Southwestern Energy active in Moffat County | CraigDailyPress.com

Southwestern Energy active in Moffat County

Patrick Kelly

Karen Maneotis and Rod Ellis from Southwestern Energy serve hot stew at St. Michael's Community Kitchen on Thursday as part of their "Week of Giving."

Coal has been a hot topic in Northwest Colorado lately, but don't forget about Moffat County's intimate relationship with the oil and gas industry.

On Tuesday, the Moffat County Board of Commissioners renewed a 400-acre mineral lease with Southwestern Energy that brings $80,000 immediately into the county with the prospect of receiving 18.75 percent of profits on the lease if it is developed.

Jeff Comstock, Moffat County Natural Resources Department director, said the leasing bonus is far less than what the county would have received during the 2010 leasing frenzy.

"We got up to $2,500 an acre for a bonus payment," Comstock said. "(Tuesday) we signed a lease for $200 an acre bonus payment."

The royalty rate is the real moneymaker, Comstock said. However, the vast majority of leases in Moffat County go undeveloped.

Regardless, the $80,000 check from Southwestern provides valuable funds to important governmental entities like the Moffat County School District.

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And that is not the only way Southwestern is impacting the Craig community.

As a part of its "Week of Giving" Southwestern employees were serving up hot and hearty lamb stew at St. Michael's Community Kitchen on Thursday. The company provided all the ingredients and manpower. Participation was not required from employees but there was no lack of volunteers.

Danny Ferguson, vice president of government and community relations for Southwestern, said that being engaged in the community is part of his company's philosophy.

"I think you'll see that it's actually a culture in our company, not just a one day a year event," he said.

Gail Severson, a regular volunteer, said it was great to have Southwestern's help and the kitchen certainly needed it.

The Community Kitchen serves about 150 people each day free of charge, including meals delivered to homebound residents. Meals are served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursdays.

Consistent volunteers are in high demand, Severson said.

For more information or to sign up to volunteer, call Robin Schiffbauer at 970-824-7148 or 970-629-8042.

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

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