Commissioners doubt findings of Cascadia study

Josephine County Airports Director Jason Davis stood before the Board of County Commissioners Wednesday, July 20 in Grants Pass’ Anne G. Basker Auditorium. He was present to detail an amendment to a COAR grant for an airport resiliency study at the board’s weekly business session.
According to Davis, “This grant is one we’ve had for a little while. It got delayed because of COVID like a lot of things. A lot of the meetings that needed to take place in order to complete this grant did not happen.”
He went on, “This grant is actually a resiliency grant study for the Grants Pass Airport to see how it will fare in a Cascadia event and see what we need to do to make sure the airport will hold up in that event.”
The only amendment being made to the original grant agreement is extending the project milestones as needed and ultimate completion to Dec. 31, 2022. The grant dollars being awarded – $67,500 – will not be changed. Davis noted that the project is being 100% funded by COAR and requires zero matching funds from the county.
Commissioner Dan DeYoung appeared to disagree with the plausibility of the study being able to accomplish what it sets out to, remarking, “There is no way to tell how the airport will fare during a Cascadia event.”
Davis rebutted, “This is just a grant to do a study to tell us how it will fare in that event, and we’re in the middle of that study; it didn’t get finished.
That’s all it is. This doesn’t give us the ability to make the changes to the airport. It just tells us what we need to do.”
“Or if we need to,” added DeYoung.
“It’s somebody’s best guess of what might happen,” Commissioner Darin Fowler weighed in, also seeming skeptical of the study’s veracity. “Probably a college student.”
Board Chair Herman Baertschiger added, “We dealt with this a lot in the Legislature, and it always amazes me that we’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen in an event that we don’t know the magnitude or when it’ll happen. It’s supposed to happen sometime in the next 300 years. So anyways, there’s your taxpayer dollars. Whatever.”
The second and final administrative action of the meeting was a timber sale contract with Mineral Creek Logging & Hauling, LLC.
According to JoCo Forestry Director Dave Streeter, this sale went to auction in April and received no bids. It is being purchased at minimum bid.
The sale will bring a revenue of $495,064.32 to the county.
Both administrative actions were approved unanimously.
In other business, the board held a brief public hearing on the annexation of a property into the Josephine Community Library District, as is required by statute.
The applicant, Shirley Merrill, voluntarily petitioned the district to join in order to pay taxes supporting library services. Merrill’s property is at the block of 35000 Redwood Hwy.
No citizens opted to speak in favor of or against the application during the public hearing, paving the way for the commissioners to unanimously approve it.