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We’re watching – don’t speed in Gilpin County!

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Commissioners deal with sport shooting, mental health, and gaming impact prioritization

By Randy Beaudette

Speeding traffic on Highway 119, a Mental Health Proclamation for the month of May, and a discussion concerning dispersed shooting within the County were just examples of the many agenda items that the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) took on during their regular meeting on May 4, 2021.

Board-Chair Linda Isenhart opened up the meeting at 9:00 am along with Commissioners Web Sill and Sandy Hollingsworth. Also joining online were County Manager Abel Montoya, County Attorney Brad Benning, Deputy Clerk Sharon Cate, and members from the Senior Leadership Team.

Public Comments

Resident Stu Swineford commented on dispersed shooting and the health and safety of county residents. He asked the Commissioners to take a stand on this issue and enforce the existing laws that are in place.

COVID Update

Public Health Coordinator Bonnie Albrecht informed the folks online that in the last seven days, thirteen new cases have been reported. Also, 51% of the County’s population has had their first dose of the COVID vaccine with 35% fully vaccinated. Demand for vaccines has dwindled in this past week and soon the County will only offer second doses unless demand increases. New state mask mandates will allow no mask wearing if 80% of the occupants have been vaccinated and must show proof through their vaccination card. Restaurant employees can be unmasked if 85% of the staff are vaccinated and must show proof through their vaccination card. Mask orders are still in place in Gilpin County whereas all occupants indoors must wear masks, and outdoors too if the 6-foot distance rule cannot be maintained. The new orders are very confusing according to Ms. Albrecht. “Hopefully there will be more clarification in the coming week.” A comment in the Zoom Chat reminded everyone that it is a violation of the State’s HIPAA (privacy) laws to ask for any health-related information and people are not required to volunteer such information.

Gilpin County Emergency Manager Nathan Whittington shared that the Emergency Operations Center continues to support Public Health with vaccination and testing operations. Gilpin now has two vaccination centers at the Ameristar Casino and another opened up at the Monarch Casino.

FEMA Funds Overview

Gilpin County Emergency Manager Nathan Whittington also presented an overview of FEMA funds that the County has utilized or expects to utilize in the future. The first reimbursement for the period from January 1 to May 1 is expected to be around $12,992 for equipment and vaccine support related activities.

Mental Health Proclamation

Board of County Commissioners of Gilpin County proclaimed May 2021 as Mental Health Month and calls upon all citizens, government agencies, public and private institutions, businesses, and schools to recommit our communities and resources to increasing awareness, and understanding of mental health, providing appropriate and accessible services for all citizens, and making mental health a priority.

Gaming Impact Funds Prioritization

Staff Accountant Lora Plamondon presented a “Prioritization of the Local Government Limited Gaming Impact Grant Program” of which the Gilpin BoCC approved unanimously. The purpose of the Local Government Limited Gaming Grant Program is to provide financial assistance to eligible governments to address documented gaming impacts stemming from limited stakes gaming in the communities of Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, and Central City. The 2021 grant award is expected be around $1.7 million dollars. After some discussion priorities are as follows: Sheriff’ Department Patrol Division, Sheriff’s Department Detentions Division, Gilpin Ambulance, Victim Services, Eagle’s Nest, Jefferson County Mental Health, and the First Judicial District.

Treasurer’s Report

Gilpin County Treasurer Mary Lorenz presented the Treasurer’s Report for the month of March 2021. The report shows that the County is still lagging behind last years numbers. Grand Total for March 2021 is around $16.3 million dollars, whereas March 2020 was around $17.2 million dollars. County taxes collected indicate a little more confidence that residents have for the future with a 2.7% increase over last year’s numbers. Ms. Lorenz commended the County departments for cutting back on spending, and the current report indicates that the County is financially moving in a positive direction.

Board of Health: On Site Wastewater Treatment Variance (BOH-21-1)

Gilpin County Planner Tami Archer presented an Onsite Wastewater Treatment Variance on behalf of Kristina Lang on Apex Valley Road. The applicant is requesting to continue to use a system that uses a vault privy. The residence was established in 1894 on a lot in the historic town of Apex and is one of the last extant buildings in the town. The site was evaluated by local septic engineer Mike Ikler for a potential full Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS), but due to the terrain and the abundance of water on the property, an installation of a OWTS is impossible. Mr. Ikler believes that a vault, which is equipped with a visual and audio float alarm, is sufficient for this one bedroom, one bath dwelling. There were no comments in favor nor opposed to BOH 21-1 and Gilpin County Board of Health unanimously approved the variance for a vault system.

Church Ditch Water Lease

A Water Rights Lease between lessor Gilpin County and lessee Gary Gambino was requested for 4 inches of water from the Church Ditch water rights. The lease and its effectiveness are contingent upon the lessee paying Gilpin County $680. The term of the agreement will be for the 2021 irrigation season only. Gilpin County commissioners agreed to approve the Church Ditch Water lease agreement.

