By Linda Kor
The Navajo County Sheriff’s Office got the go-ahead to lease ERAD-Prepaid debit card readers to use to seize drug money from drug runners and cartels that are using Interstate 40 to transport their illegal drugs.
Sheriff KC Clark went before the Navajo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to explain the benefits of having such a device available to deputies who have found drugs in vehicles searched on the interstate.
“The cartels have found that when we seize their drugs, they also lose any cash that’s involved with the arrests. As a result they are instead loading up gift cards with cash, and even motel key cards. Those cards can store millions of dollars and these readers will tell us just what is on them,” he explained.
Not only will it tell the deputy how much is on a given card, once the funds are verified, the account is immediately frozen, making those funds the property of the sheriff’s office through asset forfeiture.
Clark made it clear that the device would only be used in incidents in which illegal drugs have been found in a vehicle, not when the average citizen is pulled over for a traffic violation.
The board approved the agreement for three readers and the training associated for three years, with funding to come from RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) funds. The cost will include $3,685 for three readers and 5.7 percent of the total dollar amount seized using the product.
In other business, Curt Webb and Kelly Wood updated the board on the current status of fire season in the county. According to Wood, the recent rains have put off fire dangers for the moment, but with warmer temperatures expected, that could change at any time.
“Just yesterday 10 abandoned campfires were discovered and one this morning, and these are just the ones we know about,” he said, adding that it’s not just visitors to the area who are leaving fires unattended. “You would think with the most recent Wallow fire that people would be more careful, but some aren’t.”
Wood pointed out that clearing debris, and cutting back trees and bushes near homes can avoid many fire dangers. He also reminded those present that the most up to date information regarding incidents including fires in the county can be found by dialing 311 or visiting 311info.net online.
The board also heard from the departments in the county regarding their various budget requests. All departments presented little change from the previous year, with their individual budgets to remain relatively the same.
In other action May 27, the board:
* Approved a contract with the Arizona Department of Health Services for the Healthy People Healthy Communities grant for July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2020, in the amount of $268,841.
* Awarded the contract for annual newspaper printing and advertising to Navajo County Publishers Inc. with a bid of $4.05 per column inch.
* Approved an amendment to the Victory Heights Road Maintenance Contract, extending it for an additional year through June 10, 2016.
* Approved expenditure of not more than $23,000 from District IV Special Road Funds to cover 50 percent of the cost to chip seal eight-tenths of a mile of road in the Timberland Acres Special Road District No. 1.
* Approved a memorandum of agreement between the Bureau of Indian Affair Fort Apache Agency and the county to fund labor and parts to repair a 10-wheel dump truck 181 and a John Deere backhoe 710, and the purchase of diesel fuel in an amount not to exceed $30,300.
* Approved a memorandum of understanding between the BIA Navajo Region and the county for a road maintenance equipment operator for an additional six-month period. The labor, per diem and housing costs will total approximately $25,000. Special Road Funds will cover up to $7,500 of the cost and $17,500 will come from the SAFETEA-LU Fund.
* Approved changes to the county health insurance policy and the sick leave payment policy.
* Adopted the proposed fiscal year 2015-16 cost allocation schedule.
* Approved resolutions authorizing the submission of an application for fiscal year 2015 State Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for a regional dispatch center, and adopting a residential anti-displacement and relocation assistance plan for CDBG funds for a regional dispatch center.
* Approved a resolution committing local funds as leverage for the CDBG application for a regional dispatch center.
* Approved a special event liquor license for a charitable event to be held on June 20 at the Pinetop Lakes Activity Center & Stables in Pinetop.
* Authorized naming an existing road in the Linden area Monsoon Place.
* Authorized a contract signed by County Manager Jimmy Jayne with GovConnections, Inc. to purchase networking and wireless equipment.
* Approved the appointment of Deborah K. Osborn, Steve Williams, Jeri N. Byrne and Cliff Potts to the local Workforce Investment Board.
* Approved an application for a supervised fireworks display permit and an anvil shoot permit submitted by the Heber Overgaard Chamber of Commerce.
* Approved a resolution regarding the conduct of elections by the Little Colorado Water Conservation District.
* Approved thank you letters to local Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legions and the Ladies Auxiliary.
* Approved a liquor license transfer for Porter Mountain Steakhouse & Saloon in Lakeside.