Sheriff Derek Navarette speaks to the board regarding a contract with GPS and tracking device company GeoForce, which was approved.

The  Perry Stokes Airport’s financial situation is currently looking up, according to reports presented by County Administrator Phil Dorenkamp at the Tuesday, September 3 regular meeting of the Las Animas County Board of Commissioners, though the airport is still being heavily subsidized by the county to the tune of about $141,000.

“I was pleasantly surprised that we are currently $14,000 to the positive,” said Dorenkamp. “I don’t know the last time we had a report out at the airport where we had a positive number.”

Traditionally, the county has had to subsidize operations at the airport and although it’s getting better, there’s still a ways to go before it can fund itself.

“According to the numbers here,” Commissioner Felix Lopez inquired, “we’re going to be subsidizing airport operations by about a projected $141,000, is that right?”

“Yes,” replied Dorenkamp.

“It’s always been an expense to the county,” added Luis Lopez. “That’s why we did the tour last year so we could start getting some ideas out to start moving forward and hopefully after we get the Brownsfield inspections completed we can make some headway on that.”

EPA’s Brownfields Program, of which the county, along with the City of Trinidad and Aguilar, were recent recipients, provides direct funding for the Brownfield assessment, cleanup, revolving loans, environmental job training, technical assistance, training and research.

Purgatoire River cleanup

Starting off the meeting, the commissioner committee gave reports on the upcoming cleanup around the Purgatoire River.

“Late September, early October, we’ll be having our annual river cleanup,” said Commissioner Tony Hass. “Late October through November, we’ll need a hand crew at the south side of the river between Linden and Noah’s Ark to help in removing the Russian olive trees along the banks. In spring of next year we’ll be doing the same on the north side of the same area.”

Russian olive trees, listed with the Colorado Department of Agriculture as a noxious weed species, are aggressive invaders that quickly spread by seed and root shoots as well as outcompeting native species.

Hass also commented on a successful rodeo weekend. “The rodeo was well attended,” said Hass, “and everyone enjoyed the festivities.”

Drug Free Colorado

In other reports, Commissioner Luis Lopez explained that they would be continuing to move forward with a partnership with Partners for a Drug Free Colorado.

“The county, and the people of our community have had enough,” Luis Lopez said, “we’re going to have a meeting Monday, Sept. 30 at 9 a.m. to start brainstorming on how we’re going to combat this issue around drugs and I’d like to extend an invitation to our health department and to all other mental agencies in the community [to join us].”

Luis Lopez added that with recent comments at the city level that he wanted to relay to the public that Trinidad is within the county. “This isn’t just a city issue, it’s a community issue. Hopefully the county, the city, law enforcement, the health department and all of our community can come together to help combat these drug issues.”

Model traffic code

Commissioner Luis Lopez also announced that the state recently approved the county’s model traffic code. This change allows any funds collected from traffic violations in the county be collected by the county as opposed to going to the state level.

“This could add anywhere between $50,000 to $70,000 in additional funds to be used by the sheriff’s office,” Luis Lopez said.

Also regarding the sheriff’s department, a contract with the global tracking device company GeoForce was approved. Las Animas County Sheriff Derek Navarette said he was appreciative Evergreen Natural Resources agreed to pay the first year.

“I have the letter filed that was requested on their behalf,” said Sheriff Navarette. “We should have some more technology in our patrol cars very soon.”

Commissioners move forward in battle against pressing local drug issues, state approves county’s model traffic code

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