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Idaho Enterprise

County Commission 7/26


Director Tara Contreras spoke to the commission about the organization she represents, CASA.  CASA is a court appointed special advocacy program which exists to speak in court for the best interests of the children involved in cases.  Advocates are involved in cases and can receive information on the child, and communicate to the judge what they have found.  Many judges find the more detailed information about the needs and situations of children involved in ongoing cases very helpful, as they usually do not have the ability to obtain that information independent of advocacy groups.  Advocates are present in hearings and in communication with judges throughout a wide variety of legal situations in which children are involved.  

Chairman Lewis wanted to know who requests or initiates CASA’s involvement in the cases. Contreras explained that when a child is taken into state care, CASA is notified, though there must be an open child protection case in order for CASA involvement.  Volunteers are from many counties.  Oneida has one volunteer involved in the 6th district.  There were 216 kids involved in 126 cases throughout the sixth district last year, including five cases in Oneida.  There are currently four open cases, involving sixteen minors.  

Robert Phillips 

Phillips spoke to the commission about the cost of a building permit for the enclosure recently approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission.  Rhonda Neal explained that the building fee should be based on the determined nature of the building for the purposes of inspection.  Building Inspector Tory Richardson will potentially work with Robert Bigelow to determine what kind of inspections need to be done going forward.  According to Phillips, modified ag buildings often have phases of inspection.  Chairman Lewis stressed that he wanted the decision made about the building and its inspection to be fair to people who came afterward with similar planning/zoning requests.  Tory Richardson was given the authority to determine the fee for inspection of the building and plans through a motion from Brian Jeppsen which was approved by the commissioners.  

Bob Stokes

Bob Stokes spoke to the commission about the retirement of Gene Caldwell as the VSO (Veterans Service Officer).  VSOs serve an important role in assisting military Veterans, Retirees, and their Next of Kin.  Gene Caldwell, who has served in the capacity of VSO with the American Legion, plans to step down after December.  There are plans underway for Bob Stokes to take over in the position, once the process for an appointment through the county is determined.  The VSO position is a county position, which is funded by the county.  Lon Colton clarified that the proper sequence was for Gene Caldwell to announce his retirement first, then the commission could discuss the replacement for the position.  The Legion has unanimously selected Stokes as the new VSO.  

The reason for the conversation specifically is that yearly training for the VSO position is coming up in Boise, and it was believed that it would be more efficient to have Stokes attend the training, as Caldwell does not plan to.  Because the issue was a discussion, rather than an Action, item on the agenda, it was not possible for the commission to take any action with regard to funding travel reimbursement.  The commission will look into the county’s relationship/responsibility with appointments of the VSO position and make the requisite official moves in the future to officially fill the position.

Weed Department

Cody Clyde spoke to the commission about BLM weed spraying.  Henbane, scotch thistle and other noxious weeds are reported to be quite high on BLM land.  A helicopter will be used from the BLM to tackle the issue.  Chairman Lewis asked whether a plan could be formulated to begin to deal with this problem earlier in future years.  Clyde reported that the BLM will not allow all drone spraying, because some models of drones are partially manufactured in China, which makes them illegal to use.  This applies only to a specific brand, which potentially sends telemetry to China.  Chairman Lewis asked Clyde to study out the best use of money moving forward for the purchase of drones that would avoid this problem.  

 Clyde raised the issue of whether he could contract an hourly worker to take care of weed issues while he is busy with the BLM spraying issue.  The contractor would like to charge $75 an hour, while the current county rate is $65 per hour.  The idea of raising the county rate to match was raised.  The possibility of spending an extra $10 per hour using contingency funding to pay a contractor was discussed.  The overall benefit of having the weeds eliminated was one of the background issues.  A motion to approve Clyde to use a contract weed sprayer and make up the difference of $10/hour for the contract, limited to a total of 50 hours was made and approved.  Putting a policy in place for next year was considered an important step moving forward on the issue.


