The Emery County Commissioners met in their regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. in the commission chambers. Those present were Commissioners Drew Sitterud, Ira Hatch and Randy Johnson. Also present was Sheriff Lamar Guymon.
The first item on the agenda was Dr. Glen Jensen from Emery Animal Health with his concerns about the fees for animal control. He said he didn't know when the fees for animal control had last been addressed. The main issue in animal control is dealing with human safety, which is why dogs and cats are required to have rabies vaccinations. "Another aspect of animal control deals with the humanitarian part of animals. In veterinary school we took an oath to use our knowledge and abilities to decrease animal suffering.
"Eighty-five percent of the animals that come into our facility are euthanized. Seven percent are adopted and 8 percent are returned to their owners. We would like to change those statistics. Many people do not care about those statistics, but to many people their dogs and cats are important and are members of the family.
"The impound fee of $10 and $2 a day for room and board for animals doesn't even come close to the costs of caring for these animals. I think the county should be reimbursed for some of these costs and that the individuals who own the animals should take on the burden.
"We mostly see two types of animals coming in to the facility and these are nonspayed and neutered kittens and puppies. We would like to structure the fees to encourage people to take care of their animals. People need to be responsible for their pets. One suggestion is having a microchip installed under the skin of a dog or cat for identification purposes. The law requires that animals have identification on them but most of those picked up do not have any identification. With the chip if an animal was picked up the owner could be identified and the animal returned home without having to be brought into the facility.
"We want the owner to be responsible and either pick up the animal or arrange to give it away. I propose to increase impound fees to $20 for the first pickup, $30 for the second and $45 for the third. A law is not good unless people adhere to it. There are not many county animal tags sold. Most people are not even aware that they need a county tag for their animal," said Dr. Jensen.
Commissioner Sitterud commented on the idea of installing the microchip with a portion of the initial impound fee.
Dr. Jensen said the impound fee for an animal with a microchip would only be $5 because the owner could easily be identified. Dr. Jensen also commented that the county should be able to recoup some of the fees for nuisance animals.
The commission determined to take the matter under advisement and discuss the animal control fees. They thanked Dr. Jensen for presenting the information to the commission.
The next item on the agenda was Diane Tadehara with a presentation of the Youth and Families with Promise program. She said the program in the county is operated by the county extension office. The Utah program has been a model across the nation and is highly successful and unique. The program has two levels of mentoring for youth 10-14 years of age. "I like to call them, 'kids on the brink of success' who just need a little boost to give them the lifeskills to become contributing members of society. These children are lined up with a young adult mentor and also a grand mentor who is a vital link in the program. This triangle forms a strong base for the child.
"The program deals with the 40 developmental assets that have been determined after several surveys as the skills kids need for individual success. Right now we have 36 kids who have been identified to participate in the program and we are looking for high school students to participate with a child and commit to one hour per week with the child where they would do activities. College credit is also available for these students who will act as mentors and community service is an important part of scholarship applications. The grand mentor meets with the child once a month," said Tadehara.
Tadehara presented to the commission the idea of having county employees participate in the program and work with the kids. She suggested an employee could perhaps leave work early at some point and then spend that extra time during the evening or whenever could be arranged to work with a child.
Commissioner Johnson said he could foresee scheduling conflicts as most work and school schedules are similar. He said the commission would meet with the elected officials and discuss their needs in letting employees in their departments participate in the program.
The next item on the agenda was the discussion of the Highway Safety Project Application. Commissioner Hatch addressed the issue, he said that state aid is available for aeronautic improvements and that they realize the importance of rural airports. The airport plan for the Huntington Airport includes work on the existing runway. Lighting will be redone and rehabilitation of grading and drains is also on the list. A unicom radio system with weather information for pilots will be installed. The county has been approved for a 90 and 10 percent split for funding. The amount approved is $202,000 and the road district number one has agreed to put up the match for the county portion.
The motion was made and seconded to approve the grant for the upgrades at the airport. The next item on the agenda was the ratification of the contract with state motor vehicle.
The next item was the appointment of Olive Anderson from Green River to the Emery County Travel Bureau. The position became available when someone from the east end of the county resigned. Anderson will fill their unexpired term. The bureau is comprised of three members from the east end of the county, three from the west and three at large members.
The next item on the agenda was the discussion of a yard light for the Ferron Senior Citizens Center. There was an accident recently where a woman leaving the building after dark missed the first step and landed face first at the bottom of the stairs. There are two ramps leaving the building and one set of steps. There isn't currently any lighting which illuminates the steps. In addition to added lighting it was recommended that the steps be painted a bright color to further identify them.
It was determined that Utah Power would be contacted about installing one light pole and possibly two if the need is determined. Maughn Guymon from the office of aging has agreed to pay for one of the poles and if an additional pole is needed funding will need to be addressed. Utah Power will assess the need and the county will do what is needed to secure the safety of those using the Ferron Senior Center. Commissioner Hatch suggested that the ramps could be lighted from the existing building, thus increasing the light as visitors left the building.
