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Crawford to participate in county hazard mitigation grant

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Crawford town trustees will vote at the June 1 meeting to sign on to participate in the Delta County local hazard mitigation grant. The county recently received the $70,000 planning grant from the state through a Federal Emergency Management Agency program, said Jeff Wright, emergency management director with the county's emergency management department. The program gives grants to state and local governments for implementing long-range hazard mitigation practices in the event of major natural disasters.

The county is seeking participation from each of the Delta County municipalities, said Wright, who gave a presentation at the May 18 Crawford town work session. The amount of responsibility the county and municipalities have in the event of an emergency "is pretty incredible," said Wright, and actions taken now will greatly help out in the future.

Crawford already participates in the Federal Emergency Management Agency National Flood Plan, but this is a different program, said Wright. Participation will allow the town to garner more FEMA grants and can also result in lower rates for their existing policy. If the town chooses not to participate, it won't be entitled to the benefits of the plan, which could be costly in the event of a disaster.

As part of its participation, the town agrees to work to identify existing risks to people, property and infrastructure from natural hazards and create a mitigation plan to reduce those risks. The public is encouraged to participate.

The plan would aid in recovery from disasters, and would also offer other benefits, including covering some of the costs of creating "pre-disaster mitigation," such as soil stabilization, drainage projects and protection measures for infrastructure, said Wright.

Participation doesn't create new regulations or require a set-in-stone commitment to resources, said Wright. The goal is to create a "vision for safer community, developed by the community."

A recent example is the 2013 floods that occurred in the Boulder area, said John Lazarski, owner of the Old Mad Dog Cafe, who experienced the disaster and its long-term effects firsthand. "You can't think of a creek growing 300 percent, but they do."

The grant was created with money left over from the 2013 floods. Wright said incidents of extreme weather and related conditions are increasing, and used Canada's Fort McMurray Fire, which resulted in the evacuation of some 80,000 people and is still burning, as an example. While weather extremes grow greater, people, in general, aren't as prepared today for disasters, said Wright.

By signing the commitment form, the town agrees to be represented at three to four meetings over the next few months, and provide additional time to review and finalize plans. The grant requires a 25-percent in-kind match. Travel and meeting time for county residents can be applied to the match at the rate of $22.50 per hour. "The public needs to be just as involved as anybody else is," said Wright.

Trustee Mike Tiedeman, a volunteer firefighter and former fire chief with the Crawford Fire Department, noted that the department has in place the 2015 Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), which is an addendum to the Delta County CWPP. He asked if the cost to implement the plan can be applied toward in-kind value.

Wright said the goal is to have a plan in place by Feb. 1 of next year.

Also at the work session, trustees agreed to vote at the June 1 public meeting to allow public works director Bruce Bair to purchase and install another doggy poop bag dispenser at town park. The town also reminds citizens to obey signs in the park to keep their dogs on a leash, and to make use of the free bags.

Trustees will also discuss at the June 1 meeting the possibility of allowing customers to pay their utility bills with a credit or debit card. If the town sets up a transaction system through the State of Colorado, which provides the website through colorado.gov, the town will not be assessed a transaction fee, said town clerk Cally Gallegos.

Trustee John Paton, a retired law enforcement officer, stated that he would like council to take up the subject of establishing a municipal court in Crawford. Mayor Wanda Gofforth said that Sheriff Fred McKee will attend the June 15 workshop to discuss the matter.

"I think it's imperative that we do it," said Paton.

The town is also considering putting a mill levy increase on the November ballot. Crawford's mill levy of 2.42 mills is currently the lowest in Delta County, and is expected to generate about $6,400 this year, according to the 2016 budget. The county needs to know by July if the issue will be on the ballot, said Mayor Gofforth. She reminded trustees that mineral leasing and severance taxes are going to drop considerably in the near future due to mine closures. "It may not hit us too hard this year, but 2017 could be pretty drastic," said Gofforth.

Delta County assessor Debbie Griffith has been invited to attend the June 15 work session to explain how the mill levy works as the deadline to put the issue on the ballot approaches.

Bair reported that municipal water tests submitted earlier in the year "turned out really good." Results for volatile organic and synthetic organic compounds were all below detectable limits. Tests revealed a trace of uranium. While the maximum contaminate level is three-one hundredths parts per million, the test rate measured three-ten thousandths parts per million. Tests also found traces of sodium measuring five parts per million; no fluoride was detected and "everything else looks really good," said Bair. The town's water flows are holding at 135 gallons per minute, and the system is feeding 115 gpm into the town's delivery system.

The town was also found to be in compliance on its sewer lagoon testing after the state transposed a number on lab results. "That's good news," said Bair.

Bair also said his department is working to get water customers to pay their bills on time. While the town has been lenient until now, if customers are two months late, service will be shut off. Change is always a little difficult for people and it's not what we've been doing forever, said Bair.

Public works is also starting to tend to weeds. They are also working to clean up the Crawford Cemetery and surrounding area prior to the Memorial Day weekend.

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