Ron Damele, Public Works Director, reported the Planning Commission approved the parcel map for the Catholic Cemetary. The final map is being prepared and he hopes it can get signed which will require a public hearing because the cemetery is being granted 2 plus acres. Damele reported utility systems are working well and they are upgrading service to two of the wells in Crescent Valley to be completed in the next couple of months, putting better filtration on the devices. The meeting with the County Engineer has been scheduled to January 24 to update the County Road Plan. Visitors to the Opera House and Museum and Pool have been steady.
CLERK & TREASURER
Clerk/Treasurer Bev Conley reported the County had $15,138,320 in the General Fund at the end of the year, saw December revenue 2,321,282, disbursements of $804,912 to leave an ending General Fund Balance of $16,154,189.
Mike Sullivan, EMS Coordinator, reported since December 20th, there have been six calls for service with four in Eureka and two in Crescent Valley. Sullivan said there has been a “fairly steady decline since 2013” related to population and activity and weather that can’t be predicted. The Eureka Volunteer EMS Service has 5 advanced EMTs, 3 EMTs, 3 Drivers, with 6 Volunteers out of the area who will come on calls. Crescent Valley staffing remains low with 1 advanced EMT, 1 EMT and 1 Driver. Continuing Education class in Eureka is on January 30 and in Crescent Valley on January 26. December 30, Sullivan drove to Carson City to turn in new applications which are being processed. Sullivan said Christmas and New Years were “thankfully” uneventful. The Project Heartbeat January 9 meeting was cancelled due to flooding in Reno.
Bill Leppala, President of the TV District, came before the Commissioners with the TV District Quarterly Report. He related the TV District tried to enter into negotiations with T-Mobile but decided at their last meeting “to let them come to us.” $15,000 was invested to send Channel 10 from Prospect Peak over the air to a network fed signal. The TV District is preparing for when they quit using the microwave system in the north end of the state and approved advertising for a firm or consultant to assist with planning and licensing in dealing with the FCC. Leppala said some channels could be lost at some point. KUNR radio on Tank Hill was supposed to come back in service. Leppala attended a meeting in Elko with Humboldt County TV group to discuss elimination of microwave and the possibility of broadcasting over the air by microwave from Elko to Eureka. The TV District has started budgeting.
MEDX AIRONE LLC IS
Joel Hochhalter, President & Managing Member, of MEDX AIRONE, LLC, told the Commission, the company formed “with the plan to create a model not happening anywhere else in the country.” Familiar with the cost of air medical transport, and in the business for 25 years and finding the cost to patient’s “ridiculous,” he decided to work on a model to change “the face of what this is all about.” When they opened in Winnemucca it was a test for “our model: will it work? We have proven that it works.” The model involved utilizing and partnering with the community and the hospital, utilizing their staff and “bringing continuity of care” so you see the same providers in the ER and during transport and “starting to build a comfort level with who you’re working with” and patients are “seeing the same people” so “people build a rapport.”
While membership programs have “been around a long time,” what makes MEDX AIRONE different is their program is not for a line of profit but is “surrounded around the patient.” When they place a helicopter, promise from the hospital and community will support us and they’re building support in surrounding counties of the membership program. Hochhalter reiterated they built “a system that puts the patient first and that is our goal is taking care of the patient and providing the best and quickest optimal care” and not on how much margin they can make.
Hochhalter and his wife own the business which has “gotten a lot of national attention” and he doesn’t “need a 52% margin to survive.” In the year they were in operation in Winnemucca they received 349 requests for air transport but because of weather they weren’t able to answer all the calls and 257 transports were completed with 6 from folks outside of the member counties. Pershing, Humboldt, Lander and now Elko have purchased membership and Hochhalter related that “folks from member counties have not sent out one bill” and “not one patient Lhas received a bill” including ten patients with no insurance who didn’t get one either. MEDXAIRONE has gotten support from NNRH in Elko and recently signed a reciprocity agreement with American MedFlight which provides fixed-wing service which means all their members are covered under MEDXAIRONE.
Air Medical Resource Group out of Utah has approximately 67 bases across the country and if the Commission purchases membership for Eureka County and are in Hawaii you’d get flown over to the trauma center in Honoloulu and would be covered because you live in Eureka County. A Northern Nevada EMS Consortium, a non-profit organization has been formed with the end goal to attempt to try to get a functional ground services system in northern Nevada. Instead of coming to individuals, the Consortium has a lot of mines that want to be involved and make donations to the Consortium to pay for the memberships to all the northern Nevada counties would come from donations from different entities who can donate $10 or $100,000. The by-laws of the non-profit require the balance in the “check-book at the end of the year has to be zero” other than funds for children’s transport. Hochholter reiterated the “ultimate goal is that people aren’t going to get these stupid crazy air ambulances bills.”
