The Carbon County Commission met for the final meeting of 2001 last Thursday. The two major items on the agenda concerned law enforcement awards presented to three police agencies in the area and opening the 2001 county budget for final review and adjustments.
Sheriff James Cordova began the award ceremony, speaking in front of a packed room filled with police officers and family members. He spoke about what the officers went through in pursuing and searching for the suspects in a Daggett County murder incident that occurred on Oct. 21.
During the pursuit, Helper Officer Kent Allred and Sgt. Tom Stefanoff of the Carbon County Sheriff's Office were fired upon by the suspects. Allred's car sustained damage to the front of the vehicle from bullets before the pair of fugitives ran into spikes the Price City Police Department had laid across U.S. Highway 6 near Creekview Elementary.
The following two days were a harrowing experience for residents and police officers as the two evaded capture in the local area. The final day of the search concentrated on an area in southeast Price around the river after a local resident was approached by the two men asking for food.
"From the things that the two have told us, there were times when they were in the brush by the river and police officers came within four or five feet of them," pointed out Cordova. "Sometimes they said officers literally walked between them in the dark. They would have probably fired their weapons, but they feared they would be overwhelmed by the number of officers who were out there looking for them."
The first award presented by Cordova went to Stefanoff, who received the medal of valor for his part in the pursuit of the suspects on U.S. 6.
Cordova presented distinguished service awards to 11 sheriff's department personnel who showed exceptional courage and determination in the pursuit, search and capture of the alleged murderers. Recipients were deputies Roy Robinson, Frank Pero, Rick Anderson, Eric Liddiard, Rick Adams, Tory Christiansen, Chris Basso, Brenna Lopan and Levi Oman.
The sheriff also presented letters of appreciation to three Price police officers who participated in the operation. Receiving letters were Roger Taylor, Dennis Christensen and Brandon Sicilia.
In addition, Cordova gave a plaque of appreciation to the Helper City Police Department for its role in the pursuit and capture of the subjects. Police Chief George Zamantakis accepted the plaque for the department.
The commission then presented distinguished service awards to Sheriff Cordova and Chief Deputy Guy Adams for their role in the operation.
"In a situation like this the men who perform the search and capture are very important," said Commissioner Mike Milovich, "But so is the leadership of the department."
Many who participated in the operation had little sleep in two days, including Cordova and Adams. According to the commissioners, they were also out on the front lines with their men during the search.
After the awards, the chambers cleared and the commissioners looked at the 2001 budget.
By law, the county cannot change the budget for a year so any needed adjustments had to made at the last meeting of the commission.
Robert Pero, the county clerk-auditor, asked the commission to open the budget so that some adjustments could be made.
"We have had some departments that have spent more than the amount budgeted and others that have not spent the allotted amount," Pero told the commission. "I can adjust some of the line items to fill in for others, but we need to make adjustments before I can do that."
The actual revenues the county spent last year totaled $8,663, 504. The figure included surplus money.
"The problem with budgets is that it is always somewhat of a guessing game, particularly about things that we cannot control," said Pero.
Pero brought up a number of areas that had exceeded the budget because of emergencies or extra services that needed to be provided. He pointed out that there are years when budgets are not touched. But the county's budgets must be adjusted in other years.
Mayor Dale Andrews of East Carbon voiced concerns about $34,000 the county had promised to pay for an ambulance purchased for the city.
Andrews was assured that the money was in the budge.
The commission looked at the main budgets the county uses, funds 10 and 20. They also reviewed the 24, 25, 28, 33. 56 and the 911 budgets.
Departments that ran over budget included economic development by $5,000, animal control by $17,000 and the sheriff's department by $112,000.
"Most of those can be explained by special circumstances," Pero told the commission. "We knew that animal control would go over because we hired another full-time employee there without really budgeting for it,"
The commissioners agreed with Pero.
"I understand the higher amounts spent by economic development," said Milovich. "They had to take a couple of trips to Arizona concerning a factory that was thinking about moving to Carbon County."
Cordova addressed the deficit in the sheriff's department.
"We had two big operations this year that cost a lot of money," said Cordova. "One was the fugitive search when the Daggett County murder suspects came to town. We had to spend a lot on overtime and other costs."
"The other was the recovery operation and investigation of the boat accident and drownings at Scofield Reservoir this fall. We spent more than $33,000 in overtime on those situations," continued the sheriff.
Part of the expenditure was due to a wrecked patrol vehicle that had to be replaced to the tune of $12,000 as well as the replacement cost for another vehicle the department bought for the drug task force at a price of $22,000, explained Pero.
Another budget that ran over was the nutrition budget which had a deficit of $7424.
"I believe that is due to the fact that the federal funds we get for that have not arrived yet," said Milovich. "We usually get the checks semi-annually and they arrive in mid January and the end of June. That money just has not come yet."
The commission approved a $155,545 increase for the fund 10 budgets and $151,000 for fund 20. The public hearing on the matter drew no comments from the audience.
In other action, the commission:
Agreed to look into allowing John Jones a contract to remove old appliances from the county landfill for recycling.
"I have a deal with the Emery County landfill and pay them $10 per appliance I take," Jones told the commission. "They set them aside so I can pick out which ones I want to take. But that is not necessary. I would be happy to search through the land fill for them myself."
Commissioner Bill Krompel pointed out that the county had ordinances against salvaging in the landfill without a contract because of perceived liability.
The commissioners agreed to have the county attorney look at a contract with Jones.
The officials also asked legal counsel to see if that could be done without some kind of bidding process.
"If there is some competition from others to buy those appliances from us, we will have to look at a bid situation," Milovich told Jones.
Finalized an agreement with ABC Learning Center in East Carbon to lease the old senior citizens facility for $1 per year. The center will pay all utilities and maintain the building.
Reappointed Earl Gunder-son to the planning panel for another four years.
Signed a contract for a grant from the Constitutional Defense Fund for $20,000 for the Geographical Information Systems department.