Funds for grant money long delayed, over six months

Otero County Commissioners Kevin Karney and Jim Baldwin, County Administrator Jean Hinkle, and Department of Human Services Donna Rohde were all concerned about lack of payment to their various departments by the federal government, reimbursement for funds already spent. Cathy Garcia promised to bring their concerns to the attention of Sen. Cory Gardner.

The JAG (Department of Justice) grant money in the amount of $81,000 has already been spent and creditors are waiting on federal payment of the grant money. Money to support SAGE, the food service for Senior Citizens Centers, has not been released to the providers. Department of Human Services money for homemaker and personal care has not been released, causing loss of confidence by providers, said Rohde. “Baca County has discontinued services. These are services needed to keep people out of nursing homes.” Also, she continued, “Transportation, senior center, omsbudsman and other services have been interrupted.”

Garcia assured them they would be heard. She also said hemp will be considered on the Farm Bill, but it may leave marijuana without representation for banking and use of water needs. The office hopes to get something done about immigration by March 23. Health issues will be fully funded. The Farm Bill is in the works and should be completed by the end of March. Guest Michelle Gardner said something should be done about health insurance for farm families and workers.

Emergency Manager Danny Chavez has just completed the Annual Operating Plan for Wildfire Management. There are few changes from last year, with first 24 hours the responsibility of locals on the ground to keep resources from being called in on controlled burns. All resources of the state will be available for fighting wildfires, including aerial support (including a large helicopter for initial attack) and hand crews. The Emergency Management team will be training units from all over Southern Colorado, including Las Animas, Huerfano, Pueblo, Custer, Chaffee, and Park Counties.

Otero County Economic Development Director Danelle Berg said the South East Business Retention, Expansion and Attraction group will be sending a letter of support to allow Lamar Community College and Otero Junior College to offer a four year Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. The organization hopes the measure will help to alleviate the shortage of nurses in our area. Eastern Plain Economic Development Directors will meet in Limon to establish br anding to bring the plains and history into the state’s tourism development plans. The Opportunity Zone capital gains deferment plan hoped to help on infrastructure, broadband, etc. has a deadline of today, Monday, Feb 26. Berg brought housing for farmworkers problems to the attention of Garcia for the consideration of Gardner. The Peterson Brothers are being brought in to liven up this year’s Farm, Ranch and Water Symposium in the fall.

Hinkle reported the new GOCO grant for Arkansas Valley Fair Grounds restrooms and electrical services will not be considered. She will be asking the reason for the turn-down, but it may be the amount of money already received. She also read two bids for the Classification and Compensation Survey. CPF AR of Sacramento, CA, bid $44,110 for classification; $35,735 for compensation, not to exceed $79,345 total. Lee and Burgess Associates of Centennial, CO, bid not to exceed $23,000 for Classification and Compensation. She will study the reports for a week.

La Junta Med 5 Ambulance, a 2003 Model, will be replaced by a 2017 Ford ambulance.