Board of County
—March 31, 2017
by Jackie Bubis
The meeting started with the Pledge of Allegiance and roll call. Introductions of the public in attendance followed.
The Board approved minutes from March 21st.
Chairman Kattnig announced that the Extension Office item on the agenda was an update on the extension office, that two hours had already been given to public comment on the matter and that the Board needed to move on.
The Commissioner Items will be discussed at the continuation of this meeting tonight at 7 p.m.
Attorney Clint Smith said he would not be present at the evening meeting.
The Board reviewed and approved the vouchers.
Per the request of Treasurer Virginia Trujillo, on advice of the CPA, two small accounts that had not been used in recent years were deleted by transferring funds from each into the general fund. On unanimous approval of the Board, the PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) funds will go 100 percent to the school.
Kathy Reis, from the town of Westcliffe, asked for landfill fees to be waived for the two towns only for the Westcliffe and Silver Cliff clean-up days, scheduled for June 3rd. Board approved her request.
Doris Morgan, Interim President of Action 22 and Chairman of Action 22 Board Ivor Hill met with the Board to update them on Action 22 items. There is a vacancy on the group representing Custer County. The Board wanted to appoint one of the commissioners to fill that vacancy. However, Action 22’s rules state that vacancies can only be filled via caucus. At the urging of the Board, Ms. Morgan will check the rules to make sure. She urged the Board to support HB 17-1242 regarding sales tax money coming into rural communities to fix roads. There was a discussion on how gas tax money gets into the county and Kit Shy, who was in the audience filled the group in on procedures to get projects funded.
Sheriff Byerly met with the Board to get the fire ban lifted. He also discussed amortization schedules for new vehicles. The old radios he’d intended to put in the new vehicles were una-ble to be fixed so new radios needed to be purchased.
Jane McCarty met with the Board to discuss closing out her grandfather’s estate by donating some properties out in the Lake DeWeese to the county. Kit Shy spoke about the “elephant in the room” regarding the lots out in Lake DeWeese being too small for both well and septic and that it was only a matter of time until a centralized system would be necessary there. Mr. Kattnig spoke of going to school with Ms. McCarty’s grandfather and wondered if maybe one of the pieces that will still be in the family might be used for a “Bill McCarthy” park. The roads that are being deeded to the county will not change status – if they are maintained now, they will continue to be – if they are not maintained now, nothing changes. Mr. Smith will prepare the deeds for final discussion in next week’s meeting.
Gary Hyde, from Road and Bridge got approval to purchase a used water truck. The funds are already in his budget. He will bring the numbers for extended warranty to the Board for their approval next week.
Butch Gemin from the Early Childhood Council reported back to the Board that the school district will act as both the convening and fiscal entities for the Council. All he needed from the Board was a signature indicating support of the project by the Board. Their support was pending the paperwork being presented by Gemin.
The Board passed a resolution supporting Round Mountain’s buffer zone around the Gallery Well.
The Hermit Bridge grant resolution to move ahead with the project was approved.
Mrs. Hood gave an update for the Extension Office. After meeting with several officials from CSU, she reported that CSU will handle the initial search for Robin Young’s replacement. There are currently nine searches ongoing and we are eighth in line. She expected the process to start in July or August and not be completed until at least November or December. The 4-H Foundation locally is reorganizing and will have a new constitution and bylaws. They will have their own tax exempt status. Carlin Cardenas will be the interim 4-H coordinator until there is a new Extension agent. Mrs. Hood commented that CSU was giving Miss Cardenas duties and responsibilities that the Board didn’t know anything about. As a county employee, there needs to be a job description for that position.
Mr. Kattnig suggested the possibility of putting in place a county agent that would be employed by the county rather than CSU. He stated that other counties have done this. There was also some suggestion that Extension agents from the surrounding counties could assist us if need be. A citizen asked about the status of the county garden and the potato project. Mr. Kattnig assured her that “we will give you the support you need.” Mrs. Hood referred her to Cardenas. The Board approved additional hours for help in the 4-H office.
Next on the agenda was a discussion of cattle guards requested by Robert Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton has agreed to pay to put in two cattle guards on County Road 390. Mr. Printz wants to talk to Mr. Halpin about the cattle guards so as not to show accommodation to one party and not the other in the long-standing feud between the two. Mr. Kattnig was vehement that the county has the right to put in cattle guards and said Mr. Printz’s point was not valid. He stated that these cattle guards would be in the best interest of the public. A heated discussion ensued. When asked what the difference in maintenance costs were for a road with cattle guards vs one without cattle guards, Kattnig replied that the cost difference was minimal. When a citizen suggested that the public perception would be that the Board was helping the rich guy who had been nothing but trouble for twenty years, Mr. Kattnig stated that the Board would “do what it wanted to” in the matter.
Mr. Printz held his ground and the Board finally conceded that he could talk to Mr. Halpin. The matter was tabled until the meeting on the 4th of April.
