County Beat: September 26, 2019

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RBC | Commissioners Gary Moyer and Si Woodruff heard an update from the BLM’s White River Field Office Manager Kent Walter Tuesday in Meeker during a workshop. Walter said they are in the process of finalizing a “gather plan” for wild horses for all areas outside of their herd management area.

“It’s a multi-year plan, up to 10 years,” he said. “Every approved gather technique will be at our disposal if we can get this passed.”

“We’ve been working with our Piceance Mustang group, part of that is that gather plan is consistent with our goals. They understand the need to gather those excess horses. I think it will be an advantage to us to have their support.”

The horses outside the herd management area are hurting the horses within the HMA.

“That’s my goal, to focus on those horses outside first, get them removed, and then we can look at management options inside the HMA.”

“There’s so many horses out there, I figure my focus should be outside, get to those horses first since they’re outside our management area.”

Walter also explained that landowners are able to call BLM if they have wild horses on their property and have them removed if they are outside the HMA. “It elevates it in the priority list,” Walter said. On East Douglas, BLM built a fence to create a boundary before moving horses off private property

Regarding oil and gas, Walter said they have approved 90 applications for permits to drill, with another 35 pending.

“We have 29 with Caerus that we’d really like to get approved,” Walter said, but BLM is implementing a new automated system and cannot approve them manually anymore.

“The reason why you might hear something is we just transitioned over to a new system and there’s some bugs. We’re diligently working with the national office to get that resolved.”

Walter said there are four rigs drilling in Rio Blanco County now. “Folks are drilling,” he said.

The September oil and gas lease sale is today, Sept. 26.

Woodruff asked what BLM would like to see as far as fire suppression at the Meeker Airport.

“The Meeker Airport is requesting new water lines. They have half the capacity of any fire hydrant in the town limits. If we were to take this on, we need to work with the BLM,” Woodruff said.

Fire suppression is required for new airplane hangars, but the Meeker airport lacks the water capacity to provide that.

Public Health Director Alice Harvey updated the board on her department, saying they have vaccinated three times the number of children this summer than in the last three years. “These are required back to school vaccines,” she said.

Public Health is also providing a blood pressure clinic at Chuckwagon and Radino, and will be “fully operational” in both the Meeker and Rangely offices within a week, including new hours. Sixty-one percent of the department’s clients are from Rangely.

Harvey said they are continuing to collaborate with the sheriff’s office for health care at the detention center.

During the regular meeting, the commissioners approved the receipt of a grant for the department for opioid and substance abuse prevention in the amount of $1,769.25.

Public health is currently investigating a case of West Nile Virus identified in Craig.

During the regular meeting, Human Resources Director Laura Smith told the board to expect an 8.1% increase of medical insurance for county, 6% of which is from Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield and 2.1% is “because we have used more money than we have put into the plan.”

The commissioners called a special meeting Wednesday, Sept. 25 to meet with department heads and discuss options.

“We’re not trying to reduce the benefits, we’re just trying to find the best deal for the county,” Moyer said. “We want to still provide the same level of coverage.”

Smith said there are various options the county can pursue.

Smith also updated the commissioners about the Community Services Block Grant board, which is required by the state. Two applicants were approved by the board: Dorothy Chappell and John Aitken. Smith and Woodruff are also on the board. Another elected official is needed, as well as two private sector individuals.

Commissioners approved policies and procedures for Columbine Park. Eric Jaquez, RBC project coordinator, said they plan to go through the same process for the fairgrounds in Meeker.

In commissioner updates, Moyer said he attended AGNC in Oak Creek where Propositions DD and CC were discussed.

“If [DD] is passed, it will take 10% of the net profit from gaming institutions annually,” Moyer said. The funds would go to the state water conservation board to fund water projects and help implement the state water plan. AGNC voted in support of Proposition DD, while Club 20 voted to remain neutral. Club 20 also voted to remain neutral on Proposition CC, which would allow government to spend any excess revenue collected instead of returning it to taxpayers, for entities that haven’t “de-Bruced.”

Woodruff said he attended the Board of Health meeting and the groundbreaking ceremony at Pioneers Medical Center. In working with the Rangely Airport on roof repairs, a rodent infestation was discovered that will have to be properly addressed because it’s a health hazard. Public health was brought in to that discussion.

“I’m working with public health and contacting a few companies they’ve recommended for abatement and getting a best plan to address both the leak and the rodent issue, and how long it will impact the students at CNCC,” Woodruff said.