Chaffee County Commissioners approved a motion for Chaffee County Government to participate in the Colorado Executives Investing in Children Design Lab program as a collaborating employer for childcare needs assessments and analyses.

Katy Welter of Watershed, Inc. and Buena Vista School District Superintendent Lisa Yates, made a presentation to the commissioners regarding the Buena Vista Childcare Needs Assessment and the potential relocation and expansion of early childhood care in Buena Vista.

The current program is split between two buildings, North Grove, and South Grove on the Avery Parsons Elementary School campus.

The EPIC Design Lab program is contemplating the preservation and expansion of a former county shop building with historic status adjacent to the Avery Parsons Elementary School campus on Court Street.

The existing building would be preserved with minimal modifications and at least seven classrooms would be built on, with an outdoor play area and access to the old McGinnis gym for indoor recreation. The McGinnis gym, next to the Buena Vista School District offices, is currently undergoing restoration.

The new child care facility would accommodate youngsters ages 1-5 and would increase service by one toddler classroom and one preschool classroom.

After the new facility’s completion, the North Grove building, which would still be a licensed building, could be run as a stand-alone childcare center by another provider.

The group’s estimated timeline calls for completion of the project by the end of 2025.

No financial contribution or binding relationship is implied or committed with the commissioner’s approval.

The commissioners also approved the acceptance of certain land use applications for properties transitioning from short-term rental to commercial use under the temporary moratorium on new short-term rental permits. The moratorium was put into place in 2023 during the county’s update of the land use code, which is ongoing.

Commissioner P.T. Wood said of the decision, “It is in the county’s interest to encourage these businesses to be businesses.”

In other business, the commissioners approved licensing for the Chaffee County Emergency Medical Service’s six ambulances.

Commissioner Greg Felt commended CCEMS manager Josh Hadley on the department’s efforts to rebuild the fleet of emergency vehicles. He said people in Chaffee County “should be proud of what we do have.” He said CCEMS provides an “awesome service and resource” to the community and is an “amazing operation.”

Two contracts were approved by the board, one with 50 West Productions for $78,000 to provide video production services to Chaffee County Visitors Bureau in 2024, and the other to engage Scott C. Wright, Certified Public Accountant, for professional services related to the county’s 2023 audit.

Chaffee County Deputy Administrator Beth Helmke was appointed to the inaugural county seat on the Salida Sustainability Committee.

The commissioners also approved designated online and physical sites for posting public meetings and the 2024 schedule for regular meetings.