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Pathfinder Regional Park

Pathfinder Regional Park is the name chosen for the new park being developed on a 178 acre site along Colorado Highway 115 west of Florence. The park is a cooperative venture of the Canon City Recreation and Park District, the Florence-Penrose RE-2 School District, and Fremont County. The three entities unanimously agreed on the selection of 'Pathfinder' for the park name as development will move forward in 2005.

Pathfinder Regional Park was selected because of its' association with Fremont County 's namesake John C. Fremont. Fremont earned the nickname Pathfinder because of his expeditions exploring and mapping the West between 1838 and 1854. The Park's name signifies Fremont County's heritage as well as referencing the trails, open space, and recreational amenities to be featured in the park.

Among other names considered were 'Bluffs', 'Big Horn', 'Eagle Rock', and 'Cottonwood Regional Park'.

It was noted that many other places named for Fremont already employ the Pathfinder name. You can find Pathfinder Dam and Reservoir in Fremont County , Wyoming ; Pathfinder High School is located in Lander, Wyoming ; the BLM's Pathfinder Office is located in Oregon; and Fremont, Nebraska, has a Pathfinder Trail and hosts their annual Pathfinder Duathlon. This will be the first known use of the Pathfinder name here in Fremont County, Colorado.

The next most important step in plans for Pathfinder Regional Park is consideration of a $300,000 State Mineral Impact grant application that would finance construction of the Highway 115 access and turning lanes. District Three County Commissioner Ed Norden and Canon City Recreation District Board President Scott Johnson plan to be in Denver March 23rd to present the grant application.

Twin Landfill "Findings"

The Fremont County Commissioners approved the following resolution at the Board's regular meeting March 8th, 2005 . It contains the findings for the Board's denial of an amendment to Twin Landfill's Certificate of Designation for the Phantom Landfill dealing with alum sludge and friable asbestos which was the subject of a public hearing at the Board's February 22nd meeting.

Click here to view the resolution (in pdf format).

Duplex Building Permits Moritorium

The Fremont County Commissioners Tuesday approved a resolution which places a temporary moratorium on the issuance of building permits for two-family dwellings in all but two zone districts in Fremont County. Two-family dwellings, or duplexes, can still be permitted in Medium and High Density Zone Districts while the moratorium is in place. The Commissioners took the action after it came to their attention that permitting two-family dwellings in the Low Density Zone District and others conflicts with state statute and could result in an illegal subdivision of the land.

The Board has expressed the desire to correct any discrepancies and assure citizens that a zone district will exist in Fremont County 's zoning resolution that provides exclusively for development of single family dwellings.

The Board's adoption of the moratorium instructs the Fremont County Planning and Zoning Department and the County Planning Commission to review the zoning resolution and to propose an amendment that addresses the conflicts. The Commissioners have asked for a timely review process to keep the moratorium in place for as brief of time possible. In any case, the temporary moratorium will expire no later than September 8th , 2005.

Any changes proposed to zone districts under the County's zoning resolution will be subject to a public hearing before the Board of Commissioners.

Fremont County 2005 Benefits Fair

An estimated 125 Fremont County employees took advantage of information and services provided at the fifth annual 'Fremont County Benefits Fair' held Friday, February 25th in the lower level atrium of the County Administration Building. Eighteen vendors participated, offering information to employees about insurance, retirement plans, health screenings, communications, and fitness programs.

Fremont County's Information Technology Coordinator Matt Eliason reported that a silent auction of old computer equipment netted over $566 for the county's general fund. The auction was the Commissioner's preferred option instead of paying to have the computer equipment disposed of and recycled.

The CSU Extension staff and 4-H youth assisted with snack and lunch services selling 60 lunch meals, eight dozen cinnamon rolls, and four dozen sticky buns as part of the youth fundraising efforts.

Employees and vendors offered numerous compliments on the day's events. The County Commissioners extend their special thanks to Personnel Assistant Joellen Brown in George Overstreet's Human Resources Department for her efforts in organizing the annual event.

Combined Drug Task Force

The Fremont County Commissioners have heard first hand about the successes of the Fremont County Combined Drug Task Force. The Task Force is a cooperative effort between the Fremont County Sheriff's Department and the Canon City Police Department. Deputy Mike Joliffe and Police Detective Andrew Lopez make up the core of the Drug Task Force. Sheriff Jim Beicker said it became clear to him in his 2002 campaign for Sheriff that there was a growing problem with methamphetamine and that it was starting to threaten younger age groups.

Joliffe says they have seen a huge decline in the number of local meth labs over the past year but to fill the void they have seen many pounds of the drug being brought in from places like Arizona.

The Drug Task Force was created through a Federal Justice Department grant. The Task Force work is currently funded through July 1st with a $98,000 Federal Grant. Future funding is contingent on showing measured results of their work.

Sheriff Beicker says without a doubt the two officers and their targeted efforts against illicit drugs are producing results.

Commissioner Mtg. Review

The Fremont County Commissioners approved a pair of intergovernmental agreements at the regular board meeting on February 22nd . The Board approved an agreement with the City of Florence setting into place the contract for dispatching service for the Fremont County Sheriff's Department for the next three years. The agreement calls for an initial annual fee of $180,500 plus any annual increases in dispatcher health insurance costs and any pay increases up to five percent. The Florence Police Department is busy preparing for the switchover of Sheriff's dispatching services from the Canon City Police Department on March 1st.

