piece rate.
She said that as of Jan. 1 they have been serving the Green River area, they have met with employers as well as customers to find out what is needed in that area. They are traveling to Green River once a month currently and meet with clients in the Sheriff's Complex.
Fish reported that many of the unemployment recipients are coming to the end of their benefits and have applied for assistance and they have seen an increase in these applications.
DWS has also been involved with PacifiCorp and Healthaxis in giving typing tests and other testing for employers. Fish mentioned the retirement of Roger Sparks who has worked for 35 years with DWS and was instrumental in bringing programs to Emery County.
Commissioner Ira Hatch said that Emery County is well represented on the regional council and has one of the best programs in the area. "I would like to express appreciation to Delena for her hard work," said Hatch.
Larry Salazar from Emery Telcom reported the purchase of Mallard Cablevision which is in bankruptcy. They serve the communities of Elmo and Cleveland. These customers will receive their billing along with their telephone service. A new remote located in Cleveland will further expand DSL service to that area. Salazar also reported Emery Telcom has installed new copper cable in the Castle Dale area and a new concrete vault at the Huntington office to protect equipment.
Bailey Bohn from the Emery High Rodeo Club approached the commission about a donation to the high school rodeo coming up in April. She said their members participate in rodeos throughout the season in order to qualify for the state high school rodeo finals. She said all sponsors are listed on the radio, newspaper and announced at the rodeo.
Commissioner Hatch directed Bohn to approach the Emery County Recreation District for the donation.
Southeastern Utah OHV club president, Mark H. Williams addressed the council with a request for funding for the Arapeen ATV Jamboree which will be held Sept 6-10. Williams presented the commission with a copy of a story written by Corey Bluemel from the Emery County Progress which appeared in a national ATV magazine. Williams said since the appearance of the article they have had a great deal of response from people inquiring about the jamboree and they have sent out a lot of materials about the Emery County area to people throughout the United States.
The Peach Days celebration will be held on Friday and Saturday at the end of the ATV jamboree and they are advertising in conjunction with Peach Days. Williams requested a $2,500 donation to help with the advertising of the jamboree and other related expenses. Williams said the economic benefits of the event will be a boost for the county in bringing people into the area, not only at jamboree time but at other times throughout the year. The Arapeen jamboree is also being held the week before the Paiute Jamboree in Richfield and some people responding have mentioned they will come here first and then down to Richfield.
Commissioner Gary Kofford spoke favorably of the Arapeen Jamboree, saying it can be beneficial to the county as the event grows, but the request for funding was tabled until the commission explores funding avenues for the event. They did direct Williams to the recreation district where they can give a $250 donation.
Williams gave the commission the number of ATVs registered in the county and the property tax money which is kicked back to the county. He wanted to know where this money goes and what it is used for. The number of ATVs registered in the county is 1,935 and the amount of $54,794.74 came back to the county from the property tax on these ATVs.
Williams said the ATV users haven't seen any benefits pertaining to these funds nor have they been used specifically for ATV related issues.
The county supplied the insurance for the Arapeen ATV Jamboree last year and will do the same for this year's jamboree. Cost for the county is $1,000 each year.
Steve Barton gave an update to the commission on taxes which have been appealed. Most of the decisions in these cases involved minor amounts, but a ruling in the favor of Emery Telcom for a reduction of $16,000 in their taxes will need to be paid and a possible judgment levy might need to be imposed. Commissioner Drew Sitterud said that on that amount it probably wouldn't be necessary for a judgment levy, but he advised Barton to keep the commission informed as these cases are settled.
Under the concerned citizen items, Barton mentioned that the MECCA bike club has a spring festival which draws 100 bikers from within the state and to keep them in mind for funding.
The filling of the position on the travel bureau was tabled until Commissioner Hatch can speak to Norma Dean Hawkinson, executive secretary for the travel bureau to get their recommendation. Those applying for the position are Sheriff Lamar Guymon, Phil Fauver and Reed Martin.
The commission reported that they didn't receive any applications for the vacancy on the weed and mosquito board and recommended Alan Staker for the appointment contingent on whether he accepts the appointment.
The commission discussed their position on business licenses and requiring those bidding on county jobs to show proof of a business license with applications. It was determined that County Attorney Dave Blackwell review the current requirements and make sure it is a clear policy without inconsistencies.
The commissioners approved the agreement between the county and the forest service for the maintenance of forest roads by the county. The commission explained that the state reimburses the county for part of the associated costs which doesn't adequately cover the costs, but it helps. The agreement is basically the same as in previous years with the extension of 1.6 miles on the Wildcat road. Commissioner Hatch said it is a service to the citizens to help maintain these forest roads and provide access.
The Ferron-Mayfield road was also discussed and a separate agreement was approved to use magnesium chloride on the road as a follow-up treatment to what was applied last season. It will be treated to the top of the dugway. Commissioner Hatch said when the two agencies work together it makes projects of this type more affordable. Hatch also reminds citizens that roads treated with the mag-chloride are more slippery when wet and to exercise caution when traveling these roads, both on the desert and the forest.
The lease agreement was approved for Rob Midgely as the Huntington airport manager. The bid for the replacement of carpet at the airport home was also approved in the amount of $1,764 to Red Carpet Installation from Elmo.
Commissioner Kofford reported that he had been to meetings on education in Provo and had also attended an AOG planning conference. Commissioner Hatch had attended an insurance board meeting and things were going good with the insurance program and also the unemployment compensation is up and running. They met with the governor on wilderness issues and will meet again on March 8 in St. George to discuss the direction and process the state will go with the wilderness issue. All the commissioners attended a meeting in Richfield to discuss strategy with RS-2477 roads and were informed of SUWA legal actions in that area. In a meeting with UDOT Commissioner Sitterud learned that work on SR-6 will be extensive this summer and motorists should expect two hour delays in the canyon and if possible should seek alternate routes. The Helper interchange as well as replacement of the Colton Bridge will be two of the major projects this summer. UDOT will be placing an overlay on portions of SR-10 near Emery where rotomill was put down this past year. UDOT will also be redoing the Muddy Creek Bridge and delays can be expected in that area.
Sitterud also reported that the painting at the Ferron Care and Rehab Center is complete with new chair rails and repainted rooms and halls.
The next commission meeting will be held on March 16 at 9 a.m.