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Commissioner fires back at citizen during budget hearing

There was only one member of the general public who attended Monday night’s Park County budget hearing, but he provided more than enough criticism for County Commission Chairman Tim French.

Rural Powell resident Dale Jensvold was the only citizen to speak at the hearing, repeating the request he’s made unsuccessfully for decades: asking the county to pave the stretch of Road 6 between Lanes 9 and 10 that passes by his home.

 

 

Over the course of more than 20 minutes of back and forth with commissioners, Jensvold said unnamed commissioners had approved certain road projects for themselves and their friends in the past, had been unresponsive to letters, had given him conflicting information about where his road stands in line for paving, said one unnamed commissioner ordered a stop to all work on his road and, finally, questioned why Road 5 is receiving chip sealing while his is not.

“Is there somebody you know on the golf course?” Jensvold asked commissioners of the Road 5 improvements. “Is that the point, that I don’t know some of you that personally? I don’t know.”

As Jensvold began reiterating his case that his road has enough daily traffic to merit paving, French cut him off.

“We aren’t going to base our decisions on whoever comes to a public hearing and b——es the most and continually b——es non-stop, b——, b——, b——, b——,” French said, using an expletive. “I mean that’s all you do is b—— about it. There’s a lot of good folks out there, that (have) hundreds of (average daily traffic on their road).”

“They’re not here,” noted Jensvold.

“No, because they’re good citizens and out there working their rear end off and you got time to come b——, b——, b——,” retorted French.

Commissioners had scheduled the hearing at 7 p.m. instead of earlier with the intent of giving the public a better opportunity to attend. Jensvold noted he had a right to be at the hearing and French agreed.

“I have a lot of information you may not want me to go public with,” Jensvold said.

“You go public. ... I’m not afraid of you writing all the letters you want. I’ll help you out,” French said sarcastically.

“OK, good,” said Jensvold.

“Write until your hand just hurts,” French said.

“I will,” Jensvold said.

Jensvold closed by apologizing for taking so much time and French said, “Thanks for coming.”

It was an uncomfortable ending to a conversation that began much as it has for the past few years’ budget hearings: Jensvold making his case for paving his road and commissioners explaining why it hasn’t been paved.

Commissioners said other roads, as identified by the Road and Bridge Department, are higher priorities.

Jensvold noted that other groups have received additional money and road and bridge help by asking commissioners, while he’s yet to get his road paved in 20 years of lobbying. He also said some commissioners and their friends — who he did not name — had received the priority of road and bridge crews.

Commissioners Joe Tilden and Loren Grosskopf each said they did not know what Jensvold was talking about.

“You seem to make some rather pointed accusations, and I have no idea who you’re talking about,” said Tilden. “But since I’ve been on this commission, I have never seen any favoritism on any roads in this county as far as commissioners are concerned.”

Jensvold said he was talking about events before Tilden and Grosskopf’s tenure.

Grosskopf also took issue with Jensvold’s statement that commissioners hadn’t responded to his concerns and questions, noting that he’d answered Jensvold’s emails. Jensvold clarified he was referring to letters sent a couple years ago.

At Tuesday’s regular commission meeting, Grosskopf said he wished he hadn’t responded to Jensvold’s questions that didn’t relate to the budget.

“I think just answering the questions the way I did, it didn’t improve the hearing,” Grosskopf said. “It made myself feel better because I know I responded to him — even though he said I didn’t — but that wasn’t what we went there for ... last night.”

He suggested, and the rest of the commission agreed, to provide formal, written answers to Jensvold’s questions.

French did not bring up his comments.

During the hearing, Jensvold said chip sealing his mile of road would cost about $13,500. County Engineer Greg Meinecke said it would be closer to $132,000.

Jensvold found some support on his complaint that the county has undercounted traffic on his road in recent years. Commissioner Dave Burke, who unsuccessfully voted to pave Jensvold’s road the last two years, said he’d support directing the Road and Bridge Department to retabulate the traffic counts.

