SCHWEBLE TO BE OVERSEEING COURT IN CRESCENT VALLEY
As the Commission began its Public Hearing to invite public comments and take action on a proposed ordinance amending the 2014 Eureka County Code, Title 16, Eureka County Justice Courts to establish one unified Justice Court in Eureka County, a letter from Dawn Gann, sole sitting member of the Crescent Valley Town Advisory Board, was read requesting the Commission consider keeping the court clerk position open. Gann expressed concern over the elimination of County positions in Crescent Valley and its impact on keeping “people in the area.” Gann’s letter said, “Please do not cut more jobs from our area.”
The Sentinel reporter asked the Commission since the Beowawe Justice is an elected position why not simply fill the position and continue with the court as it is and whether the change was simply financially driven. The question was noted but not answered.
“Thank you for your comment,” said Chairman Goicoechea.
Goicoechea stated that the court is continuing although it will be a Eureka County Justice Court with changed borders and continuing representation by a Justice of the Peace “on your days” as the Commission voted to accept the ordinance.
Then the Commission moved to setting the salary pursuant to NRS 4.040(1) for one remaining Justice of the Peace to cover both departments of the unified Justice Court, and to adjusting staff job descriptions and pay as appropriate, and reviewing the number and payments to pro tem Justice(s) of the Peace.
Judge John Schweble began by proposing his 100 percent “absorbing the current Justice of the Peace’s salary” into his own.
Goicoechea noted that Senior Center employees who are covering the Crescent Valley Senior Center with the termination of the Crescent Valley Senior Center Director were given a 5 percent raise and pointed out to Schweble he was asking for a 100 percent raise.
Commissioner Etchegaray agreed with Goicoechea. “It would not be fair to give you more than what we’ve given the other people.” He said, “I can’t force myself to do that.”
Goicoechea pointed out they are talking about “an additional day a week on the north end on Thursday so their court continues to operate” which is “another four days a month.”
Commissioner Sharkozy asked if Schweble’s hours are not increasing.
Schweble noted he will be working “pretty much full time” and “seeing all the prisoners down here.”
Cindy Garcia said that in the past couple of weeks as Judge Fye and Linda Harland, the Clerk, have been preparing to retire, the Eureka staff has been absorbing “phone calls before we were ready to take them” and that they are dealing with “double the amount of cases.”
Goicoehcea asked Schweble his current base salary without benefits.
Schweble said it is “right around $49 or $50,000.”
Goicoechea noted a 20 percent raise would be roughly another $10,000 for Schweble.
Goicoechea asked whether the Court was planning to put a casual clerk in the office in Crescent Valley.
Garcia said they want to have the phone lines in Eureka operating under one case management system and if there were two case management systems they’d be paying two user fees.
District Attorney Beutel said, “It’s always an issue if you have court open and only one person there,” adding that if there was a request to place a casual there, he’d “voice a concern.”
Garcia said the Administrative Office of the Courts has said it’s ‘fine’ to run both the Eureka and Crescent Valley courts through one system and right now they’re working out being able to take payments and Garcia expects that process to be ironed out by July 1.
Sharkozy asked whether a “causal can take that responsibility?”
Garcia said, “No” because the person would have minimal training and there would need to be separation of duties and “we would get hit pretty hard in an audit.” Garcia said, “We’re going to get audited.” Garcia said they’ve agreed to put off the audit until after July 1 and will have to follow minimum County practices.
Sharkozy said, “I’d like to see a casual up there.”
Goicoechea said, “That’s up to this Department.”
Garcia said she thinks it “would be dangerous.”
Goicoechea returned to the topic of adding approximately 20 percent or $10,000 to Schweble’s salary and said it would be up to the Justice how the North End court is run.
Before the matter went to vote, Schweble returned to asking for more money. “The money’s there. It’s not like it wasn’t budgeted.”
Goicoechea said, “I understand it was there.”
Schweble tried negotiating for a 25 percent salary increase.
Goicoechea noted there was a motion for the $10,000. “Times are tight financially; obviously, you know that,” he told Schweble, and said as a conservative-minded commissioner he is trying to limit spending as much as possible and start increasing revenue. “If we can save some; we’ll save some. We can revisit at some point; but that’s my personal thing.”
Regarding job descriptions, Garcia said they’re working the Administrative Office of the Courts to arrange for citations to be automatically downloaded into their system in Eureka with an expectation of double the amount of citations which bring in more money than Eureka citations. Garcia said they’re getting “angrier phone calls taking more of our time.”
One court benefitted employee has gone from a three day week to a four day week and come December she’ll be working five days a week. Garcia said that she and another court employee will alternate going up to Crescent Valley for court Thursdays from 10 a.m to 3 p.m.
While Justice Fye generally saw people for a hearing at the time of arrest, people taken into custody in the North End will be seen by Schweble or the Pro Tem Justice in Eureka.
