Safety council, sheriff draw up IGA to fund county emergency manager position
Imagine there was an earthquake, a plane crash or a devastating flood in Garfield County.Who would respond? And who would be in charge?That’s what emergency responders throughout Garfield County are hoping to address by banding together and hiring a new full-time county emergency manager.The Garfield County Public Safety Council and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office have been working toward hiring a county emergency manager – a full-time position that would fall under the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office.The position has so far been a part-time job for Guy Meyer, who has split his duties between community corrections and emergency management.Rifle Police Chief Daryl Meisner says Meyer has done an excellent job in training area personnel on emergency procedures, but the position needs to be full time so that all municipalities are coordinated to handle emergencies together.”Garfield County has been very good at working together, but it’s been done on the fly most of the time,” Meisner said. “This will help the situation, because none of us have the resources to do it alone.”To help fund the county emergency manager position, municipalities from Parachute to Carbondale, along with the area fire protection districts, have been asked to kick in $4,000 each through an intergovernmental agreement (IGA). Garfield County commissioners have already agreed to contribute $45,000.”The Public Safety Council is an ad hoc committee that has been meeting for a year and a half,” said Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario. “It’s an informal group meeting of anybody from the fire departments, police departments, hospitals, gas companies, schools and citizens. It’s a forum of people in the business who share information and coordinate their efforts.”So far, Rifle has agreed to participate in the effort.”For us, there are a lot of potential benefits,” Meisner said. “One of the things we hope to have is a county plan – so that each municipality can adopt the plan.”New Castle Town Board members agreed to kick in $2,000 instead of $4,000 at their meeting on Tuesday night.”We agreed to $2,000 based on our budget and population,” said New Castle Town Administrator Steve Rippy.Bentley Henderson, assistant town manager in Carbondale, said his board has initially approved the idea.”At this time, they’ve said they would be willing to look at it after the IGA has been reviewed,” Henderson said.The city of Glenwood Springs has tentatively declined to contribute, but is still waiting for more information before making a final decision, Vallario said.According to Vallario, at least eight entities need to make a commitment to the IGA by Sept. 30.”For the first time in Garfield County, we will have a full-time person committed to addressing the emergency needs of everyone in the county,” Vallario wrote in a memo. “The benefits for all of our citizens far outweigh the financial contributions that we are all making.””For the first time in Garfield County, we will have a full-time person committed to addressing the emergency needs of everyone in the county,” Vallario wrote in a memo. “The benefits for all of our citizens far outweigh the financial contributions that we are all making.”
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