Midterm elections discussed
by Samantha White
Harney County Sheriff Dave Glerup attended the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court (held Nov. 5) to present a letter announcing his retirement effective Jan. 1, 2015.
“I think you’ve done an amazing job,” Harney County Judge Steve Grasty told Glerup.
Glerup replied that he really appreciated the court’s efforts in working with the sheriff’s department.
He added, “I think we have a very good working relationship.”
Glerup requested that the court decide who will be appointed to fill the vacancy before he retires, so he can help show him/her the ropes.
“I’d like to make it a pretty simple transition from my authority to whoever you name,” he explained.
Grasty said efforts to recruit a replacement sheriff would begin immediately. He added that, because there cannot be two sheriffs, official appointment will not occur until after Glerup retires.
Regretfully, the court agreed to accept Glerup’s resignation, effective Jan. 1.
“If you need anything, I’m out there,” Glerup said.
The court discussed the results of the 2014 Midterm Elections with Harney County Clerk Derrin (Dag) Robinson who reported that Harney County voted “no” on all ballot measures.
“There were no big surprises,” Robinson said. “If you follow registration numbers, we tend to vote Republican, and we voted Republican.”
The court then engaged in a conversation concerning Ballot Measure 91.
“Without getting too much on my high horse, I think that vote is a strong message to the elected officials in this county about marijuana,” Grasty said, explaining that he won’t break the law, but he’ll take the county’s “no” vote as a directive for where to stand on issues concerning marijuana.
However, Mary Ausmus said she thought the vote was “pretty close,” as 1,033 people in Harney County voted “yes” on the measure, while 1,985 voted “no.”
“I worry about our kids and nothing else,” Grasty said.
Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels said he was concerned about how the legalization of marijuana for recreational use will impact the workforce, and Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols expressed concern about the impact on drivers.
Grasty said he’ll ask county counsel to provide more information concerning the issue.
Runnels provided an update regarding the Beatys Butte Working Group.
During its previous meeting (held Oct. 15), the court agreed that it didn’t support a proposal to combine the Hart Mountain and Sheldon national wildlife refuges into a National Conservation Area (NCA).
Runnels said he relayed that message to the group during a meeting held Oct. 16-17 and was told that the map outlining the NCA proposal was in draft form and is expected to change.
Runnels said he expressed concern about the private landowners who would be impacted by the proposal. He said he also told group members that the proposal was not one of the five key issues that the group was formed to address.
Runnels reported that his comments were not accepted favorably by the group, and he is not sure whether another meeting will be held.
“I think you did a good job, from what I understand, of delivering the message of where Harney County stands,” Grasty told Runnels.
Grasty suggested that the court contact the group to learn more about the direction that it’s headed.
“If there’s another meeting, maybe we’ll all show up,” he said.
Wayne Baron attended the meeting to discuss his request to rent County Industrial Building No. 1 for $500 a month.
Grasty said the county industrial buildings are intended to serve as incubators for business expansion and job growth. Because Baron’s plans for the building do not meet this criterion, Grasty suggested charging him the market rate. However, he admitted that he wasn’t sure what that rate would be.
Grasty also asked whether Baron’s business would compete with Rimrock Recycling.
Baron replied that he planned to use the building for equipment repair and manufacturing, not recycling.
Runnels asked whether Baron was planning to use the building on a temporary basis, and Baron replied that he was.
Grasty said others have expressed interest in the building, but they haven’t indicated whether they’ll make a move.
Runnels asked Baron whether he’d agree to move out if another business makes an offer. Baron said he would if he were given at least 30 days notice, but he’d prefer 60.
Nichols said he’d like to see Baron’s business and revenue plans, but Baron was reluctant to provide that information. However, he said he will if it’s possible to rent the building.
Grasty said he’ll contact Harney County Economic Development Director Randy Fulton to determine whether the other people who’ve expressed interest in the building intend to make an offer. He said he’ll also determine the building’s market rate.
Baron agreed to allow the court to wait until its next meeting to make a decision.
Harney County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Tom Sharp attended the meeting to discuss Harney County Emergency Management’s Ebola preparation efforts.
Sharp said health care providers throughout Harney County receive daily updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerning the virus. However, he added that Ebola is not expected to occur in the state of Oregon.
Sharp explained that people who recently traveled to an Ebola-affected nation in West Africa (or people who have come into contact with these travelers) are the primary candidates for contracting the virus. He added that travelers from Ebola-affected nations only enter the United States through five U.S. airports.
When they arrive, these travelers are health screened, provided a Check and Report Ebola (CARE) Kit, and instructed to contact their local health department when they reach their final destination for 21 days of health monitoring. (Their travel information is also forwarded to state and local health authorities by customs and immigration.) If travelers don’t show symptoms of the virus after 21 days, they’re considered Ebola-free.
Sharp said it’s important to remember that a person is only contagious with Ebola if he/she is showing symptoms, which include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea, weakness, stomach pain, and unexplained bleeding or bruising.
He also provided a handout, explaining the differences between flu and Ebola and encouraged everyone to get a flu shot.
Sharp also informed the court about state homeland security grant projects for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.
In other business, the court:
• agreed to wait until its next meeting to formally accept a map of roads within Harney County. Grasty explained that he wanted to assemble all the information concerning the map into a package, but he wasn’t able to get the package together in time;
• received an update concerning Symmetry Care Inc. from Director Chris Siegner and staff member Cathy Stauffer;
• met with Mike Kennedy, a member of the Oregon Technical Assistance Team, to discuss transition activities associated with the formation of the Eastern Workforce Area;
• learned from Harney County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chelsea Harrison that Harney County was one of only seven Oregon counties to have a booth at the Oregon State Fair. The court agreed to issue a “fair booth challenge” to the other counties;
• held a supplemental budget hearing. There being no public comment, the court agreed to accept the budget as prepared as the adopted budget.
• approved Resolution 2014-17 in the matter of appropriating funds due to unexpected occurrence or condition. The Oregon Department of State Lands provided $92,000 to Harney County for a Medusahead project;
• approved an application by Stacy Davies for boring underneath the asphalt on Canyon Road in Hines;
• approved an application by James Gilmour for an approach off of Lava Bed Road;
• signed a warranty deed for the lot that George Glerup of Geo Investments LLC donated to the county. The county will pay any filing fees for the deed.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the next meeting of the county court will be held Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.