NO NEW PAVING PROJECTS
Ron Damele at the RTC meeting stated, “We should not even consider any new pavement until we can get all the existing pavement we have maintained, and we’re not getting it done. Until we can get it done or we can get caught up we should not consider any more new projects; and we might even want to consider a resolution to that effect so we canpublicly state that our focus from here on forward until the economics turns around is maintaining what we have. Because if we can’t maintain what we have we’re going to have to tear it out and I really don’t want to have to do that.”
“We don’t do much maintenance on the pavement in the winter, do we?” asked Commissioner Sharkozy.
Damele said ‘no’ they move snow in the winter and maintain pavement in the summer.
Commissioner Ithurralde participated in a special NACO phone conference in which NACO approved to be a co-plaintiff in a case against the Fish & Wildlife Service seeking an injunction for violation of the Endangered Species Act. American Exploration and Mining Association also joined the suit as well as Oklahoma and Texas.
Chairman Goicoechea reported that on Nov. 7 he attended a natural resource tour with the Department of Agriculture, the Elko BLM District, stakeholders, and Jake Tibbitts looking at range conditions, On the 13th, Goicoechea spoke at the first ever State Governor’s Conference on Agriculture and then travelled to Sacramento to speak at the Western Governor’s Association on a drought panel on impacts to local government and agriculture, without expending Eureka County funds. On the 19th, Goicoechea spoke at NACO and then had a family emergency and travelled to Boise.
On the 20th, Goicoechea had a conference call with the Reason Foundation on the Endangered Species Act and legal updates from the Washington, D.C. area with a lot of talk on the Gunnison Sage Grouse and the Western Prairie Chicken. Then Goicoechea spoke with Ken Halsinger and the Western Energy Alliance regarding the data quality act lawsuit the county is participating in. Goicoechea hopes the lawsuit will show the data is skewed. “We’re very very close to that suit being filed,” Goicoechea said.
On the 3rd, Goicoechea went to Reno to chair the Council workshop on the conservation credit system for the State Sage Grouse Plan which Goicoechea said was “terrible reading” and, after working through the night, language was worked out and the Conservation Credit System handbook and the Habitat Quantification tool approved, the last two pieces of the Nevada State Plan that have to be in place for consideration by the BLM in the EIS process. Goicoechea said the conservation credit system is the first in the nation and while he hopes a listing of the sage grouse can be averted, he hopes everyone can live under a state plan which he said “will work” and believes if the sage grouse is listed there will be litigation.
Regarding the upcoming Nevada legislative session, Goicoechea reported he and Tibbitts put in a request for two Bill Draft Requests including one defining wildlife as those managed by the Nevada Department of Wildlife or Fish and Wildlife Service and also proposed adding that “wildlife purposes” are as defined by the State and Department of Wildlife as well as the addition of language that requires coordination between State and local government plans and policies to ensure that state agencies when implementing in local jurisdictions are aware of local plans and policies and work with the locals to find consistency since currently there is nothing in the statutes requiring that.
YUCCA MOUNTAIN UPDATE
Abby Johnson, Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Advisor, reported that the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, directed by the DC Court of Appeals to proceed with Yucca Mountain licensing despite limited financing, has seen the Safety Evaluation Report’s 3rd chapter completed done by the NRC staff who have been working with the Department of Energy for years to figure out how to comply with rules and so the NRC staff review found that the DOE “had essentially jumped through all those hoops and it was because they had met all those requirements on paper that they had decided the repository will be safe.” Johnson said while some people are saying, ‘Yeah, we know it’s safe’ from initial review of the document, “Now we know the DOE told the N.R.C. what they needed to hear and everything on paper is safe.” Johnson said that doesn’t include the issues of getting the waste to the repository, or the on-ground handling and only addresses once the waste is there. In addition, Johnson pointed out that the NRC “staff is not exactly unbiased” as they have a role in the hearing process and are in a “conflicted role in some respects” since their role “is basically to push nuclear power.”
Johnson said, “This was something the State of Nevada was concerned about” and so had “fought release of the report,” fearful of the consequences of a report released to the public where none of the key parties are able to criticize the document. Johnson said safety depends on the drip shields, curved titanium covers that go over each canister, that are to be in place in the mountain. The shields are to be made of titanium to safeguard against corrosion from water dripping on the canisters. Johnson said the titanium shields being placed 300 years after the waste is in the ground depends on Congress hundreds of years in the future “procuring the money. What could go wrong?” Johnson mocked. Johnson cautioned “as you hear some people jumping up and down” saying ‘the NRC says its safe; let’s go forward’” that there are “questions asked and not answered” with over 2,000 contentions filed. The next document to be released by the NRC is to be a Supplemental EIS. When that document is seen a decision will be made by Johnson advising the County about what to do and how to respond.
Johnson expects there to be more Yucca Mountain activity in 2015 with change at the political level in Washington and Senator Reid in a minority position. Johnson said she is watching and waiting. If the project is revived, she expects the Affected Units of Local Government will push to get funding restored to be able to participate in licensing.
Johnson noted the County’s Yucca Mountain website is getting 100,000 hits a month and remains a “go-to place for Yucca information.” The website will be updated and modernized in 2015 with Rex Massey doing one more year of socio-economic updates for the Socioeconomic report. Johnson asked for focuses for data gathering.
Millie Oram reported the Eureka Senior Center is “getting booked almost every day for Christmas parties because the Opera House is full.” The Center only served 17 days in November for a total of 799, or 47 meals per day while the Crescent Valley Center served 587 meals or 35 a day.
