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June News by Views

Commission Chairman Ed Norden presents the $5,000 check to kick off the COSI Scholarship funding to Fremont County Foundation members (left to right:) John Marietta, Pam Marietta, and Dan Brown

Fremont County Commission Chairman Ed Norden presented a $5,000 check to the Fremont Community Foundation to initiate fundraising for the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) in Fremont County.   The Colorado Department of Higher Education has made $50,000 available to Fremont County through a 1:1 match for every dollar raised locally.   The COSI scholarships will be made available to qualifying low income students in the county.   If you’d like to contribute to the COSI scholarship fund and have every dollar of your donation matched 1:1, mail your contribution to the Fremont Community Foundation at 901 Main Street, Cañon City.    For more information contact County Commissioner Ed Norden.

Linda Leggitt prepares to cut a cake on her last day of work at Fremont County Public Health after 26 years of service to the county.

The Board of County Commissioners and co-workers honored Linda Leggitt with a reception on June 16th.   Linda retired from her position as Office Manager at Fremont County Public Health Department.    Linda served for 26 years with Fremont County Public Health.

Fremont County Airport personnel refuel the skycrane helicopter that spent a night at the airport before heading north

A Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane helicopter overnighted at the Fremont County Airport on June 23rd.   The large wildland firefighting apparatus was enroute to the Black Hills to help fight a large wildfire near Spearfish, South Dakota.  The Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane is an American twin-engine heavy-lift helicopter that drafts water from streams and lakes into its’ large tank.

Colorado Civil Air Patrol Operations Section Chief Major Von Campbell details training missions to Fremont County officials last Sunday

Volunteers with the Colorado Civil Air Patrol (CAP) were at the Fremont County Airport June 25th and 26th conducting operational training missions.   The CAP has a complete operations center in a modular unit at the Fremont County Airport that was installed several years ago for the StarFire Squadron of the CAP.   Fremont County is one of only two sites in Colorado where a permanent CAP operational center is located.    Fremont County Commissioners Debbie Bell and Ed Norden along with County Emergency Management Director Steve Morrisey visited during the training session on Sunday.

Summer Paving & Chip Seal Work Underway

Crews worked through the searing heat during early June on Oak Creek Grade south of Canon City

Crews with the Fremont County Department of Transportation are spending a full month’s time this summer performing asphalt paving and chip seal projects on various county roads.    Work started the first full week in June paving nearly 1 ½ miles of road on Oak Creek Grade and Forge Road south of Cañon City.   Crews then laid asphalt on ¾ mile of roadway on Ute Street and Rhodes Avenue at the east edge of Cañon City.    Because of budget limitations those are the only roads getting new asphalt overlays in 2016.

Much of the summer road construction work deals with chip and seal projects.   During the last week of June crews put down a new coat of chip seal on County Road 28 which is also known as Road Gulch in the Copper Gulch area.    Chip seal operations will be conducted on County Road 1A south of Cotopaxi during early July.     If weather cooperates the crews will perform chip seal on North and South Broadway through Penrose on July 13th and 14th.

Residents along Oak Creek Grade and in the Dawson Ranch and Wolf Park subdivisions south of Canon City are enjoying new pavement on Oak Creek Grade and Forge Road courtesy of the Fremont County Road Department

Commissioners OK TANF Transfer to Boulder County

A twenty minute regular meeting of the Fremont County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday was highlighted by board action to transfer some Department of Human Services funds to Boulder County.   The commissioners voted to ratify the Chairman’s signature on paperwork that was signed last Thursday transferring $100,000 in TANF reserve funds to Boulder County.

TANF—Temporary Aid to Needy Families, involves restricted funds that Fremont County was still holding in reserve as the close of Colorado’s fiscal year approaches on June 30th.    Fremont County was in a position where the reserve dollars would have to be turned back while Boulder County was experiencing a shortfall.    Fremont County Department of Human Services Director Steve Clifton told the commissioners in a workshop meeting last week that in past years Fremont County was on the receiving end of some of those needed dollars.   He says this year Fremont County was able to return the favor.

