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Commissioners say no to La Veta bridge funds request

by Eric Mullens

Huerfano County Commissioners Gerald Cisneros, Ray Garcia and Max Vezzani present county resident and veteran Fred Falk (second from right) with a resolution proclaiming October 1, 2017 as Fred Falk Day in Huerfano County recognizing his national service in the U.S. Army. Photo by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — The Huerfano County Commissioners met in a brief session Tuesday morning and heard two funding requests, one that was granted and another, from the Town of La Veta, was not.

La Veta Mayor Doug Brgoch wrote in a September 15 letter to the commissioners saying the town was asking the commissioners for a 2018 budget appropriation of $165,000 to make up excess engineering costs for the Ryus Avenue Bridge project. “The Town of La Veta has the matching funds required in the engineer’s estimates for construction costs, but the latest projections on the bridge projects suggest the cost will be 20 to 30% in excess of the engineer’s estimates,” Brgoch said in the letter. “The $165,000 that we are requesting from the county is the 20 to 30% overage of the engineer’s estimated costs if bids come in as expected,” he wrote.

Brgoch said before the flooding this year, the bridge had already received a D- rating from CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation) who said the structure needed immediate replacement. Brgoch said town officials expect further scalding of the piers over the past five months will result in a CDOT recommendation to close the bridge. “If the bridge is not replaced the town board may have no option but to follow the recommendations from CDOT and close the bridge, leaving no access into La Veta from the west,” Brgoch’s letter said.

“I’ll make this easy for you,” Huerfano County Administrator John Galusha told the board of commissioners, “we cannot afford this and I recommend we do not put this in the (2018) budget.” The commissioners agreed with Galusha and no action was taken on the request.

The commissioners recently met with the Fox Theatre Walsenburg Board of Directors in a work session and Fox Theatre Chairman David Wise formally requested a $25,000 donation from the county in a letter dated September 25. In the letter Wise said the money would go toward the purchase of a new projector and improvements of the building’s facade. Commissioner Max Vezzani made a motion to donate $20,000 to the project and the motion was seconded by commissioner Gerald Cisneros. The motion passed unanimously and the money will come from PILT (payments in lieu of taxes) funds.

Business owners and some residents of Cuchara village have expressed concern over erosion of the main street in the Cuchara business district. Galusha said he would be looking into the situation and what kind of mitigation efforts can be made this week. The county will seek advise and possibly some in-kind work from CDOT to prevent water and snow melt erosion of the short street.

In other business:

• The commissioners signed a grant contract with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a 90% match grant for the purchase of a new 2018 ambulance the county will then lease to Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center’s Spanish Peaks Ambulance Service. The county’s cost in the grant will be $17,500 for the $175,000 grant. Special districts, such as the Huerfano County Hospital District cannot apply for this kind of grant Galusha said. The original grant request was made when the ambulance service was still an enterprise fund of the county. The ambulance will be delivered at about this time next year.

• The commissioners approved the purchase of a new technology self service card reader fuel dispensing terminal for the Spanish Peaks Airport from QTPetroleum for $11,745 plus the cost of a service agreement.

• Commissioners signed the History Colorado grant contract for $200,000 for masonry restoration at the courthouse. This is a 36.3% match grant with the county having to put up approximately $350,000 of the costs if the work is done. If not, the county will return the grant funds to History Colorado.

• The commissioners approved Resolution 17-104 proclaiming October 1, 2017 as Fred Falk Day in Huerfano County recognizing the former U.S. Army Specialist’s service to the nation. Falk was stationed in Germany and was decorated with the National Defense Service Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal.

• The commissioners met briefly with Crestina Martinez, Regional Manager of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs based in Pueblo. Martinez updated the commissioners and administration of potential grants available to the county in various areas, including a marijuana enforcement grant that would assist the sheriff’s office in combating the grey/black market areas of illegal marijuana cultivation and sales. She also discussed some of the potential available tier grants the county might be interested in concerning major work necessary at the county jail.

• The county commissioners will send a thank you letter to Chief Mark Mears of the Pueblo County Emergency Services Bureau for the donation of 10 new Motorola XTS 1500 portable radios to the Huerfano County Office of Emergency Management. The board indicated the radios will be used in search and rescue, emergency management and by the sheriff’s office.

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