Elbert County Under the Radar    "In times of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

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If someone is interfering, or attempting to interfere, with your right to vote, or with anyone else’s right to vote, this may be voter intimidation, and a violation of federal law. Please report any such activity to poll workers inside your polling station, and for additional information, call Election Protection, a nationwide network of voting rights lawyers, at 1-866-OUR-VOTE for English or 1-888-Ve-Y-VOTA for Spanish.

Photography: Lori P. Ferrari
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A near historic event happened on Saturday, October 22, 2016. All the candidates, both Republican and Democrat, (from all three districts) presented their case to be elected Commissioner to the public. Here’s the epic part, all the candidates were at the same location at the same time! For at least the last ten years Republicans either refused to meet or in several occasions agreed to similar “all candidate” events and then rudely would not show up at the agreed times and places. We are glad such spineless and childish behavior might have finally come to an end.

Representing Republicans were Chris Richardson, Danny Wilcox, and Grant Thayer. The Democratic candidates were Jill Duvall, Don Charobee, and Barb Miller. The event was presented by Elbert County Citizens (Marlene Groves), Prairie Times, & The Ranchland News.

Somewhere around 50 or so people attended despite the fact that the event location was just past the last dragon sighting in Elbert County, but just before the Kansas border. Apparently the Republican overlords would not agree to the event being somewhere closer to population centers... presumably afraid for voters to judge their candidates without a teleprompter. Fortunately the weather held and it was a lovely afternoon out in the boonies.

Despite the remoteness, the outside event under the pine trees was well and thoughtfully organized with plenty of seating and refreshments. Kudos to the organizers and volunteers who made this event happen. The candidates all generally represented themselves articulately while making their points (which often overlapped party to party). I noticed several times when the Republicans referred to and agreed with ideas presented by both Jill Duvall and Don Charobee and then went on the explain why. Which just goes to show that good ideas are not exclusive to any one party. The candidates and audience were all congenial and appreciative for the opportunity to share viewpoints. There were no raised voices, fist-fights, hangings or guns drawn…how boring, nothing to tweet at 3 o’clock in the morning.

So lest we forget, this is how Democracy is supposed to work, with an informed and involved population, voting for the best candidates for the jobs.

BOCC meeting held at fairgrounds 10/26/16

-Consent agenda - approved:
Various vouchers/warrants; final payment for chip seal on Rd. 21 & 186
-Removed the Water Advisory Committee discussion from work/study session to be addressed at a later time.

1) Marlene Groves - disturbed that commissioners allowed an elected official attack a citizen's proposal when that citizen wasn't present. (Clerk Dallas Schroeder attacked Ms. Grove's citizen finance committee proposal at the BOCC meeting on 10/12/16 when Ms. Grove was not present to defend her presentation. Ms. Groves had presented her power point presentation to the public in September)
2) Victoria Thalimer - asked that we continue to set up the large room at the fairgrounds for BOCC meetings so we don't have the delay that occurred today and that we have room for all the citizens.

*Quarterly Public Trustee report: County treasurer Rick Pettit reported that foreclosures are increasing slightly year to date. Number of sales has decreased.

*Forsgren contract for county water study: Ric Morgan reported - $140,000 cost (grant from state for $120,000 - county matching funds $20,000). Severance taxes being reduced due to decrease in oil and gas production so funding for grants like this may be less available. Project has been reduced to 10 month timeline (from 12 month). All subcontractors identified at this point. Report to commissioners required every 10 weeks regarding progress/milestones. 3 public meetings mandated during project. Work product is owned by consultant; county would own completed study.

Public comment on this item - Susan Shick had questions about subcontractors not exceeding 30% of work (number is perhaps too high); concerns with proposal because of Will Koger's membership on WAC ("a seat at the table" when other bidders were not allowed this; perhaps opens the county to legal action); concerns about county management of this contract. Donna Ross - Forsgren contract should include more of the data analysis info to county. Gary Lauer - not approving this contract provides risk to county if it is stalled anymore.

Contract dated 10/21/16 approved by a vote of 2-1. Commissioner Ross voted against due to lack of confidence in process that was followed with this contract.

