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The County Fair Board’s method to handle day-of vendor cost was debated during the county commissioners’ regular meeting on September 14th. It was decided the Fair Board will pay vendor day-of costs but will authorize other invoices with a signature, keeping careful records of both cash and regular payments. The commissioners praised the Fair Board for their work and dedication, especially during the pandemic.

The Assessor hired an appraiser and a part-time employee. Following training on Oct. 7, during which the Assessor’s office will be closed to the public, the office can assist patrons via the State’s web-based system. Mr. Dunford announced that Lynette Wilkes would retire, and an open house for her will be held on Sept. 23.

Sheriff Heslington elaborated on his monthly written report, stating he and the Caribou County Sheriff were delayed in renewing the prisoner housing agreement due to the coronavirus. The Sheriff warned that if a recent investigation moves forward, it will have a considerable financial impact while it proceeds in court. Other issues were selecting a 911 back-up system, races, and a triathlon coming to the area, and delivery of a sport bike to improve access to remote areas such as Bloomington Lake. The Sheriff and Assessor clarified their mutual handling of VIN inspections. The Sheriff’s Office will process them when the Assessor’s Office is not open, or the vehicle is not at the courthouse.

Ms. Poulsen, the Treasurer, reported she formulated a plan should she need to work remotely, and she encouraged all departments to consider workflow during a quarantine.

In routine business, items to be addressed later include a levy certification, which will occur in a special meeting on September 21, and tax deeded properties under legal review. After considering negative repercussions to the county, it was decided county employees may not defer payment of social security payroll taxes.

Building Inspector, Mr. Davidson, commented that he has never seen so much activity, nor does it appear construction will slow. He described an issue with the county storage building driveway where puddles form, and the Roads Department will help remedy the problem.

Commissioner Rasmussen posed a hypothetical scenario dealing with county road right of way, property setbacks, and the potential a building could not be constructed outside those restrictions due to utility placement. A question arose regarding fences. A brief discussion ensued regarding the recently adopted standards requiring a 60’ county road right of way, which impacts a new mine in Georgetown where the road is undersized.

Mr. Steve Portela requested annexation of Home Canyon into the Bear River Mosquito Abatement District because abatement was provided, but the area was not taxed for the service. The commissioners approved, and the matter will be voted upon at the March election.

During the public comment period, Mr. Roy Bunderson applauded the June 8th minutes, which gave the code-required summary of the executive session’s issue. He inquired about the ordinance governing the use of county equipment, and Commissioner Rasmussen responded that because it had not been published within 30 days of its adoption, the county must re-start the process. County Attorney McKenzie will revise the ordinance, and Mr. Bunderson suggested referring to an annual fee schedule set by an organization that provides industry-competitive rates. Mr. Rasmussen stated the revised ordinance would be available for public input before adoption. The commissioners moved into an executive session to discuss pending or imminent litigation.

Mr. Joe Hayes, the candidate for the county attorney position, reminded the commissioners he previously inquired about the county attorney’s salary and asked how it could be increased. The commissioners were adamant that they had set the pay but that it could be addressed during the next budget period and possibly increased at that time.

Mr. Mark Parker, Fire Department Chief, explained the recent Georgetown fire’s location precluded county equipment reaching the site. He complimented the Forest Service and BLM, who provided a helicopter that applied retardant and the Road and Bridge crew and Aaron Hymas, who supplied a bulldozer. He requested the use of the old courthouse for training purposes. He also mentioned the fire at Sweetwater’s mobile home park, where the outcome was good, despite the proximity of the structures and the propane tanks which burst.

Mr. Scott Esquibel, County Superintendent, described the heavy traffic and camping in all canyons, which have made their work more challenging. Commissioner Payne hoped the county could continue disposing of dead animals, but Mr. Esquibel was uncertain there is sufficient capacity. The new landfill district will not take over until January, and Commissioner Payne expressed concern regarding the necessity of return of the county’s land if the regional landfill defaults.

Mr. Esquibel and Sheriff Heslington spoke with a landowner who created a roadway through the county’s property and intended it to access his property. Because a portion of the newly-cut road is on BLM property, the BLM is now involved and may require restoration or reparations. Mr. McKenzie confirmed that an ordinance prohibiting individuals from disturbing county roads had not been finalized through publication and suggested it be added to the October agenda. Mr. Esquibel provided traffic counts at North Beach, showing approximately 50,000 cars in 2019 but 75,000 cars thus far in 2020. Georgetown City proposed adding radar with a request that the county participates in the costs at roughly $4,000 if the county paid half. The commissioners will address this in a future meeting. Mr. Esquibel commented on the number of encroachment permits issued with some difficulty in gaining compliance, particularly in the Bear Lake West area.

A public hearing was held regarding an increase in ambulance fees, and the commissioners approved. Due to escalating equipment costs, the commissioners would like the service to have adequate capital and personnel.

Mr. Doug Garrett requested approval for the 22-year-old Bear 100 Trail Race on September 25 and 26 with a new finish line at 223 Fish Haven Canyon. Approximately 300 people are expected for the 100-mile endurance race. Though not announced as an action item, the commissioners voted to permit the race.

From Bear River Rifleman, Mr. Terry Smith described the organization’s desire that present and future gun range area and access be excluded from the property deeded to the regional landfill. Mr. Smith showed the commissioners were three phases of activities that would be conducted and gained the commissioner’s tacit approval to except the land upon receiving a legal description through a survey arranged by Mr. Esquibel. Before winter, Mr. Smith anticipates the Roads Department will help to build berms with two trucks and a loader for a day. A minimum of 50 members is required to cover the cost of insurance.

In miscellaneous business, updates on the airport and Senior Center were given. Commissioner Rasmussen outlined how counties move up or down in the Board of Health Covid-19 restrictions. Bear Lake may move to green.

In a protracted exchange, Julia Oxarango-Ingram from Preservation Idaho pled that the old courthouse is retained, identifying possible uses and funding to do so. Ms. Oxarango-Ingram felt the county need not spend additional money, history would be preserved, and economic benefits could ensue through increased tourism and rental income. The commissioners plan to dispose of the building in October but allowed she could pursue alternatives if she wished.

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