Second Moffat County NACo team determined | CraigDailyPress.com

Second Moffat County NACo team determined

Local Marketing District now tied in with coal workshop

Patrick Kelly

After weeks of uncertainty and a revolving list of names and emails, a new team has been formed to attend a second round of workshops for coal-reliant communities hosted by the National Association of Counties.

Representatives of Moffat County, the city of Craig and the town of Dinosaur will be participating in the NACo workshop Sept. 16 to 18 in Grand Junction.

The first NACo team, which began the conversation on economic diversification, has been dissolved.

Six county representatives were sent to Pikesville, Kentucky, in April to participate in the workshop supplemented by a $700 grant. The majority of the trip was paid for by the county, city, school district and hospital in sending their respective representatives.

The new NACo team will consist of Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe, Moffat County Finance Director Mindy Curtis, Craig City Manager Jim Ferree, Craig City Councilmembers Derek Duran and John Ponikvar and Dinosaur Mayor Richard Blakley.

Moe is the only one from the original team attending the second NACo workshop. Craig Mayor Ray Beck and Moe determined who would go to Grand Junction.

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Moe said team member selection was based on the proposal of forming a Local Marketing District, which would encompass Moffat County, Craig and Dinosaur and require a collaborative operating plan between the three entities.

On Monday, community leaders collected the required signatures to put the LMD on the ballot.

Even if the LMD isn't approved by a ballot vote in November, Moe said the team selection makes sense because the city and county have been responsible for most of the funding to pursue economic development.

Finalizing the second NACo team came with criticism from community leaders who originally were on the list to go to Grand Junction but later found they were removed from the team.

“Overall, we’ve just been confused by the process and the lack of communication and involvement,” said Christina Oxley, Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director.

A tentative lineup from mid-July showed Oxley, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership Director Audrey Danner and Moffat County Tourism Association Director Melody Villard as NACo team members.

On July 30, the three board directors received an email from Curtis, on behalf of the county, stating, "With the limited amount of representatives we can send we don't want to pick and choose amongst you, so to be equally fair we have decided to not have any of you attend in the NACo workshop as we need to include all areas of the LMD in the workshop."

Danner said she thinks she, Oxley and Villard could have contributed to the NACo team and she is concerned that the LMD is being conflated with the workshop.

"That's a funding practice that is not the job of the NACo team as I understood it," she said about the decision to choose members based on the LMD.

The LMD would create an additional 4 percent lodging if approved by voters. The funds collected from the tax could be used for promoting tourism, supporting business recruitment, management and development, and organizing public events.

Moffat County's original NACo consisted of Moe, Moffat County School District Superintendent Brent Curtice, Colorado Northwestern Community College President Russell George, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Board Chair Jay Oxley, Craig Mayor Ray Beck and The Memorial Hospital CEO John Rossfeld.

Acceptance to participate in the Pikeville session, like the Grand Junction one, included a $700 grant to help with costs.

After taking into account the grant, the county's expenses to send Moe to the first workshop were just over $1,000. The majority of the expenses came from the $556.50 flight to Kentucky, $577.82 in lodging and $115.86 on meals, according to county receipts.

The other participant's expenses were taken care of by their respective entities. According to the school district's credit card transactions for April, Curtice spent $467.16 on a hotel room in Pikeville.

The expenses for the Grand Junction trip are much lower. The county's biggest costs are two nights in a hotel for Moe and Curtis at $89 per room per night.

The $700 grant will be used to help facilitate Dinosaur's attendance and any dollars not used for that will go to Craig.

Moe said the expense to attend a second workshop is absolutely justifiable because of the opportunity to work with new teams from other counties and refine the county's plans for economic development.

"To me, it's a great investment," he said.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@craigdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

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