The Times-Independent

County commission opens 2022 session

Woytek elected chair, Hadler vice chair in first regular meeting of the year

As part of opening business for the 2022 Grand County Commission, Commissioner Gabriel Woytek was unanimously elected chair of the commission, and Commissioner Jacques Hadler was unanimously elected vice chair.

Grand County Commission Chair Gabe Woytek

Appointed to the commission in 2019 to fill the vacancy left by Terry Morse, Woytek was re-elected in 2020 and has served as commission vice chair for the past year. Woytek also previously served as farm director for the Youth Garden Project.

Commissioner Trisha Hedin praised both Woytek and outgoing Commission Chair Mary McGann.

“I want to thank [McGann] for all you’ve done this past year,” Hedin said. “I’m psyched that Gabe is moving into this position … I am privileged to have worked with both of you.”

Hadler, first elected to the commission in 2020, also serves as manager of Moab Cyclery.

Jacques Hadler

In other commission news:

New EMS digs

Grand County Emergency Medical Services has moved into its new building on 100 North, reported Commissioner Evan Clapper.

The $4.8 million, 12,500-

square-foot facility greatly expands amenities for the county’s emergency responders, with enlarged sleeping quarters, a kitchen, a training room, administrative offices and a deck.

“It’s a nice place to look down over town,” Clapper said.

Due to continued delays on its bay doors, the facility does not yet house the service’s ambulances.

Code Enforcement

The county responded to 48 total code violation complaints in 2021, according to Code Enforcement Officer Josh Green.

Of these 48, a plurality — 29% — regarded an illegal RV or illegal camping on property. About 40% of total cases were found to have no violation, and about one-third achieved compliance. In the case of illegal camping, this often occurred by relocating the campers to more permanent abodes.

Green said that 100% of illegal camping complaints regarded permanent residents or seasonal workers, rather than, say, visitors staying in overnight rentals.

“I’m very impressed with what you’ve done in a short amount of time,” McGann said. “It’s exciting to see this code enforcement taking place in a compassionate way.”

Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan reported that Green had also shut down an illegal overnight glamping operation that lacked a business license, permits and appropriate zoning. Green, she said, “got it quickly shut down” and obtained for the county the operation’s unpaid taxes.

“I consider it one of our biggest success cases to date,” Sloan said.

Victim Advocate Unit

The number of county victims served by the Victim Advocate Unit increased by 22% over one year, from the 162 victims in the 2019-2020 year to 198 victims in the 2020-2021 year, according to Victim Advocate Karen DeKruger.

In her most recently reported quarter, from July through September, DeKruger served 67 clients, representing another 35% increase over the 2020-21 average.

Commissioner Kevin Walker said it was “alarming” to see victim numbers rise so quickly, with Sloan noting that crime rates have soared countrywide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sloan also said tracking county crime rates would soon become far easier, as her office recently received funding from the commission for case management software.

Though technically an employee of the Moab Police Department, DeKruger jointly serves both Moab City and the county, working with Sloan, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, and the Children’s Justice Center.

DeKruger provides an initial point of contact with victims while helping them navigate the criminal justice system. She often joins the initial response to emergency situations, providing victims with transportation and filling immediate needs like food, lodging and clothing.

Volunteer citizen appointments

The commission approved volunteer citizen appointments to various district and county boards and commissions. These appointments included:

Courtney Kizer and Judy Powers to the Housing Authority of Southeast Utah

Allana Simmons-Cameron and Rachel Stenta to the Library Board

Makeda Barkley, Emily Campbell and Anthony Mancuso to the Planning Commission

Diane Ackerman as the Castle Valley representative to the Solid Waste Management Special Service District Board

Shanell Marinuzzi to the Travel Council Advisory Board

Lydia Zowada and Tim Higgs to the Noxious Weed Control Board

Of these appointments, only Stenta, Zowada and Higgs constitute new appointees.