COMMISSIONER UPDATES

Commissioner Sharkozy attended a Nov. 9 Fire Wise Conference in Reno with Jake Tibbitts and six other Eureka County Crescent Valley people, and “had a real good time and learned a lot about fire prevention and burning and such.” On Nov. 10, Sharkozy attended the Crescent Valley Fire Department meeting; Search and Rescue on the 16th; and on the 17th the Senior Center Advisory Board meeting and a drug abuse and alcohol prevention presentation for employees and supervisors.

Commissioner Etchegaray attended the District Court hearing on the Sage Grouse on the 17th and commented that the Chairman “did a phenomenol job with his testimony and highlighted everything” he thought best for Eureka County. Etchegaray said, “I think he did an excellent job.”

Chairman Goicoechea remarked, “For the record, it was not the most pleasurable experience I’ve ever had.”

On the 12th, Goicoechea attended the Rangeland Resource Commission meeting in Winnemucca as well as the Nevada Grazing Board, and chaired the Nevada Land Action Association meeting that evening. The 13th-14th he attended the Nevada Cattlemen’s Annual Convention; and on the 16th-18th was in Reno for the Sage Grouse litigation. He went in for an “hour” on the 16th to have a “sit down to get testimony ready to go” and ended up staying until 7 that evening making sure everyone was ready. Goicoechea said NACO and the mining companies did an excellent job in selecting legal counsel as Laura Granier proved “very intelligent” and “looks innocent and sweet” but said he was “glad she’s not cross-examining me: she’s good.”

The Commission completed consideration of the changes in Lay-Off Policy and will present the proposed policy changes to employees who’ll have 30 days to consider the language with the issue then returning before the Commissioners on Dec. 21 and a Public Hearing on the Policy set for Jan. 6, 2016 at 10 a.m.

Mike Sullivan, EMS Coordinator, reported since last report Eureka has had 9 calls for service and Crescent Valley, 7, for a year-to-date total of 120 in Eureka and 55 in Crescent Valley for a year-to-date total of 175. Sullivan reported staffing is stable in Eureka but critically low in Crescent Valley.

The next Continuing Education EMS class will be Nov. 30 in Eureka and Dec. 10 in Crescent Valley.

COUNTY IT, NETWORK SYSTEM IN GOOD HANDS

Lester Keizer, CEO, of Business Continuity Technologies, gave the Commissioners a presentation regarding how BCT has been performing IT/network activities in Eureka County. Zeizer gave an overview “of what we’ve been doing and where we’re headed.” Keizer characterized BCT as a “32 year old minority employee owned I.T. Company” keeping pace with rapid technology changes that bring “challenges to security.” BCT was founded in 1983 by Senator Ron Cook, a small business advocate.

BCT is finding a niche working in rural Nevada areas and is providing management of IT for the County. The County is benefitting from the expertise of various BCT professionals including primary senior engineer, Rory Jackson, and two more assistants. BCT has been using a ticketing system to keep track of everything being done from a technology perspective so they can keep track of everything that happens. Eureka County’s computer system is being monitored 24/7 and Keizer said 80 percent of high level technology fixes can be done remotely and BCT offers an unlimited help desk via phone and email with the aim being “worry-free IT.”

From July to September 2015, BCT addressed 142 service tickets with a lot of server issues. Keizer said, “The bad guys are ahead of us by 18 months” and “we’re trying to play catch-up.” Keizer noted Nevada is number 4 in the nation with the most internet fraud cases. BCT installed a unified threat management system called the Watch Dog which provides layers of security for everything going in or coming out to keep the county secured.

BCT can provide system recovery and restoration quickly to prevent down-time and keep the system constantly running in a very secure way. If the server dies, BCT can virtualize the server within 15 minutes. BCT has created a technology road map for the County based on the needs, security and budgetary restraints of the County, prioritizing needs, and training county staff so as to “provide secure, stable, compliant, comprehensive network services” that are “proactive in nature.”

County Auditor Mike Mears said he’s “super happy” with BCT and thanked Zeizer and his team, saying he’s seen “a big impact.”

PUBLIC WORKS

Public Works Director, Ron Damele, is working with a contractor to reroof the fire station in Pine Valley which was built in the late 1980s by the Honor Camp” and needs replacement.

Damele’s been working on the self-contained breathing apparatus replacment program which saw 57 units having problems and so being replaced with new ones.

Damele said the Justice Court remodel started Nov. 12 and finished on Nov. 16 with another three weeks required to complete cabinets and shades and door hardware. Damele said once staff puts the room back together it will be operational.

CLERK/TREASURER REPORT

Bev Conley, Clerk/Treasurer, reported Eureka began the month with $13,465,754, saw $1,511,883 in revenue, expenditures of $804,371, leaving an ending fund balance of $14,173,265. Conley said the increase was related to receipt of the second installment of property taxes.

CULTURAL, TOURISM, & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Andrea Rossman, Cultural, Tourism & Economic Development Director, told the Commissioners things were “kind of busy across the street” at the Opera House where the Holiday Bazaar was taking place with “close to 30 vendors. Rossman invited the Commissioners to “stop by and do some shopping” and also at the Senior Center later that afternoon.

