Commission hears election report

At the June 2 San Juan County Commission meeting, County Clerk John David Nielson updated the Commission on the June 30 Primary election.

Ballots have been mailed to registered Republicans for the primary election.

The election will determine the Republican candidates for county Commissioner, Assessor, and Recorder and state Governor and Attorney General.

Nielson said that due to the coronavirus, the state legislature passed a law that made it a mail-only election across the state.

Nielson reports that the county is exempt from the change due to a voting rights lawsuit settlement. As agreed in the settlement, there will be early voting and polling locations in the county for the election.

Commissioners approved a resolution to the Navajo Nation regarding the allocation of $600 million in CARES Act funding for the reservation. The resolution asks that the Navajo Nation allocate an appropriate amount of the $600 million to the Utah Chapters.

Projects mentioned include dealing with the widespread lack of water and electricity to homes. Also mentioned is funding for road construction and a water line between Oljato and Navajo Mountain.

Commissioners discussed the Farmers Feeding Utah program that distributed live sheep and food to local families.  More than 500 sheep were distributed in two events.

The program was coordinated between the Utah Farm Bureau and the Utah Department of Agriculture, with the assistance of volunteers led by Rebecca Benally. 

Commissioner Adams asked that the county write a letter to Utah Farm Bureau stating the program was gratefully received by the people of the Navajo Nation in the county.

Commissioner Grayeyes added that several Arizona residents wondered why they were not involved.  Grayeyes suggested to Arizona officials that they consider a similar project.

Commissioners tabled a request to name a previously unnamed arch in a remote corner of San Juan County. Stellar Arch was suggested by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names for the arch in the Butler Wash Wilderness Study Area. 

The arch is on an extremely isolated section of state trust land between Beef Basin and the Needles District of Canyonlands. It is within the initial boundary of Bears Ears National Monument.

Commissioner Grayeyes wants to check if there may be a Navajo name for the arch.

An $8,000 emergency purchase is needed for a computer server at the county courthouse.  The server hosts the software used by the county assessor, recorder, treasurer and auditor.

County Administrator Mack McDonald said, “We need to purchase the server right away. It keeps getting worse and worse.”

McDonald said, “The county is going through budgets and looking for savings wherever we can. We are trying to free up money and create more savings for these emergency purchases. We will be able to cover the costs.”

McDonald said the county hopes to have a public hearing in coming weeks to adjust the budget. “We are letting you know earlier and will be making adjustments to the budget throughout the year,” he said. “It is a purchase that was not anticipated in the approved budget.”

Tammy Squires, director of San Juan Counseling, discussed the annual plan for substance abuse and mental health programs.

Squires said that the organization and its programs serve residents across the county, including native and non-Native residents.

Native Americans can also seek mental health services though other organizations, including Utah Navajo Health Systems and Indian Health Services

Commissioner Grayeyes stated that there are no mental health services by San Juan Counseling in Navajo Mountain and asked, “Is it fair to state that we are an underserved county as far as mental health?”

Squires agreed that no mental health services are offered in Navajo Mountain.

Commissioner Adams added that San Juan Counseling does a great job, even though there are areas of the county where they cannot offer services, including Navajo Mountain, La Sal, and Spanish Valley.

Commissioners approved three expenditures that will impact the Cal Black Airport at Halls Crossing.

The first approved $20,000 in funds from the CARES Act that will be used for operations and maintenance at the airport.

A second project approved a request for a $400,000 grant to design runway rehabilitation and lighting replacement. Jviation will do the design.  

Once designed, a very rough estimate of the cost to complete the project is $4,672,872.

San Juan County will need to come up with a five percent local match for the project, which would be more than $225,000.

The third action transferred $55,000 in entitlement funds to the City of Spanish Fork for a current-year project at the Spanish Fork Airport.

The funds will be returned to San Juan County for use in FAA-approved projects in a future year.

Each year, San Juan County receives about $150,000 in entitlement funds from the federal government.

Commissioners amended a contract for a grant to the health department that increases the overall grant by $8,160 to $132,756.  The addition will help fund diabetes, heart disease, and stroke programs.

San Juan Record

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