Jackson County Board of Commissioners Staff Meeting Notes for 04/07/2022

I observe public meetings of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners (BoC) as an individual, believing in open government and the public’s right and need to know.  I declare that, although I try to be as accurate and objective as possible, errors may occur; therefore, readers should verify any information I report that is of interest to them by listening to the meeting audio  themselves.  The recordings are made available on the Jackson County website sometime after the meeting, usually the same day.

Jackson County BoC Staff Meeting Notes for 04/07/2022.  In attendance: Dave Dotterer, Commissioner and Chair of BoC, Colleen Roberts, Commissioner, Rick Dyer, Commissioner, Phil Philbrick, Deputy County Counsel, and Danny Jordan, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).

[Editor:  Internet froze repeatedly during meeting.]

1.  Input from County Counsel – None.

2.  Input from County Administrator

               a.  Review Agenda Items for the April 13, 2022, BoC Regular Meeting.

               — Jordan:  Consent Calendar; Order authorizing State of Oregon Election Grant for election equipment in amount of $60k.

               — Dotterer:  Asked if it is the state’s responsibility to pay for equipment or the county’s responsibility.

               — Jordan:  Technically it is the state’s responsibility, but several years ago they wouldn’t pay and we needed to upgrade a scanner and spent $300k.  Dotterer then jokes about this being another situation where state doesn’t live up to its responsibilities.

3.  Discussion regarding a Letter of Support for the 2022 National Day of Prayer – Colleen Roberts, Commissioner.

               — Roberts:  May 5 is the National Day of Prayer.  BoC did a proclamation in 2019 and she wants to do it again.  All commissioners in favor.  It will be placed on April 13 agenda to be formally approved and read.

4.  Discussion regarding a letter of Support for Funding of the Cole Rivers Hatchery – Colleen Roberts, Commissioner.

               — Roberts:  Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) requested a letter of support for funding for needed infrastructure improvements at the hatchery.  A draft has been prepared for approval.  Were asked by a lobbyist.

               — Dyer:  Points out that BoC has been careful to support funding and not get involved in a No Confidence Vote for ACE that the lobbyist also promoted at one point.  Roberts said are also careful not to support funding to remove the dam.

               — Jordan:  Asked if they approve the draft. [Editor: My CenturyLink internet kept freezing during the discussion but I’ll relay what I can.]

               — Roberts:  Money is to replace the power feeder system.

               — Dotterer:  Ok with draft.  Wants to support the repairs.

               — Jordan:  Read a news article last night and he thinks it is possible this funding has already been approved.   After this there was a great deal of back and forth about whether to send the letter, check to see if already passed.  Ultimately, they decided to approve the letter because there are no meetings next Tuesday or Thursday and no time to do the checking.  If they find out after this meeting that it has been funded, will add a thank you letter.

5.  Discussion regarding the Association of Oregon Counties – Colleen Roberts, Commissioner

               — Roberts:  Yesterday the AOC National Resources Committee unanimously approved returning the money to the counties from the Federal Lands Subcommittee.  Gina Nichol gave an answer to why there was no interest paid or posted to the fund account.  The money has been sitting in a noninterest bearing checking account.  She noted that no representatives from Coos, Klamath or Josephine counties attended.

               — Jordan:  After last week’s BoC meeting, he advised Roberts that he would call Gina Nichol which he did.  He told her that the BoC was bothered by the way their questions regarding accounting appeared to be shrugged off.  She responded that they have a good accountant but he doesn’t always communicate well.  She provided his responses to the questions, even though the answers concerned her.  Jordan responded that she should have waited and explained she was getting more information and insisted the accountant provide better answers.  She apologized  (CenturyLink internet froze).  Nichol sent a letter to the BoC with a bcc to Jordan apologizing.  Jordan pointed out that 2017 was when Moss Adams had been hired in connection with the Road Fund and told AOC to segregate accounts into interest bearing accounts.  Should have done so then but it may have been confusing because there are provisions for not doing that.  Gina seemed a bit overwhelmed. She apologized.

               — Dyer:  Nothing would have been done if we hadn’t looked into it.

               — Jordan:  Will give money back for 2020 and 2021, less the 7% paid for staff, but only to those counties that paid dues in those years.

               — Roberts:  Will leave $25k in the account because the committee continues.

               — Jordan:  Gina told him $40k

               — Dotterer:  Asked if she is satisfied with the email.

               — Roberts:  It is better than no answer. Glad people voted to return the money.  She doesn’t want to be part of the Federal Lands Subcommittee moving forward and doesn’t want to pay the fees due in June.  Should be put on another agenda.  Dyer agreed.

               — Jordan:  Gina told him several people (counties?) quit.  Was told that another county is recruiting counties to hire their own lobbyist – mentions Douglas and Klamath.  Jordan asked if they want to make contact.  Roberts expressed doubt but will look into it.

6.  Discussion Regarding Fires and Fire Recovery.

               — Jordan:  Has a lengthy update.  State will ask if doing another housing extension re FEMA trailers (CenturyLink internet froze.)  Have been assigned a different FEMA coordinating officer.  It is Lance “Duke” Davis.  He was with us before and this is a good thing.

               — Direct Housing (paid for by state):  143 rooms housing 238 people (CenturyLink internet froze).  22 families moved out of Southern Oregon RV Park and some of them moved into a direct housing hotel.  As Alex Campbell said re housing, the draft action plan will be done in early May and final version due June 8.

               — Dyer:  Has the state extended the hotel rooms?

