County resurrects barn, TV

Higher fees, lease offer keep facility, services alive

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Two more Moffat County services, supposedly cut in December, were brought back to life at a Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday.

The Luttrell Barn and county television translators were sent to the chopping block to balance the 2004 budget. But Bill Sixkiller, fairgrounds director, has developed a plan to save the Luttrell Barn, and Jerry Thompson, owner of Channel 27, is talking about leasing at least two translators from the county.

With the resurrection of these services and attempts to keep Shadow Mountain Clubhouse open, the Board of Commission-ers are gradually reviving most of the services they cut at the end

of 2003.

While complying with the board's orders to close Luttrell Barn, Sixkiller realized the county could keep the facility open at minimal cost. During the winter, when Luttrell Barn is normally closed anyway, it would cost the county $330 in electric bills to heat the building to 40 degrees, just warm enough to prevent water pipes from freezing. From June to December, Sixkiller estimated that water and electric would each cost about $500.

Last year, Luttrell Barn was rented out 24 times, at a cost of $50 per day. That added up to $1,200 in revenue, almost enough to cover the estimated utility costs.

Sixkiller advised the board to raise the rental fee to $125 per day, enough to cover maintenance and operating costs as well as pay for utilities. Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said she would like to see additional revenue saved in a reserve fund to fix the facility's leaky roof.

The board will consider the fee increase as a formal resolution at their next meeting, Jan. 30.

Thompson approached the board about leasing the translators on the Sand Rocks and Cedar Mountain and working out a deal for the county's other translators. The board had planned to shut down the translators in March, when leases with KFMU, K27, and AT&T expire.

That would have effectively shut down the local television station. The county estimated the savings would be as high as $80,000. But it would have cost some county residents their television service, and some local agencies depend on the translators for communication purposes.

Les Hutton maintains the translators. He said Craig Fire/Rescue and the Sheriff's Department need the translator in Hamilton to get radio reception there. The fire department also uses the translator on Cedar Mountain.

Thompson said he might be able to sublease the translators to those groups, Denver television stations and Grand Junction stations if they're interested.

The Board of Commissioners directed Thompson to draw up a lease for April through the end of December and give it to County Attorney Kathleen Taylor.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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