Communications tower to be erected at Justice Center

Liquor License application fees, on-and-ongoing Brannan litigation, Veterans Services officer wanted

By Lynn Volkens

Gilpin County Commissioners Buddy Schmalz, Connie McLain and Gail Watson began their May 7, 2013 meeting by proclaiming May as Mental Health Month, and calling upon “all citizens, government agencies, public and private institutions, businesses and schools to recommit our communities and resources to increasing awareness and understanding of mental health, providing appropriate and accessible services for all citizens, and making mental health a priority.” Patricia Garcia of JCMH thanked Commissioners for their support.

Justice Center Communications Tower

  Commissioners revisited the communications tower project which had been postponed for several weeks as more information was gathered. The main purpose for the tower is to improve radio communications for law enforcement and emergency responders, including interoperability with neighboring agencies. Commissioners had originally budgeted $25,000 for the project. In February they approved an additional $9,000 to that budget bringing the total cost to $34,000. The new total is $55,697 and Commissioners will likely do a supplemental appropriation to the Sheriff’s budget later in the year after the gaming money has been received. Sheriff Bruce Hartman explained that there wasn’t enough information at budget time to determine a realistic project cost. Sheriff Hartman, Undersheriff Jon Bayne, Communications Director/Emergency Preparedness Director Steve Watson and Facilities Manager Bill Paulman presented a final proposal and a review of the project.

Sheriff Hartman explained that the process of changing the communications capabilities had begun seven years ago, due to federal mandates, and that more than $3 million in grant money had been awarded to be used for communications updates in Gilpin County, Clear Creek County and Black Hawk. Federal funding will be used to replace all of the equipment currently in place on Dakota Mountain however Gilpin County is responsible for funding this tower.  Sheriff Hartman said the department had “Tried everything we can” to comply less expensively, but that federal authorities had denied all other options. Hartman had purchased a 160-foot used tower from the city of Wheat Ridge several years ago for $1. That tower will be re-assembled, modified, repaired and reinforced and an engineer must sign off on the completed tower to insure that it’s viable. The 120-foot tower will be located adjacent to the Justice Center on Dory Hill Road.

Commissioners approved the additional expenditure and a contract with Complete Wireless Technologies of Windsor, CO to do the structural engineering study, provide tower sections and parts, supervise the County’s Public Works personnel for the excavation and installation of a concrete pier and pad foundation, provide a crane for the tower’s erection, and all labor needed to repair and assemble the tower for the price of $45,924. Public Works can provide the labor but will need an additional $4,710 for excavator rental and a gated security fence. Add a 10% contingency allowance of $5,063 and the total project cost comes to $55,697. There is no project timeline, as yet, but the hope is to have the tower up by September. The federal mandate, after previously granting Gilpin a one year extension, now stipulates a deadline of December 31, 2013. If Commissioners can entice cell phone service providers to add their antennas to the tower, Gilpinites could see that service improve in the future. That would also add a source of revenue, Hartman pointed out.

Liquor License Fees

  Commissioners, acting as the Local Liquor licensing Authority, hear all liquor license applications for Gilpin County. In adopting Resolution 13-06, Commissioners set the liquor license application fees at $250 for new applications and transfers of applications; $100 for renewals; $500 for late renewals; $25 for Bed and Breakfast permits; $150 for change of location; $75 for special event permits (waived for non-profit organizations) and temporary permits; and $25 for tastings. The County previously had not set fees for Bed and Breakfast permits, change of location, special events, temporary events or tastings. Noting that there are staff and advertising costs associated with these permits, Liquor Licensing Clerk Sharon Cate and Clerk and Recorder Colleen Stewart had worked from the state fees schedule and set most of the County’s fees considerably lower than the law allows. Only the fee for late renewals was changed: from $250 to $500 per the state fee schedule. Commissioners approved the updated fee schedule.

