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Citizen Report files for case dismissal

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Delta County Citizen Report (DCCR), an apolitical, nonprofit media organization reporting on Delta County, Colorado government, has filed to dismiss its case against Delta County Commissioners after successfully negotiating a new policy that improves open meeting processes at the county.

During the past three months, the DCCR board and county staff worked together to develop the policy that, in some cases, expands on state statute governing open meetings law. County commissioners adopted the policy via resolution this Monday, April 2.

County attorney John Baier and DCCR attorney, Michael King, led the development of the policy document using Colorado Open Meetings Law as a base and incorporating many suggestions from DCCR board members.

"We are hopeful that these changes will give Delta County citizens better communication and connection with county lawmakers in the future," said JoAnn Kalenak, senior blogger and president of DCCR.

The policy's keystone elements include:

• Notice will be given for all meetings where a quorum of commissioners are present to discuss county business and where decisions may be made.

• Meeting notices and agendas will be posted at the Delta County Courthouse entrance and at the North Fork Annex (new posting site) with, at least, 24-hour public access. A copy will also be included on the county website, "as technology allows."

• A detailed agenda will include all known presenters and will be as descriptive as possible at the time of the posting.

• Each agenda item will be given a clearly identified time slot.

• Additions and changes within the 24-hour notice period are permitted only under special and unusual circumstances, and must be justified on record.

To further improve transparency, County Commissioners have agreed to set up a task force to investigate what staff and technology would be needed to put documents included in public meetings on the county's website along with posted agendas.

DCCR filed suit against county commissioners on Dec. 22, 2017, naming violations of state statutes designed to promote transparency in government. The Colorado Supreme Court ordered the case moved to Mesa County citing a "conflict of interest" within Delta County's judicial body.

Since November 2016, Citizen Report has blogged on county commissioner public meetings, county projects, county development plans, county policies, and county budget and finance. The goal of the organization is to help ensure that county government is properly serving all Delta County residents and its objective is to promote a transparent, responsive and engaged county government.

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