Commissioners attending the meeting were Vaughn Rasmussen, Brad Jensen, Rex Payne, and Prosecuting attorney Adam McKenzie.
Tricia Poulsen, of the Tax Assessor’s Office reported to the commissioners that there are three properties for sale in the county and asked them if they want to sell all three properties now or just one. They indicated they want to hold on to one of the properties and sell the other two in September.
Bart Heslington, Bear Lake County Sheriff spoke to the commissioners regarding efforts to improve signage on North Beach Road. The boats are up and running on the lake and all primed for summer, and school resource officers are back on their regular patrol shifts.
Heslington also provided the commissioners with the Bear Lake County Sheriff’s Office Report for the Month of May.
Wayne Davidson, Building Inspector, reported that building permits for Bear Lake County are moving along. The county has 20 residential building permits for new residents already. Work on the new courthouse is also moving forward. Davidson estimates $2,089,000 will be spent working on the courthouse project before October.
Kerry Hong and Ashley Bringhurst reported to the commissioners regarding problem-solving for Court District 6. Hong said that the Supreme Court has audio and video equipment for the courtroom and auxiliary courtroom. Hong also stated that HDMI Matrix is “pretty cool” to have input for a lectern or on the commissioner’s bench for control and that they might want to look into it. Commissioner Payne stated, “The overall goal is to have vendors that understand the need to provide consistency in the work; the goal is consistency.”
Bringhurst told commissioners that she graduated and has a degree in mental health counseling. She came to work with District 6 in April. She and Hong are trying to bring every “specialty drug court” over into District 6. We’re trying to be a voluntary service where courts refer them [to us]. It’s a court-run service.” Hong mentioned that this [Bear Lake]will be the fifth county they have met with. They recognize there will be a period of transition and what they’re looking at is working as a start-up, knowing there will be issues. Right now, they are looking for a space to rent as office space and want the commissioners to point them in the direction of some landlords around the area. They figure they are looking for a space that will accommodate about 13 people plus a counselor who will work at least two days a week, mostly evenings.
Hong once again stressed that they are a publicly-funded entity, but they would like to pay their own way if possible. He reiterated that this program will be a benefit for the district and all surrounding communities. Commissioner Rasmussen agreed and concluded by saying, “We definitely need to do something. The focus on mental health is something we need to be doing.”
A Bid Notice for Construction Contract: Notice to Move Forward had been put out, and two bids were opened for the 8-Mile Canyon Road Bridge Project.
Esquibel mentioned that he had been working with Rick Merritt and the LDS Church. He said that this project needs to be done before August 30 and that they have coordinated with Church camps and the Forest Service. These dates were picked over a year ago.
Corey Lyman, US Forest Service, and Scott Esquibel, County Superintendent, later went before the commissioners and indicated that the bid from Old Castle Infrastructure looked good. Commissioner Rasmussen agreed.
Alissa Salmore, Tara Capson, Darcy Linford, and Megan Stark of ITD reported on the US 30 Rocky Point Project. This project entails placing a crossing on the highway, ranging from mileposts 442½ to 448½, south of Soda Springs and along the Bear Lake County border, for the safe crossing of wildlife.
She indicated that the project is just barely in the pre-preliminary stage as it has just been approved. The Transportation Department, partnering with the Fish and Game Department, is hoping to get fencing along this point as well. The project will cost $5.5 million for construction.
Matt Peron with the Fish and Game Department explained that the highway will have approximately 8-foot tall fences on both sides of the road and multiple crossing structures. He said, “From biological data, we know where wild life is crossing the road. We will guide ITD people in the decision process as to where to locate the fences. As well, there is a mixture of land ownership; both public and private lands are being crossed. It will be very important that public access is maintained.”
Peron explained that mule deer will use underpasses as well as overpasses, and, “That’s a good thing. As they walk through the design they will have a lot of flexibility.We’re confident either will work.” Commissioner Jensen asked,“Are elk the same as deer? Will they use both?” Per answered,“Elk will use either, but they require a lot of space. We recommend that elk go over.
Commissioner Payne brought up the subject that there is county land in the area and also a home in the vicinity and wondered how they will handle that situation. Peron said, “Cattle guards will be used on access roads. They are wide,not standard cattle guards. This is not a typical roadway project and is solely for wildlife.”
Alissa interjected that the project is about five years out. She indicated that they want Bear Lake County to be a part of the process and that discussion of this project has been going along for as much as 11 years. They recognize this has been a huge problem area. The statistics show that 20% of all collisions have been wildlife accidents.
Mark Parker, Fire Marshall, spoke with the commissioners regarding the CWPP Plan (Community Wildlife Protection Plan). He stated that we need to start working toward standards for the growth of the county as far as protection of wildlife goes. He said he is wondering how to standardize wildlife urban interface codes as well. He has the desire to do this so that when he meets with the State on July 1 all codes will be standardized. According to Adam McKenzie, both have to be done with ordinances. He said the ordinances themselves are simple He hasn’t looked at WWUI but has looked at the International Fire Code.
