Camas Prairie, Elmore County, Idaho

Tag Archives: hearings and meetings

Why “Harry” Believes Judge Baskin Will Remand the Cat Creek Energy Project Back to P & Z

Taken on Peak 5915 looking over the Castle Rocks and Wood Creek area of Elmore County, Idaho

 

Many Elmore County residents believe a District Court judge should remand the entire Cat Creek Energy project approval back to the County Planning and Zoning Commission (P & Z) for new and honest hearings. Our entire “Petition for Judicial Review” document is filled with legal, moral and ethical reason why we believe the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) erred in approving this ill-conceived project. A project covering 3,730 acres in the Elmore County, Idaho backcountry.

Hunting, Fishing, Wildlife and Scenic Beauty is at Stake

We realize how time-consuming attending the P & Z Commission meetings, hearing and deliberations in 2016 became. No one really believed Elmore County would every approve the Cat Creek Energy project. And those people were right. The P & Z Commission denied the permits Cat Creek Energy needed to begin the process of getting state and federal approval for their mega-energy project.

But then in 2017, the Elmore County Commissioners overruled their own P & Z Commission and handed that Gooding-based corporation the keys to our very own backcountry, the Anderson Ranch Reservoir and South Fork of the Boise River fishery, and will threaten our elk, deer and pronghorn populations.

Local Mountain Home, Idaho, resident Harry Taggart, “aka Skip,” testified in front of our county officials and offered the following facts …

Reference: Pages 10 and 11 of the Petition for Judicial Review document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

Harry Taggart, a resident of Mountain Home spoke and informed the Commissioners that he hunts and fishes throughout the South Fork of the Boise River basin, that he opposes the Project “because it would destroy the scenic beauty and environmental diversity of the area known as Wood Creek, which is right at the very doorstep of our splendid Boise and Sawtooth National Forests.”

Mr. Taggart also informed the Commissioners that he has “read and understood the Elmore County Comprehensive Plan, as well as Title 6, Chapter 14 of the Elmore County zoning and development ordinance defining areas of critical concern, which the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission is lawfully charged with protecting” and that he had read the minutes of the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to deliberate Cat Creek Energy’s applications and he “agree[s] with the Commissions unanimous rejection of multiple Cat Creek Energy permit applications because they fall short of compliance with a minimum of 12 different Comprehensive Plan standards.

Harry Was Right Back Then and is Still Right

  • Destroying the scenic beauty of our backcounty with 500-foot tall wind turbines will not benefit the residents of Elmore County.

  • In approving the Cat Creek Energy Project, Commissioners Wes Wootan, Bud Corbus, and Al Hofer made a ruling in direct conflict with the county’s own Comprehensive Plan.

You can download and review the entire Petition for Judicial Review at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

 

Take Action

Please help us stop the Cat Creek Energy project from moving forward. Contact County Commissioners Bud Corbus, Wes Wootan and Al Hofer and tell them you are opposed to this ill-conceived mega-energy project.

You can use the county website “Contact Form” at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

In addition, many of our elected officials from city mayor and on up the line to U.S. Senators could use some feedback from you. If you need their names or point of contact, we’ve created a list at https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/

 

Thanks.

 

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All Five Cat Creek Energy Permits “Were” Dependent Upon Each Other

The Master Site Plan changed again?

 

The story of the five Cat Creek Energy conditional use permits (CUPs) that John Faulkner applied for in 2015 gets lost in the grand scheme of his ill-conceived project. However, the fact that Cat Creek Energy sold their five-part mega-energy project as one complete project to the residents of Elmore County and many other entities is crucial to understand.

The Elmore County P & Z entire hearing and deliberation process was based on Cat Creek Energy’s insistence that the entire mega-project had to be approved as one. Cat Creek repeatedly said, if all five permits were not approved, their project would not be economically viable and they’d have to cancel it.

In 2017, the Cat Creek developers convinced the Elmore County Commissioners that all five CUPs were no longer required in order to build out their mega-energy project. In other words, all those residents who said:

Cat Creek will never get state or federal approval for the reservoir or sprawling wind farm so we don’t need to even worry about the project being ever approved,” were fooled by our elected officials.