The next item on the agenda was the setting of a budget hearing for Dec. 9 at 9 a.m. If further meetings are required an extension of the Monday meeting will be scheduled. All budget matters need to be completed by Dec. 17.
The next item on the agenda was the tax adjustment for a citizen who had been placed on the tax rolls twice and another adjustment for land which qualifies under green belt.
The next item on the agenda was the discussion of a county ordinance to provide for recovery of any expenses incurred in the cleanup of the sudden and unexpected release of any hazardous materials. Commissioner Johnson pointed out times where the county has participated in such cleanups and was not compensated. The new ordinance would provide some provisions for dealing with these types of situations should the need arise. A public hearing will be set up for public review of the ordinance and then action will be taken on the matter.
The next item was the tabling of the matter of the NMS transmitter. A previous understanding was that the transmitter could be housed in the Horn Mountain communications building but the weather service would provide all upkeep to the transmitter; as this was not what the contract in question specifically spelled out the commission elected to table the matter until things are spelled out more specifically in regards to the transmitter.
The next item was the citizen concerns. Mesia Nyman from the forest service was on hand to present a plaque to the commission for their support in the previous fire season. Nyman said the 2002 fire season was unprecedented and the commission helped minimize loss and suffering through their contributions.
Commissioner Hatch complemented the forest service for the good job they did on the area fires. He said he is glad that reclamation is now included in the cost of a fire and that it is begun immediately after the fire.
They also presented pins to Commissioner Johnson and expressed their appreciation in working with him through the years.
The next item on the agenda was the signing of the contract for a surplus property sale to be held by the sheriff's office. It was also determined that they would add the road department to the list so they can participate as the need arises.
The next item on the agenda was Louis Berg with the monthly report from the Division of Wildlife Resources. He said that he would soon be leaving the division to take a job in Idaho in their wildlife division.
He said he had talked to the different managers of departments to see what they had to report to the commission. Mike Milburn said they don't have a lot going on but they have seen an increase in poaching and would appreciate any calls from people to report suspicious activity.
Bill Bates reported that the antlerless elk hunts are in progress at this time and the big horn sheep on the Dirty Devil herd have increased. At the recent sheep observation day near Moab, they saw 25 different animals from three herds and Bates considered the day a success with about 35 people participating.
Berg reported that the aquatics program is seeing good progress on native cutthroat populations. Currently they have 14 known populations which are 99 percent genetically pure. In Emery County these include populations in Big Bear, Tie Fork, Gentry Hollow and Little Horse Creeks. The environmentalists want to have the Colorado Cutthroat listed as an endangered species, but Berg pointed out that he doesn't think that will happen because of the measures the division has implemented for the preservation of this species.
Berg also reported that the rotenone treatment at Duck Fork Reservoir had been completed this fall to remove the nonnative species of trout. This reservoir will serve as a brood lake to raise large numbers of fish which will then be planted in other streams. The division has plans to treat the tributaries once more before the stocking of the Colorado Cutthroat. Tiger trout will be stocked beginning next summer so the anglers will have some catchable trout while the cutthroat are being established.
The Ferron Dam will need to be rebuilt and has been brought down to a safe level and the repair work will be done next summer. He also mentioned that with the draining of the reservoir they are looking at taking that opportunity to remove the brook trout from the reservoir. Before this is done fishing regulations will be relaxed and anglers will be able to catch more of these fish.
Berg also reported that with temporarily lost fishing opportunities at Ferron Reservoir and Duck Fork, additional catchable rainbows would be stocked at Willow Lake. He also mentioned the concern about the fish kill that has occurred at Wrigley Springs these past two years. He said they are cooperating with the forest service to construct a livestock exclosure fence which will help in the matter. The livestock do not need access to the water in the reservoir because they have access to other watering. Another concern is road traffic across the dam and weed growth along the lake and these issues are being looked at.
The pipeline that feeds Mary's Lake is in disrepair and the division was informed that they need to purchase water rights to keep this pipeline operating to feed Mary's Lake. They need more water than they originally thought but they would like to maintain Mary's Lake as a fishery and will take steps to do so.
Berg reported that in talking to Utah Power that Electric Lake will be empty in March if they can't drill the high capacity wells to feed into the lake. The division is concerned about the effects this will have on the right fork of Huntington Creek which is an outstanding fly fishing area.
Berg also reported about their concerns over the Boreal Toad which could be listed if they are unable to prove their existence in the area. Historically the county has shown populations of these toads and surveys will be performed to determine where these populations are. Berg pointed out that having data and proof is good ammunition in dealing with environmental groups. Surveys will also be done with certain types of chubs and suckers.
Berg also reported that they are working on the low water boat ramp for Joes Valley and funds have been secured for this purpose.
The commission voiced their support in the form of a motion for the projects the division is working on at this time.
The check edit list, additional claims, requisitions and dispositions was next with Clerk Bruce Funk bringing the items before the commission.
Pat Snowball, personnel director brought personnel issues before the commission. Commissioner reports were next on the agenda and then the meeting was adjourned.
The next commission meeting will be held on Dec. 17 at 9 a.m.