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Random drug testing may be expanded
by Samantha White
Alicia Goodson, Drug Free Communities (DFC) program coordinator, and Ashlee Voges, county prevention program manager, attended the regular meeting of the Harney County Court (held June 19) to update the court regarding the DFC program.
Goodson and Voges presented the court with data collected from 2005, 2010 and 2012, which showed that the number of 11th grade students who reported using marijuana in the past 30 days had increased steadily.
Voges said she noticed a change in the youth perception of marijuana, explaining that, in the past, many of the youth she spoke with viewed marijuana as worse than alcohol, but now it’s the other way around.
She said marijuana is “kind of tricky” because of the legality of medical marijuana in the state of Oregon.
Voges and Harney County Judge Steve Grasty discussed the possibility of marijuana becoming legal in Oregon, as it has in Washington.
Voges said if it does become legal, the same strategy will be employed to prevent underage marijuana use that is used to prevent underage drinking and tobacco use. She explained that marijuana would still be illegal for youth under 18.
Grasty encouraged DFC to collaborate with similar programs in Harney County.
“That’s one of our goals,” Goodson said, adding that efforts are being made to prevent the duplication of services.
“It’s starting to come around the table,” Voges said regarding collaborative efforts. She added, “We love the support that we get from [the court].”
Goodson said numbers are increasing in participation in local youth-led, adult-guided committees, such as the Youth Action Committee. She added that an office was set up at Burns High School (BHS) to support the youth, and the DFC program “built a really strong relationship at the school.” She said DFC program representatives also worked with the BHS health teacher to help develop the curriculum for drug prevention.
The DFC program and community partners also provided random drug testing for students who participated in extra-curricular activities.
Voges said there has been discussion regarding the possibility of expanding random drug testing to any student who parks his or her vehicle on campus. She explained that students wishing to park their vehicles would be asked to sign a contract stating that they could be subject to random testing, adding that she talked to the district attorney and learned that this would be legal. Voges explained that this strategy could provide a “broader demographic” for drug testing.
Goodson said knowing they may be tested discourages students from drinking and using tobacco and other drugs.
Goodson and Voges also reported that they are in the process of reapplying for a DFC grant.
Goodson said she will find out whether the grant will be received sometime in August. She added that, if the grant is not received, a sustainability plan is in place, which will continue the DFC’s work through its partners.
But Goodson said she thinks the 147-page grant application “turned out really, really well.” She added, “It’s been a worthwhile effort. It really is about our kids and community and providing them with the tools to make good choices.”
Symmetry Care Executive Director Chris Siegner and Fred Flippence, Symmetry Care board of directors chair, attended the meeting to discuss renewing the personal service contract between Symmetry Care and Harney County to provide mental health services for the county. The contract must be renewed every biennium.
“I sure recommend that we sign it for another two years,” Grasty said.
Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols made a motion to sign the contract. It was seconded by Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels and carried unanimously.
Siegner said Symmetry Care agreed to continue the lease with the Harney County Sheriff’s Office for Community Corrections office space.
He also provided a brief performance update. Siegner said Symmetry Care recently had a site review, and he is “pleased about the feedback” that was provided by the reviewers. He added that he has not received the site review report yet, but he is “not anticipating any problems with the report.”
Siegner and the court also discussed the opening of Cornerstone, a small, secluded private practice that recently hired a new therapist.
The court reviewed a court order regarding the distribution of land sales money. Of the $1,024.67 available, $256.17 (25 percent) was distributed to the general fund for administration, leaving $768.50 to be distributed into several taxing districts. The court agreed to order that the treasurer for Harney County disburse the money in the land sale account as listed in the court order.
The county received $1,001,367 in Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) from the federal government. Grasty said the payment is about $24,000 less than it was last year due to the sequester. Grasty added that Sen. Ron Wyden submitted legislation requesting a one-year extension of Secure Rural Schools.
During the public comment period, Herb Vloedman addressed the court regarding a county industrial building, which will become available July 1. Grasty explained that the court is still working on establishing usage criteria, but will be advertising for proposals to use the building.
“We need to write this up and create a proposal that includes job creation,” Grasty said.
He added that molds used to build motor homes have been left on the property, and the company that owns them is required under contract to remove them. However, the company has encountered difficulty with transporting them on the highway because they are over width.
But Grasty had confidence that the problem will be solved.
“It may take a little time,” Grasty said. But he added, “They’ll take care of it.”
At 11:30 a.m., the court opened the bids for motor pool passenger cars. Teague Motor Co. submitted a bid for two 2012 Dodge Charger SE vehicles at $19,425 each. Burns Garage submitted a bid for two 2011 Crown Victoria LS vehicles at $15,000 each. Upon recommendation from Road Supervisor Eric Drushella, the court agreed to award the bid to Burns Garage. Grasty explained that the bid is for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Thus, the county will not take possession of the vehicles before July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year.
After a recess, Grasty opened the public hearing on the 2013-2014 budget. The hearing was opened at 1:30 p.m.
Earl Tiller attended to discuss funding for the High Desert Park & Recreation District. The court agreed to discuss Tiller’s concerns with the Park & Recreation District Board and explore solutions.
Grasty closed the public hearing at 2:45 p.m. The court then signed Resolution 2013-17 in the matter of adopting the 2013-2014 budget and making appropriations in the amount of $27,408,439. The court also signed Resolution 2013-18, imposing and categorizing taxes.
In other business, the court:
• signed the 2013-2015 Intergovernmental Agreement for Environmental Health Services with Oregon Health Authority;
• received a brief update from Grasty regarding sage-grouse;
• signed Resolution 2013-13 in the matter of adopting amendments to the Harney County Community Wildfire Protection Plan;
• received an application from Kenneth Thomas to purchase county-owned land and agreed to put the property up for public auction;
• reviewed water use requests. There were no objections to any of the requests;
• learned from Grasty that he had been approached by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) regarding a flag lot near Princeton, which consists of a rock pit. After some discussion, the court agreed to pursue transfer to Harney County from ODOT.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, July 3, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.