Well, guess what? The County Commissioners, by separating all the CUPs, has made it possible for Cat Creek Energy to build what they want, where they want and when they want and the residents never had any input into that huge modification in the Master Site Plan.

When the S Bar Ranch filed a Petition for Judicial Review on March 7, 2019, with the district court, they highlighted this fact for Judge Nancy Baskin to consider. We hope the honorable judge will see this lack of public oversight and remand the entire project back to the Director of the P&Z Commission. Only then will the county residents be able to provide proper feedback to these local decision-makers.

Reference: See Page 8 after download the full petition at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

The P&Z Commission found that “five (5) separate applications, each for a conditional use permit are required.” The P&Z Commission further found that “based on testimony from the Applicant, all five (5) applications are dependent upon each other and cannot exist separately.

Therefore the Commission conducted only one (1) public hearing and issued only one (1) decision on the Applications.” The Commission found that the
“Owners” of the Site are Sawtooth Grazing Association and Wood Creek Ranch, both at 1989 South 1875 East, Gooding, ID 83330 and that the Applicant’s property right in the Site is based on lease agreements. The property size is approximately 23,000 acres, all of which is owned or controlled by John Faulkner.

The Commission found that the applicable law for consideration of the Applications was:

A) the Elmore County 2014 Comprehensive Plan, adopted as Resolution 56215 on January 20, 2014 (the “Comprehensive Plan”);

B) Zoning Ordinance, adopted March 21, 2012, as Ordinance
201201; which was subsequently amended on September 19, 2012, as Ordinance 201203 and on July 14, 2014, As Ordinance 201401; and

C) the Local Land Use Planning Act, I.C. § 676501 et seq. [Exh. 4 at R. 007297007298] ”

If you have concerns about the Cat Creek Energy project, please contact your elected officials and tell them you oppose the entire project and why.
Here is a link with many of the people you might want to contact: https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/
Also, please share this post with friend, family, and co-workers so they also understand how horrible the Cat Creek Energy project will be for Elmore County.

 

Thanks.

 

Originally published on March 19, 2019.

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A Judge Could Review the County Commissioner’s Decision of Approve the Cat Creek Project

The long, complex and contentious Cat Creek Energy project approval process started in 2016 and bit and pieces are still being worked out at the local level. While the Cat Creek Energy project still has some state and federal obstacles to overcome before they can officially ruin the Elmore County backcountry the S Bar Ranch isn’t sitting idly by.

On March 7, 2019, the owner of the S Bar Ranch filed a petition with the Fourth District Court asking a judge to review the decisions that Commissioner’s Bud Corbus, Al Hofer and Wes Wootan made regarding the nearly 4,000 acre Cat Creek Energy mega-project. The 64-page petition can be downloaded at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/ but we realize some resident don’t have the time to review such an extensive legal document, no matter how well it was written (it’s mostly plain language and tells a troubling story).

Just Some “Bit and Pieces” of the Document

Below you’ll find some actual snippets from the legal document to whet your appetite and give you a reason to spend a few hours reading about how entrenched the “good 0ld boy” network has become in our local government. So, here goes.

Page 9 / P & Z Deny all Conditional Use Permits in Aug 2016
On June 15, 2016, the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission (“P&Z Commission”) met to consider the applications. The P&Z Commission heard testimony from the Developer, representatives of the Developer, and others individuals who supported the Project, some individuals who were neutral and several individuals who opposed the Project. On July 13, 2016, the Elmore P&Z Commission conducted deliberations of the applications for the CUPs. On August 17, 2016, the P&Z Commission unanimously, on a 60 vote with one member absent, voted to deny the applications.

 

Page 10 / The Project Does not Comply With County Ordinance
The Commission made several findings that the proposed project conflicts with the Comprehensive Plan with regard to Private Property Rights Objectives, Land Use Objectives, Scenic Area Objectives, Hazardous Area Objectives, andAreas of Critical Concern Objectives.
The Commission further found that the Project failed to comply with the applicable Zoning Ordinances, including Title 6, and the applicable State and Federal regulations. The Commission concluded that the Applications do not comply with the required findings set forth in Section 6277 of the Zoning Ordinances
.

