Governor to pay Craig visit

Ritter scheduled to speak at tourism

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Regular visits to the state capitol, "relentless" conversations and e-mails to Gov. Bill Ritter's staff, and at times the governor himself, has paid off for the Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Tourism group and its regional director, Shelly Flannery.

"For two months now, I've been stalking the governor and waiting for the restraining order," said Flannery, who's also the Moffat County Tourism Association director.

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Ritter, who made a campaign stop in Craig last year, is scheduled to speak at 3:45 p.m. Saturday during the CHT's regional meeting at the Holiday Inn.

His visit comes as the Colorado Legislature prepares to end its legislative session within a week.

Ritter staffer Laura Chapin said the governor made tourism and economic development an important part of his campaign message to Northwest Colorado, and his visit is a sign his administration is still committed to those issues.

"It's part of his long-term vision for Northwest Colorado," Chapin said. "Economic development and tourism was a very large part of the conversation. He's coming back to follow-up on those issues."

It's also possible, Chapin said, Ritter will attend the annual Maybell/Sombrero Horse Drive, a tradition marking its 40th anniversary Sunday, when hundreds of horses will be moved through the city's main street to Sombrero Ranch near Lay.

The CHT has been in place for three years and is tasked with identifying and developing heritage tourism assets in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties and marketing them on a state level. Ten communities within those three counties take part in the CHT.

During the Saturday meeting, Ritter will help present two $10,000 checks to the Rio Blanco Historical Society. Exxon Mobile and the Rio Blanco Lodging Tax Board donated the money.

The historical society is the fiscal agent of a joint Moffat/Rio Blanco project to establish interpretive pullouts along Yellowjacket Pass and make improvements to the Milk Creek battle site.

The project is estimated to cost $200,000, and the $20,000 donated Saturday will be used as leverage to acquire future grant money, Flannery said.

Ritter will receive a key to the region Saturday, Flannery said, an item of mixed goods such as an old jump ski, antler, pitchfork and helmet from Twentymile Coal Co.

The CHT meeting is open to the public. Seating is limited, Flannery said, and she advises anyone wishing to attend to reserve a seat by calling 824-2335.

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