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County Commissioners – Week of January 2, 2023

Weekly Business Meeting Jan 4 2023

Commission Chair Herman Baertschiger announced he’s done with trying to fund the Josephine County Sheriff’s Department. At the Jan. 4 Weekly Business Meeting Baertschiger, responding to a question from Libby Watts he said, “I think the Board of Commissioners worked real hard in vetting with county residents. We had open houses. We had all kinds of things. Unfortunately it didn’t pass. So I think the next step that it needs, to be, umm, citizen-driven and not Commissioner driven for it to happen.”

Newly sworn in Commissioner John West had a different view expressed at the end of the meeting. “2023’s gonna be a great year.” We’re gonna fund that sheriff.”

The only business conducted during the Business Meeting was approval for Emergency Services Director Emily Ring to pursue a state Fire Marshall grant to help people establish defensible space around their homes in case of fire. She said the deadline for the application is Jan. 31st. Ring wants to build on a brush-clearing project last year that used contract crews of young adults but West expressed hope she could create jobs for local people with the grant. Vetting and monitoring 15 to 20 people for brush work would take more work than she and her staff can handle at this point, she said, so she preferred to go with the contract crew from a summer program for young adults. They worked for a stipend and amenities, she said. That started a conversation about a new state law that says people have to be paid minimum wage. Commissioners complained the youth crew will have to be paid now, along with prisoners who do any work while in jail.

Baertschiger asked Ring how much money she was applying for and she estimated all the projects she wanted funding for roughly totaled about $90,000. Baertschiger pointed out there is hundreds of thousands of dollars in that Fire Marshall grant and she should go big and ask for a lot more. Ring said the grant funds projects and she was trying not to get so many that she couldn’t keep up. “I don’t want a big pot that will be so unwieldy I can’t deliver on it,” she said. Nevertheless, Commissioners urged her to revise her application to get more money.

There were seven people who spoke at the meeting during Public Comments. Perennial commentor Judy Aherns was called on first, as she usually is. She said she is holding a candlelight vigil Friday on the Courthouse steps. “We have prisoners sitting in crummy cells in DC because of Jan. 6,” she said, inviting others to join her on the anniversary of the Insurrection…. Read the Full Report.

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