Here We Go Again!
BOCC Wants to Give County Land to Fair Board
by Shari Dovale
It was this time last year when the Bonner County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) were caught violating the law in a scheme to give County land to the Fair Board.
It was thought to have been put out of the citizen’s misery when the Attorney General’s office notified the BOCC of their Open Meeting Law violations, therefore the plans they had put into place were voided and (thought to be) disposed of.
What actually happened was that the BOCC placed it on the back burner until such a time as they thought they could slide it through.
Here We Go Again!
Commissioner Luke Omodt has taken up the mantel for the previous commissioner in trying to get this project through. Omodt has placed the following on the upcoming agenda for March 7th:
He tells the other commissioners here, that “Due to previously unforeseen circumstances” they need to revisit the expansion of the fairgrounds. This time it is shown that Sewell and Associates have already been retained for the construction of a campground near the Fairgrounds.
In case anyone has forgotten what land they are targeting for the RV Campground, this is the same land they tried to divert from the Sheriff’s Complex last year:
Commissioner Omodt claims that “Due to previously unforeseen circumstances” they must go through this process again. What unforeseen circumstances?
Has Omodt talked to the Sheriff about this? How about the Prosecutor? I am told his response to these questions was that he did not have to talk to anyone. I am also told that he hasn’t even discussed this with the Fair Board. I find it interesting, if this is true, that he has taken it upon himself to be a self-annointed potentate. This reeks of a repetition of the previous board.
In the BOCC meeting minutes from January 18, 2022, it shows that the application for a grant from Idaho Parks and Recreation (IDPR) called the ‘Fairground expansion project, Phase 1’, for FY23 was approved after discussion between the commissioners. This included discussion for the same county land (that is has been under consideration for a Justice Center).
This was argued and debated for months since October 2021. Multiple meetings were held, with the public very involved and outspoken against the land transfer. You can watch one of the meetings here:
As Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall made clear in an email dated 10/27/2021 this is not fairgrounds property. Members of the current BOCC are trying to mimic the previous board, of which Chairman Steve Bradshaw was a complicit comrade.
They Do Not Own The Land
The new plan is to simply “adjust” the boundary line. This is a pretty slick move, in my opinion. Apparently, the fairgrounds needs the county land to comply with the statements on the grant application. It states that the “Applicant Owns the land” on page 21.
But the fair board does not own the land. They are trying to annex the land from Sheriff Department grounds and make it fairgrounds property. This shows that the application is false. We are dealing with smoke and mirrors to achieve the same objective.
Could this have been a deliberate attempt to mislead IDPR or the taxpayers? It seems unlikely that this was just an oversight, considering all the months of bickering between the people and the BOCC.
The application states clearly: DO NOT begin your project or incur costs until notified by IDPR grants staff. Since Omodt has stated that Sewell and Associates have already been retained, does this mean they received the grant money under false pretenses? Or did they start the work before everything received approval?
Another point to note:
Page 12 total matching contribution of $25K, coincidentally the amount Comm. Omodt seeks by Memorandum Motion. Omodt is asking for the full BoCo portion of the matching grant amount which include much more than JA Sewell costs.
page 25 $12K for “engineering design”
If $12K is needed for engineering design, why does the Motion ask for $25K? Why does the memorandum summary state, “specifically the platting,” yet the motion below ask for $25K to JA Sewell, “including survey work to plat same.?”
It is also interesting that the county took over this application, naming Dan McDonald and Jessi Webster as the contact people and/or email contact, yet the fair board is not under the county purview. Does Luke Omodt intend to insert himself as the current head of this project?
Here is the full application, including attachments:
Note on page 26 shows the land that they intend to be transferred to the fair board from the county. This is the same land that was the topic last year.
The BOCC meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 7th at 9am. Please show up to voice your opinion on this new hypocrisy.
Related: Misappropriation Of Public Property