Getting current updates about COVID-19 to residents in real-time
By Randy Beaudette
The Gilpin County Commissioners held a Special Meeting on March 26, 2020 via internet as a virtual meeting due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Present online was Madam Chair Gail Watson along with Commissioners Linda Isenhart and Ron Engels, County Manager Abel Montoya, County Attorney Brad Benning, Gilpin County Sheriff Kevin Armstrong, and Deputy County Clerk Sharon Cate.
Essential Services Update
Human Services Director Laura Solomon presented a Human Services update regarding essential services available from the County. An increase of needs has put demand on Gilpin County and other Counties across Colorado of the likes never experienced before. Residents are encouraged to contact Human Services in their own County for access to local and State funds. Due to the need for additional staff to process applications and answer questions, Human Services has sent out for help from other Gilpin County Departments to tap into resources which are underutilized during the Emergency Declaration.
Senior Meals on Wheels are making thirteen deliveries daily to which there has not been any increase in those numbers. Senior Services has regularly been checking in on seniors to make sure they are not in need of additional services such as Meal-on Wheels or prescription pick-up.
Food bank update: Boxes have been made up and are ready to anyone who needs them. Venerable and senior residents who cannot pick up a food box, can call Human Services and arrange front door delivery by County employees. Donations of food and money is always welcome to help Human Services get through this high demand period. Expired and non- typical food will not be accepted. “If you won’t eat it, we won’t hand it out.” Checks need to be made out to the Food Bank. Application assistance and eligibility determination is available on the Human Services web site: www.co.gilpin.co.us/departments/human_services.
Gilpin County Public Health Coordinator Bonnie Albrecht and Gilpin County Sheriff Kevin Armstrong presented an update on the COVID-19 outbreak. Sheriff Armstrong announced that Gilpin County has opened up a new website sharing COVID-19 information at COVID19@gilpincounty.org or call 303-515-4342 Monday thru Friday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Ms. Albright informed the Board that Colorado now has 1,086 cases, 19 deaths, affecting 36 Counties. (*Editor’s update: 51 deaths, and 2,500+ cases in Colorado as of Tuesday 3/31.) There are still zero cases in Gilpin County. The “Stay at Home” order from Governor Polis is in effect. Restaurants can still remain open for carry-out service as in the past. Gilpin Public Health posted information about the order. There are five restaurants still open in the County that are open and available for takeout only. Gilpin County does not have any testing capabilities yet. For now, folks that are experiencing symptoms need to see their health care provider. “They’re only testing severe cases,” Ms. Albrecht stated, and “If you have milder symptoms, stay at home and stay away from others.”
Public Health Advisory Board Discussion
Gilpin County Commissioners recessed and resumed as the Gilpin County Board of Health to conduct a discussion with Gilpin County Public Health Advisory Board. Elaina Gutierrez, Kathleen Harvey, and Jamie Fanselow joined the online meeting to introduce themselves and be included in a discussion of possible road closures.
Closure of Roads
Gilpin County Board of Health approved an emergency motion to close Toland Road, Apex Road at Hwy 119, and Columbine Campground Road above Central City to non-residents only during the State mandated Stay at Home order. Gilpin County residents and essential services will be exempt.
Small Business Administration Letter
Commissioner Engels completed the final draft of the letter to the Small Business Administration requesting that the prohibition be lifted on those casinos that fall under definition of a small business, and to request for a reduction in interest be implemented during the COVID-19 outbreak to assist small businesses in recovery.
Library Services Discussion
Library Director Michael Carlson informed the Commissioners that the Library remains closed, but he encourages residents to use the online services for e-books, e-audio files, and streaming movies are available at www.gilpinlibrary.org. There is a limit of ten movies a month that cardholders can borrow.
Canyon Cares Funding Request
Madam-Chair Gail Watson announced that on March 25, 2020 the Commissioners received a funding request from Canyon Cares, which is a non-profit that serves residents throughout the Peak to Peak area. Gilpin County usually gives $1,000 annually, but with influx of needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canyon Cares requested that Gilpin County provide additional funding to provide additional services. The County’s Emergency Fund balance, administered through Human Services, was unknown at the time of this meeting. The Commissioners requested time to take a look at the Emergency Fund before making any donations to Canyon Cares. In the interim, any Gilpin County residents seeking assistance from Canyon Cares should be referred to Gilpin County Human Services for that assistance.
Anyone wishing to donate to Canyon Cares, go to https://canyoncares.org/donate/
Gilpin County Manager Abel Montoya presented a possible outlook for the year 2020. Revenues for 2019 were roughly $23.6 million dollars, but with the temporary closing of the casinos, revenue projection is expected to be estimated at $19 million dollars. The drop in revenue is based on casinos closing through the month of April with a possible extension and a slow recovery. 2021 revenue projection is expected to be approximately $20.5 million dollars. With these lower revenue projections, expenditures will also be down. Items that are authorized in the 2020 budget have been prioritized according to their need. Close analysis of these expenditures would result in a reduction of approximately $1.6 million dollars. Some of those reductions include vehicle purchases, a sewage vault for the Justice Center, a hiring delay for open positions that are considered non-essential services, and job sharing in lieu of hiring between County departments. Stimulus and bridge loans funding for small government is also available to ease the impact of the budget adjustments. Mr. Montoya and the Senior Leadership Team will review the individual line items with each department to further prioritize delayable or unneeded expenditures. The Commissioners all agreed that work should continue on the Human Services/ Public Health building for the meantime since the biggest portion of the renovation expenses are covered by a DOLA grant. Commission Isenhart reiterated that she doesn’t want to delay the renovation unless there is some unforeseen craziness along with the COVID-19. “This project is vital to this community that gives our residents hope as well as it shows that there is something to look forward to, and it is a wonderful center that we all need that will free up some much needed room that the Sheriff’s office needs to expand into.”
The final projection sheet will be posted for public review in the future, but with the given dynamics of our current environment, changes are occurring hourly and the document would be obsolete by the time it gets posted.
Virtual Town Hall Debriefing
Gilpin County Manager Abel Montoya informed Commissioner meeting participants that when the virtual Town Hall began, the capacity of the Zoom bandwidth was 100 people. It was soon realized that the capacity needed to be increased to 300 people after 150 people joined in, plus an unknown number were watching in Facebook Live. Currently the capacity will remain at 300 for further meetings.
Future Virtual Townhalls
Virtual Town Halls will be conducted every two weeks on Monday at 6:00 pm. The next meeting will be Monday April 6, 2020.
For up-to-date information and the next meeting refer to the Gilpin County website at www.co.gilpin.co.us.