Moffat County commissioners and the Craig City Council met for more than two hours Tuesday to discuss issues that could have a lasting impact on the area.
Chronic wasting disease
Discussions about chronic wasting disease and how it will effect Moffat County's economy were the focus of Tuesday night's joint city of Craig/Moffat County meeting. Officials formed a committee to determine proactive steps that could be taken to salvage what might be a dismal hunting season.
"What can this community offer hunters so they know this community is looking out for them?" Moffat County Commissioner T. Wright Dickinson asked.
It is still uncertain whether a testing site will be established in Moffat County. County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos, who is also on the state's Wildlife Commission, said officials need to develop a plan to assist hunters if a testing site is not placed in Moffat County and hunters have a long wait for test results.
"I'm not sure we have to rush out and create a panic, we just need to service the ones who have problems," Dickinson said.
Raftopoulos suggested letting hunters process their meat and ship it home and then have a plan in place to replace it or offer another hunting license if it is found to have chronic wasting disease.
Don Jones, who owns a meat processing business, said he had no problem processing meat that hasn't been tested for the disease.
"I've probably already processed 40 or 50 (animals with chronic wasting disease) in the last 15 years," he said.
Untested meat can be shipped out of state, Raftopoulos said.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife is recommending hunters de-bone animals in the field and discard the bones to make meat processing easier. They have a list of pre-processing recommendations that will be sent to every hunter.
Officials are worried about the publicity that could follow the discovery of the disease in additional animals.
"If we target the customers with the problems and meet their needs, we shouldn't have bad publicity," Dickinson said. "We need to put full emphasis on serving the customer."
City and county officials will be on the committee, as well as representatives from the lodging, outfitting, taxidermy and processing industries.
"We have problems that have to be worked out and have to be worked out soon," Holiday Inn General Manager Mikki O'Brien said. "I have hunters call every day and say 'what's up?' We have a lot of educating to do."
County commissioners asked the city to clarify its out-of-city water service ordinances. The problem, Dickinson said, is that people want to develop outside the city limits, but want city services, and are willing to pay for them.
"People are frustrated because the master plan calls for development, but they can't get services," he said.
Craig Mayor Dave DeRose said the city is looking into creating water districts for those subdivisions but has not made any decisions yet.
The problem is the number of customers in a given area. Outside the city limits, customers can be spread across five-acre lots. The same length of line it takes to service them can service many more customers within city limits.
"We want to make sure our costs are recovered," City Manager Jim Ferree said. "There are city rate payers who are subsidizing those five-acre lots. It's just like people who bought homes on dirt streets and want them paved. It's an issue of who pays for the benefit?"
A committee, made up of a diverse group of community members, has been created to explore the idea of building a combination recreation and convention center in Craig. Members are looking at what grant or foundation funds are available and then will consider local financing options. Although a sales or property tax is an option, the committee is researching revenue generated from an automobile use tax, which would be paid at the time a vehicle was registered in Moffat County.
The committee meets at 7 p.m. tonight and architects from Denver will be present to discuss options.
"I'm concerned that we're running with a project and need to take a step back and look at what priorities the community lists in infrastructure," Dickinson said. "We need to look at all the other projects the community needs. There should be a discussion on what the priorities are and how we should move forward.
"It takes representatives from elected boards sitting down and talking about it. I'm talking about timing and the dollars associated. Otherwise the first one on the block gets the worm and the others are left without."
City Councilor Carl Chapman said in all recent community surveys, residents listed having a recreation center as a top priority.
"This is probably the only thing I've ever seen that the public would re-establish a use tax for," DeRose said.
Cathy Cisar Hill
The various uses of a popular sledding hill used by off-roaders, sledders and snowmobilers, is making it a safety hazard and the county wants it off its hands. Commissioners asked city officials Tuesday night if they would take control of Cathy Cisar Hill.
"We're not in the urban park business," Dickinson said.
City council members said they wouldn't take the property but they would help create a master plan for the hill and then consider its future.
"I think before we ever do anything, we need to do some footwork," City Parks and Recreation Department Director Dave Pike said. "There are a lot of residents who will be affected."
"We don't want Cathy Cisar Hill, but we'll talk to you about what to do with it," DeRose said.
Cathy Cisar Hill was donated to the county in memory of Cathy Cisar, who died in a sledding accident. According to an agreement between the family and the county, as long as it is used for youth recreation, it will continue to belong to the county. If not, its ownership reverts back to the