Gilpin Commissioners deal with over-capacity jail

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Giant steam shovel to move from Nederland to Gilpin

By Jaclyn Schrock

The Gilpin County Commissioners meeting was called to order at 9 am in the upstairs court room of Central City Hall, 141 Nevada Street on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Commissioners Ron Engels, Linda Isenhart, and Gail Watson were present.

Savings Account Closed

With the meeting called to order and no agenda changes (other than a spelling correction) or comments from the public, County Treasurer Alynn Huffman presented February’s Monthly Treasure’s report. The most significant item in the report was the closing of a savings account with money transferred to Gilpin County’s Treasurers account. Ms. Huffman explained this account closing for financial reasons, since the account made such little interest, it was actually better to be in the Wells Fargo account to gather interest. She is looking into better ways to bring interest into Gilpin’s accounts with these funds, used this month for expenses.

Gilpin Jail Staffing, Inmate Capacity

Captain Tonia Kapke presented her research and proposal with Under Sheriff John Baine verifying many aspects of the needs and proposal. Kapke informed the Commissioners this is safety and security sensitive, rather than time restricted, although she has done significant preparations to manage this resolution sooner than later.

The request for an increase in bunk space and staff to support inmates is due to a progressive increase in the average daily population (ADP) of inmate population in the Gilpin County Detention Center. Between 2009-2016 the average daily population was in the mid-30 to mid-40s. 2017 ADP was in the high 50’s and 60s. 2018 has continued to show an increase in ADP with 59.67 for January, 64.67 in February and the first 21 days of March 71.85, despite higher average population in the summer months. Population increase has been contributed to the number of arrests and the length of time incarcerated. The jail is running at 50% over the population it has been designed to handle. In the last month, four-man shifts have been put into place.

Double bunking is permanent solution now being considered for Gilpin County Jail, which would be a one-time cost to set up the beds. The past nine months double occupancy has been used in cells in all four pods, using portable cots for the added inmates. This was arranged as a temporary solution. It has caused safety issues if the inmate on the bed is to be removed from the cell, since the cot is on the walk way of the floor. There has been dangerous misuse of the cots, which are also in the way of the toilets. The cost increase to have double bunks with ladders would be $18,553, including welding them to the walls.

Staffing the increased population needs would be a long term, ongoing expense. Staffing increase for 2018 would be between $64,603 and $88,584. Following years staff cost would range between $126,206 and $174,168 annually depending on the qualifications of the candidates for four positions.

Safety for the staff and those housed in the facility is the main concern. When 65 inmates are housed, four rather than three staff members are required. One works the control room while the other three walk the floors. The jail is currently only budgeted for three staff members at one time. When extra staff is called in, someone is doing overtime and not getting the best amount of off-duty time to be most effective on the job. Four deputy positions are being requested – promoting two current Gilpin Deputies to Corporal and hiring one non-certified deputy that would be trained to handle special jail issues that one other hired Deputy could already have earned through a 16 week program through an academy.

This proposal passed with an unanimous vote after many questions and clear answers provided.

Beyond the immediate needs in the jail, another position has been desired for the safety of other departments and meetings in the Court House that do not normally have security screening. An additional position would increase the amounts mentioned above for the jail. Commissioners would have to make a determination of the need for this extra position to provide security screening for all the departments Monday through Friday, which it does not do currently. Security screening has primarily been provided primarily for days when court is in session and the other departments do not have security screening those days either. Human Services has seen backpacks that could not go through the security clearance while people are in court, but have no car to put them in. This is not appropriate, so the Commissioners asked for more specific dollar numbers to make a plan for this position if they wish to provide so there is better security in our Court House.

New Human Services Director

Sherrin Ashcraft has been recommended to the position of Gilpin County Human Services Director. Ms. Ashcraft who is currently employed in a similar position, accepted the position and will begin April 9.

Giant 1923 Steam Shovel Gift

If you have been coming to Gilpin County since the 70’s, you likely remember seeing abandoned steam shovels in North Clear Creek along Hwy 119. These old work horses made prospecting a possibility, so are a historic treasure. Most have been scrapped and melted down and recycled for other purposes. This particular steam shovel was from the Rollinsville area of Gilpin County, but was moved to Nederland in 2005. The Nederland Area Historical Society (NAHS) was given information about the steam shovel in 1997 where the steam shovel had worked a placer operation in the 50’s through 70’s by two men working in the summer months. The Lump Gulch area placer operation used this steam shovel to dig an open pit mining operation seeking mineral deposits. The property was littered with many other metal parts and machines as well. The steam shovel was deeply covered with years of water bringing rocks and soil around it.

