Overview of projects completed

By Debbie Raney
Burns Times-Herald

It’s common practice for judges to sentence offenders of lesser crimes to community service, either as an alternative to incarceration or fine or probation, or as a condition of probation. Locally, seeing that those community service hours are served is the responsibility of Harney County Parole and Probation and Supervisor Darrell Williams.

During the Aug. 3 Harney County Court meeting, Williams presented an overview of the community service program, and the work his crews had completed over the past several months.

Williams said that in the last nine months of 2010 over 8,000 hours of community service time were recorded, and so far in 2011 over 6,100 hours have been served. A backlog of about 11,000 hours that needed to be served by offenders has been caught up, and Williams said he is now able to get immediately to the cases coming out of the court system.

The county, City of Burns and City of Hines have all three benefited from the work performed by Williams’ crews. He said they have worked for the Harney County Chamber of Commerce, the Harney County Fair, the Harney County Senior Center and Rimrock Recycling. In addition, the crews have mowed lawns at the museum and the school district offices, cut weeds all over the community and are currently cleaning the alleys in Hines to allow better access.

One of the bigger projects Williams and the work crews completed last year was cutting, splitting and delivering over 100 cords of wood throughout the community. He commented that they would once again this winter offer delivery of firewood to those in need, but he would be working in conjunction with the Oregon Youth Authority facility. Williams also said the criteria for receiving the wood would be tightened up to guarantee the firewood would go to those truly in need of help.

Williams told the court that he feels the work crews  have “made a difference in the community,” and if someone needs help he tries to accommodate.

In other county court business on Aug. 10, Judge Steve Grasty instructed Road Superintendent Eric Drushella to remove a fence that had been built on the Double O Road right-of-way. Grasty said the owner of the fence had been instructed for five years to remove the fence and had yet to comply. The work crews for Harney County Parole and Probation will assist in the removal project.

Grasty and Commissioner Dan Nichols will attend the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Salem on Aug. 12. Both are on the agenda to testify for five minutes each. Grasty said he will give an overview of the impact on landowners and the county; and Nichols will focus on the North Steens Eco-System. They will also take letters from the Harney County Watershed Council and private citizens to the meeting.

Harney County Extension Agent, Shana Withee, updated the court on the newest changes to the OSU Extension Service supervisor plan. Withee said that a supervisor would be hired to oversee Grant, Harney and Malheur counties. There would be no changes of staff at the Harney County office, but Dustin Johnson will no longer be “staff chair,” and will be able to focus on agriculture. Withee said interviews for the area supervisor will be held on Aug. 30, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and she is the chairman of the hiring committee.

Mark Owens was reappointed to a four-year term on the Harney County Planning Commission, and Barbara Arnold was appointed to fill a vacated position.

The court transferred $92,350.34 from the Harney Behavioral Health fund 201, and $100,347.94 from the Harney Behavioral Health reserve fund to Symmetry Care. The transfers left $60,000 in fund 201 for any outstanding debts owed by Harney Behavioral Health and $183,533 in the reserve fund as an emergency restart fund.

Michelle Bradach resigned her position on the Behavioral Health Advisory Committee. Joe Bradach was appointed to the vacated position. At the suggestion of Commissioner Pete Runnels, the name of the advisory committee was changed to Harney County Mental Health Advisory Board to avoid confusion with old entity of Harney Behavioral Health.

Patty Dorroh discussed the position of Director of the Commission on Children and Families, which she resigned from in July.

The court agreed to write a letter to the U.S. Postal Service in support of keeping the local rural post offices open.

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