In the first Kane County Commission meeting of 2019 on January 7, Commission Chair Lamont Smith was joined by newly-elected Commissioners Brent Chamberlain and Andy Gant. The invocation was given by Karla Johnson and the pledge was led by Brent Chamberlain.

The first order of business was to officially set the annual specific responsibilities each commissioner oversees. While commissioners all have a wide variety of tasks to coordinate with the county, some assignments included the following: Lamont Smith will oversee Predator Control and Alton Coal Development, as well as insurance policies and capital facilities for the County. Brent Chamberlain will work with local economic development programs, the new Kanab Civic Center, Natural Resources Development and the American Lands Council. Andy Gant will oversee GIS project management and roads, SITLA issues, and the Kane County Water Conservancy District. Resolution R-2019-1, which accepted these assignments, was approved.

Resolution R-2019-2 fulfilled the annual approval of the Kane County fee schedule for the costs of licenses, property papers, and all other county business requiring payments.

Next, Kane County Attorney Rob Van Dyke presented the annual “Open Meeting Training” program. All those leading public meetings must follow rules in their work to “conduct the people’s business.” These rules apply not only to commissions and councils, but to all county committees and subcommittees.

In an update to the building progress on the Kanab Civic Center, Kane County Economic Director Matt Brown said the newly revised schedule will have the building completion walk-through on March 12. The parking lot behind the gymnasium is now finished, but there is still a lot to be done. Brown said the ongoing delays are “very, very frustrating.”

Commissioner Smith said, “We made the mistake up front [in choosing Steed to do the construction].”

To date, the county has paid $3,710,782 for work currently completed.

A longer time was spent on the topic of more office space for the Kane County Recorder’s Office. This has been an issue for many years without being completely addressed. Last year, Recorder Ver Jean Caruso addressed the commissioners regarding the need for additional secure space to store documents and maps, which go back to the early days of the county, because the office has outgrown its storage capacity. It was suggested that using the now-vacant offices once occupied by the Volunteer Center would be a good solution. From there, frustration grew. Caruso continued to come to meetings and insist a decision be made.

In her public comment at this meeting, she pointed out that she had even been asked to provide a detailed drawing of everything she needed in the new space, and continued, “No one else has to do that. Why do I have to justify every square inch of space?”

Others who stood for public comment in support of Caruso were Dennis Mosdell, who said “Ver Jean has been elected eight times. Whatever she says, listen to her. Give them the space they need. If Ver Jean says she needs it, she needs it.”

Kirk Heaton, former County Attorney and Judge, said, “I believe you are discriminating against her because she is a woman. The new commissioners need to treat her better than she’s been treated in the past.” Later he added, “You are questioning her professional opinion, and substituting yours for hers. She’s tried to create the extra space economically for the taxpayer. To have records [potentially] destroyed by a fire would be devastating.”

When the discussion ended, Chairman Smith said he would entertain a motion to allow the Recorder’s Office to expand, with a secure vault, into the entire space formerly occupied by the Volunteer Center. The motion passed unanimously.