Dinosaur business owner addresses concerns about lack of sheriff’s office presence
CRAIG — Dinosaur business owner Leona Hemmerich voiced her frustrations about the lack of a sheriff’s 0ffice presence in the western part of the county during a Tuesday meeting of the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners.
Hemmerich’s business — BedRock Depot — fell victim to burglars in late July, with thieves making off with about $2,000. Moffat County deputies were called, but did not respond.
Following the break-in, the Craig Press spoke with Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume, who said staffing numbers were an issue when the call came in, with only one deputy available on shift to send into the county. Since the call was neither in progress nor a “life safety” matter, he added, the office could not respond to take an official report, nor was the agency contacted for additional assistance.
The sheriff’s office had an intergovernmental agreement with the Dinosaur Town Council from 2009 to 2014 to provide law enforcement services. That agreement was terminated by Dinosaur, brought back in 2015, then terminated again in fall 2017. As an incorporated town, Dinosaur is required to maintain some form of law enforcement within its boundaries, though the local government has multiple options at its disposal to fulfill the requirement.
The town recently hired Darren Reed as its new marshal.
“There have been many iterations of law enforcement in the town, and they can operate their own marshal’s office or contract those services,” Hume said in July, noting that the contract also briefly included a deputy in his department, who, at that time, lived in the town, but has since moved.
Hume added he is open to his office working with the Dinosaur Marshal’s Office, if assistance is needed.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Hemmerich said she had spoken with Hume by telephone and suggested they should meet in person, acknowledging she had never met the sheriff. She said she thinks the county and the town of Dinosaur should work together to provide law enforcement.
“They (Dinosaur Town Council) feel the sheriff’s office has failed their end of the county,” Hemmerich said, “Why are we paying taxes going to the sheriff’s office if we don’t get their services.”
She said she is aware of the distance between Craig and Dinosaur, adding the county elected officials seldom visit the tiny town in western Moffat County. She also said she doesn’t think the current sheriff deserves the budget he has, given the lack of presence in Dinosaur.
“I’ve been here 23 years,” Hemmerich said. “I’ve seen many sheriffs out and about, making us feel like there is a presence in the county out here. I am not seeing that now.”
When a neighbor’s house was broken into, Hemmerich said, it was the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office that answered the call, suggesting that perhaps the town council should begin paying taxes to that county rather than Moffat.
Commissioner Ray Beck said he is aware there is now a marshal in Dinosaur, but acknowledged he doesn’t know what kind of contract Reed has. He suggested Hemmerich visit the town council and ask why it decided to not continue its contract with the county.
Beck added that Hume would be more than happy to talk with Hemmerich and encouraged her to keep lines of dialogue open.
Hemmerich suggested posting a deputy in Maybell, which is between Dinosaur and Craig and would lessen the county’s response time.
Dinosaur resident Larry Hoover said he supports Hemmerich, adding that a greater sheriff’s office presence is also needed on U.S. Highway 40. Calling his concern a safety issue, Hoover added he seldom sees Colorado State Patrol on the roadway, either.
In other business, commissioners:
• Approved a bid from Stripe A Lot Inc. for $22,595 for a striping project in the county. The losing bid came from American Striping Company for $95,000.
• Approved a bid from Masterworks Mechanical for $21,800 for roof repairs at the Public Safety Center. The losing bid was from Peak Services for $25,465.
• Approved a resolution for a lease agreement between Memorial Regional Health and Outback Investments in Steamboat Springs.