Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting opened with Middle Park Fair & Rodeo Board President, Janet Engel, handing over a check for $40,000 to the  county. “Thank all of you for your incredible support for this year’s Fair and Rodeo events,” said Engel. She told them the Fair and Rodeo had been very successful and the Easton Corbin concert on Saturday night was also successful, but “not as much as we hoped.” Engel explained there were a few missed steps along the way, and, going forward, the Fair Board wants to go ahead and try again next year.

In late May, the commissioners had appropriated an additional $40,000, outside the 2019 budget, to help the Fair Board with up front expenses related to the concert. Costs for entertainment, stage, lighting, production, security, additional port-o-potties, advertising and promotion exceeded the board’s coffers and the commissioners accepted the risk of appropriating the funds understanding that, if the Fair was successful, they would repay the $40K, and if not, the Board would provide an accounting of funds received and repay as much of the $40K as was available. 

The Demolition Derby, held the following Saturday, was also very successful. Previous events yielded between $15-18K, and this year, with a record 2,500 in attendance, they raised $29K. Engel told the commissioners that Will and Becca Jones, who had run the event for many years had announced this year would be their last. “The Fair Board is trying to figure out how to go forward, see if we can continue the Demolition Derby,” said Engel. “They had contacts with all kinds of sponsors. It is a big hurdle to crux, but we will figure out something.”

Commissioner Kris Manguso encouraged Engel and the Fair Board to continue the event. “I think they are willing to share the information,” said commissioner Manguso, referring to the departing Jones’.

Engel thanked the commissioners, road and bridge and staff for their support of this year’s event. “We are looking forward to continuing what I hope is the same kind of fair next year. Thank you.”

Assistant County manager Ed Moyer said, “I want to thank the Fair Board and Janet. It took a lot of courage to get out there on a limb, with the risks to put on the concert. It was a huge success. I wanted to thank her publicly.”

Commissioner Manguso observed, “What was different this year was security.” She told Engel the use of a local firm for security was appreciated. 

“Kudos to us for having the foresight,” said Engel. “It was a leap of faith to spend the money for security. We will continue to do that.”

Small Buildings, Big Problem

Deputy and Code Enforcement officer Ricky Liberalli next addressed the commissioners with observations on public perception of accessory dwelling units. “I just want you guys to be aware, from the Sheriff and Community Development, of an issue on small buildings.” Liberalli reported there are several small outbuildings, including at least one storage unit, where individuals are suspected of having taken up residence.  

“I would love to invite any and all of you to ride with me on my circuit. We have stuff that runs from Icebox Estates all the way to Big Horn Park. No matter where we go, we find people living in conditions with no sanitation. We need to rethink the small building concept.” He told the commissioners it becomes a nightmare for the departments in terms of enforcement. “This is something to mull over,” said Liberalli, adding, “and, seriously, anytime you guys want to ride around, we can load up the vehicle, bring a sack lunch and ride around.”

Community Development staffing

Community Development director Robert Davis told the commissioners that both Julie Nessen and Joan Lyons had tendered their resignations. He asked that he be able to retain them on a part-time basis, until the department is able to fill the positions. Both staff members had indicated they would waive the county health insurance, which would result in savings to the budget.

“I personally hope they are able to work part-time for as long as possible,” said commissioner chair Richard Cimino.

The commissioners unanimously approved retaining the two staff members on a part-time basis until the positions are filled and the new employees are sufficiently trained.

“We approved your going to part-time, but we did not approve your leaving,” commissioner Merrit Linke lightheartedly told Nessen and Lyons.

Fire Conditions ‘Moderate’

Sheriff Brett Shroetlin provided an update on fire conditions. He told the commissioners that the matrix they utilized to determine action had dropped down a little bit. “We had a small fire start yesterday up at highways 14 and 40, and they were able to put it out with gatorade bottles,” he reported. “I see no reason to move forward, we are trending downward.” 

Commissioner Linke said, “I really appreciate the scientific approach to the matrix you have provided.”

Chairman Cimino added, “I was so relieved to see the rain. It was a gully washer.”

No fire restrictions have been implemented in Grand County this season. The cooler weather and moisture have contributed to favorable conditions.

Donor-advised fund excess reallocated to Mental Health transport

At a previous meeting, Grand Foundation executive director, Megan Ledin, told the commissioners that $20,000 of the 2019 donor-advised funds had been allocated to Headwaters Trails Alliance (HTA), but since the commissioners opted to fund HTA directly from the general fund, the funds could be redirected. 

Finance Director Curtis Lange had worked with the sheriff and Jen Fanning, executive director of Grand County Rural Health Network, to provide background for the board to make a decision on where to direct the $20K excess.

Lange told the commissioners that, according to Fanning, $19,474 had been spent on transports year-to-date. 28 people had been transported, at an average cost of $708 per transport. In the second half of 2018, they had spent $16,501. “They would be happy to receive these funds.”

Sheriff Shroetlin recommended the $20K go directly to Mind Springs Health, since they hold the contract with Citadel, the company that provides the transport services for M1 mental health holds. 

Funding for the transports had previously been paid through a grant, which was exhausted in May, creating a gap in providing necessary transport services.

“My intent is to have the county step up to make sure the county will fund to June 2021,” said chairman Cimino. “As we evaluate in 2020, we know the deadlines and need to remember this. Through June 2021 is where I want to go.”

“We expect to have 10-15 more this year, based on trends,” said sheriff Shroetlin. “Next year, we’ll keep analyzing and keep track of this, too. We can report back.”

To listen to the meetings and learn more, visit co.grand.co.us.