Larry Haynes position as Assistant Road Boss for Wetmore was formalized.
Mike Carter – Building and Zoning official for the Town of Westcliffe – was appointed to the Affordable Housing Committee.
The meeting was recessed at 12:05.
The weather turned ugly and there was talk on Facebook of the meeting being canceled. At the evening portion of the meeting which began at 7 p.m., each commissioner updated the audience on their committees and what they have been doing since January. There was little new information for readers of the Sentinel or for those who have diligently listened to the recordings.
One point made by Mr. Printz was that the majority of people in the Wetmore area don’t have flood insurance. He stated that this is because Custer County doesn’t have a building code and indicated this is the reason FEMA won’t underwrite flood insurance in the county.
After over an hour of updates, the Commissioners opened the floor for discussion.
Prominent local democrat Brent Bruser broadly praised the Commissioners for their leadership and involvement, even outside of their scope of authority.
During the discussion of priorities, the commissioners all stated that they were playing catch up. Mr. Printz said that there has been egregious neglect in our infrastructure. The challenges will be finding the funding to do all that needs to be done.
Another citizen asked if there was any follow up information on the possibility of a new building on saddle club property. Mrs. Hood said she was still waiting for the building assessment done by the CSU students.
Andrew Zeller, First Precinct leader for the GOP, queried the commissioners on behalf of the many in his precinct, regarding the dismissal of Robin Young. He stated that Robin is a good neighbor, has an honorable reputation, had no negative letters in her file, and her senior leaders at CSU believe she’s an excellent agent. He asked why she wasn’t counseled about ways to improve prior to being dismissed.
Mrs. Hood stated that there were issues having nothing to do with the $4K check – issues that had arisen prior to that. She stated that “Tony Franks recognized that it was an unhealthy partnership.” Mr. Kattnig stated that, “Five years ago we were having problems and I went to Bill Noble. Two years ago we were having problems and I went to Bill Noble.” Bill Nobles was unreachable for verification.
Mr. Zeller remarked that there was no record of Ms. Young being counseled and that, even now, she doesn’t know why she was removed. He then asked pointedly, “Why was she removed?”
Mr. Kattnig gave the common answer that personnel issues cannot be discussed. He went on to say that parents had complained about programs and discrimination. “We went to the district director and nothing happened. We had the information.” He went on to list problems that had arisen at the fair the past few years and indicated that Ms. Young wanted to handle things internally and not involve law enforcement. “This was not a witch hunt.”
Mr. Printz spoke up saying that the discussion had moved beyond the scope of what should be discussed publicly – from a legal standpoint. He went on to say that the Board did not have to justify their actions. “That’s not how this works. You put us in a position of authority to make these decisions.”
Mr. Kattnig again stated that “Robin was not our employee.”
Mr. Zeller responded with one more question. He stated that after the meeting with the CSU president and immediately following the workshop on Feb 16th, Mr. Kattnig spoke with Ms. Young and told her not to worry, that they’d work everything out. After he left, Mr. Printz spoke with her and stated that he was not part of this “witch hunt.” Then, five days later, the commissioners signed a letter demanding Ms. Young’s removal.
Mr. Printz adamantly denied saying that and stated that he resented it. Mr. Kattnig followed suit and questioned Mr. Zeller as to whether he, personally, heard these
Mr. Zeller said he had not and stated that he would have to take the commissioners word that they did not have those conversations with Ms. Young.
Mr. Printz replied, “I want to make sure that goes in whatever a paper you’re writing this to.”
Mr. Zeller responded that he had not written to the paper before this and wasn’t planning on doing so.
Mr. Printz asked why Ms. Young wasn’t the one asking the questions.
Mr. Zeller responded that she couldn’t come in here and that he was representing the citizens of Precinct 1.
Mrs. Hood reiterated that, on the day she took office, she told Ms. Young that she would be arranging a meeting with her supervisors. She also stated that CSU didn’t call the commissioners to let them know that they had spoken with Ms. Young. “One minute she was here and she was gone the next. They did not communicate with us.”
Mr. Kattnig ended the discussion by suggesting that Mr. Zeller speak with CSU. “Maybe they will allow you more access.” (Audio
March 31 2017 BOCC Zeller Questions regarding Robin Young
The meeting ended without being adjourned.
(Reporter: As our readers will recall, the commissioners have consistently referenced ongoing emails and letters of complaint against Robin Young. On behalf of the Sentinel, I did an open records request for those emails. What I received was a group of emails between the members of the 4-H Foundation. These are available on the Sentinel website in Archives for your perusal. Since I did not see specific complaints within these emails, I again did an open records request for any complaints (email or hard copy) against Ms. Young for the last two years. After querying former commissioners Attebery and Shy, and the three current commissioners, no further emails or letters were forthcoming. Here are the emails obtained through CORA: Document 1 Documents 2 Documents 3 Documents 4 Documents 5 Documents 6 )