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County may split ties with search and rescue

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Morgan County’s search and rescue is at odds with the county sheriff, something that could lead to the loss of a contract between the two.
Morgan County Sheriff Blaine Breshears said the county’s search and rescue is the state’s last one to operate independently, and that embezzlement issues have plagued the organization.
“We may have to dissolve the search and rescue and reform it,” Breshears said.
County Attorney Jann Farris agreed.
“It might be cleaner to close it down. State law says you can’t be a search and rescue without being under a sheriff. If the problem is them not wanting to work with the sheriff, the solution is easy,” Farris said. “They need to go away, because a sheriff has been elected and he gets to call the shots. Without the sheriff, they would not be deputized. A clean, fresh start is my suggestion.”
Farris said the search and rescue was organized as a nonprofit organization with the state in the 1980s and 1990s, but that they may now be a nonprofit without a contract with Morgan County.
The problem the sheriff has with contracting with the current search and rescue is that the group needs to be trained to state standards. Because the search and rescue’s normal income has “dried up” now that they no longer sponsor a breakfast and derby, Breshears asked the Morgan County Council to create a $10,000 line item for them in the county budget “for training to get them up to speed.”
Breshears said that Weber County has put Morgan’s search and rescue on notice, requiring they be trained in order to continue a contract with them.
“Weber County is having a tough time because they are not trained,” Councilman John Barber said.
What is to become of the search and rescue building built on county property by volunteers decades ago could become a sticking point, Breshears acknowledged. Breshears suggested rental of the “beautiful building” be handled like any other county building instead of directly through the search and rescue organization. This could lead to the building being self-sustaining, or covering operational costs, he said.
The search and rescue say they own the building, Breshears said. But that would be similar to saying that volunteer organizations that raised money for and donated labor to build several buildings on the county-owned fairgrounds owned those buildings.
“We have no desire to steal the building,” Breshears said. “We just want it to operate efficiently and the way it should.”
County Council Chairman Logan Wilde said the struggle is one of “entitlement.”
Breshears agreed. “It comes down to power, and they don’t want to relinquish that,” he said. “I have already been threatened with a lawsuit.”
Some county council members were hesitant to get involved in the matter.
“I don’t want to get in the middle of a mess,” said Councilman Ned Mecham, who voted to postpone the item until it is placed on the agenda again.
“Welcome to our life,” said Councilwoman Tina Cannon. “Do we do anything that’s not messy?”

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