OURAY – The public hearing scheduled for Nov. 30 regarding the possible amendment to Section 6.12 of the Ouray County Land Use Code has been moved to Dec. 14 at 2 p.m.
The Ouray County Commissioners, who pushed back the date at Monday’s meeting due to a scheduling conflict anticipate it will be well-attended; at the last public hearing, on Nov. 2, at least 15 county residents spoke in opposition to the proposed amendment. If passed, the amendment to the code would take away a two-thirds majority power from Planned Unit Development or subdivision landowners to approve or deny specific changes to their PUD. County Attorney Mary Deganhart opined that providing a two-thirds vote to PUD or subdivision landowners is an illegal delegation of power, and something that only legislative bodies – like the BOCC – should wield.
The commissioners decided on the Dec. 2 continuance to facilitate public input on cases cited by Deganhart in her legal opinion. Deganhart plans to have her research on the county’s website sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Need for Food Stamps Continue to Climb in Ouray County
Ouray County Social Services Director Allan Gerstle reported to the Ouray County Commissioners on Monday that requests for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, have gone up drastically in 2009.
In 2008, the Ouray County Social Services offices distributed $114,000 in food stamps. By the end of October this year, more than $200,000-worth of food stamps had been distributed, already well over the county’s $130,000 budgeted for the food assistance.
“We are going to distribute, by the end of this year, $250,000 in food benefits in Ouray County,” Gerstle said. “This is clearly indicative of what is going on in the community and the economy.”
Gerstle said he will have to make a budget amendment sometime in January for the increased need for the food program but said it is fully funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and that the increased need is mainly an administration issue for his department.
“We have never gone over budget in the years I have been here,” he said. “We are going to go over budget this year and it is mainly related to the $120,000 we didn’t budget for.”
Gerstle also reported that the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) started Nov. 1; already, there are many applications.
“It is amazing,” Gerstle said. “We haven’t had time to figure out how many applications we got so far, and I don’t think it’s because of the weather but because of the economic [conditions]. It is going to be a large financial number and household number on LEAP.”
Gerstle reiterated that, like the food-stamp program, the LEAP program is funded 100 percent by the Colorado Department of Human Services
Hospice Provider Seeks Grant Money to Cover Electronic Records Conversion
Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado, which serves over 400 patents on the Western Slope, including Montrose and Ouray counties, is seeking a Colorado Department of Local Affairs block grant to cover the cost of converting all of its health records to an electronic form. On Monday, the Ouray County Commissioners agreed to write a letter to DOLA in support of the healthcare organization’s application for the grant money.
During Monday’s “call to the public” portion of the commissioners’ meeting in Ouray, Nancy Hoganson, the director of community relations at HPCWC, said that recently passed legislation has mandated that institutions using Medicare must go to electronic records by 2014. While creating an electronic patient record system will improve efficiency for patients, the cost of converting will be expensive.
“Really, electronic health records are all about patient care,” she said. “It will provide safer, better and more efficient care for patients. All records will be accessed electronically, including the patient’s health history, emergency room visits, medications they are using, and lab tests. Everything would be together on one file.”
But, Hoganson said, “The price tag on this is fairly enormous.”
Agreeing that Hoganson faces a big undertaking, commissioners Heidi Albritton and Lynn Padgett agreed that the board would draft a letter of support for the grant application.
“This is a huge project and a lot of money,” Albritton said.
HPCWC employs over 270 staff members and has offices in Grand Junction, Delta, Collbran, and Montrose.