Court prioritizes Title II projects
by Samantha White
Community Corrections Director Lodi Presley attended the regularly scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court on Dec. 2 to discuss the Grant Award Agreement for the 2015-2017 Justice Reinvestment Grant.
Awarded by the Criminal Justice Commission, the total grant funding amounts to $141,594. The grant period runs from July 1, 2015 until June 30, 2017.
Ten percent of the funding ($14,597.30) will be awarded to Harney Helping Organization for Personal Emergencies (HHOPE). HHOPE is a local, nonprofit organization that has been helping domestic abuse survivors for more than 26 years.
The remaining $126,997 will be allocated toward program funding. Funding will be disbursed in two installments — the first no later than Feb. 1, 2016. The Year 1 amount will be $70,797.
The Project Description and Budget explains that the goal of the grant program is to “financially support Oregon localities in fulfilling the requirements of House Bill 3194 by reducing prison populations and averting future prison construction; reducing recidivism [repeat offenses] through evidence-based practices and data-driven research; increasing public safety through collaboration; and increasing offender accountability.”
Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC) will be meeting to determine priorities for the program funds.
Presley said, “One of the biggest issues that we’ve had, and witnessed firsthand, is a lack of transitional housing for offenders,” explaining that some lose their housing while they’re in jail or prison.
She added that a local motel has been accepting these individuals on a case-by-case basis, but, “It’s been pretty rough.”
Presley said she’d also like to establish a reentry court, which would provide extra services to individuals who are reentering the community without job skills or a support system.
The court agreed to authorize Presley to sign the grant agreement and provide a fully executed copy to the court.
Declaring an indirect conflict of interest, Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels abstained from the vote.
“We did a good job hiring,” Grasty said regarding Presley, adding that she “has really stepped up and turned the program around.”
After some discussion, the court reached an agreement regarding how Title II project proposals should be prioritized.
Under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, counties receive payments based on historic national forest revenues, with the requirement that a certain percentage of the funds received (Title II funds) be used by the counties for specified purposes, in accordance with recommendations of resource advisory committees for projects on federal lands.
The court prioritized the projects in the following order:
1. (High) 2016/2017 Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) Crew for Emigrant Creek Ranger District (ECRD);
2. (High) Thinning and Grapple Piling;
3. (Medium) Marshall Creek Aquatic Restoration;
4. (Low) ECRD Recreation Facilities Improvement Project; and
5. (Low) Ant Aspen Restoration.
The court accepted a $24,600 bid from Brian Wall of Wall Construction to improve Theimer Park’s “Boy Scout Cabin.”
Grasty said the Harney County Parks Committee recommended replacing the deck and siding, replacing all of the doors and windows, and constructing a ramp.
Darrell Williams of the Oregon State Snowmobile Association (OSSA) attended the meeting to discuss a map of trails that the association maintains.
Williams explained that the OSSA has been working with the U.S. Forest Service to develop the map and is still waiting for the agency’s approval.
Once approved, the map will be mass produced and made available to the public.
Williams said the local OSSA club is responsible for grooming 300 miles of trails, which connect to trails maintained by other clubs throughout the state.
He added that Harney County Search and Rescue has used the groomed trails for rescue missions during the winter.
“I think it’s an economic driver,” Grasty said regarding the trail system.
He requested that any changes to the map be provided to the court, so they can be recorded in the Commissioner’s Journal for future reference.
In other business, the court:
• received a letter from Herb Vloedman asking which county department employees are going to take furlough days. Vloedman also requested information regarding the county court’s salaries for the last five years, as well as the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget detail (including monthly income and expense).
Grasty said he’ll meet with Vloedman to discuss his request for information.
He later explained that only general fund employees will be furloughed, and he asked department heads to create staffing plans so that none of the departments have to shutdown.
Grasty and Runnels will begin budget discussions in January;
• discussed the replacement of a position in the juvenile department;
• was addressed by Barbara Cannady who requested to be appointed to the proposed committee to review the Harney County Comprehensive Plan.
Grasty replied that everyone is welcome to join the committee. However, he added that Cannady’s request is premature, as the county has yet to receive a grant to begin the comprehensive planning process. He asked Cannady to submit a copy of her letter of interest to Harney County Planning Director Brandon McMullen;
• received a letter from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), announcing a second call for public nominations to fill three positions on the national Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. The board advises the BLM and Forest Service on the protection and management of wild free-roaming horses and burros on the public lands that the agencies administer. The deadline to submit nominations is Dec. 28;
• learned from Grasty that the National Association of Counties conference will be held Feb. 20-24, 2016;
• received a letter from the BLM regarding a series of public meetings that will be held throughout the West to gather information on a proposal to withdraw lands determined to be crucial to the survival of the greater sage grouse from location and entry under the 1872 Mining Law, subject to valid existing rights.
The meeting that was scheduled to take place in Burns has been canceled.
However, a meeting will be held in Lakeview on Monday, Dec.14, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Lakeview BLM District Office, 1301 South G St., Lakeview, OR 97630;
• received a letter from Oregon State University (OSU) staff, stating that the OSU Extension Service fund balance for Harney County was $83,295.09 at the end of the 2015 Fiscal Year (June 30, 2015).
Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols complimented the work of OSU extension agent Dustin Johnson. Nichols also requested presentations from OSU Extension Service and Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center staff.
“I think we ought to give them an invitation to blow their horn a little bit,” Nichols said;
• received an update from Grasty concerning the courthouse heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) project. The bid process has been postponed until Dec. 16, as the court has yet to receive a funding commitment. Grasty will meet with state agencies to secure funding before proceeding with the project;
• reviewed water use requests.
The next regularly scheduled county court meeting will be held Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.