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Commissioners Update for 11/30

Nov. 30 Business Meeting

Josephine County Commissioners approved a hemp-growing moratorium which will last until the end of next year. Amanda Metzger, chair of the Cannabis Advisory Committee, said they recommended this action be taken for three reasons: 1 – While the sheriff’s department and code enforcement have been doing a great job bringing down illegal grows, adding any new hemp licenses “where they can go and hide” would just be an extra burden. 2 – ODA (Oregon Department of Agriculture) hasn’t made any rules or regulations about unregulated hemp pollen. That’s where you see cross pollination of hemp and marijuana called “ditch weed,” Metzger explained. It’s a detriment to Josephine County to have that flying around, she said. 3 – Water. We in Josephine County do not have aquifers or surface water that would allow for the mass cultivation of hemp where they’re allowed to grow. For these three reasons the Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend the moratorium she said.

Commissioners agreed and voted unanimously for the moratorium.

Other than that, the approval of some changes in the Transportation Plan and the approval of the consent calendar the board didn’t have much else to do. Commissioner Dan DeYoung addressed some concerns Judy Ahrens had but since the microphone wasn’t working anyone not in the room during the meeting couldn’t tell what she had to say.

Dec. 1 Administrative Workshop

Updates to the Community Development ordinance submitted for approval in November but rejected by Commissioners after a man complained fencing requirements were too strict was brought back to Commissioners for approval without the fencing portion. That man will be working with the Community Development Department to work out something to add later, said James Black from that department. The fencing requirement concerned traffic visibility around solid fencing. The complaint was that the setback requirement was too far back, limiting the property owner’s use of his land.

Forester Dave Streeter told Commissioners South Coast Lumber wants to buy recoverable logs off property the county owns in the Rum Creek Fire area and asked Commissioners to sign off on an agreement for the sale. Baertschiger noted that timber may go down as housing “takes a dip.”

Commissioners heard an update from the Broadband Action Team, which expects to get a “chunk” of the $400 million in federal dollars designated to improve broadband connections in rural areas. They are working to keep the emphasis on “rural” as intended and are developing priorities which will include connections for rural libraries, schools, homeowners and emergency response. Two people representing the Team said they didn’t know how much of the $400 million their group will receive and didn’t talk about a timeline for actually getting broadband out. Right now they are working with state Rep. Pam Marsh and others to prioritize projects and make sure this area gets its fair share of the grant money. Commissioner Darin Fowler, who has been working with the Team, said he will stay on as a member after his Commissioner’s term is up. He declined to run for another Commission term so John West will be taking his seat in January.

Commissioners made it official. Fairgrounds Director Tamra Martin is no longer the temporary Parks Director. She will now be the Fairgrounds/Parks Director with a salary increase. Combining departments is similar to what the county did when the Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement departments were consolidated into the Community Development Department said Personnel Director JJ Scofield. Martin will be assisted by mid-level supervisors who will also get salary increases, he said. Although the county won’t actually save much money by giving Martin both jobs Baertschiger pointed out “with efficiency comes some savings.” Martin said she is re-applying for the grant that would allow the county to finish its work turning camping sites into RV sites in Whitehorse Park. Commissioners also approved a prevention outreach coordinator for Juvenile Justice, which is financed by a grant.