Mitt Romney … meet Craig, America
Local officials comment on GOP contender's upcoming visit
“I’m glad to hear it, that he’s taken an interest in stopping by, and I’d be interested in going and seeing what he has to say.”
— Joe Bird, Craig City Council member
“It’s exciting for the community. I don’t think we typically see a presidential candidate make a pit stop or an appearance in a small community like this. … I think it’ll be a great thing for the community. I hope he gets an excellent turnout.”
—Terry Carwile, Craig mayor
“I think it’s really unique, obviously. I mean, for us to have that, we should probably feel kind of — I wouldn’t say blessed, but it’s nice they come here. Obviously, Craig’s a small town that’s affected by energy and has been for years, so it’s a good stop for him. I think it’s neat. It’ll be an experience we’re going to see once in a lifetime, probably. … I think everybody’s looking forward to it.”
— Byron Willems, Craig City Council member
“I think that it’s very exciting that Craig is getting a visit by one of the presidential nominees. I know when he comes to Craig he will find he has a lot of support here. That should feel really good to him and his campaign leaders. Hopefully our community … gives him a positive response and asks him great questions and gets answers.”
— Jennifer Riley, Craig City Council member
“I’m glad that he’s coming to this part of Colorado and not just the (Front Range). I’m looking forward to the campaign. … I wish I knew a little bit more where he stood on a few issues, so I’ll be listening close.”
— Tom Gray, Moffat County Commission chairman
“I think it’s phenomenal. … And it’s always a benefit to our area to get anybody in a position of power to understand how our energy industry works because I think our energy producers reflect very positively on the industry. And it’s great when other people can say, ‘Look, here’s a power plant that burns coal cleanly, these are mines that have a very high standard for reclamation and understanding the environmental impact of what they do.’”
— Christina Oxley, Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director
Frank Moe, owner of Deer Park Inn and Suites in Craig, sent Mitt Romney's presidential campaign a video earlier this year produced by Energy America.
The video, titled "The Perfect Storm Over Craig, Colorado," highlighted the community's economic dependence on the energy industry.
Along with the video was an invitation from Moe to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to visit Craig.
"We (thought) this would be a good place for him to make the point that he is (in favor of) all forms of energy," Moe said.
On Thursday, Romney staffers called Moe and said the campaign was considering Craig as a campaign stop.
The trip was booked Friday. Romney spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said the former Massachusetts governor will appear for a public event at 9 a.m. Tuesday downtown.
It's believed the location will be Alice Pleasant Park.
Additional details of the visit could be released this weekend, Pompei said.
"When the Romney campaign called us, tears rushed over us because now Craig has the opportunity to tell its story to the entire nation," an emotional Moe said Friday night. "We all need to stand up and make our voices heard that energy can be done and done right."
Craig City Manager Jim Ferree said he and Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta are scheduled to meet with Secret Service agents today to discuss the pending visit.
Two members of the Romney team are currently in Craig preparing for the event, Ferree said.
The local visit won't be without its challenges.
"They're looking to set up in Alice Pleasant Park, which presents some logistical concerns with Grand Olde West Days wrapping up Monday and closing down the highway, but we're going to work through it and make it happen," Ferree said. "This is a good thing for the town and for Moffat County."
Ferree said a section of North Colorado Highway 13, likely between Victory Way and Sixth Street, would be closed early Tuesday morning, and the Department of Social Services parking lot may also be closed off.
The city will also provide police officers for crowd control and to assist Secret Service.
Other city employees will also help direct traffic.
The visit, Ferree said, will be costly for the city, primarily in employee overtime.
But, the potential cost doesn't dampen the enthusiasm many elected officials and residents have for the visit.
"I believe it's important for Moffat County citizens to understand the impact they can have when a presidential candidate will come to our community," Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner said. "I hope people turn out on Tuesday morning, listen to what he has to say and tell our story.
"Our story revolves around the effects potential changes to the health care system will have on our small businesses and the federal push to have coal replaced by natural gas. Those are two critical issues to small and large businesses, and citizens paying their electric bill."
Sari Cobb is the owner of Cornerstone Realty Ltd., in downtown Craig, a short distance from Alice Pleasant Park.
She said Friday she's thrilled to have Romney appearing in town, and so close to her business.
"I think it's awesome," Cobb said. "I think it's wonderful that he's coming out and he's talking to the smaller communities and this is not just a Denver or (Front Range) thing.
"I don't know that it will have a long-term impact, but I think it validates who we are. … I just think it does something for our community, and every little thing like that helps."