By Lisa J. Wolf

Eureka Sentinel Correspondent

COMMISSIONER UPDATE REPORTS

Chairman Goicoechea has had several meetings with the district attorney and staff. On the 8th and 9th he attended the well-attended Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting in Elko. Chairman Goicoechea praised the citizens for their respectful testimony. On the 9th, he toured with the BLM areas south of Eureka that impact permittees where wild horses are dying of thirst due to overpopulation and lack of resources. Once the BLM was notified on the 8th, the BLM is hauling water and scheduling emergency removal of horses. On the 19th, Goicoechea was in and out of the Groundwater Management meeting.

Commissioner Etchegaray attended the AG’s tour on the night of Sept. 6.

Commissioner Sharkozy was on vacation.

AMBULANCE & EMS

Emergency Medical Coordinator, Mike Sullivan, said since last report, Eureka had 8 calls for service and Crescent Valley, 7, bringing Eureka to a total of 97 and Crescent Valley to 42 for the year-to-date which is 1 under in Eureka and 3 down in Crescent Valley compared to last year and active volunteer staffing remained stable.  Continuing Education will take place Sept. 26 and in Crescent Valley on Sept. 29.  The Image Trend Electronic Software was implemented September 1st and has been working well.

Sullivan reported that the Crescent Valley Town Hall emergency helicopter landing zone is no longer being used due to difficulties for emergency craft landing there; and a new landing zone adjacent to the County road shop has been selected. Patients at the Clinic needing transport will be taken by ambulance to the new landing zone.   There will be a wind sock and marking of the new landing zone. The Crescent Valley airport is not suitable as it is overgrown and when the helicopter lands there is a brown out from dust and the pilot loses ground visibility.

Crescent Valley emergency responders requested improvements to the Crescent Valley Airport to allow for helicopter landing and takeoffs for medical emergencies but the Crescent Valley Airport is not owned by the County, but is under a Recreational & Public Purposes Lease from the BLM. Also, due to its proximity to other airports, the Crescent Valley Airport does not qualify for Federal Aviation Administration grants for improvements and/or maintenance. Barbara Dugan said she’d like to see improvements made to the airport and get it up to where it could be used and the Commission will look into what is possible in terms of fencing the airport.

COUNTY PHONE SYSTEM NEEDS REPLACEMENT

In discussing the status of the County phone system and results of the phone system health scan, Mike Mears let the Commissioners know that the call manager died and the County is on a back-up unit and are looking at implementation of an entirely new phone system. Mears said, “Essentially we’re going to have to start from scratch.” While $60,000 was approved they’re now looking at over $75,867 coming out of the Tech Fund.  Mears said the majority of the cost is labor in configuring the system. “Once this is in place we should be good for another five to seven years.” The Commission approved spending up to $80,000 of the Assessor’s Tech Fund for phone system replacement. Approximately 80 hand-sets will be changed out and Mears will see what else needs to be done “down the road.”

EUREKA COUNTY FAIR BOARD

The Fair Board reported expenses were down for the year with $78,979 spent this year as compared to $91,752 last year by decreasing payouts on team branding by 30 percent, a decrease in paid kids’ activities, hay was donated, revenue was $300 more than the year before with revenue of $30,000.  As the Fair Board Secretary can no longer work over the 19 hours a week limit, the Fair Board inquired as to whether they could have the Secretary work on a contract basis and were told to “crunch their numbers” and bring something to the Commission on October 21st in that regard.

PUBLIC WORKS

Public Works Director, Ron Damele reported all utility systems are up and running with no issues and he related that the EPA should be wrapped up by Oct. 4 for the year and the EPA will be coming to a meeting in October to give an update on their expectations for next year.  Sept. 13, Damele and Raymond Hodson met with Hoss Disposal in Winnemucca where they worked out “contract interpretations and correct address for payments.” Alpine Lock is in town doing lock and bolt maintenance. There was a video production crew in town filming during the Commission meeting which had to do with Pam Borda of the Northern Nevada Regional Development Authority taking video in Eureka and Diamond Valley and interviewing people for an Economic Development video highlighting Eureka County.

