Lawmakers review road, access issues
Issues of transit and travel on two roads at nearly opposite ends of the county confronted the Carbon Commission during the regular meeting on June 4.
The first issue involved a road running into a canyon near the Green River that allows well workers into an established site - part of which is contained in a wilderness study area.
"In the 1980s, a right of way was granted to Getty Oil to put in a well," pointed out Dennis Willis, a United States Bureau of Land Management representative present at the commission meeting. "They had the commitment they could do that even though the well actually went in after the wilderness study area was set up."
"The problem we have is that the road into that well is being used by more and more ATVs. People are getting higher up into the canyon past the well and we are finding vandalism and looting on many archeological sites in the area," continued the BLM representative.
For years, the well did not need much maintenance so the road was not used often, explained Willis.
But the company had to improve the road for to improve access to the drilling location and the number of vehicles heading into the canyon has steadily increased.
The BLM signed and closed the area above the gas well, but people contnue to ignore the signs.
"We need to gate the road and we need to do it at a place where there is a choke point," said Willis. "We have found a good place, but it is on a part of the road that is a county road and we need your permission to do it. We want it restricted to authorized vehicles only."
The commissioners discussed the situation with Dave Levanger, county building official. Levanger was one of the county employees involved in the exploration for a site with Willis.
"I didn't actually see what the damage to the sites is," noted Levanger. "But I think this place where Dennis mentioned for the gate is a good site. It will close off the sites to vehicles but not to those who want to walk or ride horses."
The planning director suggested that any agreement be for a year and reviewed annually.
The commission voiced concern about locking up a county road, even though it has been little used.
"What I am asking for is a memo of understanding that address the right of way and the RS-2477 issues here," stated Willis. "We don't want to prejudice the county's position."
At least six archaeological sites in the area have exhibited signs of vandalism and three of the locations appear to have been dug up recently, added the BLM representative.
After discussing the matter, the commissioners granted preliminary approval on contacting Getty and asking the oil company to install a gate.
The second road issue addressed by the county commission during last Wednesday's meeting involved Spring Canyon and the use of the new trail that has been installed in the area.
"At the request of Bill Krompel and Ray Hansen, I am here to ask you to look at allowing use of ATVs on the paved road in Spring Canyon," indicated Rex Sacco, road specialist for the county.
Road supervisor Hansen and the county commissioners were asking for the variance primarily due to the concern that, since the trail is finished to the bottom of the canyon, all-terrain vehicle operators will start to use the pathway to transit into the area.The Spring Canyon Trail is designated for walking only, not for use by motorized vehicles, explained Krompel.
"The problem with doing this may be liability," indicated Commissioner Mike Milovich. "We need to look at the ordinance and see where we sit on this. ATVs generally don't carry insurance, yet they would be on roads with full sized vehicles."
Helper Mayor Joe Bonacci was in attendance at the commission meeting and offered input regarding the matter.
"I am concerned about what the county does here because it could impact our roads," commented Bonacci, referring to the section of highway lower in the canyon and located within the Helper city limits. "If you allow this, people will want to ride up there on our roads. I'd need to talk to our police chief about this."
Krompel emphasized that the primary reason he was requesting the change focused on keeping the non-motorized designation on the Spring Canyon Trail.
The county has already set a precedent regarding ATV usage, indicated Levanger.
"We have allowed that kind of travel in Scofield for a number of years," pointed out the county planning and zoning director.
Carbon County Attorney Gene Strate discussed the legal viewpoint associated with the commissioners taking the action in question.
"George Harmond (deputy county attorney) looked at this issue and said, if it were done, we would have to heavily sign the canyon warning drivers of the dangers," advised Strate. "But I am concerned that by doing this, we may be asking the people in Helper to break their laws to get their machines into the canyon."
The county lawmakers decided to table acting on the Spring Canyon Trial issue until the matter could be studied in more depth.
Proceeding an unrelated agenda item, the commissioners revisited the single bid submitted for the construction of a concession stand at the county fairgrounds.
In a recent meeting, the commission opened the single bid the county received. The proposal exceeded the project's budget so the commission turned down the bid.
However, another contractor rose to the surface and agreed to build the stand for $87,456, almost $13,000 under budget.
"This bid is without the quarry tile floor or the evaporative cooler," stated Levanger. "We have also decided that the concrete in the floor needs to be thickened and that will cost $2850 more than the bid."
A discussion ensued about the flooring and it was mentioned that ceramic tile for the floor would be a better option than the original quarry tile idea anyway.
The commission approved Larry Young Construction as the contractor on the project.
Proceeding with the agenda, the commissioners:
Turned down an hourly rate increase request from Dave Allred, the contracted public defender for the county.
Allred requested the increase to cover the expense of hiring an outside attorney to fill in when the public defender encounters time or client conflicts.
"He can't get anyone to work for the standard $40 per hour we pay him so he has been paying up to $65 per hour," pointed out Strate. "That puts him in the hole."
Commissioner Steve Burge pointed out that the whole situation puts Allred in the hole when he must hire someone to fill the void.
But the other two county lawmakers felt that since the rate increase is not spelled out in Allred's current contract, the wage should remain unchanged.
"Let him know that we will consider an adjustment when his contract renews in January 2005. But for now, Allred must honor the contract he agreed to earlier this year," explained Milovich.
The lawmakers decided to begin handling overdue garbage fees in a different manner. Over a number of meetings, the county commission discussed the collection procedure and made a final decision regarding the way the process is conducted.
For quite sometime, City Sanitation would send out letters advising residents that their fees were overdue. At 90 days past due, the company would send a final letter and then serve a summons to the responsible individual through the county.
At this point in the collection process, the cost would go up to cover serving fees and court costs.
After discussing how the collection problem could be solved, it was decided by the lawmakers to make these situations a Class C misdemeanor. This way, the county will avoid turning the issue into a civil matter and will encourage prompt and timely garbage payments.
The new process will allow the county attorney to send out a letter after 30 days past due. The letter will notify the individual of the consequences if a payment is not made.
Then after 40 days, a sheriffs deputy will issue a citation for non-payment to the delinquent sanitation customer.