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Extension Agent Honored

Fremont County Extension Agent Tommy Covington, right, receives the prestigious Alton Scofield Award from Bill Nobles, Peaks and Plains Regional Director for CSU Extension.

Fremont County Extension Agent Tommy Covington recently was recognized for his lengthy, distinguished career in CSU Extension. Covington received the Alton Scofield Award, which recognizes outstanding performance by an Extension professional throughout their Extension career. Throughout his 22-year career in Fremont County, Covington has tirelessly exhibited an unparalleled level of leadership through the County Extension Office, 4-H Programs, and the community at large. His years of energy and effort spent serving the community and the youth of Fremont County extend far beyond his work with Extension. Tommy’s 19 years of service on the Florence-Penrose Re-2 Board of Education, including his many years of service as President of the School Board, serve as witness to his enduring commitment to the education and growth of Fremont County’s young people. The Fremont County Commissioners congratulated Covington on his honor. “We are so proud to work with Tommy on many different levels,” said Commission Chair Debbie Bell. “He truly has earned this. It’s nice to see him receive the recognition he so richly deserves.”

Sobering Center Opening in November

The Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a contract for services with St. Thomas More Hospital to open the Fremont County Sobering Center. The center will open the first week of November.

The center will offer a safe place for citizens to sober up providing they have medical clearance. The agreement is the result of a year-long effort by community partners including law enforcement, human services, public health, substance abuse specialists and the medical community, especially St. Thomas More Hospital. Currently, those in need of sobriety are directed either to the hospital or the Fremont County Jail, using countless resources that could better be used elsewhere.

The ad hoc group quickly found that a traditional detoxification center was not financially feasible, so began searching for a new idea. The sobering center is a model currently in use in several other communities throughout the United States, but is new to Colorado.

“The most important thing we are going to do is to continue care and offer them a hand in getting – and staying – sober,” said Commissioner Debbie Bell. “Fremont County is providing a Care Manager, a new employee by the name of Pat Cox, who will talk to folks when they’re ready to leave the center.”

Cox also will follow through with clients. He will offer to help them with whatever kind of assistance they might need, whether they are homeless, in need of food or warm clothing, Medicaid, AA meetings, addiction counseling, all the way up to inpatient treatment services. He is making the connections and finding the resources to help folks create a life without alcohol.

“The Sobering Center will be much more than a place to sober up,” Bell said. “We truly believe it will be a place to change lives.”

Sen. Gardner Tours Flood Area

Sen. Cory Gardner, center, tours the Hayden Pass Fire burn scar with Fremont County Emergency Manager Steve Morrisey, left, and Fremont County Commissioner Dwayne McFall. (Photo courtesy Sunny Bryant)

Sen. Cory Gardner toured the Hayden Pass Fire burn scar watershed June 24 with County Commissioner Dwayne McFall and other local officials. McFall organized the tour to seek assistance in receiving federal funds to help pay for flood mitigation efforts in the Coaldale area.

The Hayden Pass Fire burned more than 16,500 acres in July 2016. Parts of the county now are in danger of flash flooding because nearby creeks fill quickly when it rains, and because burned materials wash down and choke culverts and waterways, redirecting water elsewhere. Wildfires not only burn away natural materials that slow the rain down and hold it in place, but they also sear the ground to a hard, baked finish that is difficult for water to penetrate.

The fire mostly burned on federal lands, so Fremont County is seeking federal funding to assist with the aftermath.

More than a dozen homes are in the danger zone. Some of those already have sustained flood damage. Certain projects can be undertaken to mitigate the threat of flooding, but such projects come with hefty price tags the county cannot afford alone. Officials hope Sen. Gardner will pressure federal agencies to assist with funding the projects. The cost to clean the area affected by the burn scar and flash flooding is estimated at $2.5 million.

Others on the tour included Sheriff Jim Beicker, Fremont County Emergency Manager Steve Morrisey, and Fremont County Manager Sunny Bryant.

Fire Protection, Zone Change and More Approved

Four public hearings brought little citizen comment as the Board of County Commissioners approved a quarry, an outfitter business, a fire protection garage, and a zone change during the May 23 meeting.

Yevoli Cobblestone Pit, located southeast of Florence, received a Conditional Use Permit to quarry and haul stone. A maximum of 10 trucks per day are allowed during the operating hours of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Loco Mountain Outfitters came into compliance with a Special Review Use Permit to continue its operation southwest of Texas Creek. The business uses an existing ranch house as the base camp for guided hunting trips for a capacity of six hunters and three guides two months each year.

Deer Mountain Fire Protection District will build a new, heated garage for fire equipment in the Indian Springs Subdivision. The 1-acre site recently was given a subdivision waiver and approval for fire use by the Commissioners. The existing garage will remain.

