COUNTY BEAT: Applications for county job openings down

Commissioners heard updates from various departments during work sessions Tuesday. Commissioner Jeff Rector was not in attendance for the meeting. 

Human Resources Director Laura Smith said there are currently seven positions open at the county. While the number of job openings has remained fairly consistent, the number of applications received has fallen. According to Smith, in each of the last three years 240 applications were received. In 2021, 134 applications came in for 41 positions.

This mirrors a broader trend across Rio Blanco County and state labor markets. The HT covered the multi-faceted issue of worker shortages in-depth in September; read the story at

Commissioners discussed what avenues are being pursued for advertising available positions. Smith said the county uses its own website, Facebook, Colorado Workforce and a small newspaper ad that directs people to the website for listings. More complicated positions are advertised in the Grand Junction Sentinel, Craig Press, and online through the Indeed platform. Smith said a number of the applications that come in are seeking remote work. 

Fleet Management Director Dave Overton said his department is “experiencing trouble getting some things — from tires to oil — and are having extended wait times for some parts to repair vehicles. Finding replacement vehicles to buy is also becoming more challenging. 

Emergency Manager Eddie Smercina said he has been in discussion with Frank Sampson from White River Electric to discuss the next fire season, defensible space, and Sampson’s upcoming retirement. He also had a meeting with the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service, completed training for grant writing, and attended some regional meetings.

One of Smercina’s meetings was with Fire Chief Luke Pelloni, Landon Smith from the BLM, and Meeker Town Administrator Mandi Etheridge regarding plans for fire mitigation around Meeker. The BLM is expected to issue a press release regarding the plan soon.

Public Information and Program Manager Carly Thomson proposed applying for $82,500 in grant funding made available under Senate Bill 21-290 — Security for Colorado Seniors — for a steam table at Chuckwagon, fresh food for both senior nutrition programs, and painting projects at both sites.

Thomson also updated the board about her work with the Town of Meeker, ERBM, PMC and the Meeker School District to secure and advance a nonprofit daycare facility in Meeker. The entities involved in the discussion would all benefit from having a daycare facility. Thomson said the hospital is “looking at losing 10-12 employees” in the next year if they can’t find childcare.

The most recent local daycare facility had a waiting list, Thomson said, and closed not for lack of support, but because the property owner didn’t pay the property taxes.

Thomson also provided an update on progress with the Office of Just Transition — a state plan to provide assistance to communities impacted by the loss of fossil fuel extraction revenue. As of last week, $8 million has been earmarked for “general implementation” and $7 million for coal worker transition assistance. Of that general implementation funding, $2.769 million is earmarked for this region (Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties). The jurisdictions included in the region must have 60% agreement and proposed plans must fall under at least one of six categories and meet listed goals. 

Facilities Department Project Coordinator Eric Jaquez asked if the county could forgo stock pen rentals at Columbine Park for CNCC’s rodeo and equine programs while the programs rebuild enrollment following the pandemic and updated the board about the water line project for the Meeker airport. The water line replacement project is being driven by plans proposed by citizens for additional hangars. More hangars would require more water and water pressure available for fire suppression. $380,000 has been budgeted for the project. 


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