Public Meetings Set by Planning Commission on Master Plan

The Fremont County Planning Commission is hosting a series of public meetings next week to take public input and discuss development of the updated Fremont County Master Plan.   The Planning Commission has conducted a series of workshops over the past four years with Planning Department staff updating language in the Master Plan as required by Colorado statute.

Three public meetings have been set across Fremont County to take input on the initial draft of the Master Plan.   Meetings are set for Monday, April 13th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Florence City Council Chambers; on Tuesday, April 14th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Fremont County Commissioners Board Room at the County Administration Building in Cañon City; and on Thursday, April 16th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Coaldale Community Center in Coaldale.

The draft copy of the Master Plan can be reviewed on-line at Fremont County’s web site at www.fremontco.com.   You should click on the Master Plan link under the Planning and Zoning Department’s menu.   Hard copies of the Master Plan can also be reviewed at the public libraries in Cañon City, Florence, and Penrose, at the Coaldale Community Center, at the Howard Volunteer Fire Department, and in the Planning and Zoning Office in the County Administration Building.

Written comments are also being accepted.   Comments can be e-mailed to planning@fremontco.com or mail comments to the Planning Department in Room 210, 615 Macon Avenue, Cañon City.   The deadline for written comments is Monday, April 20, 2015, at 4:00 p.m.  Adoption of the final Master Plan document is the sole responsibility of the Fremont County Planning Commission.

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Public Views Renovated Garden Park Facility

The Canon City Chamber of Commerce Prospectors staged a ribbon cutting Tuesday for the newly renovated Garden Park Building in Canon City. Cutting the ribbon is Commission Chairman Ed Norden flanked by Commissioner Tim Payne (left) and Commissioner Debbie Bell, County Manager George Sugars, and Sheriff Jim Beicker (right).

The staff at Fremont County Public and Environmental Health played host on Tuesday to public tours of the newly renovated Garden Park Building at 201 North 6th in Cañon City.   Public Health staff moved into their new office space in February but an open house was delayed until remodeling was completed for the Fremont County Sheriff’s Department Investigations Unit which is housed in the northwest corner of the building.

The Cañon City Chamber of Commerce Prospectors took part in a ribbon cutting prior to tours being offered throughout the new facility.   In addition to Public Health and Sheriff’s Investigations, the Garden Park Building is also home to Fremont County Weed Control and the Fremont County Office of Emergency Management.    A large conference room is also available for training sessions for Public Health Staff and Sheriff’s personnel and well as other community uses.

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Commissioners Approve MMJ Operation at Penrose Apple Shed

The historic Apple Shed along Colorado 115 in Penrose will be converted to a medical marijuana cultivation facility and infused products manufacturing facility by next fall. (Photo Courtesy Canon City Daily Record)

The Fremont County Board of Commissioners met in a brief special session on Tuesday, April 2nd, and unanimously approved action to permit a medical marijuana manufacturing facility in the historic Apple Shed in Penrose.    The Commissioners had tabled action on a Special Review Use Permit (SRU) and two medical marijuana licenses following a March 10th public hearing.

In making the motion to approve the SRU and county medical marijuana (MMJ) licenses for Thressor, LLC, District One Commissioner Tim Payne said he put a lot of consideration into this matter and that Chris Haight’s application stands on its own merits.  Payne said that if in a year there have been broken promises, he will take another look at this application.   The two MMJ licenses include one for Optional Premise Cultivation and for Marijuana Infused Products.    Haight said at the March 10th hearing that he wants to grow specific strains of marijuana to produce hash oil for medical purposes.   Haight plans to sell wholesale only and will not sell any retail products from the Apple Shed location.

District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell said this is one of the hardest decisions she has had to make since being a County Commissioner.  Bell said she believes this particular operation is exactly the kind of operation that most voters thought they were approving when medical marijuana was approved in 2000.  Bell noted that after visiting the Apple Shed site she believes Haight will have a safe operation that will pose no threat to the neighborhood.

Among the findings and restrictions called out in the Commissioners’ resolution of approval, Haight will not be able to access his property from the rear off of Grant Street, must have odor control equipment installed, must not display any marijuana signage, and the Commissioners made it clear that approval came with the understanding that no marijuana edible products would be produced on site.

Commission Chairman Ed Norden said Haight’s application was one of the better medical marijuana applications the board received.   Norden said approval of this SRU comes with an elevated responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate that he will be a good neighbor to the citizens of Penrose.

