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Commissioners Hear Trash & Marijuana Complaints from Copper Gulch Residents

Saying that Fremont County should not be “the armpit of the world”, Copper Gulch residents southwest of Cañon City appeared before the Fremont County Board of Commissioners Tuesday demanding action is taken to clean up trashy properties in their area.   The complaints were punctuated by residents who said illegal marijuana growing has only added to their headaches.

Building Contractor John Garrou and his neighbors from the Glen Vista subdivision submitted photos showing ten locations with excessive trash including cars, truck, mobile homes, trailers, and other junk.    David Colwell appealed to the Commissioners for help from the county.   He said there are also many health code violations with no indoor plumbing and lots of outdoor toilets.   Ray Walter complained that the marijuana growers have showed up and made things worse.   One resident said he could show county officials 14 different sites of illegal marijuana grow operations.   Tea Party member Richard Hollabaugh pleaded for more enforcement saying the whole marijuana thing has been way too easy.   Hollabaugh said “There has to be some help somewhere”.

District 3 Commissioner Ed Norden noted that there have been trash problems for decades in the Copper Gulch but acknowledged they are being amplified by the marijuana growers.   Norden said "If they are growing illegal marijuana, we need to make it clear through the media that the neighbors are watching and you're tired of it, and you're writing down addresses and you are sharing addresses with sheriff's deputies," he said.

District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell said the board recognizes there is work to be done.  She said the Commissioners recently met with state marijuana enforcement representatives, Sheriff Jim Beicker, Undersheriff Ty Martin and the district attorney about the illegal grow operations.

Sheriff Beicker was in the audience and reacted to the appeals for more enforcement.   He said his deputies recently met at a town hall meeting at the Deer Mountain Fire Station with about 70 residents.

He assured them Tuesday that all tips about the illegal grow operations are being looked into by narcotics investigators, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration. However, he said not only is local law enforcement overwhelmed, state and federal agencies also are overextended.

He said law enforcement must abide by the state and federal constitutions, and narcotics investigations take a tremendous amount of time because they must be handled correctly to be effective and so there are no illegal search and seizures.    Regarding the trash situation Commissioner Norden said the Board will meet with Code Enforcement Officers to review the complaints and the status of enforcement efforts throughout the Copper Gulch area.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting the Board of Commissioners:

  • Approved a 12 month extension for the contingency requirements on the Crossroads Business Center Zone Change on the southeast corner of Highways 50 and 115;
  • Approved the 2015 holiday calendars for both 8-hour and 10-hour work sites;
  • Amended the Fremont County personnel policy making minor language clarifications for on-duty injury leave and employees’ sick leave bank;
  • Announced that the deadline for letters of interest to apply for seats on the Fremont County Fair Board had been extended until 12 noon, Thursday, November 13th.