Several visitors attended the March 28 meeting of the Bent County Commissioners.

Alison Morgan, private prison monitoring unit chief, and Barry Goodrich, facility leader (formerly referred to as warden), discussed numerous items regarding the prison. This year’s contract is done except for minor tweets. Prairie dogs to the east of the facility are becoming a problem.

Incidents with inmates are up this year - 12 so far, versus nine in 2017. The incidents include fighting and one suicide attempt. A specially trained K-9 will be ready for use as of March. The handler will be sent to Arizona for two weeks training.  The dog will be shared with the Crowley County facility. Goodrich announced a community relations meeting, April 5, 11:30 a.m. at Bent’s Fort Inn.

Lana Gardner, chairperson of the Early Learning Center Board, gave a monthly report. The January and February expenses for the Center were approximately $56,283. The door and ventilation problems have not been solved.

The Center Board is developing guidelines and applications for scholarships when childcare expenses are more than 15% of a family’s net income. The scholarships will be funded with the $10,000 Rawlings grant received by the Center.

Gardner also talked about the food audit recently conducted, staffing concerns, and a master plan for the playground. “Currently there is no shade on the playground and the large outdoor black playmat gets too hot,” Gardner remarked. 

Gardner also reminded the County Commissioners of the Second Annual Bent County Educational Fair, Thursday, April 5, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Las Animas Elementary School gym.

Rick Stwalley, Bent County Emergency Manager, and Danny Chavez, president of the Southeast Colorado All Hazard Board, discussed various items of concern. Jerry Casebolt, homeland security coordinator, based out of Pritchett, was also present.  The Southeast Colorado All Hazard Board covers six counties, i.e., Baca, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Otero, and Prowers.

Stwalley the Bent County Emergency Manager, requested the purchase of a 2010 Ford Explorer with 66,000 miles at a price of $6,500 for business use by him. The Emergency Manager has been using his private vehicle for the past two years. The commissioners authorized his request.

Jonna Parker, Director of Social Services, reported on payments and bills. She stated “there are 1,800 families involved with social services in Bent County and child support numbers have doubled in the past six to eight months." Parker mentioned there is a lack of hot water in the bathrooms and the breakroom area of the new Social Services facility (formerly memorial school). Pueblo Electric is working on the problem according to county administrator Calvin Feik.

The county commissioners voted to donate the old camera system at the former Social Services facility to Kent Reyher for use in his church.

A Bent County grant policies handbook has been developed and adopted by the county commissioners.

Kathy Brown, County Treasurer, requested a resolution on a different format for her to sign tax liens.

County Administrator Feik had numerous items for Commissioners to review including the replacement of the concert wheelchair ramp on the east side of the courthouse. The construction of the ramp will be put out for bid.

After discussion of the typeface for the overhead sign at the Bent County Community Center, the commissioners agreed upon the style most closely resembling the original signage.

Additional damage has been done to the fence lines at the ballfield. It will cost about $300 to repair by using fencing from the former Inspiration Field area.

SouthEastern Health / Public Health is looking for a facility with bathrooms to do UA testing from 8 to 5, twice a month, and on weekends. The Inspiration Field building and the Community Center were discussed as locations.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.