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Gilpin Commissioners approve Thorn Lake School restoration

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Forest Service proposes prescribed burns and intentionally set fires

By Randy Beaudette

Funds for the Thorn Lake School restoration, a new position request for a Special Events Coordinator, and a Restoration Initiative presentation by the US Forrest service were some of the highlights from the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting held on October 8, 2019.

Madam Chair Linda Isenhart opened up the meeting promptly at 9:00 a.m. with Commissioners Ron Engels and Gail Watson. Also present were County Attorney Jim Petrock, County Manager Abel Montoya, and Deputy Clerk to the Board Sharon Cate.

Special Events Coordinator

Gilpin County Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Benedict and Human Resources Director Susie Allen presented request to re-classify the part-time Fair Coordinator position to a full-time Special Events Coordinator. The position will still coordinate and organize the County Fair, but added responsibilities will include organizing community and departmental special events, handling and inquiries and reservations for the Gilpin County Community Center, Ballfields Exhibition Barn, and the outdoor arena. The Gilpin County BOCC approved the new position unanimously.

Human Resources (HR) Report

Human Resources Director Susie Allen presented the HR report for the month of September 2019. The report shows that there currently fourteen positions open from Lifeguard at the pool, to Caseworker III for Human Services, to Detentions Officer at the jail just to name a few. The report also features the scheduling of a Defensive Driver Training on October 29, Drug and Alcohol Awareness Training in November, and the many projects that the HR department has scheduled in the next few months. The Commissioners expressed their satisfaction with the report and coined it a “useful tool” in their decision making process.

Thorn Lake School Restoration

Gilpin County Community Development Director Stephen Strohminger presented the 2014 Thorn Lake School Assessment report and was seeking guidance from the Commissioners as to how to move forward to preserve this historic structure. Built circa 1896 as a one room schoolhouse, the Thorn Lake School educated rural children in Gilpin County School District #10 until 1931. The building was then repurposed as a volunteer fire department to protect residents in and around Rollinsville in the 1960’s and 70’s. The building was designated a Gilpin County Landmark in 2007 as a rare example of a one room schoolhouse and later donated to Gilpin County in 2012 and moved to its present site. A Historic Structure Assessment was completed in 2014 with funding from the State Historical Fund. Within that report, recommendations for rehabilitation work as well as recommendations for proposed use which is to make Thorn Lake School a public historical site. Gilpin County Commissioners approved $70,000 to preform “Phase One” rehabilitation, which will involve work to the roof, foundation, flooring, and grading, and “Phase Two” which will include siding, trim, and exterior paint, doors, and windows. The Commissioners will debate approving “Phase Three” (Electrical, HVAC etc.) sometime in the future. The approved funds are needed to prevent further deterioration of the existing building. Further funding may be provided through grants from the State Historical Fund, Certified Local Government grants, Great Outdoors Colorado, and Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).

Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative Proposal

U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Clear Creek District Ranger Scott Haas and Forest Supervisor Monte Williams presented a proposal to the Commissioners that in collaboration with Gilpin County, to procure available Federal funds for mitigation and fire control to reduce the risk of large catastrophic mega fires such as those that occurred in Paradise, California. Forest treatment and new techniques for mitigation basically started three years ago in northern Colorado where the Forest Service owns a large portion of land to experiment and collect data using these new techniques. A YouTube video by USFS Sr. Landscape Ecologist Dr. Paul Hessburg was presented focusing on the constantly evolving patchwork of open and closed canopy forests that we inherited. This patchwork forest prevented the mega fires from developing, keeping fires localized to a small area. In recent history humans have influenced the forest by eliminating this patchwork through the building of roads and railroads, logging the largest of trees leaving the smaller thin barked fire sensitive trees, and by declaring fire as the “Number one enemy” and extinguishing them as soon as possible. Dr. Hessman explained that we need to learn to use fire as a tool and let fire do the job that fire does best to create this patchwork and prevent the forming of these large scale fires. After the video, additional information was shared with the Commissioners concerning the forest treatments already planned in Boulder, Clear Creek, and Gilpin Counties. The biggest hurdle that stands in the way of these treatments is the social acceptance of these new techniques. Prescribed burns and intentionally set fires are attached with a stigma that will be hard to publicly overcome. The Commissioners thanked the USFS employees for their presentation.

Law Enforcement Shooting Range Lease

  Gilpin County Commissioners approved a Lease Agreement for the Law Enforcement Shooting Range as presented by Gilpin County Sheriff Kevin Armstrong. The Lease is between Goltra Ranch L.L.C., a Delaware Limited Liability Company and Gilpin County for a term of one year effective October 1, 2019. The rental Term shall be $6,000 which will be payable in monthly installments of $500 per month.

Employee Insurance Renewal

Human Resources Director Susie Allen and Moody Insurance Agent Cheryl Harding presented the Gilpin County Employee Insurance Renewal proposal for 2020. Carriers for Dental, Eye Care, and Healthcare are the same as last year. Life, Long-term Care, and Accidental Death insurance will soon be carried by The Hartford as opposed to Sunlife. The change will result in a .62% decrease in premiums thus reducing the costs to Gilpin County. Gilpin County BOCC approved the renewal proposal unanimously.

County Manager’s Report

County Manager Abel Montoya reported that a code violation warning letter that was sent out to a property owner on Virginia Canyon Road stating that they are in violation of a commercial use on the property. The property was being rented by a family as an automatic weapon firing range for a one-time, single family event. The automatic weapons were supplied by Machine Gun Tours who also provided Range Safety Officers. Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office responded to complaints of automatic gun fire on the property and upon arrival found that all the weapons were in compliance and there was no alcohol involved, and no summons or cease or desist order issued and the activity was allowed to continue. The property owner has ten days to respond to Community Development Department to discuss compliance before a second warning is issued.

Meeting Minutes

Gilpin County Commissioners approved the meeting minutes from the September 3rd and September 24th regular meetings, and the October 1st special meeting with no corrections or amendments.

Public Meetings

October 17, Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – BoCC Work Session, Gilpin County Courthouse 203 Eureka Street

Executive Session

Gilpin County Commissioners moved to adjourn into Executive Session per CRS, 24-6-402(4)(e) Determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations; developing strategy for negotiations; and instructing negotiators; and CRS, 24-6-402(4)(b) Conferences with an attorney for the local public body for the purposes of receiving legal advice on specific legal questions.

Next Meeting

The next Gilpin County Commissioners regular meeting will be October 22, 2019 at 9:00 AM at the Gilpin County Courthouse at 203 Eureka St. Central City, Colorado. For more information visit the Gilpin County website at http://gilpincounty.org.

 

 

 

 

 

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