Sherman County eNews #319


  1. Notice. Biggs Service District Public Meeting re. Water System, Dec. 19

  2. Sherman County Court News, Oct. 3

  3. On the Subject of Trust

  4. Frontier TeleNet Assessment – Gilliam, Sherman, Wheeler

  5. Editorial. Frontier TeleNet Assessment One Year Ago… Results?

Let It Snow!
~ Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne (c) 1945

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

It doesn’t show signs of stopping,
And I brought some corn for popping;
The lights are turned way down low,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

When we finally say good night,
How I’ll hate going out in the storm;
But if you really hold me tight,
All the way home I’ll be warm.

The fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, we’re still good-bye-ing,
But as long as you love me so.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

1. Notice. Biggs Service District Public Meeting re. Water System, Dec. 19

The Biggs Service District will hold a public meeting on December 19th at 8:30 am in the Commissioners Meeting room at the Sherman County Courthouse, 500 Court Street in Moro, Oregon 97039 to discuss items relating to the Biggs Water System Project, and to the District.

2. Sherman County Court News, Oct. 3

ShermanCoLogoSherman County Court

October 3, 2018

Contact: Kayla von Borstel 541-565-3416

Quarterly Reports, were the main items on the agenda during the October 3rd session of Sherman County Court in Moro.

*County Court ended early due to the fire in Biggs which resulted in lack of quorum during the Session. 

Jenine McDermid, Clerk, reported the Clerk’s Office recently received word during the 2018 physical inspection by the Passport Oversight Office, that Sherman County was listed third out of 56 passport facilities in the five State region with perfect scores. General election preparations were under way for November 6, 2018. Military and overseas ballots were mailed September 21, 2018, absentee ballots were to be mailed October 8, 2018, the last day for new voters in Oregon to register would be October 16, 2018, and all non-absentee ballots would be mailed October 18, 2018. In regards to the Rental Housing Grants, there have been several individuals contacting the Clerk’s Office wanting to get Certification/Notice of Completion forms for their housing grants; Clerk’s Offices in Oregon have no ability to provide these forms, and suggested maybe County Counsel could handle the forms; Clerk’s Office can only record the documents.

Carrie Pipinich, Mid – Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD), reported the Broadband Grant through the Regional Infrastructure fund was officially approved for $200,000. The Economic Analysis through the Department of Land Conservation Department has outstanding Memorandum of Understandings (MOU’s) still with a few of the Sherman Cities. Lastly, MCEDD has a Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) student coming onboard through the John Day River Territory who will be housed in Gilliam County. 

Judge Thompson mentioned Shawn Payne, Emergency Services, just received the Emergency Services Coordinator of the Year Award for the State of Oregon. Shawn stated the Hazardous Mitigating Grant Program was looking at getting generators through a grant for all of the Sherman Cities (one generator for one critical structure per City) as a backup in the event electricity is lost; there will need to be a 25% match for generators. Shawn inquired if the Cities cannot provide the required match, if the County would consider helping with the match amount. Shawn also inquired as to when the Biggs Water System would be installed. She continually reaches out to all Fire Districts and will continue to reach out.

Amber Degrange, Juvenile Department, stated Northern Oregon Regional Corrections (NORCOR) has consumed the majority of her time for the past several months. NORCOR board approved to change the Administrative structure at the facility; the Administrator position has been divided among to all the Department Directors. There had been some alcohol and marijuana use issues in juveniles that she has been looking into. There has been a change in the way dependency cases are processed; the Attorney General’s Office filed petitions, and is taking control of the cases. Amber continues to work on Early Learning Hub. Amber had an idea for Local Public Safety Coordinating Coordinator (LPSCC) carry over funds which could be spent on training at NORCOR for effective supervision for those in custodial situations on how to interact with children.