Rossman, Patty Peet and Cindy Beutel have been working on street decorations with plans to decorate the Court House to look festive as well. In December, the White Pine Players are coming to perform at the Opera House, doing A Christmas Carol and probably serving some deserts.

Rossman said “because of the weather and time of the year, tourism is down.”

Rossman reported there was an Economic Development Program board meeting on the 13th where the CEDS report was discussed with the next meeting slated for Dec. 10.

Rossman mentioned that Jim Garza of White Pine County resigned from their Economic Development Program and White Pine is “going through a transitional phase” and talking about “eliminating their economic development program” which will be considered at their Dec. 16 Commission meeting.

Rossman alerted the Commissioners that events at the Opera House are going to be impacted by the Live Entertainment Tax which will require a 10 percent tax to be paid to the State Department of Taxation on admission charged to live events. The new requirement went into effect in October 2015.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Jake Tibbitts, Natural Resources Manager, related that the hearing related to the sage grouse was “well attended” and said the judge noted she is going to write a written ruling on the preliminary injunction. Tibbitts said on the 19th she asked for briefing on issues that came up through Chairman Goicoechea’s testimony. Immediate, emergency impacts the judge asked for additional briefing on include a water tank in White Pine County and a Baker GID water tank which pose an imminent need. Tibbitts said the hearing “was a roller coaster there for a couple of days.” He feels there “may be a partial injunction” but said he’d “be surprised to see any kind of injnction on the grazing stuff” since there are “no examples of how anybody is effected by restrictions yet.”

Goicoechea noted the hearing was just for the injunction and said arguments to overturn the EIS will be heard and other counties and ranchers will be involved and that other entities may bring forward motions for an injunction.

Should problems be addressed through Resource Management Plan updates when specific decisions are addressed every little thing thing that comes forward will have to be challenged. Goicoechea said such appeals would be administrative challenges.

Tibbitts said it is unclear how the issue of lands identified for disposal will work out since if under the direction of the RMP [Resource Management Plan] they are under sage grouse habitat the lands are now to be retained by the federal government with exemptions possible if there can be shown a ‘net conservation gain’ or if it is shown there won’t be an adverse effect to the bird. Tibbitts said when he read the footnote to the regulatons, land considered for disposal has to be on the list and that exemptions can’t apply because the land is no longer on the list. Tibbitts questioned how proposals could therefore be brought forth for lands that aren’t on the map for disposal such as the lands around the town of Eureka which are now marked as priority habitat and are no longer available for future building.

Chairman Goicoechea said he is trying to “make sure local government still has a foot in the door” even though he’s not sure he’s “being effective representing local government with the state.” He joked, “I’m getting my butt handed to me, is that what you’d like me to say?”

Tibbitts said while existing rights are to be honored even if within the sage grouse footprint, to get a new authorization and get a categorical exclusion following the Sage Grouse EIS while not impossible involves “so many hurdles just to get an EA for a water line” and will require the County to spend tens of thousands of dollars to expand current water lines, and will cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars more than it should.

As the county looks for ways to balance the water budget in Diamond Valley, it wanted frontage properties along Highway 50 which are no longer available for disposal. Goicoechea said it will be a “nightmare if we want to import water from Kobeh Valley.”

Expanding the Eureka landfill by acquiring another 40 acres is “essentially off the table” making it “virtually impossible to do anything” even as it was “tough to do anything already.”

“For the record,” Tibbitts said, “these issues we’re talking about are identified habitat where there’s not a bird to be found” and “so are incorrectly identified as prime habitat. I’m all about protecting the bird,”Tibbitts said, but questioned saying Highway 50 “is great sage grouse habitat” since there are areas designated where there have never been birds.

Goicoechea said, “We provided comments that questioned this habitat designation” but “never received an answer” and said that discrepancy was a “big part of what we argued” at the injunction hearing since the BLM Plan “dismissed everybody’s comments and appeals.”

Tibbits characterized the process of meeting BLM requirements as “extortion,” as to prove no impact to the bird and a net conservation gain, the County will “have to write a check” for studies to prove no impact to the sage grouse.

Goicoechea said there are “questions about what ‘net conservation gain’ means” with “different ratios and different language than there are in the EIS” leaving “so much up in the air.” He said, “Thank God we got the right of way for the reroute of the Roberts Creek Road because we would have had to show net conservation gain.”

Eureka County Commissioners approved:

Expenditures of $449,053.36 including $224.19 in Yucca Mountain expenditures, for a total of $449,277.55 which includes a pass-through to the School District of $66,723.31 and to the Central Committee of $765.79;

A Proclamation declaring November 2015 as National Home Care Month in Eureka County;

Adopting a Resolution directing the County Assessor to prepare and publish a list of all taxpayers on the secured tax roll in the County, along with total valuation of property on which they will severally pay taxes, pursuant to NRS 361.300;

Signing a certificate of expenditures for Federal Fiscal Year 2015 relating to the direct payment grant from US Department of Energy for the Yucca Mountain Project;

Doren Adams as an Alternate representing southern Eureka County on the Economic Development Program Board.