Jennifer Riley, a Craig City Council candidate, speaks with Craig AARP Chapter No. 1418 during a candidate forum Monday at Sunset Meadows I for the upcoming city election. Joe Bird, Terry Carwile and Mayor Don Jones joined Riley to speak with Craig residents at the forum.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Jennifer Riley, a Craig City Council candidate, speaks with Craig AARP Chapter No. 1418 during a candidate forum Monday at Sunset Meadows I for the upcoming city election. Joe Bird, Terry Carwile and Mayor Don Jones joined Riley to speak with Craig residents at the forum.

Candidates discuss gym

City Council hopefuls participate in 1st of 3 appearances this week

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Terry Carwile speaks with Craig residents during a candidate's forum Monday at Sunset Meadows. Carwile is running for re-election in the April 7 election.

Although only about half of the field attended, Craig City Council candidates met Monday afternoon in the first of three forums scheduled for the week.

City Council candidates Joe Bird, Terry Carwile and Jennifer Riley, and mayoral candidate Don Jones spoke to more than 20 visitors during a forum sponsored by the Craig AARP Chapter 1418 at Sunset Meadows I. Candidates Byron Willems, Francisco Reina and Gene Bilodeau did not attend.

The discussion covered a wide range of topics, including federal stimulus money, increased vehicle registration fees and a request from the Moffat County School District for financial assistance to build an auxiliary gymnasium.

The gymnasium question was a recurring issue among voters Monday.

School district officials have asked the city for $365,000 to fund a second, full-size gymnasium at Craig Middle School. The asking price increased from its original estimate, $150,000.

To be able to support city programs, the second gymnasium needed additional space.

After tabling the proposal March 11, the City Council is scheduled to make a decision about the request during its meeting tonight.

Bob Grubb asked whether adding a larger gym potentially could hurt the city's chances of having a better facility down the road.

"There has been talk that by adding 20 feet to the gymnasium it might squelch the larger rec center development," Grubb said. "If it goes through, do we wind up out of a rec center?"

Riley said adding a full-sized gym would hurt the argument for a recreation center.

"I think it does hurt the chances of adding a recreation center to the city," Riley said. "It would take away some of the need."

Adding extra gym space to the proposal would be good for the city, Jones said, but the manner in which the school district sought the extra funds has been unsettling.

"No one doubts the need for gym space," he said. "But, what started at $150,000 went to $270,000 to $360,000 in two weeks, and I know that it didn't set well with a number of the city councilors."

The city currently has a $651,000 surplus from savings from departments, road repairs from last year's budget which were carried over, and money set aside for equipment upgrades, Jones said.

"It's all money that the city could use," he said.

Funding a recreation center creates problems, Bird added.

"The population would need to increase to be able to support the rec center," he said. "We would hate to have to go out and hire personnel, go into build the building, then have it sit and be empty because no one is using it."

Grubb asked if there still would be space for a recreation center if the city's population doubled.

Carwile said that land wasn't the issue.

"We have the land," Carwile said, adding that Colorado Northwestern Community College has given land to the city to use for a recreational center. "But, figuring how to pay for it is the crux of the problem."

Asking voters to approve a recreational center would be difficult, Riley said.

"There would need to be an increase in the sales tax, which I don't think the taxpayers could take, especially given the economy," Riley said. "Does that take (the recreational center) off the table? Possibly, because it wouldn't be able to fund itself through membership fees."

Despite the price, the need for a community gym still exists, Jones said.

"If there was an additional 20 feet, then parks and recreation could have two more games at the gym, instead of one at a full length court," Jones said. "Right now, it's a 40-by-50 foot playroom.

"At the time, it looked like we could do a whole lot with an auxiliary gym, but as time went on, it looked like we needed a full-size court. But, hindsight is 20-20."

Another question raised during the forum was in regard to stimulus funding.

Beverly Chapman, Craig AARP president, asked the candidates how Craig and Moffat County could acquire money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Carwile said there were several ways Moffat County could receive money for infrastructure repairs and upgrades.

"Several mechanisms exist - there are block grants the city can apply for, and existing government departments that will filter the funds to the local level," he said. "If there are bureaucratic road blocks, we need to fight to get money."

"We might just need to yell the loudest," Chapman replied.

Referencing Senate Bill 108, which increases the average car registration fee by $32 beginning July 1, Chapman asked if the increase in fees could help fund infrastructure improvements.

"With the increase in our tag prices, are we going to see any money for our roads out here?" Chapman asked. "Or is all of it going to go to projects on the Front Range?"

Despite the increase, it's unknown how much money Craig would receive, Riley said.

