County News

News from Across the Nation - Aug. 5, 2019

MARYLAND

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration designated a new national marine sanctuary in CHARLES COUNTY to protect the remains of more than 100 abandoned steamships and vessels that were part of World War I. The Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary is the first national marine sanctuary designated since 2000. The sanctuary is located along an 18-square mile stretch of the Potomac River. Photo courtesy of Matt McIntosh/NOAA

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ARIZONA

A program in MARICOPA COUNTY is helping to “calm the canines” during fireworks shows. For the Fourth of July, hundreds of volunteers visited shelters to comfort dogs throughout the night from the loud noises of fireworks. Volunteers read to the dogs, sang to them and sat next to the canines to help comfort them. Every dog at the shelter had a visitor to sit with them for the Fourth of July. The “Calm the Canines” program is also held on New Year’s Eve. 

 

CALIFORNIA

A new program in STANISLAUS COUNTY is allowing farmers to grow an unlimited amount of industrial hemp, CBS Sacramento reported. The plant, which is closely related to cannabis and has been declassified as a federally controlled substance by the 2018 Farm Bill, can be grown in California as long as it meets certain requirements of THC levels. Stanislaus County allows farmers to grow up to 12 acres of hemp where its fibers can be used for paper, clothing, lotions, ointments and for construction purposes. 

 

FLORIDA

The LEE COUNTY Sheriff’s Office is helping to foster puppies. The Cell Dog Program allows inmates to take care of puppies from the Gulf Coast Humane Society. Inmates are teaching the dogs voice commands, hand signals and other tricks. The program reduces the number of dogs that are euthanized. 

 

A pilot program in MANATEE COUNTY is using mobile ticketing for bus riders to purchase bus passes and single ride fares, WFTS-TV reported. The program allows Manatee County Public Transit riders to use their mobile phones to pay for bus tickets as an option instead of swiping a bus pass or depositing cash when boarding a bus. County leaders are looking to extend the program for three more years. 

 

The Commission for Children in ORANGE COUNTY recently held information sessions on youth needs. The sessions shared information on available funding for early childhood education, educational enrichment, juvenile justice and mental and physical health. The Citizens’ Commission for Children provides funding and monitoring of human-services programs for children and families in the county. 

 

GEORGIA

The HOUSTON COUNTY Sheriff’s Office is helping elderly citizens and those with disabilities who live alone, WGXA-TV reported. The RUOK program provides daily check-ins for individuals who can request a time during the day to receive a phone call. If they do not answer the phone, a communications officer is alerted, and first responders are dispatched to the individual’s home.  

 

IDAHO

An Adopt-A-Beach program in BONNER COUNTY is getting the public involved in maintaining beaches and boat ramps, according to The Sandpoint Reader. Bonner County Parks and Waterways implemented the program in hopes of receiving public input on problematic beaches in the county. Volunteers can meet with the department’s crew to determine and help maintain areas that need improvement. 

 

ILLINOIS

The LAKE COUNTY Sheriff’s Office launched the IN2WORK program for inmates, a three-day course focused on food safety and food industry management, The Daily Herald reported. Inmates who complete the course and pass a final exam will earn a state culinary certification that is good for five years. 

 

INDIANA

The CLINTON COUNTY Sheriff’s Office is connecting inmates with jobs after they are released from jail. The Second Chance Program works with outside companies, factories, restaurants and other employers to hire inmates, WLFI News 18 reported. Employers can come to the jail directly to interview applicants. The program has already helped five inmates either obtain jobs or set up interviews. 

 

MARYLAND

A new flood alert protocol is in place for Ellicott City in HOWARD COUNTY, WTOP reported. The county and the National Weather Service have clarified when flood sirens would sound for certain areas in Ellicott City by designating the area of the county that drains to the Tiber River as “Historic Ellicott City” and the larger area in the county as Ellicott City. 

 

NEVADA

PERSHING COUNTY tried out an online auction to sell tax-delinquent properties and raised more than $1 million, clearing 78 percent of its listings. In 2018, the county sold just 56 percent of its listings, raising $286,000, holding a live auction on the county courthouse steps.

“I was a little nervous to begin with because I thought that it might hold back our local bidders, but they were really good to work with and it was a much more streamlined process than us having to do all of it ourselves,” Lacey Donaldson, Pershing County clerk treasurer told KTVN News. Pershing County’s auction had 109 participants from 20 states. HUMBOLDT COUNTY is also using an online auction system.

