By James Steindler
Following roll call and the pledge of allegiance, Commissioner Tom Jankovsky congratulated the Roaring Fork Rams soccer team for bringing home the state championship trophy.
Subsequently, Community Development Director Sheryl Bower introduced Colorado State Demographer Elizabeth Garner who presented trends based on the recent census. “Garfield had one of the largest increases in participation rates of any county in the state, so we were very proud of you guys,” Garner began.
According to Garner, as a state, population growth is occurring at a “slowing rate,” in part because “births are down and deaths are up.” Another reason, she explained, is that high housing costs make it less viable for people to move to Colorado. She noted that, according to the new data, Colorado is becoming increasingly racially and ethnically diverse.
The 2020 census reflected that the United States grew by 22.7 million people since 2010 to a total of 331.5 million. That is a 7.4% increase, which is the second slowest growth rate on record. “The slowest was during the Great Depression in the 1930s,” explained Garner.
Colorado grew by 14.8% since 2010, twice as fast as the country, amounting to 5,774,000 people. However, Garner explained this is a slower rate than the previous two decades. Still, “It was enough to get that eighth congressional seat and all of the great drama that has come along with that,” she quipped.
Garfield County as a whole increased by 9.4%, going from 56,389 in 2010 to 61,685 in 2020 (an increase of 5,296 people). The Town of Rifle and unincorporated Garfield County accounted for the majority of that growth.
Carbondale, which was not included in Garner’s presentation (whereas each of the other municipalities in Garfield County were), only grew by seven people since 2010 — from 6,427 to 6,434 — according to the state’s website (www.demography.dola.colorado.gov).
After the lengthy census presentation, the commissioners doled out fourth quarter discretionary grants. Beforehand, County Manager Kevin Batcheldor explained, “Currently, after the quarterly discretionary grant decisions that we made earlier this year, there’s a balance of $40,800.” Organizations could apply for a grant of up to $5,000 from the county’s discretionary funds.
The commissioners granted $600, the full amount requested, to Glenwood Downtown Market, to make up for “the cost of EBT funds the market has ‘donated’ to customers.” They committed an additional $3,500 to Glenwood Downtown Market for its upcoming Grand Holiday event.
Western Garfield County Chamber of Commerce was granted funds for its upcoming holiday event on the weekend of Dec. 3. The chamber was awarded $5,000 to put toward the event.
Colorado River Board of Cooperative Education Services (CRBOCES) received $5,000 “for training in the trades.” Only $1,000 went to Yampah Mountain High School (run by CRBOCES) for outdoor education support — Yampah requested $5,000.
Coventure, based in Carbondale, requested and was granted $5,000 to enhance business development in western Garfield County. Coventure intends to collaborate with Rifle Regional Economic Development Corporation “to provide mentoring, programming and resources to I-70 corridor entrepreneurs and businesses.”
Symphony In the Valley was granted $5,000 to support “two new student enrichment programs and to fund ongoing operational costs.” Bookcliffs Art Center was granted $5,000.
Jankovsky introduced the motion to grant a total of $30,100 in fourth quarter discretionary funding and it passed unanimously.
The Garfield County Latino Community Committee (GCLCC) presented its quarterly report. The committee gathers monthly at different municipalities throughout the county. Its mission is to provide “support and accountability to the county [in order] to work as one community,” and to promote “communication and cultural awareness from the Latino community to the Board of County Commissioners and Garfield County.”
GCLCC youth representative Karina Ventura gave a brief recap of 2021. According to Ventura, several meetings with key figures, including state representative Perry Will, took place over the course of the year. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser will speak with the committee on Dec. 13 in Rifle.
Colorado Mountain College representative Yesenia Arreola outlined the committee’s key recommendations. Arreola explained that they would like to see more bilingual 911 dispatchers, equitable Spanish language access at the local DMV and inclusion of Spanish communication in general. Arreola recommended using funds to advertise public meetings in bilingual and Spanish publications such as el Sol del Valle.
Jankovsky mentioned witnessing a Spanish speaker’s predicament while at the DMV. “It was not user friendly by any means for Spanish speaking individuals,” he stated, adding, “[they] would have been turned away if somebody hadn’t been there to help them.”
Arreola affirmed the commissioner’s observation and explained, “That is what’s happening. They’re getting turned away.”
For the full agenda and a recording of the Nov. 15 meeting, visit www.garfield-county.com