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Umatilla, Morrow county boards to sit down for first time in years

Phil Wright

East Oregonian

Published on October 12, 2017 6:42PM


The boards of commissioners for Morrow and Umatilla counties will make a rare move Friday — a joint meeting.

Doug Olson, long-serving attorney for Umatilla County, said he could not recall the last time the two governing bodies sat down together. Umatilla County board chairman Larry Givens has been commissioner since 2007 and said the last joint meeting was years ago.

Morrow County has two new commissioners — Melissa Lindsay and Jim Doherty won elections last fall. Givens said that makes this a good time to sit down with Umatilla County’s neighbor to the west and work on some issues of mutual concern. Kim Cutsforth, Morrow County interim administrative officer, echoed the sentiment and added the two counties also have overlap in certain programs and services.

Workforce and water issues lead off the discussion topics for the public meeting, which begins Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the Bartholomew Building Upper Conference Room, 110 N. Court St., Heppner. Givens said the boards likely are going to touch on workforce housing as well as water projects near the counties’ border, plus siphoning more Columbia River water for development.

Givens said he didn’t know if watermasters would be a topic. Umatilla County used to provide its watermaster to Morrow County for a fee, but last year the Oregon Water Resources Department absorbed the department and its employees. Still, the two counties share other programs, Cutsforth said, including public health inspections and veteran services. Both are on the agenda, as is 911 dispatch.

Morrow County’s dispatch center backs up Umatilla County’s and vise versa, and Givens said the ability for emergency services to communicate could come up.

All three of Umatilla County’s commissioners are going, along with Olson. The meeting is open to the public, and there is time at the beginning for individuals to address commissioners about issues not on the agenda. Cutsforth said the boards also might have a working lunch and no one is voting on anything. The boards also plan on taking a tour around 1 p.m. of the Bartholomew Building, Morrow County’s new administrative center.

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What: The board of commissioners of Umatilla and Morrow counties hold a joint meeting to discuss key mutual topics. The meeting is open to the public.

When: Friday starting at 10:30 a.m.

Where: Bartholomew Building Upper Conference Room, 110 N. Court St., Heppner



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