Rio Grande County OKs COVID-19 grant budgets

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — Rio Grande County Board of Commissioners opened its mid-month meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 10, to hear department updates from within the county. After opening the meeting, the board announced that they would be acting as the Board of Health to discuss budgetary items pertaining to the Mountain Plains Regional Disaster Health Response System (RDHRS) and gave the floor to Public Health Department Director Dr. Kolawole Bankole.

Bankole explained that the Public Health Department received grant funding for the Mountain Plains Regional Disaster Response System and that he had worked up budgets for the COVID-19 supplemental grant received; and presented the budgets to the board for approval.

“We have had discussions on the two grants before, but the board wanted to review the budgets once they were drafted and submitted for approval,” explained Dr. Bankole.

According to Bankole the San Luis Valley Health Care Coalition COVID Part 2 Supplemental fund grant was retroactively approved in late September of 2020 for $95,000 and that the department received additional funding which brought the total for the grant to $109,315.

“The concept and contract proposal was presented last time and that was approved but there was no budget and there has never been a budget which I have for you today,” Bankole said. “The primary purpose of the grant is to provide resources to regional HealthCare Coalitions (HCC) for regional response coordination to the COVID-19 pandemic. The response coordination addresses or minimizes the impact of medical surge patients on the health and medical system by planning for of HCC member organizations to come together and prepare for emergencies and disaster events.”

The coalition is comprised of hospitals, local public health agencies, county emergency managers, emergency medical services, regional community mental health centers, long-term care facilities, community health centers and other community health resources. The grant will provide COVID Part 2 Compliant mini-grant projects for SLV HCC membership. 

“The second grant has a budget of $20,000 and that one is to encourage the San Luis Valley Health Care Coalition (SLV HCC) to work closely with the State/ Denver Health and Hospital Authority (DHHA),” Bankole said. “The DHHA is one of three facilities awarded the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Regional Disaster Health Response System grant. The grant targets developing partnerships, aligning plans, policies, processes, and procedures related to clinical experience in disasters; increasing statewide and regional medical surge capacity; improving statewide and regional situational awareness; and developing metrics and conducting an exercise to test capabilities.”

Dr. Bankole presented both budgets to the board and they were approved unanimously.

Commissioners then welcomed Patrick Sullivan, Director of Road and Bridge who gave a brief update stating that the crew continued work on the 1 South and have been busy clearing roads from several recent snowstorms.

Sullivan also commented that the weld shop completed a holding tank stand for the new boiler that was installed at the county building.

“For the month, we will continue to work on the 1 South and pickup equipment and continue runoff mitigation because of the warm weather and high wind,” Sullivan said. “We will also be looking at crack seal projects at the airport and meet with airport maintenance staff as well as the maintenance staff at the county to talk about those projects.”

Next commissioners heard from Randy Kern with the building department who reported higher numbers than normal for January.

“We issued 13 building permits and two building permit extensions including some commercial projects. One was the water treatment facility in South Fork for their new water treatment system and the other was an addition to Metz Potato,” said Kern.

Kern stated that January is usually one of the slowest months for the department in previous years but that this year it was entirely different considering how busy they have been. Kern performed 32 building inspections, completed one new address creation and nine plan reviews for coming construction projects.

Kern also reported that he attended a Rio Grande Wellness Village workshop for Rio Grande Hospital and heard plans for a Wellness Village which would house visiting physicians or traveling patients and their families while they receive treatment at the hospital. This was the second visionary workshop held by the hospital and more details will be reported as they come available.

Commissioners closed out their meeting with an approval for a new part-time position in the administration office. The administrative office needed to create a new position to help with the large amount of filing that needed to be done to catch up from previous years. Commissioners approved the position and for more information this and future meetings, visit the website at