County Beat: Barton hired as economic development lead

RBC I The county commissioners have named Makala Barton as the new economic development director. Barton has been working as the county’s economic development specialist with former director Katelin Cook.

A small business owner herself, Barton is a certified business consultant as well as a certified LEADING EDGETM instructor within the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network. She owns the Country Raised boutique in Meeker.
Following direction from the commissioners and advice from Barton, RBC Human Resources Director Laura Smith will advertise for a position to replace Barton’s position.
Commissioners Jeff Rector and Gary Moyer expressed a need to change the course of economic development.
“It’s become clear subsidizing people to move into our communities isn’t working,” Moyer said during commissioner updates.
Rector said he foresees greater cooperation and activity between the county and the two towns to market the county and let people know what Northwest Colorado has to offer.
Memorial Day opening for Flat Tops Byway questionable
Memorial Day is the annual target date for opening County Road 8 (Flat Tops Scenic Byway), but significant snowfall this year may delay the opening. Van Pilaud, providing the road and bridge department update in Dave Morlan’s stead Monday, said CR 8 is open to Ripple Creek Lodge and Trappers is open to Skinny Fish.
“As of May 8 there are 7-foot drifts. We’ll try again this week,” Pilaud said.
Sheriff’s Office Secures Grant for Mental Health in the Jail
The Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office is the recipient of a $93,663 grant to provide mental health services to inmates in the county jail.
“We did work our tails off to secure this grant,” said Deputy Jeremy Muxlow. “The county currently pays for all those needs.”
Vicky Edwards, assistant to the county attorney, said she expects the grant to help in situations with the Department of Human Services where incarcerated parents are court-ordered to receive drug and alcohol treatment, but their treatment is delayed until they are released. With the grant, they’ll be able to start receiving treatment while still in jail, hopefully shortening the amount of time their children spent in foster care settings.
Public Health
Public Health Nurse Alice Harvey told the commissioners she’s been spending time making sure the services provided by public health are uninterrupted in the absence of a public health director, and assured the board that the county is “in compliance” with state statutes despite the loss of two nurses and the director in the last few months.
“We’re not entering into any new programming. I’ve been focusing on how can we deliver these services in the most cost-efficient way,” Harvey said, as well as providing answers for people.
“There’s been some confusion around what we do, what we’ve done in the past and what we’re doing now,” Harvey said, adding that she would like to start getting that information out to the community by July 1.
Commissioners canceled a contract for services with Denise Sheridan for the state tobacco education partnership during the regular meeting.
Non-motorized areas
The commissioners were pleased with further discussion with BLM representatives about the proposed Travel Management Plan. After concerns that the BLM’s plan to designate some of the area around the proposed Wolf Creek Reservoir as non-motorized, which would have limited recreational opportunities, BLM agreed to “shrink” the proposed area.
“We were very appreciative of how cooperative BLM was at this particular meeting,” Moyer said. “It’s a big victory.”
Finance and budget
The board heard from Budget and Finance Director Janae Stansworth on requested funding for the 4-H shooting sports program and the Rangely resource pantry, discussed charging fees for the community pens on both sides of the county, and reviewed the idea of having commissioners serve as the contact and provide oversight for seven or eight county departments.
“We’re considering it because we don’t have a county administrator, so it’s easy for department heads to go astray,” Moyer said. “I think the department heads need a go-to person. They need—some of them—closer direction.”
The board agreed the departments don’t need day-to-day oversight, but agreement on county goals and budget would be beneficial.
Broadband Project
The county has reduced the number of secondary broadband towers from 18 to nine or 10, and are confident that decision will not impact service to outlying customers. They approved agreements with two of four private property owners for access and installation of secondary towers during the regular meeting.
Refund of Impact Fees
The board approved a refund to TEP Rocky Mountain LLC, formally known as WPX Energy-Rocky Mountain LLC, for impact fees in the amount of $652,860. WPX paid the fees, but did not follow through with development and this year requested a refund. According to Stansworth, the county has been holding the funds and the refund will not affect the budget.
Commissioner Updates
Commission chair Jeff Rector said he is working closely with Weld County to prepare a resolution to fight back against SB-181, which industry fears will devastate energy development. “I’ve talked to a lot of people,” Rector said. “Nobody knows what effect SB-181 is going to have.”
Along with concerns about the impact of SB-181, it was announced earlier this week that the Coos Bay LNG project has been delayed for a year, according to Woodruff.
Asked about the outcome of the two building code meetings, Moyer said the commissioners are going to “formulate a game plan” for moving forward.

By NIKI TURNER
editor@ht1885.com

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