 

Page 30 / Conflicts of Interest
The Board of Commissioners have a conflict of interest that violates I.C. § 67-6506 and other law, and prevents them from serving as a neutral quasi-judicial body in this contested matter that is pending before the Board. The conflict arises from the fact that the County is
requiring, as a condition for issuance of CUP-2015-04 and the other CUPs, that the Developer agree to divert and deliver water from Anderson Ranch Dam to the County using the Developer’s infrastructure. In other words, the County has a vested beneficial interest in approving the granting of hydro CUP and the other CUPs, which prevents the Board from serving as a neutral decision maker as required by law.

A further conflict of interest is created by the fact that Commissioner Hofer purportedly stepped away from his duties as a Commissioner and acted as a negotiator representing the County in negotiations with the Cat Creek representatives to reach agreement on the terms of the Development Agreement. Those ex parte communications were not disclosed to the Petitioner or the public. The Development Agreement, negotiated by Commissioner Hofer, was then submitted to Commissioner Hofers fellow Commissioners for their approval. Knowing that the
terms of the Development Agreement submitted to Commissioners Wooten and Corbus had been negotiated and approved by Commissioner Hofer, there was no way that Commissioners Wooten and Corbuscould remain neutral and perform their duties as neutral decision makers regarding the terms of the Development Agreement.

 

Page 52 / The Board’s Decisions Violate Due Process Because Two of Its Members Had Ex Parte Communications with Cat Creek
During the December 22, 2017, public hearing, Commissioner
Wootan acknowledged the Commissioners had been communicating among themselves regarding the project and decided they wanted to make the project work. In response to comments from a representative of Cat
Creek that they would work with the Board to put a deal together 
that works for Cat Creek and the County, CommissionerWootan stated: Were already to that point. Weve already communicated among ourselves that were workable, that we want to make their project work,
and we want to make our intent happen.Obviously, the Board had decided to approve the project, regardless of the publics input in the decision, in violation of due process.

Download the 64-page document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

 

What is Next and What We Expect – 16 May 2019

The next court hearing will be on May 16, 2019, at 3 p.m. in Boise, Idaho before Judge Nancy Baskin.  That is when S Bar Ranch will present oral arguments in support of our case and ask the judge to rule that the actions of the County are invalid and to remand it back to the Director of the Elmore County P&Z Commission.  

We believe Judge Baskin will take the decision under advisement and render a written decision as early as July 2019.

 

Take Action Before it is too Late

There are many actions you can take that will send a clear message to the Elmore County Commissioners, the State of Idaho and even our federal government. 

Contact the Elmore County Commissioners and tell them you are opposed to the Cat Creek Energy project. 

Contact your State Representative and State Senator and tell them to find a way to stop the Cat Creek Energy project before it ruins our Idaho backcounty, hunting grounds and fisheries. 

Contact Senator’s Crapo, Senator Risch, Congressman Simpson, and Congressman Fulcher.

We’ve put together a list of contact information for all the elected official mentioned above at https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/ 

 

Share, Share and Share Some More

There are many people in and around Elmore County that still do not know about the Cat Creek Energy project and how badly it will affect wildlife, fishing, water quality and hunting. Please share this information with your friends, family, and co-workers.

 

Thanks.

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Contact the Elmore County Commissioners From Their Website

Contact your county commissioner.

 

Sometime in the last weeks of February 2019, Elmore County finally made a “Contact the Board of County Commissioners” form available to citizens.

This is good news as the online form makes it easier to express your opinions and give feedback to these elected officials.

To access the contact form:

  • Point your browser to https://elmorecounty.org/contact/
  • Under the “Which Department or Person are you trying to contact?” click the dropdown menu and choose “Board of County Commissioner.“
  • Fill in all of the input boxes and submit the form.

