OURAY COUNTY - Ouray County Road and Bridge Supervisor Chris Miller reported to the Ouray Board of County Commissioners on Monday that fencing at the Ouray County Transfer Station is nearing completion, but the three-phase power line that would enable Waste Management to install a new compactor site has become a “more complicated” issue.
In May, the commissioners passed a resolution to pick up the tab for approximately $16,000 in capital improvements to the transfer station in order for Waste Management to keep in it operation. Part of those improvements included the installation of a three-phase power line that would feed power to a new generator. The commissioners, at the time of the approval, saw the installation of the power line not only as an upgrade for the transfer station but as an upgrade for the Ouray County building as well, as it would provide power for future welding operations and other projects.
But on Monday, Miller told the commissioners that the distance between the power line and the transfer station is not as close as originally thought, necessitating another transfer box to power the county’s building.
“We can run it, but we can’t run it to the shop as well,” he said. “It will have to be a different job.”
Commissioner Lynn Padgett said if the county can’t justify the installation of the power line, she would like to see the operation of the transfer station go out as a Request for Proposals to other companies.
“I wish we would have done that in February,” she said.
The commissioners agreed to discuss the issue when it could be formally put onto the commissioners’ meeting agenda.
Weed Manager Taking Steps to Fight Leafy Spurge
After a discussion at Monday’s Board of County Commissioners Meeting, Weed Manager Ron Mabry will be scheduling a County Weed Board meeting to discuss the next steps in fighting the spread of Leafy Spurge on Miller Mesa.
According to Mabry, in 2001, approximately eight landowners signed an agreement that loosely outlined the steps they would take to stop the spread of the invasive weed. The spread of the weed (Euphorbia esula), is continuing to spread on Miller Mesa, however, and in other parts of the county, he said, suggesting more should be done to stop its growth. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Leafy Spurge is a noxious and invasive weed that infests over 1.2 million hectares of land in North America.
“The agreement was approved in 2001 and in 2002 everybody signed up to the agreement,” Mabry told the commissioners on Monday. “There are about eight parties from the Miller Mesa group on it. The Leafy Spurge has really spread and there is a lot more people that should be a part of that agreement.”
He also said the agreement itself is “vague” and that it doesn’t really have any “teeth in it at all.
“I would like to do a new agreement or amendment to the agreement or expand the agreement,” Mabry said. He then asked the commissioners for direction on what steps he should take next.
Commissioner Keith Meinert suggested that Mabry start by holding a meeting of the County’s Weed Board and then, if it is recommended that the commissioners get involved, a worksession be held to discuss other measures.
“I would like to see it done under them so the weed board feels like it is actually doing something,” Meinert said. “The first instance is for them to try to work something out with the landowners and then come to us to ratify the thing. This is the right sequence of events.”
Mabry suggested to the commissioners that they could at some point declare this particular weed an “A-list species” that has to be eradicated. Commissioner Heidi Albritton said that she wouldn’t have a problem doing that but that she needs to have a little more knowledge about it before making that decision.
Meinert said the county does have the authority “to bring the hammer down” on the landowners who are allowing the spread of the weed, but he would rather “start with getting people to participate in the control of weeds.
“I just want to send the message out there that we are willing to focus on a weed like that,” Mabry said. Commissioner Lynn Padgett added that such discussion could develop criteria the commissioners might later use if they need to give another invasive weed A-list status.
It is unclear when Mabry will schedule a meeting of the weed board.
No Go-Ahead on Emergency Radios
The Ouray Board of County Commissioners on Monday denied a request from Ouray County Emergency Planning Coordinator Alan Staehle to order new 800 megahertz radios that would eventually be paid for with Department of Homeland Security grant money. The commissioners wanted to see better documentation of where the radios will be going and who would use them before giving the go ahead for the order.
Staehle told the commissioners that various emergency responding agencies in the region would use the radios to communicate with each other. He added that, if he didn’t order the equipment soon, the county might lose its funding for the radios.
“When we talk about unfunded mandates from the state, this is the one [instance where] the state actually puts money where their mouth is,” Staehle told the commissioners. “They pay for half of it. They expect me to be acting on behalf of the county in the bigger sense.”
The commissioners expressed concern over other municipalities benefiting from equipment without documenting their need for the devices and they suggested a formal plan for distribution of the county-owned radios should be imposed.
“Even though this is coming from homeland security grants, I am concerned about the proliferation of radios and not having a plan of what kind of communications we need,” Commissioner Keith Meinert said. “I would like to have a plan.”
Commissioner Heidi Albritton agreed with Meinert and added that she would like formal requests from other agencies regarding their communication equipment requirements. “I want them to formally request [radios from] us,” Albritton said. “It is fully appropriate to get things on behalf of the county. We need to know that the support and the desire for them is out there. We also need some sort of way to check out that equipment. We are talking about big dollar signs of equipment out there. We need to have some specific intent of the entities.”
Commissioner Lynn Padgett suggested that Staehle write up a brief fact sheet that would say what departments are planning to get what in the form of radios. Staehle said he needed to get the order for the new radios in as soon as possible, but would go and gather the information the commissioners requested at the meeting.
Ouray County Social Services Director Allan Gerstle said on Monday that requests for Food Stamps in Ouray County between January and April this year grew by 60 percent compared to the same time period last year.
Between January and April of 2008, his office saw an average of 50 households seeking food benefits per month. This year that number has increased to an average of 80 per month.
“We are clearly seeing many more people in the office,” Gerstle said. “We are seeing 30 more families a month and we are talking to a lot of people who are not eligible for them.
“I hope we are reaching the top of this and starting to come back down,” he said.
Jane Bennett Appointed to Dallas Park Cemetery Board
The Ouray Board of County Commissioners appointed Jane Bennett to the Dallas Park Cemetery Board on Monday. The board has been operating with only two members since Bruce Norwood resigned from his post in 2007.
Bennett, who is also the Secretary/President of the Ouray County Ranch History Museum, stated in a letter to the commissioners that she would like to care for the cemetery as she cares for the museum.
“Many of the people I’m learning about are interred at the Dallas Park Cemetery,” she stated. “I’d like to serve on the board to help take care if their final resting place, as I’m helping to care for their memory at the museum.”
Commissioner Keith Meinert thanked Bennett for her work and her desire to work on the cemetery board.
“I would like to thank Jane for being willing to serve on the board because it is difficult and I know the problems we have had keeping people on the [Dallas Park Cemetery Board],” he said at Monday’s meeting. “And not just keeping people on the board but having people willing to do something. It is a thankless job.”
Commissioner Lynn Padgett agreed. “[Jane} is the ideal candidate and I was excited to see that she applied,” she said.