The commissioners adopted a proclamation declaring the week of June 20-26th as Amateur Radio Week in Fremont County.   Local club representative Amanda Alden told the board that local ham radio operators were instrumental in recent years with such major events as the Waldo Canyon Fire, the Black Forest wildfire, and the Royal Gorge wildfire.   Alden said local amateur radio club members are working with other clubs to develop a backbone infrastructure of ham radio operators stretching from Cheyenne, Wyoming, south to Albuquerque, New Mexico.    Ham radio operators will participate in Amateur Radio Field Day exercises on June 25th and 26th at the Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City.

In other business Tuesday the Board of Commissioners:

  • Approved action to support the Upper Arkansas Area Council of Government’s housing rehabilitation program by reducing building permit fees for qualifying families.   County building permit fees will be reduced by $100 for every housing unit that undergoes rehabilitation to preserve housing for low to moderate income families in rural areas of Fremont County;
  • Authorized the Chairman’s signature on the annual Southern Colorado RETAC contract allowing the Fremont County EMS Council to secure $15,000 in grant funding;
  • Heard a monthly report from County Clerk and Recorder Katie Barr in which the county’s portion of motor vehicle registration fees for May, 2016 totaled over $569,000.    Barr reported that amount was $100,000 more than the amount collected in May of 2015.

Medical Marijuana Licenses Renewed

The Fremont County Commissioners dealt with the renewal applications for five medical marijuana (MMJ) licenses at a special meeting that was conducted on May 26th.   One of the licensees, Pure Medical LLC, which operates at 440 8th Street in Penrose, sought not only a renewal of their medical marijuana cultivation license but also applied for an expansion of the growing area.   Karlie Van Arnam explained that when the cultivation license was originally issued a year ago there was a misunderstanding over the growing area.

Van Arnam said their intent was to be permitted to grow MMJ within the entire fenced area at the site while the Planning and Zoning Department misconstrued and thus licensed only a covered canopy area for growing the marijuana.   Van Arnam said the expansion application was to permit what was actually intended in the original application plus permission to erect a building for harvesting with an odor mitigation system.  The building will add to security during harvest time and help with odor mitigation during the most fragrant part of the growing season.

Several Penrose residents testified in opposition to the modification.   Clarice Roney who lives across the street from the facility said she gets marijuana odor from two different MMJ operations who end up pointing the finger at each other.    Tony Gleiforst simply asked the commissioners to preserve the Penrose area saying, “Enough is enough”.   Despite complaints, investigations over the past year about odor complaints from Pure Medical’s cultivation were unfounded according to Planning Director Matt Koch.

A motion by District 1 Commissioner Tim Payne to permit only construction of the building but not to expand the growing area died for lack of a second.   Following a discussion in which the commissioners recognized that the county was in error for not identifying the correct growing area a year ago, District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell offered a motion to approve the modification for both the building and the expanded cultivation.    Bell added a stipulation that the board will revisit the expanded growing area a year from now to determine if more plants under cultivation create any negative impacts upon the neighborhood.    The motion was approved on a 2-1 vote.

Also approved for MMJ renewals were:

  • Pure Intentions Wellness greenhouse cultivation at 685 Highway 115 in Penrose—the former Bikertown property;
  • Golden Meds greenhouse cultivation at 890 7th Street in Penrose—the Apple Valley greenhouses;
  • Maggie’s Farm LLC greenhouse cultivation at 4211 County Road 84 near Rockvale;
  • and Maggie’s Farm MMJ storefront location at the Country Green Shoppette at the east edge of Cañon City.

Healthy Land Stewardship Open House

The Upper Arkansas Cooperative Weed Management Area is hosting an open house in Cañon City to offer landowners information on Healthy Land Stewardship.         The event on Saturday, June 18th, will take place at Fremont County’s Garden Park Building.   Several stations will be set up providing landowners, from ranchers to backyard gardeners, information on a variety of topics dealing with soil conservation and control of noxious weeds and invasive plants.

If you need assistance in identifying problem weeds or other plants on your property, you’re invited to bring plants to the open house for identification.   Custer County CSU Extension Director Robin Young will assist in plant identification.   Teller and Park County Conservation District Manager Mary Menz will explain how to collect and submit noxious weed specimens from your property.    District Conservationist Rick Romano of the Fremont County Natural Resource and Conservation Service will offer information about maintenance of native grasses and land management.

If you need assistance in reading and interpreting labels on herbicides, you’re invited to remove the label from the container and take it to the open house where Chaffee County Weed Supervisor Larry Walker will assist you in chemical identification and herbicide recommendations to control particular weeds and invasive plants.   If you practice chemical control on your property and have a back pack or hand held sprayer you can bring the sprayer to the open house where Fremont County Weed Management Coordinator Tony Telck will help calibrate your sprayer.   If you bring a sprayer for calibration make sure it is triple rinsed.

The open house will run from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 18th at the Garden Park Building at 201 North 6th Street in Cañon City.   Persons attending should enter at the rear door next to the alley.  For more information about services offered at the Healthy Land Stewardship open house call the Fremont Conservation District Office at 275-4465.

Traffic Detoured for Oak Creek Grade Paving

Motorists who typically travel Elm Avenue and south 4th Street to access Oak Creek Grade Road will encounter detours this week.   Crews with the Fremont County Department of Transportation will be paving County Road 143—Oak Creek Grade Road from Tuesday, June 7th through Thursday, June 9th.   During these asphalt paving operations motorists are being asked to detour to 1st Street in Cañon City.   County crews will be paving Oak Creek Grade Road from Elm Avenue south to Shadow Hills.    A portion of Forge Road under county maintenance will also be paved as part of this project.

Long Awaited Engraving Complete on Memorial Wall

74 names of veterans were added to these two panels in late May on the War Memorial Wall at the Fremont County Airport

The names of another 74 veterans have been engraved on the wall at the War Memorial Park at the Fremont County Airport with preparations underway to dedicate those names in a ceremony over the Independence Day weekend.   The engravings were completed just before the end of May and concluded what was a wait for some veterans and their families that extended for more than two years.

Fremont County Veterans Service Officer Al Augustine said the initial wait for some veterans came because the county needed a minimum of 50 names to place an engraving order with a vendor from Denver.   Once that minimum order was reached at the close of 2014 the engraving order was placed.   From spring through the fall of 2015 the vendor repeatedly encountered scheduling problems that were complicated by wet or windy weather.

Fremont County Commission Chairman Ed Norden said when it became obvious that the engraving would not be completed by the onset of winter, the Board of County Commissioners and the vendor in Denver mutually agreed to part ways.   Arrangements were then made with Rocky Mountain Memorials in Colorado Springs to do the engraving at the earliest good weather opportunity this spring.   Norden said the commissioners apologize to all the veterans and their families for the delay, adding that county officials were equally as frustrated throughout the process.

Augustine is now making arrangements to dedicate the newly added names to the War Memorial Wall at a ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 2nd.  Details about the ceremony will be announced in the coming weeks.

Commissioner Norden said because the wall is quickly filling with names of veterans more work is planned this summer to make more bricks available.   Norden said Panel A on the War Memorial Wall was originally intended for the listing of donors.   He said brick work will be undertaken to list all donor bricks on the left side of Panel A and thus create another panel of blanks to engrave the names of more veterans.

Veterans or families interested in engraving a veteran’s name on the wall should contact Augustine at the Fremont County Veterans Service Office in the County Administration Building.   There is a $50 cost for the engraving of each brick.