"Most of the money will go towards infrastructure," she said. "But, I'm not sure how much of it will come back to us."

The City Council election is April 7.

Comments

George Robertson 5 years ago

Hey taxslave look nimrod up in the dictionary

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als362 5 years ago

If spending $365,000.00 will make this rec center idiocy go away I am all for it. There is no way a rec center will pay for itself, and will end up being a white elephant on everyones back. A gym that can be used by everyone that wants to use it, to me is better, and would be the most inexpensive way to go in my opinion. I know I said that I was opposed to spending this money a few days ago, but after reading what other people had to say about it I am back on the gym bandwagon, and will probably stay there. A building dedicated only to public use will cost many many times more than the gym addition being asked for, and the gym addition will for sure be used to its capacity, a dedicated building for public use, I don't believe would be used to anywhere near its capacity.

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oawow 5 years ago

A gym in a school and a recreation center are two completely different things, and one cannot be substitute for the other. Recreation centers have weights, cardiovascular machines, a basketball courts, an indoor pool, meeting areas, daycare sections, game rooms for older kids, and so on. If the school district is including that stuff in their gym, I'm all for it, although it's highly unlikely. The way I understand it, is the school district is proposing just a bigger basketball court style gym. That doesn't really do the majority of the town any good.

I agree if we build a recreation center, it's unlikely that the people of Craig will use it like they should. Which is a shame, because the money spent on gym memberships to stay healthy is far less than the money you will spend on medical bills. This town has the ability to pay for and support a recreation center. The only problem is, so many don't see the positive side to having one. They hear TAX increase and they're out.

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taxslave 5 years ago

I'm older and semi/disabled.....will someone pay my share?

I'm serious. Doesn't ANYONE think or even CARE about those who can't afford it already? I don't get it? Majority rules? 51/49? What?....you tell the rest of us you don't give a rats behind whether you eat or heat your home.

Am I missing something? Is everybody rich besides me?

Those who don't think of others should be ashamed of themselves. I don't care what your excuse for how good it would be for the town. If it cost someone their livelyhood or simple standard of living what good did it actually do for the town?

Unless of course over 90% of you are rich, like you act.

Sorry, but I've busted all my life for the federal reserve to just step in and take it all away....federal reserve, local government, same difference....take, take, take.

People don't vote no to more taxes just to be mean....you nimrods. WAKE UP

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als362 5 years ago

You tell them taxslave!
These people that think this rec center stupidity is a good idea have no idea how it is going to be paid for and from what I have read they really don't care.
If this thing was such a good idea a group of people in the private sector would have already built it.
And if oawow needs a special building to lift wieghts and bounce a ball then he really doesn't want to do these things at all he just wants a special building to go and hang out with his fellow muscle heads.
And that people is a waste of money that the city/county does not have today nor will they have it for a long long time!
If someone could prove to me that this project would pay for itself, with no help from taxes, or anything else, then I would be all for it. Until then it is a bad idea period.
It has been voted down several times, I don't understand why it keeps being discussed.

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taxslave 5 years ago

Wanna know why he was a great hunter? He got the covering that God made for Adam. That's what gave him power.

When I used the word I didn't even think that you had that handle.....I was thinking of a god wannabee who made all the little people slaves to his evil thinking.

So question is nimrod, are you a mighty hunter?

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Patrick Germond 5 years ago

I'm a little divided. Allens opening point is the one I like the most, but would still turn down. I believe if we want our kids and other people to stay away from drugs and alcohol we need to provide a place to obtain a healthy life style. Plus, it looks like a huge savings. (oh cr@p, I sound like Obama)

I however, would not vote for any expansion of our community responsabilities at this time. We should wait this next 20 months out and see how the next election goes. If it looks like things are going to get better then yea, maybe then. But right now we should get as far out of dept as posible. Save some money at the county and city level if posible. We may need that money just to keep really, really, basic services running. (police, fire, medical, ect.) So, in the end I have to side with tax slave.

Let's play smart people. We can wait 2 years. Now is not the time for instant gratifaction.

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taxslave 5 years ago

Oh you guys, it's gonna get worse. The major health insurers in America, including blue cross, asked congress yesterday to make a law mandating every single american buy health insurance.

Oh boy, I wonder who's going to pay my share of this.

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George Robertson 5 years ago

No taxslave, I wouldn't consider myself a mighty hunter. I chose that handle because as a child it was directed at me as a disparaging title. When I grew older and was browsing through the dictionary, I found great humor in the fact that it was in actuality a very noble title. The humor returned when you again used it as a negative title for the masses.

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