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Open House Set for Garden Park Facility

The public is invited to tour Fremont County Public and Environmental Health and other offices in the newly renovated Garden Park Facility at 201 North 6th in Canon City on April 7th

Residents of Fremont County will have an opportunity next week to tour the newly renovated facilities at Fremont County’s Garden Park Building which is the new home for the Fremont County Department of Public and Environmental Health.    The Fremont County Board of Commissioners has scheduled an open house at the Garden Park Building at 201 North 6th Street in Cañon City from 2:00 until 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7th.

The Commissioners acquired the Garden Park Building from the Cañon City RE-1 School District in February of last year.  H.W. Houston Construction of Pueblo began a $465,000 remodeling project on the facility last October.   Public Health opened their new offices in the Garden Park Building on February 9th.    Public Health Director Rick Miklich said his staff members are delighted to be operating in a state of the art facility including well designed and spacious exam rooms, a dedicated vaccine room, nursing station, vital statistics office and a modern reception area.      The new space also provides for a more efficient and effective means to provide basic public health services that include immunizations, disease screening, counseling, education and overall client comfort.

Miklich said an additional bonus is access to a spacious training room which will allow public health staff to revamp their services and offer a variety of courses to county staff and the community.   Office Manager Linda Leggitt remarked, “It is so much easier to provide such a high level of customer service to our clients.”    Clinic Nurse Lori Steinbeck added “These facilities are much more oriented to our client needs. The exam rooms are much less intimidating to children, which makes up a large portion of our client base.”

Fremont County Environmental Health Officer Sid Darden also relocated his offices from the County Building Department to the Public Health Department.   In addition the newly renovated Garden Park Building now houses Fremont County Weed Control, the Office of Emergency Management, and much needed space for the Fremont County Sheriff’s Department Investigations Division.

The public is encouraged to attend the April 7th open house and take a tour of the spacious new facilities.

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Commissioners Proclaim April-Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month

Blue "Pinwheels for Prevention" will be observed across Fremont County during April to draw attention to Child Abuse Prevention Month

To bring greater awareness to the issue of child abuse and neglect occurring in our communities the Fremont County Commissioners invite the citizens of Fremont County to join them on Thursday, April 2nd at 2:00 PM in Macon Plaza, at 6th and Main in Canon City.  The Commissioners will read a proclamation and ask individuals in attendance to join them in planting a blue ‘Pinwheel for Prevention’.

Child abuse and neglect is 100% preventable.  Last year in Fremont County the Department of Human Services Child Welfare Unit received 1,200 referrals for possible abuse.  There were 74 founded cases of child abuse and neglect where 50% of the children were five years of age and younger.    The effects of child abuse may carry over into adult life.  Adults who suffered child abuse have a higher risk for allergies, arthritis, asthmas, high blood pressure, and ulcers.  Child abuse has been associated with suffering from higher incidences of mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse.  Research estimates that one-third of abused and neglect children will grow up to abuse their children.

Residents are welcome to join the Commissioners on April 2nd in Macon Plaza to show support for preventing child abuse and learn how they might participate in preventing child abuse and neglect in Fremont County.  Individuals are encouraged to show their support to reduce child abuse by wearing blue on Wednesdays during April.  Around the county residents will see blue ‘Pinwheels for Prevention’ gardens being planted to increase awareness of child abuse issues and show support for preventing child abuse.  Anyone may plant a pinwheel garden.  For more information please contact James Berg at 719-269-2047.

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Airport Paving Award Presented to Commissioners

Tom Peterson, Executive Director of the Colorado Asphalt Paving Association speaks last Tuesday to the Board of Commissioners regarding the "Best of Colorado" Airport paving award received by Fremont County last month. Peterson is flanked on the left by Airport Manager Richard Baker (front) and Airport Advisory Chairman John Marietta (rear). Pictured right is Rocky Mountain Materials Vice President rob Mangone of Penrose.

The executive director of the Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association was on hand at the March 24th Board of Commissioners meeting to present the award which the county earned in February at the group’s Denver banquet.   Tom Peterson said he wanted to personally deliver the award to the Board of Commissioners for the “Best in Colorado” asphalt paving award given in the airport category for 2014.

Airport Manager Richard Baker, Airport Advisory Committee Chairman John Marietta, and Rocky Mountain Materials Vice President Rob Mangone were also on hand for the award presentation.   Peterson said the county can be proud of the work performed by Rocky Mountain for completion of the new 4,800 foot parallel taxiway at the Fremont County Airport.   The $1.8 million project got started in late 2013 and was financed with a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.   The cost to Fremont County was $45,000.   Peterson noted the project took 5,000 tons of asphalt to complete.