               — Jordan:  Right now, they will pay until around the end of June.  Will have to check.  Dyer:  Need an extension.  Jordan noted the occupants are staying in hotel room for free.  When people in FEMA trailers started having the pay, the number staying in them went down, finding other options.  Dyer observed that if they haven’t found housing by now, they aren’t going to.  Jordan:  No, that’s not at all true.  Some turned down housing at the Gateway because they would have to pay $400 per month.  (CenturyLink internet froze)  Dotterer asked when Direct Housing will end and Jordan responded – end of June.  Dotterer and Roberts exchanged information about Turnkey and which projects they funded.

               — Jordan:  FEMA housing ends 9/15/22.  Will ask for an extension around June or July.  At Gateway they are having a meeting with Rogue Retreat and others to define roles and responsibilities.  Royal Oaks – that will have state purchased modular homes – homes have been delivered.  Homes will be available soon. They won’t be free but will be low cost.

               — OHCS working with case managers and Mobile Estates to get more funding.  Got 200 homes that are looking to place.

               — FEMA Housing approved 82 rent reduction appeals, which is most of them.  Billing will start April 1.  The appeals reduce rent but not make it free.

               — Long-Term Recovery Group has been working with people to help them purchase FEMA trailers and help pay for costs to relocate them.  Turned out to be a problem because the people already received FEMA benefits and LTRG was using FEMA money to pay the costs to purchase. Can’t do that.  Holly (Emergency Manager) looked into this and got information on when they can help.  (CenturyLink internet froze).

               — Unmet Needs in LTRG closed 46 cases – got them help.  Put process in place to prevent duplicate benefits.  Are encouraging people to work with the Case Managers.

               — Urban Design Associates is doing a scope of work in preparation for a community recovery plan.  They worked on a similar plan for Paradise, CA.  Are considering the scope of work and Greenway and other plans.

               — Fire Hardening Grants:  155 applicants.  41 are in the unincorporated areas; 33 in Talent; and 81 in Phoenix.  Will have to do a drawn down of funds from the state and that will be coming in a meeting soon. (CenturyLink internet froze.)

7. Liaison Committee Reports

               — Dyer:  Remembered his notebook.  Attended Veterans Advisory Committee (VAC).  There is a vacancy and received 3 applications.  They put over making a decision re recommendation until the members of the committee can reach out and speak to applicants.  This is a committee with specialized needs and members bring unique contributions to the committee.  Want to be sure to get the right person. 

               — VAC provided a car carrier for a veteran who needs a wheelchair.  Noted that the veteran unemployment rate is 3% which is very good.  They are able to place veterans quickly in good jobs. Dotterer noted the unemployment rate in Jackson County is 4.5% so this is good.

               — RVSO (I’m not sure what it stands for but it has to do with supporting veterans) – Doing a lot of outreach and there is a lot of need.  A new hire will start April 11.  A lot of work helping spouses of veterans receive death benefits.  Vietnam Vets are passing away and surviving spouses need help

               — ODBA – state level (Don’t know what that stands for) but the committee was filled.  The one and only representative from Southern Oregon was lobbying for a second member because all the others are from Salem and Portland/Willamette Valley.  They filled the position with someone from Hermiston – at least it wasn’t Willamette Valley.

               — David’s Chair is a charity that has a track wheelchair that allows veterans who are in wheelchairs to go hunting, fishing, etc. in more remote areas.  They sign up.  Dotterer noted that one veteran used the chair at the Ashland Gun Club to shoot arrows and it was wonderful.

— Roberts:  Attended Upper Rogue Chamber of Commerce Meeting.  May 7 is the Vintage Fair and she listed several events. (freeze). 

               — Butte Creek Mill is grinding more product and said they have a bit less than $1 million more in repairs pending.  Will cost less if volunteers contribute labor.  She gave them an update on broadband study and they were very interested. Jordan asked if the budget to rebuild Butte Creek Mill was around $3 million to start.  Some discussion about this and note that costs have increased dramatically.

               — Gold Hill City Council – Discussed a proposal to ban fireworks in Gold Hill.  Citizens very concerned.  Are also pushing Firewise Committee activities.

               — Jacksonville City Council – Received a report from RVCOG about Alert Wildfire.  3 more cameras are coming to Eagle Point, Sams Valley and Gold Hill.

               — Western Interstate – Did a legislative update.  Still pushing for a definition of conservation in connection with the America Beautiful bill.  Discussion of ARPA money.  WIR meeting is in May in Alaska but she will not attend. 

               — Dotterer:  Talked about a meeting at Bear Creek that he says Steve Lambert put together of citizens to give input – called it a Citizen Advisory Committee.  Roberts questioned why general public not allowed input.  Jordan explained that the citizens group is part of the RFP process and is done by the consultant, not Steve Lambert.  There will be a time for public comment in the process.

               — Phoenix City Council continues to be ahead in rebuilding.  Currently 85% of burned single family homes have applied for building permits.  They also had a discussion about banning fireworks.

               — Ashland City Council – Travel Ashland provided a report.  Are rebranding Ashland so that it is not exclusively identified with Shakespeare Festival.  Now branding as a mountain community with multiple options in the valley.  Dyer feels it is too vague.  (CenturyLink internet froze.)

               — Talent City Council – He was unable to attend but called someone (didn’t catch name) to get an update.  The Rogue River Watershed Council reported on Bear Creek Restoration project and mentioned that they will be seeking support from the Jackson County BoC for grant.  That was all he had.

They went on to calendars and I signed off.  NOTE:  TUESDAY AND THURSDAY MEETINGS NEXT WEEK ARE CANCELLED.  NO NOTES WILL BE FORTHCOMING NEXT WEEK.

Joyce Puccini Chapman

Illegitimi non corborundum
No longer accepting the things I’m told I cannot change.
Now working to change the things I cannot accept.