Ken Collins: Fanning the flames

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There are a dozen fires all across the state. Ranchers are selling off their stock. Extreme fire danger and restrictions. The Yampa River is shut down. The U.S. Forest Service may close the forests. Hay may be nearly nonexistent this year. No fireworks on the Fourth of July. Ranchers are being outbid by oil and gas companies for water rights. 

So I have two questions: How smart is pumping a couple million gallons of precious water per well down a hole to retrieve very dirty and expensive oil along with cancerous, toxic sludge that is not going to make a penny’s difference in the cost at the pump? And, have you noticed how silent the oil and gas industry has been since this drought has become so severe? They don’t want people to even put the water shortage and fracking together in the same conversation. This drought may be more the trend than the exception. Drought, fires and fracking are a dangerous combination. But I guess we could douse the fires with the dirty oil when we run out of water.

Ken Collins

Oak Creek

Comments

Michelle Hale 2 years, 2 months ago

I do feel sorry for Ranchers, and farmers in this area. BUT, Energy is the tax base. It is where the jobs are and the tax dollars, and it always has been. Most ranches around here any more are only those who "play" at ranching for the tax breaks they get, or subdividing for future developement. So, in my mind its about keeping focused on jobs, and tax dollars.

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John Weibel 2 years, 2 months ago

In trying to create a tax base and many jobs the county sure is making it difficult. They can't seem to think about logical reasons for rules. Heck I gave the county $600 to milk cows and am trying to get the county on board with processing the milk in house with much difficulty. The state health dept is okay with it but I need to either build a firewall or provide engineering of an 80 year old barn in order to show it can handle the snow load. No latitude is being given to keep the jobs I am trying to create. I am 45 min from a fire dept.

A region in France produces 90 million pounds of Comte cheese providing a heck of a tax base so gas is not the only hydro carbon that can provide a tax base. Cheese could be a very good hydrocarbon tax base.

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John Weibel 2 years, 2 months ago

Correction I am probably 45 min in response time. No way a firewall is going to do anything

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 2 months ago

John, You are not the only one to have issues with the building dept over roofs. I know someone that owns an eighty year old building that has not had issues with the roof, but now his remodel project is now on hold because the building dept wants an engineering analysis of the roof.

And yet mobile homes with roofs known to not be engineered for this snow load are allowed. Building dept may add a condition that the roofs are shoveled of snow, but no one enforces it. People wait until ceiling is sagging before clearing snow.

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Steve Lewis 2 years, 2 months ago

John, I've engineered a few of the historic preservation projects in Routt. 80 year old barn and milk cows sounds like a good cause. And I love cheese! Send me a few pictures - you have my email.

The remodel dilemma at the roof juncture is classic as well. There are some structural "assists" that can resolve the remodel's new-roof-to-old-roof loading without too much pain.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 2 months ago

Steve, What you miss is that John is saying the existing barn and roof is not a problem except for requirements being made by the building dept. Thus, it does not need structural assists. Building dept just wants an engineer to analyze why the barn's roof has worked fine for 80 years. Or pointless construction of a firewall.

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John Weibel 2 years, 2 months ago

Bringing the barn up tO current code is probably a problem also. I also only built half of the milk parlor so would need to finish the other side.

The new construction is ag so exempt from needing to be permitted except that temporarily I want to pasteurize milk and make small batches of cheese in it until I can either have a store in town or bring everything to code. This supposedly changes the "milk house" from ag to commercial. I built the structures independently from one another and can probably retroactively build the "firewall" so I can retain the ag exemption on two thirds the structure. That will essentially be throwing money away though as it is simply allowing the building department to review the milk house indepently of the rest of the barn complex. I built them together to reduce the need to go outside in the winter if we operate in the winter.

Having offered logical solutions to allow for a variance to the building codes (putting the heat source outside in the form of a wood fired boiler and bring the electrical to code throughout to reduce fire risk). At this point in time I am seeking some help to simply allow me to process the milk in the milk room, as I stated CDPHE seems okay with the plan.

The buildings were engineered for the snow load and built well. The building department is simply upset that i did not get his blessing upfront, though i asked if i needed a permit for a mIlk parlor/house addition up front and was told no it is agricultural. I did not know 100% what the finished product was going to be , so no plans could have provided upfront to begin construction.

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John Weibel 2 years, 2 months ago

The big issues are that in building a firewall is throwing money down the drain. I have tried to negotiate some common sense or temporary solutions. I asked why a firewall was needed as there is little chance of a fire hurting others (not that I ever want a fire here) as it was built close to my own structure. The reply I received was that the building inspector said I do not know why ag structures were exempted.

