Mathers: Conservative planning pays off for Moffat County

Mathers: But challenges remain

Quotable...

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers quoting Thomas Jefferson during Friday’s State of the County address

— Sometimes it’s better to reference history than to repeat it.

It’s a life lesson often preached by Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers.

On Friday, Mathers channeled one of the most admired Americans to express that philosophy during his State of the County address at the Holiday Inn of Craig.

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on,” Mathers said, quoting Thomas Jefferson.

Moffat County was near the end of that rope in 2009, Mathers said, but a long-term, conservative budget strategy is beginning to pay off.

Moffat County added $6 million to its general fund in 2013, Mathers said. The money will benefit a number of community improvement projects, including Shadow Mountain, the Sherman Youth Camp, and the pond and ice arena at Loudy-Simpson Park.

And Mathers is confident more good news is on the way.

Through a partnership with the City of Craig to replat a section of the east side of town, Mathers thinks a long-awaited transaction with Kum & Go could finally come to fruition this spring, paving the way for what may be the company’s largest gas station and retail location in the state.

But there’s also plenty to be cautious about, Mathers said. Moffat County’s primary natural resource continues to be threatened by state and federal rules against coal-fired power generation.

If listed endangered, the greater sage grouse could grind everything from energy exploration to agriculture production to a halt, he said.

And the Niobrara formation, long suspected of being the source of the next potential energy boom, isn’t producing oil the way some experts anticipated.

“Of the four major operators in the area, Gulfport is already looking for an exit strategy and Quicksilver reached a joint agreement with Shell,” Mathers said. “I don’t think Shell will mind too much if I say that only three of the 10 wells they drilled are producing.

“But they’re going to stick it out and frack those wells to see if they will produce the way they should, which is good for the county because although we see a lot more money on production, we don’t see anything if they leave.”

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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