Boundary County Commission minutes, February 1-2

***Monday, February 1, 2021, at 9:00 a.m., Commissioners met in regular session with Chairman Dan Dinning, Commissioner Wally Cossairt, Commissioner Tim Bertling, Clerk Glenda Poston, and Deputy Clerk Michelle Rohrwasser.

Commissioners gave the opening invocation and said the Pledge of Allegiance.

9:00 a.m., Road and Bridge Department Co-Superintendents Renee Nelson and Randy Morris joined the meeting via conference call to give the department report. A written report was provided. Chairman Dinning asked Ms. Nelson if Road and Bridge could determine costs in relation to employee hours, etc., as it pertains to work associated with the wind storm that occurred on January 13th and then send him that information.

Mr. Morris said Road and Bridge crews are out checking for slick roads and are checking hills and the normal slick areas. Mr. Morris said Road and Bridge will start thinking about road closures due to soft roads, but not immediately. Ms. Nelson said they have an email list in order to notify people of road closures and they will update the Road and Bridge Department webpage. Mr. Morris spoke of being aware of a couple logging operations that are going on so they will check on those.

Ms. Nelson said she doesn’t have any documents for Commissioners to sign for the Riverside Road Improvement Project and she added that she did have a meeting with the first set of landowners and family members. Ms. Nelson asked if there is the possibility of continuing the discussion on this project and signing documents to tomorrow or would it be next week and she explained the matter is still associated with the first landowner. The documents to be signed are the waiver valuation summary and the compensation agreement. Ms. Nelson spoke of working on letters of intent with the other parcel owners.

Commissioner Cossairt moved to authorize the Chairman to sign the letter of intent and the Temporary Construction Easement for the Riverside Road Improvement Project. Commissioner Bertling second. Motion passed unanimously.

Ms. Nelson said she reviewed Commissioners’ files for Eileen Road to see if there was a maintenance agreement, but she did not find one so she notified the City of Moyie Springs and told them the county would like to enter into such an agreement. Ms. Nelson said she worked with County Civil Attorney Tevis Hull on the matter and the county will choose not to have authority over approaches within the city limits of Moyie Springs. Chairman Dinning suggested Ms. Nelson have the City of Moyie Springs draft the first agreement.

Ms. Nelson said she was finally able to speak with someone at Ziply Fiber last week about alleged damage. The representative from Ziply Fiber does not have an invoice for any repairs done or that are going to be done so once Ziply Fiber has an invoice for work, they will have an adjuster get in touch with Road and Bridge. Ms. Nelson commented that it was said this damage might be from the time when Frontier Communication switched to Ziply Fiber.

The call with Ms. Nelson and Mr. Morris ended at 9:12 a.m.

Commissioners took a quick telephone call from County Civil Attorney Tevis Hull to clarify a matter regarding approaches pertaining to the Idaho Transportation Department highway project and the armory parking lot. The call ended at 9:13 a.m.
Commissioner Cossairt moved to approve the minutes of January 18 & 19, 2021. Commissioner Bertling second. Motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Cossairt moved to grant an extension of time to pay year 2020 taxes for parcel #MH65N02E353314A and to accept payments of $50.00 per month starting February 15, 2021, and to pay the tax amount due in full when the property owner receives their tax refund. Commissioner Bertling second. Motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Cossairt moved to grant an extension of time to pay year 2020 taxes for parcel #MHM013000022VA and to accept payments of $50.00 per month starting February 1, 2021. Commissioner Bertling second. Motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Cossairt moved to grant an extension of time to pay year 2020 taxes for parcel #MH61N02E043910A and to accept the tax amount due when the property owner receives their tax refund. Commissioner Bertling second. Motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Cossairt moved to sign the Property Tax Cancellation Form for tax year 2020 for parcel #RPB0440001007AA and to cancel $10.34 in late fees as there was an issue involving the drop box used for tax payments and the payment wasn’t found for some time. Commissioner Bertling second. Motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Cossairt moved to sign the Contractor’s Application for Payment No. 3 totaling $45,893.35 for the Boundary County Airport Snow Removal Equipment Building. Commissioner Bertling second. Motion passed unanimously.

Commissioner Cossairt moved to sign the engagement letter to Leonard Schulte pertaining to the county audit. Commissioner Bertling second. Motion passed unanimously.

