CREEDE— Although it was his day off, Mineral County Undersheriff Bill Fairchild received a surprise call summoning him to the Board of County Commissioners meeting on Monday, April 1. He hustled up to the county’s temporary offices.
“The reason we have you here today,” Chairman Jesse Albright said to the 30-year veteran, “is we’re letting you go. NO. No. C’mon. I had to do at least one April Fool’s today.”
It was a safe joke to make. Everyone in the room knew Fairchild, and no one would doubt his steady dedication over three decades with the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office. After expressing gratitude, the commissioners presented Fairchild with a special hat.
“It says your name on it, in case you’re getting to the point when you forget it,” Albright said before presenting the award. “We appreciate your service.”
Earlier in the meeting, attorney Brad Miller made a statement on behalf of the Creede School District, explaining that other school board members were instructed not to speak until after the executive session with the commissioners later in the day.
“I’m here to address matters of relationship between a couple local bodies,” Miller said. “There was an expression from an employee representing themselves as an employee of the county administration, and there have been similar expressions in the local community about issues related to the superintendent.”
Miller said some of the information needed clarification, and the school board was not consulted first. “We’re asking that, at least, with regard to the voice of county officials — that none of these communications continue. We ask, if you have concerns about how we make appointments or how we do finances, ask Sherry [Scallan]. Don’t go out and speculate. Talk to us. Come to our board meetings, ” Miller added.
Miller explained that some employees feel threatened by the miscommunication, and the board wants to avoid external pressures as they search for a replacement for Superintendent Lis Richard, who will work until her contract expires on June 30.
Before Fairchild’s award presentation, Sheriff Fred Hosselkus met with commissioners to fine-tune details down at the Mineral County courthouse. They agreed to replace a bench and coat rack in the design to accommodate evidence lockers and personal lockers.
In other courthouse construction news, Chairman Albright noted that most of the metal is in place, and they’ll apply stucco and trim exterior soon. If all proceeds according to plan, the ribbon-cutting ceremony is currently scheduled for Monday, June 17.
County Administrator Janelle Kukuk discussed land-consolidation issues and relayed the Planning and Zoning Board’s concerns about setting precedent for splitting and combining lots. Commissioners approved two changes and agreed to formalize procedures for the future.
Up next, commissioners received a request to help support and fund a “Save the Privy” campaign in the center of Basham Park. The current structure requires renovation, and the Creede Historical Society hopes to establish a historical exhibit for the unique “three-holer.” Built in 1893 as part of the Denver and Rio Grande depot, a refurbished building would be sanitary, functional and true to history. Plus, a renovation project is more economical. A new “one-hole” runs $35,000, on average. But the renovation bid is $22,500. Commissioners approved $5,000 and agreed to sign a letter showing support for the project.
Mineral County Attorney Randy Nicholson presented reworded lease agreement language for the clinic, and commissioners agreed to advance the discussion.
Representing the Headwaters Alliance, Heather Green described careful planning to accommodate state land board ownership of mineral rights under the floodplain. Green helped secure $40,000 to help the town of Creede meet levee requirements.
Green also presented a document echoing a resolution to prevent water export out of the San Luis Valley, and she noted the need for county representation on the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable. The board approved her appointment as representative and thanked her for continuing to help beyond the Willow Creek reclamation.
“I go to all the meetings anyway,” Green noted after accepting the position.
Seeking Dark Skies designation, Green mentioned a group working together based on experience with the heritage tourism group. The coordinated effort would allow visitors to complete a five-day trip from Westcliffe to La Veta to Crestone, Creede and Lake City to take in the unique night skies currently free of light pollution.