By James Steindler
The first hour of the Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting on Monday, Jan. 10, was taken up by one public comment item not on the agenda: school quarantines.
Jill Edinger is a parent of three. She appeared with two other parents of children who attend St. Stephens Catholic School in Glenwood Springs. Edinger passionately conveyed to the commissioners that she was at her wits end with school quarantines. She works full-time as an attorney and depends on the child care.
Edinger vented her grievances about COVID-19 policies that she finds unfair. “You can go to Cloud 9 and drink champagne bottles in Pitkin County and squirt them around the room — you can go to concerts — and my kid can’t go to school and I can’t go to work because of these policies,” she stated.
She expressed concern that children will be affected by the regular hiatuses from school in the long run. “At the end of the day, my kids are going to be just fine because we have the financial resources — thank God,” she lamented. “You know the kids who are going to suffer? All the poor kids who are never going to catch up — never.”
After Edinger went well over her allotted five minutes for public comment, the commissioners responded. First, they let Edinger know that they do not have jurisdiction over the local schools.
“We do not govern schools,” said Chairman John Martin. “We do not tell them to mandate anything.” Martin explained that the local school boards (or private school leaders) make such decisions and take direction from the Colorado Department of Education and state public health agencies.
On a personal level, the commissioners tended to agree with Edinger. “This board, which sits as the county health board, has not put a mandate on, has not told people that they have to quarantine and wear a mask, etcetera, through a mandate,” explained Martin. “We say it is a choice.”
He added, “We agree with you 100%, it’s crazy. We need to go ahead and get back to normal.”
Edinger “implored” the commissioners to speak with the local school boards again (as they have before) and “tell them that you’re getting this feedback.” The commissioners agreed to do so.
Heather Grant with Journey Home Animal Care Center (JHACC) requested $200,000 in nonprofit general funding for its 2022 budget. JHACC, previously known simply as the Rifle Animal Shelter, recently moved into a brand new facility in Rifle.
“We promise to stay committed to our community and give back,” said Grant. “Now we can expand on the programs and services that we can not only offer for homeless animals but community owned animals as well.”
The commissioners unanimously approved the request.
Rifle Garfield County Airport Director Brian Condie appeared along with GarCo Premier Hangars LLC developers Dan Guggenheim and Jeff Parrington. The developers intend to begin constructing additional hangars at the airport in West Garfield County. “We’ve designed what we’re thinking is a multi-phase project,” explained Guggenheim. The first phase will include five new units and phase two will likely include three or four.
They plan to start construction of phase one in April of this year. Phase two development won’t take off until at least 60% of the phase one units are under contract. Individual units will be sold or leased to private aviators or commercial companies.
“Jeff and I have been working on this for about a year now and it’s been a long time to put all the details together,” said Guggenheim. “The Rifle airport really is under-utilized, with hangars particularly, and this is something the community can really use.” He added, “If we don’t do it, we feel that someone else will and we want to do it right.”
The commissioners agreed to sign-off on GarCo Premier Hangars LLC’ 40 year land lease, as requested.