Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus is aiming to bring on a law clerk to help handle his office’s work load.

The office is down three prosecutors. Primus is even handling misdemeanor cases himself. He told the county board of commissioners during its public meeting Wednesday a temporary law clerk would help.

“We’re trying to find creative ways to bringing professionals out here to Eastern Oregon, specifically to Umatilla County, to assist us with our needs for attorneys,” he said.

The position would be open to applicants in law school or a law school graduate. Primus said many applicants that come to the office are from the Willamette Valley and later return there, and some may not even apply to be prosecutors because of the location. The clerk position would allow someone to get a feel for the district attorney’s office and a feel for Eastern Oregon.

The board approved the position 2-0 (Commissioner Bill Elfering was in Arizona). The board also voted to allow the county health department to oversee inspections and monitoring of on-site septic systems in neighboring Morrow County.

The Umatilla County Public Heath Department already inspects and scores food service, public pools and lodging businesses for Morrow County. Joe Fiumara, Umatilla County Public Heath director, told the board the fees for services fully support the program, so it will not need another source of revenue.

Commissioners also voted to give $10,000 in economic development money to the Pendleton Unmanned Aircraft Systems Range to conduct an economic impact study. The county will co-own the data when the study is complete.

And Commissioner George Murdock is again the board chair.

Elfering asked to step down from the post and have Murdock serve instead for the rest of 2019 with Commissioner John Shafer vice-chair. Murdock and Shafer approved the change.

Murdock later explained Elfering last week suffered a bad fall and needs time to recover. Elfering, however, remains a commissioner.

In other business, Shafer congratulated sheriff’s Sgt. Josh Roberts for receiving the award for the 2018 trainer of the year for driving under the influence of intoxicants from the Oregon DUII Multi-Disciplinary Training Task Force. Shafer also congratulated deputy Nathan Rankin for receiving the 2018 DUII enforcement deputy of the year. The pair can receive their awards April 26 at the task force’s conference in Canyonville.

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