The Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors appointed KC Hume as Fire Chief in December. Hume has been acting as interim fire chief since former Fire Chief Bill Johnston announced his effective-immediately retirement in October. Hume said he is excited to take on the position.
Getting everyone vaccinated is in the best interest of the community, said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, adviser to the immunization section of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. So the department is considering removing “personal beliefs” as a reason parents can exempt their children from getting standard vaccinations for diseases such as measles and chickenpox.
In February 2013, Moffat County passed a yearlong moratorium on recreational marijuana sales and Craig City Council followed in August, unanimously passing their own ban. Since the county’s moratorium is up, county commissioners are working on a permanent ordinance that would ban recreational sales. The commissioners heard the first reading of the ban in December and will vote on it in an upcoming meeting. While it is legal to grow, smoke, consume and even drink marijuana products in the privacy of your own home in Moffat County, because of the city and county’s bans residents cannot open a shop.
Gov. John Hickenlooper saw standing ovations from both sides of the aisle for his State of the State speech Thursday. He led the speech with a look at the improving Colorado’s economy. “In 2010 this state was ranked 40th in the nation,” he said. “Now three years later, Colorado is the fourth fastest job growth state in the country.”
The new owners of the Clarion Inn & Suites, formally the Holiday Inn, hosted a meet and greet with the community Wednesday night at the hotel. Wine and appetizers were on hand as the hotel owner Sholom Jacobs, principal at New York-based Jacobs Real Estate Advisors, mingled with local business leaders and government officials for the first time.
The Colorado State Legislature opened at 10 a.m. Wednesday for the first day of the 2014 session. The Senate started with the swearing-in of the second female senate president in Colorado history, Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora. She made a call for unity in the legislature – noting the tensions of 2013, but pressing for a more collaborative year.
The Craig hotel formerly known as the Holiday Inn officially will be branded as a Clarion Inn & Suites.
The steering committee for an economic development project met for the first time Tuesday. Community leaders got together to hone a vision for a better Downtown Craig. “I have an extreme interest in trying to save this town,” said Karen Brown, president of the Downtown Business Association and lead of the steering committee. Downtown Colorado Inc. performed an assessment on Craig’s downtown and business community in spring 2013 and presented the report in December.
Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz passionately defends gun rights, but he will no longer be taking part in the lawsuit challenging controversial gun-restriction laws passed in 2013. It wasn’t his choice. “We’re still named but we’re not a part of the actual suit,” Jantz said.
State Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, spent the day in Craig on Friday. He visited the community to share his vision for the 2014 legislative session, which convenes Wednesday. His plea to residents of rural Colorado was to stay involved with state politics. “Because you’re remote, because you’re energy dependent, because you’re west, people know who you are. We need to use that,” he said. “Rural Colorado — western Colorado — is so outnumbered that we need to stand up. I want people to get more involved in state issues.”
Looking back on the past year, the staff of the Craig Daily Press has compiled the following list of some of the top stories of 2013 for Craig and Moffat County. Some topics are ongoing, some have had effects on state and national levels, but all have been significant to Northwest Colorado.
Effective Jan. 1, the minimum wage in Colorado will increase by 22 cents per hour. That means minimum wage employees will be paid $8 per hour while tipped minimum wage employees will be paid $4.98 per hour. This wage raise in accordance with the state constitution that requires the wage be adjusted with inflation.
Shirley Seely retired from her position as city clerk and personnel director Dec. 20. She’s held her position with the city for 31 years, but said she was now ready for retirement. “I’ve worked a long time; most of my life,” she said. “Now I’ve got to find something else to do, but it’s going to be good.”
Matt Herschberg grew up in Craig, and while now in school at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, he still considers himself shaped by the community. As a teenager he experienced bullying and tragedy: both pushing him to do something proactive.
Horizons Specialized Services is reaching out to Moffat County for their annual Little Points of Campaign. They sent out requests for donation Dec. 1 and will end the campaign Jan. 15. The fundraiser directs money from community donations to Horizons’ early intervention and family support programs. “The money is going directly to families,” said Susan Mizen, director of Horizons.
Water and wastewater rates are likely increasing in Craig starting Jan. 1. Craig City Council did their first reading of an ordinance Dec. 10 that would permit the city to raise water rates by about six percent and wastewater rates by about 12 percent. The average water use fee for residents is approximately $55 a month and $20 for wastewater, said Craig City Manager Jim Ferree.
Susan Domer is a food geek. She has the gadgets: crocks, a dehydrater, pressure cooker, slow-cooker and is always looking to start up a new food project. She preserves, ferments, cans, candies, but most of all, she plays. She calls herself the “mad scientist in the kitchen.”
