Oct. 12 and 26
The Town of Rangely’s Board of Trustees heard the first reading of an amended floodplain management ordinance to align with new recommendations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA has changed recommendations to provide higher floodplain management standards to help communities prepare and plan for, respond to, and mitigate, the effects of future flood damage. Passage of this regulation is necessary for Rangely to participate in good standing in the National Flood Insurance Program allowing for qualification to participate in federal financial assistance administered by FEMA in the event of serious flood damages. All interested citizens and groups are invited to read and review the Ordinance in its entirety at the Town Manager’s office located at 209 E. Main St. in Rangely.
Police Chief TiRynn Hamblin attended the Oct. 12 town meeting to provide updates for September and October including fun events such as Septemberfest, Homecoming, and the bugling and camouflage contest at Parkview Elementary. The department looks forward to these events next year. They were looking forward to the Polar Plunge to raise money for the Special Olympics on Nov. 13 (see Page 1.) There was a change in staff as Officer Hughes resigned and Lt. Phil Stubblefield is preparing to retire. All dispatchers completed field training. Officer Millard finished Krav Maga training as well. Hamblin shared that all attended a legal update meeting via the District Attorney’s office. The Rio Blanco County Jail was closed on Oct. 10 ahead of schedule. Hamblin shared at the time he was unsure what that was going to look like going forward. Hamblin has taught several classes at CNCC and met with CNCC President Dr. Lisa Jones. The department is currently accepting applications for a dispatch supervisor and two officer positions.
Gas, Building and Grounds updates included audits by CIRSA for insurance purposes. Kelli Neiberger attended virtual UNCC (Utility Notification Center of Colorado) meetings to keep current on 8-1-1 locating practices. Employees will be using time off before it expires at the end of the year. The department expects to be shorthanded for the remainder of the year. All employees that have not completed First Aid/CPR Certification did so in September. Storage prices have increased and suppliers are hesitant to ramp up production because of prices and politics. The Town is protecting residents from another price hike with a month-to-month contract. Neiberger shared that Dinosaur is considering their own natural gas supply and has completed the Feasibility Survey. The Town of Rangely would assist in operations and management. The Town of Rangely Gas Department received an award from the American Public Gas Association for safety. They have won this award five years in a row. Christmas décor will begin to be displayed after Thanksgiving.
The Council approved a liquor license for the Colorado Municipal League (CML) 2021 Fall District Meeting that was held on Oct. 13. Trustee Don Davidson served as a bartender. Main topics included housing, economic development, childcare and transportation. Revenue and how to generate streams of revenue were discussed. It was highlighted that Grand Junction had similar struggles to Rangely and they were able to generate revenue because of their amenities. It was noted that water is expected to be the biggest legislative battle going forward into 2021–2022. The Denver Post published an article about our local region’s water shortage on Oct. 18, 2021.
Town Manager Lisa Piering updated the board regarding an MOU for a settlement to join the Opioids Response Round-Up. This aims to help the community maximize funds to fight against the opioid crisis. Piering submitted a grant application for the Peace Officer Mental Health Grant. This grant program is through the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to provide financial assistance to law enforcement agencies for mental health services. Piering informed the council that this request is for services already provided anonymously. Trustee Keely Ellis asked if this required a match, it does not. Lisa Piering shared her thoughts that this was important for our officers to have available to them due to the experiences of the profession. Services include on-scene response services to support peace officers’ handling of persons with mental health disorders, counseling to peace officers, assistance for development and implementation of policies to support peace officers involved in shootings or fatal use of force, training and education programs that teach the symptoms of job-related mental trauma and how to prevent and treat such trauma and peer support programs.
Public input was provided by Tammy Dahle regarding her concerns about 5G towers. The board had no comments.
Water/Wastewater Supervisor Don Reed was present to highlight a few updates. Reed detailed the advantages of a contract with the United States Geological Survey, which provides gauges to monitor drought conditions and other resources. Reed would like to continue with this contract service as it will be difficult to monitor conditions especially if river flows are low and shared that Jocelyn Mullen used this service for the floodplain management discussions with FEMA. Piering also vocalized support for this contract during her update. Reed advised that the La Mesa project infrastructure was complete. The final update was regarding the Head Works Building Project and that the department has spent a great deal of time restructuring expenses to get them to fall in line with projections.
The board accepted the resignation of Trustee Luke Geer and discussed operations to replace him. Interviews will be held on Dec. 9.
Archaeologist Luke Trout, from the White River Field Office, presented to the board regarding the Memorandum of Agreement between the Bureau of Land Management White River Field Office and the Colorado State Historic Preservation Office regarding the North Rangely Open Area Effects to Cultural Landscape 5RB.7591 in Rio Blanco County. BLM-WRFO has designated the North Rangely open area as an Area of Potential Effect due to the history and significance of the Rangely oilfield. The landscape is eligible under the National Register of Historic Places due to it being the largest oilfield in the intermountain west and its efforts as a major supplier during WWII. The National Register of Historic Places is the United States federal government’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. The goal of BLM-WRFO is to create designated areas surrounding Rangely for OHV and other forms of public recreational use while protecting the area from erosion and environmental impact while honoring the history. Trout shared with the board visuals and details of the methods they would use to accomplish this: by installing an interpretive sign, cattle guard, fencing, parking lot and bathrooms. The main purpose of this presentation was to formally invite the Town of Rangely to come on board as a partner and welcome input to help develop language for the interpretive sign. Trout offered examples of information to share to the public on the interpretive sign to include the reasons that it is eligible for the NRHP, that it was the major source of economic development for Rangely and Dinosaur, the Raven A-1 well, and anything else that the public wouldn’t know that locals think they should.
Mayor Andy Shaffer asked why this site was chosen, “it’s basically a dirt hill.”
Trout responded, “We knew there was already quite a bit of use there by the public and so we decided to pick a spot that was going to avoid existing infrastructure. There are no well pads in that 10-acre area… We wanted to avoid the risk of overlapping with pipelines. There are unmarked pipelines in there. So if we ever wanted to dig, we would call 8-1-1 but when it comes to the area of most minimal risk and that’s local that seemed to be the best location that we could find.” Trustee Keely Ellis asked Trout regarding the fencing and how much of the area would need to be fenced in. She expressed concern for fencing the entire area as opposed to just the front entrance. Trout responds that there is flexibility and that feedback such as this is extremely important to the development of the landmark. Trout shared that the goal of the fencing “with a buck and rail style” is to protect public safety so they don’t wander to a well pad or other utility structures that are relatively nearby. The buck and rail style is the style commonly used to protect boundaries of other local BLM landmarks. “The goal is to make it clear where the boundary is but, we wouldn’t need to accomplish that with fencing, by any means,” Trout stated. He was very clear that the Town of Rangely was welcome and their feedback was vital to how this project moves forward. He promised the Town would be invited out to participate in planning. Trustee Tim Webber brought forward concerns of “for the people” public use and previous conflict over public land use. Many long-time locals may know where to go and how to safely access open areas for recreation but visitors and new residents may not. As Rangely expands its economic development plans to encourage people to move, work and play here, it will be important to protect historical landmarks and establish clear bounds for public safety.
By KATIE KING | Special to The Herald Times