Dory Hill Spirits Renewal

  Commissioners approved the annual liquor license renewal application for Dory Hill Spirits, located at 661 Highway 46 and operated by Kathleen Condreay. In addition to the County’s $100 application fee, the business also paid $313 to the State.

Departmental Reports

  The Sheriff’s Office Detentions Division April report shows 100 total bookings for the month (79 male). Of those arrested, eleven were Gilpinites. Seventy-five of the arrests were gaming- related.  The breakdown of arrests, by agency: Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office, 58; Black Hawk Police Department, 26; Central City Police Department, 7; Colorado State Patrol, 5; and Division of Gaming, 4. April’s average daily population of the jail was 51 inmates.

At Gilpin County Public Library, the March report showed 2,625 items circulated. In April, 2,371 items were circulated. Adult DVD movies and television series continue to top the list of checkouts with children’s and young adult materials of all kinds second in demand. E-book circulation for March was 133, and for April, 135. There were an estimated 1,189 visits during the 22 days the library was open in March, and 1,052 visits for the 21 days the library was open in April. A new photography exhibit, featuring the works of John and Julie Black, has been installed in the community room. The Blacks were selected by the Board of Library Trustees and Friends of the Library as this summer’s Artists-in-Residence. They will be presenting a series of free workshops on digital photography.

Veterans Officer Resigns

  Deni Darby, Gilpin’s Veteran Services Officer for the past six years, submitted a letter of resignation. He has decided to pursue a Masters of Divinity degree at Naropa University and be ordained as a Soto Zen Buddhist Monk, after which he looks forward to continue his work with veterans via the VA Medical Center where he has been volunteering for the past two years. Darby notes that during his years with Gilpin, the number of veterans receiving benefits increased, a peer-to-peer counseling group was started and a Memorial Day ceremony and Veterans Walk at the Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery in Rollinsville was established. His letter states that “a stabilizing influence is still needed, a trust in that the Veterans will not be forgotten.” Commissioner Schmalz commented, “We wish we did not have to do this,” and Commissioners accepted Darby’s resignation.  The position is being advertised.

Mine Safety

  Notified by the Colorado Inactive Mine Reclamation Program of a hazardous mine opening on County property, Commissioners gave their consent for the Whiting Mine Shaft 161 to be sealed to prevent unauthorized human access. The Whiting is located on Nevada Hill. The mine will be surveyed by a state biologist to determine if it is habitat for bats. If that’s the case, the type of seal used will maintain access for the bats. Funding for the mine sealing projects comes from fees paid by current coal mine operations, placed in trust by the Office of Surface Mining. There is no cost to the County.

New Copier

  Commissioners approved a four-year lease of a Toshiba copy machine for the Apex facility which serves the Human Resources, Finance and Facilities Management departments.  The cost to lease the machine for the remainder of this year is $682. In the following years, the annual cost will be $1,961. Human Resources Director Susie Allen said some of that cost will be recouped through reduced use of individual computer printers.

Attorney’s Update

  County Attorney Brad Benning told Commissioners that the Colorado Court of Appeals had ruled “mostly favorably” in the Brannan Sand and Gravel litigation which has been ongoing since 2008, when Commissioners denied a special use permit for Brannan’s proposed gravel quarry. Commissioners at that time were Jeanne Nicholson, Ron Slinger and Forest Whitman. That Court found that Brannan has no standing in the case, that their appeal is moot, and dismissed the case.

Brannan had also filed suit against the County, alleging that Commissioners in 2008 had violated Open Meetings law, essentially voting in secret to deny the quarry before doing so publicly. “That didn’t happen,” said Benning. The District Court had found in Gilpin’s favor on that charge and Brannan had appealed that decision, too. The Court of Appeals remanded that case back to the District Court, explaining that they felt that the District Court did not hear all the evidence, said Benning.  There are still several weeks of process to go through before a decision is made on that litigation.

Executive Session

  Following the business meeting, Commissioners met with Benning in Executive Session to discuss the Brannan litigation.

Heads Up

  Gilpin County Commissioners meet next on May 21, 2013.

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