Dogs go to Gaskill, Crowley County

Sheriff Shawn Mobley presented Resolution 2017-05: A Resolution Terminating the Patrol and Drug Detection Dog Program (K-9 Program) within the Otero County Sheriff’s Office. Mobley explained that although the office appreciated the public interest and donations for the dog program, it is not cost-efficient enough to continue. Max, the three-year old K-9, will remain with Dave Gaskill. Hootch, the older dog, was given to Crowley County for a trial to see if the program might work for them. The schools in Otero, Crowley and Bent, will continue the program on a contractual basis. The money will come from the Marijuana grant (revenue compensation for non-participating counties).

The county wrote a letter of support for Crowley County Commissioner Frank Grant to be the chief local elected official for the Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium.

The county sales tax is down $5,296 from 2016, but sales tax revenues in total remain above last year’s totals.

Sheriff Mobley also reported on the North La Junta Safety Meeting. He acknowledged that part of the problem there is that the Sheriff’s Office is short two deputies, with the retirement of Dave Gaskill and the resignation of Paul Carter. The deputies will be replaced soon. He welcomed the idea of reinstating the Neighborhood Watch program and sent for the official package on Monday morning.

The jail is holding a record number of prisoners today at 45. The capacity of the jail is supposed to be 33. Some transfer room has been lost with the metro jails holding a backlog of prisoners who cannot be accommodated in state prisons by the Department of Corrections.

Commissioner Kevin Karney reported interest among the citizens in North La Junta to raise money with sales or property taxes to increase their security coverage, but thought the proposition probably impractical because of the proposed 1 percent sales tax for La Junta’s Health District. As Commissioner Keith Goodwin pointed out, it’s too late for this year anyhow. Goodwin was impressed with the self-help measures proposed at the meeting — cheap cameras, more lights, neighborhood watch. “They don’t just ask for help; they do what they can to help themselves.”

Economic Development Coordinator Danelle Berg met with Karen McNeill Miller from the State Health Foundation and five others in an impromptu meeting on Tuesday. The others at the meeting were Steve Cordova, Doug Miller, Matt Heimrich, Karen Tomky and Bill Jackson. They discussed factors affecting the health of the general population. Berg is also interested in the Health District being established to enable a local nursing home for La Junta. Loans were discussed at the Otero Partners Inc. meeting.

Berg also said she had met with Kristin Carpenter and Dee Leyba about developing apprenticeships for young people in the area on a wider basis. They want to get the youngsters involved in tourism and retail experience.

Glenna Potts and Lyn Scott will be attending meetings in Salida with County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy, Potts on the drivers license day and Scott on the elections day. The early ballots for overseas will go out on Saturday. They number over 40. Regular ballots will go out Oct. 16.

County Administrator Jean Hinkle has almost completed budget hearings for 2018. A 4 percent increase will be requested for county employees. President Jim Rizzuto of Otero Junior College requested a partnership with the county on a grant writer/administrator. Bid opening for the new landfill building was so widely varied ($200,000 to $316,000) the county decided to have another pre-bid meeting. An agreement with Clean Valley Recycling for disposing of excess tires at the Otero County Landfill is being negotiated.

Clay Hirakata, 21, has been elected the new vice chairman of the Republican Party.