Speakers at town hall meeting offer views on local, state issues

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By Sandy Barnes

Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink spoke out on recently enacted gun-control legislation at a town hall meeting sponsored by the Evergreen Pathfinders on May 15.


“There were two controversial gun laws passed,” Mink said. “The first limits magazines to 15 rounds. That is the one causing law enforcement the most angst because of the ambiguity of the law.

“It will not improve public safety,” Mink said. “The wording makes it impossible to enforce. … Until further notice, that is a very, very, very … low priority.”

Mink, who was among several speakers at the event, also discussed concerns about the potential for wildland fires.

“We are in the fire season in the mountain area, and the predictions are not favorable,” he said. 

He advised residents to take precautions to keep their homes and property as safe as possible, and to prepare for possible evacuation in the event of a wildland fire.

During her comments, state Rep. Cheri Gerou said she voted against the gun-control legislation because it cannot be enforced.

“I believe our issues have more to do with mental health; helping people before they get to that point,” said Gerou.

While discussing the state budget, Gerou said that $19 million was allocated for state mental health crisis intervention and another $13 million was directed toward the governor’s program to help keep families safe.

One of the most important budget adjustments legislators made in the past session was increasing the state reserve fund from 4 to 5 percent, said Gerou. These additional funds may be needed for emergency assistance in the event of another disaster such as last year’s Lower North Fork Fire, she said.

During her remarks, Gerou expressed dismay at recent state legislation permitting the recreational use of marijuana.  

“I’m worried about it,” she said. “We’re now in direct competition with the Mexican drug cartel.”

Gerou, a Republican, also noted difficulties in the past legislative session, which she said were created by the political shift from a GOP to a Democratic majority in the most recent election.

“The dynamics have changed drastically,” she said. 

On the other hand, Jefferson County Commissioner Casey Tighe said that his first five months in office have been “great.”

A Democratic challenger in last November’s election, Tighe won by a narrow margin in a closely contested race.

During his presentation at the town hall meeting, Tighe focused on challenges with the county budget.

“People are talking about the county starting to turn around,” he said. “But the assessor is looking at revenues in a rearview mirror.”

“We don’t know where all that funding is going to come from,” Tighe said, referring to major capital projects including the proposed western link to complete the metro beltway.

In Evergreen, a downtown business organization has devised a way to generate income for needed infrastructure projects, architect Dean Dalvit of EV Studios told the audience.

“Our singular mission is to improve infrastructure in the downtown district,” he said. 

To create a recurring revenue stream, the Downtown Evergreen Economic District has begun a voluntary program to collect 1 percent from sales and services, Dalvit said. In the past four months, the Evergreen Legacy Fund has raised $26,000, he said.

By partnering with governmental agencies, sidewalks, pocket parks and public restrooms can be created in downtown Evergreen, he said.

“We feel that incorporating Evergreen is not necessary,” Dalvit remarked.

Evergreen’s "unofficial mayor," John Ellis, talked about strengthening the local economy through efforts of the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce, for which he serves as chairman of the board.

“We provide opportunities to build relationships,” Ellis said.

Susan Hoffer, representing the Evergreen Players and Arts Alive, also discussed cultural events in the community, including theater and concerts. 

Lisa Hamm-Greenawalt, marketing director for the Evergreen Park and Recreation District, talked about improvements in progress, including the Wulf Recreation Center renovations and the long-awaited connecting trail between downtown and Evergreen Lake Park.

Pathfinders leader Jim Gorman, who organized the town hall meeting, said he was pleased with those who participated, as well as the turnout for the event.

“I think we had the right mix of people,” Gorman said about the speakers. “I thought they were all entertaining. We learned about what is going on in Evergreen tonight.”


Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.