Jayme Halpin, Road Maintenance Equipment Operator III, reported the Road Crew has finished blading in Eureka from 7th street to Hwy. 278; Gold Street between 7th and 9th; 10th West, 1st Street, Frontier; and finished the Sadler Brown road. The Road Crew is approximately half done with Roberts Creek Road. In addition, they have finished mowing at Fish Creek and cleaned cattle guards. The North End crew finished blading Dry Hills, the Rose Ranch and Maiden’s Grave and are working on Maggie Creek and Barth. The Road Crew also finished cleaning up cars from the extrication class at the Lay Down yard and are mobilizing equipment for gravel hauls for Fish Creek and the Spa Road in Crescent Valley. Halpin said all the roads in Diamond Valley will be done before winter.
Public Works Director, Ron Damele, reported that he’s had conversation with the Battle Mountain BLM and that the Roberts Creek Road reroute is now moving forward and Damele expects the grant offer for the right-of-way shortly “in time for us to be able to construct that this spring” or in part this winter. Damele said with the courthouse HVAC plans completed, the preliminary plans went off to peer review by a mechanical engineer whose comments then went back to the original designer for clarification and adjustment. Damele said Building Control Systems will come before the Commission to present the plans and give a run down on exactly what needs to happen and the costs associated with that around budget time.
Damele has been spending time assisting Eureka County fire chiefs in evaluating equipment and supplies. Damele said, “As you know, we have a major budget cut back and each department head and elected official” had the “responsibility to get that budget after the first of July and we did” and together Damele and the chiefs have been coordinating the use of equipment and evaluating “supplies and things of that nature so maybe we don’t have to purchase things.” Damele is hoping the coordination can help the fire stations “save money and be more efficient and effective.”
Damele met with the FAA in Carson City regarding the Eureka Airport. The Eureka Airport qualifies for an ‘entitlement’ of $150,000 which can be rolled over until a project can be built that matches the budget. Damele said the FAA is “happy with how we manage the airport” and are alright with Eureka County rolling over the entitlement monies for a couple of years while working on “maintaining what we have” which means addressing such things as slurry sealing and striping. Damele doesn’t “want to go backwards” since the County and the FAA have “a lot of money invested in that airport.” The FAA supported the approach and Damele said it was good for the FAA people from Phoenix “to put a face to the Eureka airport.”
He said the airport lighting replacement project is substantially complete with real lights on either end of the runway being operationally evaluated over the next 30 days to make sure they’re effective and efficient without affecting the neighborhood negatively.
Dave Slack and Steve Bullock of Legacy Construction discussed the Robins Street resealing project which “went off without a hitch” in a process what they described as “super” working with the County and Lumos engineers. They thanked the Commission and complimented the “great administration staff” who “from top to bottom” were “Johnny-on-the-spot” helping to ensure nobody was ever out of water. They also thanked “the residents for being patient and cooperative” with road closures and power outages. Legacy’s public notifications helped in the process and they received positive feedback and letters from local residents some of whom “had us over for dinner” and “invited us into their homes” which the “guys really appreciate.” Legacy came in under budget and got the job done on time with no reportable incidents.
Commissioner Ithurralde commented it was nice to receive compliments rather than complaints about Legacy.
Natural Resource Manager, Jake Tibbitts reported on Dec. 2 he attended the Nevada Pinon Juniper Partnership executive meeting and related, “We are pursuing putting in for the quarter of a million dollar utilization grant” with a high likelihood of getting it, with most of the money to be spent in direct benefit for Eureka County. On the 3rd he attended the Conservation District meeting. Tibbitts said the responses to the questionnaires were separated by domestic, irrigation or municipal water use and responses were typed word for word including spelling errors. Tibbitts said the summary statistics show that 95 percent of water users are irrigators and nearly 36 percent responded back of which 73% were in support of a designation by the State Engineer.
Tibbitts reported the Central Nevada Regional Water Authority will be holding a joint meeting with the State Land Use Advisory Commission Dec. 10 to 12 which will be attended by officials from Utah and Arizona to look at statewide water management and programs that have been done addressing long-term water resources. Tibbitts will sit down with State Engineer, Jason King, afterwards and go over the Conservation District survey results.
4H PROGRAM BOOMING
4H Program Assistant, Hallee Wilker, gave the Commission a recap for the year. Wilker reported 2014 saw 23 members in Eureka and 23 in Crescent Valley and 16 from Austin. In addition, the Pine Valley 4H’ers want to move their charter from Elko to Eureka since the members are located in Eureka County. December 19th Wilker will attend the 4H dinner in Pine Valley and Wilker will go and meet everyone. Wilker said before Dr. Steinmann left they put on a garden contest which 7 families from Crescent Valley participated in as well as 1 from Eureka. Wilker said the 4Her’s submitted garden plans and Wilker went out and asked them questions about how they did and what they’d change, Wilker said there were “a lot of discouraged little gardeners this year.” Wilker reported the Fair went well with 18 members showing in the livestock sale and 9 animals sold. In November at the 4H meeting activities included making Christmas ornaments which involved glitter “and if anyone receives any paperwork from me, glitter will come along with it.” In a couple of weeks 4Her’s will be putting gift bags together for the Senior Citizens Center. Wilker said, “That’s where we’re at. The numbers do look good.” Wilker said it was “nerve wracking there for a while. To be completely honest I was wondering, ‘What are we going to do with all these kids?’ It’s been a learning process and it’s been fun.”
Eureka County Commissioners approved:
• Expenditures of $721,008.58 including payroll of $411,512.07 and Yucca Mountain expenditures of $4,479.95;
• Accepting amended job description for Deputy Recorder/Auditor/Human Resources