Steven Summers, president of the Colorado Hospital Association, was the keynote speaker at the State of the County.

Photo by Erin Fenner

Steven Summers, president of the Colorado Hospital Association, was the keynote speaker at the State of the County.

State of the County touches on key issues the city and county face in 2014

Business of the Year Awards

Large Business of the Year Award: Vallartas Mexican Restaurant

Small Business of the Year Award: Jack’s Bumpers

Businessperson of the Year Award: Christine Muzik, of Spirit Pass

Citizen of the Year: Melanie Kropinak

The State of the County brought in a health care guest speaker, city and county addresses and the Craig Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year awards Friday evening at the Clarion Inn and Suites.

The keynote speaker, Steven Summers, president of the Colorado Hospital Association, explained the background of the Affordable Care Act and said that while certainly imperfect in its entirety and in the way it was made into law, it still was important to work on.

“The (ACA) is a law worth fixing and a law worth keeping,” he said.

He broke down the economics of the law, explaining that while controversial, the individual mandate was crucial to keeping insurance affordable.

Working on improving the health care system is essential, Summers said.

Following the keynote speaker, Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers took a look at the good and bad of 2013.

“We had a few things happen that we didn’t expect,” he said. “The oil and gas revenue was down, but we had a healthy reserve because (former County Commissioners) Audrey Danner and Tom Gray was very conservative.”

Mathers took time to go over what Shell Oil’s departure would mean for the area and noted that it could be a positive if smaller businesses took Shell’s place.

“You’ve heard that Shell is leaving, but they’re not leaving with nothing behind,” he said, pointing out the new highway the company constructed.

Mathers pointed out how Moffat County got the state government’s attention. Placing secession on the November ballot was an effort to get Gov. John Hickenlooper’s attention, and it was effective, Mathers said.

“We never ever thought we would secede, but we wanted to throw something out there to get the governor’s attention,” he said. “He’s been here twice since then.”

Mathers touched on changes in the county, as well, with new wells being drilled and capital projects that were underway.

Loudy-Simpson Pond's dredging would open up the mark to a new level of sportsmanship.

“Now we’re going to have a 12-foot fish pond to have fish all year long,” he said. “It’s a really really great project.”

Mayor Terry Carwile took his time at the podium to look at the significant transitions the community has seen in 2013, with the departure of high-level personnel and leaders from the community. He also remarked on the departure of Safeway as a devastating loss.

Unfortunately, Craig’s budget was tighter this year without much incoming revenue.

“Sales tax is the primary revenue source for Craig, but we are seeing an overall decline in that revenue stream nationwide,” he said.

Residential construction also was not a strong point.

“Things simply don’t look good for residential construction in our community at the moment,” he said.

But on a positive note, he pointed out that public construction was going up.

“Public building was at its highest point in four years,” Carwile said.

Carwile continued with the positive about what was to come in 2014. The Shadow Mountain subdivision will get brand-new roads and a sewer system. Parks and Recreation will be vying for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant to improve Breeze Park. A solar garden will be built in Craig, bringing in new construction and 5 kilowatts of power for the city.

Carwile also encouraged the community to be leaders in the energy industry as Craig has been. Craig should embrace all forms of energy, he said.

“The energy industry is what brought me to this community in the '70s,” Carwile said. “As we move forward, I hope we can create the same opportunities for others.”

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

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