The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors went into closed session during a break in a public meeting Tuesday for property negotiations related to parcels located in East Sonora and Groveland, as well as the Dome at 251 S. Barretta St. in Sonora.
Tuolumne County leaders and officials didn’t provide any details about the negotiations.
State law requires any action taken in closed session to be reported publicly, but the board took no action on Tuesday related to the property negotiations.
Regarding the Dome property, the agenda stated that County Administrator Craig Pedro was negotiating with Sonora Union High School District Superintendent Pat Chabot. The school district’s Board of Trustees has approved listing the Dome as surplus property and fielding potential offers.
Pedro declined to provide any details about the negotiations, including why the county was interested in the property. He also declined to talk about specifics regarding the negotiations related to the properties in East Sonora and Groveland.
Tuolumne County Ambulance stations are located on each property and both are owned by the county, according to records at the Tuolumne County Assessor’s Office. One is located at 18440 Striker Court in East Sonora and the other is 11850 Powder House Road in Groveland.
Pedro and Deputy County Administrator Maureen Frank are listed on the agenda as negotiating with Ron Kopf, who works as a development consultant and serves on the Tuolumne Utilities District Board of Directors, related to the property in East Sonora.
Pedro and Frank are also listed as negotiating with Regina Hirsch, co-owner of Mountain Sage Nursery in Groveland and founder of Sierra Watershed Progressive, related to the property in Groveland.
District 2 Supervisor Randy Hanvelt did not attend Tuesday’s meeting because he was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting at the White House, according to District 5 Supervisor Karl Rodefer.
Hanvelt was scheduled to be in the nation’s capital from Friday through today for the annual National Association of Counties Legislative Conference.
Rodefer said that Hanvelt was part of a group that had met with several high-profile White House officials as of Tuesday afternoon, though they had yet to see President Donald Trump.
Some of the officials that Hanvelt said his group had met with included White House deputy director of intergovernmental affairs Billy Kirkland, Department of Transportation intergovernmental affairs officer Chris Mitton and Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, who talked about opioid abuse.
Hanvelt’s travel expenses are being covered by the Rural County Representatives of California, which he was representing as the organization’s first vice chair.
The board also officially appointed Dr. Robert “Bob” Bernstein to serve as the county’s next health director.
Bernstein, 74, who currently lives in Decatur, Ga., with his 13-year-old triplets, has spent nearly 40 years working in the field of public health on both a national and international level. He’s worked for the Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, World Health Organization, and United Nations Children’s Fund.
Every county in California is required by state law to employ a licensed physician as the design health officer, who helps lead the response to public-health emergencies, enforce health statutes and regulations, and educates and advises leaders about community health issues.
Bernstein has a license to practice medicine in California. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, masters degree in biochemistry, and doctorate in biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University, as well as a medical degree from University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Dean Kelaita, the Calaveras County health officer, has served as interim Tuolumne County health officer since the departure of Dr. Liza Ortiz last August. She succeeded Dr. Todd Stolp who served from 2003 to 2015.
The board didn’t ask any questions or make any comments before approving Bernstein’s employment, which was recommended by county Human Services Agency Director Ann Connolly.
Bernstein’s salary will be $204,796.59 a year for working 40 hours per week, as well as up to $3,500 in moving expenses and other health and retirement benefits provided through the Management Unit’s latest bargaining agreement.
The board also endorsed the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority’s proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which calls for $460,732 in total spending. It’s the same amount requested as the current fiscal year’s budget, which was 11.9 percent higher than 2016-17.
Under a joint-powers agreement with the City of Sonora, the county will fund nearly $345,000 of the authority’s budget. The city covers about 23 percent of the budget, which would be nearly $103,000 in the next fiscal year.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved about $60,000 in change orders related to the project that constructed an access road at the Law and Justice Center in Sonora and a $2 million transit center.
The agreement also included withholding $131,000 from the retainer that was released back to contractor F&H Construction as a resolution to a stormwater violation the county paid for last year.
Contact Alex MacLean at email@example.com or (209) 588-4530.