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RBC | On Nov. 10 during a work session with Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners, HT staff met the board to address concerns over allegations of misrepresenting information to the public. Editor Niki Turner started by presenting the commissioners with the HT’s Corrections Policy, stating, “if you have determined that we’ve made a factual error in our reporting, you are welcome and encouraged to call us, contact, email, something,” she said, adding, “No one’s ever asked us for that from this office. We’ve never had a call about factual inaccuracy in our reporting. If you have other concerns about what we’ve written, how stories are written, what we’ve said, you’re more than welcome to submit an open letter to the editor.”
After some back and forth about journalistic ethics, and clarifying the details of a previous budget story, the board thanked the HT for making them aware of the policy and agreed to move forward. Chairman Rector said, “So let’s try to make a better effort at that on both sides, to see if we can get our community better informed about what’s really going on.” You can find the HT’s Corrections Policy on our website at theheraldtimes.com/about-the-herald-times/correction-policy/
No corrections requests have been received to-date from the board.
During the work session commissioners interviewed two candidates for the Columbine Park Board of Directors with candidates Candra Robie and Megan Davis. They also heard from Trina Zagar Brown of White River Electric Association (WREA). Brown asked the board to greenlight work on two fiber splicing projects, including one for the “east ridge loop,” that will add redundancy to the county’s 911 system. Rector used chairman authority to greenlight the project.
Through use agreements, RBC utilizes WREA’s fiber network throughout Rio Blanco County. Specifically, providing fiber connections to RBC from Meeker to Rangley, Meeker to LOBO Mountain, Meeker to Piceance Creek and the east ridge route from Curtis Creek to LOBO. WREA and RBC had previously discussed options for RBC to enter into a use agreement to utilize WREA’s County Road 8 fiber but due to current budget constraints RBC has no immediate plans to include this fiber into their Broadband Project. RBC successfully serves customers along County Road 8 with a wireless broadband product which appears to meet the majority of the internet needs in those areas.
Tuesday’s discussion confirmed details for the interconnect at Curtis Creek to ensure that there are sufficient connections for if and when commercial internet is provided up County Road 8. WREA will share more information with its members as it continues to explore options for possible fiber connections along County Road 8.
Approved a request for reimbursement (RFR) for the Meeker Airport Coulter Field Project for a total of $1,473.75.
Approved the 2020 Meeker Holiday Market Event plan. Commissioners Moyer and Rector voted in favor. Commissioner Woodruff voted against the approval after questions about whether or not the event plan had been approved by Public Health.
Approved a task order from HDR engineering for the Meeker Airport Drainage Project, for an amount of $31,393.68, for a new contract total of $6,973,509.04.
Chose to table a letter to Bill deVergie of Colorado Parks and Wildlife in support of a conservation and access easement on land owned by Mike and Tena Theos, Coal Creek Ranch. Commissioner Moyer asked to table the discussion until deVergie was able to attend and answer questions. “The amount of ground in Rio Blanco County that’s already under [conservation] easement. That is a little concerning” said Moyer, noting that he might prefer to stay neutral on the matter.
Approved a Final Contractor Settlement totaling $10,054.49 to GMCO, Inc. for the 2020 Dust Control Project.
Approved a support letter to the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Regulation, Analysis, and Engagement, Office of Fossil Energy regarding Energía Costa Azul’s application to amend longterm authorization to export natural gas to Mexico and to reexport liquefied natural gas from Mexico to non free trade agreement nations. Chairman Rector said “This is something we’ve all been working on for a while,” adding “hopefully in the future we’ll get gas exported out of Oregon as well.”
NEW & UPDATED COUNTY POSITIONS
Commissioners approved advertisements for three new/updated positions in the county, starting with a full-time emergency manager and natural resources position, which is a combination of two formerly distinct departments. Next they approved an advertisement for a full-time public information and program manager position. Commissioner Moyer explained that the role would serve under the commissioners, not as a department head. He said the employee would deal with public information, the grant management over White River Roundup, and “commissioner coordination.” Commissioners also approved an advertisement for a part-time treasury clerk position. All positions are subject to approval as part of the 2021 budget appropriation.
MOU’S, CONTRACTS AND AGREEMENTS
The board renewed a memorandum of understanding with Prowers County Hotline County Connection Center to answer and process Child Welfare related Hotline calls for Rio Blanco County for 2021, in an amount not to exceed $4018.
Road & Bridge Director Dave Morlan shared a Road and Bridge Report with commissioners. Aside from general maintenance including a little snow plowing, the department entered an intergovernmental agreement with the Game and Fish to “haul some 3-inch to up around [Lake] Avery.” The department has all its plow trucks ready to go for the winter. Work items in the Rangely district included more general maintenance, and repairs on county roads 109 and 65. Morlan also gave an update on the landfill, which he said was busy cleaning up windblown trash and winterizing equipment.
The County Road 7 bridge replacement is complete and “getting a lot of good public comments.” Morlan also said upriver bridge maintenance was underway to pour concrete on the back walls on the abutments underneath the bridges.
Morlan shared info about work on “Stock Pass 3” which is still in the design phase, a project which would be funded by a grant from the state Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). In a recent meeting, Morlan says DOLA asked if the project could still be complete with only partial funding. Morlan says he told them that it could not.
The Board then entered executive session to discuss HR issues with County Attorney Todd Starr and HR Director Laura Smith.
CORRECTION (Sept. 20, 2020): An earlier version of this article stated Moyer and Woodruff voted in favor of the Meeker Holiday Market event plan, and Woodruff voted against the plan. In fact, Moyer and Rector voted in favor. Woodruff did, indeed, vote against the plan in light of current public health concerns. The HT regrets the error, but appreciates the correction.
By LUCAS TURNER | email@example.com