Kim Shreeve, child and family advocate for Advocates Crisis Support Services, moved from Salt Lake City to Craig in March. She admits the change came with some culture shocks. Some of those shocks had to do with the weather; getting used to mud season and enduring sub-zero temperatures that made her reconsider her wardrobe.
EAGLE-Net Alliance Regional Representative Dave Kavanaugh released a statement declaring that broadband fibers put in place in Craig are lit up and ready for use. “EAGLE-Net is open for business to provide broadband services to government entities, Internet service providers and telecommunication carriers in Craig,” Kavanaugh said in a statement. “The providers and carriers are in the best position to take advantage of the EAGLE-Net open access middle-mile and help improve broadband in Moffat County to areas outside of Craig.”
The Community Budget Center has been a helping hand in Craig since 1980. It’s been a local resource for people who fell on hard times and also the only nonprofit thrift store in town. Since then, it’s expanded and changed locations, but the mission to help the community has remained strong.
Mathers’ Bar invites the entire community of Moffat County to come down and share food and conversation. Tom Mathers, owner of Mathers’ Bar, is happy to continue the tradition. “I love doing it. It’s our gift to the community,” he said.
Tracey Lathrop, a clinician at Mindsprings Health, said one of the most important things to do when facing depression is to reach out. “Reach out and somebody will reach back. That’s probably one of the biggest things,” Lathrop said. “Even if you don’t feel like it, go out or join a group or get online.”
As a community, Craig has had its ups and downs. A new committee wants to find a positive solution to fight the downs.
Rural and urban communities need to band together to create a healthy economy. “The state and the future of our state is really linked to our rural and urban issues,” he said.
Craig said goodbye to a prominent community leader on Tuesday. Gene Bilodeau, vice president of Community College of Northwest College and city councilman, accepted a new position in Rapid City, South Dakota, as the executive director of their University Center. He and his wife will be making the drive north Saturday, he said.
Downtown Colorado Inc. made a stop in Craig on Tuesday to go over an assessment that that had been conducted in March. Katherine Correll, executive director of Downtown Colorado Inc., said this was an opportunity to get big players in town on board with planning to boost the economy in Craig’s downtown.
Colorado was the scene of yet another school shooting on Friday, and the librarian targeted used to teach in Craig. A student gunmen, Karl Pierson, came into Arapahoe High School in Littleton with a shotgun, demanding one teacher present himself: Tracy Murphy. Pierson shot a 17-year-old student, Claire Esther Davis before turning the gun on himself, taking his own life. Davis is in a coma, according to The Denver Post.
Recycling hasn’t changed much in Craig during the past 13 years. But last summer, Craig recycling expanded the plastics it accepts, said Rod Durham, solid waste department crew supervisor for the Road and Bridge Department.
Shadow Mountain subdivision will see some much-needed improvements to its water/sewer system and roads with the help of funding from a Department of Local Affairs Grant. Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe received a letter notifying him of the DOLA grant approval Thursday. “We’ve been working on this so long and so hard, especially this year. It feels like baby steps, but now it really feels good to complete this project,” Grobe said.
Craig lost a devoted community member, William Kole Nielson, on Wednesday in a car crash on U.S. Highway 40 about 1 mile east of Hayden. His family is still reeling from the loss.
Leroy Fief, 49, of Craig, was sentenced to 30 years in prison, one year after he stabbed Shane Arredondo to death.
The Moffat County budget will be a bit tighter in 2014 than it was in 2013. “Basically, we’re just going down 4.11 percent. It is a 3.4 million dollar decrease from last year,” Moffat County Finance Director Mindy Curtis said.
The daily cops roundup and jail report.
The home of Tracey and Steve Lathrop was engulfed in flames Saturday morning. Nobody was injured, but the mobile home was destroyed.
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck is campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat, and made a visit to Craig Friday afternoon. It was an opportunity for voters to get to know Buck and see his stance on national issues that could affect Northwest Colorado. Buck will be challenging Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in the 2015 election. He was direct about his feelings on his opponent.
Even with sub-zero temperatures freezing Craig, philanthropy won out. Volunteers for the 15th annual KRAI and 55 Country Holiday Drive solicited donations outside the Centennial Mall from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday. Many stayed outside nearly the entire first day of the drive. It paid off.
Downtown Craig looks ready for the holiday season. Two local businesses moved to downtown in the fall for better visibility, and a new salon opened up in the area.
Ken Buck, Weld County district attorney, is running for U.S. Senate and will be making a stop in Craig on the campaign trail Friday. He started planning his trip the last week in November and but made his visit to Craig official Tuesday, said Brandi Meek, Moffat County chairwoman of the republican committee. “We’re really excited for the candidates for the (Senate) to visit,” she said.
