County approves update to traffic code; higher fines on the horizon

The updated Model Traffic Code is listed in its entirety on Page 12A of the March 1, 2018 edition.

RBC | The county’s IT and communications director, Blake Mobley, informed the board of county commissioners Monday he has accepted a position with Mammoth Networks to help with “Project Thor,” an eight-county fiber network in development across Northwest Colorado, and other broadband projects similar to the one he spearheaded for Rio Blanco County.

“I’ve been fighting this (Mobley’s departure from the county) for three years,” said commission chair Shawn Bolton. “I’ve been through three IT directors. Our stuff is lined out and running smooth now.”

Mobley brought his entire team to the workshop with the commissioners to present a plan for restructuring the IT and recently fomented communications departments.

The preferred plan is to separate the departments, naming current employees Cody Crooks as communications director and Dylon Merrell as IT director, and hiring one full-time assistant for each department instead of hiring one director to replace Mobley. Mobley will still be available on a contract basis for consulting, and will continue to reside in Meeker.

“It’s admirable how you’ve handled this and the work you’ve done for the county,” said commissioner Jeff Rector.

Mobley has received accolades on a state and national level for his role in bringing broadband to Rio Blanco County.

“I’d like to compliment you for coming together as a team and coming up with a resolution,” commissioner Si Woodruff said, addressing the entire team. “Personally I don’t know how we thank you enough, Blake.”

There will be a change in the county’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department, as well. Kyle Eckes, current GIS department manager, is leaving Rio Blanco County for a job in Snowmass, Colo. Mobley said which department GIS will come under is still in discussion.

Traffic violations will cost more in Rio Blanco County, after the commissioners approved an ordinance that will bring the Model Traffic Code into compliance with the most recent (2010) state code, matching the state’s rates for fines and fees. Previously, the county was operating on the 2003 code. According to undersheriff Brice Glasscock, updating the ordinance will bring revenue back into the county for the sheriff’s department. For the updated fee schedule see Page 12A of this week’s paper.

The commissioners appointed Kerri Knight of Rangely to the Columbine Park Board, but noted that board is still short two members. Interested parties should complete the Application for Board or Commission and return to the Human Resources Department, Meeker Courthouse, 3rd Floor, PO Box i, Meeker, Colo., 81641, or hr@rbc.us. Please call 970-878-9570 for questions.

Following some discussion, the commissioners voted to suspend their approval of Senate Bill 18-156, which seeks to rescind county requirements for publication of their financial expenditures in local newspapers. The bill is still moving through the state senate.

The commissioners awarded a number of bids: $116,749 to VanDiest Supply for weed and pest department/herbicides; the DC power plant project at the Fairfield Center awarded to Qypsys for $40,598; chip seal to Old Castle/SW Group dba United Companies for $745,886; crack fill project to AM-PM Stripes and Sweepers for $41,580; dust control to GMCO Corp. for $301,174; and surface road treatment for roads 15 and 13 to Frontier Paving for $1.6 million.

In updates, the commissioners said they are hopeful that Rio Blanco County will eventually see money from the Anvil Points project returned to counties—including Rio Blanco—if Colorado House Bill 18-1249, sponsored by Rep. Bob Rankin and Sen. Steve Lundberg, passes. Commissioners also discussed the benefits and drawbacks of a sales tax for Colorado highways as opposed to increasing the gas tax.

Bolton said he’s opposed to an increase in the gas tax. “Any time there’s a gas tax it hits rural Colorado more than anyone else, because we drive more miles than anybody else.”

Other potential options for raising revenue to improve Colorado’s transportation infrastructure that have been discussed include a tax on bicycles, as building bike lanes raises the cost of road construction considerably, or a tire tax, which would affect everyone who uses the roads, including drivers of electric and alternative-fuel vehicles.