Otero Partners, Inc. receive grant, legal services retained for opioid suit

Sheriff Shawn Mobley and Undersheriff Matt Wallace were present at the Otero County Commissioners meeting to hear the bids opened for the Structural Stabilization and Restroom Remodel of the Otero County Sheriff’s Office. The two bids were, first, Arkansas Valley Construction, Pueblo, total of $86,050; second, Bassett Construction, Pueblo, total of $122,552. The sheriff will meet with the commissioners and County Administrator Jean Hinkle on Tuesday morning to compare the bids on a point by point basis. Hinkle will report the decision on the bids next Monday.

Otero County Economic Development Supervisor Danelle Berg asked for and received the signatures of the commissioners for the $290,000 granted by the state for the operation of Otero Partners, Inc. Business Loan Fund. The money is in addition to the original Community Development Block Grant. The money will be used to lend to selected businesses, three of which have already been chosen. One of the three is Trinidad’s Mangino’s Auto Center. The Business Loan Fund is lent to deserving businesses and Otero Partners receives two plus 16% for processing. The money repaid is used to lend again, making it a revolving fund. Otero Partners Inc. is partnering with the International Bank in Trinidad on the Mangino’s loan.

In other business, Berg reported the Health Care Partnership is supplying $373 admission fee per test for Navigator Students who wish to take the competency test in Denver. Travel expenses are not covered. The test score is a good item for Navigator students to add to their resumes. The Manufacturing Partnership is helping to sponsor the entrepreneurship fair, similar to the science fairs, but with the addition of a Shark Tank which will contribute toward marketing and startup fees for winning contestants dealing with engineering, robotics, or manufacturing.

The commissioners approved a legal contract with Motley Rice, LLC, with their claim to be handled by Speights, Worrich, Newcomb, Roth & Mitchell LLC out of Denver. The suit is against opioid manufacturers. The state also has a suit, and if that one is successful, the county one will probably be successful also, said Commissioner Kevin Karney. In any case, the firm’s legal fee is one quarter of the settlement. It is advantageous to the county to sue separately because of the uncertainty of the state’s administrative fees and selection process for counties to receive money. The highest per capita death rate from opioids is Las Animas County (Trinidad) and the second highest is Otero County.

County Clerk Sharon Sisnroy expects to close the Clerk’s Office next Friday to move the offices back to the Otero County Courthouse. They were somewhat delayed by a countertop that did not fit, but the manufacturer has corrected the countertop and it should be in by Monday.

The county is looking at an insurance plan covering emergency air transport with any licensed carrier for Otero County employees at $14 a month. The $14 fee would be eligible for payroll deduction. Children of employees up to age 26 would also be covered, and also coverage outside Otero County.

The commissioners and Josh Harris are working on the Works Allocation Mitigation Pool, by which Temporary Aid to Needy Families caseload expenses may be adjusted to take care of anomalies. The total pool is $433,000, and an unusually large caseload can be disastrous for smaller counties.

Meetings are scheduled with the Courthouse Security team, including Judge Mark McDonnell and with the Department of Local Affairs to talk about a planning grant for a new jail.