Actions taken by the Court included:

  • approved the appointment of Jeanne Kuettel and Mike McArthur from the Non-Office Holding Pool, and Commissioner Dabulskis with Commissioner McCoy as alternate from the Office Holding Pool to the 2018-2019 Board of Property Tax Appeals.
  • approved the County of Sherman Personal Services Contract for Wildlife Predator and Pest Control Services between Sherman County and Bob Thomas of Thomas Wildlife Damage and Pest Control in the amount of $7,416.66 per month to fulfill the duties of a County Trapper starting on October 1, 2018 and ending June 30, 2024, with a probationary period ending July 30, 2019.
  • approved committing to being included in the Building Codes Program service area in the event that the City of The Dalles assumes the local building services program from Building Codes Division.
  • approved the revision of the general contract between Sherman County Community Transit and Larry Triebelhorn updating the vehicles he is authorized to maintain on behalf of the County.
  • approved Oregon Department of Transportation Agreement No. 32211, Amendment Number 1, between the State of Oregon and Sherman County to amend the original agreement by moving funds between projects and removing one vehicle purchase.
  • approved the bid proposal from Bend Commercial Glass in the amount of $7,400.00 to remove and install storefront frame and glass to fix the window leak at the Sherman County Public Library, and to have a local contractor to supervise and observe.
  • approved minutes of August 20, 2018, as presented.
  • approved minutes of August 29, 2018, as corrected.
  • approved the Claims for the month of September 2018, as presented.

Topics of discussion were the County Owned Tables and Chairs.

3. On the Subject of Trust

How trustworthy are you? What does it mean when we say we can be trusted? In any situation, whether your position is leadership or front line, parent or neighbor, your influence is enormous if you are trusted. But if you are not trusted, it doesn’t matter what your title is or how much authority you are supposed to have, your influence is virtually zero.

You see, when you are trusted, it means that you can be relied on. Relied on to do what? The right thing, whatever that may be. You build trust by sharing information that is timely, accurate, objective and complete. You build trust by keeping your word, doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. How can you trust anyone who is mostly talk and no action?

Trust is fragile, too. It must be earned, and re-earned. Even small omissions or errors can damage it quickly. If you are trustworthy, it says a lot about your character. It means you have integrity – your values and your behavior are aligned, and you stand up for what you believe in.

If you make a mistake, you don’t cover it up or try to make it look like someone else’s fault, even if it’s going to make you look bad. And when you make decisions, you make them after thoughtfully considering alternatives and consequences. When you are trusted, other people listen to you, ask for your advice, and feel confident that you can be relied on. When you are worthy of that trust, you feel accountable to use your influence responsibly.

In today’s world, trust is a precious commodity, far more valuable than gold or diamonds. Think about it: Who do you trust, and why? And who has placed their trust in you? What do you do to justify that trust? ~The Pacific Institute

4. Frontier TeleNet Assessment – Gilliam, Sherman, Wheeler  

~Assessment performed by AOC County Solutions Fall 2017

At the request of the Frontier Telenet Board of Directors, the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) County Solutions program has undertaken an assessment of its structures and review mechanisms in order to improve coordination, partnering and public engagement for the intergovernmental entity. The assessment also examined the organization’s capacity to provide administrative, marketing, and operations functions.

This assessment was conducted through interviews with Frontier Telenet’s board members and staff, local government officials and staff, stakeholders and interested members of the public. In addition, the responsibilities of an intergovernmental entity have been reviewed. The following provides categories of work that this assessment addressed. Following the background in each category, the report offers recommendations for the Telenet Board’s consideration in next steps to address issues identified in the assessment. 

PLANNING Background Frontier Telenet was established in 2001 to support the 911 function and serve the region’s schools and libraries. Much has happened in the field of telecommunications since that time and new challenges and opportunities have emerged. Today, broadband technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate. This creates the need for an adaptive organization that can both plan for and respond to the opportunities and challenges that exist in the present and in the future.

  • Conduct a systems audit The infrastructure that makes up the Frontier Telenet system has been built over time and while staff associated with the organization have knowledge of its components, a comprehensive inventory is needed. An asset map should also include the status of leases and agreements that support the infrastructure. An inventory would help the organization identify what upgrades are needed and prepare for the next generation of technology. Additionally, cataloging Frontier Telenet’s current customers and the status of their accounts is needed to accompany the infrastructure audit in order to provide a baseline for future planning.
  • Establish a vision Given the changes in technology, there are new opportunities that should be considered going forward, such as the new generation 911, which connects personal cell phones and tablets. Developing an integrated technology strategy would require particular kinds of system upgrades. The organization should determine its vision in relation to the role they play relative to retail and residential customers. Opportunities for economic development should also be considered to determine how to best position the region going forward. A vision that has regional ownership – including the counties, cities and users – will serve the organization in developing a solid business plan.
  • Develop a Business Plan A business plan should build on the asset map, and be based on the vision to establish what kind of service is needed. The plan should outline the system upgrades that are needed and a strategy for how to pay for them. The plan should also develop a strategy to sequence new investments in the region and ensure expectations of service do not exceed the capacity of the systems to deliver them. The plan needs to be adaptable and should be reviewed at least every two years given the rapid pace of technological evolution in the field. To build ownership in the business plan, it should be developed in a transparent manner with opportunities for engagement with stakeholders.
  • Develop a Marketing Plan While Frontier Telenet has taken steps to focus on marketing by hiring staff to pursue opportunities, a more detailed marketing plan, which follows the development of the vision and, more directly, the business plan would be useful. The marketing plan also needs to be adaptable as the opportunities have changed over time and the demand is changing rapidly as well.

