County looks for new building site for Rifle offices |

County looks for new building site for Rifle offices

December’s carbon monoxide scare in Rifle shows that a new office building being planned to replace the old Taughenbaugh facility is a top priority for Garfield County government.

On Dec. 18, a carbon monoxide detector went off in the Garfield County office building on Taughenbaugh Boulevard in Rifle.

County manager Ed Green said the building was evacuated immediately. One heating unit out of 18 in the building was defective and leaking carbon monoxide. Four other furnaces that were tested did not meet safety standards and six additional units were rated marginal.

Green said two employees were hospitalized, where they were evaluated and released the same day. He also said blood tests were run on a few people in the building who felt ill.

All employees in the building were checked out medically, and none was found to be adversely affected by the defective heating units, Green added.

Assistant county attorney Denise Young said workers’ compensation paid for the employees’ medical care, since the carbon monoxide leak occurred on the job.

Carbon monoxide has no taste, smell or color, but left undetected, it can cause illness and even death. It is a poison produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels.

Prior to the carbon monoxide leak, the building had one carbon monoxide alarm on each floor. Green said the county has “dramatically increased” the number of monitors to four on each floor.

“It was the prudent thing to do,” Green said.

Additionally, four Grand Junction heating companies replaced all the building’s heating units.

Employees did not return to the Taughenbaugh facility until Jan. 2, two weeks after the alarm sounded.

In the meantime, employees reported for work at other county buildings throughout Rifle and Glenwood, Green said.

Green said plans are moving forward to find and move into a new county office building by April 2005.

County offices, including public health and social services, are housed in the Taughenbaugh building. Colorado State University Extension offices and 4-H are also located in the building, but those offices are expected to move to the county fairgrounds in central Rifle.

Green said problems with the building stem from its design.

“It was built for apartments in the ’80s during the energy boom,” Green said, of the building’s 18 units, which are heated individually. “It’s not designed to be used as an office building.”

County commissioners are now deciding on the location for the new building.

They are exploring options downtown and near the Garfield County Airport.

Health and human service personnel are surveying people currently using the Taughenbaugh facility to see which site would be a better choice in terms of convenience and ease of use.

Green said he anticipates commissioners will reach a decision on the new building location and design within a month. After the project receives approval, the county will apply to the Department of Local Affairs for an energy grant to help fund the new building.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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