Craig briefs for Sept. 4

Agriculture disaster loans available

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Businesses in northwest Colorado now qualify for low-interest federal disaster loans in Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties, as well as Uintah County in Utah.

Mike Johanns, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, declared agricultural disasters in these areas at the request of Gov. Bill Ritter.

Agricultural and nonagricultural businesses may qualify for loans to offset damages resulting from the combined effects of frost and freezing temperatures on June 10 and 21, and the ongoing drought beginning May 1.

Agricultural businesses can qualify for up to $500,000 at a 3.75 percent interest rate to offset all actual production or physical losses.

Those businesses must show at least a 30 percent loss in crop production or a physical loss to livestock, livestock products, real estate, or chattel property. All agricultural loans must be fully collateralized.

Interested agricultural businesses can contact the U.S. Farm Services Agency Colorado office in Lakewood at (720) 544-2876.

Nonagricultural small businesses may qualify for disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Association, or SBA.

Small business loans are available up to $1.5 million at a 4 percent interest rate with a maximum 30-year term.

"Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage," said Alfred E. Judd, SBA Disaster Field Operations - West director, in an Aug. 31 press release.

Any small businesses applying for loans should contact the SBA at 800-659-2955.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for small business disaster loans.

Loan applications are due by April 21, 2008.

"First Steps" business seminar scheduled

Yampa Valley SCORE, along with other local agencies, will offer a free business seminar, "The First Steps to Starting Your Own Business," today at the Center of Craig.

The seminar, which will run from 6:30 to 9 p.m., is open to the public.

SCORE is offering the seminar as a collaborative effort with Northwest Colorado Community College, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership and Craig Chamber of Commerce.

Local entrepreneur and SCORE volunteer Scott Ford will conduct the seminar. For six years, Ford hosted the seminars in Steamboat Springs.

"I have a lot of people who now own successful businesses take their first steps to making their dream a reality by coming to this seminar," he said.

Pre-registration is not necessary. For more information, call Yampa Valley SCORE at 870-4549, or visit the organization's Web site, www.yampavalley.info/business3571334.

CDOT: Construction still going on

Summer is winding down and cooler weather is on the way, but that does not mean road construction is tapering off, according to a Colorado Department of Transportation release.

Construction projects on Colorado highways and interstates are going strong, which means motorists still can expect to encounter cone zones.

"While the Colorado Department of Transportation often focuses on highway worker safety, just as important to us is motorist safety as motorists are more often the ones involved in work-zone accidents (four out five work zone fatalities are motorists, not highway workers)," the release reads.

What motorists also may not realize is how often work zone accidents occur. Nationwide, one work-zone fatality occurs every eight hours and one work-zone injury occurs every nine minutes, according to CDOT.

"For this reason, CDOT would like to remind motorists that the construction season is not over," the release states. "While many paving projects are complete, cone zones are still likely to be in place across the state and CDOT maintenance crews will continue to set up lane closures for various activities."

Fines for infractions in cone zones are doubled, and the Colorado State Patrol and other local law enforcement agencies will still be enforcing in construction projects across the state.

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