County News

News from Across the Nation - Oct. 30, 2017

PENNSYLVANIA

CHESTER COUNTY residents combined their efforts to walk 1 billion steps in 2017, doing so three months before a challenge deadline.

The County Commissioners and health department launched WalkWorks ChesCo! in April to promote, educate and empower county residents to adopt healthier lifestyles. A website allows users to track their daily steps and programming supports and promotes walking groups and coordinates walking challenges.

The county celebrated the milestone at the commissioners’ public sunshine meeting. The county entered the program in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge, a partnership established between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and NACo.

ALABAMA

Alabama’s counties are featured in a new coloring book by local author Laura Murray. In her book, Amazing Alabama: A Coloring Book Journey Through Our 67 Counties, Murray, whose background is in marketing and graphic design, features an illustration of each county’s iconic as well as lesser-known sites with companion text. The author said she has always collected coloring books and got the idea for creating her own after she couldn’t find one at last year’s Alabama Book Festival. The book is debuting as the state is celebrating its bicentennial. Murray is currently working on a county-by-county coloring book of Georgia, which has 159 counties. She said her goal is to do a book for all 50 states.

 

CALIFORNIA

►Gov. Jerry Brown (D) sided with counties Oct. 15 when he vetoed S.B. 649, dealing a blow to telecom companies that wanted to loosen restrictions on siting “small cell” devices on public property. “I believe that the interest which localities have in managing rights of way requires a more balanced solution than the one achieved in this bill,” Brown said in a letter to the members of the California Senate. The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) had lobbied heavily against the proposed legislation.

►More than 120 county employees lost their homes in SONOMA COUNTY due to the wildfires that devastated the region earlier this month, The Press Democrat reported. “The work is just beginning on recovery and rebuilding,” said Supervisor Susan Gorin, who also lost her home in the fires. “We are going through this together.” She made her comments at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Gorin said the county’s protracted housing crisis was “very real” already but has “just been exploded” by thousands of people who were affected by the fires.

 

COLORADO

In a joint effort with Habitat for Humanity and the Roaring Fork School District, PITKIN COUNTY is moving forward with plans to build affordable housing on school land, according to The Aspen Times. The project is estimated to cost $15.7 million; the sale of 27 condos will raise about $8 million.

The school district is contributing land valued at $3.2 million. The county dipped into a fund dedicated to affordable housing to contribute $2.75 million. In return, 12 of the condos will be reserved for sale to people who work in the county.

Habitat is contributing $1.75 million.

 

DELAWARE

This library goes way beyond books, computer stations and periodicals. NEW CASTLE COUNTY recently celebrated the opening of a new library — Route 9 Library and Innovation Center. The $32 million facility was designed to encourage entrepreneurship in the county, with learning labs for video editing, animation and robotics. In addition to books, the library will also offer learning areas including a maker lab, STEM room, as well as the Black Box Theater and Eatery. The center was built with county and state funds.

 

FLORIDA

►In ESCAMBIA COUNTY, they’re trying to take a bite out of the pesky mosquito population. The county is partnering on a pilot project with Gulf Power to mount mosquito traps on public light poles. The devices use UV light and CO2 to attract mosquitoes before a vacuum eliminates the critters. Testing will start with devices mounted to about 30 light poles around the area including the Escambia County Equestrian Center. Gulf Power also plans to offer the mosquito control units to customers next year.

Diseases that are spread to people by mosquitoes include Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue and malaria.

►Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, LAKE COUNTY will offer 840 bear-proof trash cans to residents at $40 a can, first-come, first-serve. The trash cans have proven popular, with more than 300 residents signing up so far, the Orlando Sentinel reported. “The distribution of carts is timely, as bears are most active during the fall months,” said Mary Hamilton, county Environmental Services manager. Residents can trade in their old trash cans if they get one of the bear-proof ones. Previously, some residents took matters into their own hands and had drilled holes and added clips to their trash cans to keep the bears out. Bears have enormous appetites, eating about 30,000 calories a day. Authorities received about 400 calls about bears from residents in Lake County last year. Florida black bear is estimated to number about 3,000, according to Defenders of Wildlife.

 

NEVADA

Following the Oct. 1 shooting at the Mandalay Bay hotel, CLARK COUNTY has expedited plans to install 700 steel bollards between sidewalks and the Las Vegas Strip. The Bollards are strong enough to stop a flatbed truck traveling at 55 miles per hour, county staff told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. They should take two months to install. In 2015, a car running onto the sidewalk killed one pedestrian and injured 35 others.

 

OHIO

CUYAHOGA COUNTY will fine landlords who do not register their rental properties. Property registration with county auditors in counties with more than 200,000 residents has been required since 2006, yet many unregistered properties remain in Cuyahoga County.

With fines of up to $150 per property, the county could reap $3 million next year, The Plain Dealer reported, but because owners only need to register property once, fine revenue will decline. Of the 12 counties where registration is required, seven do not impose fines, three do and two, including Cuyahoga, are in the process of refiniong their policies.

 

OREGON

CLACKMAS COUNTY commissioners and volunteers went to work building the frames for the first set of tiny houses that will shelter veterans while they progress to permanent housing. By the end of one morning of work, nine frames were complete.

It was the first step of what will be 30 8-foot-by-12-foot units on 1.5 acres the county owns. Nearly 700 trusses were reused from a music festival stage, the Lake Oswego Review reported.

 

SOUTH CAROLINA

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court ruling will put the Charleston Naval Hospital in CHARLESTON COUNTY’s hands for $33 million, for which it will likely house county services including voter registration, social services, drug and alcohol treatment and the disability board.

The county signed a $30 million lease agreement that developers used as collateral to secure loans and buy the hospital property. The county backed out of the lease deal in 2016 after delays, complaints from contractors about unpaid bills and demands for more funding from the developers. With the anchor tenant for the project gone and a lack of other tenants, lenders quickly foreclosed, The Post and Courier reported.

 

UTAH

After years of voluntarily prosecuting class A misdemeanors, the City of Provo will move hundreds of those cases to UTAH COUNTY. The county handles all felony cases. Multiple legal and potential legal issues between the county and city have increased the city attorney’s office’s workload. Commission Chairman Bill Lee told the Daily Herald there had not yet been time yet to dig into the implications, including possible costs to the county for taking on more workload.

 

WASHINGTON

A KING COUNTY Superior Court judge ruled that an initiative that would allow voters to decide the fate of safe injection sites is invalid and won’t appear on the February special election ballot.

Initiative 27 would have prohibited funding and operating safe injection sites, which King County calls Community Health Engagement Locations and plans to staff with nurses and addiction counselors. Based on the recommendation of its opioid addiction task force, the county plans to open one site in Seattle and another outside of the city.

Judge Veronica Alicea-Galván said the initiative would infringe on the power of the county’s Board of Health, the Seattle Times reported.

 

SPOKANE COUNTY, with some exceptions, will no longer ask job applicants about their criminal record, and will run criminal background checks on candidates until after the county has determined the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position. Departments dealing with public safety — such as the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, detention services, and court systems — are excluded from the policy.


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.

 

Contact the Editor

Bev Schlotterbeck
Executive Editor
(202) 942-4249
bschlott@naco.org