“I think in all fairness, we need to wipe the slate clean and we need to look at Road 6,” said Burke, who will retire at the end of the year. Earlier in the hearing, Burke was thanked by Jensvold for his hard work and for listening; Jensvold also thanked road and bridge staffers for their help.

Commissioner Bucky Hall noted that the county, through the application of dust suppressant on the road, has made some efforts on Road 6, but he seconded Burke’s call for a fresh look at the traffic numbers.

“Maybe we can get you up the priority list (of roads for paving). Certainly no promises and you haven’t had a lot a luck,” he said, adding, “I admire you for being here.”

French wasn’t open to just re-examining the traffic counts on Jensvold’s road.

“There’s nothing wrong with taking another look at that, but we’re going to have to look at every road out there, and we may not have the money to do what you’re requesting,” French said.

It was soon after that French had the heated exchange with Jensvold.

Also in attendance at the 45-minute long hearing were a number of county staff, two media representatives and county commission candidates Greg Gaspers and Alex Gisoldi.

The county approved its $24.16 million budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year on Tuesday without any changes.

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5 comments

  • posted by Amber Yger

    July 24, 2012 5:57 pm

    I am running for ward 3 here in powell for city councilwoman.I feel like the people here do not have a say unless they have friends in the system. I feel i am a voice to the people of ward 3, not to myself. people need a hero in politics not someone who goes by what THEY or their friends whant. I have the perseption that people cant have a say in the politics here unless you either know someone or have money (it mightbe,thats how it looks to me) I need to let not just the privliged to have a say in ward 3 but all down to the poor shmo who just can hardly get by. i want to be the hero of the people. If put in the position to vote on this I would look at his road (in person), afterwars I would go,and talk to the person and see what he could provide for my info that I do not know. If it was dtermened that it realy needs re-done more than the roads that already have been selected, i would go see the roads that are going to get re-done, take the roads that needed the least amount of repair, take them off, put the roads in the worst conditions that the people NEED to use and atend to them befor they get any worst. I feel people like french need to be out of politics, the poeple who are for the GOOD of ALL the people need to be put in. GOD bless all.

  • posted by concerned citizen

    July 24, 2012 5:36 pm

    What gives with Tim French--Has power gone to his head. Here he attacks Dale Jensvold and according to the story in the Thurs Tribune he attacked John Thomas. Perhaps French has been too long in one place--Are term limits the answer? I don't know but maybe French should think about retiring and getting back to farming which he claims to know so much about and letting people that know how to conduct themselves in public take care of the publics business. I know it is too much to ask but French definitely owes a public apology to Dale, John, the other commissioners and the residents of Park County.

  • posted by Government Worker

    July 20, 2012 6:35 pm

    Really Mr. French???In a public meeting you have decided to lay out a citizen, a voting concerned citizen who "has nothing better to do?" Mr. French good citizens come to meetings, your poor public roasting of this guy is a hot headed rant. Forget what he came to discuss / You Sir have forgotten your role, as a public employee of 28 years if I addressed a citizen even in private as you did this guy in PUBLIC I would most likely gotten a day off. You have previously indicate that employees of this county are over paid, I agree you on this: you are not paid to conduct yourself in the manner. Now how do you expect the rest of us to preform in our daily dealing with the public?? HMMM?

  • posted by diana jung

    July 20, 2012 4:32 pm

    Welcome to the club Dale. French has and probably always will be a b----- b----.
    Had a similar problem a while back and was getting the same run around you do. Still haven't got my road paved but like you said some former members of the commission sure got the roads by their houses paved. Guess French has been on the commission he thinks it belongs to him. All hail King French.

  • posted by Earl Mathers

    July 19, 2012 1:55 pm

    Mr. Baker: Unpaved roads aren't "chip sealed". Chip sealing is a treatment of paved roads which extends their life by improving durability and minimizing the intrusion of water.

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