San Juan County to operate Children's Justice Center

by David Boyle
News Director
Members of the San Juan County Commission moved closer to operating it’s own Children’s Justice Center, approved language assistance contracts, and marketing of Monticello cancer screening at their latest meeting.
Members of the San Juan County Commission approved a contract with the state to cover the cost of the Director of the Children’s Justice Center at the February 20 meeting. The contract will run through the end of the fiscal year ending in June, with plans to help in the upcoming year as well. In July 2023 the commission first discussed step of working towards the county moving to operate it’s own Children’s Justice Center (CJC) separate from Grand County.
The Utah Children’s Justice Center program is administered in the state by the Attorney General’s Office. With locations throughout the state, CJC offices offer a space for trained individuals to respond to allegations of child abuse.
Children’s Justice Centers provide a place for children who are alleged to have been victims or witnesses of violent or sexual crimes to be interviewed in a child-focused location aimed at minimizing trauma for children. Those interviews are conducted by trained experts in a quiet safe area and are recorded to prevent children from having to share traumatic experiences repeatedly. The necessary information from those interviews is then shared between responding agencies including child protective services, law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim advocates among other entities.
At the February 20 meeting members of the commission approved the contract with San Juan County Administrator Mack McDonald sharing that the state and Grand County will be working to assist the county as the transition is underway and as the new director Robert Lyman receives training and certification.
McDonald shared the county is also planning to work on the building in Blanding that has been used part-time under the agreement with Grand County.
“We’re working through some of the idiosyncrasies of separating and making it 100% ours. Part of it will be looking at the building itself and seeing what improvements need to be made in the building. There’s a little bit more to come, a little bit more funding. The state does have one-time funding that they can allocate towards improving the aesthetics of the building itself.”
Commissioner Jamie Harvey offered his support of the move noting that Utah Navajo Health System operates both the Gentle IronHawk shelter in Utah as well as a shelter in Shiprock.
“Now that we’re going to have something more accessible within the county for victims, is pretty valuable. Everyone will benefit from it, the county will become better with it, it’s an opportunity also to work with the tribe.”
Commissioner Sylvia Stubbs also shared that the change to San Juan County's operating it’s own CJC is the result of connecting with others throughout the state.
“They are so willing to give us a beautiful place, not just a pain job they want to really make a beautiful place.”
At the meeting members of the commission also approved contracts for two additional Navajo Language liaisons for 2024 elections. The language assistance programs are a result of a lawsuit settlement between the county and the Navajo Nation.
County Clerk/Auditor Lyman Duncan reported while early voting is open at the Mexican Water Chapter House, there’s not enough equipment for election-day voting at the chapter.
“In a phone call with the ACLU and Leonard Goreman of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, he indicated he was going to contact the Lt. Governor's office and ask for additional money to allow us to purchase the equipment.”
Harvey also asked about the vocabulary and terminology being used in Diné language election announcements.
Duncan shared that the county uses Peggy Scott who is licensed and serves in similar translation roles for Coconino County, and elsewhere.
Commissioner Bruce Adams asked what the language assistance contracts cost per election.
Duncan shared in 2023 the costs were around $40,000 for interpreters, radio and newspaper ads, with Duncan estimating this year will be more with three elections.
Harvey asked if the county is able to track if the efforts are making a difference.
With Duncan responding they do. “We track individuals who come to early voting and to election sites. We record who requests, who drops a ballot off, and who votes on that day. What we’ve seen in the last two years is its a very small percentage of people who actually request services. Probably 90-percent of ballots that are mailed out, are returned through the mail.”
Duncan added that the language liaisons do communicate with elderly Navajo residents regarding elections at events such as Veterans meetings and senior meal programs,
“Our liaisons also go to chapter houses, so there’s a wide base that they’re covering”.
Members of the county commission also approved a notice of intent to negotiate a contract with a marketing firm to advertise the Monticello Cancer Screening programs.
After receiving three bids the county selected BWP Communications to receive a $48,000 contract to market cancer screening services for people who lived, worked or went to school in Monticello between 1941 and 2002.
McDonald explained that local efforts and word-of-mouth has allowed the cancer screening vouchers to reach out as far as Texas, but the county and the program are anxious to extend those cancer screenings to people who previously lived in Monticello.
The cancer screenings and marketing of the screenings are being funded by the federal government which operated the mill located on the south of Monticello, which contributed to higher than normal cancer rates in the town before a federal clean-up at the start of the new millennium.
Members of the commission also approved the receipt of another settlement check related to the opioid crisis and the negligence of producers that has resulted in the opioid crisis throughout the US. The latest settlement with Mylan has resulted in a $3,600 settlement, a part of the $67,000 the county has received from Opioid settlement funds. The county has prioritized funds from opioid-related settlements to address medication assisted treatments in jails, narcan for law enforcement officers and aftercare services for drug court. McDonald said however that this latest check isn’t necessarily needed to cover those costs and the county may use those funds towards funding school resource officers in the county.
Members of the commission also approved purchases for the county road department including $662,000 for the annual purchase of chip seal and fog oil, as well as $25,000 for an air compressor.
At the meeting the commission also approved a contract with a company to provide local planning services. The lone company to provide a proposal following a county request at the end of 2023, Arcadis has previously performed planning services in the past in Spanish Valley.
McDonald explained the service will help the county finalize ordinances, and address new needs such as wording related to new offerings in the county such as placing canvas tents in ordinances, as well as making sure the county is keeping in accordance with state code as those codes change at the state level to address overnight rentals, housing issues and any other updates to land-use ordinances from the state.
The contract will not exceed $41,000 of funds the county received from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday