by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO- County and City elected officials met Monday evening to discuss issues facing Huerfano County residents and to talk trash. According to John Galusha, County Administrator, the County finally has a contract with the Colorado Division of Local Affairs for the $309,000 grant to fund the new waste transfer station. After going through the approval process with the County Commissioners, Planning and Zoning and the City of Walsenburg, there will be a four-month state permit process. Optimistically, Galusha felt that ground breaking might take place around Oct. 1, 2008.
Galusha also updated the group on the grant through the Office of Homeland Security to purchase new radios for emergency service personnel in the County. “The money is in the state,” he said. The 101 radios, worth about $300,000 are expected to be delivered in mid to late summer.
County Commissioner Roger Cain reported on the findings about the Badito radio repeater, which has been a topic of much discussion at previous meetings of this group. He said he was pleased to discover that the 18-foot antenna, rather than the entire repeater, needs to be repaired. The estimated cost is $2,321 and repairs are expected to be completed by the end of March. However, Cain cautioned, “This only buys us time,” referring to the inevitable reprogramming of all repeaters in the County for narrow band.
The discussion then moved to dispatch services, and it was evident that everyone wants to move toward an orderly and equitable solution involving the communications center. Galusha proposed that he and Eric Pearson, Walsenburg City Administrator, meet with the Finance Directors of the City and County and determine the actual cost of operating the dispatch system. Then a cost-per-call could be determined and assessed to each agency which participates in or benefits from the dispatch system. Walsenburg Mayor Edi Sheldon suggested that a dispatch manager is needed. Around the table, heads nodded at this recommendation. Galusha stated that his office is currently working on a job description for just such a position, also referred to as a communications officer. Commissioner Cain announced that a committee will study the communications situation and make recommendations for improvements. The members of that committee will be: Walsenburg Fire Chief, Gerald Jerant; La Veta Marshall Harold Wilburn; Kevin Vallejos, of the Sheriff’s Department in Walsenburg; Walsenburg City Police Chief Larry Baldonado; and Commissioner Cain.
After a brief discussion about economic development, Galusha pointed out that infrastructure is needed first to attract businesses and housing. He added, “Helping existing businesses stay in business is very critical right now.” A business roundtable will be held on March 27 at the Community Center in Walsenburg.
The next meeting is April 14, 5:30pm at Walsenburg City Hall.