County Beat: Sept. 19, 2019

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RBC | County resident James Dearman spoke to the Rio Blanco County Commissioners Tuesday about a minor subdivision sale within the county that occurred in 1995, and said he is currently having a dispute with a neighbor on Rio Blanco County Road 2. 

He claims the neighbor ran a temporary water line through the county culvert to irrigate his alfalfa field.  At one time the neighbor was granted an easement with the stipulation that it would be void if the property was sold or changed hands. The easement was given by another landowner before Dearman acquired the property.

According to Dearman the easement is voided because the neighbor has passed away and his daughter has acquired the property. He said he has spent $3,000 to have a survey completed and the line is not in the easement. His neighbors have since taken him to court. Dearman has offered the road he owns to the county and said the acquisition of the property was never recorded by the county.

“It got dropped and I’m dropping it back in your hands,” Dearman said.

Commissioner Moyer and Woodruff, along with RBC Attorney Todd Starr determined they needed to gather more information and analyze the situation. Starr told Dearman the board would have answers for him at next month’s meeting in Rangely.

Department of Human Services Director Barbara Bofinger updated commissioners on DHS work during the past month. Child welfare saw 11 referrals, three of which were assigned. There are two children under an appeal, and eight subsidized adoptions but she said they may have a few more. Adult Protective Services (APS) had four referrals in July but none in August. Bofinger reports that everyone is currently trained in APS and that a part time employee has started working APS cases because they are so time consuming. In eligibility, the Colorado Works program is trending up. DHS is tracking the diversion cases. White River Roundup has been pretty consistent in numbers. Radino and Chuckwagon have seen an increase in home-delivered meals. 

“Instead of doing a lunch meal they will do an evening meal which has had good participation,” Bofinger said.

The department is preparing for a Community Service Block Grant audit and an audit for Area Agency on Aging. There is an interview scheduled on Sept. 18 for a child welfare case worker. New caseworker Bobbie Fiscus should be finished with training approximately the first part of October.  County Paralegal Vicky Edwards forwarded information to Bofinger from Sober Buddy Shuttle which is now offering rides to and from medical appointments.    

Commissioner Si Woodruff called the Board of County Commissioners meeting to order immediately following the work session at 11:03 a.m.  Woodruff and Commissioner Gary Moyer were present. 

During the business section of the agenda the commissioners approved a letter supporting the issuance of the Colowyo Coal Company, L.P., Collom Expansion voluntary air permit revision. They also approved a letter to Colorado Parks and Wildlife supporting a land swap between CPW and White River City Investments resulting in a net gain of eight acres of Colorado State land holdings along the White River. Also approved was a letter to Representative Scott Tipton urging support for the removal of three Wilderness Study Area designations within Rio Blanco County.

James Dearman voiced his concern about wilderness study areas saying, “It seems like they want these study areas to stop growth.” Moyer explained that Representative Tipton is offering some areas up for wilderness designation a long distance away from our county and as part of that negotiation he would like to include the release of the wilderness study areas that don’t have wilderness characteristics.

“This is a great opportunity for Rio Blanco County if Tipton can be successful getting this through Congress and getting these wilderness study areas released.” 

Commissioners approved contracts between the Rio Blanco County Landfill and Chevron U.S.A., Inc. to provide waste disposal for Chevron. Edwards and Starr clarified the agreement saying Chevron needed to move off construction waste from asbestos clean up. Moyer asked if there was indication of what the finances would be to the landfill and Starr said he had not seen any. 

Dearman asked if there was any oversight on what they put in the landfill. Jeni Morlan with Wray Gulch Landfill confirmed by phone that staff at the landfill monitor every load but that Chevron is supposed to disclose what they are disposing of.  Morlan says Chevron normally uses a third party hauler but because of the anticipation of large quantities of special waste they have decided it would be best to have an agreement in place. From Morlan’s understanding Chevron will be bringing in a “couple thousand tons of petroleum contaminated soil.” Chevron will be charged the same rate as other landfill users.

During commissioners’ updates Moyer reported that he had just returned from Washington D.C. where he attended the Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah State Leadership Day. He met with Representative Scott Tipton’s staff and reiterated the commissioners’ support of the wilderness bill discussed earlier in the meeting and support for the Wolf Creek Reservoir. He said he had met with Tipton a week earlier at the proposed reservoir site. 

He also met with Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Skipwith and Moyer discussed the endangered species act and the possibility of filing a request to lift a critical habitat area that limits the White River National Forrest Services ability to sell timber. Moyer especially enjoyed the Land Management Panel speakers including Deputy Solicitor for Parks and Wildlife Karen Budd-Falen.  Vice President Pence surprised the attendees and briefly met with them.  Moyer said he reminded Pence that the commissioners supported Jordan Cove very strongly. He said that in the current administration there is a big push to hear from local elected officials.

Woodruff said the Rangely Airport has some serious water line issues. The roof is being replaced on the Hayes building. The county-owned hangar building has old roof flashing that was installed incorrectly and subsequently floods the classroom for the CNCC flight simulators. The county is trying to get bids to replace the roof. They have a request to install more fire hydrants because there are people who would like to build more hangars.

Skyway Towers Polluck Canyon, is requesting approval of the Skyway Towers Polluck Canyon Limited Impact Review, to construct a 250-foot self-supporting telecommunications tower and associated equipment compound on the property located along Highway 139. County Surveyor Leif Joy reports the application is complete and the staff recommends the approval of the proposed limited impact review. The project is in the best interest of the health, safety, morals, convenience, order, prosperity, welfare and citizens of Rio Blanco County. Joy said that there is one stipulation, that the company apply for all applicable county permits. Skyway Towers representative Cari Hermacinski was on hand to answer questions. She reports that T-Mobile will be the anchor tenant on this tower but they will be marketing to other carriers to hopefully start providing coverage in areas where there currently is none. Moyer moved to approve the resolution and Woodruff seconded it, the motion passed. 

Dearman asked if Hermacinski could give an exact location on where the tower will be installed, she explained that it is about 30 miles south of Rangely on the east side of Highway 139 just before Douglas Pass. Commissioner Woodruff adjourned the meeting at 11:34 a.m.

The next Board of County Commissioners meeting will be held in Meeker on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 11 a.m.

By Roxie Fromang | Special to the Herald Times