County News

News From Across the Nation - June 25, 2018

Weston Spivey

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ALABAMA

Most 18-year-olds are likely spending their summers around the pool or working at their first job. Weston Spivey is preparing to join the Board of Commissioners in GENEVA COUNTY this fall after winning the Republican primary June 5. No Democrat or independent entered the race.

Spivey ran his campaign while he was a senior at Ridgecrest Christian School and helping out at the family business, a farm-to-fork food distributor. “That was one of the biggest challenges — trying to graduate and campaign and run the business all at the same time,” he said. During his campaign, he focused primarily on economic development and supporting emergency responders.

A volunteer firefighter himself, he noted that first responders “have got to have the equipment they need to operate.” He also said he hopes to improve the county’s infrastructure, noting the county’s 600 miles of dirt roads.

 

ARIZONA

MARICOPA COUNTY is handing out $150 vouchers toward the purchase of electric lawn mowers. The county’s air quality department is teaming up with the state department of environmental quality to offer the vouchers to those willing to trade in their gas-powered mowers, The Republic newspaper reported. High pollution alerts triggered by ozone are common in the area, especially in warmer months.

 

CALIFORNIA

By a 3–2 vote, the SACRAMENTO COUNTY Board of Supervisors ended a contract between the county and DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain immigrants in county facilities while they awaited deportation proceedings, The Sacramento Bee reported. Since 2013, the Sheriff’s Department received undocumented people detained by federal immigration authorities and housed them at a correctional center. ICE paid the department millions of dollars per year to provide up to 165 beds for ICE detainees.

“Our budgets must reflect our values,” Supervisor Phil Serna said. “I do not value jailing immigrants, some of whom have not committed any criminal violations.” Proponents of the contract, Supervisors Sue Frost and Susan Peters, argued that it was “humanitarian” to renew the contract because it could allow some detainees to remain closer to family, the newspaper reported.

 

In a first for the Golden State, Punjabi, a language spoken primarily in Pakistan and India, made its way onto the ballot June 5 in SUTTER COUNTY, where 15 percent of the population speaks the language, CBS-13 reported. California’s election law states that if 3 percent of the population speak a certain language, a ballot must be provided in that language.

 

FLORIDA

Starting July 1, PALM BEACH COUNTY will limit driver’s license services for non-county residents, the Palm Beach Post reported. Non-residents will need to make an appointment in person in advance by visiting the tax collector’s office. About 100,000 out-of-county residents seek licenses there each year and with the closing of another driver’s license office coming June 29, lines are expected to get even longer. Residents may still apply online. “My first priority is to the Palm Beach County taxpayers,” Tax Collector Anne Gannon announced. “I want to make sure our residents receive the attention and level of service they paid for and deserve.”

 

PINELLAS COUNTY recently completed a six-day hurricane preparedness exercise, bringing all departments together to get on the same page and share lessons learned, the Tampa Bay Times reported. One of those lessons was about the evacuation process. Interim Emergency Management Director David Halstead said they will get information out to residents more often and sooner, if needed, this hurricane season. Another area of concern included maintaining power at more than 300 sewage lift stations. The county utilities department has 25 mobile generators; trucks are outfitted with software to help workers keep tabs on any problems.

 

HAWAII

An eruption June 10 at the summit of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano stands as the most destructive in U.S. history since at least the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state, according to a report by Scott Rowland, a volcanologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. HAWAII COUNTY Mayor Harry Kim lost his vacation home June 5 to a river of lava from the Kilauea volcano. Kim had purchased the property in 1971 for $5,000. The volcano began erupting May 3 and has devastated the area. The last official count of homes destroyed stands at 117. The Hawaii County Civil Defense said they expect that number to rise. Read more about the volcano eruption here. 

 

KENTUCKY

In a message to the public on its Facebook page, the FRANKLIN COUNTY Sheriff’s Department reminded residents that marijuana is not legal in the county or the state, following a drug bust. The sheriff posted a photo of the suspect as well as two pounds of marijuana, $5,000 in cash and an AK-47 found at the suspect’s home, along with the hashtag …  #THISAINTCOLORADOBRO.

 

MICHIGAN

Taking photos in an OTTAWA COUNTY park won’t be as simple as saying “cheese!” come this fall. That’s when the county plans to start enforcing a rule for commercial photographers who need to have a permit before snapping photos for weddings or other events. The county decided to start enforcing the rule in order to maintain the tranquil ambiance of the parks. “Recently, several photographers have taken advantage of that leniency and set up makeshift studios in the parks complete with signage, props, lights and even a receptionist desk,” the county noted in a news release. “Others frequently blocked trails or prevented regular users from accessing parts of the park.”

Permits will cost $25 for a day pass or $150 for an annual pass. Funds from the permits will be used to help regulate the policy.

 

MINNESOTA

HENNEPIN COUNTY has hired a director of disparity reduction. Alex Tittle will look to reduce differences in areas such as employment and income that adversely impact residents. “These differences affect residents negatively, and Hennepin County must align its work under the priority of reducing disparities in 2018 and beyond,” said County Administrator David J. Hough. Tittle will develop and implement plans to reduce disparities in several areas including education, employment, health, housing, income, justice and transportation.

