The last year has been productive for Moffat County, said Tom Mathers, chairman of the three-member Moffat County Commission.
Twentymile Mine announced it is moving into a new pit, Western Fuels-Colorado, LLC acquired Colowyo Coal Co. and years of fiscally conservative policies have resulted in growth in the county’s general fund.
“Those things are huge and there’s a lot to be positive about,” Mathers said. “I don’t want to steal any thunder from our state of the county speech, which we do every year in February, but this was a very good year for Moffat County.
“We planned for the worst and it came in a lot better than we thought it would.”
Mathers believes 2011 could have turned out different, and a big reason for his positive outlook revolves around the energy industry.
“The oil and gas industry is going to play a major role in the future of Moffat County,” Mathers said. “We’re getting good reports and it looks like (a boom) could happen. It creates jobs and we have high hopes.”
Craig Mayor Terry Carwile had similarly optimistic things to say about the upswing in energy development, which he believes has helped the city’s sales tax revenue rebound.
However, Carwile’s highlights from the previous year don’t focus solely on energy, but on education as well.
“For me, when I look back on 2011, the first thing that sticks in my mind is getting the college up and running,” Carwile said. “That was a positive community event from the previous year.”
Now, both men are looking toward the future and one project they have in common as a priority: utility and road improvements on Shadow Mountain.
Moffat County is responsible for roads and the city is responsible for water and sewer lines for Shadow Mountain.
Mathers said the commission has reached out to the Craig City Council to work on the project together.
“We really want to do a joint venture with the city because we don’t want them to have to come in and rip up a brand new road to fix the sewer lines,” Mathers said. “We’re very much in favor of working with them.”
Carwile said discussions about the Shadow Mountain project began after the city had gone through its “budget exercises.”
He said he’s concerned the city doesn’t have the funds to upgrade the development’s sewer and water lines before the county wants to start repairing the roads.
“That project is long overdue, but the crux of that thing is whether we will be able to afford to do that,” Carwile said. “The first thing that needs to get done out there is some engineering work to see exactly how much work needs to be done and how much it’s going to cost.”
Despite the doubt, Carwile is confident there is enough interest among the community’s elected officials to figure out a way to get the project done.
Also on the horizon are continued upgrades to the east side of Loudy-Simpson Park, which Mathers said includes a plan to dredge the pond to make it deeper in an effort to limit the amount of moss growth and provide easier access for fishing.
“People do fish there and it’s really hard to get to,” Mathers said. “There’s nothing worse than catching a fish that weighs eight ounces and by the time you get it back to shore it weighs two and a half pounds because of moss and weeds.”
Carwile said park projects are also going to be a big focus for the city.
“The city park issue is still unresolved,” Carwile said. “City council members have voiced interest in continuing to try to work with the (Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265) because that space is such an important part of the community.
“Whittle the Wood and the carvings out there are really unique to this city and I have had visitors tell me over the years that’s one of their favorite things about Craig.”
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