Delena Fish of the Department of Workforce Services was at the recent Emery County Commission meeting to give her quarterly report. She stated that DWS is at the end of their fiscal year and they are in the middle of gathering information with surveys. These surveys give an overview of how the department is accomplishing the goals set forth at the beginning of the year. From the preliminary survey results, the department's performance rate is excellent, all departments are at or near 100 percent in meeting the goals set down by the state.
"The number of people entering new jobs, and the retaining those jobs is on the increase. We are also receiving a good number of job orders from businesses. The DWS staff has worked extremely hard to keep the percentages up. We have made great strides in meeting the goals, and we are just barely beginning to recover from the Trail Mountain Mine layoffs. Those workers are obtaining jobs with similar pay scales," said Fish.
Commissioner Drew Sitterud stated that the record of this regional office is one of the best in the state. Commissioner Ira Hatch commented on the nice facility that the DWS has in Castle Dale. The building has meeting accommodations for groups to use.
Fish informed the commissioners that changes are coming to the youth program. They will be doing some work on the Heritage garden and the Heritage House. The DWS may require some assistance from the commission to provide worksites for the participants.
"The job market is improving in Emery County. Overall, there is more employment. The need for truck drivers is extreme. We cannot seem to get them trained fast enough," said Fish.
Deb Dull, from Utah Power also gave her quarterly report. She said, "On May 24, Scottish Power sold PacifiCorp to Mid-American Energy Holdings Company. We are seeking the necessary approvals from the regulatory commissions in six western states, and expect that to be complete in 2006. Mid-American plans to leave PacifiCorp as a stand alone business, with few changes and minimal impact on the employees. Mid-American is experienced in the energy field and is very environmentally responsible. They have numerous other energy holdings and serve more that 5.1 million customers.
"The leadership of PacifiCorp will remain the same with Judy Johansen, CEO, in Portland, and Rich Walje as a vice president in Salt Lake. The other departments and vice presidents of those departments will all remain the same," said Dull.
Pam Juliano, representing Congressman Jim Matheson, made a presentation to the commissioners. She said they have worked very hard and long for a field office in this area, and now that is a reality. She will serve as Rep. Matheson's liaison in the new field office in Price. The office is located in the basement of the Carbon County Courthouse, and the public is welcome to stop by or call with any concerns they wish the Congressman to investigate. "If anyone needs help with their social security, we can help. We plan to be the eyes and ears of the communities. The office will be open Monday-Friday and may be reached at 636-3722.
Juliano, who was previously the director of the United Way in this area, then introduced her replacement in that position, Kim Zollinger. Zollinger stated, "We work with six Emery County agencies and provide two scholarships. I hope to do as good a job as Pam has done," Zollinger can be reached at 1-800-250-SERV, Monday-Thursday from 1-5:30 p.m.
Commissioner Hatch reported that though the bill has not passed yet, Rep. Matheson was instrumental in trying to appropriate $7 million in highway funds to finish the Moore Cutoff road. "It hasn't passed yet, but we are hopeful," said Hatch.
In other business by the commissioners, a reappointment of Randy Jensen, Keith Ware and Judy Ann Scott, was made. These people were reappointed to the Career Service Council. The commission also approved to begin the process for accepting applications for the board of North Emery Waters Users Special Service District. Four positions will soon be open due to the expiration of the terms of present board members, Randy Bell, Ray Quinn, Carl Fillmore, and William Coyne.
The commission approved to give $250 to the Retired Senior Volunteers Program, to be used for the second annual Senior Affairs Fair. Also ratified by the commission was the nomination of Commissioner Hatch to the national Advisory Committee for the Protection of Inventoried Roadless Areas.
Three agenda items were discussed dealing with the mandate for digital television service to be made available in this area. The first was a request by Bret Mills for a letter from the commissioners to the FCC asking for a temporary license to broadcast the digital service.
It is planned to have the installation of the transmitters and equipment for one station, in place by county fair time. It is Mills' plan to demonstrate the differences between the digital signal and the analog signal in a booth at the county fair to the residents who attend. This was approved by the commissioners.
Another TV item was the signing of an amended interlocal agreement with the Eastern Utah Television Technologies Association. This association was created to deal with the mandate from the federal government to have digital television service by 2006. The cost of the change over is very great and several counties in eastern Utah came together to form this association to facilitate the change over. As an association, they have secured a 100 percent grant from the CIB board for $2.8 million to fund the project. The construction for this project will begin this summer. The commissioners discussed the amendments and approved the signing of the agreement.
A memorandum of understanding was also approved by the commissioners. This MOU states that Emery County will allow the TV association to use the buildings and properties in Emery County to place the equipment needed to change over to digital service. Should the need for the digital service ever be discontinued, the county will maintain ownership of the facilities. Mills reminded everyone that if new TVs are purchased for private homes, the homeowners should purchase a TV that has an ATSC receiver. The old analog TVs contain a NTSC receiver. With the implementation of this new equipment, the receivers in TVs will need to be ATSC.
For senior citizens, those on medicare and social security, with older TV sets, Congress is trying to appropriate funds to purchase the receiver boxes needed for reception of the digital signal.
These boxes are placed on top of the set and will make it unnecessary for people on fixed incomes to replace their TVs. For others with older TV sets, the receiver boxes can be purchased at many stores in the area.
Commissioner Hatch announced that construction on the Rilda Canyon intersection will begin very soon. This project is expected to take 60-70 days to complete. Also, the federal highway administration will be in Emery County to assess the damage to the switchbacks above Joe's Valley Reservoir. This repair work needs to completed very soon.
The scenic by-way, Energy Loop community clean-up day will be June 25. Bags, water bottles, and t-shirts may be picked up at the barbecue on the previous evening, June 24, which will be held at the rest stop on the Skyline Drive road at the top on Huntington Canyon. For more information concerning this clean-up day, call Kim at United Way.