State probes Cassia County on Jackson decision

From the Times-News

AG’s looks into possible open meeting violations

By Sven Berg
Staff writer

BURLEY – The Idaho Attorney General’s office is investigating claims Cassia County commissioners in November 2006 broke state laws governing public meetings when they voted to change address coordinates in the Jackson area to fit Cassia County’s grid.

County Attorney Al Barrus said Deputy Attorney General Karin Jones interviewed commissioners Paul Christensen, Dennis Crane and Clay Handy separately by phone Monday morning in response to allegations raised by Jackson residents. A spokeswoman for the attorney general said the Jackson allegations are being investigated, but declined to comment further.

Jackson resident Stan Buckley also declined to comment Monday on details of the case, except to confirm Jackson residents had submitted paperwork to the attorney general’s office requesting the investigation.

Addressing in Jackson has long been a source of contention between residents of the area and county authorities. Prior to 2007, coordinates in Jackson – the area of Cassia County located north of Interstate 84 and south of the Snake River – corresponded to the Minidoka County grid.

In 2006, Cassia County emergency-service providers complained of confusion stemming from Jackson callers reporting Minidoka County coordinates to Cassia County dispatchers; they proposed switching Jackson addresses to Cassia County coordinates. Jackson residents protested in near unanimity, saying there had been much less confusion when Minidoka County handled dispatching for the Jackson area.

Barrus said Jackson residents have made several complaints in calling for the attorney general’s investigation, including reference to a comment Handy made following an October 2006 meeting of the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission. At that meeting, planning and zoning commissioners recommended allowing Jackson residents to continue using Minidoka County coordinates. Buckley said, following planning and zoning’s vote, Handy said, “I don’t care what they say, your addresses are going to change.”

Handy has acknowledged making the comment, but he says it was not an indication county commissioners had already made up their minds to change Jackson’s coordinates.

Buckley confirmed Monday that Handy’s comment was among Jackson residents’ allegations of improper procedure.

In November 2006, county commissioners went against the P&Z recommendation and voted to change Jackson coordinates. Several months later, residents requested incorporation of the area as a city. County commissioners denied that request.

Jackson residents have complained emergency services have not improved since their address change took effect in the fall of 2007. Commissioners and emergency service providers in Cassia County say more training and time to adjust to the change will clear up confusion.

Sven Berg may be reached at 208-677-8764 or

From the Times-News

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