GOVERNANCE Background Frontier Telenet is governed by a Board of Directors that is comprised of one member from each of the participating counties. The governing body of each county appoints a representative to the Board under Article ll of the intergovernmental agreement that created Frontier Telenet. Board Members serve at the pleasure of the respective governing body. The Board elects a President, Vice President, and Secretary/Treasurer. Collectively, these are the “Officers” of the Board. Under Article ll, the Board elects Officers who serve a term of one year. This is done annually, at the beginning of the year.

  • Communication with Boards of Commissioners Given the growing importance of Frontier Telenet to the counties and the region it is important that the county governing bodies are well informed about the plans and activities of the organization. Each member of the Telenet Board should provide regular updates to each Board of Commissioners. This is particularly important given the need to have well informed members who can seamlessly assume board duties when commissioners retire or leave office.
  • Consider forming an umbrella ORS 190 organization that includes multiple Lower John Day counties functions There are several county functions that are provided in the three-county region, in addition to Frontier Telenet, such as: veterans services; economic development; building codes; community corrections, etc. Combining functions, such as these, under an umbrella ORS 190 organization could allow the three counties to have a more centralized capacity that could benefit operations.

ADMINISTRATION Background Article ll of the founding agreement outlines the duties of each Officer of the Board, including the Secretary/Treasurer, which states: “The Secretary/Treasurer shall keep the minutes and official records of Frontier Telenet. The Secretary/Treasurer shall be responsible for the fiscal administration of all funds of Frontier Telenet. The Secretary/Treasurer and the President shall act as co-signers of checks drawn upon the accounts of Frontier Telenet. The Secretary/Treasurer may delegate the administrative functions of his or her office to another person who need not be on the Board. A unanimous vote is required to decide financial matters, the hiring and discharging of employees and for the acceptance of Scopes of Work for each project undertaken by Frontier Telenet including any contractual arrangements. Each Scope of Work shall be maintained by the Secretary as a part of Frontier Telenet’s corporate records.”

Frontier Telenet has been staffed by a part time contracted manger since its inception. The responsibilities of managing the organization have transitioned over time given the evolving complexities of the telecommunications landscape, the new demands for service and the competition among private providers. As the organization has no employees and relies on contractors, it has required Board Members to assume many functions of management. In the area of fiscal administration, Frontier Telenet is owed approximately $900,000 in E-Rate dollars that have gone unpaid over the past three to four years.

  • Formalize delegation of Secretary/Treasurers duties The responsibility of the Secretary/Treasurer is well defined in the bylaws and the delegation of various components of that responsibility should be documented in writing along with expectations in order to ensure accountability.
  • Specifically delegate responsibility to collect E-Rate dollars owed Frontier Telenet These funds are important to the fiscal sustainability of Frontier Telenet. Past assurances that this issue will be resolved have not borne fruit. A new strategy is needed.
  • Consider hiring a manager for Frontier Telenet Given the changing, increasingly complex environment noted above, the job of managing Frontier Telenet has become very demanding. It places too high a burden on Board Members who have other significant responsibilities carrying out their duties as County Commissioners. Also, given the competition among various providers, it would be beneficial to hire an individual who is an employee of Frontier Telenet. Negotiations as infrastructure is built out and plans are developed and implemented require sustained focus.

TRANSPARENCY/RECORDS Background Frontier Telenet is an ORS 190 organization which means that it is an intergovernmental organization that carries responsibilities for transparency and maintenance of records, among other functions. There have been public requests for information and transparency that need to be addressed on an ongoing basis. Frontier Telenet is moving to establish an office space in Sherman County and to provide a website where the public can track the activities of the organization. It is also exploring the establishment of an accessible phone system that makes it easier to have a centralized point of contact for the public.

