County News

News From Across the Nation - May 13, 2019

CALIFORNIA

A stadium home to the Oakland A’s in ALAMEDA COUNTY may be fully owned by the baseball team after county supervisors voted to transfer the county’s half ownership, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The county and the Oakland A’s currently co-own the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Supervisors voted to start a final process of transferring the county’s ownership to the Oakland A’s for a price of $85 million. The baseball team plans to move to another site in the city and is considering turning the Coliseum into a “Roman ruin-like multi-sports facility” with parks, housing and a technology campus. Photo credit: Oakland Athletics

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CALIFORNIA

A program in LOS ANGELES COUNTY is using electronic bracelets to locate missing people with dementia or autism, KTLA 5 reported. The program, “LA Found,” helps police, fire departments, nursing homes and hospitals coordinate efforts when searching for a missing person who is voluntarily wearing a bracelet. Electronic receivers in police cars and helicopters are used to track the locations of the bracelets. At least four missing people in the county have been found because of the technology.

 

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News From Across the Nation is compiled by Charlie Ban and Rachel Looker. Do you have an item for us to include? Contact us at cban@naco.org and rlooker@naco.org.

COLORADO

The governor of Colorado has signed a bill that prevents individuals accused of committing low-level crimes from being held in jail if they can’t pay the set bail, according to The Colorado Sun. Those who are currently jailed for low-level offenses and are unable to pay their bail will be released. Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, who heads up the County Sheriffs of Colorado organization, said he doesn’t think the signing of House Bill 1225 will have a major, immediate impact on jail operations throughout the state.

“Here’s the thing: There’s very few — very few — cases that we house people on that are petty offenses,” Spurlock said. Only a handful of people, he said, are sent to his jail on municipal charges.

He said he expects any jail holding a person on a petty offense will release them immediately.

 

FLORIDA

The Office of Emergency Management and the ORANGE COUNTY government are hosting a 2019 Hurricane Expo with the theme “Safer and Stronger, Together.” The event will include one-on-one talks with emergency responders and safety vendors, safety tips on how to survive a hurricane and a panel discussion with meteorologists. Attendees may also receive free preparedness items. The expo is free and open to the public.

 

School buses in POLK COUNTY will now be equipped with a radio system that is connected to all emergency services in the county, The Ledger reported. The implementation comes after the death of a handicapped student during a school bus incident last year. School district board members voted to purchase and install 690 radios, which allow bus drivers to press a button and have direct communication with the 911 system. The system is capable of identifying the bus and its location and ties into the county’s existing emergency system.

 

INDIANA

DEARBORN COUNTY commissioners approved an ordinance banning semi-trucks on certain county roads, Eagle Country 99.3 FM reported. Commissioners approved the restriction for trucks 40 feet or longer on an as needed, temporary basis. The restriction will only apply when the county highway department places a sign on a specific road. Both the commissioners and the highway department will have to agree that a permanent restriction should be in place to permanently ban trucks from a road.

 

VIGO COUNTY is using cameras to catch those illegally dumping trash, The Tribune Star reported. The county obtained 20 cameras that will be hidden along trails near river bottoms, creeks and on county roads. The cameras will take time-stamped photos to catch illegal trash dumpers.

 

IOWA

Supervisors in DUBUQUE COUNTY voted to allow ATVs and UTVs on county roads, KCRG-TV9 reported. The ordinance passed with some stipulations. County Supervisor Jay Wickham said the direction of the ordinance was to have an allowance or “limited trial” that will expire after a certain amount of time. The ordinance passed with a vote of two to one. One supervisor voted against it because of safety concerns.

 

MARYLAND

Students in BALTIMORE COUNTY completed a 2.5-acre reforestation project by planting trees surrounding their elementary school. The Shady Spring Elementary School Project allowed students to plant and then monitor the trees. For 15 years, Baltimore County has accepted a Tree City USA award from the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of Foresters. The county hopes to maintain a 50 percent tree canopy within three drinking water reservoirs by 2025.

 

A councilmember in MONTGOMERY COUNTY wants to require a report that estimates the fiscal impact of legislation considered by the council, according to Bethesda Magazine. Councilmember Andrew Friedson said the goal is to require proposed bills to quantify the impact or costs the legislation could have on businesses and residents. The fiscal note legislation is being drafted and will be introduced next month.

 

MICHIGAN

The public health department in CALHOUN COUNTY is launching a new program called “Choices” in an effort to reduce teenage pregnancy rates, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported. The program allows individuals who do not have a doctor or health insurance to access reproductive health services. The program will offer pregnancy prevention services as well as tools to help those who are struggling to start a family.

 

OTTAWA COUNTY has been recognized as the Corporate Champion of Diversity by the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce. The county followed a “four C’s” strategy which included customer service, creativity, communication and cultural intelligence. Ottawa County implemented diversity and inclusion trainings within the sheriff’s office, the courts, the health departments and other government services. 

 

NEBRASKA

State legislators voted 41-8, in the face of Gov. Peter Ricketts’ veto, to allow GAGE COUNTY to impose a half-cent sales tax to pay the $28.1 million judgment against the county.

Ricketts opposed the bill because it would have allowed the tax without approval from the voters, the Associated Press reported. The judgment covers damages to six people who were exonerated in 2008 for a 1985 murder.