NAHS took interest in the historical value of the 1923 steam shovel. With investigation, it was found to have been originally used in the construction of the Panama Canal. It was not one that made the original cuts in the land, but used to widen the canal for larger vessels and to build two additional locks. Searching for other steam shovels from that project revealed only three that had not been scrapped for WWII needs. One is in a million pieces in Minnesota, and other one is in a South American country, and only this one is still operational.

A few years after the discovery and confirmation of the steam shovel’s history, the property was offered for sale and a Gilpin Realtor was able to purchase the property. With detailed analysis as to how to move it to Nederland, the History Channel documented the move. There was a 100 year celebration of the Panama Canal in New York where just the bucket of the steam shovel was a major part of the display, protected in many ways like fine china, while Nederland tourists find  it unprotected in the weather and kids climbing all over around and through it.

Nederland needs to sell the property the steam shovel sits on to complete other historical area projects, so wanted to find a place to move it that welcomed the historical guests it attracts. Central City agreed to receive this gift and is seeking a location to display this fully functioning reminder of our past. Nederland does not seem to appreciate the worth of this machine, so they sought out the nearest place that would.

Moving the beast will take much effort, but it is known exactly how to do it since it was moved to Nederland in 2005. David Forsyth of Gilpin County Historical Society is working with Central City to find the best location for the steam shovel so that there would be parking for international and handicapped guests. The preferred site has three property owners who may or may not cooperate with the effort to make it public, rather than a remote location where vandalism is more likely.

Commissioners agreed to work with them to find appropriate the most appropriate opportunity to bring the old working machine back to Gilpin County, possibly with the help of equipment from both Gilpin and Boulder Counties.

Gross Reservoir Expansion Project by Denver Water

Rick Fendel is an attorney with the same firm our Gilpin County Attorney Jim Petrock is with. Mr. Fendel presented to the Commissioners updated information regarding the expansion project Denver Water Board has been pursuing for the reservoir on Coal Creek. An expansion project of that dam and electrical generating plant would increase water supply for Denver by tripling the capacity of Gross Reservoir – clearing 465 acres of land and increasing the height of the dam to 171 feet. The water comes from the Fraser River in western Colorado so would divert more water that is currently part of the Colorado River water shed. This water is currently coming to the Denver area through the Moffat Tunnel’s east portal near Rollinsville in Gilpin County. Moffat Tunnel is a railroad tunnel which also brings water from the Pacific water shed system over the Continental Divide traveling under many Rocky Mountain peaks to our Front Range communities surrounding Denver. The tunnel was completed in 1928 spanning 6.2 miles at over 9,200 feet above sea level. Environmental impact reports may not represent the full impact of diverting a higher amount of water from Western Colorado to cause lower water levels and then higher amounts of water on the eastern water ways. Apparently, environmental impact has little influence in obtaining the permits to proceed with the project. Permits are anticipated to be given to Denver Water by summer, after this period of public response. Gilpin County has not been invited to the discussion table as of yet since the construction traffic would not necessarily travel through Gilpin. By legal advice, they were asking to be involved in the discussions since the water passes through our county and we are a neighboring county to the project.

Variance Request for Old Dory Hill

Commissioners reconvened as the Board of Adjustments. Community Development Director Stephen Stohminger presented a variance request by Alan and Debra Huntington. They want to replace an old mobile home with a new modular home on their property, but will only have a 13 foot easement instead of the required 30 feet. The water well and septic lines would be encroached on if a 30 foot easement was kept. There is no other location option on the property because of existing buildings. After some discussion, the Commissioners voted to accept the variance for 64 Old Dory Hill Road.

