Community cooperation

Yampa Valley Partners seminar brings focus on communication

Cultural differences aside, the towns of Craig, Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Oak Creek share the Yampa River and thus, many interests and goals.

Looking at the valley through the economic impacts that one town has on another is one reason why Yampa Valley Partners hosted the Economic Seminar Series on Thursday in Hayden.

The organization, the goals of which include improving communication between towns in the Yampa Valley, hosts a number of seminars throughout the year.

About 30 people attended the meeting, which took place at Carpenter Ranch, and discussed topics ranging from cultural differences between towns in the valley to towns influenced by others. One such dynamic exists between Steamboat Spring's resort economy and Hayden's growth, which has been spurred by development caused by growth up-river.

"At these regional quorums we look at the issues we have in common," said Audrey Danner, Yampa Valley Partners executive director. "There are many areas of common interest between the towns, as well as many changes and opportunities ahead. We need to take advantage of those."

Danner said communities from Oak Creek to Dinosaur are unique, but share many of the same problems and potential benefits from economic changes.

"From housing and transportation, to employing a workforce while protecting the environment, we face the same issues," she said. "Addressing an issue in one community changes things in the other communities. We're learning the language and skills that will help us look at the area regionally."

Danner said framing important issues helps group members make a difference in their communities. Discussions such as Thursday's also helps group members identify unique characteristics of each town in the valley.

"The goal is not to make us all the same. We're getting a diverse group of people to talk to each other," she said. "New ideas are needed to look at change in our valley."

Those attending the forum later splintered off into sub-groups to discuss specific issues.

If the cooperation at the Thursday seminar is any indication, the Yampa Valley Partners vision of community members working together to maintain a desirable place to live, work and grow economically in the valley already is occurring.

Noreen Moore addressed the benefits of connecting neighbors to form neighborhoods.

"How do we get people to become part of a community?" she asked. "We're looking at what people need and want in a community, and communicating between the communities in the valley."

Jonathan Godes, director of the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, and Courtney Vestal, a Hayden High School senior, centered their discussions on the organization Youth Embracing Society.

The organization's goal is getting youths involved in community issues, as well as encouraging socializing between youths at sporting events instead of being competitors.

For more information about Yampa Valley Partners, visit the group's Web site, www.yampavalleypartners.com or call Danner at 871-7681.

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