Kristin Steele fills Rangely council seat

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RANGELY I The Rangely Town Council met April 7 to announce and swear in newly appointed town council member Kristin Steele, honor the Rangely Police Department for its DUI enforcement work and learn about several projects nearing completion.

Steele was chosen from among four candidates who applied for the position left vacant by former Mayor Pro Tem Brad Casto, who resigned last month. She was sworn into office by Town Treasurer Lisa Piering.
The other candidates included Clayton Gohr, Jane Miller and John Perry. The council interviewed all four candidates in a work session held prior to the regular meeting Tuesday.
Steele, currently employed as executive director of the Rangely Chamber of Commerce, will serve on the council for a one-year term. In April 2016, the position will be up for public election.
During the meeting, the council heard updates from several departments including the Rangely Police and Public Works departments.
Rangely Police Chief Vince Wilczek informed the board of current departmental projects, including an inventory of all stored evidence. Each piece of evidence is receiving a barcode for tracking purposes. The department is also attempting to destroy any unnecessary evidence.
Wilczek also reported that last year the Rangely department conducted 29 felony arrests.
According to Wilczek, this number is quite high. Wilczek provided a point of comparison saying that both the Meeker Police Department and Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office had 26 felony arrests combined. The high number of arrests is causing an influx of trials that officers have to attend in Meeker.
After his update, Chief Wilczek presented Rangely Police Officer Jonathan Mazzella with an award for DUI (driving under the influence) enforcement. Mazzella issued 41 DUIs in 2014, eight of which were considered “extremely dangerous situations.”
According to Wilczek, one offender tested with a .269 blood alcohol level, substantially higher than the legal .08 limit.
“We receive a lot of criticism for our DUI enforcement from citizens … but these guys are saving lives,” Wilczek said. The department plans to continue high enforcement and will be sending Officer TiRynn Hamblin to drug recognition training over the summer.
Following the police update, the council heard from Public Works Director Mike Englert, who informed the board about several projects currently under way at the White River Village Apartments, including cleaning and repairing vacated apartments and constructing a new enclosed breezeway.
Englert said the existing breezeway needs to be taller to allow people to enter without ducking.
The town has received a grant from the Lung Association for $3,000 towards a project to encourage smoking outdoors instead of inside buildings. The council approved spending up to $23,000 on the project.
Town Manager Peter Brixius provided the council with several operational updates. Brixius said the Highway 64 water line boring, which had previously run into difficulties, has finally broken through. Brixius said he expects that the project, which will provide water services to the Chevron offices along with several other customers, will be fully operational in the next three weeks.
Brixius also told the council that the design for the updates and changes to the Town Hall building should be completed and ready for construction bids by July. They will also prepare grant applications at that time.
Another project nearing completion is the rehabilitation of the corner of Stanolind and Main streets, where the town expects to remove 900 yards of material in the coming months.
The 10-year process was undertaken to alleviate damage done by an old gas station located on the lot. The station had several tanks, including gas and waste oil, underground that leaked into the surrounding soil. Brixius estimates the total cost of the rehabilitation to be around $500,000, all of which he expects to be eventually reimbursed to the town by the state.
Near the close of the meeting the council was informed that town employees Lisa Piering and Kelly Neiberger have been selected as “Safety Champions” by the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency, or CIRSA, and will be honored at an upcoming luncheon.