Public Health Dept. identifies 44 priority issues for the county |

Public Health Dept. identifies 44 priority issues for the county

Garfield County Public Health’s C.A.R.E.S. Project is readying for a big step: unveiling a prioritized list of 44 environmental health issues identified by Garfield County residents.

C.A.R.E.S. stands for “Community Action for Responsible Environmental Solutions.” Environmental health issues are things in the environment with a negative impact on human health, both immediately or in the long term.

A series of the public open houses will be held in county communities the week of May 17. The open houses are part of a series of efforts to engage the county community in reaching consensus on the most significant environmental health issues facing Garfield County.

Headed by Jim Rada, Garfield County environmental health manager, the C.A.R.E.S. Project is designed to give Garfield County Public Health a firm foundation for moving ahead to meet county needs. Project results will be presented on June 21 to the Board of County Commissioners in its role as the Board of Health.

August 1 marks five years on the job for Rada, now heading a staff of three. “There’s been a lot on our plate with the rapid community and industrial growth in the county,” Rada allows. “This is the chance to get a comprehensive look at where the county’s environmental health program needs to go now.”

The online priority-setting process began a few weeks ago with invitations to selected representatives of Garfield County residents. Covering the demographic, geographic, and other important characteristics of the county, the group reached consensus on priorities for the 44 identified issues.

Issues range from indoor air pollution to well water contamination, waste pits at drilling sites to workplace injuries and illnesses, hydraulic fracturing chemicals to diseases that can be transmitted to people by animals, and food contamination to dust and smoke. The final priority list will be available mid-May.

The current list of 44 environmental health issues is posted on the project’s website, Also listed are the specific dates and times for open houses in Battlement Mesa, Parachute, Rifle, Silt, New Castle, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. Open houses are scheduled for late afternoon and early evening Monday through Thursday, May 17-20.

Open houses

Monday, May 17, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Glenwood Springs City Council room, 101 W. Eighth St.

Tuesday, May 18, 2-3:30 p.m., Battlement Mesa Activity Center, 0398 Arroyo Drive.

Tuesday, May 18, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Parachute Town Hall, in the Town Council room, 222 Grand Valley Way.

Wednesday, May 19, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Carbondale City Hall in Community Room #2, 511 Colorado Ave.

Wednesday, May 19, 4:30-6:30 p.m., New Castle Recreation Center, Conference Room # 1, 450 W. Main St.

Thursday, May 20, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Silt Fire Station training room, Burning Mountains Fire Protection District, 611 Main St.

Thursday, May 20, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Rifle, Health And Human Services Bldg., 195 W. 14th St.

Residents can drop by any open house to share their reactions to the C.AR.E.S. Project results to date. There will be refreshments.

Rada hopes the open houses will also be a means to identify county residents interested in tackling the top priority issues to reduce risk exposure. The current work is the first phase of the C.A.R.E.S. project. Next will come, Rada hopes, partnerships with county residents and community organizations to search for community-based solutions to the top environmental health issues.

The facilitation contractor will provide a written report, including findings, analyses, conclusions, recommendations, and materials generated during the facilitation to Garfield County Public Health.

Garfield County Public Health hopes to foster a continuing level of interest among respondents and other Garfield County citizens by conveying details of the consensus on environmental health issues and priorities through the project website over coming months.

Editorial provided by Garfield County Public Health.

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