Museums, mosquitos and more (oh my!)

MEEKER | White River Inn Grant Extension
The Nov. 20 Meeker Board of Trustees heard first from White River Inn owner L.D. Grove who sought an extension on a grant the board had approved back in June for improvements on the inn. Since the original work was not done, an extension was needed to cover part of the cost of stone work to upgrade the inn’s façade. There was a consensus among the board members to extend the grant.
Staff Update
The only staff update came from Police Chief Phil Stubblefield. He reported that there were 271 total calls (including traffic), six arrests (including one for domestic violence, one sex assault and one DUI) and 18 summons. The department is still searching for another officer, “as is most every other agency in the state,” he added.
Mosquito Trapping
As reported in the June 9 edition of the Herald Times, Rio Blanco County Health Director Julie Drake spoke to the board regarding better practices for municipal mosquito management. Her concern was that Meeker’s mosquito control efforts in the past—including aerial spraying, which did not take place in 2018 for the first time in 45 years—have not been based on scientific data.
To gather such data, a mosquito trapping program was instituted. The scientific background of Holly Knowles, who is also a retail food inspector, aided in this data gathering. Using two specially designed traps, placed in alternating locations, several species of mosquitoes were trapped.
Of special interest and concern is the Culex species, the carrier of the West Nile virus. The July 30, 2018, trap data showed that 18 of the 31 mosquitoes collected (58 percent) were Culex, while the Sept. 10, 2018, data showed only 3 of 78 (4 percent) were Culex. No mosquitoes were tested, however, to see if West Nile was actually present.
Because the trapping could not begin until later in the summer, the program will continue next year when it can include the peak season of June. To gather adequate data, it will also be necessary to trap mosquitoes on a weekly basis. The problem here, however, is that no one in Meeker sells dry ice, which provides the carbon dioxide needed to draw mosquitoes. It was also hoped that at least one more trap can be purchased.
Historical Society
Historical Society board member Kay Bivens shared the society’s vision to develop five historical tours. One will be a Bank Robbery Trail. Starting at the museum, it will come down to the Hugus building, through the town park, up to the cemetery where the three would-be robbers are buried, and will also include three interpretive signs. Other planned tours include Elk Creek, Coal Creek Schoolhouse, Powell Park and historic buildings in Meeker. No money was asked for at this time, rather the society just wants the town board and our community to know what it is doing to develop tourism.
Lions Club Liquor Permit
A public hearing was held to consider a request from the Meeker Lions Club for a special events permit for serving liquor at the Pioneer Medical Center Christmas party at the Fairfield Center on Dec. 15 (4 p.m.–12 a.m.). A motion was made, seconded and passed to issue the permit.
Vaping Code
Another public hearing involved a lengthy discussion concerning Meeker Ordinance #07-2018, which amends Chapter 9.9 of the Meeker Municipal Code on the issue of “vaping.” This issue has caused enormous concern because Colorado has become the worst state in the country for this trend even in the schools. Chapter 9.9 specifically addresses the juvenile use of tobacco products, “including any electronic smoking device” in public.
Police Chief Stubblefield’s respectfully proposed change was to apply this to “any person eighteen (18) years of age or younger,” which is actually stricter than state law, which specifies those who are simply under 18.
After spending much time studying this issue, his concern is that both 18-year-old students and younger ones could easily be part of any public gathering, including in a vehicle. This could then result in all the students using the product but the 18-year-old claiming it was his alone if confronted by law enforcement. An added result would be that the 18-year-old is now contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which is technically a low-class felony.
With equal respect to and support of Chief Stubblefield’s concerns and commitment, the board preferred to stay with the simpler state law of under 18 to prevent complications, misinterpretation and confusion (although state law does not actually address vaping except prohibiting it on school property). The amendment will, therefore, be revised to reflect those who are under 18 for both tobacco products and vaping and resubmitted at the next meeting.
Final Matters
In his final remarks, Mayor Regas Halandras addressed Lisa Cook’s service as interim town manager and the possibility of her “throwing her hat in the ring” to assume that position permanently.
After Cook’s own town manager’s reports, scheduling the next meeting for Jan. 2, instead of New Year’s Day, and a few minor matters, the meeting adjourned.

By DOC WATSON | Special to the Herald Times