Commissioners consider seven new resolutions
The new San Juan County Commission continues the trend of considering a host of new resolutions.
Commission Chairman Kenneth Maryboy read seven new possible resolutions at the February 19 Commission meeting.
They may be considered as an action item at future meetings.
In addition, the Commission was set to consider the five proposed resolutions that were considered at the February 5 meeting.
The Commission approved four of the five resolutions. Restoring a transfer station in Bluff and creating a list of county litigation was approved unanimously.
Opposing the downsizing of Bears Ears Monument and withdrawing from Bears Ears lawsuits was approved 2-1, with Commissioner Bruce Adams opposing.
The resolution to hold Commission meetings in the southern portion of the county is delayed pending further information.
The new resolutions that were introduced at the February 19 meeting include support for a bill before Congress that would expand the borders of Bears Ears National Monument to 1.9 million acres, and opposes a bill before the Utah State Legislature that changes the process of splitting a county.
The remaining resolutions regard the processes of county government, including setting up the live streaming of Commission meetings, stating that county employees cannot represent a policy that has not been formally approved by the Commission, asking for the creation of a county organizational chart, requesting clarification of procedures followed regarding official actions of the Commission, and requesting legal memoranda for items under consideration by the Commission.
The new proposals follow on the heels of five resolutions introduced at a Commission work session on February 5. More information on the meetings will be available at the San Juan Record website at www.sjrnews.com.
The Commission heard a number of reports in their work session on February 19, including a report on a broadband project in San Juan County.
Two separate projects are set to bring broadband services to areas in southern San Juan County, according to Jegg Egly, the Associate Director of the Utah Education and Telehealth Network.
The first project, valued at $5 million, was awarded to Emery Telcom and is set to bring fiber to White Mesa, Bluff Elementary School, and the high school and elementary school in Montezuma Creek.
Other organizations participating in the project include Utah Navajo Health Systems, the Utah Navajo Trust Fund, and the Utah Department of Transportation.
After the initial project is completed, the partnering agencies will be able to expand services, including to the health clinics and to local residents.
Egly reports that securing the right-of-way may represent the biggest challenge to the project.
“We have two years to complete the project, and the right-of-way may take that long,” said Egly. “The contractor can easily complete the work if we can secure the right-of-way.”
Areas in the south county have been connected to a microwave system for many years but bandwidth is beginning to be a problem for that network.
The second project would extend the network to the schools in Monument Valley and then to Navajo Mountain.
Egly admitted that the cost for this project may be very high. They are approaching the Utah State Legislature to see if additional funds may be available. The bidding process for the second project is underway.
Jared Anderson, the Chief Operating Officer at Emery Telcom, explained their involvement in the project. Emery Telcom started in Emery County and has expanded to provide services in San Juan, Grand, and Emery counties and beyond, including projects in Salt Lake City and Grand Junction, CO.
Anderson stated that Emery Telcom will soon announce fiber service for nearly 200 homes in the La Sal area, in addition to expansion in Mexican Hat and Halchita.
Costs of expanding services to the remote community of Navajo Mountain is the big challenge.
Commissioner Bruce Adams reports that Senator David Hinkens is condsidering an appropriation for the long-proposed gravel road from Oljato to Navajo Mountain over Piute Mesa. Adams said the shortest route to the top of Piute Mesa is 17 miles, compared to 120 miles for the existing route.
Egly stated that the new road “would completely change the fiber contract” to extend the network to. Navajo Mountain.
Egly questioned if the proposal has enough support to pass through the legislature.
County Recorder David Carpenter requested funds for two projects in the process of upgrading the county records system.
Carprenter reports that the older system is struggling to meet the demands of the office, which tracks the 19,000 parcels in San Juan County.
The funds would need to come from a capital projects budget after the initial request was not put in the recorder’s operating budget.
The Bluff Town Council presented a resolution supporting the re-establishment of a Bluff transfer station and to hold Commission meetings in the south.
The council also supports the resolution to list all litigation San Juan County is involved in.
Mayor Joe B. Lyman, of Blanding, discussed issues related to the Bluff Transfer Station and how Blanding pays its own transfer station expenses and also helps subsidize transfer stations in non-incorporated areas.
Lyman also stated that while the Commission can make new resolutions going in a different direction, they cannot rescind a resolution of a prior Commission.
“To rescind a resolution is not possible,” said Lyman. “It happened.”
Commissioner Grayeyes stated it was possible to rescind a prior resolution.
Commissioner Adams asked the Commission to consider a resolution to support oil and gas leases on BLM ground east of Blanding that were approved in 2018. The leases have been challenged in a lawsuit filed by the Friends of Cedar Mesa.
Adams explained that funds from the federal leases are distributed to the area by grants and loans from the Community Impact Board (CIB).
“The whole county benefits from the CIB,” said Adams, who outlined the large number of projects that have been funded by the CIB over the years.
In addition, he said San Juan County receives property taxes on the wells that may result from the oil and gas leases.
Adams also reported on a solar project that has been proposed on approximately 1,000 acres of land owned by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA).
Adams said the proposed solar farm is about two to three miles north of Bluff, south of Decker Ranch, and mostly west of Highway 191.