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Emergency dispatchers honored; Americorps workers arrive in county

Homeowners association suit against BoCC and CUP holder

by E.E. Mullens
WALSENBURG — They must remain calm amid others’ panic, trauma, confusion and fear.  They are, usually, the first contact those in crisis have with emergency services.  Yet emergency dispatchers are rarely seen or considered as the front line of first responders.

But recognition is here.  The Huerfano County Commissioners this week voted unanimously to proclaim this week as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, joining hundreds of government entities across the nation in honoring their local 911 emergency services dispatchers.

Proclamation 21-02 says in part, “when an emergency occurs, the prompt response of police officers, firefighters and paramedics is critical to the protection of life, and preservation of property, and the safety of our police officers and firefighters is dependent upon  the quality and accuracy of information obtained from citizens who telephone the Huerfano County Dispatch Communications Center.” The proclamation also says, that dispatch has “contributed substantially to the apprehension of criminals, suppression of fires and treatment of patients,” and that the board “\does hereby proclaim April 11-17, 2021, to be National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in Huerfano County, in honor of the men and women whose diligence and professionalism keep our cities, county and citizens safe.”
Commissioner John Galusha made the motion to approve the proclamation, which was seconded by Commissioner Arica Andreatta, who thanked all of the county dispatchers for their dedication and service, to which Galusha added, “absolutely”.

Americorps Water Team Six:
Paul Branson, who heads up the county’s fire and flood mitigation efforts, and rehabilitation projects from the Spring Fire and subsequent flooding, introduced seven Americorps workers who began orientation Tuesday, April 13, to the county staff and commissioners.

Branson said, while the majority of the group’s work will be in the flood and fire damaged areas, they will begin their duties helping to relocate the county’s information technology office within the courthouse.
They will remain living and working in Huerfano County until July 10, 2021.

Branson said the crew will work on channel realignment in Indian Creek, and on mitigation efforts in areas above the channel break outs.  Flood mitigation work will also be done in the Abeyta and Middle Creek areas and in Idlewald Creek and Tower road in the Mt. Mestas area.

After meeting county staff and officials the group was scheduled to hear a presentation by La Veta Fire Protection District officials regarding the areas they will be working in and what kind of damage those locations suffered from both the fire and flooding.

Executive session:
The board of commissioners went into an executive session at 10:37 a.m. to discuss a lawsuit with their attorney.
Earlier this month the Turkey Ridge Ranch Property Owners Association, Inc., filed a civil lawsuit against the county commissioners and their actions regarding an approved 2021 transfer of a 2019 Conditional Use Permit for a tier one marijuana cultivation operation at 480 Turkey Ridge Road.  The new property owner and current holder of the transferred CUP is Michelle D. Epps, owner of Greenleaf Growers.  Both Epps and her marijuana cultivation business are named as co-defendants with the county commissioners in the lawsuit.

In brief, the lawsuit says the county did not have the authority to further act on the CUP after the original applicant and grantee, Pharm Aide Pharms abandoned the CUP without ever going into operation.  The plaintiff’s also allege Epps did not fulfill obligations to the homeowners association regarding covenant compliance as a CUP applicant.
The issue has been complicated by the attempt to  transfer the original PharmAide Pharms CUP to Greenleaf Growers and when that initally was turned down by the commissioners, another effort was made to apply for a new CUP from Greenleaf.  T`he filing of a new CUP application was halted after a possible lawsuit by Greenleaf Growers against the county was dismissed by the plaintiff, and another solution sought by the applicant and the county.  This action did not sit well with the homeowners association.

The suit alleges that on March 2, 2021, the board approved the transfer (of the withdrawn and ineffective) original PharmAide Pharms CUP 17-019 to Greenleaf Growers in violation of the county’s own regulations.
Huerfano County has 21 days to file an answer to the suit.