Governor Jared Polis was in La Junta Tuesday morning for a public meeting with Otero County commissioners. Commissioners had a list of subjects to discuss with the governor, including the state's plans for private prisons and how those would affect communities that rely on the industry
The meeting started in Room 107 of the county courthouse a little after 11 a.m. and lasted about an hour.
The meeting was framed so that Polis spent most of his time listening to Commissioners Keith Goodwin, Jim Baldwin and John Hostetler explain the issues, challenges and projects taking place in Otero County and across Southeastern Colorado.
As Polis himself observed at one point toward the end of the meeting, many of the commissioners' talking points surrounded law and court logistics. With Otero, Bent and Crowley Counties undertaking a facilities master plan project and, through another process, have acquired the District Attorney's building for continued use by the DA's office, each county has stake in the local courthouse facilities being up to snuff.
For Otero County Sheriff's Office, upgrading the county jail is a serious priority. Sheriff Shawn Mobley has previously described the conditions within the jail, which is consistently overcrowded, as "inhumane."
The county is often forced to board excess inmates in other counties, Bent being the most frequent taker, which will cost Otero County an estimated $280,000 by the end of the year, according to Mobley.
Commissioner Goodwin raised the problems and plans for law and justice infrastructure with Polis because, he said, without knowing what the state's plans are for private prisons, and unfunded mandates such as weekend court and reduced penalties for certain drug crimes, it will be hard for the county to determine what actions it needs to take.
Commissioners also discussed state road initiatives, and La Junta Mayor Jeffri Pruyn also spoke with Polis about La Junta-centric topics. Danelle Berg discussed the county's economic development activities, Jay Scott talked about veteran interests, and Donna Rohde touched on human service work as well.
Expect further details on the governor's public meeting with county commissioners in an upcoming edition.