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Commissioners hear of need for voting equipment investment, county water plant expansion

 

Jaclyn Anthony / Lincoln Times-News   A pipe gallery in the Lincoln County Water Treatment facility on Tree Farm Road.

Jaclyn Anthony / Lincoln Times-News       A pipe gallery in the Lincoln County Water Treatment facility on Tree Farm Road.

 

ELIZABETH HEFFNER

 Staff Writer

 

Lincoln County Commissioners learned that the county will need to increase its funding to keep citizens voting at their meeting Monday night.

Lincoln County Board of Elections Director Bradley Putnam spoke with County Commissioners regarding the need for new voting machines. According to Putnam, the current machines will be usable through the 2016 election, but after that, the DS-200 model will be the only model approved for use by the state. Putnam estimated the cost of replacing the machines along with the necessary hardware and software will at nearly a million dollars. Due to the significant cost, he said it would be best to spread the expenses over several years, and asked County Commissioners for permission to start the planning process to replace eight or nine of the current election machines before the general election this fall.

Putnam said that the state’s new voter ID law is a significant factor in the mandate for new machines. During his presentation, he explained that Monday night’s vote was not a vote for a company vendor, but solely on the purchasing of the DS-200 equipment.

The motion carried 4-1 with County Commissioner James Klein in opposition.

Klein’s disapproval was rooted in the fact that it was a costly, unfunded mandate, and suggested to fellow board members that they should write a letter to state legislators.

County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve Diamond Towers IV, LCC’s proposal for a Conditional Use Permit to construct a 250-foot telecommunications tower. Planning Board members voted 7-0 to recommend approval of the permit at their last meeting.

County Commissioners also voted unanimously to approve applicant Janet Cox’s rezoning of a 0.95 acre property from an R-SF to an O-R. At its last meeting, the Planning Board voted 7-0 to recommend approval for the rezoning.

A Conditional Use Permit for a private recreation facility to host weddings and other special events, submitted by Ginger and Kenneth Dodgin, caused much discussion among board members.

The Planning Board originally voted 3-3 to deny approval with the conditions that no live bands would be permitted, and no amplified music would be permitted after 10 p.m. Other conditions included that all events must end by 11 p.m., and events would be limited to weddings only and to no more than 15 per year.

County Commissioner Carroll Mitchem was the first to express disapproval of the Planning Board’s conditions on the permit.

“Let’s get real here,” Mitchem said. “I have a problem limiting the number of weddings (the applicants) hold. The government is trying to dictate, but we won’t do one thing about it if they have 15 weddings or 100 weddings.”

Mitchem also expressed displeasure with restricting the venue exclusively to weddings, stating that regulation of the events would be nearly impossible for county government officials to enforce.

While other County Commissioners were willing to eliminate the number of weddings events qualification, Commissioner Carl Robinson felt it necessary to keep the venue restricted to weddings only.

Ultimately, the Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Dodgin’s conditional use permit and the Planning Board’s accompanying conditions with the exception of the event limit.

County Commissioners also listened to a motion regarding an engineering proposal for the preliminary design and cost analysis phase of a potential Water Treatment Plant Expansion. Senior Utility Engineer Mike Neff presented a timeline for the expansion that would allow the water treatment plant to produce up to eight million gallons of water daily. Currently, the water treatment plant has a maximum capacity of producing 3.99 million gallons of water daily. According to Neff, the county currently produces between two to three million gallons of water on a daily basis, and with the current residential growth and renewed development projects such as SHEA Homes in Denver, such an expansion is necessary.

At this time, Neff estimates construction costs for the expansion would be $6.9 million. However, by hiring a firm to determine a preliminary design and schedule of the expansion, the county will gain a better grasp of the project’s cost, including permitting fees, engineering fees and construction costs.

“We need to produce for peaks, not necessarily the valleys,” Neff said.

County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the motion.

Lincoln County’s Water Treatment Plant is also looking for residents to volunteer for lead and copper water testing.

According to Water Treatment Superintendent Adam Jolicoeur, the plant is conducting a study on houses built between the years of 1983 and 1985. At that time, government officials began banning lead and copper pipes in residential homes. Participants would be required to pour a sample of their water from an indoor faucet in their home. Jolicoeur explained that he would then pick up the sample for testing. Participants would receive $10 off their utility bill at the time the sample is collected. The EPA requires this study to be conducted in order to ensure consumer protection.

“We currently have 52 homes in the study, but we need at least 10 more customers to participate,” Jolicoeur said.

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners will hold its next meeting on March 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Citizens Center.

 

 

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