Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors Watch

By unanimous vote, Stanislaus County supervisors on Tuesday:

Reversed a September change that resulted in poor people paying more for care at county health clinics. Supervisors had raised co-pays for about 2,650 people in the county's Medically Indigent Adult program from $3 to as much as $574, in some cases. Others were forced to pay half the cost of dentures, crowns and root canals. The Western Center on Law & Poverty successfully sued San Diego County, saying eligibility rules should be based on living costs and a person's ability to pay, not on arbitrary percentages. The nonprofit threatened to sue Stanislaus County as well, so officials will conduct a cost-of-living study before recommending new rules within six months.

Gave after-the-fact approval to swap an ineffective deputy K-9 for another patrol dog. Blade, a 2-year-old male Belgian Malinois, couldn't hack a police dog's life after arriving a year ago and was taken out of service Oct. 20. Four days later, he was traded for Kiko, a dog of the same gender, age and breed. Blade's $10,344 purchase price included a one-year warranty.

Agreed to buy a $116,250 bomb squad robot for the Sheriff's Department, whose other robot is too large to move along airplane or bus aisles or in other tight spaces. A Homeland Security grant would cover $100,000. The rest would come from a previous grant for anti-bomb equipment. Supervisor Bill O'Brien said, "This money couldn't go to pay (deputies') salaries. We can't say, 'This could save an officer; what a great idea.' This money has to be spent for explosion devices."

Accepted a $642,000 federal stimulus drug offender treatment grant, allowing the rehiring of a recently laid off substance abuse counselor, the hiring of a part-time data analyst and enhanced treatment.

Accepted a $699,000 federal stimulus grant, awarded through state justice for supervising high-risk young adult felons on probation. The money will save the jobs of two deputy probation officers and a substance abuse counselor and will help Josie's Place, a drop-in center providing job training, housing assistance and mental health services to teens and young adults.

Using eminent domain, seized another parcel needed to widen Kiernan Avenue north of Modesto. Joseph Fluence's property, between Dale Road and McHenry Avenue, became the 25th in recent months taken by the county over owners' objections.

Agreed to pay $61,650 to Nino and Grace Masellis for their 21,623-square-foot property, needed to improve the intersection of Hatch Road and Santa Fe Avenue, including $32,800 for the land and $18,000 to compensate for the loss of 29 peach trees. Construction on the $3.85 million project is scheduled to begin in fall 2012.

Scheduled May 18 hearings on higher fees for building permits and planning services.

— Garth Stapley