The Board of Commissioners presented their 2014 Accountability Report which was produced by District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell in a power point format.  Citizens can review the comprehensive report on-line by visiting the Commissioners’ page on the Fremont County web site and then clicking “Accountability Report” on the menu.   It is the second year that the Commissioners produced a power point accountability summary of activities.

The Board of Commissioners awarded a series of bids related to asphalt, chip seal, and dust suppressant work that county road crews will begin work on this spring.   Other than the Phase 2 paving project utilizing grant dollars south of Florence this summer, the county will be doing only 1.67 miles of new asphalt paving this summer.    Chip and seal projects will cover 7.9 miles of county roadway.

The Board of Commissioners approved without comment an extension of two conditions listed for Christo’s Over the River art project on the Arkansas River west of Cañon City.   Time was extended on the permit itself to the exhibition period now estimated in August of 2018-2020 and an extension was allowed on a reimbursement agreement with the City of Cañon City for security measures during the exhibition.

In other business the Board of Commissioners:

  • Approved the scheduling of an open house in the newly renovated Garden Park Building at 201 North 6th Street from 2 until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7th;
  • Approved a special events liquor license for the Cañon City Rodeo Association for the Blossom Festival Rodeo on May 1st and 2nd;
  • Approved a bid of $93,960 from DTI Trucking to pay for replacement of a county dump truck which was totaled in an accident.   The county collected about $85,000 in insurance proceeds to help pay for the new truck;
  • Adopted a proclamation declaring the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month;
  • Adopted a proclamation declaring September 19th through October 12th as Fremont County’s Fall Heritage Festival;
  • Adopted a proclamation declaring April 6th through the 12th as National Public Health Week.
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County Facilities Director Honored on Retirement

Fremont County Facilities Director Gary Doughty (second from left) receives a resolution commending his work with Fremont County upon his retirement last week. He is flanked by County Commissioners Tim Payne, Debbie Bell, and Ed Norden (Photo courtesy: CC Daily Record)

Another long term county employee has been honored upon his retirement.   The Fremont County Commissioners adopted a resolution at their March 10th board meeting noting the contributions of Gary Doughty who retired on March 12th from his position as the county’s Facilities and Maintenance Department Director.

Doughty was employed with Fremont County for the past 11 ½  years.   The resolution adopted by the Commissioners noted Doughty’s assistance in implementing energy conservation measures designed to reduce water and energy consumption in the County Administration Building, the Sheriff’s Department, the Judicial Center, and the Department of Human Services.   He was also commended for maintaining a positive, constructive attitude towards his duties and co-workers.

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Royal Gorge Park Opens New Tramway Gondolas

A total of six gondola cars will be traveling the new tramway at one time at the Royal Gorge Park. Each car will carry up to 8 passengers and are handicap accessible. (photo courtesy: Royal Gorge Bridge)

Spring Breakers are out in full force according to Royal Gorge Bridge and Park General Manager Mike Bandera, and the new park tramway ran for the first time last Saturday. The bright red Leitner-POMA cabins will take guests across a 2,400 foot-span about 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River.

The park was 90% damaged due to the wildfire in June 2013, destroying the park’s 35-passenger single span aerial tram which spanned the gorge since 1969.    Along with the new gondolas, the park will be re-opening the theater and the Royal Rush Skycoaster on a daily basis through the Fall.

Jon Mauch, Leitner-POMA North American Sales Manager called the new tramway a unique installation. “It was quite a feat, spanning the gondolas that far over a deep canyon.    There are very few like this in the world,” he said.    “This is a far superior experience for guests, replacing the old tram with these gondolas.  With the many technological improvements, we’ve increased capacity, and people can sit down and enjoy the spectacular views with floor to ceiling glass,” Mauch said.   Leitner-Poma is one of the world’s largest tram and gondola builders.

This week, Bandera said the park will be opening North America’s highest Zip Line by Zip Rider, running parallel with the new gondolas.    In addition, the mini-train will also be re-opening for guests of all ages to enjoy.

The Fremont County Board of Commissioners congratulates Mike Bandera and the staff at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park for another significant milestone in developing a new and exciting attraction at the park in the aftermath of the devastating wildfire nearly two years ago.

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Commissioners Table Apple Shed S.R.U. Request

Following a two hour presentation and public hearing on a proposal to turn the Apple Shed building along Highway 115 in Penrose into a medical marijuana cultivation and medically infused products (MIPS) manufacturing facility, the Fremont County Commissioners voted last Tuesday to table a decision until April 2nd.

