Talon News - Good Local News



December 14, 2018

by David Edward Albright, TALON

The December 4, 2018 San Juan County Commission Meeting began with a presentation to the father of local---now national celebrity singer (The Voice)---Chevel Shepherd. Chairman Pro Tem Jack Fortner read the Proclaimation to establish Chevel Shepherd Day, stating, “Whereas the performance of Chevel Shepherd helps cast San Juan County in a positive light...the board wishes (her) continued support through this competition and… all citizens of (the county) are encouraged to vote for her---as many times as are permitted.” Spontaneous laughter erupted from the audience. The board looks forward to announcing the actual Chevel Shepherd Day upon her victory. After photos, Mr. Shepherd said as he was leaving, “I really appreciate it that you guys pray and say the pledge of allegiance---I never knew that happened in a place like this...I’m going to let everybody know---it’s really cool. You guys have a blessed day.”

After approval of ‘Indigent Hospital Claims’ amounting to $28,990.67 and approval of the ‘Consent Agenda’, six ‘New Business’ items were considered. Fran Fillerup, Public Works Administrator gave a comprehensive powerpoint report on the ‘San Juan County Growth Management Plan 2018 Update’. Topics included: Leadership of those who participated, water, waste water, land use, transportation, hazards, environment, housing and facilities. “The purpose of the plan is...it’s a good practice for an organization,” he said. The intention is to look 20-30 years ahead, but also---what are the steps for the next five, then reevaluate. “It gives access to the County to funding streams...capital improvements and federal and state sources...and gives legal authority to the County for land development. It gives guidance and sets out a vision.” Representatives from City of Kirtland, San Juan College, City of Aztec, BLM, Navajo Nation and Four Corners Economic Development participated in formulation of the plan. Public outreach included survey responses of 500 county residents and a public workshop was held. Major concerns of focus were water resources and management, nuisance uses and hazardous waste storage. Affects of neighbors land use, subdivision standards, road access and family subdividing were also areas which encountered lengthy discussion, Fillerup reported.

Chairman McDaniel thanked Fillerup for his hard work on the committee and Commissioner Crowley echoed that sentiment. Crowley said, “As is the case with public meetings, very few of the public shows up...so it gets to be a difficult task to come up with a consensus (on particular issues).” The board voted to adopt the plan.

CEO Kim Carpenter presented the ‘Boards and Committees Appointments to Valuation Protest Board. He said two qualified real estate brokers, Sam Todd and Ryan Brown, have expressed their willingness to serve on the commission. They were approved by the Commission.

Larry Hathaway, General Services Administrator, reported that the San Juan Water Commission building needed to be re-roofed and that mechanical upgrades were also required. “On October 14 Central Purchasing sent out 133 invitations to bid; we received three.” Spellbring Construction of Farmington was the low-bidder with the complete required bid package. Their bid was $264,155.66 and they were approved by the Commission.

CEO Carpenter covered the ‘December and January Meeting/Event Schedules’. It was determined that the Swearing-In Ceremony for County Sheriff Deputies will be moved to 3:00 pm, January 31, 2018; the first Commission meeting of 2019 will be Thursday, January 3 at 4:00 pm. Carpenter also presented the ‘2019 Holiday Schedule for the County’.

Of the last agenda item, McDaniel said, “This one might be a little tough---the transition plan for the CEO’s office. Our current CEO, Dr. Carpenter, has announced his plans to retire effective December 31, 2018.” Holding her emotions in check by counting , McDaniel thanked Carpenter for his many years (almost 14) of service in the top leadership position. He has one more meeting on December 18 to address the Commission with his departing words.

County Attorney, Don Echols, said, “All we’re doing right now is preparing for January 1st...it is my motion that we then move Mike Stark to the position of County Executive Officer, which I prefer to be called the County Manager.” The terms of his contract were available to the commission and the press---were approved. Addressing the Commission, Mike Stark, current Chief Operating Officer, said, “I look forward to serving the Commission and the citizens in this new role and I really look forward to working with the great team that Dr. Carpenter helped build.”

Jim Cox, Finance Director, reported that the “volitile market” and looking at the areas of “mining, construction and retail...we are significantly lower on construction and mining receipts, therefore causing our reduction in GRT (gross receipts tax). “We have a plan in place where we’ll be able to balance the budget...so we’ll be able to get FY19 corrected---I think it will be a great starting point for FY20. The key with that in our plan is great news---we’re not going to have to touch capital...and same thing with workforce, we’re not going to have to anything with personnel costs.”

During ‘Public Input’, M.P. Schildmeyer, representing LGBT Pride, Inc, said “Recently I was made aware of two teen suicides in the Bloomfield School District, one at the middle school and one at the high school. I have no knowledge of whether any LGBT issues were involved in these two cases, but I did want to inform the Commission of the appalling statistics regarding LGBT teen suicides, especially in light of the mental health initiative that this body is conducting.” Chairman Pro Tem Fortner said they have “taken a major step in meeting with a consultant...and they will do a community assessment needs.” He asked Schildmeyer to be a representative of LGBT on that committee.

Dale Walls asked if the “Commission had taken any formal action on the unified election issue”. County Clerk, Tanya Shelby responded that the “municipalities are not included so they have the option of opting-in...school districts and college districts are automatically included”. Clearly, Mr. Walls was upset about the issue, stating, “so it’s a done deal and there’s nothing to be said about it. That’s the way they do it in a banana republic,” he asserted.

With no closed session the meeting adjourned.


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