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Idaho Enterprise

County Commission 9/11

Jaime Olsen, Mayor Hawkins, and Rhonda Neal discuss the Impact Zone with the County Commissioners.

Chairman Bill Lewis was not able to attend the Board of County Commission meeting, and Commissioner Ken Eliason, as established during the previous public meeting, served as the Chairman.

Jared Ricks, 


Coordinator Public 


Ricks spoke to the council about the public defense program.  The county will continue to receive payment from the state for the indigent defense program.  The state will be appointing a public defender to manage the office for the district public defender(s) assigned to Oneida county.  Throughout the remainder of the calendar for this year, the schedule will operate as it has in the past.  Expenditure reports are due for the end of the year.  

Jeff Alder, Gravel in County right of way

Jeff Alder approached the county commissioners about a situation on the roadway in the county.  At around 2100 S Old Hwy, a large amount of gravel is reported to be near the roadway as a result of water runoff washing it down 2 mile canyon.  The residents were worried about liability involved in moving the material themselves.  The gravel has been pushed out of the way by residents, but has accumulated to a considerable amount.  The issues of whose responsibility gravel accumulated as a result of irrigation water is and how it should be managed were raised.  The culverts are installed by the irrigation companies that use them.  The future of the situation moving forward was discussed.  It was suggested that without changing the flow of water through the area, the problem will continue.  Road and Bridge reported that there was a lot of gravel up the canyon that was likely to run down into the road during the next large rain event.  Various solutions to the problem were discussed.  The commissioners took the issue under advisement, and determined to meet with Road and Bridge and stakeholders with regard to the issue in the future.  The potential for closing the road temporarily at times to allow for gravel removal was discussed.  The longterm solution will have to be found, but in the meantime removal needs to move forward in the interests of safety.  The Road and Bridge crew was asked to schedule a good time for the temporary road closure.  

Bill Drury, ham radio

Bill Drury spoke to the commissioners, representing the local ham radio club RACOON (Radio Amateur Club Of Oneida).  Drury began by speaking to issues raised by the BLM recently.  The RACOON club has repeaters on the hillside in a federal structure, which has recently been the subject of some discussion.  The BLM and Forest Service are considering changes to the arrangement.  He spoke about the emergency management and public benefit components of the ham radio support system.  Drury felt that there had been some misconcpetions about amateur radio—its uses and role in the emergency preparedness field.  “It is appropriate that this conversation takes place on the anniversary of 9/11,” Drury said at one point, and then related a story of his own difficulty (as a pilot) communicating with his family on September 11, 2001 due to the communication chaos of the day. “Normal functioning systems get overwhelmed.  When a natural disasters happen, it just happens,” he said, explaining that in those situations radio communication is crucial to disaster response.

 Drury pointed to the recent fires in Hawaii, where disruptions to standard communications had led to many problems on the gorund.  “It has been proven time and time again that we’re the first ones to get back on the air after a natural disaster,” he said. “FEMA has stated that Ham radio has historically been a valuable resource in recovery.”  

The Utah VHF repeater and RACOON repeaters allow Oneida to contact Boise, Pocatello, and areas throughout the region.  RACOONS can reach Rockland, Juniper, Plymouth, and other immediate but remote county areas.  Both repeaters are funded by clubs.  So is training.  Drury explained that the Stafford Act allows the county to bill FEMA for using Amateur radio operators  in disasters.  The clubs do work with hospital, schools, fire dept for readiness training, including the upcoming “Shakeout”.  The Great Idaho Shakeout is an emergency earthquake preparedness drill that will happen at 10:19 on 10/19 in the morning.  Malad Schools have typically participated in the event.

The BLM was noted as being particularly concerned with the security of its own repeater, the presence of potentially too many repeaters in building, and the fact that the equipment is currently using BLM power.  As the BLM tries to clarify situation with use of power, affected entities are preparing to deal with any potential changes.  The county also has equipment up in the same location, including a repeater for the sheriff’s office and the school district.  The Sheriff reported that this would likely involve the installation of a second power meter to separate out the federal power supply for billing purposes.  The sheriff believed that the location may also need an air conditioning system to cool the equipment.  The commissioners tentatively agreed to make a separate arrangement with the RACOONS for the provision of power, once the power services are separately metered.  The involved parties in the situation agreed to see what develops at the federal level through the BLM and then take coordinated actions to remedy any issues that arise.



Emergency Services Director Dan Williams spoke to the commission about the remaining EMPG funds.  The county has agreed to find a way to utilize the roughly $1,000 left in the fund (which will be matched for a total of $2,000), which needs to be spent by September 30.  The commission approved the expense of the funds, at the discretion of Williams, for the purchase of purchasing a tent to be used as a temporary staging area for disaster events.  Any leftover funds will be used for the purchase of filtration system elements.  