Journey Quest, a nonprofit rafting and outdoor wilderness ministry, received a zone change from Agricultural Forestry to Rural Highway Business for property near U.S. Highway 50 and County Road 27 near Texas Creek. The parcel is 6.29 acres and lies along the banks of the Arkansas River.

In other business, the Commissioners:

-       Proclaimed May 29 through June 4, 2017, as Family Safety Week in Fremont County.

-       Adopted the Community Wildfire Protection Plan for Indian Springs.

-       Accepted a proposal from Armstrong Consulting for Engineering and Planning Services at the Fremont County Airport for a five-year term.

-       Renewed Optional Premises Cultivation license for Cˆ3 Colorado Springs for a grow located at 685 Highway 115 #B.

-       Ratified the chairman’s signature on Change Order 29 for the Fremont County Justice Center Kitchen ad Laundry remodel. The change saved the county more than $14,500.

DHS Director Honored by State

Tom Massey, deputy executive director for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance, right, presents a certificate to Steve Clifton, Fremont County Department of Human Services Director. (Photo courtesy Carie Canterbury, Cañon City Daily Record)

Long-time Fremont County Department of Human Services Director Steve Clifton recently received high recognition from the state.

“Fremont County is always at the very top,” said Tom Massey, deputy executive director for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance. “Steve and his team always leads the state in the metrics we use to measure all the good work he and his staff do. We always appreciate his cooperation and collaboration.”

Massey presented Clifton with a certificate honoring “his dedication and hard work serving the residents of Fremont County and representing the interests of human service agencies statewide for the greater good of all Coloradans.” It was signed by Susan Birch, executive director, HCPF.

Clifton accepted the certificate on behalf of his staff.

“From the front desk to eligibility staff to supervisors, they all work very diligently to get these things done promptly,” he said. “They are the ones who do all the work.”

The presentation was made during the annual Executive Directors Meeting on May 18. The Fremont County Department of Human Services hosts the event to allow state officials to tour local offices and meet with staff to share legislative and other updates.

Other state officials present included Jerene Petersen, the deputy executive director for CDHS, and Anne-Marie Braga, director of Local Public Health Partnerships, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Fremont County Commissioners Debbie Bell, Tim Payne and Dwayne McFall, County Manager Sunny Bryant, and County Department of Public Health Director Rick Miklich also attended.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month

Joining a national effort to raise awareness about this important issue, the Fremont County Commissioners proclaimed April 2017 as Fremont County Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month during the regular Board meeting on Tuesday, March 28.

Mick Stumph of the Fremont County Department of Human Services appeared before the Board to read the proclamation and ask for Commissioner support.

“We must come together as partners to keep children safe, ensure that the voices of our children are heard by all, and extend a helping hand to children and families in need,” the proclamation reads in part. “Children are key to Fremont County’s future success, prosperity, and quality of life. While children are our most precious resource, they also are our most vulnerable.”

Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month also will be celebrated with two simultaneous events at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 7. The entire community is invited to either the Macon Plaza event in Cañon City or the Rialto Theatre event in Florence. Commissioners Tim Payne and Dwayne McFall will read the proclamation at Macon Plaza, while Commissioner Debbie Bell will present the document in Florence. Child welfare workers and others also will attend the events.

The Department of Human Services has brightly-colored blue and silver pinwheel gardens available to businesses and homes to celebrate the month, as well. For more information call DHS at (719)275-2318.

Fremont County Public Health now offers livesaving measure for overdoses

Fremont County Department of Public Health & Environment (FCDPHE) began distributing Naloxone to the local community on Feb. 8. Distribution and screening is on a confidential, appointment only basis. Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) is a safe and effective prescription medicine that reverses an opioid overdose, which can be caused by prescription analgesics (e.g., Percocet, OxyContin), and heroin. Naloxone will only reverse an opioid overdose, it does not prevent overdose deaths caused by other drugs such as benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax®, Klonopin® and Valium®), bath salts, cocaine, methamphetamine or alcohol. However, naloxone is effective for multi-substance overdoses such as a combined opioid and alcohol overdose. It cannot be used to get high.

The appropriate and intended use of Naloxone is to save lives. Area law enforcement officers routinely carry Naloxone which they credited with saving numerous lives. Individuals interested in the program may contact FCDPHE at (719) 276-7450 to schedule an appointment, screening and training (M-Th 7:30am-5:30pm). All information is kept strictly confidential.

Officials Meet with Colorado Attorney General

Four Fremont County elected officials met with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and members of her staff to discuss addiction issues in rural communities. The Feb. 7 meeting also included other community leaders from the court system, treatment agencies, and medical personnel.

