Bent County Sheriff Jake Six requested additional funding from the Board of County Commissioners to purchase fully equipped used vehicles for his department.

A discussion on the necessity of four-wheel drive vehicles, the types of vehicles needed and the cost of equipping vehicles ensued.

According to research done by the newly elected sheriff, Eagle County and Kiowa County have used law enforcement vehicles with low mileage for sale.

According to Six, department vehicles have not been properly maintained in the past. He has implemented an ongoing maintenance log for each sheriff department vehicle. Whenever a vehicle is serviced or repaired, it will be recorded in that vehicle’s log. The sheriff also plans a five-year rotation program for department vehicles.

The commissioners voted to allocate $40,000 for purchase of used vehicles, outside of the sheriff’s 2019 budget.

Six told the board his personnel lack the necessary equipment to do their jobs. He said he has contacted other counties and, as a result, equipment such as kevlar vests and tasers have been donated to the Bent County Sheriff's Office.

Six also said an office for the county coroner has been established in the BCSO building and a vehicle will be provided to the coroner as needed. In the past , the coroner worked out of his home or business and the local funeral home provided the vehicle.

Accompanying Six to the meeting were Undersheriff Wick Turner and Jason Nichols, the county coroner. 

Former County Commissioner Frank Wallace asked to address the board, although he was not on the agenda. He shared with the commissioners what he said are numerous concerns of the Las Animas community regarding Fort Lyon residents. Wallace stated he did not know if the concerns were valid, but he needed to inform the board of what citizens are saying:

Citizens believe that Bent County’s Social Services are enduring more costs due to Fort Lyon residents.
The county’s first responders have seen increased costs and demands.
Merchants have more shoplifting and have asked customers to leave their backpacks at the door upon entering the establishment.
The local Post Office has closed the facility at night due to the homeless sleeping in the lobby.
Fort Lyon residents who fail the program are staying in the area and not returning to the counties from which they came. 
Lamar and La Junta communities are upset because of the increased loitering on their streets, believing they are from Fort Lyon.
The new transit system is taking Fort Lyon residents out of town to shop.
Local citizens believe the management of Fort Lyon is doing nothing to address the problems created by their residents.

Wallace thanked the commissioners for listening and said he hoped they would address the concerns of the community.

Senior Opportunity Center Director Sonora Servaes submitted her report. As a result of a recent break-in, the director recommended security cameras be purchased and installed at a cost of $450.

Servaes also gave an update on building progress: a new kitchen floor was installed, the gas connection in the kitchen was changed from a residential to a commercial hookup, the kitchen faucet water leak was corrected, and the dining room walls will be painted in the next month.

The January Pie Sales raised $300 for the seniors, Servaes said. Thursday lunches at the center are paid by the City of Las Animas and no lunches are provided on Fridays.

Future activities planned include a Royal Gorge Train trip in late spring or early summer and a genealogy group in cooperation with the Las Animas/Bent County Library. Servaes mentioned the rental fee for the use of the building should be changed to an hourly rate

In other news:

Joe LoBiondo, Colorado State Fire battalion chief of the Arkansas River Region, spoke for about 45 minutes on resources for fire control that are available through the state.

Larry Long will be the State Fire Battalion Chief of the new Southern Plains region, of which Bent County is a part, said LoBiondo. There will be a new lengthy 2019 state agreement for Six to sign.

McClave High School Post Prom Committee requested a donation for their annual project. The commissioners voted to grant $100 from the sales tax fund.

County Administrator Calvin Feik presented updated plans for the handicap lift at the courthouse that include an enclosure and lights from historical architect Tom Duke. The lift will be located on the north side of the east steps and will replace the handicap ramp on the south side of the east steps.

The price of Duke’s revised plans came in considerably higher than the original plans, from approximately $70,000 to $107,000, due to the enclosure and lighting. The State Historic Fund must give final approval of the lift plans in order for the county to proceed.

Feik submitted a request by Chad LaBarge that the county provide jeans and work shirts to the four maintenance personnel instead of the uniforms currently cleaned by SnoWhite Laundry, as the service is not satisfactory, he said. The commissioners asked Feik to research LaBarge’s request and report at the next meeting.

The Board of County Commissioners now meets the first, second and fourth Thursday each month at 9 a.m. in the basement of the courthouse. The meetings are open to the public.