 

NEW MEXICO

Following weeks of closed immigration checkpoints, OTERO COUNTY has declared a state of emergency and demanded Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham direct the National Guard to reopen the checkpoints. The declaration notes the need for open checkpoints to stop drugs and illegal activity at the border, the Alamogordo Daily News reported, after border patrol agents were moved to assist with asylum claims elsewhere. A governor’s spokesman said the National Guard would not operate federal checkpoints.

 

NEW YORK

DUTCHESS COUNTY trained first responders how to better interact with individuals with autism. The program taught first responders how to identify the characteristics and behavior of a person with an autism spectrum disorder and how to effectively communicate with one, how to respond to an emergency involving a person with an autism spectrum disorder. More than 400 county first responders have already received this training.

 

Nobody’s tuxedo at an ERIE COUNTY prom will be complete without a pamphlet and cellphone wallet that warns teens about the dangers of distracted driving. County Clerk Mickey Kearns is partnering with the State Police and AAA to give out those materials to anyone picking up rented suits from a particular clothier.

 

OHIO

CUYAHOGA COUNTY has launched a Performance and Measures website, which displays 150 measurements evaluating how well the county is meeting 15 broad performance goals that County Executive Armand Budish has identified. The county’s Office of Innovation & Performance led other departments in collecting baseline data, which will update on a quarterly basis and compare the county’s performance to others throughout the region. Measurements are classified as regional growth, economic opportunity, individual well-being, the mobilization of resources and quality of service provided.

 

OREGON

Concerned with increasing truancy rates, the JOSEPHINE COUNTY Commission is considering an ordinance that would allow police officers, juvenile department officers or school enforcement officers to cite students. The ordinance would not impose financial or criminal fines on students, but it would give officials the option to get court orders for a juvenile to attend class, the local CBS affiliate reported.

 

TEXAS

With diversion for low-level offenders with mental health illnesses paying off for HARRIS COUNTY, its program is going to expand. Since September 2018, more than 1,000 people have been diverted to psychiatric care.

District Attorney Kim Ogg told the Houston Chronicle that she anticipated the number of clients could double or triple over a similar time period with the expansion of the program. It previously focused mostly on trespassing offenses and now will include eligibility for an array of non-violent, low-level misdemeanors, such as failure to identify to a police officer.   

Authorities said they expect to see an estimated $18 million in cost savings per year between local police departments, the district attorney’s office, defense attorneys, courts and the jail.

 

VIRGINIA

ARLINGTON COUNTY’s parks and recreation department encouraged residents to take photos of plants and animals through the City Nature Challenge over the course of four days in April. Participants documented species observations and posted pictures of plants and animals using a free app. In 2018, 68 cities around the world participated. Arlington County participated as part of the Washington D.C. Metro area team, coming in fifth in the number of nature observations posted and with the fourth most participants — 876.

 

FAIRFAX COUNTY’s new budget includes $200,000 for a legal defense fund for immigrants in the process of being deported. The program will benefit immigrants living in the county including permanent residents, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and immigrants with a Temporary Protected Status, WAMU News reported. The money will not be used to fund those facing criminal cases. The Capital Area Immigrants’ Right Coalition has already implemented the program in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City.

 

After 73 years working in a variety of public works capacities, Elvin Cosby retired from HENRICO COUNTY April 30. He started at age 18 on April 23, 1946 as a laborer, bringing water to county road crews. Throughout the years, he worked as a truck driver, equipment operator, labor foreman and maintenance supervisor. He also advised the county on its early efforts to promote a racially diverse workforce. In 2018, the county named a county government center road after Cosby and in 2015 established the Elvin R. Cosby Award to recognize long-tenured employees for their outstanding service and contributions.

 

WASHINGTON

KING COUNTY Executive Dow Constantine signed an executive order aimed at ending deportations via King County International Airport. A report by the University of Washington Center for Human Rights found that 34,400 detainees on 466 flights have been deported on charter flights leaving that airport since 2010. Neither ICE nor its private contract air-carriers are obligated to file passenger manifests or flight schedules with King County. King County cannot board planes to inspect passengers or cargo, nor direct federal air traffic controllers to prevent any plane from landing.

The order ensures future long-term leases with companies that operate hangars and other facilities at King County International Airport comply with local immigration and human rights ordinances, including ordinances that dictate that the county will not cooperate or facilitate immigration enforcement directives unless accompanied by a court order.

The Executive Order also updates King County International Airport’s “Minimum Standards” to provide reports and audits from businesses involved with transporting immigration detainees.

 

Commercial sales of dogs and cats younger than eight weeks would be banned under a proposal by KITSAP COUNTY commissioners.

The county cited inhumane conditions consisting of overcrowded cages, over-breeding, absence of adequate sanitation and vet treatment for serious health issues and lack of socialization and exercise according to the Kitsap Sun. Exceptions would be made for animal welfare groups like the Kitsap Humane Society. Hobby breeders could still sell pets but sell less than 20 in a 12-month-span, and keep medical records for two years.

 

Farmers in SKAGIT COUNTY will be able to charge hunters to shoot elk on their land thanks to the county’s deal with the state Fish and Wildlife Department. An optional access fee, set at whatever level the farmer wants, will compensate landowners for their time and trouble. The deal will help ease tensions between the county and state over elk management, assuaging concerns that the states will force landowners to allow strangers on their property to shoot the elk, The Capital Press reported.

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