  • Clarify responsibility for records management The responsibility for records management lies with the Board’s Secretary/Treasurer, which can be delegated to an individual not on the Board. This delegation should be clearly articulated, and expectations should be outlined to ensure accountability
  • Continue efforts to establish a transparent organization The value of transparency is an informed public that can contribute to the success of Frontier Telenet. Efforts underway should continue and evolve with the needs of the organization. Creating a culture of openness among all Board Members, staff, associated partners and stakeholders will create a shared mission for the region. A session with an expert on the transparency requirements and functions of 190 organizations would help in taking next steps for the organization.
  • Consider creating an Advisory Committee Frontier Telenet should consider creating an Advisory Committee of key stakeholders to review and comment on important plans and programs in a more interactive setting than an official meeting of the Board. An advisory committee could also provide a new forum to resolve differences in the region.

5. Editorial. Frontier TeleNet Assessment One Year Ago… Results?

pencil.sharpOne year later. We reviewed the 2017 Association of Oregon Counties’ County Solutions assessment by Greg Wolf of Frontier TeleNet’s structure, vision, governance and transparency. As of this month one year later, board meeting minutes indicate that board members, staff and contractors gave it scant attention.

Considering that the board requested this assessment and paid several thousand dollars for it, we see little in the way of results recorded in the minutes of their public meetings.

Some Frontier TeleNet agendas and minutes are online here:

We took note of whether the Assessment is mentioned in the minutes and noted related issues. Excerpts from the minutes are here:

July 21, 2017: “…Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) Assistance Contract:  The Directors agreed that the quote for AOC Assistance at $17,000.00 was too high for a small organization. Steve Shaffer will discuss with AOC to see if there can be a lower rate…” 

August 25, 2017: Draft minutes. “… Financials: Financial Statement for July presented.  Steve Shaffer was interested in how much we pay each month for Broadband Service from the individual carriers. Each carrier is noted on the financial statement and the amount paid. Tom McCoy is concerned about the amount paid to Inland Development on behalf of Sherman County. Tom McCoy asked if a marketing plan is being developed and feels that is a necessity. Mike Smith agreed and said that a marketing plan has been developed and reminded Commissioner McCoy that this had been presented to the Sherman County Court several months ago… AOC Assistance Update: Greg Wolf of Association of Oregon Counties is working on this project.  Greg has done 7 or 8 interviews and will be doing more in September 2017…”  

September 15, 2017: “…AOC Assistance Contract:  Greg Wolf has met with several people regarding Frontier TeleNet and will conduct a few more to interview. Greg will have a report in the next few weeks. Greg suggested an audit of Frontier TeleNet Equipment might be helpful …” 

October 20, 2017: “… AOC Assistance Update: Steve Shaffer had not met with Greg Wolf. He knows that Greg Wolf intended to meet with the founders of Frontier TeleNet and a report should be available for the November meeting…” 

November 3, 2017: “…AOC Assistance Update:  Steve Shaffer called Greg Wolf regarding this project but has not heard back.  Final Report should be complete by December Board of Directors Meeting.”

December 15, 2017: “… AOC Assistance Update Report:  The report from Greg Wolf representing Association of Oregon Counties presented. Steve Shaffer gave a background on this report. AOC contracted to do a study on Frontier TeleNet and the ORS Structure.  The recommendations in this report were as follows: Background:  Establishing how Frontier TeleNet organized. Need to Conduct a Systems Audit: Asset Maps, leases and inventory need to be updated. Establish a Vision:  Need to establish ongoing opportunities, technology strategy and need for system upgrades. Develop A Business Plan:  Need to develop an asset map and establish a vision and plan for what services are needed. Develop A Marketing Plan: Need to focus on marketing and hiring staff to pursue opportunities. Governance Background:  Establishing how Frontier Board of Directors is governed. Communication:  Need to have Board of Directors report to their respective County Courts on a regular basis regarding Frontier TeleNet. Umbrella ORS 190:  Suggested that a multiple Lower John Day Counties organization might be organized that covered multiple county activities. Administration:  Covers duties of Secretary/Treasurer. E-Rate Dollar:  Consider specific delegate responsible for collecting E-Rate dollars. Consider Hiring a General Manager. Transparency of Records: Records Management: Responsibility for maintaining records. Establish Transparency:  Important that transparency is maintained for an informed public. Advisory Committee:  Consider creating an advisory committee of stakeholders. This complete report is on file at the Frontier TeleNet Office and available on request…”

