State of the County highlights Moffat County’s strengths | CraigDailyPress.com

State of the County highlights Moffat County’s strengths

Noelle Leavitt Riley

General Manager of Yampa Valley Electric Association Diane Johnson closes the State of the County event Wednesday night with an update on YVEA’s rebranding campaign — which incorporates their signature red color into their newly designed trucks — and the company’s efforts to improve efficiency in the coming years.





General Manager of Yampa Valley Electric Association Diane Johnson closes the State of the County event Wednesday night with an update on YVEA's rebranding campaign — which incorporates their signature red color into their newly designed trucks — and the company's efforts to improve efficiency in the coming years.
Noelle Leavitt Riley

— All of the big wigs in Northwest Colorado turned out for the ninth annual State of the County held Wednesday night, where a large number of speakers highlighted the energy industry and how it affects the local economy in Moffat County.

State of the County 2015 winners:

Small Business of the Year Winner:

Community Budget Center

Large Business of the Year Winner:

McDonald's

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Businessperson of the Year:

Jeremy Browning

KRAI Citizen of the Year:

Corrie Ponikvar

The Craig Chamber of Commerce hosts the event, and this year the theme was "An Inside Look at Moffat County Electrified."

Diane Johnson, general manager of Yampa Valley Electric Association, was the keynote speaker, highlighting some of the new business ideas and ventures the company is launching in Northwest Colorado.

Craig Mayor Terry Carwile was the first speaker, and kicked off the evening by recognizing the newly elected officials in Moffat County who were voted in last November, including Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume and Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe.

"We wish them every success," Carwile said, before diving into the work that community members and outside entities have put into boosting downtown Craig.

Carwile talked about a partnership that was formed last year between the city of Craig, the Department of Local Affairs, downtown business owners and the University of Colorado at Denver's Center for Community Development.

"The purpose of this partnership was to have the university's architecture students design potential facades to help revitalize the downtown business area," Carwile said.

He then dove into the city's financial situation, outlining that it's been tough navigating the recession — yet, the city came out roughly $20,000 ahead in 2014.

"We always formulate a conservative budget," he said.

He also spoke about the upcoming city election, pointing out that four council seats and a new mayor will be elected next month.

"I'm not running again. Ballots have been mailed. Please return them before 7 p.m. on April the 7th," Carwile said.

He also took a moment to show appreciation to those he's worked with over the years.

"Thanks to my colleagues on council, city staff and the citizens of Craig for their support during my 10 years on Craig City Council," he said.

Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid spoke next, saying that he's met with members of Congress and the United States Senate on how to keep Moffat County in the forefront of issues.

"I think it's important for our senators to come here, to see our clean coal-fired power plant and our responsible coalmines first hand," he said.

Craig Station Manager Rich Thompson and Twentymile Coal Company General Manager Pat Sollars also spoke.

Thompson highlighted that Craig Station has 310 employees and contributes nearly $10 million in tax revenue annually to the local economy. The power plant is currently working on many projects including $250 million in upgrades.

Sollars took the opportunity to talk about how the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan is a bad economic plan for America.

"The proposed rule to reduce CO2 in the power sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels takes over the U.S. electricity grid without being passed by Congress," he said. "It endangers human health by making electricity scarce and expensive."

Chamber board member Don Jones spoke about how Moffat County's unemployment rate in 2014 was only 3.2 percent.

"That's the lowest it's been for seven years," he said. "The number of construction jobs has increased over 24 percent since 2004. Colorado Northwestern Community College saw a 12 percent increase in enrollment in 2014."

He also noted that CNCC is the only community college in the U.S. that has a paleontology program where students will be able to dig up dinosaur bones this summer.

YVEA's Johnson closed the evening by highlighting facts and figures about the association, including its new logo: People, Pride, Power.

"Our employees are your neighbors," she said. "They care. That's different than larger utilities. We belong here and we're very proud to be a part of rural Colorado."

State of the County 2015 winners:

Small Business of the Year Winner:

Community Budget Center

Large Business of the Year Winner:

McDonald’s

Businessperson of the Year:

Jeremy Browning

KRAI Citizen of the Year:

Corrie Ponikvar

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