Garcia noted the address for mailing payments will need to be changed so monies can be mailed directly to Eureka. She expects payments will be accepted at the Crescent Valley office “when we’re there,” noting there’s “no bank there anyway.” The post office box would be the Eureka Justice Courts departments ‘A’ and ‘B.’
Goicoechea asked them to make adjustments to job descriptions as soon as possible. Schweble asked that the court employees who will be travelling to Crescent Valley for court receive 5 percent salary increases.
Currently, the Pro Tem Justice is paid $100 a day although by statute the pay for a Senior Judge is $200. Schweble said, “For $50 a half day it’s hard to find anybody to come in.”
The Pro Tem used by Eureka County is not a Senior Judge but is a Pro Tem for Eureka County only.
Goicoechea asked what the travel policy is?
On the days Schweble is in Crescent Valley, she’ll be in Eureka and vice versa.
Garcia said, “She’s agreed to go, but the pro tem fee was an issue” and if it were raised it would be “more of an incentive for her.”
The Commissioners voted to put the Pro Tem pay to $200 per day and $100 for half a day.
Garcia assured the Commissioners, “We are trying to keep our hours down. We really are” and invited everyone to Judge Fye’s retirement party Friday the 12th.
Jake Tibbitts, Natural Resource Manager, related that SB456 which passed and went to the Governor for signature on June 1. Unless Sandoval vetoes the bill it will become law. Tibbitts said it would be nice to see the Governor’s signature and doubts it will be vetoed.
On the 20th, Tibbitts attended the DNRPCA meeting where the focus was on the petition for curtailment by the Sadler Ranch. Counsel is being brought in on behalf of the DNRPCA and the irrigators. On the 27th, the Pinon Juniper Partnership held their executive meeting in Eureka and worked on details of the the $250,000 grant much of which will go towards work in Eureka County. On the 29th, the contract weed spraying with Apex Pest Control began with 10 to 12 hour days of spraying done over the past week and a half. On the 29th, Tibbitts attended a Nevada Weed Management Conference call with a focus on turning around weed control in the state. Tibbitts is an ex officio member on that. On the 1st, he went to Fallon for the Naval Air Station Joint Land Use Study. Tibbitts said the Department of Defense representatives focused on incompatability between what the Naval Air Station wants to do and made it clear that they hope their recommendations are followed through on by the County. Tibbitts said the recommendations and what they’re asking Eureka County to do need to be focused on. Tibbitts said in the future he’d like to go through the recommendations and maps designated by the military to see what impact on future land use in the County could be. Abby Johnson who also attended recommended a joint workshop with the Planning Commission, Commissioners and public so everyone’s “on the same page.” On the 8th the Central Nevada Elk Plan’s Coordination and Oversight Team is focusing on areas where the plan isn’t working and Eureka County is presently seeing elk moving into the area like in Alpha in Pine Valley.
Tibbitts will outline “our desire to not end up with a Tuscarora situation where you have elk that are in hayfields; elk that are destryong hay stacks” and fences, causing millions of dollars of damage.
Goicoechea said, “You guys think horses are destructive,” noting that elk in the south end of the Rubies have destroyed fences and springs in the Rubies with 7 foot high fences not keeping elk out. “It is a major problem.”
Tibbitts noted the Master Plan calls for no elk north of Highway 50 and plans to make that position clear through the Process and Coordination Team.
Tibbitts reported the pinon juniper cutters have been working and have cut the first 320 acres and the chippers are chipping 300 tons of material to run through the biochar unit.
Tibbitts noted the State Engineer ruled on the change application by McCuin Mining and overruled the protest by General Moly and approved McCuin Mining’s change application
Regarding the status of the County’s appeal of the BLM Fish Creek Herd Management Area wild horse gather and fertility control treatment, Tibbitts reported the BLM received an extension for their response on their Statement of Reasons. Once the statement of reasons is received the County will reply. Wildhorse Education has been granted intervenor status but their Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Accelerate Consideration were denied. The County is awaiting the BLM’s Statement of Reasons to rebut and respond.
Tibbitts noted that May 28th was the date the BLM released the Final Greater Sage-Grouse Land Use Plan EIS which triggered what the BLM is calling a protest period although NEPA talks about it being a review period rather than a protest period. Tibbitts said the BLM is “going out of their way to call it a ‘protest period’ that raises it in my mind” that “we need to put something in as a formal protest to ensure we’re holding our standing.” Tibbitts asked the Commission’s approval for him to bring something back to the next meeting for formal review and protest before the end of the protest period. As the Governor completes his 60 day Consistency Review, Tibbitts suggested the Governor be asked for a meeting with Eureka and other counties to talk about inconsistencies.
Goicoechea said the Sagebrush Ecosystem Program tentatively has three council meetings scheduled over the next three weeks to address that.