EnCana may pay for more traffic patrols | PostIndependent.com

EnCana may pay for more traffic patrols

by Lynn Burton
Post Independent Staff

Residents south of Silt could see increased Garfield County sheriff’s patrols before the end of the year, if a verbal funding commitment from EnCana Oil and Gas comes through.

“We’re part of the problem,” EnCana spokesperson Cher Long told the Garfield County Commissioners Monday. “This would certainly be a benefit for people south of I-70, and everyone else.”

An increase in natural gas exploration and production in western Garfield County has brought with it increased traffic safety complaints from residents.

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said the areas of concern include Divide Creek, Dry Hollow and Mamm Creek.

After meeting with the commissioners, Vallario said he could put overtime deputies on the road south of Silt by the end of the year, pending a recent $15,000 pledge from EnCana.

“We’re just waiting for a letter of commitment,” Vallario said.

Vallario told the commissioners EnCana tried to address traffic safety issues south of Silt through a private security firm, but the program didn’t work out.

“They didn’t have authority to write tickets,” Long said after the meeting.

Vallario stressed his deputies will enforce traffic laws equally, and won’t just target oil and gas industry companies and employees.

“It’ll all be fair game,” Vallario said.

Vallario also briefed the commissioners on a three-year, $275,000 matching grant application he has submitted to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to fund an extra patrol deputy position, whose duties would include traffic enforcement south of Silt.

Vallario said he’ll know in May or June whether he received the grant.

The county commissioners endorsed the application, but reminded Vallario they can’t commit any matching funds beyond 2004.

In other business Monday, the commissioners:

– Approved new rates and fee charges for the Garfield County Airport.

Airport manager Brian Condie told the commissioners each fixed base operator at the airport received written and verbal notice of the proposed increases. The new charges go into effect on Jan. 1, 2004.

– Continued to Jan. 12 a public hearing on a comprehensive county road and right-of-way use regulation. County attorney Don DeFord said the regulation can’t become effective until the county designates primary and secondary roads.

– Appointed L.E. O’Kane as an alternate to the county library board, and elevated Michael Youngs to regular board membership. Youngs replaces Tim Kinn, who resigned.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534


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