*New auditing firm: County Manager Ed Ehmann proposed change from Edie-Bailey to Rubin Brown; county received 4 bids; will save approximately $60,000. Commissioner Ross was unaware that an RFP for bids had even been executed - he just received spreadsheet 2 days ago so hasn't had sufficient time to research bidders. Contract with Rubin Brown approved 2-1 with Commissioner Ross dissenting.

*November 18, 2015 BOCC minutes still not available to public. Motion to hire a professional to transcribe this meeting failed due to Commissioners Rowland and Willcox's lack of support. Commissioner Rowland and Willcox believe that the audio suffices for citizens. Written meeting minutes of the 11/18/15 were presented in the past but not approved because they did not reflect an accurate representation of what took place at the meeting.

Public comment on this item - Marlene Groves is very disappointed that this information is not available to public; it is clear that the commissioners are hiding information from citizens. Susan Shick - state statutes (CRS 30-10-309) and (CRS 24-6-402-(d)(i)) are clear that minutes are to be recorded in writing and timely; our county clerk refuses to do his statutory duty (currently delinquent on 12 sets of minutes dating back to April 2016); recommends that the BOCC hire a clerk to the board.

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Bill Harris - thinks the county is doing a great job; criticized folks who are asking for more transparency and accountability.

*MOU for control of confidential data - has to do with sales tax information; agreement that state puts out that limits access to website for the purpose of controlling info (info can only be used for administration or enforcement of sales tax law). Treasurer Pettit currently is contact point for access to that website.

*Agate Prairie Conservation Legacy - letters of support for conservation easement passed; 3 ranching families in the county have applied.

*Tyler Technologies subscription agreement for clerk/recorder and assessor's offices - software annual fees of $110,000 each year for 5 years, subject to annual appropriations. County will continue to utilize these services.

Meeting adjourned to work/study session:
1) Videotaping meetings - Ed Ehmann said that they may start videotaping meetings (not live streaming); need to decide what constitutes official minutes. Ed will bring a proposal to the BOCC. This is "just a courtesy" per Ed Ehmann for BOCC and Planning Commission meetings, not a requirement.

2) BOCC minutes - Clerk Dallas Schroeder needs to be present for this discussion. BOCC meeting minutes are way behind.

3) Attorney Steve Larson's billing statement - BOCC initially approved $15,000 retainer; Commissioner Rowland says Larson has been doing legal work that wasn't agreed to by commissioners. We also currently have an open records request from a citizen requiring Larson's response (which means the county needs to pay more money to Larson's firm, after having already spent $30,000 with this legal firm). Commissioner Willcox stated that this conversation is not appropriate without Commissioner Ross being present (Ross had a previous commitment so could not attend study session). Willcox said that the citizen requiring the response has been satisfied with what he's received and needs no more per his open records request. Discussion followed concerning disengaging Steve Larson. Willcox proposed routing all attorney issues through the county attorney, Wade Gateley.

-Jill Duvall

And now for a little musical campaign levity...
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Security at the Polls

I want to take a moment and go on the public record:

I am working as a volunteer in Elbert County on the 2016 General Election. I have always believed that helping with elections is my civic duty. To me, there is nothing more important than to protect the integrity of our elections. Each election cycle I am honored to take the oath as an election official to do my job honestly and without bias.

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She Said, He Said ... and He Actually Said It

Irresponsible, Unrealistic, Naive, Petulant, Childish, Vindictive, Prejudiced, Bigoted, Racist, Islamophobic, Anti-Semitic, Misogynistic, Fascistic, Authoritarian, Insensitive, Erratic, Disturbed, Irrational, Inhuman Individual

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Planning Commission Meeting- Oct 18, 2016

Staff report:
CDS director Kyle Fenner reported on business at most recent BOCC meeting.

Public comment:
Victoria Thalimer - Independence development - concern about number of road trips in and out.
(Dan Rosales, chair of the PC, then said that the PC won't listen to comments about Independence from public until the PC has received a formal application.)

Rick Brown - referenced Chris Richardson's meeting in Parker with developer Jim Marshall; also pointed out in the bylaws of the PC which include a section dealing with requirements for professional performance (part 2, section 7). Private meeting with a developer by anyone on the Planning Commission raises ethical concerns.
(Dan Rosales stated that there was nothing improper done at this meeting between Jim Marshall and Chris Richardson that occurred in Parker.) Editor's Note: The developer and commissioner candidate were probably just swapping chili recipes - right?

