According to Josephine County Commissioners the big “news” of the week was that they approved a new jet fuel system for the Grants Pass Airport using COVID money. This is part of a plan to upgrade the airport, basically so Travis Boersma can land his new jet there. Commissioners angrily charged the Grants Pass Daily Courier with not printing important news like getting a new fuel tank for the airport while preferring to print “lies” about them instead.
During their Tuesday Legal Update Commissioners heard a rewrite of their changes to the county code allowing the planning department to write citations and fine people for having unpermitted structures on their property. This is precisely targeted at illegal grows with below-code structures and provides for hefty fines of up to $1,000 a day for failing to mitigate a site deemed unlawful. Commissioner Dan DeYoung wanted to make it clear the new rules won’t impact people who might have put in a woodshed or fence without a permit several years ago. He said the planning department will have no resources to allow them to go out looking for permit violations and everything built before Jan. 1, 2016 will be grandfathered in anyway. He said inspections will be based on complaints by neighbors who have been urging the Commission to do something about trashy illegal grows next to their property. Commissioner Darin Fowler asked where the fine money will go. So far it will by default go into the general fund, he was told. Fowler suggested it might be put in a fund to help rehab properties once the illegal growers are chased off. DeYoung said he wants to see these changes voted on and approved soon so all the illegal growers out there who shut down for the season will know what they’ll be up against when they come back next spring.
Commissioners also approved an updated book of rules for the Commission reflecting the necessity for remote meetings.
After getting their business out of the way Commissioners began another session of grousing about the Daily Courier and the anonymous person who reported to OSHA that people weren’t wearing masks in the Commissioners’ offices. Fowler suggested a letter to OSHA explaining “we do wear our masks but take them off at times for speaking or eating and it is not our intention to not wear masks unless behind closed doors. DeYoung suggested if mask wearing was such a burden perhaps the office staff could work from home. Commissioner Herman Baertschiger, who has said he’d stay home rather than wear a mask at the courthouse, said Commissioners have no control over members of the public who come in their offices and suggested IT set up a way to meet with constituents over ZOOM. Because some people live where they have poor internet Fowler suggested they work out some way of providing internet access out in the county courthouse parking lot. DeYoung said, “our role, according to the Courier, is to demand everyone wear a mask.” …..”and get vaccinated,” added Baertschiger which got DeYoung rolling about how much they are doing to tell everyone that vaccines are their own personal choice. Baertschiger said the whole mask issue has been “weaponized” and “abused” by different parties. Fowler said he took an oath to uphold the Constitution but not mandates and DeYoung launched into a breathless dissertation on all the hate emails he’s getting that are so similar he suspects a hate-male campaign against the Commissioners.
Wednesday’s General Session featured the approval of the new jet fueling system at the airport, an above-ground tank which will replace the old below-ground fuel tank they have now. Airport Director Jason Davis also put in a plug for this year’s Airport Day coming up October 16. He said they’ll have a WWII Corsair on display, a car show, booths, events, food and Dutch Bros may fly by with their new aircraft. A forest service helicopter may also appear doing a drop demonstration, he said.
Requests and Comments featured conspiracy-theorists claiming their research shows the vaccinated are all going to die. Judy Hinkle claimed vaccines, in cahoots with 5G microwave towers, are going to turn vaccinated people into programable zombies who give birth to dead babies. Holly Morton called in to say she got the revised code ordinance and wants to redline it before coming in to the Commissioners’ office to show them what she wants in it. Katheryn Austin claimed only those with “spiritual eyes” can really see that vaccines are “the mark of the beast.” A woman named Judy who’s last name wasn’t clear offered her assistance in putting together a plan to use the vaccine promotion money. She said Commissioners must realize many people face challenges to getting vaccinated, such as lack of transportation, not having a medical provider to talk to, too little time to seek out vaccine clinics, they may be handicapped or in foster care. She said basic details, including that vaccinations are free, must be included in mailers the Commission puts out and that our local hospital statistics show vaccines work.
In their rebuttal comments, Fowler claimed if people don’t have a medical provider it’s because they don’t want one. Oregon has very good medical access, he said. Then he complained that doctors are telling people who have had COVID to get vaccinated “even if they’ve had it twice. They still tell them to get the vaccine.” He said he will always come down on the side of American’s “freedom to choose” their medical treatment. Baertschiger said something about how COVID will go down in history while DeYoung took after Holly Morton. She doesn’t want an ordinance to begin with, he said, but the county needs citing authority and “I will take you in my truck to show you what happens with personal property rights,” he said. The ordinance is “pretty rock solid” now and Morton’s redlining won’t be needed, he told her.
In Matters from the Commissioners Baertschiger used the session to air his grievances with the Daily Courier. He read a letter he’s sending to Courier Editor Scott Stoddard which Baertschiger said he probably won’t print.
The letter is available on Wednesday’s Zoom meeting at 55:00)
Baertschiger’s letter ignited a long rant from DeYoung who had an endless list of complaints about the Courier, letters to the editor writers including someone who wrote a letter critical of him four years ago. He lamented that the newspaper is getting under his wife’s skin, and then talked about water molecules, how proud he was as a substitute paper boy when the Courier used to be a pillar and monumental resource for the truth, how drag race people can’t come into America from Canada, how he didn’t take his oath of office for the state and when the paper “slanders one of us you slander all of us.” After his rant he added “Scott Stoddard, you bore me!” He said he appreciated the other commissioners letting him rant because he needed that.
Fowler entered the Courier discussion by saying all the letters to the editor come from the same echo chamber and he knows who they are. He said it’s hard to watching an old dinosaur (the Courier) die and said it’s a failing newspaper that had to take taxpayers money to stay alive. “I don’t take taxpayer money to stay alive in my business,” he said, “It’s hard to watch the paper fail and flail on the way out.”
Thursday’s meeting was about 5 minutes long and involved approving some social services contracts. Afterward Baertschiger said it was nice to see COVID cases going down and the hospital returning to normal but he didn’t say where he got that information.