The Commissioners conducted a single public hearing taking comment on three different applications by Chris Haight of Thressor LLC who has leased the Apple Shed building in Penrose.   Because the building currently sits in a Business Zone District, Haight had to apply for a Special Review Use Permit to allow a light industrial use for the MIPS manufacturing purposes.   The other two applications deal specifically with the marijuana permits.   Haight informed the county that the State of Colorado already issued his two medical marijuana state licenses pending county approval.

District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell said that given the amount of information presented at the hearing and from written comment there was too much information to digest to come up with an informed decision the same day.   Commission Chairman Ed Norden added that there was conflicting information between what the Penrose Fire Chief testified to before the Planning Commission and the written approvals received by Florence Fire Chief Gene McKinnon who replied on behalf of the Florence Fire Protection District.   Norden said the Board needs to sort out some of that conflicting information.

Haight told the Board that there is a lot of misconception about the proposed use of butane in the MIPS process to extract hash oil from the marijuana plants.   He said the extraction room would rely on a 10-12 pound butane tank while a typical backyard grill propane tank houses 15-20 pounds of propane.  Haight added that the butane extraction system for medical marijuana hash oil is in use at 160 locations in the U.S.   He said no accidents have been reported at any of the licensed facilities.   Haight added that his MIPS plan would produce only the hash oil for sale and that his operation would not produce any edible medical marijuana products.

Among those testifying during the hearing were Richard Neidermeyer and Patrick Slawson who serve on the Penrose Park District Board.    Both are opposed to the Thressor application saying the operation would be too close to the many kids and families using the Penrose Park across the street.  John Sandefur pointed to the proliferation of medical marijuana grow facilities around the Penrose area and said “Enough is enough”.   Charlie Newlon spoke against the Thressor proposal saying the Board’s decision will change the landscape of Penrose.   He says people are putting up fences and boarding up windows.   He says once their lifestyle is gone, it’s gone.

Among those in support was Donald Taton who said medical marijuana is here and it helps people.   He said the butane system proposed by Haight has not failed in 50 years.   Marsha Cox also spoke in favor saying she lives nearby and the operation would actually help Penrose.   She also said she has used infused medical marijuana with much better results and fewer side effects than smoking.

In tabling action on the applications the Board of Commissioners scheduled a special meeting for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 2nd to make a determination.

In other business at the March 10th board meeting the Commissioners:

  • Appointed Dan Korber of Cañon City to a vacancy on the three-member War Memorial Park Committee;
  • Approved a resolution putting in place a general policy for public records requests.   The policy will provide guidance to all county offices on the timeliness of fulfilling requests, fees that can be charged, the type of information that can be provided, and the type of information on which there are restrictions;
  • Scheduled a public hearing for 10 a.m. on April 14th on a Special Review Use Permit by Jackie Tripp of Play Dirty ATV to allow ATV tours into the Texas Creek BLM trail system through a BLM lease agreement on a parcel of property 1.7 miles west of the Texas Creek junction on Highway 50.
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Airport Taxiway Project Honored with Asphalt Award

Fremont County Airport Manager Dick Baker (far left) is pictured with officials from Rocky Mountain Materials and Asphalt at the Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association Annual Banquet in Denver last week. Company officials pictured include (left to right) Vice Presidents Rob Mangone & Eric Bogren, and Asphalt Supt. Jason Dody

The project to pave a full length parallel taxiway at the Fremont County Airport has earned Fremont County and Rocky Mountain Materials a first place asphalt award from an industry group.   The Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association presented its “Best in Colorado Airport” award Wednesday night (February 25) to Fremont County Airport Manager Richard Baker and Rocky Mountain and Materials Vice Presidents Rob Mangone and Eric Bogren.   The presentation was made at the 21st Annual “Best in Colorado” Asphalt Pavement Awards dinner in Denver.

Rocky Mountain Materials and Asphalt was the contractor on the $1.8 million project which started in late 2013 to pave a 4,800 foot full length parallel taxiway at the Fremont County Airport.   Prior to completion of the parallel taxiway, aircraft were forced to back-taxi for takeoff and landing.    The project was designated as an airport safety improvement project by the Federal Aviation Administration which provided 95% of the funding for the project.   The Colorado Board of Aeronautics provided $45,000 from the Colorado Discretionary Aviation Grant program along with $45,000 in funding from Fremont County.

The taxiway project was particularly important to improve safety and efficiency during the busy wildfire season when single engine air tankers are taking off and landing at the airport.

The new full length parallel taxiway at the Fremont County Airport is pictured following final completion of the paving in late December, 2013

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