Skip to main content

To Preserve and Protect

To Preserve and Protect


Although Fremont County continues to work on closing out year-end 2018, many exciting projects already are complete. Here is an update on just a few of those, including steps taken to preserve and protect the county’s assets.

The Phantom Canyon tunnel repair project is complete, using a $100,000 Department of Local Affairs grant and another $150,000 in county funds. One of the two tunnels on Phantom Canyon Road had structural damage, and without repair, the road eventually would have been closed to the many tourists and workers that drive it every day. Now it is reopen and once again seeing a steady stream of traffic.

A major reroofing project on the west end of the County Administration Building was completed last year. This was a massive undertaking, as it appeared to be the first actual complete renovation of the area in more than 50 years, instead of simply applying another new layer over the old. Workers removed multiple layers of old, deteriorated roofing materials before installing the new protective covering.

The County unveiled a brand-new, clean Web site at Information technology technician Jon Grayson designed the new look to be attractive and user-friendly. In part because of his hard work on the project, Jon was named 2018 Fremont County Employee of the Year.

We created a new position of drainage maintenance equipment operator in our Department of Transportation to coordinate and resolve flooding issues. Prevention efforts included the construction of cross pans on County Road 132, CR45 and CR28. Culverts were installed on both CR45 and CR2 to also aid in directing water flow. Last year saw major flooding following heavy downpours, and county crews quickly cleared Chandler Creek drainage as well as Ninth Street and 15th Street following those floods.

Much work took place in 2018 at the Col. Leo S. Boson War Memorial Park near the Fremont County Airport. Workers installed additional gravel and a drip watering system. Dead trees were removed and new trees planted in their place. Another new interpretive panel also was placed to express gratitude to early donors to the park effort. And, an Upper Arkansas Area Council of Governments mini-grant, plus a local match, allowed the county to install a shade structure over the In God We Trust “penny project,” to protect the fragile display from deteriorating in the strong Colorado sun. This spring, some native grasses will be planted and a thorough cleaning of the military displays will take place.

The year also saw serious grant money awarded to Fremont County.

The Hayden Pass Fire, ignited by lighting on July 8, 2016, burned about 16,000 acres of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. Most of that fire remained on U.S. Forest Service Lands south of Coaldale. Subsequent heavy rains and flooding wiped out roads, driveways, a dam, access to homes, and at least one home itself. Roughly $3.5 million in recovery funds have been secured to mitigate the flooding issues there.

Fremont County secured a $600,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant over three years to assess land previously used for industrial or commercial uses, which may have been contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution. Once cleaned up, those areas can become host to new business development. The County currently is working with its partners, the City of Cañon City, the City of Florence, and Fremont Economic Development Corporation, to finalize members of a Community Advisory Committee that will help this major project move forward.

The County also secured $200,000 in an Underfunded Courthouse Grant to finish an official courtroom at the Judicial Building. We now are awaiting the results of additional grant requests to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Energy and Mineral Funds to finalize those renovation plans.

The Fremont County Commissioners will release the full 2018 Accountability Report next month. It will include much more detail from departments and other elected officials. That annual report, begun in 2013, is just one part of the county’s continued effort to keep our citizens informed and to hold ourselves to the highest standards in accountability, responsibility, and reliability.

Debbie Bell is the Fremont County Commissioner for District 2. She can be reached at