Arizona Resident, Troy Mead, Offered County’s EMS/EM Post Mead, who is to begin work next week, has served as Emergency Management Coordinator for Hawaii Dept. Veterans’ Affairs since 2014…
In what was scheduled to be the final meeting of 2018, Hinsdale County Commissioners convened Wednesday morning, December 19, to unanimously approve a contract for a new Medical Service Director.
The new Emergency Medical Services/Emergency Management Director set to take the place of retiring Jerry Gray is Troy Mead who has received and is expected to sign the just-approved preliminary work contract drafted by the county.
As previously reported, the EMS contract was initially offered to Lake City Town Manager Caroline Mitchell but was declined. Troy Mead, along with the town manager, were two of the three finalists for the combined Emergency Medical Services Director and Emergency Management Director position.
Mead has maintained his Paramedic Certificate since March, 1995, and earned his Emergency Administration degree from Northwest Florida State in 2009.
He currently resides in Green Valley, Arizona, and
since December of 2014 has been the Emergency Management Coordinator for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Honolulu, Hawaii, with an annual budget of $414,000.
Mead’s requested start date for the dual Hinsdale County position is next week — January 2, 2019.
Within the negotiations in the final contract, Commissioner Stan Whinnery stipulated in his motion that a 90-day employee review take place in March and another at the 120-day mark in early June, on the important dual post.
Prior to his position as Emergency Management Coordinator in Hawaii, Troy Mead worked part-time in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, office of the Secretary of Emergency Preparedness, and from 2014 served in the role of Paramedic and Operations Field Supervisor for the National Disaster Medical System in Oklahoma. As Operations Field Supervisor, Mead was First Aid and AED training instructor, 911 provider to the City and County of Tulsa, and provided Advance Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, providing paramedic-level emergency medical treatment, “to provide the most extensive pre-hospital care.”
In an effort to keep up with Gunnison County landfill rates, Hinsdale Commissioners voted to approve a hefty rate increase at the county’s transfer station. A 20 percent rate hike will take a bag of loose trash from $5 to $6 a bag, while a 25 percent increase on all compacted trash should put the county back in the black, matching 2018 rate hikes in Gunnison where local refuse is ultimately deposited.
Cash payments for trash disposal at the transfer station will be phased out, as Hinsdale County moves to credit card and check payments, effective the first of the New Year. Noting that there has not been a Hinsdale County rate increase since 2015, Commissioner Susan Thompson added, “Currently, the revenue at the transfer station is at $144,000, and our expenses are $167,000.”
Of the rate hike, Commissioner Whinnery noted, “That would help. Much better than being $30,000 upside down.”
All three members of the county board — Thompson, Whinnery and retiring District 2 Commissioner Cindy Dozier — were present for the meeting. Also at the conference table were Hinsdale County Administrator Jami Scroggins and County Clerk Joan Roberts.
Financial end-of-the-year business was quickly resolved. A motion was made to amend this year’s budget to account for real numbers. According to Commissioner Thompson, the resolution made to amend the 2018 Budget “is something we do every year to stay in compliance.”
According to the resolution documentation for 21-2018, General Fund revenues were increased by $210,985 from $2,871,646 to total $3,082,631. General Fund expenses were decreased by $270,132. The increase in General Fund revenues and decrease in expenses is primarily attributed to a RWEACT (Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Action Coordination Team) task order reallocation, as well as unexpected increases in sales tax revenues, and private donations.
Hinsdale Road & Bridge revenues were also amended, showing an increase of $485,507 due to reallocation of Secure Rural School funding, insurance proceeds and an increase in Highway User Tax Funds. R&B expenses dropped by $195,885, attributed to a dearth of snow in 2017/2018 and, ultimately, not purchasing some equipment which had been budgeted.
A healthy boost to 2018 lodging tax revenues impacted county allocations by an additional $4,466, taking county lodging tax revenues for the year from $72,035 to $76,501.
Fresh grant revenues boosted the Hinsdale County Sheriff’s Office revenues by $55,126 and saw a drop in expenses totaling $4,287, due to a decrease in part-time payroll allocations which were not utilized.
Resolution 22-2018 was passed to adopt a
$5,877,436 Hinsdale County Budget for 2019, fulfilling the requirement to do so prior to the December 22 deadline. The budget is available for public review at the administration office. The budget total was noted in the motion, as well as revenues of $6,101,228, leaving Hinsdale County a $223,792 cushion.
Rounding out 2018 fiscal business was Resolution 23-2018, passed to fix and certify the mill levy assessed on all properties in Hinsdale County. According to numbers submitted in November by Hinsdale County Assessor de la Parra, the total assessed valuation of properties in the county is $61,172,020 for 2018. The total property tax to be collected based on 17.683 mills is expected to raise $1,081,705.
Of the total 17.683 mills, 15.567 is assigned to the Hinsdale County General Fund yielding $952,265. Road & Bridge receives .9567 mills or $952,265; Health and Human Services Fund receives $17,128 sliced from the mill levy, and the county Retirement Fund gathers $53,831 from its .88 mill sliver.