Chairman Dinning stated that Commissioners received notice of Bonners Ferry Family Medicine’s intention to renew the contract for jail medical services so Commissioners will draft an addendum to this contract to be signed next week.

9:00 a.m., County Civil Attorney Tevis Hull contacted Commissioners via conference call.

Commissioners asked Attorney Hull if he had reviewed the agreement between the United States Forest Service and the Sheriff’s Office. Attorney Hull said he had not so Commissioners will send him a copy of the agreement to review.

Commissioner Cossairt moved to sign the renewal of the United States Forest Service Memorandum of Understanding with the Sheriff’s Office and Exhibit A, Cooperative Law Enforcement Annual Operating Plan and Financial Plan for a two year period, upon review and approval of the county civil attorney. Commissioner Bertling second. Motion passed unanimously.

9:38 a.m., Commissioner Cossairt moved to go into executive session pursuant to Idaho Code 74-206(1)b, to consider the evaluation, dismissal or disciplining of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent, or public school student. Commissioner Bertling second. Commissioners voted as follows: Chairman Dinning “aye”, Commissioner Cossairt “aye”, and Commissioner Bertling “aye”. Motion passed unanimously.
Attorney Hull ended his call at 9:53 a.m.

The executive session ended at 9:57 a.m. No action was taken.

10:00 a.m., Solid Waste Department Superintendent Claine Skeen joined the meeting via conference call to give his department report.

Mr. Skeen reported that Pacific Steel and Recycling is one-half to three-quarters through baling the metal pile at the landfill and there are still four truck loads to move. Mr. Skeen said his estimated revenue is $80,000.00, which he knows he will meet. Twelve loads have already gone out and Pacific Steel and Recycling are still baling. Mr. Skeen said it might reach 800 tons to be baled. It was asked how much one bale weighs and Mr. Skeen said one bale weighs approximately one ton, but he will verify that with the operator.

Commissioners made mention of receiving a message from a member of the public about the roll off containers being too tall when dumping garbage into them and this person suggested a ramp be placed next to the containers. Commissioners said they will contact this person and mention to them asking for help when they come to the landfill. Commissioner Bertling suggested signage about asking for assistance.

Mr. Skeen said he hasn’t heard back from Panhandle Health District or the Department of Environmental Quality about the landfill’s operation plan so he will contact them later this month. Mr. Skeen said he knows Commissioners are still working with Attorney Hull as to the ability to use landfill closure funds to fund a truck for the landfill.

The call with Mr. Skeen ended at 10:04 a.m.

Commissioners took a short recess until their next meeting at 10:30 a.m.

10:30 a.m., Chief Probation Officer Stacy Brown joined the meeting to give the department report. Ms. Brown reported probation statistics as follows: there are four people in the diversion program with one case pending, 14 juveniles on probation with six new cases pending, 31 adults on misdemeanor probation, and 163 people on unsupervised probation. Ms. Brown explained work involved for those on unsupervised probation. There are two people released on their own recognizance and five people in the drug court program. Ms. Brown stated that her juvenile probation officer has been accepted into the Life Skills Enrichment Academic (LEAP) Program. This is expensive training, but the Probation Office is receiving this training for free. Ms. Brown informed Commissioners that her office sits on the Boundary County Children’s Youth Task Force, which allows them to have input on cases when the parents are on probation.

Ms. Brown said the Probation Office is still being careful as far as COVID-19 precautions. Ms. Brown commented that her office is staying busy.

The meeting with Ms. Brown ended at 10:33 a.m.

10:35 a.m., Bonners Ferry Herald Reporter Victor Martinez and Staff Writer Rose Shababy stopped by Commissioners’ Office. Mr. Martinez said the Bonners Ferry Herald is doing an article about the Idaho Transportation Department and funding, but they haven’t heard back from anyone at the county level. Chairman Dinning explained that Road and Bridge Department Co-Superintendent Renee Nelson has been busy and Commissioners informed her that she could reply to the Bonners Ferry Herald when she is able. It was said Ms. Shababy is looking for information at the county level, such as the ages of local bridges, etc., as the article is about Department of Transportation funding shortfalls. Ms. Shababy said she is looking for information on local projects that are affected.

Mr. Martinez and Ms. Shababy left the meeting at 10:38 a.m.

11:00 a.m., Courthouse Maintenance John Buckley joined the meeting to give the department report.

