Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for December 2, 2009
Orderville Senior Citizen Center and roads dominate commission agenda
Orderville Town Council members were present to discuss the status of the Senior Citizen Center. Lois Lamb made a presentation, pointing out the center fills a need in the community and the commission’s actions have taken four jobs from their community. Meals are down, and saving money is at the expense of the senior citizens in the Valley.
Lamb continued with a breakdown of AOG monies and how they are designated. “I can’t see how you are saving money. We would like to bring this program back and request a trial basis of three-six months.”
It was pointed out that the AOG has recommended for years the Orderville Center be closed because of low numbers and Kane County has fought against closing the center.
The commission said they were grateful for the presentation and will form a committee to work out and resolve administrative and employee issues.
The Orderville Town Council, Commissioner Doug Heaton, Rhonda Gant and Faye Christensen will work through details to reopen the center and bring their conclusions back to the commission.
The commission pointed out that the director quit and three kitchen personnel quit. The county didn’t make the move to save money. They also stated some meals delivered to the homebound are people who do not qualify as homebound.
Utah State Representative Mike Noel and BLM Directors Harry Barber and Rene Berkhoudt were present to discuss public safety issues concerning roads across federally managed land in Kane County. Commissioner Mark Habbeshaw pointed out public safety hazards, include washouts, head cuts and wash boarding. The roads have become an economic hardship for citizens who must use the roads regularly.
“We share your concerns. The BLM’s position is that you still have the authority to maintain the roads,” said Berkhoudt. “If you feel there is liability, we are prepared to offer some maintenance agreements.”
Berkhought continued, “We do not have assets for maintenance. We do have a commitment from the Utah Leadership Team for emergency stabilization on some of the roads. However, that means pulling resources from other areas. It is a one time shot in the arm.”
Barber said there is no way to resolve this problem at this level. It needs to be determined at the federal and state level. “We’d like to meet you half-way, we don’t want to interfere with the RS2477 claims,” Barber added.
“What is the BLM’s plan in the long run, if the courts rule in your favor?” questioned Commissioner Heaton. Berkhought responded that there never has been a plan. Barber said the only thing they have to offer is a “Title V,” or the one time help.
Commissioner Daniel Hulet said the BLM has failed to do anything to help with maintenance. “We don’t have the authority to do it. The court ruled the roads are federal. The county has a maintenance plan, but when the plan is eroded by another entity, then they should be prepared to take over the road maintenance,” said Hulet.
Noel said the governor has appointed a panel to get the “B” road issue resolved. “You can’t make any kind of maintenance agreement. Can’t give a term of perpetuity. Without roads, we lose millions in revenue. What the BLM is doing is wrong. What the commissioners are doing is right,” said Noel.
Berkhought then said, “We are here for public safety. What is the solution?”
Habbeshaw claimed it is a sovereignty issue, and about rural property rights. “You say we have the authority. What authority? The BLM can’t provide information in writing. The Monument Plan says we don’t have the authority. The Secretary of the Interior says we can’t use NBD’s. He knows the BLM and Monument know the county does not have the jurisdiction to maintain the roads. We can’t spend “B” road funding on federal roads. The failure of the BLM to consider road maintenance in the plan is an injustice to the public. Tell me factually, don’t give me the “BS” that we have the authority to maintain them. The BLM has the road signs claiming the roads. They maintain ownership and then say they do not have the manpower to maintain the roads,” said Habbeshaw.
“Barber said all they can do is “Title V,” but you don’t want to go there because of pending litigation on RS2477,” Noel explained.
Berkhoudt said the county should do the road maintenance until quiet title can be adjudicated. They cannot determine RS2477 issues. The BLM is not suing the county, it is SUWA that is suing the county.
“You let people dictate to you how to implement the Management Plan. Title V undercuts what we are working for,” said Habbeshaw,
Attorney Shawn Welch, via telephone conference, said the roads are federal roads until the county quiets the title. The roads are the responsibility of the federal government.
Berkhoudt said the state told him the county does have the authority. Hulet told him he was welcome to put that in writing, stating why the county has the authority.
Heaton concluded that the county cannot do anything to jeopardize this lawsuit. It is bigger than Kane County.
The discussion ended with humor and recognition that this cannot be resolved at a local level. Habbeshaw expressed appreciation for their continued efforts to work at a local level. The group will be here for emergency stabilization December 2-16.
In other county business, the commission approved resolution 2009-23, concerning the creation of the Canyon Land Special Service District, establishing an administrative control board to manage the affairs of that district and appointing members to the administrative control board and related matters. This new resolution dissolved the previous special service district.
Appointed to the Board of Trustees were Homi Vazifdar, John Olberg and Jim Matson, all who qualify under Utah Code as property owners or agents of property owners.
The commission approved the Western Counties Alliance agreement for $7,500 and the Rural Public Lands County Council Agreement for $7,500. This includes Bob Weidner’s contract.
The commission agreed to move forward with financial negotiations and contract negotiations with Spillman Technology Inc. for a law enforcement software package.
The tentative 2010 budget was approved.
The Robinson Creek/Water Canyon road issue has to do with locked gates. Lou Pratt will call and advise Burton Pugh to have the lock removed.
MBA updates - the final walk-through on the EMS building will be on November 30.
On the Consent Agenda, the Book Mobile Contract was approved at $41,086.50, and the files held by Smith Hartvigsen for bond attorney Eric Johnson, were moved to Blaidell and Church.