Weed Dept

Cody from the Weed Department spoke to the commission about drones for weed reconnaissance and spraying.  A quote for around $23K was presented.  The operator will require a pilot’s license for drone operation, which is either low cost or free.  The drone is similar to those used in other counties.  Cody was advised to contact TJ Burbank, the county’s IT and technology consultant for additional information on drones.  

Cody also provided a quote for a 300 gallon spray rig for around $8,000.  A second truck for the department is being sought to match it with.  The budget for a second truck was discussed.  The expenditure was approved for the spray equipment for $8,877.26.  The pickup will most likely be purchased with next year’s budget.

September 25, IAC Overlap

The commissioners meeting that had been scheduled for September 25 was discussed.  County officials will be attending a statewide meeting during that week.  The meeting was rescheduled to September 29 for a meeting to pay bills and approve claims, in order to keep county services and prjects unaffected.

La Grande Pool Grant

The pool has received a grant for $10,000 from the Idaho Community Foundation.  This was originally planned for epoxy to repair/seal the dressing rooms.  A quote for 17K was also received for a higher grade option.  The commissioners voted to accept the grant which had been received, and approve its use for the floor epoxy.  A summary report for the summer will be given to the commissioners at an upcoming meeting.  

Joel Blackner pay for cleaning

Joel Blackner helped the county clean up after the Fair.  The commissioners set the rate for the help at $14/hr and approved the payment, while expressing gratitude for Mr. Blackner’s assistance.

Public Hearing Landfill fee 


A public hearing was held during the County Commission meeting regarding the proposed rate and fee schedule increase for the landfill.  IDAWY representative Jason Lower spoke to the operations of the landfill, and the need for the increase.  He explained that the costs of running the landfill is generally always increasing, but has been especially hard hit by inflation.  The landfill captures the waste that comes from the county and keeps its from entering the groundwater system.  He believes that the landfill has done a good job of controlling costs and keeping the burden on taxpayers as low as possible.  The Oneida facility is in the process of being closed, and the material is being moved to the regional landfill.  A transfer station will be built on the current site, so that residents will only need to transport waste locally.  The transfer station and cleanup have already been factored into expenditures.  The hearing covered only the increase in container fees and the disposal fee for semi tires, as an element of regular rate increases.  Jason Lower stressed that the landfill was not a for-profit operation, and the increases are used for operational needs.  A question about the disposal of semi tires was raised.  Lower explained that the tires were shredded and turned into landscape product, kiln filler, and other industrial purposes.  Commissioner Jeppsen extended a thank you to IDAWY for their contribution to the community.

Cody Brower asked why the landfill was changed for the tire disposal when the material was used for commercial application.  In response, Lower explained that the costs associated with processing them created very small margins for profit.  

Following the hearing, the commissioners discussed the increase resolution, after which they accepted it and approved it as resolution 2023-09-01 for the landfill rate and fee schedule change.



The Malad City Impact Zone was one subject of the discussion with city representatives.  Recommendations for moving forward with the Impact Zone shared by the two entities, Oneida County and Malad City, were taken.  Rhonda Neal, Mayor Joan Hawkins, and Jaime Olsen were present.  The committee, which had been established to look into the Impact Zone, had recommended signing the new Impact Zone but clarifying some of the boundary elements through surveying.  The request for the survey came from the county’s PZ Commission, who was interested in verifying road ownership of the area in question.  The survey would not be a full survey of the area, but research of former surveys from which the roadway status could be determined.  Brower suggested that the ordinance that accompanies the map could clarify the treatment of any roads which are annexed alongside properties.  Commissioner Jeppsen expressed the belief that the current recorded legal descriptions should be sufficient for the purposes of determining the status of individual areas.  Brower advised that clarifying as much as possible the process under which Impact Zone annexation happened would eliminate problems down the road.  A public hearing date for the discussion of the proposed Impact Zone ordinance before its adoption by the city and county entities was set for a combined city and county hearing on October 19 at 6:00 p.m. at the Event Center.  A surveyor will be contracted to double-check the legal description of the Impact Zone.  

A variance request for an accessory building to be used as a residence was discussed.  Under the development code, the accessory building must be built second to the primary home.  A variance is required to allow for the building of a primary dwelling in the circumstance that an accessory building has already been established on the property.  The original building was permitted under the old development code.  Adjoining landowners have been notified, and there have not been any points made in opposition to the variance.  After reviewing the variance procedure, County Attorney Cody Brower suggested that the commission would be able to approve the variance if they wished during the meeting.  The commissioners voted to approve the variance request.

Extension Agent Contract

Extension Agent Sawyer Fonnesbeck spoke to the commissioners about the contract governing the relationship between the University of Idaho Extension Office and the county.  The document is an annual one, which has not changed in substance from the prior year.  The commissioners commended the extension office’s contributions to the county, and agreed to sign the contract.  

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