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COMMISSIONERS NIX JUVENILE STUDY, OK PLANS TO IMPROVE BROOKINGS AIRPORT

GOLD BEACH The Curry County Commissioners said no to a juvenile detention facility study at a special meeting last week, but said yes to improvements at the Brookings airport and a long-range county financial plan.

Prior to being terminated (see story page 1A), Community Justice Director Ron Mathis asked the commissioners to approve his application for $15,000 in regional investment funds from the CCD Business Development Corporation.

He said his department would match that with $5,000 in staff time. The $15,000 would go to Rural Development Initiatives to conduct a feasibility study on Mathis proposed juvenile detention facility. He already has $450,000 for the detention project.

With holding facilities in adjacent counties, Commissioner Lucie La Bont questioned the need for one in Curry County.

Mathis said, The goal is to get kids in a therapeutic environment, provide them with better supervision, and give them the skills they need to rejoin society.

With four to six short-term beds, Mathis said his staff-secure facility would be less expensive to build than the holding facilities in other counties. He said state funds would help pay for empty beds.

La Bont said she has followed the issue since 1990, and has talked with the juvenile division staff.

She said Mathis staff was concerned about who would pay to staff the facility when the grant money was used up.

Is your communication not good with your juvenile people? she said.

Mathis said he wanted the study to give the commissioners the information they needed to make a decision.

If they decide against the facility, he said, the $450,000 could be used for other needs in the juvenile division.

La Bont said the money had been sitting around for more than a year. She wanted to meet with Mathis entire juvenile staff before making a decision on the facility.

Commissioner Marlyn Schafer asked how Mathis could get $5,000 worth of time out of his staff with his tight budget.

He said the in-kind match would be calculated at $50 an hour for 100 hours.

You pay people $50 an hour over there? said La Bont.

Its a major undertaking that well spend some time on, said Mathis.

Schafer was more concerned about the qualifications of Rural Development Initiatives to do that kind of study. She said their specialty is economic studies.

Commissioner Cheryl Thorp shared the concerns of the other commissioners. She said Mathis department was on a tight shoestring.

Schafer said shes heard the department has a huge workload.

This is not a good use of resources, she said.

Schafer serves on the Rural Investment Board that will review the applications. She said Mathis proposal is not written in a way that would make it past the board.

She suggested Mathis application may be ready in time for the July 1 round of projects.

Mathis said his team is committed to working on the facility regardless of the timeline.

The commissioners decided they wanted more information on how Mathis staff uses its time.

Schafer said shed rather hire a consultant used to doing feasibility studies, rather than use Mathis staff time.

You need to come back in July asking for less staff resources and more money for people to do the study, she said.

The commissioners voted instead to approve the application for $14,066 for the Curry Coast Airpark in Brookings. The grant would be used as a match for $126,600 in Federal Aviation Administration funds.

The project will include fencing to keep wildlife off the runways, precision approach path indicators, and reflective markers and signs.

The commissioners also approved an application for $30,000 for a county financial plan. The county will provide $1,773 in matching funds.

The proposal said, The county government needs to immediately respond to the financial problems it faces so that its employment, development, financial and operational health is no longer jeopardized.

The plan will tie the strategic plans of ports, cities and the county together.

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