The Consortium is going to “get busy raising funds” and “will have a board” that could include the “higher ranks from Newmont and Barrick” and other mines.
Hochhalter figured Eureka County as having 929 households and at a $2 per household membership cost, the County would pay $1859 to cover all residents. No permanent resident of Eureka County will receive a bill. They will audit yearly and adjust fees to remain compliant with CMS. Medicaid and Medicare and the available insurance will be billed and they’ll “take what they pay us as payment in full. “ They have to audit themselves to remain compliant because they can’t give the service away or offer it for free and can’t sell it at the bedside but have to show they are attempting to break even and bring in more funds on the membership program than they write off on Medicare. “If I bring in $5,000 in membership and I write off $5,500, I need to adjust my membership” cost so membership fees are higher than what is being written off to Medicare.
They just finished their first year and “we didn’t have a lot but nonetheless we did the audit and we were $408 underneath which Medicare is not going to come and say ‘okay we’re going to fine you for that’” but will “look and see ‘what did you do about it?’; well we increased our membership rates over the next year.”
Hochhalter didn’t “like where the industry is going” and with costs “out of control right now,” they’re doing “our part to get it back in control.” The Commission approved membership.
John Sherve, Field Manager for the BLM’s Mt. Lewis Field Office/Battle Mountain District spoke on key projects starting with the mining program. The BM District has the largest mining program in nation, dealing with some of the largest most complex projects in the world. Barrick has an EIS expected in summer with most of the project in Lander County, expanding into the Cortez Range into Eureka County. The expansion will add 12 years to the life of the project and while not creating new jobs, it will maintain 1250 jobs on site right now. Sherve said McCuin’s Gold Bar project is the “highest priority for our District to push along” with the Draft EIS to be issued in early February. If can happen sooner than that even better. The mine has a projected five year life.
The Federal Register notice process means decisions are “usually held up in Washington” and with the new Administration it’s not clear how the process will be handled. Sherve said “McCuinn’s doing a good job” but with the new Administration there are “too many questions on how it’s going to be handled.”
Sherve discussed the Eureka Moly Mt. Hope Project’s receiving a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion that “overall affirmed our decision” but requires the BLM to “go back and look at air resources” and water issues so the BLM will “go back and look at that in a Supplemental EIS in which the County will be engaged as a cooperating agency.
Turning to grazing management., Sherve related that “this last year we’ve lifted all of our grazing decisions” and beginning March 1st there will be no grazing decisions on the books; however Sherve said a number of permittees volunteered to continue with stipulations for another year.. Sherve said at the state level, the state permit renewal team is looking at higher priority allotments such as the Argenta allotment and at permit renewals in sage grouse focal areas. There have been meetings in Austin and Eureka with permittees and they will continue working with permittees through February.
Regarding wild horses and burros, currently their most recent census puts AML [Appropriate Management Level] at 200%. Sherve said, “Our AML for the District is 3000 AMLs, and we’re right around 6000. Overall compared to other Districts we’re in good shape but we’d like to find ways to keep those numbers down at AML.” Sherve said they’re under court order to gather in Nye County but “outside of that we have no funding at all for gathers in our District” with priorities set by Washington and the state office. Sherve said, “We are poised to do gathers” but “need okays and money to go forward with that.” They’ll be moving forward with Rocky Hills and fertility control on that and the Fish Creek NEPA is finished and once Washington and the State Office agree to gathers and fertility control on Fish Creek they can move forward.
Goicoechea asked what rights of way on 3 Bar and Roberts Creek roads the BLM would be “looking for” and Sherve said access would be authorized through mining federal actions rather than rights of way.
Questioned about the BLM’s role in the Diamond Valley water adjudication process, Sherve said they “did not engage the state water engineer,” rather the State Engineer “needed additional information from us” and the BLM had to go out and collect data on water related to the public water reserves and other filings the BLM had. Sherve noted the emphasis was from the State Water Engineer’s office and they didn’t file any more but just provided more information on the ones that had been previously submitted.
