Gilpin County recreation closed to non-residents

Commissioners adhere to state-wide “Stay at Home” edict

By Randy Beaudette

The Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) held a Special Meeting on March 31, 2020 via internet as a virtual meeting to exercise social distancing requirements. Madam Chair Gail Watson opened up the meeting at 9:00 am and joining online were 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.

Emergency Operations and Public Health Update

Emergency Manager Nate Whittington and Public Health Coordinator Bonnie Albrecht provided an update from the Gilpin County Emergency Operations Center. Ms. Albrecht shared that Currently Colorado has 2,627 cases, 51 deaths, and so far 15,364 people have been tested with zero cases being reported in Gilpin County. Mr. Whittington informed the online audience that the focus now is to partner with Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) to coordinate and plan for the Mass Care Initiative policies. The Mass Care facilities are large, open space areas that will provide follow up care and treatment once COVID patients are stable. This will free up much needed space in hospitals and clinics.

Fire Ban Discussion

  Gilpin County Sheriff Kevin Armstrong led the discussion of a fire ban during the emergency declaration in Gilpin County. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) suggested that residents statewide reduce any unnecessary burning such as slash pile burns or controlled burns to eliminate any respiratory issues that may arise during the COVID outbreak. Timberline Chief Paul Ondr responded that as long as residents follow the requirements of the burn permit and there’s snow on the ground, there really is not a big issue in that perspective, but if the State and JCPH suggests that permit holders not burn during this time, then that should be left up to the experts. Gilpin County Commissioners did not implement a fire ban of any kind, but they do suggest that when permit holders contact dispatch that they be notified of the suggestions from CDPHE. To burn any kind of slash pile, residents need a burn permit issued by the local fire authority and another issued by the State.

Road Closures Discussion

County Manager Abel Montoya and the County Commissioners shared the actions and the reasons the Gilpin County Board of Health ordered a non-resident closures of county roads. The weekend prior to the closure when Denver was on a Stay at Home order, it was estimated that 1,300 people were recreating at the East Portal on Tolland Road that resulted in five accidents of unknown origin. Vehicles parking on both sides of the road restricted access for emergency vehicles and egress. The Forest Service informed Gilpin County that they were closing the port-a-potties to safeguard their employees from the COVID virus. With the sanitation and parking issues and the lack of resources to respond to emergencies in the area, the Board of Health decided that it would be in the best interest to issue a non-resident road closures to Tolland, Apex, and Columbine Campground Roads. Last weekend the estimated count was about 200 cars spread out over three days. Per the state-wide Stay at Home order from Governor Polis, residents are encouraged to recreate in their own area.

Virtual Town Hall Schedule

Future Town Hall meetings will be held on April 6, April 20, and May 4, at 6:00 pm.

Meeting Recording Retention

Gilpin County Administrator Jamie Tirado informed the Commissioners that recordings of the Regular and Special meetings will be retained on with a link that has established on the Gilpin County Home page. The Commissioners approved a motion to retain all virtual meetings for a period of ninety days.

New Position Approval

Gilpin County Human Resource (HR) Director Lori Schrader requested approval for new positions in accordance with the moratorium on hiring new employees recently approved. There are 18 deficiencies with HR moving forward with seven positions which are two full-time and one part-time janitors, an office assistant for the Clerk and Recorder, Human Services caseworker, maintenance worker for Public Works, a Communications Specialist and Communications Supervisor for dispatch, and a Detentions Officer for the Sheriff’s office. The remaining positions will be approved on an as-needed basis.

Legal Status

Gilpin County Attorney Brad Benning announced that he is seeking clarification with surrounding courts on the matter of process serving. With the limitation of law enforcement and judicial resources, it is not clear which process servings have priority and which don’t. Mr. Benning also wanted to reach out to CDPHE to inquire about COVID prevention policies pertaining to child care facilities.

County Manager’s Report

County Manager Abel Montoya announced that the staff is working hard to integrate public communications system to keep residents informed via the Gilpin County website, at mid-page “Click here for more information,” and additional information about any services or programs available to residents and businesses will be displayed.

Notice of Public Meetings

A schedule of the online meetings are available on the County website > Commissioners> Meeting Notices.

FAA Metroplex Update

Attorney Benning informed online participants that he filed the petition on behalf of Gilpin County Friday March 20th along with Arapahoe County and the City of Greenwood Village against the Denver Metroplex aviation routing project to refute the FAA’s decision issuing a positive finding of no significant impact. Gilpin County requested a record of review to challenge those decisions. The court accepted the petition and a brief is expected on May 8, 2020.

Approval of Minutes

Gilpin County Commissioners approved the meeting minutes from March 12,19, 24, and 26,  2020 meetings with no corrections.

Executive Session

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

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