COUNTY BEAT: March 16, 2021

RBC | In work sessions Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners heard from several Rangely residents who have drafted three resolutions, two for the Town of Rangely and one for the county. They asked the board to consider adopting the county resolution, which they believe would “make a statement” about the county’s position on state mandates, executive orders, and other topics they believe are an infringement of Constitutional rights.

Resident Elaine Urie mentioned fears of mandated vaccinations several times during the work session. “It’s to save us from what’s coming down,” Urie said. As a nurse, she said she’s receiving information from the state about vaccinations.

The group hopes to get other communities and counties and even states involved, thereby sending a cohesive message “that is constitutionally sound.”

Eddy said he believes it’s important for the foundation of the country to refuse emergency orders that go on for over a year and “dictate our lives.”

“I think we’re all in agreement that this war on rural America is real,” said Commissioner Gary Moyer, “and we need to use every tool we can to push back.”

Moyer also added that he believes it’s important to look at the “unintended consequences” that could be detrimental to the county by passing such a resolution.

The group has also drafted two resolutions for the Town of Rangely, which they reported were reviewed by the town’s attorney and will go before the Board of Trustees.

Moyer said he was concerned about unforeseen drawbacks to making such a resolution, and said they would have the legal team review it.

“If this catches on and moves, it has to get some publicity in other cities and counties,” Eddy said, saying after a month they’ve gotten widespread interest.

“It’s our right to choose,” Urie said. “We need to protect ourselves… We need a blanket protection for the people here.”

Interim county attorney Todd Starr asked what exactly such a resolution would accomplish for the county, and agreed to review looking at the resolution to see what the “unintended consequences” might be. The board will review the resolution again next week.

Data recovery for a damaged server to recover historical GIS documents and Board of County Commissioner records will cost the county just under $10,000 ($9,160), according to the IT department. The revised number was a welcome relief from the $30,000 initial estimate, but will require a contingency budget.

“Just know right now we are running through contingency pretty fast,” said Budget and Finance Director Janae Stansworth.

Interim County Attorney Todd Starr said he is drafting a “livestreaming policy” for the county following the HT’s livestream of the first commissioners’ meeting this year when Ty Gates and Jeff Rector were sworn in. Starr said he wanted to make sure there was a policy in place in advance.

“My concern was never really the Herald Times,” Starr said, “it’s the other person that shows up.”

“It’s when we take a break that I think they need to turn off the cam, so they don’t catch these inadvertent conversations,” Moyer said, although he doesn’t have a problem with meetings being recorded or videoed. “Stuff gets taken out of context,” he added.

The official recording of the county is the one made by the County Clerk and Recorder, which is only audio.

Human Resources Director Laura Smith updated the board on the 80 hours of public health emergency sick leave given to employees in addition to regular sick leave. The 80 hours is not accruable from year to year, like regular sick leave, and will only be in place as long as the pandemic is considered a public health emergency.

The board opened bids for the lower White River pest control district and interviewed Andrea Brannan from Blue Mountain Inn and Suites for an open position on the Rangely Lodging Tax Board. Brannan said her goal as a board member would be to make sure Rangely is “getting its name out there that we’re a good place, a town that’s got a lot to offer.”

In the regular meeting, the board:

  • Named Luke Renninger and Mindy Musser to the Building Board of Appeals; appointed Quentin Smith, Alex Plumb, Jen Hill and Crandal Mergelman to the Fair Board; reappointed Dan Schwartz and Melinda Parker to the Meeker Lodging Tax Board; named Emily Mohr to the Historic Preservation Board; appointed John Payne and Andrea Brannan to the Rangely Lodging Tax Board; and appointed Kay Bivens to the Meeker Colorado Civic Improvement Corporation board.
  • Signed a letter to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) opposing the fee title land acquisition of the Crystal Creek Ranch. CPW seeks to purchase the ranch, located on the border of Rio Blanco and Moffat counties, for public access in response to a request by the family. Neighboring landowners have been outspoken in their opposition to the plan and sought help from the county commissioners.
  • Approved a contract with United Companies in the amount of $1.933 million for the County Road 73 bridge replacement project.
  • Approved a contract for a mental health expansion program on behalf of the Sheriff’s Department and human services to provide mental health screening and additional services in an amount of $54,788
  • Canceled an agreement with Dr. Tonozzi for vasectomy services provided through public health. The services are still available with Dr. Tonozzi, but a second agreement had been drawn up and to clear the records, the original agreement needed to be canceled.
  • Approved the purchase of two rapid testing analyzers for COVID-19 that can also be used to test for strep, and flu A/B. The equipment and test kits will cost $30,664.
  • Approved a $21,100 memorandum of understanding with LEDS, LLC for the digitization of documents and records in the Clerk and Recorder’s Office dating back to 1889.
  • The board approved a resolution to decree Rio Blanco County as a “Wolf Reintroduction Sanctuary County,” as proposed by Meeker resident Jeff Madison.

Commissioners said they had received calls and comments that the name of the resolution created some confusion, making it sound like the county was trying to be a wolf sanctuary, which is exactly the opposite of what the resolution states, which is that the resolution establishes the county as firmly opposed to wolf reintroduction.

Starr recommended “reaffirming” the county’s opposition to the wolf reintroduction plan as part of the language of the resolution.

“I debated about this, too,” Madison said. “I went back to ‘reintroduction’ worded the way it is because that’s what the ballot issue says. There’s some confusion until they read the text of the resolution.”

Madison reviewed a few other amendments to the resolution.

“I feel strongly based on the vote that we should move forward,” Moyer agreed.

“Most of the comments I received were positive,” said Gates, “After they got past the title.”

The board approved the amended resolution as presented.