The question is, are there certain provisions that weren’t adopted but others that were. Commissioner Rasmussen asked what other counties are doing and whether or not we can have something by July 1. Parker said, “It’s getting to be a bigger and bigger driver throughout the country right now. Short-term rentals and summer people around [Bear Lake] have no idea what the fire codes are or what to do in the event of a fire. A lot of the summer home locations are ‘one-way in and one-way out,’ and they are not safe.” The question was also asked, “People get trapped in the canyons on the July 4th and July 24th holidays. How far do we go up these canyons before we require some sort of a water system?”
This began a discussion of the Burn Ordinance. Parker brought up a past incident where a gentleman upSt. Charles Canyon was burning and said he didn’t need a permit.There has since been an added amendment to the ordinance saying they need to make the area they are burning smaller. Anything over a12-foot diameter has to be approved by the fire chief. If burning a field, they must speak with the fire chief to also review the ability to contain the fire. Ditch burning is also subject to the approval of the fire chief. Recreational fires are not included. In the ISC code, a recreational fire is a 2-foot by 3-foot pit. The fire chief may restrict open pit fires under some circumstances. Adam suggested that this be set for a public hearing to have the ability to also do some education, making people aware of the new requirements.
The issue was tabled for discussion in the July meeting. He indicated the BLM had a public meeting two weeks ago when they discussed the fuel reduction project. Commissioner Rasmussen mentioned that he recently attended a presentation with BLM about selling the land that is available in the county. Newman mentioned that it had lost momentum and just hadn’t been on the radar lately. He did say that the Paris Canyon and Georgetown parcels are going to be retained and that there are 26 parcels in total. Alissa mentioned that some of the property could potentially be on BLM land. Rocky Point is on a curve. She told the commissioners BLM had to have access to all public lands. BLM is also supportive of the project to have crossings for wildlife.
Mike Duncan of the Forest Service spoke to the commissioners specifically about winter recreation. TheForest Service recently had a public meeting about areas designated on the travel management plan as non-motorized winter recreation.
Transtrum said he has spoken to the tri-county groomers regarding getting them off motorized trails. It was mentioned that the Emigration Canyon area is huge for snowmobiles and that a huge chunk of it is noted for non-motorized recreation. The Forest Service wants people to unload and stay on the trail until they are out of the motorized area. Transtrum said that what they need is a specialty outfit and personnel to start a park-and-speed pass to park in the parking lot and that it would be cheap. He also said they have obtained some funding and hope to obtain more through a grant. They hope to get up and running this winter.
Then Transtrum told the commissioners that the reason he had come before them was to let them know that there is a big interest in doing something in the off-forest areas like around the golf course in Montpelier. The problem is, they need to get funding and purchase equipment. But, if the Forest Service purchases the equipment, they can’t use it. If the county participates, there has to be an agreement to partner on the equipment. The Forest Service is willing to find the funding, but can’t buy the equipment. The county would purchase the equipment and agree to let the Forest Service use it. Commissioner Rasmussen mentioned that the Golf Course people would have to look at it too. Rasmussen said he thinks it’s a great idea and wants to look at some additional things. He mentioned that they could maybe get a group to donate money. He also said that he thought Squirrel Hollow and Bailey Creek would be great places. Transtrum added that he thought Emigration and Trail Canyons would be places to look at as well.
Duncan then talked about the fact that Bloomington Lake will turn into a fee area. The Forest Service has been maintaining the area for years, but it is no longer economical.
A new company is now servicing the cave and campgrounds, and now the lake has been included. If it becomes economical, a host and kiosk will be added. The company provides service for garbage, toilets, and upkeep. Hopefully, this will improve peoples’ experience. There will be a sign at the bottom by Harry’s Hollow.
Scott Esquibel, County Superintendent, presented his report on the grant for the 8-Mile Bridge. He said he is still waiting for a grant from Parks and Rec. He met with Keller Associates and lhtac in preparations for surveying Dingle East Shore Road. Surveying and core samples were conducted in May. He also reported on grading and patching county roads; continued repairing and replacing of culverts in the county; installation of needed road signs throughout the county; continuation of hauling material for summer chip sealing; installation of speed sensor signs in Nounan, Bern/Ovid, Maple, Bern/Montpelier, Dingle, and BLW roads; and continuation of employee lhtac training for the road scholar program.
Esquibel also reported on June’s projected road repair work.
He then gave his report on the landfill, which included the monthly tonnage collection report; conduction of controlled burning of trees, limbs, and brush; the Health Department conducting a surprise site visit (no violations or issues were noted); hauling dead animals from private a residence to the county landfill; and making sure required reports were completed and documented.
Adam McKenzie, County Prosecutor, presented his budget to the commissioners for discussion and approval. His budget included travel and conventions, office expenses, and phone expenses. Adam also has a law student working with him for the summer and he mentioned the student will be working with him next summer as well, and he asked that the Prosecutor Assistance line item be $1,000 to cover this expense. Also discussed were involuntary commitment and capital expenditures. There is also a line item for Adam’s salary which the Commissioners will discuss privately.