Moffat County Commission emphasizes desire to meet with new governor

In other news

At its regular meeting today, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 3-0, Dec. 21 meeting minutes.

• Approved, 3-0, a contract for the Colorado Works program for a personal job coach with Starla Durham of SLD Group, LLC, of Hamilton, not to exceed $4,900 for the year.

• Approved, 3-0, resolution 2011-05 naming the Craig Daily Press as Moffat County’s official newspaper.

• Approved, 3-0, various ex-officio board assignments for the three county commissioners.

• Approved, 3-0, a national Joint Powers Alliance membership agreement at no cost or obligation to the county, but would allow them to participate in the buying group.

• Approved, 3-0, four permits to conduct geophysical surveys with Geokinetics on 569 acres at the Moffat County Landfill; 33 acres at the road and bridge department; 547 acres at Loudy-Simpson Park; and 3.97 acres at the Moffat County Fairgrounds.

• Approved, 3-0, awarding The Print Shop with the county’s printing and stationery needs for 2011.

• Approved, 3-0, a bid from Hill Aevium for a marketing research project of the county for the Moffat County Tourism Association totaling $20,000.

• Approved, 3-0, a personnel requisition for a budgeted, regular, full-time social caseworker for social services.

• Approved, 3-0, a personnel requisition for a budgeted, regular, full-time court security deputy for the Moffat County Courthouse.

• Approved, 3-0, a memorandum of understanding with county surveyor Peter Epp naming him the official surveyor of the county and that all county surveying be done through him. The MOU also outlines Epp’s $3,300 salary and $20,916.36 in insurance and the cost of Epp’s services if he bills the county for services worth more than his salary.

• Appointed Tom Mathers as Moffat County Commission chairman for 2011.

• Appointed Bill Nicholson, Jerry Thompson and Gerald Culverwell, alternate, to the airport advisory board; Robin Brumback to the fair board; Pam Foster to the finance corporation board; Glenda Ayres to the housing authority board; Ed Winters, Dan Lowe, Richard Blakely, Jeremy Casterson and Roy Karo to the land use board; Lila Herod and Shirley Seeley to the library board;, Dottie Pettrini, Charlene Scott and alternate Lois Stoffle to the Maybell Community Center Board; Sherry Johnson, Bill Baker and Tanya Stoffle to the Maybell Volunteer Fire District Board; Kandee Dilldine to the Moffat County Tourism Association Board; Wayne Counts, P.J. Nichols and alternate Kelly Palaniuk to the planning and zoning board; and Todd Jourgensen and Tinneal Gerber to The Memorial Hospital Board.

• Heard a monthly report from the road and bridge department. Part of the report outlined the final cost of the Browns Park Swinging Bridge repair costs, which totaled $332,696 with equipment and labor combined.

With several pending land management decisions on his mind, Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray expressed concern Tuesday that the commission needs to reach out to Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The bottom line, he said, is the county commission needs to be more proactive with the new governor, mainly in organizing a meeting to discuss the area’s issues.

At the commission’s regular Tuesday meeting, Gray reflected on a previous letter sent to the governor in early November requesting a meeting in Moffat County or Denver and outlining the commission’s stance on energy development in Vermillion Basin, Colorado House Bill 10-1365, and other energy development, land and water management issues.

The commission recently received a response to that letter from John Huggins, co-chair of Hickenlooper’s transition team.

“We appreciate the support and enthusiasm you have as we move closer to Inauguration Day on Jan. 11,” Huggins wrote. “We will pass on your comments and suggestions and we encourage you to stay involved during this transition.”

Gray said he understands the governor will be busy and that most likely all of the state’s counties would like to have some of his attention, but he maintained the need to keep the area’s interest in mind.

“I think we need to, in a firm, but not adversarial way, stress to him why you really need to put us higher on the list and this is why,” he said.

Gray said those reasons include the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to close the 77,000-acre Vermillion Basin to energy development in its resource management plan and new policies on land management and conservation being developed by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, among others.

There is a “real urgency,” Gray said, to see if Hickenlooper might have a different view about development in the Vermillion Basin than former Gov. Bill Ritter, and if he could reverse the decision.

“As it always happens when new people take office, that could go back for a new governor’s review,” Gray said of the BLM’s resource management plan. “So, with that in mind, I think we need to follow up, maybe not with another letter … but I think we really somehow should be able to stress to the new governor the urgency in Moffat County because of some of the changes coming down the pike for him to come and visit us.”

Commissioner Audrey Danner agreed.

“I would assume right now that they are receiving a lot of mail and requests for events … and they are trying to acknowledge them,” Danner said after the meeting. “We will keep on our requests and find a way to present this information to the governor whether he can come here or we can go to Denver and meet with him.”

Gray added that “15 minutes in the conference room … isn’t going to do it.” He said he’d like to show Hickenlooper firsthand how some recent land management decisions have affected Northwest Colorado.

“There is nothing like a visual of what we are talking about,” he said.

And if the governor doesn’t have time to come to Moffat County, Gray said the commission should consider meeting with him in Denver.

Danner agreed, adding the commission could, with the help of a small group of residents and an hour of Hickenlooper’s time, make him aware of the region’s issues and woes.

“I have been of the mind to go to Denver and meet with whoever we need to (in order) to help with our situation,” she said after the meeting.

Commissioner Tom Mathers said he thought the response letter from Hickenlooper’s team was “pretty generic,” and was one that he was “sure every county got, and maybe every city.”

“I think it is a response letter just to respond,” he said.

But, that is not discouraging to the commissioner.

“I have no doubt that if we called up and got a hold of Hickenlooper’s office and said we would really like to come have a sit-down with you and just talk, I’m sure we would get an appointment,” he said.

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