‘We are here to help’: Official explains role of Malheur County Building Department

Adele Schaffeld, county building inspector, shows some plans she is reviewing in her office in the former Nyssa City Hall, next to the Police Department.

NYSSA — The Malheur County Building Department is up and running, having taken over the plan reviews, inspections and issuing of various construction permits, from City/County Inspection Services, which previously performed the same services under contract with the county.

After a ruling by an Oregon assistant attorney general said those arrangements between local government and private contractors were unconstitutional, cities and counties were given a time frame to bring permit and inspection services under their control. If not, the state would take them over.

When the ruling was issued about two years go, Malheur County officials began working to set up its building department, and has hired new staff. Chris Ruddell, owner and building official of City/County Inspections retired with the change.

Adele Schaffeld, who worked for several years as a building official for the City of Boise is the new building official, and Laurie Hays is her assistant. Schaffeld started working for the county in July.

Schaffeld handles plan review, building and mechanical inspections, and contracts out plumbing and electrical inspections. Those inspectors come from Baker County, she said.

The new department serves all of Malheur County for plan reviews, inspections and permits with the exception of Ontario, which has its own building staff, as a result of the attorney general ruling. However, Ontario does still use the same plumbing and electrical inspections as the county.

On its website, the county department provides access to various permit applications which can be downloaded, along with forms, such as how to prepare a site plan, structural fee calculation schedule and build valuation table, as well as web links to local and state codes.

“We are here to help them,” said Schaffeld, who wants people to know that she wants to work with them to help them with their projects.

Schaffeld grew up in Ontario, which is why she was interested in the local position.

“I didn’t get to help people [directly],” she said, of her position in Boise.

And yes, building permits are still needed, even with the change in the structure of the building department, she said, despite some rumors to the contrary.

Larry Meyer is a reporter for the Argus Observer.

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