Mr. Buckley discussed costs associated with repairs to the boiler and he commented that the proposal he was given is a good one. Mr. Buckley explained that the boiler would be shut down and prepared for the company to install the new valves. The boiler is functioning now, even with bad valves, but when the valves are fixed Mr. Buckley said he estimates 10% to 25% better fuel costs. The boiler is 18 years old, according to Mr. Buckley. Chairman Dinning said the boiler was put in place during his first term and he recalls the cost of it being approximately $30,000.00. Mr. Buckley said some of the boiler pipes are many years older. The boiler itself is running great, it’s just some of the internal and external pieces of it that aren’t working properly. Mr. Buckley spoke of how expensive the service calls are for the boiler.

Mr. Buckley said his assistant Tom Joyce has been working some Saturdays and if it works out this Saturday, he and Mr. Joyce will paint the women’s restroom and schedule to get the stalls powder coated. The stalls will get pulled out so people will have to lock the restroom door when they’re using it as it will be an open room during that time.

Mr. Buckley said there is an election coming up on the 9th of March so he needs to build more plexi-glass screens. Clerk Poston and Mr. Buckley discussed election equipment in relation to storage.

The meeting with Mr. Buckley ended at 11:22 a.m.

11:30 a.m., Boundary Economic Development Council (EDC) Director Dennis Weed joined the meeting to update Commissioners on EDC matters and projects.

Mr. Weed said unemployment for Boundary County is fairly close to state levels and it’s lower than Bonner and Kootenai counties. Wages in Boundary County are increasing and in comparison with Kootenai County and Bonner County, Boundary County has the higher wage. Wages are increasing, but property values and housing costs are also increasing. Chairman Dinning asked if Mr. Weed knew the median household wage and Mr. Weed said it was $17.00 per hour some time ago. Some employers are also providing benefits in order to keep their employees, according to Mr. Weed. Land and housing is an issue, but at least wages are going in the right direction.

Mr. Weed informed Commissioners that there is a Career Technical Education (CTE) meeting coming up and he commented that this group is actually setting standards for the state. It will take a while to get the program moving forward, but it is moving in the right direction and will be a help to businesses.

Mr. Weed spoke of the regional sewer feasibility study and he commented that he is going to write a letter to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to ask them to increase the grant for the amount of $16,000.00 as that is what he county is lacking. Clerk Poston said that discussion came up some time ago as well and she asked for clarity on that. Mr. Weed said he had asked to hold off on that until he heard back from DEQ so now he will write a letter to DEQ requesting they increase the grant by $16,000.00 and he will send that information to Clerk Poston as well so she can submit the request through the portal. Mr. Weed said the City of Moyie Springs requested $38,900.00 and when they get those funds, they will write a check to the county. Mr. Weed clarified that he will have the grant increased through DEQ and when they notify him that it’s been done, he will inform Clerk Poston and she can submit the request.

Mr. Weed said there is going to be a second round of the Idaho Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act broadband grant and this time they will give companies more time to use the grant funding. This information might come out after the legislative session, according to Mr. Weed. Chairman Dinning asked if there is a map that shows coverage areas so we can identify the gaps. Mr. Weed said he would like to ask customers of those vendors about what service they’re getting to make sure they’re getting the specified level of service. Projects that were not done the first time around could be completed through this next grant.

Mr. Weed spoke about marketing efforts in the county being done at one point and he mentioned there being a video showing what recreational activities can be done in Boundary County and what there is for local businesses. That video generated approximately 4,000 clicks, but when another company put out information about Boundary County, that number increased to 110,000 clicks. The businesses that posted the videos were Monica Goes and Chad Case & Co. Restaurants could use the business in the spring, according to Mr. Weed. Chairman Dinning asked if we can handle the influx and Mr. Weed said yes. It would be good to have visitors spend money in restaurants and retail shops.

The meeting with Mr. Weed ended at 11:45 a.m.

Commissioners recessed for lunch at 11:50 a.m.

1:30 p.m., Commissioners reconvened for the afternoon session with Chairman Dan Dinning, Commissioner Wally Cossairt, Commissioner Tim Bertling, Clerk Glenda Poston, and Deputy Clerk Michelle Rohrwasser.