 

NEVADA

CLARK COUNTY Commissioners plan to vote on a resolution calling for Congress to release almost 39,000 acres of federal land to the Las Vegas metropolitan area so it can grow beyond its current boundaries.
The commissioners’ proposal also would designate new wilderness and set aside tens of thousands of acres as areas of critical environmental concern for the desert tortoise and other protected species. The land is outside the existing disposal boundary established in 1998 as part of the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, which allows for the sale of federal land within the Las Vegas Valley for private development, The Review-Journal reported.

 

 

NEW YORK

CHEMUNG COUNTY might have found a clue to cutting down its high obesity rates for adults and adolescents. The county’s health department is holding a summer-long scavenger hunt in the county’s parks. Solving each puzzle will earn one entry into a random drawing for gifts. 
“We, on purpose, designed it trying to find clues where you couldn’t find them online, you couldn’t drive around in your car and look and see. We tried to make the clues where you had to get out of your car, walk on the trail, walk around the park, and look for what the answer to the clue is. The point is to get people out and walking,” Dawn Bush, public health coordinator for the health department, told My Twin Tiers.

 

 

ERIE COUNTY is cracking down on people who park in handicapped spots illegally with increased enforcement. If the sheriff’s office finds the permit holder is not in the car, not only will violators face a ticket, but the permit will be seized and returned to the municipality that issued it.

A recent report shows the county has collected 36 percent more in the $30 surcharges related to handicapped parking violations compared to last year. Half of that fee goes to the county to pay for handicapped parking education programs.

 

OREGON

Following China’s refusal to accept some Western recyclables, MARION COUNTY residents are facing fines if they include certain materials in their weekly pickup. China previously took most of Oregon’s recycling.

Now, shredded paper, egg cartons, milk boxes, most plastic containers and a long list of other items are banned from curbside recycling barrels, and members of the Mid-Valley Garbage & Recycling Association can fine customers as much as $15.45 per pickup.

DOUGLAS COUNTY halted all recycling completely in response to the Chinese ban.

 

PENNSYLVANIA

Analysis by the Pittsburgh City Paper shows that Amazon’s failure to collect local sales tax is depriving the ALLEGHENY COUNTY library system of $1.49 million annually. A study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy concluded that Amazon isn’t collecting the 1 percent sales tax the county levies on local purchases. The Regional Asset District tax contributes to public parks, museums and distressed municipalities in addition to generating more than $31 million yearly to public libraries.

 

UTAH

The UTAH COUNTY Commission passed an ordinance banning camping on county property. The ban was motivated by long-term homeless camps that were saturated with human waste and comprise a health hazard.

The ban applies both within city limits and in unincorporated areas, except in established campsites. It also bans the construction of semi-permanent or permanent structures.

Law enforcement can remove the campsite if the camper does not move after being given reasonable notice, if the property appears to be abandoned or unclaimed, if the property is contraband, if officials have probable cause to believe that illegal activities are occurring at the campsite or if the property presents immediate danger to human life, health or safety, The Daily Herald reported.

 

VERMONT

In advance of a change July 1 that will allow Vermont residents to possess a small amount of marijuana, the WINDSOR COUNTY state’s attorney organized an expungement workshop for residents to erase their records of misdemeanor marijuana charges.

Petitions for expungement will be submitted after July 1. Ultimately, a judge will decide if an expungement is warranted based on the nature of the conviction.

 

VIRGINIA

Solar energy farm proposals must include a traffic study and a plan for how the installation will be decommissioned after the life of the project, according to an ordinance passed by the CAMPBELL COUNTY Board of Supervisors. The ordinance will require solar inverters to be set back 500 feet from the property line for noise mitigation, the Lynchburg News and Advance reported.

 

WASHINGTON

In a case brought by KING COUNTY, a federal judge has blocked a Department of Health and Human Services effort to cut off funding for sex education programs that were not focused on abstinence.

KING COUNTY sued the federal government when the last three years of a five-year, $5 million grant was in jeopardy, the Associated Press reported. Multnomah County, Ore. also sued.

King County said HHS offered shifting explanations about why it was ending the funding. Multnomah County said states like Oregon, which mandate scientific curriculums, would be at a disadvantage.

U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour wrote that the department’s “failure to articulate any explanation for its action, much less a reasoned one based on relevant factors, exemplifies arbitrary and capricious agency action meriting reversal.”

 

WISCONSIN

After years of using private email, RACINE COUNY supervisors will be assigned county accounts for all county business.

Michael Lanzdorf, corporation counsel for the county, told The Journal Times that this change would keep the county in line with state and federal statues on records retention and public records laws.


News from Across the Nation is compiled by Charlie Ban and Mary Ann Barton, senior staff writers. If you have an item for News From, please email cban@naco.org or mbarton@naco.org.

 

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