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RBC | “It’s fun when you can come to work with a smile and leave with a smile; it’s a fun job when you’re doing that,” said Scott Marsh, who seems to be enjoying his new position as Road and Bridge/Landfill Director for Rio Blanco County. Marsh noted that the challenge of the job was one of his favorite parts about the work, in addition to “a great group of people” in the road and bridge department.
Referencing his attendance at recent Range Call celebrations, Marsh also emphasized how much he enjoys the community and culture of the area, to which he is no stranger. Marsh was born and raised in Meeker, and graduated from Meeker High School in 1988. His familiarity with the area has already helped quite a bit with the day-to-day tasks of his new role, though he said he’s still learned plenty since stepping into the role in late May. “I’ve been amazed by some of the county roads, and I grew up here,” he said, adding “and everyone calls them by different names.” Strawberry Creek is one example of that concept, “working for the state, from the Maybell side or the Craig side, it’s Price Creek,” said Marsh, referencing his past job as a deputy superintendent with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), where he was employed for 27 years before retiring last February.
Marsh said the majority of work with the county so far has been similar to his time at CDOT, where he helped oversee projects in an area covering everything north of I-70, to Berthoud Pass, to the state line bordering Wyoming.
In his first three months as RBC Road and Bridge Director, Marsh has overseen two major projects, including the annual spring-time application of magnesium chloride, and the ongoing replacement of the CR73 bridge. Last week five new concrete girders were installed as part of the project, involving coordination between the county and state to coordinate traffic.
The road and bridge department has also assisted with emergency management during the Oil Springs fire, hauling water for RBC emergency manager Eddie Smercina and Sheriff Anthony Mazzola. Marsh pointed out that during future fire events, the department could likely end up providing equipment to construct fire lines, haul more water, and initiate road closures as needed.
Though he has a pretty positive outlook in general, Marsh did note what he sees as the primary challenge moving forward: budget. All county departments saw a 5% reduction in their budgets last year thanks to a decline in county revenues. “This year they’re looking at possibly a 3% reduction,” said Marsh. The cuts to budget may come as a double whammy, as supply chain problems have led to skyrocketing material costs.
As an example Marsh said bids for road paint came in 92% higher this year than in 2019, from $24, to $48 per gallon. He said the cost increase was related to supply issues “because of the freezes in Texas, which is where you get your paint from.” Additional shortages in qualified CDL drivers have had an immediate impact as well, forcing the county’s vendor to pick up their own paint in Denver, instead of having it delivered to Meeker like they normally would.
Marsh noted the driver shortage could be an ongoing challenge for the county not only for purchasing materials, but for hiring qualified workers as needed. “I think it’s going to catch up with us eventually,” he said.
As of now in addition to the CR73 bridge project Marsh said the department is just doing normal maintenance including blading roads, replacing cattle guards/culverts and doing some flood cleanup after several recent flash floods.
RBC residents can expect to see Marsh out on the road, at the Road and Bridge shop in Meeker. In his free time he’ll likely be camping at Trappers Lake, or spending time with his family, particularly his grandson.
By LUCAS TURNER | firstname.lastname@example.org