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As mothers everywhere used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

The May 8 work session for the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) included standard reports and a few surprising revelations related to recent harassment and threatening behavior to at least two county departments.

Chaffee County Landfill. Photo courtesy GARNA

Landfill Manager Shannon Wilcox reported that they were seeing some people coming to the landfill with materials to discard who become upset for various reasons and taking it out on the staff checking in their vehicle and/or trailer.

“They are getting threatened by people coming to dump garbage, most often for telling them there is a charge,” said Wilcox. “I just want to know if when this happens, if [staff] has the right to call the sheriff if people are threatening.”

The BoCC confirmed that no county staff person should be verbally abused or threatened and that departments have the right to call the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office when or if this behavior continues. “Of course, then they might go and dump on the Forest Service land, but they’ll have fines there too,” said Commissioner Keith Baker.

Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) new mobile health trailer and clinic open to all in need at Salida’s United Methodist Church, 228 East Fourth Street. Merrell Bergin photo

Within 15  minutes of this report, Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) revealed that their staff working at the Chaffee County Community Health Clinic, the mobile unit that moves around the county offering free medical care, has recently received harassment.

“This is new for us. We have gotten some catcalling and heckling at Chaffee Community Clinic and it came to a head last Monday,” said CCPH Executive Director Andrea Carlstrom. “It turns out there is some value at having a male presence at the CC Clinic. We had to call the sheriff, and now we’ll have additional staff on site.”

She added that while having uniformed law enforcement on site could reverse the trust the department has been trying to build at the free clinic, the south end of the county has begun to see new transients come in and a definite increase in inappropriate behavior.

“I have no problem cutting the program if we’re not going to receive respect,” she added. “It  is safety first; if there are people coming to it that aren’t going to be adults, we don’t have to run the program.”

The BoCC indicated their strong support for CCPH this morning, with BoCC Chair Baker saying, “It’s not in your job description.”

He reinforced that comment later on today, saying “Chaffee County employees are dedicated, hardworking, and want to do their best for Chaffee County residents. County leadership expects them to treat all members of the public with dignity, courtesy, and respect, and we expect the public to treat county employees likewise. It isn’t complicated — it’s the Golden Rule.”

In other business, the Department of Human Services announced that the department’s Child Abuse Prevention Month in April wrapped up with two successful events: one at the  Buena Vista Library, the other at the Scout Hut in Salida.  It plans a summer “selfies campaign” that will focus on using the Listen Longer chairs that have been placed in Salida, Buena Vista, and Poncha Springs.

Director Monica Haskell announced that the FYI (Family and Youth Initiatives) annual fundraiser is set for June 8 at the Scout Hut 4:00 7:00 p.m.  “We’re working on a mass care plan. Social services is responsible for shelter and food in a mass emergency event,” added Haskell. “So we’re partnering with Rich Atkins (Director of the Office of Emergency Management) to update the plan.”