The state transportation department reversed course and decided to work with officials in DEKALB COUNTY to develop road signs directing people to new tornado shelters.
The department had earlier opposed the signs along state highways because they would overcrowd the existing signs, Fox News reported.
In 2011, the county managed to prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency from tearing down tornado shelters built at schools.
Attorneys for MOHAVE COUNTY and Quaterra Alaska, Inc., a mining company, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and BLM Director Robert V. Abbey. WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah has joined the suit, too.
The suit challenges Salazar’s closing of more than one million acres of federal land to all mining, effective Jan. 9, 2012.
According to the suit, proper procedures under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act were not followed.
The document states defendants ignored both science and facts and have deprived “Mohave County, as well as the state of Arizona, of tens of millions of dollars in revenues and jobs, further inhibiting the state and local government efforts to recover from the worst economic recession in 80 years.”
The Mohave County Board voted in 2009 to support uranium mining in the northern county. The county borders the Grand Canyon.
The TULARE COUNTY Board of Supervisors made it easier to ask a court to shut down operators who are violating local medical-marijuana rules.
A new policy the board approved also introduces fines — which include a $100-a-day fine for each violation — and other penalties if public safety is threatened by the violations.
Currently, the process to shut down operators takes 120 to 180 days, but the authorized changes could reduce it to about 45 days.
County Counsel Kathleen Bales-Lange noted that the county would count each marijuana plant as a violation, the Tulare Advance-Register reported.
Other penalties for ongoing violations could include criminal prosecution, suspending special-use permits for activities on properties not related to marijuana and denying permits in the future.
● The Florida Supreme Court ruled that term limits for county commissioners are constutitional.
The high court unanimously upheld the right for charter-governed counties across the state to impose term limits on their county commissioners and constitutional officers like sheriffs and clerks of court, the Herald-Tribune reported.
There are 20 charter counties in the state.
● After deploying more than 2,000 tons of concrete materials, ST. LUCIE COUNTY has two new artificial reefs.
The reefs are each made of 1,000 tons of different concrete and steel structures including culverts, light poles, concrete slabs and steel safes. Funding for the reefs came from a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission grant and the St. Lucie County Erosion District.
Artificial reefs at similar depths have supported gag, Goliath grouper, red snapper, scamp and snook.
If natural disaster or public safety emergency forces DUBUQUE COUNTY into a lockdown, most public and many private facilities now have emergency kits, known as “crisis bags” made to address the situation.
The bright red nylon tote bags hang in school offices and classrooms, college campuses, libraries, city and county offices, and will soon be visible in places of worship, thanks to the county health department. All bags include first aid supplies to treat injuries for up to 48 hours and a flashlight, the Telegraph Herald reported.
● Commissioners in DONIPHAN COUNTY are weighing whether to let voters decide on allowing restaurants to serve liquor by the drink.
Doniphan County is located on the Missouri River, across from BUCHANAN COUNTY and the city of St. Joseph, Mo. KNZA-FM reported officials of three Doniphan County cities want a referendum in November on ending the county’s dry status.
Meanwhile, the CHEROKEE COUNTY Commission has allowed Sunday beer sales at stores in the unincorporated areas of the county.
The measure would take effect in July, unless a protest petition forces it onto the August election ballot. The measure would allow Sunday beer sales at convenience stores, truck stops and delis, according to the Joplin Globe.
● Despite pleas to reject a complaint from a national group, the RENO COUNTY Commission will not reinstate sectarian prayer before its meetings, and is changing its policy to reflect that.
The move comes after the Americans United for Separation of Church and State objected to the tradition of ministers offering prayers before the meetings.
The Hutchinson News reported most commission members favored asking professionals to offer nonsectarian prayers. If no minister or speaker is available, a commissioner could say a prayer or ask for a moment of silence.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the commission last month that it had received a complaint about the prayer tradition.
In response to increasing metal thefts affecting home and business owners, BALTIMORE COUNTY police announced a new task force, the Metal Thefts Team.
The thefts include everything from ripping copper gutters off homes to breaking into Baltimore Gas and Electric facilities and taking electronic devices.
Lawmakers in Annapolis have updated laws to try and combat the problem, but police say too many loopholes still exist. Baltimore County was one of the first jurisdictions in the state to require metal dealers to report transactions to authorities, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Already barred from resale are items such as catalytic converters, cemetery urns, tree grates, water meters, street signs, guardrails, light poles and grave markers. And dealers are required to keep records of every transaction and hold questionable items, such as decorative pieces, to give police time to track them if they are stolen.
County jails will lose more than $1 million for HIV testing and education thanks to state budget cuts.
