Emery County Commissioners Report

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By Sara Price

Emery County commissioners met Tuesday in the old courthouse in Castle Dale. Several items were on the consent agenda.

First line of business was to present Utah State University Extension office employees the award of employees of the month. This was in the form of a certificate along with a boxed treat. Employees named were Christine Jensen, Gayleen Warburton, and Dennis Worwood.

Commissioners then went on with the issue of the need for turn lanes at the east end of the Green River Cutoff Road. They agreed to proceed with their approach to UDOT with a full recommendation.

Emery County Public Lands Chairman Ray Petersen was invited up to talk about the debris basin in Huntington Canyon. It was relocated last year but flooding has since pushed it on a new course. Debris basins were created to help prevent damage to the road.

Although there is more work to be done, they are pleased with how well the basins held up this year. Last year the volume coming down the river was around 1800 cubic feet per second. That number was reduced to 500 cubic feet per second this year.

Vegetation is starting to return after it was destroyed in the Seeley Fire. The Forest Service is planning an annual trip to Huntington Canyon to assess needs.

Emery County Attorney David Blackwell was not prepared to comment on the debris basin agreement between Emery County and Pacific Corp for the future construction and maintenance of the basins in the Canyon. He requested a hold until the next meeting so his office would have enough time to finish work on the agreement.

They approved the Huntington Library roofing project and awarded the contract to Arrowhead Construction, which will be soon.

The Southeastern Utah Health Board of Directors has a vacancy. A confirmation of a board member’s resignation was confirmed and commissioners received approval to open the position to the public. A citizen who does not work in a health profession may apply. A posting for this board position will appear in local newspapers.

Shirley Begay, who works in the Emery County archives, was approved as a member of Emery County Historic Preservation Commission. Commissioners are confident that due to her work in the archives she is well suited for the position.

The commissioner’s office applied for a grant through the Weed and Mosquito Department for controlling invasive species. Emery County was awarded a $70,000 grant for this purpose. The Russian Olive was named as the invasive species. Russian Olive trees were declared a noxious weed last year. Extension agent Worwood will be spearheading this project.

A settlement agreement was approved between the Utah State Tax Commission and Emery County and the Chapter 7 trustee of C.W. Mining Company bankruptcy. The first negotiation from nearly three years ago was on the table again with the addition of clearing service lands as part of the negotiation. Commissioners fear this will continue bringing grief to the county.

An Emergency Mutual Aid Interlocal Cooperative Agreement was on the table as well. The Commissioners described it as a gentlemen’s agreement of cooperation between Carbon, Emery, San Juan, and Grand County for situations such as they had during the Mountain Man incident.

Commissioners assured that no money will be exchanged between counties and each group will be responsible for their own men, equipment, and mistakes, but it would allow inter-county cooperation. It would also allow each county to call on the others for aid as needed.

Commissioner Ethan Migliori reported that finishing touches on signs of historic sites are being completed in areas such as Lucky Strike and they look forward to creating a possible monument for the Spanish Trail at the Buckhorn kiosk.

The fair and rodeo did better this year than they have in the past. The rodeo is facing a profit-making year while the fair came in under budget. They will be working to make the fair even better next year.

Fire restrictions have been lifted. Campers are now allowed to build fires in campsites. Commissioners encouraged citizens to still follow responsible fire practices.

Public land use is aiding a future bill. The hope is that Emery County ideas and language will be used in the bill that will eventually be proposed in Washington. Many hours were spent refining the language and has yet to be concluded. Those interested in following the progress of this project may do so by navigating to emerycounty.com and clicking the Emery County Land Use Plan link. From there, citizens may access maps and other information.

Commissioners mentioned a meeting they attended concerning fur bearing permits, specifically the placement of mountain goats in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. Environmental groups had raised concerns that since mountain goats were not native to the mountains they could not predict how the introduction of an outside species would impact local plants and animals. They had recommended against the placement of mountain goats. The Manti-La Sal counsel voted against placement due to this recommendation.

The small town of Lawrence has petitioned for natural gas to be made available in its area. A meeting is set to take place between the gas company and commissioners to discuss the possibility.

Nielson Construction was awarded the contract and given permission to proceed with the construction of the new Weed and Mosquito building.

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