Jail Renovation Bank Financing Approved

Bank financing to complete a $5 million renovation project in the kitchen and laundry facilities at the Fremont County Jail is now in place.    The Fremont County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution at a special meeting on June 1st arranging for bank financing of the project through Branch Banking and Trust Company which has agreed to purchase the certificates.

Renovation of the jail’s kitchen and laundry areas were listed as some of the key capital improvements needed when Fremont County voters approved a one cent sales tax increase two years ago for the Sheriff’s Department.   Although Sheriff Jim Beicker has worked to accumulate cash reserves in his budget to pay for part of the project, the Board of Commissioners and the Sheriff agreed that some short term financing would be necessary to complete the renovation.   The Sheriff is also using a portion of the capital reserves from the sales tax to replace his aging fleet of patrol vehicles.

The resolution approved by the Board of Commissioners calls for the project to be paid off over a seven year period by 2023.   The payments will not exceed $800,000 a year from the Sheriff’s budget with an interest rate not to exceed three percent.    Fremont County Manager Sunny Bryant said it was important that the renovation project be paid off prior to the ten year sunset of the sales tax.

With financing now in place work can proceed to prepare documents to seek public bids later this summer  to get the project underway.   Bryant said the lease-purchase bank financing means there will be no general obligation debt incurred by the county.

Child Fatality Team FCF Beneficiary

The Child Fatality Prevention Team under the auspices of Fremont County Public Health was the beneficiary of $1,200 awarded by the Fremont Community Foundation at the May 21st Flashback on Main. Pictured (left to right): Kathy Toothaker & Autumn Dever,FCF Board Members; Lori Steinbeck of Fremont County Public Health; Stacey Kwitek of Fremont County Department of Human Services; and Dan Brown, Pam Marietta, & John Marietta, Fremont Community Foundation Board members.

Fremont’s 100 Day Homeless Vets Challenge

Pictured Wednesday evening at the reception at the Governor's Mansion in Denver to focus on the 100 Day Challenge to end homelessness for Colorado veterans are (left to right:) Fremont County businessman Brad Rowland, UAACOG Housing Director Autumn Dever, Fremont County Commissioner Ed Norden, Loaves and Fishes Director Dee Dee Clemont, and Jim Berg of the Fremont County Department of Human Services

Volunteers in Fremont County who took up the Governor’s challenge to focus on ending homelessness for veterans in Colorado were in Denver Wednesday to be honored for their efforts by Governor John Hickenlooper.   Fremont County was one of five counties in Colorado that was selected to participate in the 100 Day Challenge to House Veterans Experiencing Homelessness. The 100 Day Challenge was created by the Office of Governor John Hickenlooper and the Department of Human Services’ Office of Behavioral Health as part of the ongoing State and National effort to make Veteran Homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.

Loaves and Fishes Executive Director Dee Dee Clemont, Upper Arkansas Area Council of Governments (UAACOG) Regional Housing Director Autumn Dever, Jim Berg of the Fremont County Department of Human Services, and Cañon City businessman Brad Rowland, who is interested in transitional housing, are among the volunteers who have spearheaded the 100 Day Challenge in Fremont County.    They were joined at Wednesday’s reception at the Governor’s Mansion in Denver by Fremont County Commission Chairman Ed Norden.

Governor Hickenlooper told those gathered at the reception that 171 homeless veterans in Colorado have been housed so far in 2016.  The Governor said the goal is to house over 500 homeless vets before the year is out.  The Governor said “When we get to functional zero for homeless vets then we can focus on ending homelessness for all in Colorado”.

When the volunteers of Fremont County took up the 100 day challenge early this spring it was estimated that there are 23 homeless veterans in Fremont County.    Key to the effort in Fremont County is pursuit of a 30 unit housing project along Justice Center Road in Cañon City that would target the homeless population in Fremont County.   The UAACOG is in the process of working with the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority to get the financing in place for the project.

Others interested in volunteering to work towards ending homelessness for veterans in Fremont County can contact Autumn Dever at the UAACOG Office in Cañon City.