County Beat: July 9, 2019

RBC I Sheriff Anthony Mazzola and Lieutenant Jeremy Muxlow presented their case for hiring an additional full-time deputy for the jail to the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners during a work session Tuesday. The department currently has 10 full-time employees, who are at risk of “burning out.” So far this year the department has recorded $46,941 spend in overtime pay, with only $852 in vacation time and $672 in total paid sick time.

“We’re burning our guys out. They’re afraid to take vacation, they’re afraid to take off sick,” said Mazzola.
The department requested the additional full-time deputy last year, but were turned down due to budget concerns.
The money saved in overtime and relief control room operators is expected to cover nearly half the salary, and costs will be offset by continuing to bring in “overflow” inmates from Mesa County. “To date we’ve made $39,869,” Mazzola said. “These are pre-trial inmates, held for 30-60 days. We’re not bringing people into the community.”
Other area jails have food service providers that bring in food, and laundry service providers, and extradition teams, Muxlow explained. In RBC, the deputies handle all of those duties as well as other responsibilities.
The commissioners approved the request for the additional deputy during the regular meeting.
Finance and budget director Janae Stansworth updated the commissioners on the plan for preparing budgets for 2020, with preliminary drafts due in September.
Van Pilaud delivered the road and bridge department update, and said “all passes are open” to travel now. There are a couple places near the summit of Ripple Creek that are down to one lane due to traditional slide areas. The county intends to work on it once the snowmelt ends.
Hopes have been high that this year’s powerful runoff would scour the algae growth that has plagued the river for the past few years. Commission chair Jeff Rector said he’s not sure what the conditions are on the east end, but the algae has reappeared on the west end of the county in the last few days.
In commissioner updates, Gary Moyer said he participated in interviews for the new public health nurse. The county has hired Kelly Christian from Rangely. “She’s highly qualified and we’re fortunate to have her,” he said.
He also participated in several teleconference calls, including one with neighboring counties that are part of the Piceance Basin. “There’s a good chance the oil and gas commission will come up with rules and regulations on a per basin basis,” Moyer said. Commissioner John Martin from Garfield County took part in the discussion, and Moyer said, “We convinced him to stick around and he helped out at the Meeker Massacre that night.”
Moyer also filled in for Commissioner Jeff Rector on a teleconference preparing resolutions to be presented at NACO (National Association of Counties), and attended the aerospace “road trip” in which, he said, a gentleman from Lockheed Martin said the aerospace company is looking to hire 1,200 software engineers in the next two years who can work remotely. RBC’s broadband could be a draw.
Commissioner Si Woodruff said White River Electric Association intends to do away with their WildBlue satellite internet service. The county’s two broadband providers have expressed interest in taking that over.
Woodruff complimented Rector on a successful meeting with Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt in Washington, D.C.
Rector testified before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Oregon on behalf of the Jordan Cove project. His chosen topic was climate change and global warming.
“The U.S. has reduced its carbon footprint by 25%. If we can get these other countries clean energy to burn, it will help everyone,” he said. “I think we’re going to get that permit from FERC.”
Moyer pointed out that Rector received a telephone call from Vice President Pence related to his work around oil and gas.
“That was kind of cool,” Rector said of his conversation with the vice president.