Of significant interest to Hinsdale Commissioners, as well as the community, was the presentation of Alpine Loop Visitor Use data analysis of the 2018 season. The study was undertaken by Kendall Cox, a Western State Colorado University graduate student as part of her thesis.
Cox’s mentor on the project was Sally Thode, a
former BLM recreation superintendent and currently graduate faculty field coordinator at WSU, who also attended the meeting. In tandem with Cox and Thode were BLM Gunnison Field Supervisor Elijah Waters and his recreation and realty departments, including Kristy Murphy, Jim Lovelace, Megan Mast, and Andy Wales.
Cox’s presentation covered data on visitor numbers traveling only the loop portion of the Alpine Loop Scenic & Historic Byway this past season. She noted that numbers were undoubtedly skewed due to area forest fires, evacuations, and fire restrictions, as well as heavy smoke which would have been detrimental in June and the first portion of July.
Due to those unforeseen circumstances, it was noted the BLM plans to collect more numbers during the upcoming 2019 season.
In accruing the 2018 data, the Visitor Use Study incorporated TRAFx Counters at entry points to the Loop, as well as over 100 hours of direct observations and campsite monitoring. Full of colorful pie charts, graphs and maps, Cox’s professional 38 page PowerPoint presentation illustrated overall vehicle counts of 158,879 with a “people count” of 313,396. The daily use average, she stated, was about 2,048 visitors per day.
Maps in the study showed all observation points, counter sites, and points where visitors were actually surveyed on their modes of use, via a government performance and results act (GPRA) survey. The comprehensive study indicates that the mode of travel was pretty evenly split between highway vehicles and OHVs, with only 1 percent — representing 1,010, a tiny sliver of overall usage — for non-motorized traffic.
Comparing similar 1997 study data to these 2018 usage results reveals a drop in SUV jeep traffic from 75.8 percent in 1997 to 38 percent in 2018. In 1997 only a minimal 2.6 percent was recorded for all-terrain (ATV – the older models in which driver and passenger straddle the vecile) usage and no Utility Transport Vehicles (UTV) traffic. The 2018 findings show 30.7 percent UTV/Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) traffic, and 8.6 percent ATV traffic, for a combined 39.3 percent: now almost identical numbers to the 36 percent jeep/SUV/4-wheel drive traffic cited above.
Following the presentation, Commissioner Dozier stated, “This is really helpful, really useful. The data you collected was the right information.”
Elijah Waters responded, “Use these numbers, digest them, and see where you want to go.” He added, “This data has an economic impact on the community. This is why I brought the entire recreation department along to answer your questions.”
“I am curious,” said local real estate broker Danielle Worthen, “is there a plan for the BLM to do an environmental impact study?”
Waters replied that such studies are only done by the BLM in response to specific building projects.
Worthen followed up, “So, not on your radar just due to this increase in traffic?”
Camille Richard, Director of the Lake Fork Conservancy asked, “or the off-road environmental impact?”
Larry Iiams, spokesperson for Turn Around Lake City, interjected, “Who would do an environmental impact on the Loop and those connections?”
“We would only do environmental impact on portions that crossed our lands,” Waters noted. Commissioner Whinnery concurred, adding, “The BLM doesn’t do studies on Colorado Department of Transportation rights-of-way.” He stated, “The existing right-of-way with vehicles — the usage —hasn’t substantially changed. CDOT is responsible for their own studies.”
Waters noted that no route has been specifically, officially proposed for this. “Once a route is proposed, then it is decided whose purview it falls under.”
Whinnery responded,” The route is on the asphalt on the highway  as it exists.”
Waters replied, “Oh, then the BLM would not be involved.” Commissioner-elect, Kristie Borchers shifted the
focus, “Are we going to talk about how awesome the BLM is for giving us money?” Grinning, Waters noted that the BLM has invested in providing more contract law enforcement dollars to both Hinsdale and San Juan Counties for the counties mportant Alpine Ranger program.
Susan Thompson replied, “The more enforcement, the better to keep people on the trails.”
Speaking to those concerns, Alpine Ranger Alan Rae reported on continued efforts to improve law enforcement and prevent damage to meadows and tundra in the high elevation areas of concern. He also cited speed limit updates, radar enforcement on the Loop in the coming season, all in conjunction with a larger law enforcement presence in the upcoming 2019 season.
As the regular meeting was begun and the opportunity for public comment was offered, Larry Iiams read a brief Theodore Roosevelt quote encouraging the preservation of our beautiful natural wonders.
The meeting was followed by the county’s annual community luncheon which held at the Moseley Art Center. The meal was catered by Get Some Groceries, providing delicious sustenance for some 200 members of the public who turned out for the annual holiday fete.
During the luncheon, two special plaques were presented by Commissioner Susan Thompson. One was presented to retiring Hinsdale County Sheriff Ron Bruce, and another presentation was made to retiring EMS Director Jerry Gray, both awards in honor of their years of tireless and dedicated service to Hinsdale County.