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Town discusses task force funds

Autumn Phillips

— Thursday night’s meeting began with a prepared statement by Oak Creek resident Tom Bleuer. The several-page speech outlined the ways America’s War on Drugs have been used to violate constitutional rights.

Though he doesn’t do drugs himself, he said, the Town Board had the chance to do something good for America if it turned down funding for the Grand Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team.

The room broke into applause.

By the time GRAMNET Detective Dwight Murphy took the podium, several residents had spoken, little of it was positive, and he had several accusations to address.

Instead, he opened the floor up to questions.

Murphy was asked to attend the meeting by the board, which wanted clarification of a $2,000 line item budgeted to GRAMNET.

After seven years of paying an agreed-upon fee, the board held payment on a $1,000 check under the condition GRAMNET provide a report of its services.

In the past, Murphy said, the town’s police chief attended monthly GRAMNET board meetings and received an operations report at that time.

Since June, Oak Creek as been without a permanent police chief.

Last year, then-Town Manager Ray Liebensberger committed the town to the GRAMNET contribution, and the board agreed to pay what was initially promised.

The total budget of the narcotics team is $440,000. Steamboat Springs pays $35,000 a year, Hayden, Oak Creek and Jackson County pay $2,000 and the District Attorney’s office pays $25,000. The amounts are matched by the federal government.

“For the money we put in,” said former police officer Eileen Rossi, “we get a lot from GRAMNET.”

J.D. Hays, director of public safety services in Steamboat, joined Murphy for a moment to specifically address charges of illegal warrants and privacy violations made earlier in the meeting.

“I’ve been here a long time,” Hays said. “When people say they have been mistreated by police, I take it very seriously. I tell these guys over and over not to appear abusive or overbearing. I believe that these guys are professional and I know how little it will take to make this program go away.”

The board will discuss the future of GRAMNET funding in the upcoming October budget sessions.

In other business, the board discussed the possibility of purchasing four lots of land from resident Ronnie Crawford for snow storage and overflow parking.

For $20,000 a lot, the town would receive five additional parking spaces per lot.

“I would rather use the money for water and sewage instead of lots,” board member Bill Paxton said.

The board agreed unofficially to tell Crawford to put the lots on the market for possible commercial use. Board member John Crawford abstained citing a family conflict of interest.

Several Colorado certified applicants have shown interest in the position of Oak Creek Police Chief, Mayor Cargo Rodeman said. Over the next two weeks, the Routt County Sheriff’s Office will narrow the choices down to three applicants.

The board will choose one applicant for a thorough background check.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Office has been supplying all law enforcement coverage to the town that has no police force. Sheriff John Warner agreed to fax an agreement to the town but has not done so.

“He and I both know that until he comes up with a price (for services), it’s free,” Rodeman said. “That we can afford.”


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