Regarding the BLM Roadside Fuel Breaks Project, Vaughn Cook, Fuels Manager related that the BLM is working with the counties, private landowners, state and other federal agencies for strategizing fuel break construction with the Final EA to be available for public comment within the month. The Plan is to work with counties and private land owners, mining interests and commercial interests to get treatments put together. The fuels breaks are planned to be 300 feet wide on both sides of a road and uses multiple methods to modify fuel arrangement and loading to reduce the severity and costs of future wildland fires in the area by reducing hazardous fuels and providing for a safer fire suppression environment, and to provide links with natural fuel breaks in adjacent areas to protect community infrastructure; to protect important wildlife habitat from devastating wildland fire effects; and to protect herd management areas.
The BLM did fuel assessments around Austin last year and found record high cheat grass around town and they went in and did fuel break mowing. The BLM plans to expand operations to cover more rural areas using chainsaws, mowers, masticators to make 20 to 60 foot individual strips with the overall width depending on fuel conditions and cutting down to about 6 inches.
Cook said Lander County has areas that have come back as cheat grass monocultures and the BLM is looking at discing and herbicide so when the next fire happens they’ll have some sort of green strip to compartmentalize and keep it small as opposed to 200,000 acres. Treatment strips will be 20 to 100 feet wide and the BLM is considering pre-emergent herbicides. Cook said targeted grazing may require temporary fencing, water troughs, continuous oversight and intensely managed timing.
Seeding to be done by treatment drill or broadcast seeding will be 20 to 100 feet wide with seed mixes determined on a site-specific basis, based on ecological site descriptions. Non native species may include forage kochia, crested wheatgrass; activity fuel disposal, biomass utilization, pile burning, and in some cases shredded woodchips will be left on the ground to maintain moisture in the soil.
There are piles scheduled for burning for which the public can go buy a bio permit and collect.
The BLM is coordinating with stakeholders, NDOW, County, private, industry) to extend or improve existing and planned fuel breaks; infrastructure protection, and hazardous fuel loading. Cooperative cost share agreements can be requested for treatment to create green strips and the BLM may be able to provide funding for seed.
After blading occurs the BLM will go out and monitor. It is most cost-effective for the BLM to use right of ways and if they go outside right of ways they have to get permits from NDOT which requires spending a lot of money doing clearances. They are looking at a 44 mile stretch along Hwy. 50, the 3 Bars and JD Ranch roads and others and potentially doing treatment on the narrows on 305.
Eureka County Commissioners approved:
Amending 2014 EUREKA COUNTY CODE, by adding a new title, TITLE 18, CLERK RECORDER, to institute the will of the voters on local Advisory Question One in the 2016 General Election, and propose the Ordinance as presented;
Amending 2014 EUREKA COUNTY CODE, by adding a new title, TITLE 19, TREASURER, to institute the will of the voters on local Advisory Question Two in the 2016 General Election, and propose the Ordinance as presented;
Amending 2014 EUREKA COUNTY CODE, TITLE 2, CHAPTER 10, SECTION .030 MEETINGS, to update the requirements surrounding quarterly meetings, and propose the Ordinance as presented;
Set the public hearing date and time for February 21st at 11:30 a.m. to consider adoption of said Ordinances;
Acceptance of letter of resignation from Michael Mears as supervisor for Eureka Activities Program and program casual employee;
Ratifying appointment of Ron Damele as supervisor for Eureka Activities Program and program employees;
A request to transfer monies, totaling $9,000.00, to Eureka Restoration Enterprise for use in the Nevada State Old Time Fiddlers Contest with ratification to come from the Rec Board with receipts to be turned in and extra monies to be returned (These funds were originally granted to the Eureka Activities Program from the Recreation Board for the Nevada Old Time Fiddlers Contest scheduled at the Eureka Opera House in May 2017);
A hiring Freeze Waiver Justification and authorize hiring full-time Justice Court Deputy Clerk;
Classifying EMS volunteers as safety sensitive positions (per motion of the Board in 2011), and confirm that this qualifies volunteers for random drug testing effective April 16th;
Draft consent form for random drug testing of EMS staff/volunteers;
Approval of Cooperative Fire Protection Agreement between Eureka County Fire Protection District and USDA Forest Service, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, and USDI Bureau of Land Management;
Approval of 2017 Annual Operating Plan for Cooperative Fire Protection Agreement; Certification of expenditure of Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act Title III funds for Calendar Year 2016;
Sending letter of support for “Historical Routes Preservation Act,” H.R. 4313 and S. 3334.