The sheriff spoke to the commission about an ongoing grant for the 911 system.  $62,533 is the value of the grant, the application for which must be signed off on by the county.  The grant application was approved.  Specifically, the grant is the Idaho Public Safety Communications Commission Dedicated Enhancement Emergency Communications Grant 2024.

The sheriff reported that 3,723 911 calls have been made through the system so far this year.  

The sheriff also raised the issue of 911 mapping in the county.  5 years ago the new 911 system was upgraded to “enhanced, Phase 1.”  At present, the county has moved to “enhanced phase 2.”  The county hired Bonneville Communications for mapping the 911 system.  This attaches addresses directly to the 911 system.  The sheriff mentioned that there is currently an issue with new residential addresses not in every case being migrated from the county offices to Bonneville Communication, resulting in a number of gaps in the mapping coverage.  Chairman Lewis suggested that the sheriff call a meeting with all the people involved—the assessor, building inspector, etc.—to clarify the process and the need for the information.  The issue of addresses associated with parcels, as opposed to completed homes, was raised.  The sheriff reported seeing a lot of “trailers popping up” in the county, which fall into a nebukous area for the purposes of mapping.  

TJ spoke to the commission along with the sheriff about the camera system in the elevator area of the courthouse.  The new camera system would sit alongside the existing older system already in place.  TJ represents a company that sells new camera systems that are cloud based.  The new camera setup would involve a viewing station, outdoor camera, dome style cameras, video intercom, and TV.  The company involved also sells a range of other products TJ thinks the county might be in need of over the next few years, such as panic alarms, access controls, etc.  4 cameras, monitor, intercom, stuff to make it work, plus licensing fees per camera on a yearly basis would come out of the building fund.  Chairman Lewis felt that a one-year commitment to the setup was advised.  Some discounting in license fees is available for additional years of commitment.   A motion to purchase a camera setup for $12,880 was approved.



Chairman Lewis explained that the commission would like an agreement with Richard Bigelow for commercial inspections of buildings in Oneida County.  He has provided work for the county, but not yet been paid.

Cell phone 


Lon Colton has created a reimbursement document for the use of cell phones within departments.  The documents would be required once yearly, in accordance with the fiscal year.  Claims would be submitted to be paid at the end of each quarter during commission meetings.  The county has been working on finalizing its cell phone use/reimbursement policies over the last year.  Rhonda Neal’s cell phone reimbursement form was approved.  


Technologies court settlement

Lumen Technologies disputed their personal property valuation with the state of Idaho and won their suit.  Lumen is a utility that owns three different cell phone towers in the county.  All taxing districts that collected money from Lumen at the original value will be required to reimburse the company.  The county owes the company around $75 dollars by way of refund, with another $25 or so dollars owed by various taxing districts.  The county opted to pay the full amount.  The commissioners voted to approve the payment.

Propane bids

In the past, the county has bid for a company to service all the county tanks for a set annual amount.  Valley Wide has suggested that knowing ahead of time about contracts in order to lock in pricing would help lower costs.  The bid was for $1.64/gallon for a year-long contract.  The commission approved a motion to contract the propane service from Valley Wide.  A discussion of whether to continue with one year contracts or change to a different method of contracting for propane was had, but the issue was not moved further during the meeting.

Treasurer’s Audit Report

The Treasurer is reported to be doing well with regard to invested money.  PILT money has been received.  Colton expressed the opinion that the funds for the county were in good shape.  A motion to accept the Treasurer’s audit for the third quarter was approved.


Chairman Lewis discussed the county salaries in Oneida as compared to surrounding counties.  He believes that the revenue from property taxes into the county is just sufficient to pay salaries, but that the coroner and the weed supervisor should be in consideration for adjustment to higher compensation figures.  Chairman Lewis discussed the possibility of providing a bonus to all employees, which would allow for closer pay equalization with surrounding counties without permanently raising base rates.  

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