The Emery County Commission held their board meeting in Green River on Aug.17. Once each year the commission meeting is held in Green River to allow Green River residents to voice their concerns and comments to the commission. Connie Copenhaver, from the Green River Chamber of Commerce spoke about a parcel of state trust land which is currently leased to Olive and ODell Anderson who had plans to place a full service truck stop on the land, but the project hasn't come to pass because there wasn't any water available. The state trust lands has indicated the land must be proved up or the current lease holders will lose the lease. They indicated that another company wanted to put a truck stop there.
Copenhaver believes that such a truck stop would be very detrimental to the downtown area of Green River. Copenhaver said she is not opposed to such a business locating in the downtown area of Green River within the city limits. Then traffic would still need to exit the freeway and enter the town.
Tom Burr from the Green River city council said if the property at the east interchange were annexed into the city, then the city could make water available.
Copenhaver said the property at the east interchange is in Grand County and a business there would generate no income for Emery County. She urged the commissioners to oppose the project. There are other parcels of SITLA land within the Green River city limits which could be made available for such a project.
The Green River city council has not voted on the issue. The Green River Chamber of Commerce plans to fight any such development said Copenhaver and she said they wanted to make the commission aware of what was going on.
Copenhaver requested the commission consider the establishment of a restaurant tax in Emery County. Grand and Carbon counties have such a tax. Copenhaver said the tax could be administered by the Emery County Travel Council. She has talked to a few of the restaurant owners in the town and they didn't have a problem with such a tax.
In Carbon County the restaurant tax has been used for the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum, signage and displays and other promotional tactics to attract visitors to the area and to the museum. One such sign is at the mouth of Spanish Fork canyon. It was reported that visits to the museum are up 26 percent and revenue at the museum is up 40 percent. A project for signage for Nine Mile Canyon is also being instituted in partnership with Conoco/Phillips to bring people into the area.
Copenhaver said it is their hope that monies from the restaurant tax could be used to promote and market Green River and Emery County as a destination vacation spot. The commission said they would read all of the information and laws concerning establishing a restaurant tax and take it under advisement.
The justice court judge position was discussed and 49 applicants were received for the position. Judge Betty Burns has been officiating at both the Green River court and the court in Castle Dale. The chairman of the board of commissioners will approve the successful applicant for the position. Commissioner Sitterud said the successful applicant will have to complete a state certification and pass a written exam before being sworn in as judge. The position may not be filled until early next year. State certification training will be held in September and also in January, but an applicant may not be selected in time for the September training.
It was determined that Judge Burns be adequately compensated for the extra duties filling in for the western side of the county as well as her regular duties in Green River.
A vacancy in the travel council was filled by the commission. Kathy Gardner was approved to serve the remainder of the term vacated by Doug Richards when he resigned.
A letter of support for the Quitchupah road project which will save 60 miles of travel time in bringing coal from SUFCO to the Hunter plant was approved. Approximately 30 miners from Emery County are employed at the mine. The road will connect with SR-10 approximately 3 miles south of Emery.
Citizen concerns were addressed at the meeting. Tom Burr spoke to the commission endorsing the establishment of a restaurant tax, seeing it as a win-win situation. Mayor Glen Dale Johnson encouraged the commissioners to come to Melon Days on Sept. 17-18. He also commended the weed and mosquito department on the job they have done with mosquito abatement. They have been draining ponds and working hard. The mayor said the city has chipped in $6,000 to go with grant money received. The equipment used will stay in Green River.
Morris Sorensen from the road department spoke of an upcoming project to install fuel tanks for fueling county equipment. The tanks will allow the county to spot bid fuel needs and look for cheaper fuel prices. A site showing is set for Sept. 1. Bids will be taken for the electrical and plumbing part of the project and the concrete work will be a separate bid.
Mayor Johnson updated the commission on the Green River test site. He said most of the cleanup work has been completed and testing will begin on the buildings of the cantonment area to check for asbestos and lead paint, etc. The Army Reserve is interested in the missile base land south of the freeway to be used as a training facility.
An update of the landfill was also given. They are still waiting for a permit and right-of-way from the BLM. The Solitude company is still actively pursuing contracts for the landfill.
Christine Monroe from the Green River Community Center spoke to the commission about the new Community Life Center which she said has expanded to include affordable housing. They are still looking for a way to fund the center and asked the commissioners to be on the lookout for any grants for this purpose. She also said they are partnering with the dean of distance learning to bring new educational services to the Green River residents. Of the 973 Green River residents, 40 percent are at or below the poverty level.
It was also mentioned that a former Green River resident is looking to start up the gas plant again and produce a lube product. He is looking for $200,000 for startup costs and would employ 20 people.
Also a company out of New Zealand will announce soon whether they will locate a rubberized track company in the county.
The commission will meet again on Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. in the county building in Castle Dale.