DEL NORTE—Rio Grande County Commissioners approved the purchase of a grader and heard reports at their meeting on April 3.
Patrick Sullivan from road and bridge described the transaction to purchase a grader as a “good deal” for the used Cat 140 M, with a five-year warranty, for the price of $222,500 which included the wing and plow. “It is a savings of 61 percent with our government contract,” said Sullivan. The list price for the equipment is $468,800.
Commissioner Pam Bricker said, “It does a beautiful job of removing the wash boarding in the road.” The board approved the purchase.
Habitat Conservation Plan
Rose Vanderpool presented an update on the SLV Habitat Conservation Plan that has been approved by the Rio Grande Water District and passed by Congress.
The SLV is home to two federally protected bird species: southwestern willow flycatchers and yellow-billed cuckoo. The RGCC became involved with the plan in an effort to help protect landowners from the threat of action from Endangered Species Act regulations if they inadvertently destroyed willow habitat crucial to the birds. By first obtaining a permit before the removal of willows under normal practices, the liability of the farmer will be taken away.
Chairperson Karla Shriver said that passing the plan should not affect normal county road maintenance operations, but it will affect land usage and should be looked at closely on a continual basis.
There was a request for a speed study to be done between the Movie Manor and the Monte Vista city limit, mile markers 212 to 215. It was requested in a past meeting, but CDOT delayed action on it, because they want all three commissioners' signatures to ensure that they fully understand that the speed study could recommend that the limit go up past 65 mph, rather than down, which would be the opposite of what is desired by the town.
Letter of support
A decision on a proposed solar farm and a letter of support to Governor Hickenlooper in regards to an application for a solar farm and solar reserve was on the agenda.
Commissioner Doug Davie said he still opposed the letter of support because he believes that if they are forced to buy more green energy, the price will go up and people on fixed income won’t be able to afford it.
“I don’t think it is right to force us to buy it just because it is green energy,” said Davie.
Shriver said she is in favor of a letter of support because of the continued economic development that it would provide for the Valley and that the acreage to be used is being taken out of production and cannot be farmed as it has been in the past. Also, tax revenue would go up from $30,000 a year to $475,000, which will help Saguache County and indirectly help the entire Valley.
Commissioner Pam Bricker agreed with Shriver and added, “We need to support clean energy in addition to all other aspects of energy in the Valley.” Bricker said she understood what Davie's concerns were, but she had to disagree with him on this.
The motion for a letter supporting solar reserve passed.
Cory Off requested to be re-appointed to the Rio Grande Water Conservation District Board. There was only one other candidate: Davis Schreck. Shriver said that both were well-qualified candidates and the other commissioners agreed, but there was only one opening. Davie motioned to re-instate Off, and the motion was seconded by Bricker.
Right to bear arms
Susan Benton, county administrator, presented Resolution 2013 – Right To Bear Arms Support. The resolution supports the United States Constitution and the Colorado Constitution in the right of citizens to bear arms and opposes any weakening of the right of citizens to bear arms. The Rio Grande County Commissioners passed the resolution unanimously.
The commissioners approved the purchase of two, multi-use, variable message and remote controlled road signs. These signs will be used to advise motorists of closures to Wolf Creek Pass, welcome hunters, and advise of any road construction activity. The commissioners felt that two signs, rather than three, would fit within the budget and would be adequate with one on each side of the event.
There have been no letters of interest received from residents wanting to be on the Rio Grande County Museum Board, except for residents of South Fork. Two people are needed from Monte Vista and one each from Del Norte and Sargent. The museum in Del Norte also needs volunteers during operating hours from Tuesday through Friday. It opened for business on April 2.
Marvin Reynolds, CSU Extension director, gave an update on activities for his office during January and February.
Ray Hinton, the 4-H agent, has resigned. Applications for this opening will be accepted through April 12, and Reynolds hopes to have the position filled by July or August.
Reynolds also met with the Costilla County Commissioners about participating in 4-H, because the southern Costilla County area does not have an active club, so some children in that area are traveling to New Mexico to participate in a larger club experience. The Rio Grande extension office is the only one that covers multiple counties from a single location.
In addition to the usual educational programming Reynolds does, he is also sharing the responsibilities of 4-H agent with Mary Ellen Fleming, who produces the popular Senior Nutrition Newsletter.
This newsletter focuses on research-based information regarding health and wellness. Fleming is also doing food safety classes and presented one to Head Start in Monte Vista on March 29. Fleming also teaches a strong bones class for seniors that focuses on resistance training using hand and ankle weights to increase muscle mass and bone density.
Fleming partners with Christine Cerbana, with the CSU Department of Psychology to bring parenting classes to the Valley through a program called Children Youth and Families Education. More information can be obtained by contacting Fleming at: firstname.lastname@example.org.