The Emery County Commissioners met in their regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 1 at 4 p.m. The meeting was opened with a prayer offered by Mike McCandless and the pledge of allegiance led by the commissioners. Those present were Commissioners Drew Sitterud, Ira Hatch and Randy Johnson. Dave Blackwell, county attorney was also present.
The first item on the agenda was the Bureau of Land Management update by Patrick Gubbins, Price Field Office director. The previous acting director, Tom Rasmussen will be moving to Lakeview, Ore. where he will be the director of a field office there. The commissioners thanked Rasmussen for the help he has been to the county and for his willingness to work together on issues.
Gubbins mentioned the recent resource forum which was held in Castle Dale. One of the presenters, Rob Heille will return on Oct. 30 for another presentation on special management approaches and trends. This will deal with what a monument is and is not. He also mentioned the tours of the Swell which are taking place each Saturday in the month of October. He expressed disappointment with the turnout of the first tour on Sept. 21 where only five people showed up.
The BLM will also be meeting with Gary Armstrong from Booz, Allen and Hamilton to discuss the upcoming public meetings the week of Nov. 19. The BLM also has a wild and scenic river meeting on Oct. 3 at the Price Field Office the commissioners were invited to participate. This wild and scenic river process is in the crawling stage said Gubbins and they are looking at eligibility and it will be a community effort. Gubbins also reported that U.S. Gypsum is also interested in starting up in the Kimball Draw area.
Commissioner Johnson said they are worried about the wild and scenic river process. "We only have a small amount of water in our area and it's already overallocated."
The next item was the Division of Workforce Services update by Delena Fish. She said their new building is going up and they hope to be moved in by the end of November. She said unemployment in the county is at 7.9 percent. "Activity has been slow but the job market is increasing a little bit. Unemployment always increases at this time of year with the laying off of employees from the seasonal jobs."
She also described a new online employment service which will connect job seekers and employers. Employers can review a series of resumes by job seekers and arrange for interviews and call potential employees. Fish said this would be useful if you have an employee that quits on a Friday and you need someone by Monday when division offices are closed. It will be interesting she said and we are in the process of testing the line. This service is provided to employers at no charge. This job bank provides information on both local, state and nationwide jobs which are available. Fish described the site as being customer friendly.
Fish described three surveys which they conduct every year among their customers, employees and employers. She said they surveyed customers for two days in July and compared the results. They did well overall but went down in a few areas which they are working on. The Castle Dale office has good service, even though state agencies have dwindling services in these times of budget cuts.
Fish reported that the University of Utah is studying and tracking the individuals as they go off of assistance when their time is completed. The study showed that 57 percent of those who went off welfare are still below the poverty level. She said that many of these individuals have multibarriers in becoming self sufficient and they will assist them and identify and help them to overcome issues. She said they need to show the legislators that caseloads for the division are too large. Several customers leave assistance and are not capable of taking care of themselves. We will help connect them with other services so they can have a better life and not be destitute. If these customers come to their exit interviews then they can be connected to resources.
The next item on the agenda was the Emery Telcom update by Mike McCandless. He said that their Smart Site has been awarded a portion of survey work for state agencies. This work is part of an ongoing effort to outsource work to rural Utah. The annual Emery Telcom Barbeque was a success with the largest attendance to date.
Video production specialist, Craig Thompson is handling the insertion of local advertising onto the cable channels. The call center has regained a contract they had previously lost. The company said the quality of the workers and service has brought them back. McCandless said they are constantly working to bring out of state contracts here.
McCandless said that the DSL service has been a great success with 1,200 subscribers. Every community but Wellington now has DSL service.
The next item on the agenda was Joan Taylor who is the scenic byway coordinator. She invited a representative from the commission to come to their planning meetings. She said they are working on signage for the Stuart Guard Station and are also working on activities which will increase visitation to the byways and help draw the visitors into the communities.
The byway committee will meet again on Dec. 3 and focus on continuing projects throughout the winter and the coming year which feature communities and the byways working together.
Kathy Hanna-Smith was next on the agenda discussing a project for a low watt information system which would provide updates on avalance control, road conditions and safety, tourist information, fishing and hunting information and the message could be changed immediately. It would cover Emery, Sanpete and Carbon counties. She said they wanted to have the project in place for this winter but they do not have the needed funding yet. The project is estimated at $21,000 and so far Carbon County has contributed $4,000 and the travel bureau has contributed $1,000. She asked the commission for a donation for the project. She said they will continue to pursue the project as long as it takes because it is a good project and they are not dropping it.
The commissioners said they will take a look and see if they have any funding available.
The next item was the citizen concerns category. Bryant Anderson from planning and zoning said a lot of people on private land want logging done on their property due to bark beetle infestation. He has already received some harvest plans and needs to have a forester look the plans over and supervise the removal process. The commission wondered if any logging would take place this late in the season.
It was determined that the forester that Anderson had located could look at the plans and see them through the planning and zoning process. The other concerns will be dealt with as they arise like the monitoring of the harvest if they are able to proceed this season.
Kathleen Truman reported on the status of the window replacing project at the Pioneer Museum. She was instructed to get comparable bids for both single and double paned windows. The bid received so far is enough to do 12 windows which is more that originally thought. It will replace two full rooms of windows which are in the worst condition. Grant money from the state history for restoration and repair purposes as well as a grant secured by Jan Petersen will be used to pay for the window replacement.
The next commission meeting is Oct. 15 at 9 a.m.