General Coffman said they were on a “listening tour” and asked to hear local concerns and successes surrounding addiction, particularly the rise in opioid and other prescription addiction.

Sheriff Jim Beicker, who organized the meeting, said the Fremont County Detention Facility works closely with the state to provide treatment to offenders beginning during incarceration, and then moving that treatment into community-based agencies. He also described the use of new treatments to save lives and said the protocols, including Narcan, have saved at least six people locally.

County Coroner Randy Keller said his office deals with the end result of serious addiction. He is seeking to help reverse that trend.

County Clerk and Recorder Katie Barr said she has a general interest in addiction issues. She attended to offer her assistance in the ongoing efforts.

County Commissioner Debbie Bell described the current ongoing efforts to bring some sort of detoxification facility to Fremont County. She said the collaboration is an uphill battle, because although the facility would save time, funding, energy, and resources, ultimately similar services around the state are closing.

General Coffman and her staff took copious notes and pledged to work with agencies and organizations on local initiatives, rather than try to push through new statewide programs. She said she was pleased to see the community working together strategically to address the local issues.

Detention Center Renovations Complete

BEFORE: The kitchen space at the Fremont County Detention Center before renovation.

AFTER: The kitchen space at the Fremont County Detention Center after renovation.

Commercial laundry facilities replaced old, worn-out appliances at the Fremont County Detention Center. Photos courtesy Sarah Mattot, Cañon City Daily Record

New kitchen and laundry facilities at the Fremont County Detention Center have replaced worn-out, 30-year-old appliances, plumbing, and more.

The renovations, at a cost of about $2.5 million, were paid for by the voter-approved sheriff’s sales tax. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 3, Sheriff Jim Beicker specifically thanked the voters for their support.

Undersheriff Ty Martin was instrumental as county project manager in seeing the renovations to completion. Overseen by general contractor Nunn Construction of Colorado Springs, the project included demolition to the dirt and then all new flooring, some new walls, plumbing, refrigeration, new appliances, and commercial laundry facilities. The space was expanded to make room for the processes necessary for the safe and secure operation of the detention center.

Renovations were required because standing water had destroyed much of the flooring and caused mold and rust problems throughout the kitchen. Many of the appliances were worn and unable to keep up with the demand to feed up to 230 inmates three times a day. In addition, thousands of pounds of laundry are cycled through the jail each day.

Sheriff Beicker also thanked the City of Florence, which provided kitchen facilities, and the Colorado Department of Corrections, which provided laundry services during renovations.

The Sheriff and his staff now are making preparations to update the jail security systems including cameras, doors, and control rooms.

Vital Statistics Registrars Receive Five Star Performance Award

From left: Rick Miklich, Fremont County Public and Environmental Health Director, recognizes his team of Registrars, Christina Taylor, Paula Spurlin, and Matthew Kay, office manager. The team received recognition for their exceptional work with the 2016 Vital Statistics Five Star Performance Award from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

For the fourth year in a row, Fremont County Public and Environmental Health brought home a Five Star Performance Award for its outstanding work in Vital Statistics. The honor is given annually by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Director Rick Miklich shared the 2016 award during the Jan. 24 Board of County Commissioners meeting. He introduced the team that earned the honor, Registrars Matthew Kay, office manager; Paula Spurlin, and Christina Taylor.

Miklich said the department must excel in a demanding audit to earn the Five Star rating. He explained that vital statistics records, including birth and death certificates, are issued to qualifying people at the office located at 201 N. 6th St., Cañon City, for any birth or death in Colorado, not just Fremont County. People from across the state travel to Fremont County’s Vital Statistics Office to enjoy the prompt, efficient service the registrars offer, Miklich said.

The Fremont County Commissioners congratulated the honorees and said they particularly enjoy recognizing employees for a job well done.

In other business, the Commissioners:

-       Heard an Arkansas River Roundtable report from Gary Barber, Project Coordinator.  He explained several different fire restoration projects that are ongoing.

-       Appointed Jay Adamic to the Fremont County Weed Advisory Board to fill a vacancy with a term expiring Dec. 31, 2019.

-       Reappointed Dave Boden and Rich Thatcher to the Board of Zoning Adjustment for an additional three-year term ending Feb. 28, 2020.

-       Appointed Craig Mayle to the John C. Fremont Board for a five-year term ending Dec. 31, 2021.

-       Heard a report from County Manager Sunny Bryant on recent activities. She said she met with the Commissioners on Jan. 17 for their annual goal-setting session.

-       Heard positive news from Bryant in her monthly Fremont County Sales and Use Tax Report.