by Tara Walker
Grand County employee recognition was shown to be a priority during the January 24th Board of County Commissioner meeting. Grand County Manager Lee Staab thanked the commissioners for setting aside funding this year to recognize and reward employees with certificates and monetary compensation.
Peter Rempel has 20 years with Grand County and is currently working with planning and zoning and community development within Grand County. He received a certificate of service for his commitment to professional excellence and success and $400 to be added to his paycheck.
Two Grand County Coin awards were awarded during the BOCC meeting. Tawnya Bailey, Chief Deputy for Coroner’s office, was affectionately called “Mrs. Claus” as she was given the Grand County Coin award for taking pride in her office. She cares about how people are treated and goes out of her way to help with a caring attitude. Tina Strang, Home Health Director, started as receptionist in 1997 in Grand County and was given a Grand County Coin award for her leadership, integrity, compassion, stewardship, and commitment to health of citizens.
Mark Campbell, Kremmling Town Manager has been recruited by the 911 Telephone authority to represent West Grand County and was appointed to the Telephone Authority board during the January 24 BOCC meeting. The 911 authority thanked Commissioner Manguso for recommending Mark Campbell to represent West Grand and were happy that he would be joining the board.
Marcus Davis of Hot Sulphur Springs attended the BOCC meeting and was re-appointed for the Board of the Grand County Library district where he currently serves as treasurer. He also gave some reassurances and updates to the board and the community. Manguso noted that many residents have fears that the libraries will be further cutting hours and services due to a reduction in funding when residential taxes could lower further to 6.11 percent in 2019.
Davis explained that the Gallagher formula (adopted in 1982 causing residential as assessments rates to drop from 21 percent to 7.2 percent over the last 35 years) would take another 150k from their budget if the tax rates were lowered to 6.11 percent as it is projected at this time. He knows the 6.11 rate would affect the library, recreation district, the fire district and many small communities. 90% of funding for the library district comes for the residential tax assessment. Davis, “The rumor that we are reducing services as a result of the forecast is not the discussion we are having internally. We are talking about maintaining and expanding services.”
County Manager Lee Staab commended the Road and Bridge department, “Road and Bridges does more than just plow roads.” He shared information on how they assisted recently at Granby Ranch and have assisted in the past with fires or rescue operations. He also outlined a new solution that is in the works so that more people can find out about the plowing routes. The website would offer an option to enter your address and you would then be able to see the plow route in your area. It isn’t launched yet, but is something he thinks the county will appreciate when it goes into effect.
The Board of County Commissioners continues to work on being proactive to recognizing and planning cooperatively to solve Grand County problems. A planning workshop and a blight workshop saw representatives from Grand County municipalities, business owners and interested parties coming together to brainstorm solutions.
One problem that was discussed in depth was how to address the code violations when properties are in disrepair, have uninhabitable or unused building construction equipment, empty containers, metal bins and abandoned vehicles around a residence. Stakeholders discussed fines and violations vs community education. Many noted that while property owners may want to remove objects from their property, it is cumbersome, confusing and expensive to do so. This is causing people to illegally dump large items like campers, fridges and mattresses alongside roads or in our forested areas.
Forest Service law enforcement officer Lauren Pirchner with Sulfur Ranger District, confirmed that she sees a large problem with trash removal, especially relating to camping in the summer months. She covers the top of Berthoud Pass to the Rocky Mountain National Park as far as County Road 3 and also takes care of issues on western side of the county, covering 560 acres. She says the sanitation problem is getting worse every year and in 2017 had the most sanitation tickets everywritten.
Pirchner, “Sundas is the worst day for patrolling as campers leave and sometimes bags are trash are left by the side of the road.” Pirchner thanked Grand Lake’s efforts at a pay to dump station as that has given her a place to direct campers when they need to dispose of waste. However, there are often no options to dump when the transfer station is closed on Sundays and most dumpsters are locked away. Fraser representatives spoke up to explain that they will also be adding a pay to dispose facility that is modeled after Grand Lake’s facility that is projected to open in late summer 2018.
County Commissioners thanked the workshop participants and noted much more would need to be done to continue dialogue as the problems are not going away. Commissioner Linke, “We’ve heard a lot of good information. We recognize this problem. We’ve been hearing about it a long time and are welcoming the input and hopefully we can make some positive changes for this problem.”