Stanislaus County Supervisors Watch

By unanimous vote, Stanislaus County supervisors on Tuesday:

Received a letter from retiring Superior Court Judge Donald Shaver pleading against the demise of drug court and other inmate programs because of steep budget cuts. Citing a plan by the Sheriff's Department to close all but one barracks at the Stanislaus County Honor Farm, Shaver predicted that few guards would remain to run drug court, literacy programs and occupational training. Releasing 270 inmates "before they serve any significant penal time" and without going through such programs "will create the conditions for a 'perfect storm' affecting the safety and security of the community," Shaver wrote. "I would urge the board to do whatever it possibly can to avoid the spiraling effect that the dismantling of these programs will cause." Without comment, supervisors referred the letter to Sheriff Adam Christianson and the office of Chief Executive Rick Robinson. Six candidates hoping to succeed Shaver appear on the June 8 ballot.

Hired Kit L. Lloyd Productions to produce television commercials encouraging people to get H1N1 flu vaccinations. While cases of the virus, which can be deadly, have diminished, "H1N1 remains unpredictable" and "it is crucial that the public not assume the threat has passed," a report reads.

Agreed to allow ConAgra Foods, Oakdale's largest employer, to spread cannery muck from its wastewater pond on rural farms outside the city. Supervisors in December approved a similar request over protests of neighbors fearing odors and flies. Tuesday's action approves the use of 1,057 more acres of oats and almonds. Supervisor Bill O'Brien, whose district includes the, urged environmental resources officials to react quickly if problems arise.

Agreed to pay an architecture firm $182,650 to design improvements to the Nick Blom Library in Salida, including a new heating and air conditioning system, a new parking lot, a remodeled lobby with vendor space and staff restrooms. Modesto's Pacific Design Associates was chosen from among 17 proposals. Construction is expected to cost up to $3 million.

Using eminent domain, seized another parcel needed to widen Kiernan Avenue north of Modesto. Property controlled by HAJ Ranch became the 26th in recent months taken by the county over owners' objections.

Approved using $306,200 in development fees to complete an update of the county's general plan, a document guiding growth that hasn't been revised comprehensively since 1994. The rest of the $1 million cost is covered by fees adopted five years ago, dedicated specifically to the update.

Agreed to pay an accounting firm $151,500 to audit county books when the current fiscal year ends June 30. It's the same amount paid for last year's audit to Brown Armstrong Accountancy Corp.

Created identity theft prevention rules for six departments that retain confidential information, as required by a 2003 federal law.

— Garth Stapley