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Commissioners to Appoint Penrose Recreation Board

The Fremont County Board of Commissioners is seeking letters of interest from those who wish to serve as a Director on the Board of the Penrose Parks and Recreation District.

The Board of Commissioners has been informed that there are no duly-elected Directors of the Penrose Park and Recreation District at this time.  Therefore, the Board expects to appoint five persons to serve as Directors. According to state statute, the new Directors will have six months to organize and hold an election to duly elect Directors.

Interested persons shall be electors of the Penrose Parks and Recreation District who are at least 18 years old.  An elector of the District is a person who resides within the District, or pays taxes for property in the District, or owns property in the District, or is the civil partner or spouse of a person who owns property in the District.

Interested persons may submit a letter of interest, including qualifications, to the Fremont County Board of Commissioners, Room 105, 615 Macon Ave., Cañon City, Colorado, 81212, or e-mail to, or fax to (719) 276-7412.

Deadline for submittals is 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 11, 2014.

(The following article is an opinion piece written by District 3 County Commissioner Ed Norden on the Penrose Recreation District issue.  It appeared in the August 30 edition of the Canon City Daily Record:)

For the better part of the past two years, the Fremont County Commissioners have fielded complaints from Penrose area residents about management issues with the Penrose Park and Recreation District. Since county government and county boards of commissioners have no supervisory authority over special districts in the State of Colorado, we could only refer those residents to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs or relay those concerns to DOLA officials. As it turns out, DOLA has very little statutory authority over special districts in Colorado, which includes water districts, conservation districts, recreation districts, fire districts, etc.

This concern was debated recently among Colorado county commissioners participating in a discussion regarding the 2015 legislative agenda for Colorado Counties Inc (CCI). A western slope commissioner voiced concerns about a rogue fire district which is sitting on more than $1 million in reserves but not spending money to properly equip their volunteer firefighters. That commissioner also hit a brick wall in asking DOLA to step in and demand accountability. The message from the CCI discussion was clear.

First of all, boards of commissioners have no authority to step in and demand accountability of special districts and their boards. Secondly, DOLA may have rules and regulations that special districts are expected to follow, but DOLA has no enforcement authority other than withholding distribution of state dollars. The commissioners also agreed that no state agency should have supervisory authority over special districts. That ultimate control rests with the voters and taxpayers residing in that district.

This brings us back to the Penrose Park and Recreation District. The Penrose community is in turmoil over PPRD because a community activist started asking questions of the board and demanding accountability. Multiple issues have been raised and many of these echo the complaints the county commissioners have received the past two years.

The Fremont County Board of Commissioners was advised this week that because no elections were conducted by the Penrose Park and Recreation District during the past six years, DOLA and the State of Colorado view the district as having no duly-elected board members. DOLA further advises that one remedy under state law is that they could order the district dissolved. To avoid dissolution DOLA says the Board of County Commissioners could appoint an interim PPRD Board of Directors, which then would have to conduct its own election within six months.

Throughout this process, the Fremont County Board of County Commissioners has tried to direct complaints to the appropriate state agencies and to avoid getting directly involved. It needs to be stated again emphatically that the only role the commissioners will play now according to state law is to appoint a temporary Board of Directors so the PPRD can get back onto the path of self-governance. The commissioners set a deadline of 5 p.m. Sept. 11 for qualified electors of the Penrose Park and Recreation District to submit letters of interest from which we will appoint five interim board members.

In the weeks and months ahead, I encourage the local news media to be vigilant in monitoring these matters in Penrose. But the larger role belongs to the taxpaying citizens of Penrose. There are many questions that must be asked and answered. It's imperative that Penrose residents get involved with PPRD now and moving forward. State officials monitor compliance with state laws and regulations, but it's up to the voters who pay taxes to any special district to hold their elected officials accountable.  - - -Ed Norden