 

I always make a copy of what I send to our elected officials before submitting via an online form, including the date and time I sent my feedback. I find that sometimes the online submission form is broken and other times, I get no response from the person I was contacting. Having a record of the who, what, where and when makes follow up questions easier.

 

Your Elmore County Commissioners

Bud Corbus (R) – Commissioner District 1 – Term expires Jan 2021
Wesley Wootan (R) – Commissioner District 2 – Term expires Jan. 2021
Albert Hofer (R) – Commissioner District 3 – Term expires Jan. 2023

Shelley Essl is the Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and can be contacted by using the web form at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/ or at
150 South 4th East, Suite 3
Mountain Home, Idaho 83647
Phone: 208.587.2130 Extension 500

 

Reference: A Nov. 29, 2018 post at https://catcreek-energy.com/why-we-ask-you-to-write-a-letter/

 

 

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Cat Creek Energy Development Agreement with Elmore County Gets its First Amendment

During the Dec. 14, 2018 public hearing.

Spoiler Alert: The county commissioners agreed to give Cat Creek Energy, LLC more time to renegotiate certain water issues at the Dec. 14, 2018 public hearing.

The Hearing

In a nutshell, this is what happened at this 30-minute public hearing. The first amendment of the development agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County in regards to the mega-energy project slated for our backcountry was approved during a public hearing and deliberations on December 14, 2018.

The approved amendment, however, was merely to give the county and the Gooding-based corporation extra time to negotiate the Water Diversion and Delivery Agreements portion of a joint development agreement. The original date to hammer out the details was December 31, 2018. The new date to agree on those water issues is now officially, June 30, 2019.

If the county and Cat Creek Energy cannot come to an agreement by June 30, 2019, the conditional use permits (CUP 2015-04) will lapse.

There were four individuals who testified against giving Cat Creek Energy additional time to hammer out the agreement and one individual who was neither for nor against the amendment. The interesting thing to know and understand is, Cat Creek Energy did not publicly testify at this meeting. There was one Cat Creek lawyer in attendance and she did not give us any reason for why they require more time. That could be important.

FYI: CUP-2015-04 deals with the proposed Cat Creek Reservoir and its Pump Storage Hydro-electrical Generating Facility.

Reference:

More to Come

Expect a follow-on post regarding this issue where we will discuss some of our thoughts about what happened and what didn’t happen at this and other related public hearings.

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Did You Know – New Water Right Elmore County ‘v’ Cat Creek Energy

  • Did you know the water right Cat Creek Energy wants to use for the pump-storage hydroelectric plant portion of the mega-energy project in the backcounty of Elmore County hasn’t even been created or permitted yet? It’s a proposed water right.
  • Did you know the Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County has been said to be so complex that both parties wanted delays before agreeing to the water delivery portion for 10 months so they could sort out all the complexities?
  • Did you know Cat Creek Energy is asking for more time to sort out all the problems with the complex water delivery agreement?
  • Did you know that Elmore County also applied for the same proposed water right from the South Fork of the Boise River/Anderson Ranch Reservoir? Cat Creek Energy is in competition for the same water that Elmore County is asking IDWR for.
  • Did you know the United States Forest Service has concerns about Cat Creek Energy siphoning water out of Anderson Ranch Reservoir?
  • Did you know Cat Creek Energy would control any flow of water from their proposed and far-from-federally-or-state approved Cat Creek Reservoir on Little Camas Prairie to points downstream into the Mountain Home area?
  • Did you know that the proposed Cat Creek Energy owned reservoir would sit on the edge of the bluffs above Anderson Ranch Reservoir? Who builds a reservoir 800 feet above a pristine body water and doesn’t expect something to go wrong.
  • Did you know Cat Creek Energy would also use that reservoir for their partner’s cattle ranching and farming operations?
  • Did you know that for the past two summers (2017 and 2018) Little Camas Reservoir has a toxic blue-green algae health advisory issued for that body of water? In addition, the proposed Cat Creek Reservoir will be interconnected to both Anderson Reservoir and Little Camas Reservoir increasing the likelihood of blue-green algae contamination in Anderson Ranch Reservoir?

