The Emery County Commissioners met in their regularly scheduled meeting on May 7 at 4 p.m. Commissioners Ira Hatch, Randy Johnson and Drew Sitterud were present as well as Sheriff Lamar Guymon and County Attorney Dave Blackwell.
The first item on the agenda was Pat Snowball, personnel director. She discussed the retirement of a full-time library employee who will be replaced with two part-time positions who will cover both the Castle Dale and the Emery libraries. Snowball will begin recruitment of these positions. The commissioners recommended a letter of appreciation be sent to the retiring employee.
Snowball said a new economic director has been selected and brought before the commission for approval. Marlin Eldred has been selected for the position and he will begin on May 20. Seventeen people were interviewed for the position. A motion was made, seconded and passed to approve Eldred for this position. Temporary positions in the weed and mosquito department were approved. A 90 day position in the GIS department was also approved. The position will include work in the field as well as recording field work on the computer.
The next item on the agenda was the approval of the check edit list, additional claims, requisitions and dispositions.
Floyd Johnson was on hand from the Bureau of Land Management with an update. He said the deadline for submitting comments on the San Rafael Route Designation is closed. "We are reviewing all of the submittals. At least 2,000 of these comments are form letters from outside of Utah. We are discussing how to address comments from outside the state.
"We are finishing up items on the initial scoping for the resource management plan for land use planning. We will be mailing out a detailed summary to keep people apprised of where we're at. We've had 600 letters of distinct comments from across the country, mainly from Colorado and Utah. We've had 4,000 letters mainly from California, Colorado and New York for requests to establish the Red Rock Wilderness. About 300 people attended the scoping meetings.
"A baseline report regarding air, mineral and socio-economic issues will be available in draft form which will serve as a baseline map. We also need to move on the Price River Resource plan. We have a good basis of what's there. We've been communicating with the GIS from Emery County on the area," said Floyd Johnson.
A question on how many letters actually dealt with issues on the BLM travel plan was asked. Johnson said about three quarters of the comments were form letters and 300-500 dealt with specific issues in non-form letters. "I expect a lot of people to bring up the same issues," said Johnson.
John Healy from the forest service was next with an update. He said the Arapeen Trail map is now available at no cost. "This map will provide information to the public on what trails are available and the final product is out now. It has been a collaborative effort between Sanpete and Emery counties OHV users.
"The drought really has us concerned. We visit the forest every day and the water isn't there in the stock watering ponds. Especially on the lower half or third of the mountain. We have a 10 percent reduction in grazing in effect and possibly another 25-35 percent reduction in the future. Operators are anticipating this reduction and trying to get ready for it.
"The road management gates which have been used to reduce damage on roads in Joes Valley and upper Huntington Canyon have been a success. However, the Ferron gate has been torn out and we are replacing it. Normally acess to Willow Lake isn't available until June but it will open as soon as possible. The gate is a $3,000 loss for the forest service," said Healy.
Elaine Zieroth, forest supervisor, was next to address the commission. She talked about the process they are beginning to revise the forest service plan. They are looking at what has changed since the plan was implemented and looking for ways to do a better job. They hope to develop a better understanding of the role of the forest in the socio-economics of the county. Emery County has cooperating agency status with the forest service and will work with them on public involvement. She also mentioned they will be working with Wes Curtis from the governor's office and other forests as well. Curtis will help the forest service contact the counties and establish information on how decisions on the forests effect the communities. "We plan on using local resources such as the public lands council in this process," said Zieroth.
Commissioner Johnson said they welcome the opportunity to have cooperating status with the forest service. Zieroth pointed out the contract is non-binding and they hope to establish a relationship early in the process. She said they hope to involve the public in the process probably by winter. Access is the big issue, she said, as well as recommending if any land on the Manti is suitable for wilderness. They are required by law to make these recommendations.
Commissioner Hatch wondered about the situation on the South Manti. Zieroth explained they had lost in court but had plans to take a different approach. "We are committed to try to get some value out of the dead trees in the area," she said. It was determined that Val Payne would be the contact person between the county and the forest service.
The next item on the agenda was Paula Wellnitz and a discussion of the Care-a-van program. She explained the program as providing transportation to people for needed dentist and doctor appointments; who are otherwise without transportation to get to these appointments. She has been a volunteer for four years with the program. She became concerned when she wasn't receiving any calls to transport people. She called the Price office and was told it's a matter of money. So Wellnitz decided to approach the commission on the matter.
Commissioner Johnson explained the circumstances. He said the county originally handled the Care-a-van and it was quite expensive to operate. It was determined that the board of health would take over the program and write grants to help with the operating expenses. The county budgets $90,000 annually to the board of health to help with the Care-a-van and other programs. Since the board of health took over the cost has escalated. Commissioner Johnson pointed out that the county is concerned about keeping it going. They will look at either running it themselves or sending more money to the health district so it will continue to function. The contract with the health department is up in July and a decision will be made prior to that time.
The next item on the agenda was the approval for a donation to the Emery County Community Theatre for $250. The next item on the agenda was the consideration of participation in the Universal Hiring Program 2002 and the COPS in schools 2002 program. If successful in applying for the grant it would be for $75,000 over a three year period to hire an officer specifically for schools. Concern was brought up over the clause in the grant which includes hiring the officer at the end of the three year grant period. Commissioner Johnson said they would need to look and see if it is within the perimeters of the budget to maintain that person after the three years.
It was determined that they would apply for the grant and if the hiring of the officer at the end of the three years wasn't within the budget they could always turn down the grant at that time. It was also mentioned that they would talk to the school district to see if they have any available funds which could be used along these lines.
The next item on the agenda was Kent Michie explaining the consideration of a resolution to approve the adoption by the Municipal Building Authority of Emery County of a parameters resolution authorizing the issuance of not more than $4 850,000 lease revenue and refunding bonds, Series 2002; and related matters. Michie mentioned they anticipate the interest rate to be somewhere between 4.5-5 percent. He pointed out a few items left to come together with the audit report, annexation and the rating of the bonds. He said by the June 18 commission meeting these items should be worked out. Wells Fargo is the underwriter for the bonds. A notice to citizens of bonds will be released and Michie recommended the commission adopt the resolution. Michie estimated the money to be in the bank by June.
The next item on the agenda was the consideration and approval of the emergency declaration of drought for Emery County. This declaration will put Emery County in line for future funding with various agencies including the BLM, forest service, farm service agency, homeland security, state and national economic development, department of agriculture and others.
The next item of business was the approval of two business licenses. One for Gaylene Conder for Millsite Restaurant and the other for Tracy Aikens for a technological and consulting business.
The prior meeting minutes were approved. Commissioner Hatch reported that he had been to the joint highway committee meeting in St. George concerning rural road development and state park road development. He said they are on line for finishing the Goblin Valley road by 2006 for the planning and design phase.
Commissioner Sitterud mentioned he had attended the petroleum meeting which was very interested. The next commission meeting will be held on May 21 at 9 a.m.