A new face graced the first Garfield County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting of 2023 on Monday. Jackie Harmon in her new seat as county clerk and recorder-elect joined relative newcomers Bentley Henderson, deputy county manager, and Heather Beattie, county attorney, at the meeting. Newly-elected officials will be officially sworn in during a special ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 10. According to the commissioners, re-elected county treasurer Carrie Couey was sworn in last week.
All commissioners were present for Monday’s short meeting. Commissioner Tom Jankovsky arrived slightly late, stating that he got stuck in a “CDOT blockade.” He added that he thought the Colorado Department of Transportation is doing a good job taking care of the roads.
The board listened to a suggestion from a county resident to purchase a “long track” vehicle for Garfield County Search and Rescue, stating that it would be cheaper to have the vehicle than to pay for expensive helicopter rescues in the backcountry. Commissioners then approved the consent agenda and set a Feb. 6 public hearing date for a liquor license transfer for Fireside Lanes in Rifle. They also approved a 120-day temporary liquor license for the bowling alley.
County Manager Fred Jarman reviewed the board’s January calendar, including a meeting with the Bureau of Land Management about the greater sage grouse, a Sweetwater Lake State Park meeting in Gypsum, a legislative call with the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, a virtual meeting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about wolf reintroduction, a meeting at the Garfield County Fairgrounds on Jan. 21 with the Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association to discuss wolf reintroduction, an awards ceremony on Jan. 23 and the Federal Mineral Lease District banquet on Jan. 26. Henderson will attend an internal working group meeting this week about safety improvements on Cottonwood Pass.
A retirement party for former county clerk and recorder Jean Alberico is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 5 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the commissioners’ meeting room (108 Eighth Street, Glenwood Springs). Alberico is retiring after almost four decades with the county. (www.classicsofttrim.com)
And, that was it. Twenty-two minutes after the meeting began, it ended with adjournment.
In other news, remember the final BOCC meeting of 2022? The one during which Robert K. Weidner, contract lobbyist for the county, gave commissioners an update on his work and then Commissioner Mike Samson asked Weidner to help set up a meeting with Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia? Fred Jarman responded to some of the questions posed by The Sopris Sun about Weidner (see last week’s report), but when it came to meeting with Manchin, Jarman said to ask Samson.
So, we did.
Samson told The Sopris Sun in an email, “Given [Manchin’s] history on not supporting President Biden on his energy policies — I’m wanting to thank him.” Samson added, “I also wanted to visit with [Manchin] concerning natural gas. I think we have a common interest.”
Manchin is chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. In exchange for his support of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, Manchin tried (and failed) to garner support for a controversial amendment last year that would have fast tracked the permitting process for energy projects, including the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline in his home state. The amendment was not included in the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
According to The Guardian, “Manchin’s legislation would weaken environmental safeguards and expedite permits to construct pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure while restricting public input and legal challenges.” Open Secrets, a political finance watchdog group, reported that Manchin was the top senate recipient of oil and natural gas-related campaign contributions in the 2021-2022 election cycle, receiving close to $741,000 from the industry.