County votes no on road vacation

Posted on November 9th in News

By Debbie Raney
Burns Times-Herald

The Harney County Court voted unanimously not to vacate a public road near Princeton, during a continuation hearing on Nov. 2, held during the regular meeting of the county court.

A petition had been filed by Barbara Cannady requesting that the county vacate a portion of the old State Hwy. 78. Cannady cited trespassing and having gates left open as the basis for her request. She proposed that the other landowners who would be affected by the vacation had other options to access their properties.

A public hearing was held on Oct. 19 regarding Cannady’s request. Testimony was taken at this time, with the court closing the record and setting Nov. 2 to make the final decision.

Following a motion to deny the request to vacate, the members of the court discussed the rationale behind their individual decisions. Commissioner Dan Nichols addressed the closing points that Cannady’s counsel had mentioned during the Oct. 19 hearing.

Nichols said that public testimony had proven that the road was necessary for the other landowner’s access, the 1952 agreement between the state and county said the road could not be abandoned, the county hasn’t and isn’t obligated to spend any money on maintenance, the county is acting within their legal responsibilities and the road supervisor’s report was duly submitted.

Commissioner Pete Runnels added that though Cannady had insisted there were multiple other routes for landowners to take to their properties, none were viable routes, and all were questionable due to distances that would have to be traveled. He also commented that the county, by statute, cannot vacate a road if it denies access to citizens.

Judge Steve Grasty said he felt that the public hearing proved the county should not vacate the road. He said the amount of public interest in keeping the road open was “significant.”

Cannady was not in attendance at the continuation hearing; her counsel Tyler Smith participated via telephone.

Proponents of the vacation, Gary and Colby Marshall and Linda Neale, were present to hear the court’s decision.

The court asked their counsel, Ron Yoakum to write an order for the court to sign.
In other  business on Nov. 2, the court decided to appoint Kenny Delano from John Day as the Harney County surveyor. The court felt Delano was the best suited of the applicants due to his proximity and knowledge of the area.
Harney County Planning Director Brandon McMullen presented the court with a breakdown of “Goal 5.” This is a statewide planning goal that covers over a dozen resources and the protection of these resources.
Staff from Harney County Home Health and Hospice were recognized for having earned placement as a member of the 2011 HomeCare Elite, based on their care, process measure implementation and financial performance. Cheryl Keniston, executive director of Harney County Home Health and Hospice said that though their team is small compared to most areas, they  still have the same requirements as the big organizations.
Bids were open for the East Steens Road widening project. There were 16 bids submitted, with bids ranging from $695,400 to $1,408,010. Road Superintendent Eric Drushella will review the bids with a representative from Anderson Perry and Associates, the engineering firm for the project.
The court voted to reappoint Len Vohs to the Southeast Area Commission on Transportation.
Misty McCanna was appointed to the Harney County Advisory Board.
The court approved Resolution #2011-12 in the matter of establishing a Harney County Fairgrounds capital fund, which will be used to deposit funds received from an easement agreement with AT&T. The fair board will have access to the funds, but the resolution states that a balance of $15,000 must be maintained. To use the funds, the board will have to go through the annual county budgeting process.
Judge Grasty said he had been contacted by six people who were interested in serving on the fair board. The court agreed that before appointments were made, there should be a time set aside to visit with each of those showing interest.
The court signed Resolution #2011-13 to establish a sister-county relationship with Clackamas County.
Due to conflicting schedules, the next Harney County Court meeting will be held on Monday, Nov. 21.

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