County appoints new MCTA board members |

County appoints new MCTA board members

Commission votes to close swinging bridge through May 2010

Collin Smith

The Moffat County Com­mission said it made one of its hardest decisions Tuesday: the appointment of new board members to the Moffat County Tourism Association.

"This has been one of the hardest boards to pick from," Com­missioner Tom Mathers said. "We never had so much interest in it. … This has been tough."

Altogether, 12 people applied for four board seats. The applicants included all four of the incumbent board members whose terms expired.

The commission voted, 3-0, to replace three of the incumbents, two of whom had been with the organization for more than three years and one who is the current board president.

Commissioner Tom Gray said he didn't like the thought of overhauling the board, and that the commission's decision was in no way a reflection of the service that current and past board members gave to the community.

"I think we do practice rotating positions of boards," Gray said, referring to an informal policy of giving as many residents as possible a chance to volunteer. "I think we had an inordinate number of terms expiring right now."

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Local residents Annie Ma­c­Gregor and Kandee Dill­dine replaced tenured board members Diane Brannan and Patt McCaffrey. Each will have a one-year term.

Renee Campbell replaced board president Melody Villard — who was reappointed as an alternate — while incumbent board member Frank Moe was kept on. Campbell, who is the Daily Press advertising manager, and Moe will have three-year terms.

Current board members Cindy Looper, Gina Robison and Elisa Hayes fill the remaining seats.

New terms begin Jan. 1, 2010.

Moe originally was going to be replaced on the board by Craig city councilor Terry Carwile, until Looper interjected.

First, she said MCTA policies require two of the seven board members to work in the lodging industry. If the commission took all four incumbents off the board, Looper said that would leave her as the only lodging representative.

Later, she added that she thought part of MCTA's contribution to the Moffat County Visitor Center paid for Carwile's part-time job as the sportsman's information specialist.

MCTA does contribute a large portion of the Visitor Center's total finances, including $23,367 in 2009. The Colorado Division of Wildlife also pays $15,000 a year, and the Bureau of Land Management contributes an average of $5,000 annually.

If Carwile were appointed to the MCTA board, Looper said he would have at least some control of his own paycheck.

The commission chose to reappoint Moe after Looper spoke. He also co-owns the Best Western Deep Park Inn and Suites, giving the board two lodging representatives.

However, there still is some dispute as to whether she was right about Carwile's conflict of interest.

Christina Currie, executive director for the Craig Chamber of Commerce, which runs the Visitor Center where Carwile works, said he would have no such control whether or not he served with MCTA.

Carwile's salary is not dependent on MCTA funding, and he has no say in how the Chamber or Visitor Center spend money, Currie said.

She added that there was more of a conflict of interest for the MCTA board to be made up of mostly hotel, motel and lodge owners than for Carwile to be on the board.

"I think it's probably more of a conflict for members of the lodging industry to be on a board that tries to get more people to spend money to stay at their businesses than it would be for Terry to be on that board," Currie said.

MCTA spends taxpayer dollars to generate tourism, she said. Although she doesn't think the group has mismanaged its funds, Currie said it has chosen not to fund certain projects because they didn't generate overnight stays for local lodgers, and past board members also have requested funding for their own planned events while they were on the board.

Bridge closed for repairs

The commission voted, 3-0, to temporarily close the Browns Park swinging bridge for repairs up until May 31, 2010.

Moffat County road and bridge officials said the two main suspension cables that hold the bridge up have broken wires, and there is a fear that continued wear could cause the bridge to collapse.

Bill Mack, road and bridge director, said each cable contains 66 individual metal wires. About nine of the wires are visibly broken, though he cautioned it's impossible to tell how many wires inside the cable strands also have snapped.

It would only take 18 broken wires to void the bridge's 3-ton load designation, added Jeff Comstock, county natural resources department director.

Other officials added that state engineers consider one of the cables "pretty brittle," and their recommendation is to close it before it collapses.

The commission did not decide how to proceed with repairs, but it discussed various solutions such as bolstering the existing cables or replacing them with new ones.

Estimates brought up during the meeting ranged from $100,000 to $750,000.

The bridge will not be closed to everyone, however.

County resident T. Wright Dickinson, who attended the meeting, as well as any other landowners or government agencies who need access to the bridge for business reasons can cross with the condition each sign a liability waiver.

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