County Commission signs resolution supporting local law enforcement

San Juan County Commission signed a resolution stating their support of county law enforcement at the August 4 meeting held remotely.

The resolution publicly salutes the Sheriff’s department and was passed unanimously. Commission Chair Kenneth Maryboy shared his thoughts on the resolution.

“I think every now and then our officers need to be acknowledged for doing such a bravery and such good work with the community. (...) Our officers are going through a lot, and they’re faced with some obstacles in their lives and they stand strong to protect us.”

Likewise Commissioner Bruce Adams shared his praise of the department.

“I know that the sheriff’s department is looking for some support from county leadership so I think it’s very appropriate at this time.”

Commissioner Willie Grayeyes voted in favor of the resolution, he also raised the point that the San Juan County residents in Navajo Mountain do not receive the same services as other parts of the county. “(they’re) not appropriately and regularly visited or addressed. Those are my observations and concerns. I would like to see sometime the sheriff’s department address some of these issues.”

Commissioner Maryboy shared that during his time on the county commission he’s worked with three sheriff’s who all have been “fighting and trying hard to work with the Navajo Nation Police Department. They’ve been running against a wall trying so hard. They are continuing to do what they can to bring services to the Navajo Nation because our nation is not allowing the sheriff’s to do certain things without insurance.”

Commissioner Maryboy suggested the county consider drafting a letter to the attorney general explaining some of the obstacles they face and work towards an agreement between the Navajo Nation Police Department and the San Juan County Sheriff’s Department to provide services to county residents.

Also at the meeting the commission accepted state funds to help with the county’s COVID-19 pandemic response. The county will receive $50,000 from the CARES act to pay for work aimed specifically at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 among underserved and underrepresented communities, particularly racial and ethnic minorities. The funds have to be used between now and the end of 2020 and can be used to connect communities to resources, education as well as support public health initiatives. San Juan County Health Department Director Kirk Benge gave an example of how the
funds may be used.

“If we identify a need as part of our case investigation, we can respond to that need,” Benge continues. “So if somebody says I don’t think I can stay home for ten days, I don’t have any water. We can coordinate with existing resources locally to ensure that people have access to them.”

Additionally the state and CDC have concerns as the country approaches influenza season. Flu patients along with COVID-19 patients could provide a significant strain on local hospitals. Benge said they have received a few thousand dollars to promote influenza immunizations this year. “There is a push to try to increase and promote influenza vaccinations this year, especially targeted at our more older populations locally to make sure that everyone gets a flu vaccine.”

At the meeting council also received a report on a project to close over 100 mine openings in the west part of the county. The Bureau of Land Management along with Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining are closing 83 abandoned mines and 30 vent holes to old mines in the western part of the county near Lake Powell. The Deer Flat and White Canyon area project is slated to begin September 15th and completed by November 30th. The public safety project will use masonry walls, steel gates, rebar barricades and earth backfill to cover up the holes, County Public Lands Coordinator Nick Sanberg says likely Uranium or Vanadium were previously extracted from the miners. A similar project was completed last year in nearby Red Canyon.

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