Dispersed Shooting

A discussion concerning disperse shooting in the County and on Federal land was held during Commissioner’s meeting with special guest US Forest Service (USFS) District Ranger Scott Haas. Board-Chair Isenhart open up the discussion stating that the most frequent complaints that she receives are concerned with dispersed shooting on US Forest land and in subdivisions. Mr. Haas began, stating that this is a complex problem that requires complex solutions. The USFS has been working on this issue since 2013 in collaboration with the Northern Front Range Shooting Management Partnership which includes Gilpin, Larimer, Boulder, and Clear Creek Counties as well as Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife to achieve some solutions to this problem. In order to close Forest Service land for sport shooting, ranges would have to be constructed throughout the area. But construction for those ranges can be expensive and establishing land for those ranges can be an extensive process. Gilpin County has partnered up with Clear Creek County to expand Clear Creek’s existing range along I-70. The USFS has also secured some vacant land in southern Clear Creek County (South of I-70) for a shooting range along the Mt. Evans road to be named The Devils Nose Range, which is expected to open in 2022. Once that is complete, sport shooting south of I-70 will be prohibited on Federal lands. Licensed legal hunting will still be allowed in those areas that are closed to sport shooting.  Currently sport shooting on USFS land is prohibited near Mile Marker 11.5 along Highway 119 near Hwy 46. Signs were posted in the area, but they have been vandalized and/or removed.  A project to replace those signs has been recently completed for the summer. Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office will provide enforcement to ensure those areas remain as no sport shooting areas. The other no sport shooting area in the County is on Pisgah Road where residents have reported several bullet holes in buildings on the property including a residence. For more information go to www.co.gilpin.co.us and click “County Commissioners,” then click “Recreational Sport Shooting Collaborative” on the left side of the screen.

Fitness Contracts

Gilpin County Parks and Recreation (P&R) Guest Services Coordinator Joline Logan presented an informational item in which Gilpin County P&R has an opportunity to participate in several insurance based fitness programs such as Bright Health and CIGNA’s Silver Fit and United Health Care’s Renew Active. If P&R partners with these programs, many members with these insurance providers will be able to use the facility at no cost to them. Both of these programs will reimburse the County for $3 per drop-in, up to 10 drop-ins a month per member. In 2019, P&R had 10,471 senior drop-ins (approximately 3,000 were for free senior lunch) so an estimated revenue using 2019 visits potentially could be 7,471 x $3 = $22,413 in a non-COVID year. Gilpin P&R contacted the Silver Sneakers Program, but to date there has been no reply.

Legal: Peaceful Protests and Use of Force Policy (Resolution 21-06)

County Attorney Brad Benning presented Resolution 21-06 which prohibits excessive force against individuals engaging in peaceful protests. Because Gilpin County applied for State of Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) Community Development Block Grant Funds for the new Human Services/ Public Health building, the County is required to adopt policies similar to Resolution 21-06 in order to receive such funds. Therefore: It is policy of the Board to prohibit use the use of excessive force by law enforcement agencies within its jurisdiction against individuals engaged in nonviolent civil rights demonstrations. It is policy of the Board to enforce applicable State and local laws that prohibit physically barring entrance to or exit from a facility or location which is subject of nonviolent civil rights demonstrations within its jurisdiction. Gilpin County Commissioners unanimously approved a motion to adopt Resolution 21-03.    

Speeding on Highway 119

Gilpin County Manager Abel Montoya shared the fact that with the warmer weather, complaints about speeding traffic along State Highway 119 have increased. In order to resolve this issue, Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado State Patrol have agreed to step up patrol and enforcement along that route. The State Patrol has agreed to initiate a Town Hall with Gilpin County residents to listen to solutions and share experiences. Date and times are pending currently, so watch the Gilpin County website for that information.

Ethics and Secondary Employment Policy

County Manager Abel Montoya presented the latest change in the Gilpin County Employee Handbook concerning ethics and secondary employment. There are circumstances where an employee may work as an independent contractor for the County. If having secondary employment or participating in any other activities that may give rise to apparent conflict of interest or which may adversely affect an employee’s ability to carry out assigned duties and responsibilities, the activities shall be avoided. The employee shall discuss such contemplated activities with their supervisor before engaging in such activities. Gilpin County Commissioners unanimously approved a motion to adopt the new changes to the employee handbook.

Rx Affordability Support

Gilpin County Commissioners submitted a Letter of Support to the State Legislature for Senate Bill 175 which concerns medical prescription affordability.

Meeting Minutes

In two separate motions, the Commissioners approved the Meeting Minutes from the April 20, 2021 regular meeting, and the April 30,2021 special meeting with no corrections or amendments.

Next Meeting

The next online regular Commissioner meeting is scheduled for May 18, 2021 at 9:00 am. For more information, go to www.co.gilpin.co.us.

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