County picks up six national awards |

County picks up six national awards

Tamara Miller

Ask engineer Helen Migchelbrink what sets Eagle County apart and she’ll give you plenty of reasons.At the top of that list is the county’s willingness to work with other agencies, public and private, to get things done, she said. A partnership between Eagle County, federal and state agencies, for instance, helped make the replacement of Edwards’ Cemetery Bridge possible, Migchelbrink said. “The fact is with the declining budgets we all have, pursuing those partnerships can really help us get more bang for the buck,” she said. The county picked up six national awards for recent community initiatives. The awards were given out for projects ranging from Cemetery Bridge to a summer activity fair aimed at Roaring Fork Valley families. The awards come from the National Association of Counties, which gave out more than 400 across the country, including 14 were handed out to Colorado counties. The fact that nearly half of those went to Eagle County should be commended, said Commissioner Tom Stone.”I guess that’s why we got the award a few years back as the ‘Best Run County,’ Stone said, referring to the state award. Migchelbrink was responsible for two of those awards, including the Cemetery Bridge project. Migchelbrink said the old structure connecting U.S. Highway 6 to the Miller Ranch development in Edwards was the “worst bridge in Eagle County.” The new bridge, built with help from the state department of transportation, has received tons of positive feedback – well, mostly.”We won’t talk about the blue lights,” Migchelbrink said. Some residents complained about the county’s decision to illuminate the bridge at night with blue lights.The county’s efforts to improve sidewalks and intersection for pedestrians in Edwards also received an award.The county’s investment in the Eagle County Regional Airport also garnered two awards. The Fly Vail Summer program, launched in 2003, earned the county an award in the marketing category. That program was considered a success in its first season, attracting enough patrons to keep incoming commercial flights 75 percent full.The new control tower earned the county its second transportation award.The tower was built with $2.4 million in state and federal grants, said Rich Cunningham, the county’s facilities management director. Eagle County sought the new, more modern control tower to put the airport in better position to receive a radar system, which should increase the number of airplanes that can safely land in Eagle County. Federal funding for the radar was obtained last month. The county was also recognized for last year’s summer activities fair in the southern part of the county, which attracted 800 children, said Kathleen Forinash, director of health and human services. The county’s wildfire mitigation program also earned an award. In that program, county staff judge the wildfire danger in the county, particularly relevant given the state’s drought, said Commissioner Michael Gallagher. He praised Ben Garrett, the county’s wildfire guru, for his work.”He counted trees and he counted the needles on the trees,” Gallagher said. “And then asked the needles if they were ready to burn.”Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or

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