County Beat: May 30, 2019

RBC | The county commissioners heard from Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Manager Bill de Vergie Monday regarding the discovery of Northern pike in Kenney Reservoir.

“The whole thing caught us by surprise,” de Vergie said of catching the first pike in the reservoir. Northern pike are non-native fish and considered an invasive species.

“We’re just beginning to try to define the problem we’re facing,” de Vergie said. The agency intends to increase education to the public about pike. “We suspect that they’re coming out of Utah. We’re going to try to do some genetic testing—trapping pike out of Elkhead and Rifle Gap [reservoirs], and probably Rio Blanco Lake—that will give us an indication where people are bringing them from.”

While Northern pike are considered an invasive species, they are also prized by sport fishermen.

de Vergie also commented on the appointment of his predecessor, Dan Prenzlow, as the state director of CPW.

“I think he’ll do a good job. We’ll see how it goes,” de Vergie said, noting there are a “lot of problems” to be addressed.

“The other three applicants did not have his [Prenzlow’s] experience. He’s been all around the state,” said Commissioner Si Woodruff.

Moving boundaries

In response to a request from the Town of Meeker and the Meeker Cemetery District, county surveyor Leif Joy said he plans to work with all the local entities—including the local surveyor—to prepare the official boundary line adjustment.

Joy also requested guidance from the county attorney regarding department head liability and governmental immunity. “There’s some misinformation out there,” Joy said. Starr was not at the meeting Tuesday and will not be available until the end of June.

Funding for schools

Finance Director Janae Stansworth told the board they can expect to receive $248,000 in federal Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funding this year. The board is required to allocate 25% to local school districts, but in the past has opted to give more to the school districts. This year they will allocate $145,000 to the school districts and $103,000 will go into the county’s road and bridge funding, as designated.

The SRS funds come from income generated by the forest service, such as through timber sales.

Enduro racing coming to RBC this summer

The commissioners heard a request from Phil Vallem of Enduro Racing regarding potential sponsorship for motorcycle races coming to Northwest Colorado this year, the first one on July 13 on the east side of the county.

“We are a new racing, riding and trail development group for motorcycles for Northwest Colorado. We found there was a lack of clubs or anything for the motorcycle community in this quarter of the state,” Vallem said.

The group’s first race this year was held in the Sandwash Basin and attracted 208 riders.

“We spent a year and a half working with BLM to develop a 50-mile trail system. We’re working now for that to be a permanent installation,” he said.

The commissioners asked Vallem if there is a plan in place for education for the riders about interactions with livestock. Vallem said 90% of the race will take place on existing OHV trails. Commissioner Moyer suggested contacting the woolgrowers’ and cattlemen’s associations.

Public health ‘open for business’

Public health nurse Alice Harvey is “keeping the ship afloat” in the absence of a public health director. Starting next week she will have open office hours in Rangely and in Meeker, and will be available to answer questions.

“I think it’s important that we let people know what services we currently offer,” she said.

Harvey said based on data she has collected, at least one-third of calls to the department are related to family planning. Having that data will help direct the department’s plan.

Want a county job?

There are three additional full-time county positions open: accountant/accounting technician, facilities maintenance worker and patrol deputy.

Commissioners take on ‘managing role’

In a 2-1 vote, the board agreed to adopt a resolution establishing the office of managing commissioner, in which each commissioner will become the “contact point” for a number of county departments, working with each department through the annual budget process and application of said budget.

According to the resolution, Woodruff will be the managing commissioner for the Meeker and Rangely airports, assessor’s office. extension office and fair, personnel, coroner, IT, veterans and use tax. Rector will be managing commissioner for the county attorney’s office, economic development, Columbine Park, finance and budget, emergency management, communications, road and bridge, human services/senior nutrition, and fleet management. Moyer will be managing commissioner for the clerk and recorder, natural resources, planning, building, sheriff, surveyor, treasurer, public health, weed and pest and the Fairfield complex.

Woodruff expressed his concerns that the management roles will compromise the commissioners being a team. “I don’t feel comfortable with it,” he said. “I want the three of us to be a team.”

Woodruff was the sole nay vote on the resolution.

New meeting times

The commissioners approved a resolution to move their regular meetings from Mondays to Tuesdays, beginning with the June 11 meeting.

Public Participation

During public participation, the commissioners heard from Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Parks District Director Tim Webber, seeking a building permit fee waiver for a 40 by 60 foot pavilion to be put up at Cedar Ridges Golf Course.

The HT asked the commissioners to explain why a meeting last week between commissioners Moyer and Rector and county staff members was not publicly noticed. In the meeting, which Rector described as “unplanned,” potential amendments to the county building code and management—financial and otherwise—of the county’s building department, were discussed.

Commissioner Moyer said in his thinking the meeting fell under the “day-to-day management” definition, which doesn’t require public notice. Day-to-day management is, according to county attorney Todd Starr, items that do not involve policy-making, such as the purchase of office supplies. The HT asked Starr via email about the propriety of the impromptu meeting, but had not received a response as of press time. Vicky Edwards, assistant to the county attorney, recommended that “to be safe” the commissioners should notify her within 24 hours if two or more of them will be in attendance at a meeting.

Regular business:

approved the liquor licenses for Range Call events

approved a letter terminating the state tobacco education and prevention partnership contract

opened bids for the roofing project at the Rangely Airport

extended the contract for the crackfill project to July 15

approved a “quitclaim” deed for the so-called “Colorow #2” bridge for $10. The bridge was donated to the county years ago. It’s on private property with no access and the county doesn’t have the funds to upgrade it or maintain it, so it was returned to the current property owners, the 4M Ranch.

approved $6,750 for scholarships for the Mountain West Youth Football League from TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) federal funding.

By Niki Turner |

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