COMMISISONER UPDATE REPORTS
J.J. Goicoechea has been asked a couple of questions regarding the Assistant Comptroller Position. “That position will replace the Comptroller” and he will be on the interview panel. The most qualified person is being sought and Chairman Goicoechea will be participating in interviewing. “We are going to find a very good candidate to replace a very good Comptroller that we have.”
Commissioner Etchegaray attended a meeting with AT&T on the 7th; Commissioner Sharkozy attended a Search and Rescue Meeting on July 11; and on the 12th the Quarterly Meeting and Fireman’s meeting in Crescent Valley. Chairman Goicoechea “had a whole raft of meetings with staff and personnel” and phone conversations with the lawyer regarding the sage grouse litigation.
On Aug. 18, the chairman will be in Gardnerville giving “a quick and dirty restoration presentation.”
Clerk/Treasurer Bev Conley reported the County began June with $14,480,385 in the General Fund, saw $802,487 in revenue and $764,719 in disbursements to leave an ending fund balance of $14,518,154.
Abby Johnson, Nuclear Waste Advisor, related that at the federal level the DOE is doing site-based consent hearings and Johnson will be getting comments in on the County’s behalf by the end of the month on “our experience and local government from a Nevada perspective.” Congressman Shimkuz held a hearing in the first part of July in the House of Representatives and is holding hearings to keep issue before the public and set it up for whatever happens after the election in the next session.
One of the things he’s considering is amending the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to address taking ownership of the land and water at Yucca Mountain. Johnson isn’t “sure how he’d do that” and said it “remains to be seen after the election what the new Congress’s make up is.” Governor Sandoval restated his adamant opposition to Yucca Mountain and approved $2.5 million for the legal team preparing Nevada’s legal case for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing committee as it appears licensing will go forward once there is a change in the political make-up at the federal level, and shows the level of detail and concern the State is prepared to engage in. Rick Moore went to the National Transportation Stakeholder’s Forum. Johnson said the New Mexico Waste Isolation Pilot Project “that had that little leakage problem two years ago” is being worked on to get it back on line” and are basically “starting over again.”
Johnson related the NRC received an application from a private company in Texas to operate a private interim storage facility for commercial spent fuel from nuclear power plants as more nuclear power plants are “finishing their life.” Johnson said there is also an application to serve as an interim storage facility in New Mexico near Carlsbad. Johnson said, “Because they’re private the process is I wouldn’t say simple but could be way simpler than Yucca Mountain.” Johnson said, “The place in Texas already has other kinds of waste” and because it’s on private property it “means less environmental reviews” and doesn’t “go through all the stuff they do when something’s on public land.” Johnson will continue monitoring what’s going on with nuclear waste and related issues and natural resource issues.
Mike Sullivan, EMS Coordinator, reported service activity decreased with 4 calls for service in Eureka and 3 in Crescent Valley for a year to date total of 93 compared to 99 last year. While volunteer staffing in Eureka remains stable, Crescent Valley is critically short on volunteers. Sullivan said use of the Image Trend Software began on June 27th and implementation is continuing with a preliminary deployment date of August 1. July 11th he attended the Project Heartbeat quarterly meeting in Reno; and on July 14th he attended by video conference the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health public workshop to consider amendments to Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) 450B which propose “unprecedented fees and fines.” Sullivan said the video conferencing failed requiring listening in by cell phone. On July 14th, there was a serious motor vehicle collision on SR278 that resulted in a fatality with nothing to be done for the victim. Sullivan complimented all who responded for their professionalism and cautioned everyone to drive carefully when oversized loads are present. On July 15th, Sullivan attended the Crisis Standards of Care workshop in Las Vegas. He received approval for protocol revisions to permit advanced EMTs to administer Narcan nasally.
Natural Resource Manager, Jake Tibbitts was in Bozeman for the Association of Public & Land Grant Universities CARET meeting on July 16-17 focused on Western issues. A one page document with a 30 page document was developed highlighting the priorities of the Western Land Grant Universities with natural resources being a big portion. Tibbitts said there was a lot of discussion regarding the Endangered Species Act and sage grouse and grazing. Tibbitts related that Congressman Amodei and Hardy co-sponsored another land sales bill to take lands currently identified for disposal by the BLM to force the BLM to move forward with land sales with 15 percent to go to the State to use for higher education or natural resources or ag agencies; 15 percent earmarked for state land grant universities for education and teaching; 10% to counties; 10 percent to special accounts and 50 percent to the treasury. Tibbitts felt the “likelihood of that moving is pretty low with a lame duck Congress and Administration.” The bill will go through the Public Lands Natural Resource Committee and Chairman Bishop promised it will have a Hearing. Tibbitts characterized it as a balanced bill with the feds getting 10 percent and a call for no net increase in public lands. With primary sponsors from both sides of the aisle, the bill may have some traction especially with proceeds going to education. Private land owners within holdings and adjacent are to have first right of refusal at fair market value. Counties will also have the first right of refusal if there is a need for recreational and public purposes such as expanding the land fill.
