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Emergency Task Force looks beyond COVID 

Locations: News Published

All trustees were in attendance at their regular meeting on April 12.

As per usual, the meeting began with public comments from persons not on the agenda (there were none) followed by comments by the trustees.

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Marty Silverstein was sure to thank Town Clerk Cathy Derby and her “band of elves” for running a smooth election. Silverstein also thanked Dan Richardson, Heather Henry and Luis Yllanes, as well as youth representative Boden Hamilton, for their time serving on the board.

Lani Kitching announced that a graduate student at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is writing about Carbondale’s passage of a flavored tobacco ban having influenced the Valley. House Bill 1219 would next ban the sale of flavored tobacco in the entire state, if it passes.

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Erica Sparhawk has been busy with Colorado Communities for Climate Action and co-authored an opinion piece for the Colorado Sun about a bill that leans on producers of plastics to help communities deal with their waste and improve recycling. Sparhawk also testified before the Colorado Department of Transformation and Air Quality Control Commission on behalf of Carbondale and in favor of clean truck rulemaking.

Henry made it known that a state bill cleared the way for locally-collected lodging tax money to be spent on the impacts of tourism, and not just its promotion.

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The majority of Tuesday’s meeting focused on the Carbondale Emergency Task Force. “I wanted to recognize leaders of lines of effort,” said Richardson, “and also talk about what the task force looks like moving forward.”

In March 2020, before the governor’s statewide shelter-at-home order went into effect, Carbondale’s government was meeting with other community leaders to plan for the worst. At the height of the pandemic, the task force met sometimes twice a week.

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Early on, Carbondale resident PC Drew, whose professional background in the military involves strategic planning and disaster relief, reached out with a framework proposing eight lines of effort: health, economy, strategic communications, human capital, finance, technology, advocacy and crisis response.

The task force involved Andrea Stewart of the chamber of commerce, registered nurse Ryn Calhoon, Sarah-Jane Johnson on strategic communications, Amy Kimberly organizing human capital, Carbondale Finance Director Renae Gustine, Justin Lewis with Roaring Fork Technologists, Sparhawk on advocacy, Gene Schilling and later Kirk Wilson on crisis response and the eventual involvement of Syndey Schalit with MANAUS.

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“As I reflect back on this, it was clearly a shining moment for the community because of how we responded,” said Richardson. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you’ve done for Carbondale.”

Drew praised the “whole community approach,” with “things the town government could and couldn’t do augmented by things the community could and couldn’t do, under a unified vision able to deliver things.” He highlighted that $3.2 million was administered to individuals in $1,000 increments thanks to MANAUS and LaMedichi in an initiative that sought to help local people excluded from federal stimulus funds.

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“In June 2020, I came in as an outsider,” said Wilson, Carbondale’s police chief. “What other municipalities were struggling and scrambling to do — make relationships with organizations — were already in place here. [Carbondale] is a community that cares. It is incredibly resilient and adaptive.”

“What this task force did well is respond to champions of ideas,” concurred Richardson.

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Among those was the idea of “neighborhood heroes,” checking in on people and making sure that crucial information was circulating. Henry called it “a really fascinating piece of this to keep some energy around. When we talk about communicating and how much we have to rely on whatever — the electrical network, internet — it’s one of our biggest vulnerabilities. Door-to-door communication was incredibly powerful and would be amazing to foster in good times, so there’s a network in place in most challenging times.”

After some discussion, it was determined appropriate to maintain a framework and list of contacts to activate the task force again in a future disaster scenario, whether that relates to wildfire, a recession, fentanyl, mental health or even affordability. A group would meet a few times each year to review the town’s disaster preparedness strategies and maintain a living document.

“It’s the natural thing for a municipality,” responded Wilson. “Whatever the crisis may be, to have a reference to jump to immediately, so everybody is playing from the same sheet of music very quickly.”

In other news, the waste contract put out to bid for yard waste collection was awarded to EverGreen ZeroWaste. Although their proposal was slightly more expensive than that of Mountain Waste & Recycling, Public Works Director Kevin Schorzman said they clearly put a lot of thought into their application, and their “ability to engage the public will be as good or better. And that’s not a slam on Mountain Waste.”

Next week’s work session will focus on the Town Center properties, parcels recently donated to the town that surround the Thunder River Theatre Company building.

Tags: #Carbondale #Carbondale Emergency Task Force #town government #trustees
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