January 19, 2018: No mention of the Assessment, but possibly in response to the Assessment… “…Frontier Sherman County Office Space:  A lease for Frontier TeleNet office space in Sherman County was reviewed. Mike Smith reported the lease has been signed by Sherman County and office is up and running.  Moved by Lynn Morley, seconded by Steve Shaffer to approve the office space lease with Sherman County with a $1.00 per year rent. Motion carried with all present voting aye.”  [Note: Smith’s contract requires, as part of his services, “Provision of all necessary office space, utilities, furniture and all office equipment including computers, fax/copy machines, telephone, and file cabinets required in the ordinary operation of Frontier TeleNet…”]

February 16, 2018: No mention of the Assessment.

March 16, 2018: No mention of the Assessment. “… Frontier TeleNet and 911 Center:  An extensive conversation was held regarding what does Frontier TeleNet get from the 911 Center. Mike Smith replied that each county receives public emergency services for police, ambulance and other services as needed. The need for a reasonable payment from Frontier Regional 911 to Frontier TeleNet was discussed and this will be presented at the Frontier Regional 911 Budget Meeting.”

April 20, 2018: No mention of the Assessment. “… Request from citizen to explain what Management Resources does for Frontier TeleNet.  Mike Smith explained that Management Resources contracts to handle all the Oregon Health Network allocations for Health Clinics.  They do the paperwork to apply for reimbursement of costs from Oregon Health Network and also the individual clinics to pay for bandwidth service.  This contract has been in place since February 5, 2011.”

May 18, 2018: No mention of the Assessment.

June 29, 2018: No mention of the Assessment. “… Steve Shaffer spoke on the need for Frontier TeleNet to take a good hard look at how business is done.  Feels we need to separate internet service and public safety. Future looks bleak and e-rate is becoming competitive. Steve Shaffer feels that revenue is dwindling and need to take a hard look at structure and pricing. 5G Technology is in the near future and Frontier TeleNet needs to be organized. Steve Wynne pointed out that not all the towers are capable of supporting carrier information. Mike Smith responded that Frontier TeleNet is in a good position to meet the future with the Frontier TeleNet infrastructure…”

July 20, 2018: No mention of the Assessment. “…Letter from Sherry Kaseberg request to have read into the minutes.  Legal Counsel has advised that since this has been published in other media that it is not necessary to read into the record but to attach it to the record.  Mike Smith stated that since this letter was regarding erate dollars it is necessary to be clear that all the erate dollars Frontier TeleNet have been  properly awarded.   Frontier TeleNet has complied with all the contracts for service.  Frontier TeleNet has properly billed for every year of the contracts but the Federal Government is bad about paying.  Frontier TeleNet has been diligent to work with legal counsel to be sure that we have followed all requirements.  For the current erate application, July 16, 2018 was the end of the review period and July 20, 2018 is the five day period for comments. Frontier TeleNet has continued to provide service to the NCESD even though the period we are in right now has not been funded by the Government.  All previous services have been fulfilled as contracted and appropriate billings were done by Frontier TeleNet.”

August 17, 2018: No mention of the Assessment. “… Windwave:  Mike Smith and Jeanne Burch met with Windwave at Boardman. Went over all the billings and able to cut the price.  It was recommended that this needs to be reviewed every two years… Inland Development Master Service Agreement:  This agreement is being reviewed by legal counsel…

September: No board meeting.

October 1, 2018: Emergency Executive Session.

October 16, 2018: No mention of the Assessment. “… Gary Thompson noted that Sherman County Government has been receiving free internet for the last few years. Steve Shaffer noted that Frontier TeleNet purpose is to provide service to public safety, schools and Governments… …  E-Rate Funding: Jim Deason has been working on the E-rate funding.  He feels that all the proper forms and information has been provided for the payment of $236,000.00 that is the current amount due Frontier Telenet for 2017.  Frontier TeleNet has retained Jim Deason and a private company, Inteserra, who specializes in E-rate funding.  Inteserra reports that everything has been done correctly.  A copy of the Inteserra report is on file at the Frontier TeleNet Finance Office in Fossil, Oregon.”

November meeting minutes will be approved at the December meeting.