County commissioners cancel next two sessions

Huerfano Courthouse open but residents strongly urged to use drop box, emails, phone for contact

 

by E.E.Mullens

WALSENBURG — The Huerfano County Courthouse remained open for business as of early this week with various county offices working to minimize any risk of contamination to staff and the public from COVID-19. In light of the international health crisis, the board of county commissioners have cancelled their next two (March 24 – March 31) public meetings.

The board met in a sparsely attended regular session Tuesday, announcing the meeting cancellations and discussing other county response to the coronavirus, vowing to err on the side of caution.

The commissioners are strongly advising the public to use electronic or drop box facilities for all county business transactions whenever possible. The board indicated they recognize the need for some personal visits to county offices, such as the clerk and treasurer, but said even those offices are working on, or have established alternative, non face-to-face methods for conducting business.

The door to the Huerfano Treasurer and Public Trustee’s office was closed Tuesday afternoon with a note from Treasurer Debra Reynolds saying she would come into the hallway to accept payments as necessary. Down the hall at Huerfano County Clerk and Recorder Nancy Cruz’s office, a sign asks the public to wait in the hallway until they are called into the office to take care of their business. These responses will help minimize crowding in county offices.

In addition to canceling their regular meetings for the next two weeks, the commissioners are also considering a vendor/ public temperature screening checkpoint at the main entrance of the courthouse. This would entail a non-invasive temperature reading (taken off of a person’s forehead with a hand held device) and having the person seeking admission to the courthouse answer specific medical and travel questions. This policy had not been put in place as of Tuesday, March 17. The screening practice and document the county is considering adopting is along the same lines as the practice and questionniare Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center is currently using.

The board also said if any kind of emergency meeting is necessary, the appropriate legal 24-hour notification requirement will be met. Administration is currently working with the information technology department to establish an electronic meeting method that will allow for public input. Currently they are considering a video conference system from Zoom.

 

Resolution passed:

The board passed Resolution 20-15 this week, an emergency disaster declaration. The resolution was passed with the amendment that the seven-day resolution may be automatically updated each seven-day period for up to 28 days. The resolution was recommended by the county office of emergency management and the bi-county department of public health and will allow Huerfano County to apply for necessary federal emergency funds that may come to the state in the wake of Governor Jared Polis’ disaster declaration early in the week.

 

Other Huerfano County COVID-19 responses:

• Approved the purchase of a sanitizer unit for the county jail, not to exceed $4,000; suggested a preliminary notification be made to large event planners, such as Sonic Bloom, to prepare for possible suspension by state, federal or county authorities of large group gatherings. There is no way at this point to know how long safety practices necessary to combat the spread of the disease will be needed.

 

In other business:

• Due to the cancellation of their next two meetings, the board this week approved the county bills, approved the grant application for $200,000 to History Colorado-State Historical Fund for the phase I Fox Theatre rehabilitation project, and in conjunction with that, approved the $200,000 DOLA Energy Impact Assistance Fund (EIAF) grant application by county economic development and tourism that would, if granted, be used as matching funds for the State Historical Fund grant, if it is rewarded. The county acts as fiscal agent for these pass through funds.

• Approved a $60,000 DOLA/ EIAF grant application for construction of a Flight for Life helipad at the county community center in Gardner.

• Approved a Yellowstone-EWP Phase I (c) change order for $51,107.

• Approved the county emergency access easement agreement with the La Veta RE-2 School District to allow an emergency only egress easement through the county fairgrounds from the new school site.

• Passed Proclamation 20-01, which declares March 29 through April 4, 2020 as Census Response Week in Huerfano County.

• The board approved new hires, including Melba Zagar as the county’s new human resources director; an office administrator for the planning office, two new detention officers for the county jail and they accepted one detention officer and one deputy sheriff’s resignation.

The Huerfano County Clerk’s Office is asking customers to wait in the hallway to prevent crowding in their office until the health crisis ends. Photo by Eric Mullens

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