Emery Commissioners Discuss Mental Health, Substance Use Disorder Treatment

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By Julie Johansen

Four Corners Community Behavioral Health and the Emery County Commissioners invited Medicaid enrollees and other community members to give input regarding mental health and substance use disorder treatment needs in Emery County during a public hearing on Tuesday afternoon.

Karen Dolan addressed the commission and visitors via Zoom, thanking them for their support of the program. She spoke of the very stressful year, full of human trials, and the challenges it has presented.

Other speakers included Melissa Huntington and Mandy Torgerson as well as participants who have received services from the program. They spoke about trying to always improve communications with the sheriff’s office and county personnel.

One of the problems addressed by Emery County Commissioner Kent Wilson and Sheriff Greg Funk was that there is really no place for someone who needs help to go now that state hospital beds have been cut due to COVID-19. Emery County Attorney Mike Olsen also spoke about dealing with people’s civil rights when addressing these issues.

Next, the monthly safety minute instruction came from Jim Jennings, Emery County Public Lands and Zoning Director. He spoke about vehicle safety. He cautioned county employees to have necessary documents in the car before driving. Checking around the car and parts of the car, especially in stormy weather, is really important, he said. All the necessary things should be packed in case of bad weather or extended time in the car.

The Visa safety gift cards were then presented to Kyle Larsen, Mandy Bennett, Kassadee Greenan, Salena Hardman, Lane Gardner and Jeff Newman. These prizes are drawn each month that the county employees do not experience a loss of time accident.

Jacob Sharp next spoke to the commissioners, asking them to accept a parameters resolution that would start the process of closing on the $1,300,000 general obligation bond. Alex Buxton commended Sharp for being able to obtain a lower interest rate than usual. The resolution was approved.

Adriana Chimaras, Emery County Tourism Director, asked the commission for approval of an independent contract for event coordinator and facilitator services between Amanda Leonard and Emery County. Leonard has had a three-year general contract, so this would be a change that would outline more specific responsibilities.

Leonard would be required to plan one large event (200+ people) each month and recruit private businesses. Captain Kyle Ekker asked that the sheriff’s office emergency response group be notified and included in their plans. Area events will no longer receive funding through the county tourism board, but Leonard will aid them in finding needed supplies. This funding comes from transient room taxes.

The Sinbad Desert Amateur Radio Club then discussed an agreement with Emery County. This service would be invaluable for the county in case of communication blackouts. Captain Ekker also said that this would meet FEMA requirements. The county attorney remarked that he had not seen the agreement but would review it and then the commissioners could vote to approve it.

The commission also approve the county’s Annual Affirmative Action Plan, which states that they are an equal opportunity employment county, meaning that they do not discriminate based on age, race or gender in their hiring.

The county next approved two letters being sent to the Forest Service regarding the Manti-La Sal National Forest draft plan. These letters addressed the importance of the watershed, grazing and OHV travel in the forest.

Robbie Jensen of the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments (SEUALG) spoke about a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Emery County and the SEUALG to develop a senior outreach program. This would include two individuals working 10 hours per week to seek out and aid seniors over 70 who maybe socially isolated and needing services. This was approved pending the MOU being reviewed by the county attorney.

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