 

What Can You Do?

Call or write a letter to the Elmore County Commissioners with a delivery date on or before Dec. 14, 2018 stating why you oppose the amendments to the Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County.

Phone: Commissioner Wes Wootan (208)599-3131  and/or Commissioner Bud Corbus: (208) 599-1294

Write:
Elmore County Land Use and Building Department
520 East 2nd South Street 
Mountain Home, Idaho, 83647

Attend the 1:30 p.m. public hearing on Dec. 14, 2018.

More information about the hearing, phone numbers and mailing address can be found at http://catcreek-energy.com/event-cat-creek-energy-public-hearing-for-amending-the-development-agreement-with-elmore-county/

Spread the word about the Dec. 14, 2018 meeting. At least one county commissioners believe that because very few people attend these hearing the issues aren’t important to the residents of Elmore County.

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The Amendable Portion of the Current Development Agreement (Partial Dev Agreement Only)

With a public hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on December 14, 2018, in the Elmore County Courthouse regarding the possible amendment to the Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy, LLC and Elmore County coming up soon, we thought you might like to see both proposed amendments and the current document.

The full Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy, LLC, and Elmore County can be viewed and downloaded here …  CCE_Development Agreement (9-Feb-2018)-10673026_1. or at the direct link to that 37 page document at http://catcreek-energy.com/download/463/

A Snippet of the Development Agreement

DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT RELATIVE TO CAT CREEK ENERGY, LLC
CONDITIONAL USE PERMITS (CUP 2015-03, CUP 2015-04, CUP 2015-05, CUP 2015-
06, CUP 2015-07)

This Development Agreement Relative to Cat Creek Energy, LLC Conditional Use Permits
(CUP 2015-03, CUP 2015-04, CUP 2015-05, CUP 2015-06, CUP 2015-07) (the “Agreement”) is
entered into this 9th day of February 2018, (“Effective Date”), by and between
Elmore County (the “County”), a political subdivision of the State of Idaho, and Cat Creek Energy,
LLC, an Idaho limited liability company (the “Developer”) (collectively, the “Parties”).

WITNESSETH:

NOTE: WITNESSTH portion of the development agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County was not included (redacted) in this post because it is not pertinent to the December 14, 2018, public hearing.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the promises, covenants, and provisions set forth
herein, the Parties agree as follows:

AGREEMENT
SECTION 1. DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROJECT.

NOTE: Section 1 of the development agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County was not included (redacted) in this post because it is not pertinent to the December 14, 2018, public hearing.

SECTION 2. REQUIRED ENCLOSURES FROM CONDITION NUMBER TWO.

NOTE: Section 2.1 of the development agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County was not included (redacted) in this post because it is not pertinent to the December 14, 2018, public hearing.


(Current) 2.2. Water Diversion and Delivery. Given the complexities of water diversion and
delivery related to the Project, and in an effort to move the Project forward without further delay,
the County and Developer have agreed to defer the negotiation and execution of all Water
Diversion and Delivery Agreements to a later date, to be heard after notice and public hearing, but
which shall be done prior to December 31, 2018, or the CUP related to water shall lapse.


There are two proposed amendments to section 2.2 of the Development Agreement

Option #1 (Blue Document)

The Parties hereby agree to replace Section 2.2 of the Development Agreement with the
following:

2.2 Water Diversion and Delivery.
          (a) The Developer shall divert and deliver water at a rate of up to 200 cubic feet per
second (cfs) to the County under its water right, in priority, on a continuous flow basis, from
the South Fork Boise River to Little Camas Reservoir by use of Developer’s infrastructure, as
long as (1) the water can be accepted into Little Camas Reservoir, as determined by the
Mountain Home Irrigation District, in its sole discretion; and (2) the water diversion and
delivery does not prevent the Developer from performing its ordinary water operations, which
term is defined as generating electricity via hydro-power or performing ordinary maintenance
of its hydro-power infrastructure and (3) Cat Creek Reservoir stored water is at least 20,000
acre feet. Developer’s duty to divert and deliver water to the County shall be suspended
during any emergency conditions that may exist outside of the Developer’s control. The
Developer agrees to use commercially reasonable efforts not to schedule maintenance work
during the anticipated water diversion and delivery time periods for the County.

