Commission honors county employee
Bret Mills was named employee of the month for Emery County. He is a quiet, mild mannered, trustworthy and knowledgeable employee whose biggest fault is not talking about his accomplishments. He began working for Emery County in 1986. He has never turned down a challenge and could be known as the MacGyver of electronics in Emery County. His face is behind the screen of every television in the county for without his dedication to keeping the transmitters running on Horn Mountain through rain, shine and snowstorms there would be no public TV. When the televisions were switched from analog to digital he went into the homes of many elderly residents to help them with the switch. During the Crandall Canyon disaster he had the sheriff's office connected to phone and internet services right on site. He saw the future of communications and recommended forming the Eastern Utah Television and Technology Association which has resulted in millions of dollars in grant money for upgrades. He maintains the computer system, telephone and communication for dispatch and the vehicles for the sheriff's office. This system has been ahead of the state's system for many years. He volunteers as a member of search and rescue and was the founding member of the Ham radio users Sinbad Desert Amateur Radio Club.
The club has grown each year and offers training on how to become a radio operator along with campouts and parties throughout the year. His favorite mode of transportation is a snow cat and he loves high places. The Emery County Commission met in their March meeting. Steven Barton the county treasurer told the commission he will soon submit a list of properties for the May tax sale. To get to the point where a property is listed for the May tax sale, the taxpayer must be in default for five years of back taxes. The property owner is sent a quarterly notice with the balance due. In January they were sent a final reminder. Barton said, "We try to be tax payer friendly. There are 15 properties to go on the list. They have the option until March 15 to request a deferral. Right now we are working with the Green River KOA property. They are making an effort to pay and will be paid in full by Nov. 30 of this year."
The commission voted to enter into a tax sale deferral agreement with the property owner.
The commission discussed the settlement agreement between the bankruptcy trustee regarding the CW Mining Company Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. The county will do a judgment levy to recoup their losses. They will wait for a final order out of the bankruptcy court.
The county will draft a letter of support for the Green River energy zone. Commissioner Nelson said the letter basically states we will support energy development in Emery County. Duchesne and Uintah counties ran almost the exact same wording in a bill a couple of years ago.
Parts of the current bill didn't meet Emery County's master plan. The county's number one concern was the forest and the watershed. Public lands director Ray Petersen sat down and went over Emery County's position and the language went into the bill also verbatim. Commissioner Nelson felt the bill wouldn't be much of a change, just supporting energy development. The mineral lease monies run a lot of programs in the county.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks wondered if the bill affects grazing or recreational opportunities in any way. Commissioner Nelson said no it won't affect grazing and will protect Emery County's interests. Michael McCandless, Emery County Economic Development Director, said the bill guides the state office of public lands on issues like sage grouse and other public land issues. Commissioner Horrocks said let it be a matter of public record that Emery County will support the bill for the Green River energy zone.
The commission approved the EEO reporting and affirmative action plan for Emery County prepared by Mary Huntington, personnel director. This plan shows the county is in compliance and doesn't discriminate against any employee and also the report can be used for any grants the county may apply for as proof of compliance.
The commission set a public hearing for April 9 for a conditional use permit for the refinery in Green River. McCandless said the permitting for this project is probably at the halfway point.
The commission appointed Liz Nielson to the Emery County Housing Authority board and Jonathan Hunt to the Emery County Travel Bureau.
Commissioner Ethan Migliori reported he attended the museum meeting and they will put the sign back up at the Castle Dale City building advertising the pioneer museum which is upstairs at that building. The Bailey pot or basket will be brought to the Museum of the San Rafael for display during this the 20th year anniversary of the museum. There will be several special activities this year to mark the 20th anniversary. At the COG meeting of county mayors they discussed the need for a uniform animal control ordinance for the county and the cities.
The fair committee is moving along with the fair and there will be a carnival this year. An ocean exhibit with Stingrays will also be in the park. Commissioner Migliori attended the travel bureau meeting and there are concerns about the ATV trails around Millsite. Instead of having several smaller trails they are working with the BLM and state parks to have one or two major trails.
Commissioner Nelson said he met with the library board and the libraries are very modern and up-to-date on the services they offer county residents. There are plans to improve the library parking around Cleveland library. The legislature approved $1.6 million for clean-up on Huntington Creek, but that amount was then chopped in half and $800,000 is being earmarked for the debris basins on the creek. The Emery Water Conservancy district has been cleaning up the log jam by XTO Energy at the mouth of the canyon. Commissioner Nelson encouraged everyone to use the Aquatics Center for exercise. He expressed his concern that rural Utah representation is shrinking at the legislature. He reminded everyone that Lt. Gov. Greg Bell will speak at the Emery County Business Chamber awards banquet. He is inviting Lt. Gov. Bell to come early that day so he can give him a tour of the Swell.
Commissioner Migliori said Forbidden Fruit and Darcey Powell received a small business recognition at the state legislature. Castle Dale wants to put up more lighting around the fair park.
Commissioner Horrocks said work is continuing on bringing the Emery County housing units up to standard. He said there have been rumors concerning the forest service not doing enough to combat the Seeley fire. Commissioner Horrocks said they did all they could but they didn't have all they needed because resources were stretched thin due to all the fires ongoing at that time. A helicopter dropped ground crews into the area, but the fire got away because of the abundance of winds and fuel for the fire. The forest service will be attending meetings around the county to educate people on fire.
Commissioner Nelson pointed out the prescribed burn at Joe's Valley is just one of those preventative measures to reduce fuels. All of the areas within the Seeley fire area that had burned before or had a prescribed burn survived the fire in better shape than untreated areas.
Commissioner Horrocks reported on water saying the county is at 80 percent of average.
In the local building authority meeting, Commissioner Horrocks reported the project for showers and restrooms at the airport is moving forward and the fuel tank moving project also. The contract with Johansen and Tuttle Engineering has been approved on these projects. The new weed and mosquito project is also moving forward. A metal building will be purchased and the preparation work and parking lot will be included with this project which is projected to cost $980,000. The price for the metal building is $68,320.
Commissioner Horrocks said since the county has invested in improvements at the Huntington Airport many more pilots are using the airport to stay and play and fuel up. The back-country flyers will be back again in September for a fly-in and activity weekend at the airport.