County Beat: January 16, 2020

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RBC | County Planner Leif Joy updated the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners Tuesday on current projects during a work session prior to the first meeting of the new year. The Sleepy Cat Minor Subdivision off CR 8 is “ready for signatures,” Joy said.

Joy also told the commissioners there’s “some oil and gas stuff happening downriver” and preliminary planning for a new solar farm is underway as well.

“It’s a big rascal,” Joy said, indicating the footprint for the solar farm may be close to 1,000 acres. Asked who the solar farm owner is, Joy said it’s a third-party company and he doesn’t know the owner. “It’s similar to the one approved two years ago. I’m not sure who they’ll be selling power to.”

Nita Smith of Community Counts updated the commissioners on the organization’s continued efforts to supply members with up-to-date information about industry activities. According to the Community Counts website, their mission is to “offer residents a timely resource for open and respectful dialogue when they have issues, concerns or questions relating to the energy and extraction industries operating in Garfield, Mesa and Rio Blanco Counties.”

Representing the Meeker Lions Club, Dale Smith shared the club’s plan to replace playground equipment at the school administration building’s playground on Sixth Street. The Lions Club installed equipment on the playground 25-30 years ago, Smith explained, when the building housed the kindergarten and preschool classes. Last fall it was determined that the equipment was now unsafe and needed to be removed.

The Lions Club has done the ground and drainage work to prepare for replacing the playground equipment, and is seeking funding and public input as to what residents would like to see installed there. Comments can be submitted to the club’s Facebook group page.

The playground space is popular with residents because it’s well-shaded.

The commissioners said they want to wait until the fall grant cycle before considering donating to the project, and suggested that the project should fall under the auspices of the recreation district.

Smith said the rec district has “agreed to give guidance” in regards to inspecting the equipment, but the property belongs to the school district. The school district doesn’t have the funds to replace the equipment, but they have signed a letter promising to inspect and maintain any new equipment installed.

The total cost for the project is estimated at $25,000 to $30,000. The club has raised about $5,000 so far that’s been set aside, and has some contractors who’ve agreed to do in-kind work for installation.

“The community is behind this. We need to get the funding,” Smith said.

Money raised by the Lions Club is “100% given back out.” Club overhead is covered by membership dues. Smith said the club hopes to raise the funds by Sept. 1.

In the regular commissioners’ meeting, the board approved or appointed:

A final version of bylaws for the Columbine Park Advisory Board

Rector as board chair and Si Woodruff as chair pro temp.

Woodruff as the e-911 board member for 2020, alternate to the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, and the county’s representative to the Northwest Workforce group.

Gary Moyer as AGNC representative.

Rector as county investment policy committee member and representative to the Northwest Colorado Transporation Planning Commission.

Appointed Laura Smith as representative to the County Health Pool; Todd Starr as county attorney; Janae Stanworth as budget and finance director; Dave Morlan as road and bridge director; and Barbara Bofinger as Department of Human Services director.

Approved a liquor permit for the Meeker Arts and Cultural Council’s Galapagos Dinner and Silent Auction on Feb. 8

Approved a $500 contribution to the CNCC Aerospace Summit which will be used to sponsor food for the event next week in Denver, where CNCC will be meeting with aerospace industry representatives about the possibility of combining or facilitating cooperative projects with the college.

The board discussed a possible waiver of landfill fees for specific projects, specifically property owner Melinda Parker’s request for a waiver for the demolition of apartments she owns. While Woodruff said he feels projects like Parker’s should be supported, Rector and Moyer were concerned about setting precedents for “special considerations” and said commercial landfill fees were reduced from $58 to $40 a ton as of Jan. 1, 2020.

“That’s where I’d just as soon stay,” Rector said.

Opened bids for panels at Columbine Park, with Meeker General Mercantile’s bid coming in below Rangely True Value by approximately $500. The commissioners will award the winning bid next week after review.

Approved a $48,000 contract with Visual Lease Services for oil and gas property evaluation.

Approved a $24,720 agreement with ValueWest for commercial property reappraisal in 2021 for the assessor’s office.

Approved a cooperative service agreement/work and financial plan with USDA wildlife services not to exceed $15,016 to continue mitigation of nuisance wildlife.

Approved a service agreement for a printer/scanner for the building department not to exceed $1,540.

Approved the Rangely airport maintenance and remarking project in an amount not to exceed $39,250.

Approved a request for reimbursement for the Rangely Airport from federal and state grants totaling $18,191 and a request for reimbursement for the Meeker Airport/Coulter Field totaling $11,734.

Approved a change order for the agreement for services with Dave Stewart for building inspections increasing the not to exceed amount by $4,000 to a total of $8,465.

Approved a contract that will “get us on the state Centurylink contract to get state pricing,” according to Stanworth, a move that will cut telecommunication bills with Centurylink “approximately in half.”

The board approved four resolutions Tuesday: the multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan; designated “any state bank or any national bank defined as an eligible public depository and any investment pool trust fund” as depositories of Rio Blanco County funds; designated the Rio Blanco Herald Times as the official newspaper for county publications required by state law; and established administrative office hours for 2020.

During public comment, Mona Avey asked about comments made during the last BoCC meeting in Rangely about funding for the senior nutrition programs (White River Roundup and Chuckwagon) wherein it was suggested that contracting with local restaurants for the meal program might be more cost-effective. Commissioners Rector and Moyer said they fielded numerous calls from concerned residents after that meeting.

“We’re looking into some other avenues for facilitating that program, but your programs are safe,” Rector said. “Right now nothing’s going to change.”

“The Chuckwagon program is safe,” Moyer said. “I don’t think any of us are looking at doing away with that program. As an elected official it’s the responsible thing to do to look at the costs. We’re just trying to be fiscally responsible.”

Wildlife Services officer Justin Ewing said U.S. Fish and Wildlife will conduct a consultation to determine possible restrictions in the area where a pack of wolves has been confirmed in northwest Colorado. Because wolves are on the endangered species list, U.S. Fish and Wildlife will come up with an area with rules to govern “how we do business as an agency plus how private landowners do business with their livestock,” Ewing said. Until wolves are delisted from the Endangered Species list they are federally protected.

The next BoCC meeting will be Jan. 21 in Rangely at 11 a.m.

By Niki Turner |