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Franklin retiring from position as treasurer

During the regular meeting of the Harney County Court on April 19, Harney County Treasurer Nellie Franklin announced that she is retiring July 1, and her last working day will be June 30.

Franklin has served in her position since 1991.

The position will be advertised, and a committee will be formed to appoint an interim county treasurer who will serve until a new treasurer is elected.

Harney County Commissioner Patty Dorroh thanked Franklin for all of her hard work.


Harney County Emergency Management Coordinator Paul Gray announced that there were three confirmed cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in Harney County.

He said, “One of them is a seven-week-old infant at the hospital.”

He added, “We have a bunch of swabs out still. We’re waiting for more results to come back. We may have more. Right now, the state is not considering it an outbreak because we can’t find the link between all of the impacted.”

However, Gray reported that Barbara Rothgeb of the Harney County Health Department said she will consider it an outbreak if additional cases continue to be confirmed.

Informational letters have been sent to all the schools in Burns, including the Early Childhood Center. Harney County Commissioner Mark Owens suggested sending letters to the rural schools, as well.

Information is also being distributed through social media, the local radio station, and the Burns Times-Herald.

Please see the press release on page 1 for additional information.


Donna Schnitker attended the meeting to discuss the Frontier Early Learning Hub.

The Frontier Early Learning Hub, which consists of Harney and Grant counties, was one of the first six hubs to be funded.

“It means we got to systemize all our early learning between Harney and Grant counties…so that we have a system of early learning instead of isolated programs coming together,” Schnitker said. “We had already done that here in Harney County, so we wanted to make sure we could keep doing what we do now.”

She added that, by working as a hub, Grant County is becoming “more and more integrated.”

Schnitker also requested that the court transfer the hub’s backbone agency from the county to the Harney Education Service District (ESD).

“Accessing the money is very slow from the state, and, on top of that, our system of accessing it here, through the county, is very slow,” she said, adding that, “The ESD hires all of the people, pays all the bills, writes all the reports, [and] does all the paperwork that’s required for this Early Learning Hub.”

Under the current system, the ESD requests the money from the state, the state gives the money to the county, and the county gives the money to the ESD.

“The backbone agency has to receive the money, so my request is to move the backbone agency from the county court to the ESD, which would just simplify the money,” Schnitker said. “It doesn’t change services. It doesn’t change anything. It just simplifies the process.”

She added that, as the backbone agency, the county is currently held accountable for the ESD’s work. Transferring the backbone agency would make the ESD liable for its own work.

After some additional discussion, the court agreed to support transferring the Frontier Early Learning Hub’s backbone agency from the county to the ESD.


In other business, the court:

• agreed to approve and sign the Juvenile Crime Prevention Plan for 2017 after a lengthy discussion with Harney County Juvenile Department Director Lori Cheek;

• resumed its discussion concerning flooding in Harney County.

Harney County Judge Pete Runnels reported that he will be submitting a grant application to Business Oregon in an effort to obtain funding to conduct a feasibility study on the river levee.

Owens reported that the court met with the cities of Burns and Hines to discuss options for dealing with the flooding. They discussed the levee, self-insurance, and developing a plan of action for the community.

The court will meet with the cities again on May 23;

• approved and signed Ordinance 2017-78 in the matter of amending the Harney County Comprehensive Plan to establish policy statements that incorporate the people of Harney County.

Dorroh explained that the amended plan emphasizes that, “We support the people and the economic, energy, environmental, social and cultural heritage aspects of Harney County and that we factor it into all of our approach to our land use plan.”

Owens added that this is the outcome of a year’s worth of work that has been done on Goal 5 (including intensive community outreach), and he thanked Harney County Planning Director Brandon McMullen for going “above and beyond;”

• approved and signed an intergovernmental agreement allowing the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to issue Continuous Operations Variance Permits for oversize/overweight vehicles and loads to travel over county roads.

Harney County Roads Supervisor Eric Drushella explained that this agreement is for multiple-trip permits. The court signed a similar agreement for single-trip permits during its previous meeting;

• approved and signed an intergovernmental agreement with ODOT for use of Strategic Technology Reserves (communications equipment).

Gray explained that the equipment is located inside of trailers, which can be used for emergencies, training or tactical use;

• reviewed water use requests;

• received correspondence from Steve Beverlin, forest supervisor for the Malheur National Forest, regarding timber sales;

• received correspondence from the Vale Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding shrub planting treatments;

• received correspondence from the Burns BLM regarding forest and woodland restoration activities in the general vicinity of Coffeepot Creek;

• received correspondence from the Burns BLM regarding routine maintenance activities on BLM roads within the Andrews/Steens Resource Management Area;

• opened bids for replacing the East Fork Silvies River Bridge and Stinking Water Creek Bridge.

Drushella will review the bid information with Andy Lindsey of Anderson Perry & Associates Inc. and provide a recommendation;

• upon recommendation from Drushella, awarded the bid to Idaho Asphalt Supply Inc. for asphalt paving;

• met with Mike McArthur, executive director of the Association of Oregon Counties, to discuss various issues impacting Harney County;

• received an update from McMullen regarding wind and solar projects;

• will hold a public hearing May 10 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Crane Union High School staff lounge;

• will hold a public hearing May 18 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Fields School;

• will hold budget hearings May 4, starting at 10 a.m. and May 10, starting at 10:30 a.m. at the courthouse.

The next regular meeting of the Harney County Court will be held Wednesday, May 3, at 10 a.m. at the courthouse.

Samantha White

Samantha White was born and raised in Harney County, and she graduated from Burns High School in 2005. After high school, she attended the University of Oregon where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in magazine journalism. White was hired as a reporter for the Burns Times-Herald in September 2012.

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