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Entries in Ravalli County commissioners (33)

Tuesday
Jan132015

Ravalli County adopts controversial floodplain rule changes

Dennis Bragg photo(HAMILTON)- Ravalli County commissioners approve plans to use a newer set of rules for controlling floodplain development along the Bitterroot River.

Commissioners spent more than 14-hours in hearings last week, and again Monday to consider adopting the newer rules, which are based on state standards and newer, digital maps. 

Ravalli County has banned residential development along the Bitterroot for years. And the new rules may actually make that more stringent. But many speakers worry the new regulations could also lead to more development in the so-called "fringe" areas bordering  places where major flooding could happen. 

However, commissioners are satisfied the revamped rules provide better safeguards, giving property owners a few more options.

"I think we came up with a good list of criteria that really is tight and solid versus the old criteria we had for the variance, which was kind of general and vague," said Commission Chair Jeff Burrows after the vote. 

The rule change would also establish a professional advisory board to help review permits. It has to be approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency by Friday. 

Thursday
Jun262014

Ravalli commissioners remove embattled treasurer 

Stamey levels accusations of corruption during a meeting in January- Dennis Bragg photo(HAMILTON)- After 6-months of controversy and financial problems involving millions of dollars, Ravalli County commissioners have finally suspended Treasurer Valerie Stamey for misconduct. 

Commissioners had already decided last week that Stamey hadn't been doing her job in keeping with state law, approving more than 2-dozen Findings of Fact supporting the charge of misconduct. That finding came after an exhaustive investigation, although one Stamey had criticized for not being truly independent. However, neither she, nor her attorney, showed up to argue the point, setting the stage for commissioners to take a final vote.

Commissioner J.R. Iman said it was time to "make our government whole again", a point echoed by the other commissioners. Commissioner Jeff Burrows called the Stamey affair "an expensive lesson" but expressed hope the county will be better off for the operational changes that will come in the future. 

Commissioners will meet next week to decide whether to fill the vacancy with an interim treasurer, or by taking applicants again until the post can be filled permanently by election this fall.

 

In Hamilton, Dennis Bragg, MTN News. 

Tuesday
Jun172014

Audit finds no evidence of fraud in Ravalli Treasurer's office

Stamey has been on paid administrative leave since January(HAMILTON)- A newly released report finds no evidence of fraud in the the Ravalli County Treasurer's Office. But auditors say the department was in "disarray" under Treasurer Valerie Stamey, with "piles of paperwork" and nearly a million dollars in undeposited funds. 

The report by an independent auditing firm spent months looking into the problems that led to Stamey's showdown with county commissioners and her paid suspension in January. The audit was organized by County Attorney Bill Fulbright as the second part of a two prong investigation into the Treasurer's Office and Stamey's allegations of corruption by some of the commissioners. 

Auditors write they "found no indications of fraud during our engagement", however they found the Treasurer's Office was in disarray with "hundreds" of undeposited checks, even after Stamey had been removed and other county staff had completed a $779,000 deposit in late January. All told, auditors deposited nearly $1-million dollars.

A public meeting with commissioners is set for Friday, although that's more for Fulbright to give his formal report. It's not expected the board will take any immediate action.

 

Wednesday
Jun042014

"Tea Party" incumbents ousted in Ravalli County shakeup

Schallenberger was among the GOP challengers to benefit from the Republican unrest in the Bitterroot- Dennis Bragg photo(HAMILTON)- For months now, Ravalli County commissioner Suzy Foss has made headlines as the county struggled through a major financial crisis and came under increasing fire from more liberal opponents. 

But that will come to an end after 2014, with voters opting to not return the polarizing commissioner for a second term. 

Foss, and fellow conservative Ron Stoltz, were elected in a Republican landslide 4-years ago as Bitterroot conservatives took solid control of the county commission. However, a series of controversies, punctuated by this year's standoff with appointed Treasurer Valerie Stamey even had Republicans calling for their replacement. 

Tuesday, voters did just that. Obviously aided by cross-over voting by Democrats, both Foss and Stoltz were knocked out of office. Rancher Doug Schallenberger beat Foss in a three way race with more than 71% of the vote. 

Four term former legislator Ray Hawk did the same to Stoltz, ousting the North Bitterroot commissioner with 72% of the ballots. 

For a time it appeared Jeff Burrows, appointed to fill the remainder of Matt Kanenwisher's term two years ago, might also be sidelined. Challenger Bill Menager was able to open an early lead although Burrows was able to come back and declare a narrow win after ballots were counted from the Bitterroot polls. 

Schallenberger, Hawk and Burrows will all face Democratic challengers in November. 

Monday
Mar242014

Ravalli County approves carbon monoxide monitors

(HAMILTON)- Ravalli County commissioners are approving a plan to install carbon monoxide monitors in the courthouse and administration building in hopes of heading off a problem that already made some county prisoners sick. 

Several inmates in the Ravalli County Detention Center reported ill effects from carbon monoxide poisoning at the end of February. They were complaining of headaches, nausea and burning eyes with the problems traced to a propane leak from the boilers in the same building. 

That problem was fixed. But to make sure it doesn't happen again, Ravalli County commissioners have agreed to spend 25-hundred dollars to place monitors near the boilers in both the courthouse, and the older county administration building.