County lifts fireworks ban; Fraughton recognized

Uinta County Commissioner Wendell Fraughton is recognized by citizens Jane and Ian Siegismund for his assistance and support offered to them during his tenure as commissioner. (HERALD PHOTO/Sheila McGuire)

EVANSTON — The first item of new business for the Uinta County Commissioners at the Tuesday, Dec. 18 regular meeting was a presentation by Jane and Ian Siegismund. The mother and son pair presented a gift of appreciation to commissioner Wendell Fraughton for his service and steps he’s taken to assist them in his time on the commission. 

Jane said she has learned a great deal by attending commission meetings and wishes more people attended. “You guys are so smart,” she said. Fraughton lost his re-election bid in November and will not be returning to the commission in January. 

Uinta County Clerk Amanda Hutchinson presented multiple routine items to the commissioners for approval, including the 2019 county employee holiday schedule. Regular holidays for county employees include New Year’s Day, Equality Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and the day after, as well as Christmas. In 2017 commissioners voted to also give county staff Christmas Eve as a holiday; the three voted on Tuesday to give employees a half-day off for Christmas Eve in 2019. 

Kim West with Uinta County Emergency Management presented a resolution to adopt the policy regarding the closed-circuit television cameras used both inside and outside county properties for the safety of staff and the public, as well as protecting county assets during and outside of business hours. 

The policy states that law enforcement will be able to access footage from all cameras, as will the county commissioners, while county IT and maintenance staff will be able to access the cameras to perform maintenance. Signs notifying the public about the use of closed-circuit TV will be placed at county properties. Commissioners voted to adopt the policy. 

Fire Cpt. Tim Overy asked the commissioners to lift the fireworks ban enacted on July 4th as a result of the Twin Ridge Fire. Overy said the ban had been extremely helpful throughout the dry months in reducing call volume and preventing fires. Lifting the ban now will allow communities and individuals to hold year-end celebrations, said Overy, and the commissioners approved ending the fireworks ban. 

Finally, Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson-Kallas spoke with commissioners about renewing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with High Country Behavioral Health. The county attorney’s office and local law enforcement make use of a three-cell facility at High Country for 72-hour emergency detentions for individuals who are a danger to themselves or others. 

Howieson-Kallas said the county has been working with the same MOU since March 2015. She said staffing for the emergency detention facility is done through part-time, as-needed employees with her office, High Country provides the maintenance and the sheriff’s office provides meals, laundry and clothing for individuals housed there. 

Uinta County Public Works Director Clay Baird said there is some remodeling work that will need to be done to the emergency detention cells because the walls are not able to be adequately cleaned to meet safety code requirements. Howieson-Kallas explained that sometimes the individuals held are experiencing mental health problems and bodily fluids end up on the walls. The facility was not designed to withstand that type of use so remodeling will be necessary in the future. 

The commissioners approved a renewal of the MOU. 

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