Bennett Ave Cripple Creek

The view along Bennett Avenue in Cripple Creek is seen on June 1, 2021.

The spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant is high throughout Colorado and much of the country. Teller County is no exception.

Interim City Administrator Ray White announced at the Nov. 17 Cripple Creek City Council meeting that Teller County Public Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the Cripple Creek Fire Department.

One definition of an outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is two or more cases of a contagious disease occurring in the same workspace “and only one or neither of them was listed as a contact to the other.”

Finance Director Paul Harris said in just the first 16 days of November, there were 228 new cases in Teller County.

Since the pandemic started in the spring of 2020, there have been 40 deaths in the county – nine in 2020 and 31 in 2021.

“Unfortunately, the numbers are continuing to go in the wrong direction,” Harris said.

Teller County Public Health estimates that about 5% of county residents are fully vaccinated. “If you are considering getting a vaccine, now would be a good time,” White said.

Changing the subject, White said Butte Theater Director Mel Moser is stepping down and there are several applicants for the position. Moser plans to stay on to train his replacement.

White said finding his own replacement hasn’t been easy. KRW, the agency leading the city administrator search, is receiving new applications, but interviews probably won’t start until after Jan. 1.

Councilman Mark Green commended city staff for operating on a tight budget and working hard to keep costs and overtime under control.

Annie Durham, representing Cripple Creek-Victor RE-1 School District, thanked the city for its work to make the district’s career day a success.

Sol Malick and Stephanie Fransen, of Peak Government Affairs, gave the quarterly legislative update. Malick said, “All in all, 2021 was an active year.”

One of the legislative successes was a new requirement for historic-preservation audits of the state’s three gaming cities.

“With these audits we can start even,” he said. “Cripple Creek is partnering with Black Hawk on several issues, but Central City is still under Black Hawk’s thumb, mostly because of the size difference.”

He added there are a lot of federal dollars available to help cities like Cripple Creek to come back stronger from the pandemic.

Fransen talked about the 2022 elections in the wake of redistricting. There are a lot of newly vulnerable Republican representatives and senators, and that vulnerability might change the way they vote on upcoming bills.

“There are a lot of legislators who have never been in the minority before,” Malick said. “We could see some really crazy stuff next year.”

As for the 2022 legislative session, he said the keno kiosk bill will probably be back. This bill would put lottery kiosks in restaurants and bars. “We’re going to have to fight that all over again,” he said.

There could also be taxation legislation that could affect local gaming and bills on water, sports betting and affordable housing.

In other business, Council approved, on first reading, an ordinance vacating a portion of Pikes Peak Avenue and adjacent alleyways to facilitate the development of apartments and other amenities. City staff determined that removing these rights of way will not impede access to nearby properties.

However, there could be a snag as fiber for broadband runs under Pikes Peak Avenue and rerouting could be both expensive and time consuming.

The city staff will use the time between approving the ordinance on first reading and the public hearing to search for a solution to this problem.

Council also approved three other ordinances on first reading, all of which pertained to the extension of Bronco Billy’s expansion project completion date from Dec. 31, 2022, to July 15, 2023.

The owners cited delays caused by “the unprecedented disruption in their operations resulting from the worldwide pandemic presented by the novel coronavirus outbreak.”

Additionally, Council approved, on second reading, a change in the effective date of water and wastewater rate adjustments from April 1 to Jan. 1. These rates are increased or decreased automatically, based on the prior year’s Denver-Boulder-Greeley Consumer Price Index.

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