Tibbitts related that Dale Bugenig was in Carson City for the Boulder Creek Maggie Creek Conservation Meeting.
Monday July 25, Tibbitts will attend the Groundwater Management Plan meeting; the Crescent Valley Firewise meeting the afternoon of July 26; and he and Chairman Goicoechea will attend the Legislative Committee on Public Lands; and on the 29th a Rangeland Tour looking at projects being done.
Tibbitts received the scoping document for the the Fire Creek mine mitigation project in the Crescent Valley region of Lander County which will involve relocating the existing road and are looking at changing fencing of a riparian area and installing a shallow well with a solar panel and then piping the water off site which wasn’t done the first time. Tibbitts remarked there should be a better option, noting it “isn’t the final decision” but is “simply scoping” and an EA will have to be developed and commented on an action that would “essentially fence off the water source and exclude livestock from access to water.”
He received notice that Barrick’s underground exploration Draft EA will be released for public comment and in speaking with Barrick, Tibbitts learned the county’s comments were incorporated. Water management issues related to water for drilling and dust suppression will be talked about in the EA. Tibbitts said the declines are being built production size and he looks forward to seeing the Draft to see what changes were made.
Tibbitts declared the Government Accountability Office report on the BLM and FS not cracking down on grazing trespass is being used by anti grazing groups to say unauthorized grazing is going on in the west although the report clearly identifies that all the trespass is unintentional with hunters leaving the gate open. The GAO cited that the BLM needs to do more on trespass issues formally.
The BLM Foundation was passed through the House side. The Foundation according to Tibbitts will mean any money private entities put towards the Foundation can dictate how the money will be used and eliminates Congressional appropriations where Congress can direct and allows private entities to circumvent which opens up “sticky issues.”
Goicoechea said they need to play a role in selecting the Director and Board members and shares Tibbitts concern that special interest groups will be driving projects.
Tibbitts noted creating the Foundation passed by unanimous voice vote and the primary sponsor was a Republican and said the legislation contains a lot of positive things and the key is how it’s used or misused going forward.
Regarding the County’s involvement in the suit regarding the BLM’s Land Use Management Plan on sage grouse, the response by the federal government and intervenors came through and now all appellants inclueding Eureka County have until July 26th to file a final brief to move forward and is still in the briefing schedule.
Goicoechea said, “We’ll see what happens.”
In preparing for the Legislative Interim Committee on Public Lands meeting in Elko on July 28, Tibbitts will be covering “a lot of the same stuff presented previously” although “sharp points need to be smoothed down” and narrowed down to requested actions. Tibbitts plans to point out to the committee special interest group’s improper involvement. He discussed an individual who was out with the BLM in Antelope Valley doing wild horse monitoring who is a primary litigant on issues and who signed up as a volunteer with the BLM and was out riding in a BLM vehicle taking pictures. The impropriety of an individual involved in litigation being out with the BLM will be brought forward to the Legislative Committee.
Tibbitts noted he’s never been invited to go out with the BLM and asked, “How can anyone think that’s proper when an individual is an intervenor in a pending case.”
Another issue being brought to the Legislative Committee is the subject of the BLM’s water filings based on the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and Tibbitts characterized the Mt. Hope Project as a good example in which the BLM says they hold public water reserves on all properties and requiring “mitigation schemes for rights never proven. He noted there are crews out at Fish Creek “as we speak” fixing the Davis pipeline “and doing things counter to the underlying vested claim that the rancher has.” Tibbitts said there is a “big dispute where the BLM is doing things tinkering with waters they don’t have a right to” claiming vested rights based on Guadalupe Hidalgo in Diamond Valley where “they filed on dozens of rights based on these two things” which is impacting the adjudication process taking place in the State and which can be very expensive filing to see if the claims meet the standard.
Tibbitts will also be asking for the Committee’s help in reminding the federal agency to meet their obligation to coordinate and will also be asking the Committee to help push on the RS2477 validation process and to provide funding to do that.
Eureka County Commissioners approved:
• Expenditures of $287,625.01;
• Signing clinical services contract with Nevada Health Centers, Inc., for Fiscal Year 2016-2017, in the amount of $717,000.00;
• Adopting Resolution providing for the addition of Eureka County as a member of the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority and agreeing to the Interlocal Agreement with Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority, revised on July 6, 2016, to reflect inclusion of Eureka County (Note: This agreement is between Elko County, Lander County, Eureka County, City of Carlin, City of Elko, City of Wells, and City of West Wendover);
• Waiving the Hiring Freeze to authorize filling the casual Kitchen Aide position at Fannie Komp Senior Center in Crescent Valley;
• A four year Lease Agreement between Eureka County and the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education, on behalf of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, for 447 usable square feet of office space located at the Eureka County Administrative Facility for a monthly fee of $1.25 per square foot, and upon review by the District Attorney and Public Works Director authorize signing of the Lease Agreement outside of the meeting,
• Signing Seventh Judicial District Court Cooperative Agreement for Fiscal Year 2016-2017;