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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.

Headwaters Park Task Force

SALIDA -- The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) is accepting nominations for their Citizens Task Force (CTF). The nominations will be accepted through February 28, 2005.
The task force represented by 14 members has been functioning since 1990 as an advisory group to the Bureau of Land Management's River Manager and Colorado State Park's Park Manager. The task force gives recommendations to AHRA on management, growth and development issues throughout the recreation area.

One delegate is needed to represent each of seven interest areas:
1) Anglers, 2) Commercial Permittees, 3) Environmental Interests, 4) Private Boaters, 5) Local Governments, 6) River Front Property Owners, and 7) Water Users Interests. These are two-year terms from April 2005 until April 2007. Members are expected to attend five regular meetings each year, which are typically scheduled from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m.

To receive a nomination form or more information about the process concerning the AHRA's Citizens Task Force, call AHRA at 719-539-7289. Information can also be obtained by visiting the AHRA website at

Marshall Butler of the Fremont County Planning and Zoning Department currently serves as a local government representative on the task force.

West Nile Virus

Representatives of local government agencies have met to begin mapping out strategy for the 2005 effort to fight West Nile Virus. Attending a January 28 th meeting with the Fremont County Commissioners were county health and extension officials, Canon City and Florence Municipal officials, and officials from the Fremont Sanitation District and Canon City Recreation District.

Fremont County saw the number of West Nile Virus human cases drop from more than 70 in 2003 to only four confirmed cases in 2004 with no serious illness or deaths reported. Despite those improved numbers local officials say they want to remain vigilant in making sure local citizens take the necessary precautions to avoid West Nile Virus.

The 2005 West Nile campaign will likely again be an education based initiative urging citizens to use caution in the early morning and evening hours to avoid being bitten by the tarsalis mosquito which spreads the virus. Efforts will again be made to encourage horse owners to vaccinate their animals, to encourage residents to use insect repellant containing 'Deet', to distribute Deet repellant wipes at public events, and there will be continued testing of trapped mosquitoes and dead corvid birds.

Fremont County Nursing Director Clarice Little said the county hopes to secure about $10,000 in grant money this summer to help finance the fight against West Nile Virus.

Weed Manager Award

Fremont County Weed Control Coordinator Paul Telck was named the 2004 Weed Manager of the Year by the Colorado Weed Managers Association (CWMA). Telck received the award at the CWMA Annual Conference in December in Grand Junction . The award is presented to an individual who has best achieved success without regard to budget, agency, or other obstacles.

Paul became active in Fremont County 's Weed Advisory Board in 1997. He later was elected President of the Board and then took on the post as Weed Control Coordinator serving in that position for the past five years. When he took on that role there was no local weed management equipment. In cooperation with the Board of Commissioners and through the securing of grant funding Paul has assembled several pieces of herbicide application equipment. He works with landowners and groups in Fremont and Custer Counties and serves on the steering committee of the Upper Arkansas Regional Weed Management Cooperative.

Telck is also involved with county extension work as a Master Gardener, is a 4-H Club Leader, and is a leader of a 4-H Entomology Club.

Aeronautical Grant

Fremont County has secured another grant from the Colorado Aeronautical Board. Airport Manager Richard Baker, Airport Advisory Board Chairman Walt Giffin, and District Three Commissioner Ed Norden appeared before the Aeronautical Board in Denver January 25th to request approval of a grant to finance purchase and equipping of a First Response Vehicle at the Fremont County Airport.

The Board unanimously approved a grant award of $7,500 for a fifty-fifty cost share to station a First Response Vehicle at the airport. Baker says the intent is to have a vehicle equipped to attack a fire at the airport within the first several minutes until volunteer firefighters from Florence can respond to the scene. Baker and his staff would also be trained on the initial attack for such fires. Board members emphasized the importance of having a vehicle with foam firefighting capabilities for fuel related fires at airports.

The County will initially consider the purchase of a used fire truck which could be equipped for such uses at the airport.

Regional Park Update

The Fremont County Board of Commissioners, the Canon City Recreation and Park District, and the Florence-Penrose RE-2 School District continue to move towards adoption of the final master plan and an Intergovernmental Agreement for the new regional park and events center site. The site is on 178 acres along the Arkansas River along Colorado 115 west of Florence.
Representatives of the three entities met recently to review the agreement which will divide the tract into 131 acres for the Recreation District and 47 acres for county development. The agreement is expected to provide the RE-2 District with joint ownership for part of the property to preserve the District's interest in participating in future development of a baseball and softball complex.

At the forefront of the project in 2005 is constructing a Highway 115 access into the property with appropriate safety features of added lanes for left turns, acceleration, and deceleration. The Recreation District is applying for a $300,000 State Mineral Impact Grant that will be integral to financing the highway access.

The Recreation District and the County are then anxious to pursue Phase One development of the site. For the Rec District that involves site preparation, utilities, irrigation improvements, roads, and parking. For Fremont County the focus will be on roads, parking, and site development for an outdoor arena. A $500,000 Great Outdoors Colorado Grant is the key finance component towards development of the site.

One representative of each entity will also form a committee to establish a process to choose a name for the regional park this spring.

Commissioner Meetings Review

The Fremont County Commissioners honored a retiring member of the District 3 County Road and Bridge Crew at their regular meeting January 24 th . Don Valdez has retired after 12 years of service working with Tallahassee Road Foreman Curtis Stone and the rest of the crew. Commission Chairman Larry Lasha noted Valdez' hard work and dedication over the years saying Valdez was one of the county's best snow plow operators.

The Commissioners also reappointed Ralph Kunselman, George Fletcher, and Elbert Fourtner to the Fremont County Weed Advisory Board. Bud Chess was also reappointed as an honorary lifetime member of the Weed Advisory Board noting his role in organizing Fremont County's fight against noxious weeds when Chess served as the District 3 County Commissioner.
Tara Begrin of the Upper Arkansas Area Council of Governments (C.O.G.) detailed the 2005-2006 Community Service Block Grant allocations to area counties. At a public hearing Begrin said Fremont County expects to receive a $36,921 block grant that will be directed towards emergency services for low income residents of the county. The C.O.G. distributes the one time assistance directly to needy families with a $300 lifetime limit under the program. Begrin said 500 families were served by the grant money in 2004.

The Commissioners also approved the annual Library Service Agreement with the City of Canon City. The County has again committed $10,000 in financial assistance in 2005 to the Canon City Public Library because of library users who live outside the city limits.

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