June 19, 2002 11:00 pm

Union County commissioners Wednesday approved a budget that includes the remodeling of the county jail.

Earlier the jail remodel, set to cost about $120,000, had not been included as an expenditure for 2002-03, but county budget officer Marlene Perkins said Wednesday that the budget committee decided to take the money from the building reserve fund.

Of the $120,000, $75,000 will go to remodel and enlarge the kitchen. The remaining $45,000 will be used to add three isolation cells which the sheriff's department said are needed to separate inmates who don't mix well with the jail population.

The total general fund budget equals $6.6 million. The total budget is about $22 million and includes state funds allocated for restoration of McAlister and Buchanan roads.

School nurses funded for year

Representatives from the Health Network for Rural Schools and the Center for Human Development were granted one more year of funding for school nurses.

The nurse serves the middle school in La Grande, and in the five rural school districts, the nurse primarily serves elementary schools. Each agency received $20,000, but the commissioners warned that this might be the last year the county will be able to supplement the school nurse programs. "I will volunteer to help you find other sources of funding," said Commissioner Steve McClure.

Nancy Findholt of the Health Network and David Still of CHD said that funds from Medicaid cover school health care for certain students whose families qualify for Medicaid, but the funds have not been adequate to replace the county contribution.

This year, the CHD, using funds from the Union-Baker Education Service District, placed a nurse in the La Grande district elementary schools, but funds for that position have ended.

McClure said federal funds, payments in lieu of taxes, may be reduced next year, and he said if the reduction happens, "these programs will be in jeopardy."

Earlier this year, the county took over the management of Buffalo Peak Golf Course in Union. Next year's county budget includes $130,000 in expenses for the golf course. The expenditures will be offset by $200,000 from a state loan and revenues from various green fees and other revenues.

The Union golf course, like several funding programs included in the county's overall budget, does not require general fund monies.

— Alice Perry Linker