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GarCo Report: Virtual deputy training, public health takes over mosquito control, new natural gas wells approved

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Carbondale resident Richard Votero and Town Trustee Chris Hassig must have gotten up early Monday to speak to the commissioners (BOCC) about the imminent demolition of the U.S. Forest Service Aspen/Sopris Ranger District (USFS) building and surrounding trees in Carbondale. They were not on the agenda so had to be at the meeting and ready to go by 8:05am.

Votero spoke eloquently about residents’ concerns that the design of the new building would “dramatically change” the character of old town Carbondale. He mentioned the existing spruce and maple trees that would fall victim to new construction, citing the irony of the USFS cutting down trees. Hassig echoed Votero’s sentiments, drawing attention to the USFS’ “implacability” and similarities between the Carbondale situation and Sweetwater Lake. He invited the BOCC to the Town Trustee meeting on Tuesday. The BOCC responded positively to their concerns but did not show up at the meeting.

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Moving along through the agenda, the BOCC approved Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario’s request to return ownership of a Jeep “bait car” to Nationwide Insurance for auction. A bait car, also known as a decoy car or hot car, is used to catch car thieves or smash-and-grab thieves red-handed. Vallario’s second request was for a $50,000/year sole source contract to OperatorXR, LLC for a virtual reality training program to help deputies safely train for high-risk situations. Vallario said the program is so realistic that, during a product demo, he leaned against a wall that didn’t exist.

“That’s somewhat embarrassing when tumbling down to the floor,” he said. The money comes from a budgeted jail flooring project that he said has not gotten off the ground, so to speak. The BOCC approved the transfer of funds and the contract.

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The BOCC also approved the county Board of Equalization (CBOE) property tax adjustments as presented by Jim Yellico, county assessor. “We started out with 1,938 appeals and went down to 204 CBOE cases,” explained Yellico. “Then the CBOE adjusted about 70 accounts.” The CBOE adjusted a little more than $19 million in actual value which worked out to over $2 million in assessed value. Commissioner Mike Samson said he’s glad the property tax appeals period is over.

The BOCC approved the consent agenda, including the Special Use Permit for the Eagle Springs Organic large solar facility near Rifle, and listened to updates from High

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Country Volunteers (HCV) and the Family Resource Center. HCV reports 26,000 volunteer hours of service to local nonprofits this year equal to $826,000.

Sharon Longhurst, executive director of the county Department of Human Services, updated the BOCC on the July EBT and EFT government assistance disbursements, which came to a total of $1,208,479.48. The BOCC approved the transfer of the Mosquito Control Program from the county Vegetation Management Department to county Public Health and a contract change for JC Excavating from $30,000 to $100,000 for work on Baxter Pass.

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After lunch, the BOCC was down by one member. It is uncertain why Mike Samson had to leave. Anyway, the big ticket item on the afternoon agenda was a request for a permit to drill 32 new natural gas wells from an existing pad on 5.45 acres of private land near Beaver Creek, 12 miles south of Rifle on County Road 317 and USFS Road 824. CPX Piceance Holding LLC owns Tepee Park Ranch and plans to drill from existing well pad 36A with no new land disturbances foreseen. The BOCC approved the permit.

Tags: #Amy Hadden Marsh #Forest Service #GarCo report #Garfield County #Larry Day #oil and gas #The Sopris Sun
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