County Beat: July 26, 2018

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RBC | County officials met Monday in a workshop to discuss costs and communication about wildland fires.

Concerns were raised after the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District received a bill for the use of county equipment to fight one of the recent wildfires.

“You wouldn’t think we fight fires with cell phones and laptops, but we do these days. When the fire’s over and the bills start coming in, that’s where feelings get ruffled,” said Sheriff Anthony Mazzola.

Fire Chief Terry Skidmore said after the fire district requested two dozers for the Ridgetop Fire off Hwy. 13, the district received a bill from the county. “My board chair asked us to check into it with Dave (Morlan). In the past the county didn’t charge us for the use of county assets.”

RNC Emergency Manager Ty Gates said the county charged the fire department for use of county equipment on the Mile Marker 24 fire last year, and asked why there would be an issue now when there wasn’t last year.

“There was an issue, but our board chair was different then,” Skidmore said.

Current fire board chair Doug Overton said the perceived problem is new. “We just never used to pay for that stuff. Why didn’t somebody come and talk to me? A 30 second phone call would have answered this.”

Gates and Skidmore agreed that communication between the fire district and the sheriff’s office is much improved from previous years, but all agreed that improvements can be made. At a suggestion from Commissioners Jeff Rector and Sean Bolton, it was agreed that the various agencies should begin meeting weekly to improve communication.


Town of Meeker Trustee Pat Turner updated the commissioners during a workshop regarding the development of a mosquito control program.

“Just spraying in town isn’t going to work very well,” Turner said, referring to a recent report from a mosquito control expert based in Rifle.

Bolton and Rector said the tire pile just west of town is being tested by the state once a month for mosquitoes.

“If the science comes back and says this (spraying) is affecting the river, it becomes a bigger issue than people not getting bit during Range Call and we all need to be in the conversation,” Turner said.

“We had an abatement guy in Rangely who retired last year,” Rector said. “Spraying for mosquitoes was much more effective than the abatement. I think it’s a matter of opinion depending on who you talk to. I’d like to hear more about what they find.” Rangely has practiced ground spraying, while Meeker has used aerial spraying.


Communications director Cody Crooks said they’ve had a request from Pam Sullivan to reimburse expenses created when the county’s trencher cut through her sprinkler system last year. Staff explained that documentation would be necessary before payment could be made.

Regarding broadband, resident Margaret “Sparky” Pappas said the service they’ve been getting from LAI at Nine Mile Ranch changed after Crooks visited with them a month ago. “Our service dropped down to about nothing,” she said, and said she was wondering why it had to change.

Nine Mile Ranch is one of the LAI customers whose service was being “bounced” from one dish to another.

“Nothing has changed on the county side, but we have required both of our VARs to do things in accordance with the plan. We have contracts with the VARs to be the last mile. They need to work with Cody (Crooks), do proper reporting, payments, everything,” Bolton said. “Here again the county has been made out to be the bad guy.”

Commissioners directed Communications Director Cody Crooks to work with Pappas to get the situation resolved.

Building Department

The Town of Rangely and the county’s building department are trying to decide who is responsible for a fence on a property that is in the county, but has lots accessed by town streets.

“The issue with this property is the two property owners on either side are upset about the property in between,” Rector said.

“I’ve had more violations on this site since I’ve been here than anywhere in Rangely,” Building Inspector Jeff Kummer said.

The commissioners determined the problem should be handled by the town.