The reasons I can see are that livestock is involved. Ag structures generally are not built on speculation. They are generally far from other peoples property and as such cause little hazard to others.

All I get from the building department or county commissioners is this is how it is and too bad. No ability to talk reason, just government thinking it knows what is best.

Doug Mongers comments were the icing on the cake, you have to play with the hand you are dealt. I thought I was going through all the proper channels, oh well, have an engineered facility that meets state codes for a grade A dairy facility and I can operate the Dairy. I just can not afford the additional capital investments needed to make the leap I planned on in several years after I worked out the kinks.

Nice to always be working with other peoples money and the job security they have. As I told the commissioners, I guess I just have to wait and not put those people to work. Heck of a year to try to start this up with the drought and all... so so frustrating that the government has rules and cant not even come up with the reasons for their rules. They are the rules and we have to live by them even if those rules were intended for a different set of circumstances. Too bad for the people who were looking to help out, they will need to find different jobs in the future.

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jerry carlton 2 years, 2 months ago

This county needs to send Monger back to ranching. He has been in office way too long. Time to let somebody else live off the tax payers dollars. Bring back term limits! Professional politicians at all levels, Democrat and Republican are destroying this country!

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 2 months ago

John, Government and rules is a syndrome of people that believe in rules and thus are attracted to government where they can create rules to impose on people.

In Oak Creek's Thursday meeting they passed fire restrictions. I pointed out prior to the vote that they were banning cigarette smoking. And were they really proposing making it illegal to smoke a cigarette walking down the street? That was obviously uneforceable.

So the response from the Town Board is that it was sending a message that smoking is bad and the Town has many ordinances that are unforceable and not enforced.

So they decided to pass a fire ban outlawing cigarette smoking while publicly stating they do not plan on enforcing it! So Town Board is arguing that residents should not respect ordinances.

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rhys jones 2 years, 2 months ago

Jerry Buddy!! Glad to see you stomping these woods. Just a trailing thought to conclude my latest round of hogwash, on another channel:

When the Angel who was going to Save My Life and Make Me Rich -- right after I invoiced him for our new beginner website -- suddenly needed two bills to make it all happen, TODAY, Sunday afternoon, could ya wire it -- suddenly I smelled a rat: Why would my Angel need two big on the Lord's Day?

Thanks fer nuthin, Buddy, and the Thunder lost too. Just joshin', now you can have your forum back.

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John Weibel 2 years, 2 months ago

Unfortunately, this issue is the poster child for government rules not making any sense and making it extremely costly to operate a business. It is not like this year is going to be easy in ag.. Heck if I foresaw a profit in other aspects of my business, I might throw in the towel.

However, the least expensive solution, is something that, I am simply spending money to make the government happy as I see it. I could use the money, as I plan to when I have it available ,to upgrade the barn (probably will have to make it meet code even though it is a barn) or buy additional equipment to grow sales and pay people closer to a living wage.

I do not know what to say, except that I am probably only hurting myself by discussing the issue. Much commiseration from others on the issue. Someone stated that Three Forks built in Wyoming because of issues with the building department.

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John Weibel 2 years, 2 months ago

Throw in the towel and do the requested work. However, I do not and am actively cutting costs and trying to increase other revenue streams. Fortunately I have lots of grass as I expected it to be dry this year, in addition to cattle prices being very high and the risk was not worth the reward to buy earlier in the year. Though I do not have cash to buy cow/calf pairs that I think I can make a nice profit on today... though that would probably leave me looking for a little hay or pasture for the coming winter.

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John Weibel 2 years, 2 months ago

Oh the fun never ends. Today I am informed that a dairy is not an agricultural operation and should have gone through the building department. Yet the building department said I did not need to last year.

In addition, they have told me to build a firewall between two portions of the dairy operation so that I do not need a permit the milk parlor only the "milk house". So part of the dairy did not need to be permitted as it is agricultural and the other does because it is not. Though now today I am informed a dairy is not an agricultural operation... hmm what more could it be.

Why am I even trying to do this? All it is doing is causing me headaches and lost nights of sleep, because while trying to ensure I went through the proper channels, those in the proper channels do not even know the rules to tell me what I should or shouldn't do properly!

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mark hartless 2 years, 2 months ago

John Weibel's comments can be magnified and multiplied a million or more times across this nation.

Why would anyone in their right mind want to attempt to do business in a County, State, or Nation which is so obviously strangling in a cesspool of regulatory rot piled so high that the regulators themselves don't even know their own rules, so prone to give "no" for an answer, and so willing to dump even more indeciferable nonsense onto the pile with each passing day?

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