Also approved was an intergovernmental agreement with the John C. Fremont Library District. The agreement recognizes the formal creation of the District and outlines the District's powers and duties. Voters in Florence , Williamsburg , Coal Creek, Rockvale, and the surrounding area approved creation of the library district in last November's election. The district will take over operation of the Florence Public Library from the City of Florence.

The County Commissioners also recognized Donna Pankratz who is retiring from her duties at the Fremont County Assessor's Office. Pankratz has been working as an agricultural and natural resources appraiser in the Assessor's Office. She is retiring after nearly 20 years of service.
The Board approved an extension of a lease agreement with Milo Werner for another five years for the building that houses the satellite office of the Fremont County Clerk and Recorder in Penrose.

Phantom Landfill Permit Denied

The Fremont County Commissioners voted 3-0 at Tuesday's regular meeting to deny an application by Twin Landfill Corporation for an amendment to its' Certificate of Designation for the Phantom Landfill along County Road 67. Twin Landfill had sought permission to accept friable asbestos and low level radioactive sludge for disposal at the landfill.

Landfill operator Les Liman said permission to accept alum sludge was sought only as a convenience to the City of Canon City so sludge with elevated levels of radioactivity could continue to be deposited at the landfill. The sludge is a byproduct of improved filtering at the City's Water Treatment Plant and results from naturally occurring radiation in the Arkansas River.

Liman had also sought to expand his license to accept friable asbestos. The landfill is already permitted to accept non-friable asbestos. The health threat from friable asbestos results from airborne asbestos particles.

A number of neighbors in the landfill area near Penrose testified in opposition to the application during the hearing which lasted more than four hours.

The Commissioners said a workshop will be scheduled soon to assemble a specific list of findings to support their vote of denial for the alum sludge and asbestos. Those findings will be detailed at the Board's regular meeting on March 8th.

Regional Park Agreement

The Fremont County Commissioners met in special session February 15th to consider approval of an intergovernmental agreement with the Canon City Recreation and Park District and the Florence-Penrose RE-2 School District for the new regional park on 178 acres along Highway 115 west of Florence . The agreement is the culmination of several months of negotiations that will split ownership of the park property and irrigation ditch shares to allow each entity to pursue development of separate parcels.

The agreement will deed 131 acres of land to the Recreation District for development of multi-sports fields, Arkansas River fishing and boating access, and a future baseball-softball complex. Fremont County will have ownership of 47 acres to develop a community events center, outdoor and indoor arenas, and fairground facilities. The agreement provides security to the RE-2 School District for future shared use of the sports fields.

The agreement will allow the Recreation District and Fremont County to meet its commitment to Great Outdoors Colorado in 2005 for timely use of a $500,000 ‘GOCO' grant to begin development of the park. Initial work will deal with the highway access, the entryway, and development of utility plans for the site. A separate $300,000 Colorado Mineral Impact Grant application to pay for the Highway 115 access comes up for consideration in March.

Inmate Work Crews

Local governments in Fremont County are expected to again utilize the services of state inmate work crews from the Colorado Department of Corrections (D.O.C.) for a number of spring and summer maintenance projects. The loss of inmate work crews in 2004 was noted at the joint meeting in January of the Fremont County Commissioners and the Florence City Council. Florence Mayor Pete Gamache noted the importance and value of the work crews to Florence and the County in the past and urged their reinstatement.

Commissioner Ed Norden reports that he relayed the request to State Senator Ken Kester and Representative Lianne 'Buffie' McFadyen while attending the Commissioners ' Orientation at the State Capitol. Kester met the next day with D.O.C. Executive Director Joe Ortiz who pledged that arrangements would be made to again make the inmate work crews available at a minimal cost of 63 cents daily per inmate. Kester said he had a follow-up meeting with Ortiz who reported that local governmental managers will be able to work directly with the prison wardens to arrange for the work crews.

In the past, Fremont County , the City of Florence , City of Canon City, and the Canon City Recreation District have all utilized the services of inmate work crews on a variety of projects. Without those crews in recent years local government either hired extra seasonal help or did not complete the maintenance work.

County Code Enforcement

Fremont County Code Enforcement officials Walter Elkins and Robert Sapp detailed their 2004 annual report to the Fremont County Commissioners at a recent meeting. The officers reported that they handled 119 code enforcement cases through the Planning and Zoning Department last year. That is down from 176 cases handled in 2003. Most of the cases investigated are initiated by complaints from neighbors. Elkins and Sapp say sixty-seven percent have come into compliance with zoning regulations. Sapp says only nine cases were forwarded to the county attorney in 2004 for possible legal action.

The code officers say they are currently investigating 30 code violation cases. Sapp says a lot of complaints tend to come from the Penrose area. He says that is a target area for code enforcement because a lot of people tend to notice that area first as they enter Fremont County on Highway 115.

Sapp and Elkins are both retired law enforcement officers. Because they have been threatened in the past when contacting property owners to enforce code violations, the officers say they typically approach a property owner together. Elkins says the success they have in clearing up code violations is not in taking people to court, but instead relying on voluntary compliance which includes giving property owners sufficient time to take care of the problem before a written violation is ever issued.