1:30 p.m., Commissioners held a public hearing to consider a request submitted by Judy Dirks for a variance to the county’s Road Standards Ordinance. This is Application for Variance #2-2021. Present were: Chairman Dan Dinning, Commissioner Wally Cossairt, Commissioner Tim Bertling, Clerk Glenda Poston, Deputy Clerk Michelle Rohrwasser, and Road and Bridge Department Co-Superintendents Renee Nelson and Randy Morris. No one from the public was present for the hearing or offered to comment that they were on the conference call line. The hearing was recorded.

Chairman Dinning read aloud the hearing procedures. No member cited a conflict of interest, Commissioners opened the hearing. The parcel number for this variance is RP62N02E283741A and the location is Crossport Road with the proposed approach to be west of the approach at 1888 Crossport Road.

The applicant is not present to make a statement. Ms. Nelson provided a staff report and said the applicant completed a request for a variance to the Road Standards Ordinance. The section of the Ordinance that applies is Section 3.3B, which sets 330 feet for the distance from an existing access for an intersection on collector routes. Section 3.3F sets sight distance for new approaches entering collector access roads at a minimum of 300 feet and a minimum sight triangle of 40 feet. The proposed parcel division is a simple application and the permit application is provided as Exhibit 5 for this analysis. The area surrounding the parcel for both zoning designation and land use is rural residential and agriculture. There is a surrounding gravel pit. The variance is for an approach located 660 feet from the existing approach to the west and 270 feet from the existing approach to the east. Ms. Nelson said the average daily traffic count for year 2018 was 597 cars per day and truck hauling estimates are between five to ten trucks per day. A 300 foot sight distance west and east of the proposed approach can be achieved with no obstructions and the sight triangle is good. Ms. Nelson described the area and the road. The geography consists of rural residential housing with agriculture farming land, a commercial gravel pit within three-tenths of a mile, and an all-purpose storage business located on the existing parcel. The road is chip sealed and the speed limit is 35 miles per hour.

Chairman Dinning said we’re looking at the closest distance of 270 feet. Mr. Morris explained where the property line is located in relation to the placement of this new approach. Chairman Dinning said most of the traffic associated with the gravel pit traffic goes to the west. Commissioner Bertling said he’s familiar with this area.

Chairman Dinning said at this point the staff report has been covered and Commissioners have discussed this application and asked questions. Commissioners asked for public comments in favor, uncommitted and opposed to the application. No one from the public was present to provide comment.

Commissioners closed the hearing to further comment and called for a decision. Chairman Dinning asked for a recommendation from Road and Bridge. Ms. Nelson recommended approval of the variance pending approval of the parcel division application. Ms. Nelson said at that time, a record of survey will be done and she commented about wanting to have this approach on the record of survey. Ms. Nelson said it’s a little different if they were to have 800 feet, but since this is a variance she wondered how this should be documented. The Planning and Zoning application number for the Parcel Division, Simple is #21-044, according to Ms. Nelson. Chairman Dinning said if the application for the parcel division is not approved or does not get completed, this variance will be void.

No public comment was received.

Commissioner Cossairt moved to approve the request submitted by Judy Dirks for a road approach that does not meet Boundary County Road Standards Ordinance 2020-2, Section 3.3. with the following conditions: the variance is approved pending approval of Planning and Zoning Application #21-044 for a parcel division, with a record of survey update and the variance approach location shown on the record of survey. Staff is directed to prepare written Findings and Decision. If this parcel division does not occur, the variance will not be granted and the time line given is within one year. Commissioner Bertling second. Motion passed unanimously.

Chairman Dinning stated for the record that if the applicant wishes to appeal Commissioners’ decision, the process is for the applicant to go through the courts.

The hearing ended at 1:45 p.m.

Commissioners tended to administrative duties until their next meeting.

2:15 p.m., University of Idaho Extension Educators Amy Robertson and Kate Painter joined the meeting to update Commissioners on various Extension programs. Ms. Robertson discussed 4H Friday Friends and explained how the program has been able to continue during COVID-19 because they partner with the school district. Ms. Robertson explained that this program has a limit of 20 kids per day so families do need to call in advance. This program did not have an assistant from October to December 2020, so 4H program volunteers provided help, but an assistant has since been hired. 4H Friday Friends has had various community members visit the program.

Ms. Robertson commented that the deadline for 4H was January 10th. Kids can still enroll and participate in the program, but they cannot exhibit at the fair. All 4H projects are volunteer led. The enrollment for 4H is higher this year than the last year with there being 33 kids with market lambs and 30 kids with steers. 4H is sharing a part-time Americorp Member and that is Ashley Guttin. Ms. Robertson spoke of the Science Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) Program.