Anchor Point Wildfire Response

Gilpin Cooperative Extension Director Irene Shone and Community Development Director Stephen Strohminger presented Anchor Point’s (a consultant) service agreement for fire mitigation in our County. Much concern about the real danger of wild fire this season with significantly less precipitation this winter is recognized and being prepared for, even though it snowed on Monday. As these fire concerns were being confirmed, Planner Daniel Horn was making maps and charts available to the commissioners and presenters. Anchor Point Group of Boulder worked through our County Manager Leslie Klusmire to coordinate information to establish a first round recommendation for fire mitigation in our county. Attention was focused on high priority levels where tree thinning along County roads with easement rights with better access for emergency vehicles, evacuation routes, and even smaller fires roadways can act as a fire barrier. Experience with a previous grant for fire mitigation on roadways that did not have county right of way was very cumbersome with time and effort to find more challenges gaining cooperation from land owners. It was recognized that Gilpin County was the only one who could provide necessary information about how to access wild fires in the county. State and Federal support depends on Gilpin information to be of any help. So Gilpin’s Community Development team coordinated with Anchor Point to prioritize the roads the county owned with the areas found to be of highest priority to thin trees along the road and grade the roads for better access with the heavy equipment needed to fight fires. The main trust of effort this year would be in a six-mile very high priority section along some gulch areas that go through private land and through National Forest land. Very high priority areas only have one road in and out. Another 8 ½ miles are considered as high priority and may not be able to be worked this year. Cooperation with road grading from Public Works was hoped for since they are actually ahead of schedule this year because of warm weather. The Commissioners voted to accept the service agreement, not to exceed $50,500 for fire mitigation work. Signs set up during mitigation will help property owners understand they have easement areas that the county is in control of, so may contact the county with concerns.

Cisterns for fire prevention

A map of previously established cisterns is being created to assist wild fire fighters. The public has been requested to help locate where these cisterns are. There is also a concern to identify any cisterns which had diesel fuel added to it to prevent them from freezing.

Sale of Convey Wildfire Response Trailers

These two trailers, one stored in Hughesville and the other at Rollinsville, were originally placed there when different fire agencies cared for our County. These trailer titles and firefighting equipment stored in them will be sold to Central City Fire Department (contracted to be a supporting agency in case of a wild fire) and Timberline Fire District. Two separate motions, one for each fire district approved the sale by the Commissioners.

Justice Center Needs Analysis

The Commissioners selected Ryan Johns Architect bid to resolve concerns with the Justice Center structural and hot water delivery issues. There was discussion about estimates made regarding alternative energy. The proposals are engineer generated and the work process will be fine-tuned with Justice Center staff. There has been interest in roof repairs, electricity production for efficient temperature control, structural concerns to be firmed up, and boiler concerns for hot water circulation.

Gold Dirt Distillery

Much confusion about this application was finally resolved when the major accountability authority was determined to not be Gilpin County according to Sharon Cate who presented this Application for Colorado Liquor Sales Room. State and Federal departments have more jurisdiction in this area. Gilpin County had never had an application like this before so did not know how to respond. Simply having it on the Commissioners agenda and having it signed, sets the other jurisdictions into motion. The application was approved.

Public meeting notices can be found at click on Board of County Commissioners, then scroll down on the right to find, Public Meeting Notices: 2018

NOTE:  Due to remodeling work on Old Courthouse, Commissioners meetings will be held in the Central City Hall meeting space at 141 Nevada Street, Central City, CO  80427 until further notice.

County Manager Report

Leslie Klusmire presented monthly reports and project status. She said that three more internal County staff members will be added to the Wild Fire response plan. These additional people from various departments are to coordinate better communication and plans. The jail expansion project is seeing progress to becoming a safer environment for all in the Justice Center.

Courthouse Remodeling Update

Bill Harrington, project manager for the Courthouse remodeling, presented information about the common areas floor sanding and finishing. Discussion found that the budget has not been exhausted yet more cost-effective storage and moving of the show cases and furniture in the old court room were considered during the work on that floor area. Work in public access areas will continue to be at nights and weekends as this project is nearing completion.

Minutes of the Commissioners meeting February 20, March 1, and March 13 all were approved.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:45 pm, and following was a work session with Coleen Stewart to resolve concerns for a transparent election since the State cannot offer personnel to cover the retiring director or clerk running for election. Also a topic at this work session was a hearing of a State-wide transportation improvement plan.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Gilpin County Commissioners will be at Central City Hall, Tuesday, April 9, at 9 am due to remodeling of the County Courthouse. The agenda and packet of topics is available 24 hours before the meeting at

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