Bill Johnston - concerned about rural ambiance of our neighborhoods and wants that preserved. Before things get front-loaded on proposed developments, he wants the PC aware of the citizens' concerns.

Patty Sward - commented about USGS water study recently released, keeping in mind that we had a wet year last year, and we have had very little recent growth; we need to look at the big picture as far as all impacts.

Tim Goodwin - talked about lack of current information on county website and the need for citizens to be heard.
Jackie Tugwell - has been told that Independence is already done; the citizens have questions that need answered, and no one at the county will help out. Citizens want to be on equal footing with developer; they want a "fair shake" because they aren't convinced that all requirements were met for the rezone. Citizens want to be proactive but need cooperation from county.
(Dan Rosales responded: citizens have valid points. 1)We require a 300 year water supply for subdivisions. 2)new Master Plan will cover a huge list of subjects and meetings will allow for citizen input. 3)Website needs improved; Master Plan will have its own website. 4)Meeting on November 1 to discuss contractor selected for Master Plan.)

Public hearing:
Coyote Meadows Rezone - (Paula Wilderman disclosed that the attorney who wrote a letter about this rezone was an attorney she had previously done business with; board felt it was not necessary for her to recuse herself.) Baseline planner presented details of rezone.

1) Rezone 60.36 acres from ag (A) to ag residential (AR).
2) Minor residential development would create 6 (5 new) lots on this property with individual wells and septic.
3) Maintains rural character of county.
Applicant: do not have a road agreement completed (lot owners would share in cost of road maintenance because it's a private road - Ranch Road). If it was a county road, the developer would have to give up 1 lot due to necessity of 10-acre minimum size for AR zoning.

Citizens own the road so have not agreed to what developer wants. Safety concerns for kids on school busses expressed; errors in documents and discrepancies in numbers revealed; purchase of mineral rights agreement from Anadarko (coal).
Public comment: raised many issues - safety concerns at the intersection, road ownership, traffic, water, and potential to open up big residential area for development.
The PC decided to delay a decision on this rezone for further study; it will be continued until November 15, 2016.

Lion's Gate: tour proposed because there will be a special use review (SUR) coming before the PC eventually. Board would prefer to have application in hand before a tour.
-Jill Duvall

Next Planning Commission Meeting is November 1st

Donald Charobee Running for District 2

The Democrats have put forth a "scary-qualified"candidate to replace Kelly Dore as EC Commissioner for District 2. Donald Charobee worked 35 years as a Federal Law Enforcement Officer for US Department of Homeland Security Investigations and US Customs Service.

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"Worked a wide variety of criminal investigations where I was responsible for the identification and arrest of East Bloc intelligence operatives: investigations involving product, safety military armament systems, child pornography, narcotics smuggling, trade fraud, white collar and financial crime, intellectual property rights and internal investigations."

He is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) and Member of the Executive Board of the Colorado Chapter ACAMS (Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists). Considering all of the financial shenanigans and influence irregularities that have gone on over the last ten years in the Elbert County's Government, Charobee could have a real positive effect over the same ol same ol Kurt Schlegel/water barons influences once again mindlessly put forth by the Republicans.

Click to Visit Charobee's Website

The WAC (Water Advisory Committee)

The WAC (Water Advisory Committee) provided one of their most useful and informative sessions to date on 10/5 at the Elizabeth Library. Hamacher Well Works from Simla, CO made a presentation addressing several areas of concern that apply to folks who rely on private or community owned wells:

- well permitting procedures
- new state regulations (effective 9/1/16) concerning water wells
- well drilling procedures
- specific questions regarding pumps, pressure tanks, drilling wells deeper, casings, various costs for drilling, maintenance issues, etc.
- Denver Basin Aquifer questions about most suitable aquifers for residential wells, permeability of layers between aquifers, water table levels, future water supplies in various areas of EC

A wealth of valuable information was presented. The public is invited to call Hamacher Well Works at 719-541-2460 for specific questions. They indicated a willingness to answer any questions folks might have about their specific wells.
Thanks to the WAC for their continuing efforts to keep the citizens updated on water issues in the county.

Jill Duvall