County Beat: Feb. 28, 2019

RBC | “The whole project has been an excellent learning lesson for my entire department, said Rio Blanco County project coordinator Eric Jacquez of the Fairfield Center Remodel Project Monday, explaining to the Board of County Commissioners why they’re still wrapping up payments for the project.

“We were writing our policies and procedures as we were doing this,” Jacquez said, assuring the BoCC that “everything except for the stucco work will come through this month.”

Market pressure made finding an architectural firm for this project was difficult, according the Jaquez and board chair Jeff Rector.

County Finance and Budget Director Janae Stansworth commented, “If we do anything else [in capital improvement projects] we’re going to have to put some money into this.”

Department of Human Services—Barb Bofinger

In her monthly update, Bofinger said there was a “slight increase” in referrals and assessments for child protective services in January. Her department has seven adoptions pending.

They are focusing on food assistance and a community meal at senior housing in Rangely.

The Radino Center in Rangely had plumbing problems in January. Meeker’s Chuckwagon has been struggling because the full-time cook has had medical and family issues.

Bofinger admitted her department struggles to match funding to need when it comes to child welfare. “If we can get those kids adopted that would be a plus,” she said.

One of the local churches is sponsoring a program called Project 1.27 which provides training to prepare families for a home study.

WREA taking fiber to CR 8

White River Electric Association (WREA) general counsel and manager of member services Trina Zagar-Brown said WREA intends to pursue their goal of taking fiber up County Road 8 in 2019 and hope to work together with the county.

“We are an electric company, not a phone company or an IT company,” she said. “Where it makes sense, we want to facilitate our WREA fiber where we can to serve our customers.”

Zagar-Brown said WREA has made getting fiber up County Road 8 is a priority for the electric co-op, as they have identified “core operational needs” that would benefit from that infrastructure.

Public Health—Julie Drake

Director of Public Health Julie Drake asked about posting for a new public health nurse, and if a temporary position could be advertised.

She is still pursuing conversations with the hospitals, and is in discussion with the Sheriff’s Office to replace the public health component following the resignation of both public health nurses.

Additionally, she said Memorial Regional Health in Craig has received a Federal grant to study opioid use disorder in northwest Colorado. Drake and Pioneers Medical Center CEO Ken Harmon are both involved in the conversation that is working to identify a company to come in and do a comprehensive assessment opioid use disorder in the county that will provide some guidelines for addressing the problem.

Commissioner Gary Moyer asked Drake if she thinks the opioid problem is “more prescription stuff, or more street illegal drugs?”

“My best guess is that there’s a little bit of both going on in the county,” Drake said. Opioids were originally supposed to be prescribed as short-term painkillers, but several years ago it morphed into being used long-term.

“Locally, our physicians are reining that back,” she said, but added that fentanyl is another problem.

Drake said her department has identified an episode of Campylobacteriosis, a common bacterial infection which frequently occurs during lambing and calving season. She said it’s not likely to spread.

The incidence of Respiratory Synctial Virus (RSV), particularly among small children, has spiked this year, however.

“RSV is very bad this year,” Drake said. “It’s transmitted like a common cold. Both hospitals are inundated with RSV right now.” There is no cure for RSV, afflicted individuals require observation and oxygen therapy.

BOCC

In the regular board meeting, commissioners appointed Janae Stansworth as the official IRS contact, corrected a clerical error on a bid award, approved an Associated Government of Northwest Colorado (AGNC) 2019 Technical Assistance Grant Application for the RBC Relocation Guide; and approved—together with Mesa County Commissioners—a letter to Governor Jared Polis, among others, regarding the National Popular Vote bill (SB19-042).

“The people of Colorado should determine who receives Colorado’s vote for president…Of particular concern is your reliance on the national popular vote skews away from states with moderate populations.”

The board awarded the 2019 herbicide project bid to Van Diest Supply in an amount not to exceed $119,674.85.

The board also approved a consultation contract with Phil Vaughan Construction for $28,500 for the county’s building division, and an additional $20,000 to Phil Vaughan Construction for consulting for the planning division.

Approved an agreement for services between the Department of Human Services and therapist Resa Hayes for children’s therapy, and to Yampa Valley Psychotherapists for domestic violence treatment services. Those services are provided as an 80/20 percent split with funding from the state.

Approved a cooperative law enforcement agreement between BoCC, RBCSO, USDA, White River National Forest for the 2019 annual operating and financial plan.

In Commissioner updates:

Commissioner Gary Moyer said he attended landowner meeting on easements for secondary towers and the AGNC meeting in Hayden.

“For me it’s a learning experience, it’s a lot of info,” he said, adding that last Thursday brought in a concerned landowner about a primary broadband tower location out on Piceance Creek. He also talked to Lanny Coulter about “our differences in interpretation” in the land use plan.

Moyer and Rector are going to Washington, D.C., next week and Moyer said he hopes to get some clarification on the land use plan. He said he also attended the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) banquet and “got some assurances from the president of URSA” that they plan to work in RBC.

Commissioner Si Woodruff said all the commissioners attended last week’s Board of Health meeting, attended Katelin Cook’s going away party; and at the COGA banquet heard from author Steve Goreham on his opinions about climate change. Woodruff said two articles in Sunday’s Daily Sentinel attacked Goreham’s position.

Board Chair Jeff Rector said he met with Alden VandenBrink about collaborating and in-kind contributions to the Wolf Creek reservoir project; attending the AGNC meeting; and said the Jordan Cove is “definitely an issue.” He has three different meetings set up in D.C. next week, including one with the Asian investors who want to participate in Jordan Cove.

“This Jordan Cove has been on the map for seven years,” he said. “I don’t understand why it’s been so difficult of a project to get done.”

Rector also attended the COGA banquet and praised Goreham’s book.

Goreham is a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, based in Illinois, “one of the world’s leading free-market think tanks” according to their website. “Its mission is to discover free-market solutions to social and economic problems.”