PENDLETON - Newly elected Umatilla County Commissioner Larry Givens is working at fulfilling his campaign promises of making county government more accessible to citizens.

In what he hopes will become a regular meeting, Givens will meet with citizens from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Stafford Hansell Government Center, 915 S.E. Columbia Drive in Hermiston.

"I encourage people to stop by," Givens said. "My door will be open. No appointments are necessary."

In an inauguration speech on Jan. 2, Givens said he wanted the county to hold some meetings in the evenings so more people could attend. Also, he wanted commissioners to start attending city council meetings. Those efforts already have begun. Givens attended the recent Weston City Council meeting to present the city with a check for economic develop and on Thursday evening the Board of Commissioners held Measure 37 hearings.

Givens sees the Hermiston meeting as another step in the ladder of increasing the communication between the county and citizenry and building the public trust.

"It's going to be a big job," he said.

Givens said the goal is to hold these types of meetings on a regular basis at least once a month. He also wants to eventually hold similar meetings in Milton-Freewater. He said he hopes people will come Tuesday, if for no other reason than to give voice to issues and problems, even if he doesn't have all the answers to solve those problems.

"But you sure can't solve the problems if they don't tell you what the problems are," he said.

He wants people to understand even if the county can't address issues right away, the board certainly can listen. Further, he hopes this and future meetings will give commissioners an opportunity to explain how county government works and how the county spends its money the way it does.

He said those kinds of conversations might help citizens better understand why, for example, grant funds are dedicated funds and have to be used for specific reasons.

Although Givens said he thinks Tuesday's effort will go well, he also wants people to feel free to call him with issues.

"I do hope there are people who are willing to say, 'Yes, I have some issues I'm going to share with you,' " Givens said.

For additional information, call Laura Headley, the Executive Secretary for the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners, at 278-6204. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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