Canadian County Commissioners: Right-of-way permit policy eyed by county

After months of discussion, the Canadian County commissioners are expected to consider a resolution that will require companies wanting to place temporary or permanent structures in the county’s rights-of-way to get a permit.

Officials agreed to require the permits in November, but have not actually approved the resolution that would put it into effect.

Officials had wanted the new rule to be in place by Jan. 1. However, because of the New Year’s holiday, the commissioners’ meeting is being moved to Tuesday at 9 a.m.

The policy is similar to those of several other counties, requiring anyone want to utilize the rights-of-way to notify the county and to pay a small permit fee as well as maintain a bond that would pay for any property repairs that are required.

District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart originally suggested the permits as a way to provide information to the county about the location of things like temporary water lines.

Stewart has said that in many instances, county workers are unaware that something has been placed into the right-of-way until after there has been an issue, such as a road grader or brush hog hitting a hidden line.

Stewart said the permits should help eliminate that issue.

The county currently is seeking to fill an inspector’s position to maintain and monitor the permitting process.

Also on Tuesday, the commissioners are expected to set a date for an inspection of the county detention center, which is required by state statute. The jail was inspected in August by the state health department.

In other action, the commissioners are expected to consider:

  • Election of a chairman and vice chairman;
  • A contract with Reed’s Cleaning Service for custodial work at several county-owned buildings;
  • A resolution of assignment of 9-1-1 fees to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments;
  • A resolution for notice of filing for fair board election for the Canadian County Free Fair;
  • An inter-governmental mutual emergency assistance agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to provide housing for inmates during natural disasters or law enforcement emergencies.

Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and will be held in the county administration building, 201 N. Choctaw in El Reno.

County weapons policy put on hold

Canadian County workers who want to carry a concealed weapon on the job will have to wait a little longer.

Commissioners voted Wednesday to table a proposed employee gun policy change after receiving unclear information from Assistant District Attorney Tommy Humphries.

Humphries said state law is unclear about where concealed weapons can be carried.

One section of law indicates that businesses can set their own rules related to bringing weapons into their buildings, and that firearms are prohibited in city-, county- and state-owned buildings.

However, another portion of the law makes it legal for elected officials to carry weapons into any building, including courthouses. However, they still are prohibited from carrying weapons into courtrooms.

Humphries said he needs additional time to review comments made earlier this month by Don Spencer, the president of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, who said the county is violating state law by banning the carrying of weapons inside their buildings.

“I can’t give you a clear-cut answer,” Humphries said.

The county’s current policy prohibits employees from carrying weapons while on the job unless they are required to do so.

Most of the county’s elected officials, including Sheriff Chris West, say they have no concerns about employees carrying concealed weapons.

West said as long as the sheriff’s department has a list of who would be carrying weapons and they employees went through proper training, there is not a concern.

Treasurer Carolyn Lick is among those opposed to a policy change. She previously said there was no need for employees to carry weapons because they are protected by the sheriff and his deputies, who are well trained.

District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart said none of the county’s employees have approached him seeking permission to carry weapons while on the job.

Officials voted to table the proposed policy change indefinitely to give officials more time to review their options.

In other action, the commissioners awarded a contract to Super Dave Heat and Air to replace an air conditioning system at the Gary E. Miller Children’s Justice Center. The company’s bid was $9,637 and was the lowest of three received.

Also approved was a contract with Quality Fence to install fencing at the District 3 Shop. The contract was $9,222 and was the lowest of three received. The contract is only for the installation of fencing. The county has previously purchased the materials.

Also, the commissioners:

  • Approved road-crossing permits with Newfield Exploration and Select Energy;
  • Approved contracts for Sarah Devane and Claudia Jimenez with the county health department;
  • Entered into an executive session to interview a prospective pipeline engineer. No decision was made.

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