County Beat: Nov 24 Commissioners Meeting

Editor’s Note: After press time on Tuesday, the CDPHE notified the county that RBC would be moving to yellow status on Nov. 30, rather than red as they had previously indicated. Read our full update at theheraldtimes.com/state-moves-rbc-to-yellow-instead-of-red/rio-blanco-county/

RBC | The Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners work session Tuesday, Nov. 24 began with an update from Public Health Director Alice Harvey.

Harvey informed the board that the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) will move the county out of its green Protect our Neighbor status to red Severe Risk status as of Friday, Nov. 27. The shift in status is a result of current test positivity and incidence rates and considerations regarding regional hospital capacity. Harvey reiterated that the county did not have a say in the matter including the board, the Sheriff or the Public Health Department.

“There will be no local process to apply for a variance. There will be no option to exempt as far as getting our businesses off the hook for this,” she said.

The state Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) will be in charge of enforcement, including liquor license revocation, as an example of enforcement that has already occurred in Weld and other counties in the state.

Harvey reiterated that communication to business owners from the county needed to be clear. “The county will not be able to intercede in this situation when it comes to our status with Protect our Neighbor. We will lose that status, everything that was included in that will be null and void until we get our cases under control.”

Emergency Manager and commissioner-elect Ty Gates then shared an update on the incident command system, whose efforts involve a joint messaging effort from the County, the Town of Meeker, the Town of Rangely, Pioneers Medical Center and Rangely District Hospital. IC also discussed the need for additional contact tracing help which will be done by county employees after receiving some training online.

Facilities director Eric Jaquez also gave project updates and received authorization to move forward on a $15,578 contract with EMC Plumbing and Heating to replace a boiler that provides heat to road and bridge department offices. Jaquez noted that the boiler was more than 20 years old and had exceeded its expected useful life.

The board also approved the use of the remaining $54,754 of COVID relief funds to upgrade the central air system in the Radino Senior Hall in Rangely. The funds are expected to cover most of the project, but the board and staff discussed that some contingency funds might also be necessary. Jaquez said he was fairly sure the work could be completed for less than $60,000. He also gave the board a heads up on another HVAC replacement/repair project that would come up in 2021. He said the estimated project could be a “significant replacement” but wasn’t able to specify a cost until further inspection/investigation could be completed.

REGULAR MEETING

  • Approved the 2021 Rio Blanco County Fair dates of July 30 ­- Aug. 7, 2021.
  • Approved advertising for a Temporary Health Nurse position in the Public Health Department.
  • Approved a wage increase for the Accounting Technician in an amount not to exceed the 2020 appropriation, the increase is based on the position taking on DHS accounting duties.

MOUS, CONTRACTS AND AGREEMENTS

  • Approved an Agreement for Services with EMC Plumbing and Heating, Inc. for the Meeker Road and Bridge office boiler replacement in an amount not to exceed $15,578.40
  • Approved an Agreement for Services with EMC Plumbing and Heating, Inc. for the Radino Senior Center Central Air Project in an amount not to exceed $24,754.
  • Approved a Contract Modification Order with Western Gravel Contractors for the 2020 Bridge Maintenance Project for changes in field conditions, increasing the contract amount by $18,225, for a new contract total of $132,173.

PUBLIC COMMENT

During public comment Rangely District Hospital CEO Kyle Wren shared an update on preparedness. Wren noted that the hospital had received two COVID patients over the weekend both of whom had been released. He also shared that the hospital had three negative pressure rooms, and said they could take care of up to eight COVID patients at a time, so long as only one of them was in critical condition. RDH has enough medicine (Remdesivir) for five patients. Wren also expressed concern over a case spike that could start 2-14 days after Thanksgiving. Commissioner Rector, who attended the meeting by phone, shared that he was one of two patients who had been treated at the hospital over the weekend and applauded their protocols and standards of care.


County Attorney Todd Starr wrapped up by disclosing that the county had unintentionally violated privacy laws under the Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act (HIPPA) by publishing the information of ”20 to 30” positive COVID-19 patients on the county website. Starr said the mistake was “due to operator error” and said the information was taken down as soon as county staff was made aware of it. Information released included names, ages and which community the patients lived in. According to Starr other information, including date of birth, social security numbers or otherwise “did not appear to have been disclosed,” but did say that at least one person from outside the county had accessed the information. Per county policy, an apology letter will be sent to anyone whose name has been part of the breach.

During commissioner updates Moyer spoke about how important it was that everyone had the right to share their opinion. Rector shared an update on the advancement of a Liquefied Natural Gas export facility in Baja California.

The board then went into executive session to discuss “the purpose of determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations: developing strategy for negotiations and instructing negotiators.” Starr clarified that the purpose of the discussion was related to a threat of litigation.


By LUCAS TURNER | lucas@ht1885.com