GENERAL FUND BALANCE

Clerk/Treasurer Bev Conley reported the County General Fund began the month with $13,832,524 and had revenue of $1,864,007 mostly due to real property; saw disbursements of $801,939 leaving an ending General Fund balance of $14,895,192.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Natural Resource Manager, Jake Tibbitts related the Gold Rock Final EIS is expected soon. On Sept. 8, he also attended the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting.

On Saturday, Sept. 10, Gary McCuin and Jake Tibbitts took Steve Norris, Director of  the Wildlife Society and a past Colorado Board member for the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board on a tour of wild horse areas. Sept. 12, the Groundwater Management Plan Advisory Board met to tie up loose ends on the  Groundwater Management Plan. On the 13th, the Eureka Conservation District met and approved the $5,000 contribution for the Renewable Energy Feasibility Study. On the 16th, the Central Nevada Regional Water Authority meeting was held and Tibbitts attended vitually and gave an update on curtailment issues in Diamond Valley. On the 19th, the Groundwater Management Plan group met and worked through issues related to vested water rights to ensure no impairment of vested rights. NRAC will meet on Sept. 28. On the 29th, Tibbitts will attend an NDF meeting where they’re redoing their plan and want stakeholders to participate. On the 6th, the Naval Air Station scoping meeting will take place at the elementary school in Eureka. On the 6th, the BLM is holding a targeted grazing workshop for cheatgrass management.

On the topic of sage grouse, Tibbitts related there was a Washington Post article published that asks why sage grouse hens hatched 862 chicks and in two months 700 were dead and specifically identify “mines and hordes of grazing livestock let loose by ranchers that trample the landscape that once supported birds.” Tibbitts noted the article is “loaded with disinformation” and “buried in the article it says “the farther away from the breeding leks the hens flew the chicks had a better chance” which was due to predation although the article identifies mining and grazing as the reason why. Tibbitts said there are “folks working on a piece to counter this.”  Tibbitts noted sage grouse “do have cycical population patterns” and “don’t have great increases or decreases” and have large broods in which “one or two survive. That’s the biology of what happens.” Chairman Goicoechea pointed out the Washington Post article didn’t mention the increase in ravens that prey on the birds; and Tibbitts noted NDOW has said there have been major increases in sage grouse population and Goicoechea agreed that NDOW said “this is another positive year for the sage grouse population.”

Regarding wild horse issues in or affecting Eureka County, Tibbitts also attended the Advisory Board meeting which “made some very difficult recommendations” which advisory board members have received a lot of heat over.” The Advisory Board advised the BLM to use all appropriate tools” and “made specific recommendation for horses that are unadoptable” to “sell or humanely euthanize them” which is what the Wild Horse & Burro Act says to do. The BLM immediately after said they are not going to follow that recommendation. Tibbitts wrote a letter thanking them and supporting their recommendations and “pointing out we agree with that and even though the BLM did not take those recommendations” they “did not fall on deaf ears” and that there are people in Congress and “not a bunch of ranchers” but there are “wild life biologists, and people with a lot of experience on humane management of animals” who “made careful deliberation” and supports the “members who made the recommendations.” A copy will be sent to the Nevada congressional delegation.  Chairman Goicoechea will meet on the 28th with the group in Elko where an outlet is being sought for the additional horses.

Eureka County Commissioners approved:

Cancelling the commission meeting on Nov. 21 and setting the meeting on Nov. 17 to canvass the vote and conduct regular business and cancelling the October 20th Commission meeting and rescheduling to Oct. 21;

A one-year contract extension with Dale C. Bugenig, Consulting Hydrogeologist, LLC, in an amount not to exceed $80,000.00;

Expenditures of $514,485.41 including Yucca Mountain expenditures of $79.95;

A capital outlay purchase for a new online document management system with Precision Document Imaging, not to exceed $49,210.80 which will include countywide document index and retrieval and will replace the existing program;

Approve a hiring freeze waiver and provide authorization to replace the Public Works Administrative Assistant I position due to resignation;

A hiring freeze waiver and authorization to hire a Dispatcher due to resignation of another position and redistribution of duties which will not result in an additional employee for the Sheriff’s Office;

Offering a flu and pneumonia shot clinic for County employees and dependents in Eureka on Oct. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to be conducted by Northern Nevada Medical Group Immunization Clinic;

The resignation of Maureen Torres from the Health Insurance Committee;

Approving David Hicks as the Sheriff’s Office representative on the Health Insurance Committee.