Mindy Leary, Gilpin County. On Thursday, April 23, 2020, the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners met for their regular meeting online at 9 a.m. Commissioners Gail Watson, Linda Isenhart and Ron Engels were in attendance, as were County Manager Abel Montoya and County Attorney Bradford Benning. Highlights included a Covid-19 update, the Church Ditch Water Lease and the upcoming Community Workshop.

Emergency Manager Nate Whittington and Public Health Coordinator Bonnie Albrecht gave the Covid-19 update. The Emergency Operations Center or EOC has been looking at wildfire prevention preparation with social distancing with fire season approaching. Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are still in place.

Albrecht reported that Gilpins single case of Covid-19 has moved out of ICU. Watson asked how Gilpin Countys implementation of contact tracing went and Albrecht replied that it was fairly easy and that their few contacts have quarantined. Contact tracing is a core disease control measure where public health staff help a patient recall everyone with whom theyve had close contact. Public health staff then inform the contacts of their exposure and encourage them to stay home for at least 14 days.

The Church Ditch Water Lease 2020 was presented by Benning. The Church Ditch is located in Golden and is an old irrigation ditch, said Benning. Gilpin leases it every year to irrigators and it helps the county maintain its water rights. The lease was approved unanimously.

Community Development Director Stephen Strohminger presented the Comprehensive Plan and Community Workshop which is scheduled for May 5. Strohminger overviewed the upcoming meeting which will be chock full of useful information ranging from land use to essential services. The Comprehensive Plan has four parts that are being submitted for review to the board.

The Legal Status Report included an FAA update about the standing statement that will be filed jointly with Greenwood Village. Other statements include who the petition is against, namely the FAA.

The County Manager Status Report included a report on the slash site which will open to residents only on May 6 and will use current county employees.

Human Services Director Laura Solomon explained that the countys allocation for childcare has been overspent as it was last year as well. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is also overspent but Solomon is asking the board for about $9,700 to get $65,000 worth of grant money that she has applied for. The state is applying for a grant at fifty cents on the dollar from the federal government. If no grant is received, then the county would owe dollar for dollar.

Montoya explained that the state is being very frugal with their funding right now. About fifty percent of counties are overspent but the state may only backfill their own budget shortfalls.

The board passed the motion to approve the $9,750 expenditure of childcare assistance program funds to pay for $65,000 worth of services.

The board has decided to have their public meetings only on Tuesdays with the work sessions scheduled for Thursdays. The minutes from April 21 had one edit and were approved.

On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners met for a special meeting online at 9 a.m. Commissioners Gail Watson, Linda Isenhart and Ron Engels were in attendance, as were County Manager Abel Montoya and County Attorney Bradford Benning. Highlights included a Covid-19 update, impact fees discussion, senior services funding and an explanation of the large aircraft sited over Gilpin County on Monday, April 27.

Emergency Manager Nate Whittington has been researching recovery funds, decontamination of N95 masks through Adams County and preparation for a second wave of Covid-19 this fall. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is continuing to work with Clear Creek and Boulder County on wildfire sheltering and evacuation through the 119 corridor. Whittington has secured 75 rapid blood draw test kits intended for patrol with more being held up in customs that might become available to the community.

Public Health Coordinator Bonnie Albrecht said the one case in Gilpin County was discharged to a rehab facility and is no longer in the county database. She is preparing the Public Health Advisory Board to familiarize themselves with the countys contact tracing process.

Chief Paul Ondr discussed impact fees to be collected by Timberline Fire Protection starting June 1 for new building developments, not current or existing development. Watson asked about sprinkler system requirements and Ondr responded that it depends on the use of the building. Because theres so little commercially zoned properties, the impact fees are higher than other districts.

Clerk and Recorder Sahari McCormick informed the board of a grant application to the State Electronic Recording Technology Board. Gilpin hopes to receive this grant to digitize county records and get them online.

Area Agency on Aging representative Jayla Sanchez-Warren was invited by the board to present possible relief funding for Gilpin Countys senior needs that include supplies, transportation and Meals on Wheels. Market Meals are free to older Americans though a donation and must be requested and Sanchez-Warren will be seeking more resources for seniors in the area.

Scott Haas, Clear Creek District Ranger, met with the board and discussed the current situation including limited staffing and Stage 1 Fire Restrictions which will extend to the end of May. Watson mentioned a sighting of a low-flying aircraft yesterday. Haas responded that it was a C-130 operated by the Army National Guard out of Cheyenne that has been retrofitted with a fire-retardant system and will be seen for the next week or so running test drills.

Montoya presented the County Manager Status Report seeking formal approval of the policy for all county employees to get sick leave due to Covid-19. The motion to approve was unanimous. Emergency closure pay would terminate on May 2 meaning that regular pay would resume instead of closure pay. This motion was also approved unanimously.

Meeting minutes for April 23 were approved with one small edit.

(Originally published in the April 30, 2020, print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)

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