Ms. Robertson listed various University of Idaho Extension classes for adults to include food preservation and safety, fermentation, water, pressure canning, water bath, cooking under pressure with electric pressure cookers, budgeting for holidays, gifts in a jar, and Ms. Robertson said she’s almost done with the hand washing/hygiene program for the younger school aged kids.

Ms. Robertson spoke of the Idaho Farm Project as a new grant project and it’s a project that works on mental health in rural areas. So far there has been one community conversation meeting last January prior to COVID-19 and then there has been one virtual conversation. The program has a trained staff person and funding is available to provide training as a mental health aid instructor, which is an eight hour course. Ms. Robertson said training includes how to help a person who is having a mental health issue and help them try to walk through it and find help. Class sizes are now limited to approximately eight or nine.

Ms. Painter informed Commissioner Bertling that she is the agriculture educator and she explained various programs she is involved in. Ms. Painter said she has an online farmers market, which is a pilot project and she explained the project and how it coordinates buyers and sellers. Ms. Painter explained how there had already once been an online market, called Six Rivers Market. Grant funds are provided for this new farmers market and there are 13 participants.

Ms. Painter spoke of various projects to include a wreath making class and building up a seed bank every year. Ms. Painter said it’s quite a skill to know how to preserve seeds so they grow, etc., and a lot of seeds were distributed to people in January. Information about the seed bank will be available at the fair as well as the farmers market. Ms. Painter spoke of a national project called Annie’s Project, which is a risk management project for farming women. Talks associated with this program include suicide prevention as risk management, insurance, marketing, risk, etc.

Ms. Painter said she’s in charge of the cereal school this year and it is sponsored by the Wheat and Barley Commission. Ms. Painter spoke of challenges in offering this program virtually and she commented about having 120 people participate virtually. The Master Gardener course started last week and this course consists of 60 hours. The indoor seed starting class is coming up March 3rd.

2:41 p.m., Ms. Robertson left the meeting.

Ms. Painter explained how her Extension duties are divided up into different areas. Ms. Painter provided statistics on various crops in the area. Every five years there is a census for agriculture and Boundary County has fewer farms, but the average size of the farms remains constant at approximately 200 acres. There are few large farms and there are 16 farms with over 1,000 acres. A person won’t see wheat and barley on farms consisting of smaller acreage. Boundary County has relatively few commercial size farms. Ms. Painter provided farm related statistics for year 2019 for Boundary County and she said there are a few large producers who account for revenues. Ms. Painter added that she is fortunate enough to have University of Idaho variety farms on the Houck Farms property.

Ms. Painter informed Commissioners that she had worked in the Palouse for years before coming to this area and she explained the difference in the soil types between the two areas. Ms. Painter commented that when the valley floods it brings up lime and alkaline.

Ms. Painter said there are many local small farms growing hay. North Idaho Forage and Grazing School is a course Ms. Painter has started and she mentioned having had 25 growers involved.

Ms. Painter said she had rescheduled a workshop course for this year pertaining to regenerative ranching and grazing and she explained the process of moving animals to new spot to graze and only bringing them back to certain area to graze two times so the grass can grow better. Ms. Painter also commented on working in the local food system and one way is having an online presence and to connect buyers and sellers. Ms. Painter explained what is involved with hay school, issues with white rot, and the free garden project.

The meeting with Ms. Painter ended at 3:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m., Commissioners continued their public hearing on the Dayton Skrivseth’s request for a variance to the Boundary County Road Standards Ordinance. Present were: Chairman Dan Dinning, Commissioner Wally Cossairt, Commissioner Tim Bertling, Clerk Glenda Poston, Deputy Clerk Michelle Rohrwasser, and Clint Roney. Participating in the hearing via conference call was Rachel Steel and Applicant Dayton Skrivseth. The hearing was recorded.

Chairman Dinning stated for the record that Commissioners had been advised by their County Civil Attorney to cancel this hearing for a variance and to make no decision. Chairman Dinning informed Mr. Skrivseth that he will be receiving a letter from County Planning and Zoning Administrator Clare Marley that will explain the situation to him. Commissioners closed the hearing with no decision made.

The public hearing ended at 3:02 p.m.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 3:10 p.m.

DAN R. DINNING, Chairman

By: Michelle Rohrwasser, Deputy Clerk