          (b) For those years when the County elects to take water delivery under Section 2.2 (a)
above, charges for water diversion and delivery shall be billed to the County based on the
Developer’s actual cost of electricity for pumping the quantity of water diverted and delivered
to the County under its water right. Billing invoices from the Developer shall specify the total
amount of water pumped, diverted and discharged to the Anderson Ranch Reservoir by the
Developer and the total amount of water diverted and delivered into Little Camas Reservoir for
the benefit of the County for the twelve (12) month period in which the County takes water
delivery. The Developer shall invoice the County within ninety (90) days from the end of
water delivery to the County for that water delivery period and provide copies of its electricity
cost and its water diversion records to the County with the annual invoicing. Payment by the
County shall be due and payable thirty (30) days after receipt of the annual invoicing.

(c) The Developer consents to use of its diversion point for diversion of water under the
County’s water right.

(d) The County will inform the Developer, or its designated agent, no less than twenty-four
(24) hours prior to any County request for diversion and delivery of water under its water
right. Provided, however, the County shall be under no obligation to request diversion or
delivery of any water, or accept any water, and any County request for water diversion or
delivery shall be in the County’s sole discretion.

(e) The Developer has withdrawn its pending protest at the Idaho Department of Water
Resources against the County’s application for water permit no. 63-34348. The County has
withdrawn its protest against Developer’s water right application No. 63-34403 filed with the
Idaho Department of Water Resources.

(f) The Developer, the Landowners, the County, and their agents, consultants, and
employees shall act in good faith regarding the County and Developer’s pursuit of a water
permit and license under their respective applications, pending before the Idaho Department of
Water Resources, and shall also act in good faith regarding the County and Developer’s
relationship with the Mountain Home Irrigation District.

(g) Notwithstanding anything in the Development Agreement to the contrary, the
County’s obligations to pay for electricity for pumping expense under Section 2.2(b) of the
Amendment in connection with the diversion and delivery of water by the Developer to the
County under Section 2.2(a), shall be subject to and dependent upon the appropriations
being made in the fiscal year for the diversion and delivery of water by the Elmore County
Board of Commissioners for such purpose.

ALL OTHER PROVISIONS OF THE DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT SHALL REMAIN
IN FULL FORCE AND EFFECT.


Option #2 (Orange Document)

The Parties hereby agree to replace Section 2.2 of the Development Agreement with the following:

“2.2. Water Storage and Delivery. Given the complexities of water diversion and delivery related to the Project, and in an effort to move the Project forward without further delay, the County and Developer have agreed to defer the negotiation and execution of all Water Diversion and Delivery Agreements to a later date, to be heard after notice and public hearing, but which shall be done prior to June 30, 2019, or the CUP related to water (CUP 2015-04) shall lapse.”

ALL OTHER PROVISIONS OF THE DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT SHALL REMAIN IN FULL FORCE AND EFFECT.


Take Action / What Can You Do

  • Call or write a letter to the Elmore County Commissioners with a delivery date on or before Dec. 14, 2018 stating why you oppose the amendments shown above.
    Commissioner Wes Wootan (208)599-3131 Commissioner Bud Corbus: (208) 599-1294
    Elmore County Land Use and Building Department
    520 East 2nd South Street
    Mountain Home, Idaho, 83647
  • Attend the 1:30 p.m. public hearing on Dec. 14, 2018.
  • More information about the hearing, phone numbers and mailing address can be found at http://catcreek-energy.com/event-cat-creek-energy-public-hearing-for-amending-the-development-agreement-with-elmore-county/
  • Spread the word about the Dec. 14, 2018 meeting. At least one county commissioners believe that because very few people attend these hearing the issues aren’t important to the residents of Elmore County. If you are viewing this on a computer, there is a Facebook Share button just below this post.
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