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Zero COVID-19 cases in Gilpin County

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Commissioners hold virtual meeting, all casinos and bars are closed

By Randy Beaudette

For the first time in history, the Gilpin County Commissioners held their regular meeting on March 17, 2020 via internet as a virtual meeting due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Present online was Commissioner Chair Gail Watson along with Commissioners Linda Isenhart and Ron Engels, County Manager Abel Montoya, County Attorney Brad Benning, and Deputy County Clerk Sharon Cate.

COVID-19 Update

Gilpin County Public Health Coordinator Bonnie Albrecht and Emergency Manager Nathen Whittington hosted an informational session to provide some up-to-date stats and information for the Commissioners. As of March 17th, 160 people in Colorado have tested positive for COVID-19, zero in Gilpin County but all the surrounding counties have at least one case with Grand County being the only exception. Ms. Albrecht stated that anyone who has visited Eagle, Summit, Pitkin, or Gunnison Counties should minimize social contact due to the influx of cases in those areas. She continued that Gilpin County is working closely with Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) for information and resources. Governor Polis has ordered all casinos and bars closed at 8:00 am on March 17 for a duration of thirty days. According to Ms. Albright it is unclear who provides enforcement of these closures. Casinos face fines of up to $1,000 per day and possible jail time for non-compliance. Mr. Whittington added that the Emergency Operations Center has been activated and is working on plans to provide resources for Meals-on-Wheels, the food kitchen, and the Senior Lunch Program. Gilpin County Attorney Brad Benning has completed a policy change that would allow County Employees to pick-up prescription for seniors who are not able to get to a pharmacy. As a final note, the Commissioners agreed to hold emergency meetings twice a week for the next few weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays while the COVID-19 emergency declaration is in effect.

FAA update

Gilpin County Attorney Brad Benning informed online participants the he will file Gilpin County’s petition on Friday along with Arapahoe County and the City of Green wood Village against the Denver Metroplex. The deadline to file is March 24, 2020. Commissioner Gail Watson attended a meeting with Senator Gardner and FAA administrator Stephan Dixon. Ms. Watson reported that the meeting was surprisingly informative and somewhat conciliatory. Mr. Dixon stated that the FAA needs to improve their community engagement program and he promised a meeting in Gilpin County, but with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, this will not happen anytime soon. In conclusion, the FAA is more open to hearing comments, but whether they will act on those comments is the question that is yet to be answered.

Sheriff’s Office Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP)

Gilpin County Manager Abel Montoya presented the initial draft of the Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) to the Commissioners. The objective of COOP planning is to identify critical government functions and their interdependencies. “Critical Functions” are defined as those that cannot be disrupted for over 12 hours without impacting or severely impeding legal/ regulatory compliance, public safety/ security, and critical infrastructure, revenue, or community relations. COOP plans are required to be concise and easily useable tools during an event to help guide key decision makers as they develop strategy, allocate resources and provide support to responding entities. They are also living documents that require maintenance as the organization’s structure and people change. COOP plans should also be updated to reflect lessons learned through process testing and actual events. Mr. Montoya will meet with the County’s Senior Leadership Team for inputs then passed on to the Commissioners for discussion and approval in the near future.

Treasurer’s Report

Gilpin County Treasurer Mary Lorenz presented the Treasurer’s report for the month of January 2020 to the Commissioners. The Monthly Reports show that once again that the percentage of Property Taxes collected is slightly ahead of last year’s numbers for a Grand Total of $16.9 million dollars – a little more than $400,000 over the January 2019 Grand Total. There were no questions from the Commissioners and the report was accepted.

Financial Discussion

With the declaration of emergency and the idling of Gilpin County’s largest industry, the Commissioners are concerned about financial health of the County. Madam Chair Watson stated that to move ahead “Business as usual” would be fiscally irresponsible especially the big-ticket capital items. New radios for emergency services and the renovation of the Human Services/ Public Health building are two projects that are necessary, but come at a high cost. The Commissioners agreed to establish a Recovery Planning Team that will revisit the current budget and solicit inputs from Gilpin County departments to establish several plans that would satisfy the various scenarios.

Legal Status

Gilpin County Attorney Brad Benning reported that the outbreak of COVID-19 has put several County matters on hold, but there is an assurance that those matters will resume as things settle down. There are still contracts that need to be reviewed and Mr. Benning is preparing an Inter-Governmental Agreement with Black Hawk.

County Manager’s Report

Gilpin County Manager Abel Montoya reported that only essential services are being conducted – for example the Gilpin County transfer station is receiving household trash only. Employees from the Public Works Department are patrolling the county to ensure that there not any issues with the county buildings that need immediate attention.

Executive Session

Gilpin County Commissioners moved to go into Executive Session to discuss the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer, or sale of any real, personal, or other property interest; to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations; developing strategy for negotiations and instructing negotiators; and to confer 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 virtual meeting is scheduled to occur on April 7, 2020 but in these uncertain times, it may be sooner. For complete and up-to-date information visit www.gilpincounty.org.

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