Deann Thomas, a retired physical therapist, says she will raise concerns with the Orchard City Town Board about an agricultural burn operation next to the senior mobile home park where she and elderly neighbors live.
Thomas said that she will address the town board at its Sept. 13 meeting. She told the DCI that on various occasions between Aug. 28 and Labor Day smoke from the burning caused discomfort to herself and other residents of the park.
The burning is taking place on a large acre- age along Running Deer Road. The property has been cleared of brush and trees which were pushed into piles to be disposed of by burning.
Thomas told the DCI that the state health department, which has jurisdiction for issuing permits for open burning, has given an approval for the burn operation next to the mobile home park. That fact was confirmed by Keith Lucy of the Delta County Health Department who said that he has been informed by officials Colorado Air Quality Control Commission that the burning is classified as agricultural and as such does not require a permit.
Nevertheless, Thomas said she is going to pursue her concerns with local officials including the county commissioners.
Thomas provided a written statement to the DCI saying, "Of the 17 people I personally talked to [in the park], five use oxygen at night and during the day as needed, and an additional five use inhalers. That's over 50 percent who need assistance."
Thomas arranged for several of her neighbors to speak with the DCI. They complained of varying degrees of sinus irritation, headaches, watering or burning eyes, and difficulty breathing because of smoke from burning in the Aug. 28-to-Labor Day period. There was no burning on the day of the interviews and none of the residents displayed signs of discomfort. Two of them complained of having to live shut-in without use of swamp coolers in hot weather.
One of the neighbors who spoke with the DCI later retracted statements and said in an e- mail that other residents of the park have not been bothered by smoke and are not opposed to the burn operation.
The Orchard City Town Board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 13 at town hall beginning at 7 p.m.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Delta County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to consider the board's response to the Bureau of Land Management's preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning the lease parcels proposed for the December BLM sale.
Several people from the North Fork were present to provide input.