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BoCC approves Chimney Rock letter to President

The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners made a plea Monday morning to President Barack Obama to have Chimney Rock Archaeological Area designated as a national monument.

A letter approved by the BoCC Thursday urges Obama to use the Antiquities Act to give Chimney Rock the designation.

“Current legislative proposals for a Chimney Rock National Monument offered by Senator Michael Bennet and Congressman Scott Tipton would protect approximately 4,700 acres of U.S. Forest Service land, while continuing to allow hunting, wildfire mitigation, and traditional cultural uses. We appreciate the leadership our Congressional Delegation has shown on this matter, but are also concerned by Congress’ failure to pass this broadly supported and bipartisan measure over the last four years and we are not optimistic of a successful legislative effort in the near term,” the letter states.

The letter also describes support shown at a recent public meeting on the subject held on May 11.

“A public meeting to engage the community in a dialogue on this subject was held on May 11, 2012 in Pagosa Springs, Colorado and was attended by approximately 150 people. As a very small community, this was one of the largest gatherings of citizens on a community issue in recent memory. The testimony at the public meeting was overwhelmingly in support of the National Monument designation for Chimney Rock. It was attended by Senator Bennet, Congressman Tipton, Undersecretary Harris Sherman of the Department of Agriculture, various representatives of the Native American tribes with ties to Chimney Rock, as well as various local and federal government representatives,” the letter states.

Finally, the letter includes an invitation for Obama to visit the site, “... so that you may personally experience the wonder and beauty of a treasure we call home, and which are eager to share with the world.”

The letter passed unanimously.

Also at the meeting, the commissioners approved advertising to receive proposals from independent auditors. The county’s current independent auditors — Wall, Smith, Bateman and Associates — audited the county’s statement from 2005-2011 (and are slated to present 2011’s audit next Tuesday).

Finance Director Diane Sorensen said counties typically engage firms for five years, but that an internal controls policy for Archuleta County holds a three-year limit.

Contracts and Procurement Officer Larry Walton said the proposal documents call for a three-year contract, with the option to extend an additional two years based on a county assessment.

Sorensen noted that bids are not judged primarily on price, but that it is important for the chosen firm to be familiar with structures of local government, and be independent and objective. It is possible that WSB could present a winning proposal, Sorensen, despite the firm’s familiarity with the county.

In other news at the meeting, the commissioners made the following appointments:

• George Brown to the Archuleta County Planning Commission.

• Dorothy Brinton to the Archuleta County Housing Authority Board.

• David Scherer to the Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails (PROST) Advisory Commission.

The BoCC also approved bylaws for PROST.

With the sunsetting of 1A funds, the group is transitioning from a group that recommends how the count should expend 1A parks funding to an advisory group on general PROST activities within the county.

Among other requirements, the bylaws state that the commission will have no more than eight members, each appointed by the BoCC, the appointments will be for two years, and the commission will give an annual report to the BoCC.

The next regular meeting of the BoCC is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on June 19, and the audit presentation will take place at 1:30 p.m. next Tuesday, June 12. Both are slated to be held in the commissioners’ meeting room in the courthouse.

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