county meeting

Oklahoma State Fire Marshal David Connor addresses Woodward County Commissioners about safety concerns regarding Oklahoma Medical Marijuana businesses at the meeting Monday morning. (Photo by Dawnita Fogleman)

According to Oklahoma State Fire Marshal David Conner, there are only 12 fire marshals covering a growing and overwhelming need in Oklahoma’s 77 counties for commercial business inspection and permitting services.

“For us being 12 agents, I don't see the state hiring enough people to cover the workload that we’ve got, the demand that's out there right now for new construction that's going on,” Conner said at the Woodward County Commission meeting Monday morning. “I think we're gonna have to have help from the counties.”

According to Conner, medical marijuana growers are buying up homesteads and using the residential homes as bunkhouses and dorms for 10 to 20 people.

“That changes the code for us because now it's no longer a private residence. This is a business supplying the sleeping area for their employees,” Conner said. “We just don't want to see a large loss of life in some of these places because (of) the stuff we've seen with heaters and different things that aren't done right."

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) isn’t informing marijuana businesses of basic state ordinances that apply to them and permits they are responsible to purchase.

“They've kind of been left in the dark,” Conner said.

“We've tried to work with them (marijuana businesses) the best we can,” he added. “We don't generally shut any business down unless we see a major life safety issue, because a lot of them haven't been getting good information.”

In addition to trying to keep up with the growing OMMA inspections, State Fire Marshals provide inspections to jails, schools and more along with consultations, complaint calls and fire-related investigations.

The State Fire Marshal’s website (ok.gov/fire) states:

“Pursuant to 310:681-6-2: All commercial licensees shall meet the standards of any applicable state and local electrical, fire, plumbing, waste and building specification codes including but not limited to the codes adopted by the Oklahoma Uniform Building Code Commission as set forth in OAC 748:20. All licensees may be required to obtain a permit for any new construction or existing building, fire sprinkler, fire alarm, etc. from the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal's Office.”

Commissioners questioned Michael Todd Engel about his application for certificate of compliance for OMMA from Silent Grow LLC in E ½ Section 26 T21W R20N in District 2. Traft Farms LLC is co-owner of this previously established marijuana farm east of Sharon. According to Engel, the former owners had approximately 160 plants but did leave the building empty upon sale.

The board approved a letter to Attorney General Mike Hunter regarding land ownership in the county by non-residents/citizens. This letter is essentially the same as several Oklahoma legislators signed recently regarding their growing concern over the issue.

A letter was approved concerning an audit of the county’s financial statement for fiscal year 2019/2020. The audit has already begun and is estimated to take about six weeks, according to County Clerk Wendy Dunlap.

Commissioners approved a resolution for disposing of Vertex and Motorola radios for district 2 to be junked.

The board approved an application for permit from Northwestern Electric Cooperative for overhead power line in District 3 north of the SW corner of Section 24 T23N R22W. Fees were waived for public utility.

A lease-purchase agreement for a new 772 John Deere motor grader from Sourcewell for District 2 was approved for $298,236 at two percent interest with Stock Exchange Bank.

Commissioners approved a resolution for disposing of equipment for District 3 for a 1992 International and 1997 Freightliner trucks sold at CED auction. The two trucks brought $13,800 back to the district.

The board approved $22,846.26 allocation of alcoholic beverage tax through April 14, 2021.

A transfer of appropriations for District 2 out of road and bridge into maintenance and operation was approved. According to District 2 Commissioner Clint White this was a transfer due to an accounting issue with new software.

The monthly transfer of appropriations out of general use tax into jail use tax was approved. The transfer is $40,000 for monthly bills each month. March use tax was only $25,000, according to District 1 Commissioner Troy White. Fortunately there is enough in the account to hopefully get the jail through June, according to Dunlap.

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