County Beat: June 21, 2019

RBC | Some Meeker businesses have reportedly complained to Commissioner Gary Moyer about slow broadband speeds. During a workshop Tuesday in Rangely with the commissioners, Rio Blanco County Communications Director Cody Crooks said he would look into it immediately and complete speed tests for those businesses.

Progress on secondary broadband towers continues to progress, albeit slowly. The landfill site may require a cultural research study, and one of the Rangely towers may need to be relocated because the BLM cultural study indicated some areas of concern. The Oak Ridge access through Colorado Parks and Wildlife is approved. The county will contact the CPW and give them a 72-hour notice for regular non-emergency tower service,when they need to access that site to ensure that they are not disrupting wildlife, which was one of CPW’s concerns.  

CNCC Equine Program Stall Rental

Finance Director Janae Stanworth reported on behalf of Eric Jaquez that CNCC has a block of stalls that they have requested year round but they only utilize those stalls during the school year. Commissioners are entertaining the idea of renting the stalls to CNCC for a set amount and then referring people who may need a stall to the college so the college could sublet those stalls when they are not being used for CNCC students.

Dierdre Macnab, Meeker Mustang Makeover

Macnab asked the commissioners for $500 to support of the program called (trademarked) the Meeker Mustang Makeover. There are 1,000 mustangs in Piceance Creek Basin which is four times the number that is supposed to be in that area. They are hoping their program could be a helpful tool in reducing the herd numbers. This year they have six horses and trainers participating in the Meeker Mustang Makeover. Three of the trainers are from Rio Blanco County.

Moyer said his problem with this is that BLM is responsible for the wild horse overpopulation problems and he doesn’t know if county taxpayers’ money should be paying for something the BLM should be paying for.

Macnab thinks that this could stimulate the economy and help to reduce the herd size in the future. Commissioners said they would add her request to the next board meeting agenda. 

Department of Human Services update

Director Barb Bofinger said Michelle Mobley did 100% of assessment closures in April.

Moyer asked Bofinger how Rio Blanco County compares to similar-sized counties for cases. Bofinger said she did not know numbers offhand and would look into it, but she did know Rio Blanco County was rather high in neglect and child abuse cases.

She reported that there are three interviews scheduled for child welfare caseworkers. Moyer asked if more money would help with recruiting and Bofinger said it would and that she thought that salary was some of the problems with recruiting and retention.

Bofinger said that DHS applied for the collaborative management grant to help fund some family engagement meetings that would qualify for help.

In the regular meeting, commissioners:

Approved Ambulance Permit No. 2019-7 for a new ambulance for the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District.

Approved a letter from the Board of County Commissioners of Rio Blanco County to Secretary David Bernhardt in support of Jason Eckman’s appointment to the Northwest Resource Advisory Committee.

Approved agreement Amendment No. 5, Routing No. 2015CMIP103A5, between the Board of County Commissioners of Rio Blanco County, Colorado and the State of Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, updating Performance Incentive Standards.

Approve a Grant of Permanent Easement and Right-of-Way to the Board of County Commissioners of Rio Blanco County, Colorado from Puckett Land Company, Caerus Piceance LLC, and The Oil Shale Corporation, for the property located at Township 3 South, Range 96 West of the 6th P.M., Section 4: NE1/4NE1/4, in an amount not to exceed $10.

Approved a Temporary Construction Easement Agreement between the Board of County Commissioners of Rio Blanco County, Colorado, Caerus Piceance LLC, The Oil Shale Corporation, and Puckett Land Company, for the CR-5 Improvement Project, in an amount not to exceed $10.

Commissioner Woodruff reported that he met with Jane Turnburke from the Weed and Pest Department and Dave Overton and had a great discussion with them. He met with the Town of Rangely about the water line for the Rangely Airport and it should be completed this fall.

Moyer said he and Rector took part in a teleconference regarding planned drilling code testimony in Medford, Oregon, to stay abreast of the situation there. Moyer attended a Community Counts dinner meeting last Thursday in Piceance Creek with landowners and one of the energy companies. He reported to that group the intentions of the commissioners to use their “1041 powers” on oil and gas matters. So-called 1041 powers allow local governments to identify, designate and regulate areas and activities of state interest through a local permitting process. The general intention of these powers is to allow local governments to maintain control over particular development projects even when the project has statewide impacts. Moyer and Woodruff attended a meeting about wolves. Moyer says that the agency will invite the executive directors of the Colorado woolgrowers and cattleman’s associations to be a part of the meetings. Moyer also sat in on a BLM planning meeting and heard possible changes about how that organization makes planning decisions. He said in the past BLM had a lot of push back because they tried to give non-governmental organizations (NGOs) the same standing as cooperating elected units of government. This administration is trying to give more decision-making to locally elected conservation districts or counties especially if they have local land use plans.

Rector reported that he has been in conference calls all week, starting with the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas project and Western Alliance District. He has been preparing to present next week at the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) hearing in Medford, Oregon. He has been in conversations with Weld County and their use of their 1041 powers regarding oil and gas regulations. Rector drove the Radino bus to provide sober rides for attendees at the Elks Brewfest this past Saturday. Rector and County Attorney Todd Starr will be meeting with Jeff Robbins who is the new executive director of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

The BOCC moved into executive session at 11:30 a.m. with Starr in order to discuss personnel issues. The next commissioners’ meeting will be held in Meeker on Tuesday, June 25 at 11 a.m.

By ROXIE FROMANG | Special to the Herald Times