M.C. commissioners look up, down

Photo by Lyndsie Ferrell Denver and Rio Grande Railroad President Don Shank speaks to Mineral County Commissioners in 2016.

Proposal to purchase track rejected

CREEDE— The Mineral County Board of Commissioners looked at issues on the ground and in the skies above the county during their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
Down-to-earth discussions included railroad corridor negotiations and courthouse construction accomplishments. But the board also discussed options for updating the airport and mitigating light pollution at night.
After the Pledge of Allegiance and other introductions, the board renewed the liquor license for LaSoleil (Broad Acres). The renewal came with law enforcement approval.
Next, County Administrator Janelle Kukuk described a roadblock with a proposal to purchase land along the railroad bed between South Fork and Creede.
Representing two counties and two towns, Mineral County took the lead on the project. Most of the track between South Fork and Creede falls in Mineral County. As Commissioner Jesse Albright explained, “We were the biggest dog in the fight.”
All four entities (Rio Grande County, Mineral County, South Fork and Creede) shared the cost of an extensive appraisal. Considering track condition and cost estimates for improvement, the due diligence to complete the appraisal became the foundation for the offer Mineral County extended on behalf of the counties and towns.
“We made a purchase offer based on our due diligence,” Kukuk explained. “He [track owner Don Shank] rejected our offer and said he would not entertain another one.”
The track remains dormant.
Commissioner Scott Lamb addressed plans for providing family practice in Creede, working with Dr. Dale Berkbigler. Reaching an agreement will require more communication.
As expected, the final change order for the Mineral County Courthouse building renovation is packed with fine-tuning tasks.
In addition to finding savings throughout the process, project managers discovered surprises during demolition and other costly issues.
Wall work required more attention than predicted, and other additions include sub-flooring in the commissioners’ office, extra mill work, a ceiling design change and cooling unit adjustments.
Before the change order was approved, Albright explained, “This change order is the contingency.”
Looking up, Kukuk reported plans for airport improvements. Commissioner Ramona Weber joined Kukuk, engineers, planners and consultants for a walk down the runway to evaluate conditions.
“We learned a lot about pavement that day,” Weber said.
The long-term project is expensive, but safety concerns drove decisions. The consultants recommended securing funding for geotechnical analysis in the short term and fixing cracks, potholes and painted stripes on the runway. Longer term, Mineral County can claim hardship status and possibly gain additional funds.
Near the close of the meeting, Nancy Blackford presented a proposal on behalf of herself and husband Bill. With support from other residents, the Blackfords aim to keep the night sky clear for now and generations to come.
The proposal identifies multiple forms of outdoor lighting with the same parameter. A light might be on all night, only in response to motion or randomly for no more than four hours at a stretch. In all cases, the lights should be “shaded so as to illuminate the owner’s property only,” according to the Blackfords’ proposal.
Before writing an ordinance or updating planning and zoning documents, the board passed a motion to include the letter from the Blackfords in the outline of Mineral County Planning and Zoning changes. The motion also included a directive to send this information to current construction permit owners (perhaps before they install exterior lighting).
The next Mineral County Board of County Commissioners meeting is scheduled for Feb. 4.

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