 

WASHOE COUNTY is putting a stop to the CBD oil trend, with its health district threatening to issue cease and desist letters to restaurants if they put the unregulated product into food.

 

NEW JERSEY

The New Jersey Association of Counties wants to invalidate a new vote-by-mail law that it says confuses voters and unnecessarily costs taxpayer dollars. The law forces county clerks to automatically send mail-in ballots to anyone who previously voted by mail, starting with the 2016 general election. Previously, mail-in ballots were only sent on demand. The association argued that such a law was an unfunded mandate in an appearance before the New Jersey Council on Local Mandates, an independent state board that decides the constitutionality of laws that may impose unfunded mandates on local governments.

“The vote-by-mail ballots and the vote-by-mail expenses have proven to be very costly for our county clerks in preparing,” Executive Director John Donnadio told WBGO News. Donnadio said county clerks spent an additional $1.5 million to implement the new law in the 2018 general election.

 

NEW YORK

The NASSAU COUNTY Industrial Development Authority has begun broadcasting a weekly radio show, “Nassau Means Business,” which will air the first Sunday of every month at 7 a.m. The county’s Industrial Development Agency CEO Harry Coghlan will serve as host. 

 

After 100 days, ROCKLAND COUNTY will not renew its emergency declaration to deal with the measles outbreak. The county provided free measles- mumps-rubella vaccines and earlier in June, the Department of Health issued mandatory vaccination orders for all children attending summer camp and all camp staff.

 

 

Adults who accompany children to WESTCHESTER COUNTY pools are receiving tags, similar to an ID card on a lanyard, meant to remind caregivers to maintain constant supervision of youngsters in and out of the water. The tags were donated by the parents of a child they lost to drowning at age 2.

 

Seven counties have joined a class action lawsuit against major telecommunications providers alleged to have withheld surcharge payments, amounting to a “multi-billion-dollar” deficit.

The lawsuit, filed on May 1, alleges the companies — Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Frontier Communications — failed to pay counties legally mandated reimbursement funds that offset the high costs of emergency response services. OSWEGO, FULTON, NASSAU, OTSEGO, SCHOHARIE, SULLIVAN and WYOMING counties have joined the suit thus far, The Palladium Times reported. To offset high costs, state law says counties are entitled to a surcharge fee from telephone services on landline and wireless 911 services.

 

NORTH DAKOTA

A 43-ton semi-trailer truck caused a GRAND FORKS COUNTY-owned bridge, one that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, to collapse. The bridge was built in 1906 and was rated for 14 tons. The driver, who was carrying dry beans, was fined $11,400, but KFGO News reported replacement of the bridge would cost between $800,000 and $1 million.

 

OHIO 

The CUYAHOGA COUNTY Council voted to include a charter amendment in the November general election that would keep the sheriff as an appointed position but grant the office greater autonomy and bolster council’s oversight.

The Plain Dealer reported that the amendment would stagger the sheriff’s four-year term with that of the county executive, require council approval of the executive’s appointment of the sheriff every four years, require eight council members to approve or initiate firing of a sheriff after a public hearing in which the sheriff can defend himself or herself, give the sheriff hiring authority and require sheriffs to have a two-year or four-year degree in criminal justice or law enforcement. 

 

PENNSYLVANIA 

A school district will accept donations to cover unpaid school lunch accounts, arrears that school officials threatened would prompt calls to place children with unpaid accounts into the LUZERNE COUNTY foster care system. County Manager David Pedri told National Public Radio that at least five donors stepped forward willing to satisfy the $22,000 in debt accrued by dozens of students.  Pedri told CNN that “Luzerne County foster care will never take a kid for not paying school debt.” He said the county has asked the school district to “cease and desist with this type of language.”

 

WASHINGTON

KING COUNTY’s 2020 comprehensive plan may involve increased setbacks from the water on Vashon Island to account for sea level rise. A report by the Center for Climate Integrity shows that of all West Coast states, Washington is poised to bear the highest financial burden as it tries to shelter communities from a rising sea driven by climate change.

 

WISCONSIN

MILWAUKEE COUNTY Transit drivers found two lost children in the course of their regular bus routes July 5, The Journal Sentinel reported. One driver took a child to the police and the other waited until relatives showed up.


News from Across the Nation is compiled by Charlie Ban and Rachel Looker. Send your news tips to cban@naco.org or rlooker@naco.org.

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