Gilpin designated as fire evacuation center

County Commissioners support forest closures and public health order to limit personal gatherings

By Randy Beaudette

On October 26, 2020 Gilpin Board of County Commissioners held an emergency online meeting that discussed continuation of Disaster Declaration for Gilpin County, a past report on the newest Public Health Order, and road closures in and to the National Forest.

Board-Chair Gail Watson opened up the meeting promptly at 11:00 am along with Commissioners Ron Engels and Linda Isenhart. Joining online were County Manager Abel Montoya, County Attorney Brad Benning, Deputy Clerk Sharon Cate, and members from the Senior Leadership Team.

COVID-19 Update

Public Health Coordinator Bonnie Albrecht reported that Gilpin County COVID positive cases remains at 28 with one case from Logan County that was incorrectly reported as a Gilpin case because this individual listed their permanent address in Gilpin County.

Food Bank Report  

Human Services Team Member Jennifer Josselyn reported that the turnout for Human Services Holiday Drive was successful and the shelves are stocked. There is still a need for additional food and donations which can be dropped off at anytime between the doors, in the foyer, of the Justice Center. Ms. Josselyn thanked all the volunteers who helped in the frigid weather and all who donated food and the much-needed cash. For additional needs, visit the Gilpin County Human Services Facebook page and donate.    

Disaster Declaration Continuation

On October 18, Gilpin County was designated an evacuation, shelter and care location for Boulder, Larimer, and Grand Counties in response to catastrophic and record setting wildfires raging in Colorado. Gilpin County was designated to assist in those mass evacuation operations involving people and animals endangered and displaced by the Cameron Peaks fire in Larimer County, the East Troublesome Creek fire in Grand County, and the CalWood and Lefthand Canyon fire in Boulder County. All of these fires are contributing to wide spread loss of life, homes, businesses, property, forests, and resources. The Gilpin County Office of Emergency Management (EOM) is assisting with state and local governments in local and regional planning, monitoring , assistance providing fire and weather conditions along with available resources. Gilpin County Emergency Manager Nate Whittington reported that fire evacuation operations are ongoing and are expected to continue long term. Currently there 80 rooms reserved for evacuees located at the Ameristar Casino & Hotel, and another 159 rooms located at the Isle Casino & Hotel. Currently 109 rooms are being utilized by evacuees. There are also 200 plus animals sheltered at the barn with a few leaving daily to be reunited with their owners. However, it is understood that some of the displaced animal owners may not have facilities to care for them, sheltering these animals as well as the evacuees may be long term with the assistance of Red Cross, Salvation Army and numerous volunteer organizations. With the information provided, County Commissioners approved a motion to adopt the fourth amendment to the Disaster Declaration formally approved on March 14, 2020 to include regional wildfire assistance which will expire on December 31, 2020 or until cancelled by the Commissioners.

Cold Temps in Event Barn

Two of the four heaters in the County event barn were not operational Sunday evening, October 25 when fire evacuees started arriving in Gilpin. Overnight temperature dipped down to minus 16 degrees outside, though inside the barn the temperature hovered around 44 to 51 degrees, making for a cool night for the animal care volunteers and the evacuated animals. The Recreation Center also has three heaters that are not operational along with one frozen fire suppression line. Public Works is working to get the heaters back on line as well as thaw out the frozen line before Monday evening the 26th which is expected to be colder still.

October 21, 2020 Special Meeting

Public Health Order Limits Personal Gatherings

Gilpin County Board of Health approved Public Health Order (PHO) 20-13 on October 21, 2020 which limits the number of people at personal gatherings at county residences and short-term rentals to five guests indoors and ten guests outdoors. According to Commissioner Isenhart, “Governor Polis issued an Executive Order later which limits all personal gatherings to a maximum of ten people or up to two households regardless of the recovery status in the County. The Governors executive order will apply to the extent that it is more restrictive than Gilpin County’s PHO 20-13.” It is expected that the latest PHO may be amended or cancelled in upcoming meetings to align with the State order.

Forest Service Land Closures (Resolution 20-21)  

Also, on October 21st, Gilpin County Commissioner Board addressed the closure of United States Forest Service Land due to the extremely high fire danger. Passage of Resolution 20-21 implemented access closures of the following roads: Tolland, Apex Valley, Columbine Campground, Bald Mountain, Missouri Gulch, Gamble Gulch, Moon Gulch, Lump Gulch, Lower Travis Gulch, and any other county roads that provide access to the Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests. County residents who live within the affective areas as well as service contractors will be allowed to travel on these roads with the proper credentials.

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