OCC to discontinue lease with Blackburn-Dennis Community Center in Fowler

As work on the 2017 Otero County budget continues, auditors from McPherson, Breyfogle, Daveline & Goodrich explained the 2016 Otero County audit on Monday at the regular meeting of the Otero County Commissioners. Larry Daveline introduced Todd Miheled, who gave a brief overview. The county received a clean audit, in good financial shape with an increase in the general fund balance of $170,308.

The county is terminating its lease with Blackburn-Dennis Community Center in Fowler effective Feb. 21, 2018. The county will continue to support the senior center with the allocation of $6,000 yearly with another possible $1,200 available, but will no longer be responsible for repairs and maintenance. Building insurance will continue through Feb. 21, 2018, but the center will be responsible for its own insurance thereafter.

The Department of Local Affairs Marijuana Impact Grant Program project will be funded for $83,236 this year for purchase of additional equipment, training and consulting. Last year’s grant was higher because base equipment had to be purchased, said County Administrator Jean Hinkle.

Danelle Berg was happy to announce the manufacturers’ group will continue its education program for grades 6, 7 and 8 for Swink, La Junta, Cheraw, Rocky Ford and Las Animas. A program on drug education will be instituted instead of the STEM program, as manufacturers have difficulty in hiring enough drug-free employees and believe starting the program younger would be more effective. Helping with the drug education program will be the Rocky Ford Police, Otero County Sheriff’s Office and the Communities that Care Program with Kristin Carpenter. More communities would like to be involved in the school visits to the manufacturers, but the companies feel they have all they can handle. Since Sprout Tiny Homes has relocated, Innovative Water Technologies of Rocky Ford is taking their place on the tour.

Ballots are now being proofed, said County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy. The health district and nursing home questions for La Junta will be items 5A and 5B.

Commissioner Kevin Karney reported that the Southeast Water Conservancy Board is working on maintenance plans for the Pueblo Reservoir. The capacity has lost 20,000 acre-feet. The dam will eventually have to be resealed and the reservoir dredged or expanded. The agricultural bond has been paid off, so the question is whether or not the .9 mill levy is still needed. Also, the collection system is 50 years old.