At Monday’s meeting of the Otero County Commissioners, County Administrator Jean Hinkle opened a new bid for jail and restroom repair and replacement at the Sheriff’s office. Previous bids from Arc Valley Construction and TLM Construction were rejected due to having been submitted on two different base request for bids. When the new bids came in, only Bassett bid, at $105,172. Hinkle will take the bid under advisement and report at next week’s meeting.

May is Foster Care Awareness month. In the Department of Human Services report, Director Donna Rohde said there is an acute shortage of foster homes in the area. Twleve hundred new foster homes are needed. Many foster parents had problems because both parents are working. This is a normal situation in the area, but foster children are often coming from traumatizing experiences and may require more time and attention than children with a smoother background. Many foster parents recant after a month, finding the situation too stressful on a marriage or the other children in the family. Rhode introduced Kristina Lofing, who is in charge of the program for the department. Volunteer homes are needed, and if they cannot be found, a professional foster home may be employed.

A survey is now on the internet to improve feedback from rural areas on behavioral treatment. The crisis system in Colorado includes five modalities: (1) a 24-hour hotline staffed by professional counselors and peers; (2) mobile services;  (3) walk-in centers; (4) crisis stabilization centers; and (5) respite. The Committee hopes to identify system efficiencies that will improve response in all communities and reach those populations at highest risk. The Committee will produce a report by June 30th outlining its recommendations for CDHS. The Committee is requesting stakeholders to complete a survey, which may be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CDHSOBH). There is a separate survey available for consumers of the behavioral health system, and a link to that survey can be found at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs-boards-committees-collaboration/crisis-system-executive-steering-committee. 

County Assessor Ken Hood reported on the next-to-the-last batch of abatements and refunds to railroad car owners. The marathon abatement will be done next week, he said. Taxes on rail cars require a complicated formula involving how many times they traverse the county. They are as follows: Midwest Railcar Corp., refund of $5.63; Phillips 66 Company, abatement of $11.13; Plains Marketing, Inc., refund of $44.55; Savage Tolk Energy Services, refund of $50.21; Shell Rail Operations Co., refund of $5.57; Siouxland Ethanol LLC, refund of $5.50.

Hannah Fasick of the Public Works Department will be in charge of the 2020 Census, which is getting underway with a Local Update of Census Addresses Operation General Training Workshop. The primary use of census data is to provide the population counts needed to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The households will be located geographically. Information, which is strictly confidential, will be collected either by internet and on paper.

Otero County Economic Development Director Danelle Berg was happy to report the enthusiastic reception of the Manufacturing Group distribution of equipment to promote the study of robotics and technology in local schools. They are now seeking sources for equipment requested by local schools for next year.