Del Norte County Board of Supervisors Chairman Chris Howard delivered a State of the County address during Tuesday’s regular board meeting that started by thanking fellow supervisors who bring the county’s voice to federal and state legislators.
Howard said it requires strength and fortitude to stand up to naysayers and those that only wish to degrade others in the name of progress.
“Del Norte County has, like many small counties, struggled with financial stability for many years and we anticipate challenges to continue in the future as the effects of legislative decisions by the State and Governor require more and more financial commitment by local government as well as stress on limited and available local funding.
“Additional mandates and the effect of new laws will no doubt limit what we can realistically invest in locally. However, Del Norte County with the assistance of partners has addressed important needs that may not be flashy but are the foundation of the community.
“Del Norte County has experienced changes throughout 2017 that has made our community a better place to live:
“The reconstruction of Humboldt Road at its intersection with Sand Mine Road was a collaborative project with the Elk Valley Rancheria that will ultimately assist in traffic congestion and calming as the area develops.
“Additionally, the Community Development Department, City of Crescent City and Elk Valley Rancheria have teamed up to address aging sewer infrastructure and have replaced several lift stations funded through grant money saving the county service area close to $1 million.
“Smith River Rancheria has worked closely with the sheriff to create a position that assists both agencies with law enforcement. This partnership will expand in the future as funding allows for staffing and support that benefits our community.
“In addition, the Yurok Tribe also working closely with the sheriff created a similar position that assists both agencies with law enforcement. Again, this partnership will expand in the future as funding allows for staffing and support.
“Chairman Howard, Supervisor Hemmingsen and Mayor Inscore traveled to Washington D.C. and met with a number of legislators and agency personnel creating relationships and ensuring contacts with those that can make a difference in funding and priorities for Del Norte County.
“Building on relationships, the county, city and harbor district will be hearing in the very near future that considerable progress has been made to erase the debt that has been hampering Tri-Agency. This is a direct result of relationship building at the state and federal level and is a crucial step in bringing additional funding to our community.
“Collaborative projects with the City of Crescent City on Cooper Street and Harding Avenue have saved taxpayers and demonstrated the resilience of both agencies and the ability of the County and City to coordinate in the best interest of our community.
“Your children showed us through example the importance of relationships with other countries that have shared similar fates through natural disaster by forming a Sister Schools relationship with Taketa High. They have requested our board and city council to reach across the Pacific to the City of Rikuzentakata to form a sister city’s relationship. With the board’s first visit in February last year, and Supervisors Cowan and Berkowitz recent return, we promise to fulfill this wish of our children.
“The Del Norte County Airport has seen important projects be initiated and/or completed. Construction on the terminal, required to ensure continued commercial service, was initiated in 2017. The project leverages approximately 17 million dollars in Federal funding. This is one of the goals of the HAS.199 project adopted by our community leaders many years ago. And if that is not enough, the great work of our BCRAA team and director through 2017 has brought our first 30 seat passenger jet to Crescent City.
“The board of supervisors continues to support the improvement of Highway 199/197 to ensure a safer highway system serving the County from the east. The unfortunate challenge to the project and subsequent delay is unacceptable when it jeopardizes the safety of our residents and our visitors. Sen. Mike McGuire recently emphasized the importance of completing this project.
“The board of supervisors continues to work closely with Caltrans, FHWA and Congressman (Jared) Huffman through the congressman’s task force to ensure the relocation of Last Chance Grade. The county’s continued presence on the task force, in Sacramento, and in Washington D.C. has assured the issue is a priority for funding. It is important that we continue to work closely with the responsible agencies in order to ensure the project is well designed and completed as expeditiously as possible.
“The Board of Supervisors is addressing the ever-changing world of commercial cannabis regulation. In October we voted unanimously to create a citizen working group, with representatives on both sides of this issue to wade through the details of a complex ordinance for our community. Once the draft is produced the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will be in a position of holding public meetings to better refine the ordinance and address the public’s concerns and needs.
“In closing, I have touched on just a few projects, significant issues, and development that the County of Del Norte and your board have advocated for throughout 2017. Obviously, I don’t have time to address many of the day to day successes we have achieved. As you have heard the county partners with many agencies in supporting our community and we will continue to do so within the limitations we are faced with. Our community does not receive nearly enough revenue to address everyone’s issues and needs however we strive to provide the best service we can and to address short and long-term issues proactively.
“We hope that investments in infrastructure will assist our community in attracting new businesses and industry to support us in the future,” Howard said.