COUNTY BEAT: Foster care program moves forward

RBC | Interviews for board appointments were the first order of business Tuesday, Jan. 25 for the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners. Commissioners conducted interviews with applicants for the Rangely Library Board, the Extension Advisory Board, and the Fair Board. Appointments will be made in February. 

In work sessions, IT and Communications Director Trevor Nielson updated the board on various projects, including implementation of a new software program for the Sheriff’s Office, the solar transition project for remote towers, and plans for expansion of the broadbank network.

Weed and Pest Director Jane Turnbull said chemical prices have increased and some will potentially be unavailable. She said the department will have a few open positions for the spring/summer season. 

Director of Human Services Tia Murry said she has been working on a proposal with Joy Thompson to implement a county foster care program, a need which has been addressed by the community. Murry said she doesn’t expect any shortage of foster care families as multiple families have verbalized their willingness. DHS, which is collaborating with Moffat County to serve citizens in both counties, lacks sufficient staff to implement the program internally. 

“I think this will take care of the community need,” Murry said. “It won’t be a huge cost to the community,” she added. “It gives the community what they want and have been asking for. And it helps us as an agency.”

“A child that remains within the community is much more likely to be reunited with family,” said County Attorney Don Stearman. Additionally, they are able to continue in their same school, with their friends, even if their home situation is changed, Murry said. 

Carly Thomson updated the Board regarding White River Roundup, which handles senior nutrition. Thomson said 16,200 meals were served and almost $19,000 was received in donations. In-person dining at Chuckwagon has been closed this week due to the increase in Covid-19 cases and the fact the program serves a vulnerable population. Total expenses for the department for the entire program were approximately $260,000 for 2021.

During the regular board meeting, commissioners approved precinct and commissioner district lines to be submitted to the Secretary of State, tied in to the statewide redistricting process. 

Dr. Justin Grant was appointed medical director for the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District — Meeker Ambulance Service. Dr. Albert Krueger, who is retiring, was the medical director.

In other business, the board:

• Approved a request for reimbursement for the Meeker Airport.

• Approved a support letter for the CNCC Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative program. 

• Tabled a $1.6 million bid for broadband engineering with Bonfire Engineering and Consulting.

• Approved a contract with Joy Thompson for foster home recruitment, training, home studies and follow up. “This has been an ongoing project for about four years,” Rector said. “It will get this program where it needs to be.”

• Approved a memorandum of understanding with the CSU Extension program for participation in educational programs. 

•  Approved a data center license agreement with Cimarron Telecommunications.

• Approved a resolution authorizing the treasurer to assign a county-held lien on mineral account N5500330. 

Following commissioner updates on their activities, the board went into executive session with the county attorney to discuss legal issues and negotiations for pending or threatened litigation.

At least one legal case that has made its way to the public record is a civil suit filed by former RBC building inspector Jeff Kummer against Moyer and Rector, alleging Kummer was “deprived of his First Amendment liberty interest in his good name without due process” during his employ and eventual termination. 

In other lawsuit activity in November, Rector and Moyer signed on as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Secretary of State’s office surrounding the 2020 election. Other plaintiffs included state Rep. Ron Hanks (Cañon City), Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Merlin Klotz, Park County Commissioner Amy Mitchell, and Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder. 

Hanks, who headed the suit, has since withdrawn his name, citing his duties in the state Legislature and his campaign for U.S. Senate against incumbent Senator Michael Bennet. 

This week, Schroeder came under scrutiny by the Secretary of State’s office for a “potential breach of election security protocols” in Elbert County, according to reporting from Colorado Politics.