Sheriffs warned that the cuts will lead to eliminating staff who educate inmates about the virus; curtailing HIV testing within the jails; and ending visits by infectious disease doctors who monitor inmates’ health. This would threaten the health of inmates and those they have contact with after being released, according to the Boston Globe.
Federal cuts forced the state to reduce its overall AIDS prevention budget by $4.3 million, which amounted to about 25 percent of annual spending on HIV prevention. The elimination of the jails program is among the first casualties.
Jails, where turnover is much higher than in state prisons, have long been regarded as crucial venues for introducing prevention and testing.
The $1.25 million cut to jails and houses of correction in the state’s 13 counties starts July 1.
Road department employees in LOWNDES COUNTY are now required to take one drug test a year, and others will be randomly chosen for tests three other times during the year.
In the past, employees only were tested on a random basis, according to The Dispatch.
● ULSTER COUNTY Executive Michael Hein said plans are underway for a former group home to be turned over to the county to provide temporary housing and other services to veterans in need.
Hein is slated to ask the county Legislature later this month to pass a resolution requesting transfer of the state-owned property to the county, the Daily Freeman reported.
“We believe this provides an opportunity for transitional housing in a manner befitting people who have fought for our country, regardless of their financial situation,” he said.
In his 2012 State of the County address, Hein said transitional housing for veterans was one of his priorities. He said some veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and some who fought in prior wars, are “struggling to readjust to civilian life.”
● Veterans are also on the minds of ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY, which will soon offer an identification card for veterans that gives them discounts at participating businesses, according to the Watertown Daily Times.
About 30 businesses have signed up so far. “The biggest thing will be to get more businesses on board,” County Clerk Mary Lou Rupp said. Her office will administer the program.
Software for the program and decals to identify participating businesses were paid for by two local car dealers. Rupp said more than 30 counties in the state are operating their own programs.
The first cards will be issued at a military and veterans appreciation day and career fair June 16.
● Slim and none... Those are the chances of moving the Democratic National Convention from MECKLENBURG COUNTY — in protest of the state’s voters passing Amendment One, banning same-sex marriage, according to news analysts.
Gay Marriage USA, a New York-based advocacy group launched a petition calling on the Democratic National Convention Committee to “move the convention out of North Carolina” after the law’s passage May 8, ABC News’ The Note Blog reported.
“Too much planning has gone into it,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “Practically speaking, it’s at total nonstarter.”
Further, it would punish a county in which about 54 percent of the vote in was against the amendment, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
● WAKE COUNTY kicked off a three-month campaign aimed at getting automated external defibrillators in more public buildings.
The goal of the Wake EMS 100-Day Heart Safe Automated External Defibrillators Campaign is to help more people survive cardiac arrest, WRAL.com reported.
The county has partnered with local defibrillator vendors to offer incentives for businesses and groups buying the devices. Once a device is registered, the information is provided to the Wake County 911 centers so that dispatchers can quickly locate the unit and assist with its use during emergencies.
MULTNOMAH COUNTY has saved at least $400,000 at the county’s two jails through a joint project by the Sheriff’s Office and Office of Sustainability to make the jails more environmentally sustainable.
Officers and inmates have seen numerous changes including switching from Styrofoam to reusable cups, using recycled twine to wrap laundry and capturing, treating and recycling water used to wash clothes and bedding. Some of the future objectives highlighted include:
- digitizing the law library, saving about $70,000 annually
- reducing total energy use of the jails 20 percent by 2020
- reducing water use in county jails 10 percent by 2015, and
- working with food contractors to buy at least 10 percent of food locally.
- The project began as a small-scale effort in 2010.
Photo courtesy of Salt Lake County, Utah
SALT LAKE COUNTY
Mayor Peter Corroon
and South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood prepare to lead the pack for the annual Mayors’ Bike to Work Ride
May 15. The Bike to Work Week event was free and open to the public and included snacks and t-shirts for all participants.
First-year ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY Supervisor Dee Dee Darden was a finalist for Monsanto’s Farm Mom of the Year award. She represented the southeast region in the program that recognizes women’s contributions to family, farm, community and agriculture.
Darden and her husband farm 600 acres of peanuts, cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans, pumpkins and beef cattle. They also run Darden’s Country Store, a family business since 1952, where they cure country hams.
As a regional winner, Darden won a $5,000 cash prize.
This year’s list of America’s Most Bike Friendly Communities includes TETON COUNTY, Wyo., ARLINGTON COUNTY, Va., and the city and county of DENVER and SAN FRANCISCO, respectively, in its Gold and Silver categories. Platinum is the highest designation awarded by the League of American Bicyclists in its annual ranking.
New to the list this year is ADA COUNTY, Idaho, entering in the Bronze category.
Communities are recognized based on evaluations of factors such as investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies. See the full list at www.bikeleague.org.