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Gilpin continues current Emergency Operations Center activation level

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Commissioners approve Tincup Whiskey Resort annexation IGA

By Randy Beaudette

On September 15, 2020 the Gilpin Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) held a special online meeting that included topics such as the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Activation Level, and the InterGovernmental Annexation Agreement (IGA).

Board-Chair Gail Watson opened up the meeting promptly at 9:00 am along with Commissioners Ron Engels and Linda Isenhart. Also online were County Manager Abel Montoya, County Attorney Brad Benning, Deputy Clerk Sharon Cate, and several members from the Senior Leadership Team.

COVID-19 Update

Emergency Operations Center Manager Nathan Whittington informed the online audience the EOC is working with Jefferson County Public Health and Gilpin County Public Health to work out the details of the mass vaccination plan. The plan, in its early stages, will consists of a hybrid model based on the mass testing plan and the point of distribution plan in which the County has already adopted. The four-tier plan will decide which individuals get the vaccines first and who can hold off until a later date. “A lot depends on which vaccine gets approved” according to Mr. Whittington, “One vaccine has to be stored in an undefined ultra-cold environment prior to use.” A lot of logistics must be considered before such a plan is implemented. Regional Public Health Departments are trying to get an early start with planning for mass vaccinations to eliminate the confusion experienced at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Gilpin County Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Supplies

Whittington also shared that EOC has contacted the various County departments to establish the year-end need for PPE. Some departments have not responded, so Whittington along with County Manager Abel Montoya will discuss those projected needs and order accordingly.

Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Activation Level

Gilpin County Sheriff Kevin Armstrong and Emergency Operations Manager Nathan Whittington presented an update on the County’s Emergency Operations Center Activation Level. Mr. Whittington recommends that the status remain the same to support and provide much needed resources to the County. Currently the EOC has been operational for 185 days and within that time, the EOC has developed a system to streamline supply inventories, applied for and secured several grants, provided information through various channels to the public, developed working relationships with surrounding counties, and provided logistical support throughout Gilpin County. The EOC also provides COVID-related cost tracking to support the needs of the various grants. The EOC supports over $2.7 million dollars in grant funds through the tracking of volunteer hours, the AT&T project, tracking overtime and providing supplies. Commissioner Isenhart agreed that because COVID 19 is not going away anytime soon, the activation level of the EOC should remain unchanged. Commissioner Engels however had a different view of the subject. He suggested that because the situation in the County is not the same as it was six months ago, the EOC should no longer operate at the activation level that it has been. Mr. Whittington cautioned Commissioner Engels that closure of the EOC sends a message to FEMA and similar agencies the County is no longer responding to COVID-19 pandemic. This change of status jeopardizes the future of recovery fund reimbursements and limits any grant funding. Commissioner Engels responded that he is not interested in pursuing it any more. Sheriff Armstrong added that the Commissioners should take into consideration that the schools are opening soon and it is unknown the impact of the “Protect Our Neighbor” status along with the opening up of the table games. There is no cost to the County to keep the EOC open and it could only benefit the County to keep the EOC open. Sheriff Armstrong said he will keep the EOC open to support our community and protect the residents of the County. Commissioner Watson agreed that it should be up to the Sheriff’s Office whether to keep it open or not. The final decision was to keep the EOC on activation status until further notice.

Annexation InterGovernmental Agreement with Central City and Black Hawk

Gilpin County Attorney Benning presented the final draft of the IGA with Black Hawk and Central City. The IGA will establish Central City’s responsibility to maintain, provide future improvement, and control of the Lake Gulch Road which is one of the primary arteries into the Lake Gulch/ Whiskey Resort complex. Proximo Distillery plans to develop the site for the purpose of developing a distillery for the Tincup Whiskey brand. The development is proposed to include a distillery, barrelhouses, a visitor’s center, residential uses, guesthouse and cabins, a restaurant, event space, retail, parking and outdoor activities. Gilpin County Commissioners unanimously approved the IGA with some acronym corrections.

County Operations within “Protect Our Neighbors”

Gilpin County Manager Abel Montoya provided a look into the County operations under the new “Protect Our Neighbors” status. Gilpin County is one of only three Colorado counties that has been approved for this status. The Protect Our Neighbors Program provides support to counties and regions to continue to strengthen their Public Health and health care infrastructure. The State is making additional Federal CARES Act funding available to Public Health agencies that can apply for a Planning Grant of up to $50,000. These funds can be used to engage consultants, community partners, and finance communities impacted by and at an increased risk of COVID-19. County buildings will still have plexiglass shields in place, masks are still required in high volume traffic areas such as the Justice Center and the County Clerk’s office, and a brief symptom questionnaire needs to be filled out or answered verbally before entering the area. More public meetings will be held in-person adhering to the Gilpin Public Health guidelines as well as being broadcast online. Employees may opt to work online or in-person, but high-risk employees will be encouraged to continue to work online. Employees working from home have additional sustainability benefits to the County such as reducing our carbon footprint and less energy use in the buildings according to Jennifer Cook. There is less usage of PPE, less waste, less plastic, fewer emissions, and less exposure to other employees. In conclusion, inputs from the SLT and Public Health indicate that Gilpin County should take going into this new “normal” slowly, monitor results, and keep Gilpin employees safe.

DOLA Cares Act

County Manager Abel Montoya provided an updated report concerning the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) spending. $294,603 has been allocated through Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to Gilpin County for distribution of expenses related to COVID-19. The funds are not to be used as a budget backfill due to the lack of income revenue. The County is required to submit a COVID-related expense report for expenses the County has incurred between the dates of March 2020 thru September 2020. Total expenses during this period was $199,103.

Repairing JeffCo Guardrail

County Attorney Bradford Benning reported that unfortunately on July 21, a County employee rolled a County vehicle on Gap Road in Jefferson County damaging a guard rail. The good news is that the employee was unhurt, but Jefferson County has assessed the damage and is billing Gilpin County $8,085 for those damages. It was unclear during the meeting if the County’s liability insurance will cover the cost. Mr. Benning agreed to look into an insurance claim or consider Commissioner Watson’s suggestion, to allow Gilpin County Road and Bridge to repair the guardrail for JeffCo.

County Tax Calculator

Residents have been contacting the County Manager stating that the tax calculator on the County’s website indicates that with the increase in the mil levy, their taxes will be half of what they are currently paying. Mr. Montoya responded that the numbers are what property owners pay to the County only. It does not include the School or Timberline portion of their taxes. For more info, visit www.co.gilpin.co.us.

Voter’s Blue Book Update

  The Voter’s Blue Book that voters receive clarifies the issues for the upcoming ballot. It is required to have “Pro” and “Con” statements for each issue. As of September 14, the Clerk and Recorder’s office has not received any comments regarding the mil levy increase for the Sheriff’s Department and Parks and Recreation. Pro and Con comments are welcome until 12:00 pm Friday, September 18. To comment on the issues, visit www.co.gilpin.co.us and select Clerk and Recorder’s Office. The Blue Book also requires that financial data be included under the issues in question. When it arrives, refer to your Blue Book to obtain this important information.      

Legal Advice

Gilpin County Commissioners approved a motion to adjourn into Executive Session to confer with the County Attorney for the purpose of receiving legal advice on specific legal questions regarding road right-of-way under C.R.S. Section 24-6-402(4)(b).

Next Meeting

The Gilpin Board of County Commissioner regular meeting will be online September 22, 2020 at 9:00 am.

Stay Up-to Date

To stay informed in this very dynamic environment, go to www.co.gilpin.co.us.

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