Council hears regional transit presentation

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At its Tuesday meeting, the Craig City Council:

• Heard councilor Ray Beck present John Bolton, Moffat County High School and Craig Middle School band teacher, a $200 check from the Governor's Residence Preservation Fund.

Beck also congratulated middle school student Rose Howe and high school students Kim Hill, Slade Gurr, Sarah Bolton, Kyra McClellan, Karen Bolton, Becky Meek and Amie Chadwick for their performance in December 2008 at the Governor's Mansion in Denver.

State officials invited Bolton and his students back to the Governor's Mansion for a Fourth of July performance this summer.

• Heard Keith Ikeda, representing the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, present Walt Vanatta, Craig Police Department chief, with a Professional Standards Accreditation Plaque. Ikeda said the award recognized the Police Department for exceptional service.

• Approved, 7-0, a motion to waive the city's bid process and award a $17,829 contract to Intermountain, Inc., of Colorado, to clean up a diesel gas leak at the city's gas pumps.

City Manager Jim Ferree said the city was alerted to the problem when the automatic leak detector shut the lines down.

Mayor Don Jones said Randy Call, Road and Bridge Department director, believed less than 50 gallons leaked into the ground.

• Approved, 7-0, the second reading of an ordinance to amend the city's junk regulations. The new code redefines junk to include things that are unsightly, interfere with "reasonable enjoyment of property by neighbors," hurt property values or hamper firefighters.

• Approved, 7-0, a motion to award various bids for chemicals for the Water and Wastewater Departments in 2009. In each case, the city took the lowest bid or the only bid received. The chemicals will be purchased as needed.

Philo Shelton, Steamboat Springs Public Works director, crossed the Yampa Valley on Tuesday to appear before the Craig City Council.

His presentation was about the importance of Steamboat Springs Transit's regional bus routes.

Craig Mayor Don Jones said he sees what the valley-wide mass transit brings to the area.

"It's a great service," he said to Shelton during Tuesday night's Council meeting. "It helps Steamboat; you need the workers. It helps Craig, too; the workers live here. It's a win/win."

Times are tough at the base of Rabbit Ears Pass, though, Shelton said.

"We've experienced a downturn in our economy like most of the country is," he said. "I think it's important we recognize that."

In the future, the city of Craig may have to give the transit service additional funding to keep the regional service afloat, Shelton said. There already have been route cuts in Steamboat, where some lines were done away with and others were consolidated.

It is this concern that led to Shelton's visit Tuesday night.

According to an internal memo from Craig City Manager Jim Ferree, he asked Shelton to speak with the Council after he was informed his request for increased funding in 2009 was denied.

Shelton asked for $21,828, but the city funded the service $11,600, the same amount it has for about the last six years, Ferree said.

However, Shelton's request was made last September when diesel gas prices approached $5 a gallon.

He was quick to point out at the beginning of his presentation that Steamboat Transit is committed to maintaining two daily buses between Craig and Steamboat, though it has raised the boarding fee from $5 to $6.

The service is gaining popularity, though, Shelton said.

Some of the trips are near capacity, and though no one yet has been turned away because buses were full, Shelton said he expects ridership to increase with opening of the new Craig bus terminal.

Councilor Terry Carwile said he is aware of the need for regional transit.

He thanked Shelton for what he brings to the valley and said he supports bus transit as the best mass transit system currently available.

"I think we look at rail transit as the holy grail of mass transportation, but that's a long way down the road," Carwile said.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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