The Craig branch of the Bank of Colorado welcomed its new president, Joshua Johnson, on Nov. 1. He has been settling into town nicely. Johnson has worked with the Bank of Colorado in its Estes Park location since 2010, but got a promotion and transfer when the former Craig Bank of Colorado president, Alisa Corey, left her position.
Nestled on the east side of Craig, the Luttrell Barn is practically empty. It hasn’t hosted an event in years — and it possibly won’t ever again. Built in 1904, the barn has been moved, renovated and now faces some difficult questions. Moffat County owns the structure, and it is up to county commissioners to decide whether they want to put a hefty sum of cash toward fixing it up, or if they should let it go: to be demolished or handed over to the Wyman Living History Museum.
Getting high-speed Internet to rural Colorado has been an ongoing issue since the Internet was invented. Audrey Danner, interim director of Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, laughed when she recalled the efforts she and other county leaders took to expand telephone networks in the region in 1996. “We called it high-speed telecommunication back then,” she said.
Gov. John Hickenlooper is coming to Craig on Monday. As part of a tour of western Colorado, the governor will be stopping at Colorado Northwestern Community College for a town hall meeting. He will provide a short presentation on some pressing issues, and then turn it back to Moffat County, said Reeves Brown Executive Director of the Department of Local Affairs. Hickenlooper’s trip to was spurred by “more than one request for the governor to visit Moffat County,” Eric Brown, director of communications for the governor, said in an email.
Moffat County Undersheriff Charlene Abdella announced her bid to run for Moffat County sheriff in the 2014 election on Tuesday. “I would like the opportunity to continue to serve the citizens of Moffat County and do hereby announce my intent to run for the office of sheriff,” Abdella said in a statement. That makes her the first woman to run for Moffat County Sheriff. Her undersheriff would be Lieutenant KC Hume.
A mink farm that’s been under pressure in the past week was denied a conditional use permit by Moffat County commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. The farmers pursued the permit even after their farm was raided by an unidentified individual or group. The Moffat County Sheriff’s Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating the incident. All of the farmers’ mink were set free in the raid, and although many were recaptured, all are useless as breeding stock. They can only be sold for their pelts. That decreases the price of the mink from more than $250,000 to about $10,000, the farmers said. In an anonymous e-mail, the Earth Liberation Front alleged it perpetrated the act and praised the individual or individuals who carried it out.
A controversial mink farm in Moffat County may be out of business because an unidentified person or group released the animals from their cages Thursday. The Moffat County Sheriff's Department currently is investigating the issue, so it couldn’t release many details, but it was certain that this was an intentional act, Cpl. Alec Brown said. “We know that some mink were purposefully released,” Brown said.
The Museum of Northwest Colorado is debuting its remodel, artifacts and a brand-new train diorama for Railroad Day on Thursday, which happens to be the 100th anniversary of when the railroad came to Craig. Community members can explore the museum’s new digs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, and the Craig Chamber of Commerce will host a mixer that day from 5 to 7 p.m.
A mink farm is causing controversy in Moffat County. A group of farmers brought a proposal before Moffat County commissioners Tuesday to re-establish their mink farm in a new location. The mink farm currently is in the Western Knolls subdivision, an agricultural community about 8 miles west of Craig. But community members next to the existing mink farm and near the proposed site spoke against the proposal and requested that commissioners deny the farmers a conditional permit.
Healthcare in America is changing. Healthcare.gov, the Affordable Care Act website, launched Oct. 1 and has received criticism for not being user-friendly and packed with glitches. Regardless of the deficiencies of the website and the law, it has changed the insurance market and what existing government healthcare programs can provide to whom. Because of the Affordable Care Act, about 750 Moffat County adult residents will become newly eligible for Medicaid. Also, Medicare will offer more preventative coverage for free and cheaper prescription options for people who are spending about $3,000 on their medication per year.
Two people who had been charged with Felony 3 charges of distributing methamphetamine accepted plea bargains last week to avoid long-term incarcerations. Shelly Boyer, of Craig, accepted a 20-year sentence on Wednesday in lieu of facing a jury trial where she could be handed a 176-year sentence. Her husband Robert Boyer had plead guilty in September and accepted a plea deal where he took a 20-year sentence instead of 64 years.
Christina and Kevin Oxley’s home was devastated by a fire on Sunday evening after a blaze — started by their back-porch grill — quickly spread to their second story and destroyed their house within about 30 minutes. Now the family of five is trying to piece their lives back together, and their friends and community are trying to help. The couple has three young daughters.