• In a series of speech-style presentations that brought tears to the eyes of this blogger, students from The Paonia Experiential Leadership Academy told Commissioners about their hopes for the future of Delta County and the planet. Each speech focused on a specific topic and included: Solar energy, water conservation, topsoil erosion, composting, arbor cities, plastic bag bans, bike paths, and aridification.
One student described how Paonia founder, Samuel Wade, brought fruit trees to the area and explained that; “One large tree produces enough oxygen for four people.” Another student asked Commissioners to join places like Ridgeway and Steamboat in banning single-use plastic bags.
Commissioner Suppes thanked students for doing what many find very difficult — public speaking. He wants to meet with the students, at some point, to add his perspective on the issues they had mentioned.
• County Assessor, Debbie Griffith, presented Commissioners the annual PILT application that inventories the public land acreage in Delta County and asks for funding from the Federal government. PILT, or “Payments in Lieu of Taxes,” are Federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable Federal lands within their boundaries. This year’s funding ask is down slightly because the Feds sold a portion of publicly-owned lands within Delta County.
• Commissioners awarded a $36,047.82 contract to local office-space designer ProSpace Interiors to remodel the County Treasurer’s office. The remodel will replace the aging front counter area and add more room for staff needs.
• Commissioners received an update on the Paonia water outage from staff that headed up the county’s task force to help those affected by the recent breaks in Paonia’s water system. With Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Kris Stewart at the helm, several county departments joined forces with the Town of Paonia, the state, neighboring counties, local plumbers, and others. Hundreds of staff hours were spent in coordination; helping to find and fix the leaks; notifying and helping home-bound residents; developing critical maps; and ensuring the safety of drinking water.
• Delta County Community and Economic Director Elyse Casselberry told Commissioners that community engagement on the county’s Land Use Plan development had begun. She described Phase 1, which happened last week, as a learning phase. “We want to myth bust,” said Casselberry, and “…help folks understand what regulations we do have.”
Phase 2 is planned for March 13 at the Grand Mesa Events & Arts Center in Cedaredge from 6 to 7:30 pm. The discussion — themed “Lessons Learned from our Neighbors” — will include representatives from Rifle, Mesa and Montrose counties to describe their own land use planning experiences and plans.
Phase 3 is the creation phase of the plan and the time residents will be able to add feedback about the proposed plan during community discussions.