St. Maries Mayor Tom Carver visited the Benewah County commissioners’ meeting this week to ask for clarification on billing as the two entities continue to work toward a new agreement on their water and sewer system. The city and county already have a workshop scheduled for next week, so the commissioners tabled any discussion until that meeting.
“You’ve asked a lot of questions today, and I think a lot of those need to be answered at our workshop on the first,” Chairman Phil Lampert said.
The county also moved forward with another project involving the city. The board drafted an ordinance that would combine the St. Maries and UpRiver ambulance districts, hoping to make the district more efficient and cost-effective. The county has the authority to create that district, but will need to hold a public hearing before establishing the necessary fees, and that hearing has not yet been scheduled(See Page 4).
“Having the county own the ambulance allows better opportunities for grants and things like that, and all the ambulance services on the east side of the county would be under the same umbrella,” Lampert said. “That’s what we’re trying to do: make sure Benewah County is safe for everyone. Even newspaper reporters.”
Becky and Tucker Harold presented an end-of-season update on the St. Maries Golf Course, which is also governed by both the city and county. They reported a good season and that the course’s equipment worked well, which the commissioners had been concerned about. The only issue was with roads and parking, and Becky Harold reported a few accidents due to unclear driving rules at the course and requested new parking lines be painted.
After discussion with other municipal courses in north Idaho, the Harolds learned that their green fees were lower than any other comparable course, so those rates will likely go up, though possibly only for out-of-town visitors or on weekends, in order to keep prices low for local golfers.
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The commissioners moved to lease a new grader after a long discussion about the costs and benefits of such programs. Commissioner Mark Reynolds had been advocating for leasing new equipment for several weeks. He also introduced a plan to buy a new county dump truck, but that action will be officially decided at a later meeting.
T-O Engineers provided an update on their work at Slaughter House bridge, which was delayed because of a planning error.
“Where do you think your credibility is with us, on a scale of 1-10?” Lampert asked. “It’s down to negative infinity. If you can get this done by the middle of February, it will be back up into the positive numbers.”
“We’ve all been told it’s our number-one priority, and LHTAC says it’s their number-one priority,” said Robyn Lashbrook, a project manager with the firm.
Representatives from HMH Engineering also visited the meeting to go over future plans and the process for applying for future road improvement grants.
Lampert also asked HMH about designing a new trash-collection site in Plummer(See Page 1). The city council there approved a special-use permit for relocating the city’s Dumpsters at its meeting last week, but a new site has not yet been finalized.
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In other business, the commissioners signed a letter of support for Adams County as they opposed doing business with companies that require vaccines, but did not pass a similar restriction in Benewah County. They were also prepared to award Benewah Community Hospital funds to support scholarships for their nurses, but county attorney Mariah Dunham advised them that the Idaho constitution forbids counties giving money directly to individuals, so the commissioners held off on that financial support to be safe.
Alex Barta, representing Timber Plus, reported that the organization had been awarded a $10,000 grant to improve telemedicine infrastructure in the area. The county will be involved in finalizing that process next year.
The commissioners also approved pay requests presented by assessor Donna Spier for Access Idaho, a state program to help the county run online services, and for a new website through Innovate. The commissioners also agreed to look into emergency-relief funds as a way to pay for the auto license office’s move to the Federal Building.
The next county commissioners’ meeting will be held Dec. 13.