Several White Pine County employees submitted letters to the board of commissioners concerning the recent closure of non-essential county offices during a heavy snowstorm Jan. 31-Feb. 1. The board addressed the content of the letters, as well as related public comment, at its twice monthly meeting on Feb. 10.

Critical public comments complained of a lack of thorough communication about the canceled workday, and differing interpretations of county policy regarding compensation and the use of leave time.

Board chair Gary Perea explained it was a simple decision based on safety.

“We did take away their right to come to work,” Commissioner Laurie Carson said.

“It was the right decision,” Commissioner Mike Coster said. “It was good timing and well-executed.”

Commissioner Richard Howe commented that complaining county employees were “whining.” A woman from the audience insisted that she was not whining.

During public comment, meeting regular and former Ely mayor George Chachas reiterated his concern that building inspector Brad Christiansen was “double-dipping,” or collecting two public salaries for the same work. Christiansen is also the building inspector for the City of Ely. After the comment, the board moved on to its business agenda.

The board unanimously approved an application for Verizon Wireless to construct a 104-foot tower in McGill on 24,000 square feet of land within the operation area of Kennecott Copper Co.

The board unanimously approved special county assessments for the next fiscal year on state water resources distribution lists for the Humboldt and White Rivers, and the Steptoe, Huntington and Lake Valley Groundwater Basins, as well as the Lund Irrigation Company’s special assessment for the Lund Stream. Commissioner Carol McKenzie abstained since her husband is the head of the Lund water company’s board.

After reviewing proposals from several companies, the board unanimously approved The Leavitt Group, a Cedar City, Utah, affiliation of insurance agencies, to manage the county’s health coverage. The board also unanimously approved all quarterly grant reports including hazard mitigation and emergency preparedness response, and decided to send a letter to the Federal Communications Commission to change the county’s official Television Viewing Area from Utah to Nevada.

The board next meets at the county aquatic center on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 9 a.m.