The Emery County Commissioners met in their regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 15 at 9 a.m. Those present were Commissioners Randy Johnson, Drew Sitterud and Ira Hatch. Two boy scouts were present who are working on merit badges and Hadan Hatch offered the opening prayer and Nevin Jensen led the audience in the pledge of allegiance.
The first item on the agenda was the approval of the check edit list and requisitions. County Clerk Bruce Funk questioned charges still coming in against the communications tower which is already up. He will look into the matter. The planning and zoning office has requested a new laser jet printer to replace their old printer which is worn out. Also a chain hoist and a digital display which can be seen from outside for the scales was on the list for the landfill. A motion was made by Commissioner Hatch and seconded by Commissioner Sitterud to approve these items.
The next item on the agenda was the citizen concerns. No citizens were present with concerns. The next item on the agenda was Deb Dull from Utah Power. Dull introduced the new plant manager for the Huntington Power Plant, Dave Sharp. Dull couldn't resist the chance to let the commission know they had the Dull and Sharp team before them.
Sharp said he is pleased to be in the area and comes here from Wyoming. He has been in Wyoming for the past 26 years and is looking forward to getting settled in the area. Mark Mansfield will continue to handle the water issues until Sharp becomes acquainted with the issues. Dull said the Hunter plant and the Huntington plant are somewhat intertwined and work together.
Sharp said that Utah Power has a lot going on right now and they have just commissioned Units 4, 5 and 6 of the Gadsby plant. "These units were put on to help meet peak demand. They have been up and running since Sept. 20. They are natural gas units and operate like a big jet engine. They are mounted in a fixed position to turn the turbine. These units go up quickly. Right now at Huntington we are overhauling one of the units. The motel is full in Huntington and we couldn't find anywhere to rent. This overhaul has brought in 400-500 people. It should be finished by mid-November. They are doing boiler work, a controls project and there is a lot of capital going into the unit. We're working to make it a reliable unit.
"Mark will still be the point person on the water issues. We are working on a solution to benefit everyone and get water back into the lake to see us through until the runoff. We are also looking for long term fixes which will be mutually beneficial for everyone," said Sharp.
A meeting is planned for the end of the month by Mansfield to bring the commissioners up to speed on what is going on with the water issue at Electric Lake and Skyline Mine. Commissioner Hatch mentioned that Emery, Carbon and Sanpete counties are all working together on the issue.
Sharp said he plans on getting more involved in the issue as he gets his feet on the ground in this new area. Currently one unit is down at the Huntington plant and the other unit was overhauled about 18 months ago. "I am pleased to be here," Sharp said.
The commissioners invited Sharp to come to any of the commission meetings or contact them by telephone on any issue he would like to discuss and to keep them posted on developments at the plant. Sharp said he has a background of 30 years work with coal fired power plants and knows the mechanics of the operation and will now be learning how to interface with the public, which is new to him.
Dull and Sharp were also questioned by the commissioners on the prospects of a Hunter 4. They said right now a study is being conducted to see where the growth is and the need to construct a new unit close to the growth areas. Commissioner Johnson pointed out that Emery County is already supplying the Wasatch Front with power and with the units already in place here it makes sense to build another unit here. "We'll wait to hear about Unit # 4," he said.
The next item on the agenda was DeLamar Gibbons who is a Republican candidate for the Utah State Legislature. He said he plans on being a liaison with the state legislature for Emery County and plans on coming here on a regular basis to hear the problems of the county. One of his concerns is the financing of schools. He related that 30 years ago in the San Juan district, the superintendent was also the principal of one of the schools and taught two classes as well. He believes a bureaucracy exists with administrators in the school system. He suggested the school system is to teach and that all who work for the school system work in the classrooms part of the time as teachers and aides.
Gibbons also discussed the rising costs of health care and how uninsured health care often falls on the counties. He would like to look at new ways to make the health care system work more efficiently. His expertise is in medicine and Gibbons is a doctor by profession. He said blood pressure checks and blood sugar tests being given in the Senior Citizen Centers is part of the solution. He also stated that doctors are leaving the profession in record numbers because they can't get insurance and the liability is so high. Gibbons stated that the need to develop more resources for water is critical. He believes in the exploration for gas and expanding that industry.
Gibbons said he just wanted to meet the Emery County Commissioners and that he would coordinate their needs with the legislature if elected. Another big concern was that laws which we must obey are made by nonelected bureaucrats and the populace has no voice in the laws being made. He also said PILT payments are not sufficient reimbursement for the noncollection of taxes on government land.
The commissioners thanked Dr. Gibbons for attending commission meeting and introducing himself.
The next item on the agenda was the tabling of the discussion of updating and amending Ordinance 5-5-93A- the county purchasing policy, until the next commission meeting after further work is completed in the matter.
The next item on the agenda was the consideration and approval of the Division Order from Coastal Plains Energy, Inc. Commissioner Hatch explained the property as having oil and gas interests and Emery County has an interest and is a small holder in the matter. Commissioner Sitterud explained that the matter has come up because the property was sold.
The next item was the consideration and approval of an employee contract renewal for Dottie Grimes for 90 days. She has been working in special projects and grant money was available to pay her salary. Kathleen Truman said the cowboy poetry book is nearing completion which is one of the projects Grimes has been working on and also some special collections have been donated to the archives which she has been working with.
The next item on the agenda was the consideration and approval of the tentative fiscal year 2003 budget for Emery County, Castle Valley Special Service District and other entries as required by law. Clerk Funk explained that last year's budget was being used as the tentative budget which is a starting place for the budget sessions and work meetings which will take place with all the department heads. These meetings will discuss the needs of each departments and the budget will be adjusted accordingly.
Commissioner Johnson also pointed out that the budget doesn't reflect any revenues which will come in from the annexed portion of Green River. The tentative budget was approved pending review of the Castle Valley Special Service District budget which their board will approve in a meeting on Oct. 17.
The next item on the agenda was the tabling of the minutes from the previous commission meeting until the commissioners have a chance to review them.
The next item on the agenda was the commissioner reports. Commissioner Hatch reported that he had attended the Farm Bureau policy meeting. He said the Carbon County Farm Bureau had made a policy statement against the monument in Emery County. However in the state policy development process, the Farm Bureau stated they were in favor of the monument in Emery County. They were in favor, if the six items including water, access, minerals, grazing and others carried forth. Their policy meeting will be held in mid-November.
Commissioner Sitterud said that Mark Mansfield had met with Skyline and it was favorable. They will meet with him at the end of the month for a briefing. Commissioner Sitterud also mentioned that he went on the geological mapping field trip into the Swell which was very interesting.
Commissioner Johnson mentioned that the Heritage Bill is being attached to an omnibus bill package and there is every indication that it will pass if the omnibus survives.
The next commission meeting will be held on Nov. 19 at 9 a.m.