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The monthly meeting of the Bear Lake County Commissioners was held by teleconference on May 11, 2020. The commissioners were all present, as well as Clerk Cindy Garner, and Attorney Adam McKenzie.

Heber Dunford spoke about some changes in his department.

Commissioner Brad Jensen discussed the light pole that is to be erected at the fairgrounds which will be in Montpelier City’s name after installation.

Commissioner Jensen then spoke about county equipment on private property. He also spoke extensively on the short-term rental issue.

Sheriff Bart Heslington noted how the Sheriff’s Department is starting to see an increase of activity with the warmer weather. They have started opening up to the public; however, the office doors are still locked. They are taking appointments only. They are set for the ITD portion of their move to the new building on June 4 through 6. He also mentioned the Caribou County Jail rates have not changed.

Commissioner Rex Payne mentioned that Adam has been working with the fair board and moving forward with the fair. The plan for moving employees to the new courthouse is still June 7 and 8. He also mentioned that due to financial concerns at the University of Idaho, they will not be filling the extension office position at this time.

It was discussed that the new courthouse will need custodial work both inside and out. Commissioner Payne will look into what the new tile will need as far as cleaning, and it was decided they need one supervisor, such as Wayne Davidson, to overlook all cleaning and maintenance of the building, parking lots, and sidewalks.

As far as the Annual Public Defender Grant, Chairman Rasmussen said that the date is set by Idaho statue, and by the time they get all of it completed they will be past that date. They will go ahead and submit it to the best of their knowledge. A motion was made to submit the Annual Public Defender Grant to the best of their knowledge in the amount of $25,000 to help with salaries, conflict attorneys, staff, expert witnesses, and training.

A motion was then made to ratify the date for the budget hearing to August 17, 2020, at 9 am. at the courthouse.

Wayne Davidson then gave the building inspector report. He said that things are picking up a bit, but slowly. Homeowners have held off, but some are still pushing forward. He hasn’t had too many red flags. Wayne also gave the new courthouse update and said that the phones will be moved in on June 5 through 7 for the 911 system. Then June 8, the Sheriff’s office dispatch and driver’s license departments will be moved over.

The problems they have been having with CenturyLink and their fiberoptic lines were discussed.

Dave Longfellow then spoke about the garbage fees he was charged for the years 2015 through 2017 and how he would like to be reimbursed for them. It was determined that they really need to speak with Brett before they can make a determination, then they will talk about it again.

Kathy Ray of the Four County Alliance (CASI) gave an update and annual funding request. She noted that Preston has had a big win on a project with fairly significant costs to build a new facility and noted several other grants that have been awarded as well. Chairman Rasmussen said that he was totally unaware of this funding opportunity, and Kathy said she would make it more visible on Facebook and other areas. A motion was made that Bear Lake County Commissioners support the regional economic development efforts of the Four County Alliance of the Southeast County Area. The County also offers $6,000 for the fiscal year 2021 to the program if the funds are available after budget approval. Also Bear Lake County is supplying office space for the Bear Lake Chamber offices of in-kind value of $4,800.

Mike Duncan, Montpelier District Ranger, gave a forest service update. Right now, they are talking about recreation, firewood, and fire. Their offices are closed now on regional order. The forests are closed for recreation until May 31. Campgrounds are set to open on June 1 for single use sites; no group sites through the summer. Group sites will be available for single use only. All trailheads are open. Restrooms are open for use at a person’s own discretion. There will be no maintenance on the restrooms. Cabins are closed until July 1. They don’t have the staffing to clean the cabins; users will have to clean up. The cave is set to open on June 5. They are working with reducing the number of tourists per day. Group sizes are going to be limited to nine plus the tour guide. They will be regulating the amount of people and traffic in the lower parking lot as well. They are setting up tours on a reservation system to control traffic in and the amount to maintain social distancing. They have set up a cleaning schedule for the cave restrooms. Right now, they don’t have any fire restrictions for the campgrounds. The only restriction is a forest closure order for campgrounds to get in and get them ready for use. Regional restrictions are that no persons or groups greater than 10 people can be on the forest floor at one time. Fire crews are on and ready to go. They are not looking at managed fires at this point, unless it makes more sense rather than bringing more crews from all over the country. They want to try to avoid that if possible. Firewood permit sales are set for June 1. They are still trying to figure how best to handle that whether in person or over the phone.

In public comments, Tricia Poulsen came back asking if Wayne has the go-ahead to get a custodian for the new courthouse for next month based on the existing budget. He was told to go ahead.

Scott Esquibel, County Superintendent, gave his report. Chairman Rasmussen asked why the left-hand of Georgetown Canyon was opened up earlier this year, and Scott responded that they open up the same time as Caribou County. It was decided that from now on they will open up the end of May.

In the landfill report, Scott reported that tonnage is growing to the point that by the end of the year, we will be over our tonnage allowance if we are not using the regional landfill by then. He also mentioned that Carmella Ribgy resigned from the landfill, so they are in the process of advertising for another employee.

As far as the road standard, at Adam’s recommendation it was determined that a public hearing was needed to have an ordnance written to adopt specific road standards. That public hearing will be held June 22 at 9 a.m.

The library will open Monday, May 18. They will not be allowing children in at this point.

The ICRMP insurance premium was $144,945, which is $4,000 more than last year.

The budget information is out. They will start talking about it in the June meeting.

There was nothing to discuss in the Board of Equalization meeting.

The commissioners then went into Executive Session. No decisions were made during that session.

The next County Commissioners meeting will be held June 13 at 9 a.m. at the new courthouse. An open house will follow that afternoon.

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