What’s Up With the County? Rio Blanco County updates on fires, broadband and justice center

Katelin Cook
Katelin Cook
RBC I In an effort to keep the community updated, Rio Blanco County employees have provided updates on their various departments and projects.

Sheriff’s Office:
In recent weeks, the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office has been assisting with out-of-control fires stemming from residents burning ditches. Thankfully, there have been no injuries and minimal property damage. Check out the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page for suggestions on agricultural burning.
Long time deputy Frank England retired on April 3. Frank has been associated with the RBCSO since 1986, starting as a reserve deputy and becoming a full-time deputy in 2001. We will miss Frank and wish him the very best. Job well done!
With Frank’s retirement, a deputy was hired to replace him. Jackilyn Green will be starting on April 22, and will be residing in Rangely. Green grew up in Elk Springs, is most recently from Craig, has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and is in the process of completing her master’s degree. We are very excited to have her on our team.
Citizens can receive sheriff’s office updates now on Facebook and Twitter.
Broadband Project Update:
The Rio Blanco County Broadband Project is under way. Engineering for Meeker and Rangely fiber installation is nearly completed, and engineering is about 40 percent complete for the wireless broadband solution in rural areas.
Recently, several proposals were received for the role of network operator, and a selection should be made soon. The network operator will manage maintenance and repair of the county’s broadband infrastructure, and they will also work with service providers to ensure reasonably priced Internet and cellular services are available to Rio Blanco County residents and businesses.
The broadband project is critical to Rio Blanco County residents and is necessary for Rio Blanco County to be a competitive place to do business, recruit future employees and keep up with current technological demands in supporting students, visitors and those who live here. Just like well-maintained roads, water or sanitation utility lines, broadband service (Internet, cellular capabilities, and emergency management services) is a requirement for today’s consumer which is why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassified broadband as a Title II public utility earlier this year.
So, what’s next? Rio Blanco County will chose its network operator and then work to identify Middle Mile and Local Service Providers who will ultimately serve the end consumer. Rio Blanco County was awarded up to $2 million in DOLA grant funds to offset project expenses, and once those funds are available, infrastructure installation construction will begin.
To learn more about this great project, visit www.rbc.us/wcitc.
Capital Improvement Projects:
Rio Blanco County hired an arborist to perform a health evaluation on all trees located on Rio Blanco County-owned properties in Meeker. All trees located at the Fairfield Center and White River Museum are in good health. There were some concerns about trees located at the county courthouse. Twenty-five of the 52 existing trees were removed due to their degrading health and proximity of growth to other trees located on the property.
Construction of the Justice Center continues to be on schedule and on budget.
All foundation work has been completed, and by the end of April all concrete slabs on grade work will be completed. During the month of May, structural steel will be erected, CMU blocks will be installed and mechanical, electrical and plumbing site work will continue. Also in May, construction will begin on the Meeker Town Square Park Pavilion, and the plan is for that to be complete in time for July 4 events.
Renovation of the Department of Health and Human Services building in Rangely is also progressing. Selective demolition has begun and finalized design documents are completed. This project is scheduled for completion at the end of September
Restrooms will be constructed at Columbine Park, and schematic design work and design of on-site waste water treatment has been initiated. This facility will be a CMU block structure with a metal roof, constructed on slab on grade foundation, and includes shower facilities. The intent of these restrooms is to service patrons of the boarding facilities and CNCC programs. Construction is scheduled to be complete by the end of summer.
Radino Hall will also be receiving capital improvements. Kitchen, flooring and entryway upgrades will be the focus of the project. Proposed designs will be reviewed with stakeholders in May.
Columbine Park and Meeker Fairgrounds facility planning has been started to help prioritize capital improvement projects and maximize facility usage. User groups of these facilities will help guide the direction of future improvements, working toward these facilities providing positive economic impact to the communities through greater usage and additional events.
Rio Blanco County has contracted with the University of Colorado-Denver, University Technical Assistance program to assist with conceptual site design and development of capital improvement prioritization.

Katelin Cook is the Rio Blanco County Economic Development Director