Haz-Mat open case moves forward: County employees expected to prepare for emergencies

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At the April Local Emergency Planning Committee/Citizens Corps meeting, Teller County Office of Emergency Management Director Steve Steed said that an open case with potentially hazardous materials is finally making headway toward a solution.

Several years ago, a home was abandoned along with some drums of unidentified chemicals.

“After years of judicial action, the home finally went into foreclosure and has reverted back to Fannie Mae,” Steed said. “They're in the process of hiring someone to clean up the site.”

Hazardous materials issues are the main reason counties are required by statute to form Local Emergency Planning Committees, he has stated at previous meetings.

Because of its mountainous terrain and rural nature, the county has always had communications issues but recent developments are beginning to solve these issues. For example, El Paso County-Teller E911 is upgrading the county's E911 server, which Operations Cmdr. Bud Bright said is currently housed in a closet with no air conditioning. The new server will be installed in an air-conditioned room in the Teller County Sheriff's Office's basement next to dispatch where there is more room.

Dean Buckhouse of the Pikes Peak Amateur Radio Emergency Service said that moving the closet will be a big help and that most of the improvements to the communications tower on Tenderfoot Hill are completed.

“We're still trying to solve some interference issues,” he said. “It would help if the interference showed up when someone is there to find it. It's intermittent and difficult to spot.”

Steed said he has been meeting with newly elected county commissioners to bring them up to speed on the Office of Emergency Management.

“Two elements have come out of these meetings,” he said. “The first is a major push toward county employees who are expected to prepare themselves and their families for emergencies and to participate in all county emergency responses.”

A resolution detailing these expectations has been on the county's books for years but hasn't been enforced until now.

Representatives from the Woodland Park Walmart attended the committee meeting for the first time. They have agreed to check with corporate management to see if it's possible for Citizens Corps to keep pamphlets on emergency preparation in the store to inform customers.

After the meeting, members of the newly formed Community Emergency Support Volunteers met at the Woodland Park Public Library to go over new volunteer information that will soon be posted on the Teller County Citizens Corps website, www.tellercc.org.

The next public meeting of the Local Emergency Planning Committee/Citizens Corps will be at 8 a.m. on May 2 at the Divide Fire's Shoemaker Station.