Montrose County is splitting its Health and Human Services department into two separate agencies, to better reflect the distinct purposes served. Upon unanimous passage of a resolution Wednesday, Montrose County commissioners formally created Montrose County Public Health, which provides statutorily mandated public health services, and Montrose County Human Services, which provides statutorily mandated public health services.

The county’s public health department provides such services as immunizations and prevention or response to communicable diseases; family health programs; environmental health and community health.

Under Montrose County Human Services are such entities and resources as Adult Protective Services; Child Protective Services; income-eligible food assistance and other public assistance programs.

“We used to have human services and the public health department as one, under one director,” Commissioner Sue Hansen, board chairwoman, said.

“We made the decision that we thought it would be better if we had two directors. They’re very different in the scope.”

The county is statutorily required to maintain a public health agency and a department of human services. Montrose County maintains separate budgets and accounting for each, and formerly had combined them under the supervision of one director.

That wasn’t always the best strategy, because it’s difficult to find someone who can do both the job of directing public health and directing human services, since the qualifications are so different, Commissioner Keith Caddy said.

“I think it (division) is a good thing. They are two separate entities and need to be run separately,” he said.

The resolution states the commissioners and county board of health concluded a combined department is “not in the best interest of the county and its citizens,” and, further, the education, expertise and statutory missions of those working in public health and in human services are distinct from one another.

Each newly standalone department is to provide the services state law requires. Public health is also to provide any additional services as recommended by the board of health; human services is to also provide any additional services as recommended by commissioners.

Watch those speeds

Commissioners on Wednesday also adjusted the speed limit on a 20-mile section of Dave Wood Road and established one for the first time on FF26 Road, on the West End.

The 20-mile section of Dave Wood Road that extends to the county line used to be gravel and the speed there was posted at 35 mph. Once it was been paved and striped, county crews drove the route and determined 45 mph would be an appropriate change, except for on three curves, where a lower advisory speed limit will be posted, Public Works Director Keith Laube said.

“Just for the record, did anybody go 35 on that road,” Hansen asked, to chuckles and one reply of “no comment.”

FF26 Road is the continuation of what is Crabtree Road within the town limits of Naturita. Laube said although Crabtree Road is posted at 25 mph, there has never been a posted speed limit on FF26, the short county stretch of road that dead-ends, meaning there is no speed limit deputies can enforce there.

The county determined the road sees about 50 cars a day and, after a speed study, determined 30 mph should be the limit.

Hansen and Caddy voted to approve both speed limits Wednesday; Commissioner Roger Rash was absent.

The commissioners also reappointed three members of the Montrose County Planning Commission: David Seymour, Dennis Murphy and an alternate, Jim Haugsness, each for a three-year term.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

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