01-09-19 Editorial from Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer

January 2019 Guest Column – Commissioner Chair Barbara Kirkmeyer
Our work today will impact Weld County for years to come

As we head into the new year, county government is looking not only at 2019 but also 2040. Why? Because good government is about building and maintaining a strong foundation today for future generations.

Throughout the years, Weld County elected officials have set projects in motion with an eye to future; with the goal of putting the county in the best possible position to handle future challenges be it financial security, public safety, transportation or even future growth.

For example, in the mid-1980s county government began work on the Weld Business Park as a future campus for county facilities. Today, 14 county departments/offices are located on one campus in Greeley making it more convenient for residents to engage with county services. In 2010, the county started saving money for future expansion of the jail. Last year, the bid for the construction of the jail was awarded and, as has become the norm for Weld County, the project will be paid for in cash – no additional taxing of residents required.

Another, perhaps more relatable, example is Two Rivers Parkway. In the mid-1990s, the county looked at its transportation plan and began to work toward building a comprehensive transportation network. The result: Two Rivers Parkway was built and has become a valuable commuter corridor. WCR 49 is yet another example of past transportation planning for future benefit.

Keeping in the spirit of making sure county government remains effective and efficient for today as well as primed for success down the road, we will be developing a road map for the future by concentrating on key areas such as:

Public Safety: over the past few years, we have invested in our public safety infrastructure by developing a fully-functioning backup 911 call center, upgrading our equipment including consoles and fiber lines, and enhancing the overall system, such as incorporating Text-To-911. We will continue to look at ways to ensure this system is able to grow and upgrade for the future needs of the county.

Transportation: the state demographer predicts northern Colorado will more than double in population by the year 2050. That’s a lot of pressure on our already stressed roadways. Through the North I-25 Coalition, Weld County (along with Larimer County and multiple municipalities) secured funding to address I-25 congestion decades before the state was originally planning to tackle the issue. We will continue to look at our transportation system (locally and regionally) and improve public infrastructure so as to keep moving people safely, quickly and efficiently throughout the county.

Planning and Zoning: there has long been a balancing act for county government when it comes to handling growth while respecting our agricultural heritage. This year, county government will look at updating our zoning districts in order to set a foundation for a comprehensive land-use plan to handle growth now and 30 years from now.

Human Services needs: public safety, public infrastructure and land-use planning are crucial for our county’s success, but they should not overshadow the most important key to success – our residents. Success for this county means ensuring our most vulnerable families and children are provided the tools, resources and assistance needed to safeguard their stability. We will continue to focus on increasing the number of foster parents and our child care providers as well as develop, though the Collaborative Management Program, much needed solutions to county-wide issues.

By focusing on these areas, and by governing not only for today but also for years – even decades – from now, we can continue to provide the best service to Weld County residents.

Submitted to The BARN by:

Jennifer Finch

Weld County Communications Director

1150 O St. / PO Box 758 / Greeley, CO 80632-0758

D: 970-336-7203 / C: 970-302-1936 / F: 970-336-7233

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