Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., partnered with four other western congressmen to introduce a piece of legislation, the Sage Grouse Protection and Conservation Act, on May 22 that would prevent sage grouse from being listed as threatened or endangered for ten years. This is the second time this session Congress members proposed this type of legislation as an effort to press agencies to rethink their approach to listing sage grouse species.
In all kinds of weather, any time of day, at any point in the year and across the 4,700-square-mile expanse of Moffat County, Search and Rescue responds to help stranded people. “We have a lot of backcountry, a lot of desolate, isolated country that may not be very rugged, but if something happens, you are not next door to somebody like in a city,” Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said.
Moffat County agencies and concerned residents teamed up to develop the area’s first-ever emergency plan for animals that will coordinate the Community Animal Response Team. Tom Soos, emergency management coordinator for Moffat County, said it was crucial to develop a plan to rescue and protect animals in emergency situations for the community. Moffat County has a large agricultural community but also sees a lot of traffic hauling livestock.
Three Colorado Northwestern Community College students were presented with the Bilodeau Academic Scholarship at the regular Craig City Council meeting Tuesday night. The scholarship, named after former Vice President for CNCC and former Craig City Council member Gene Bilodeau, is awarded to students who study or will study at CNCC.
The Moffat County Commissioner May 27 meeting recap.
Loudy-Simpson Park will see a small upgrade soon in the form of a new electronic sign. Moffat County commissioners voted Tuesday to purchase a full-digital, full-color electronic sign, 4.5 feet by 7.5 feet, for $13,491 to go up on the existing wooden sign at the entrance of Loudy-Simpson Park.
U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and U.S. Representative Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) introduced a piece of legislation that would stop sage grouse from being listed as endangered species for 10 years, and would mandate states develop and manager their own conservation efforts regarding the species.
Byron Willems, who has been president for the Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board for eight years, handed in his letter of resignation on Tuesday. The fire board officially asked for Willems’ resignation on May 15 at their monthly meeting. (Willems was not able to attend that meeting because he was traveling.) The request followed a tense election and a heated dispute between Willems and certain businesses in the community.
Issue could go to voters in November
Maybell resident Kris Brannan wants to grow and sell recreational marijuana. Her first hurdle for getting into the highly regulated industry is getting Moffat County on board. She brought a petition with about 450 signatures to the Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday night as part of an effort to compel them to repeal their ban on the growth and sales of retail pot.
About seven months ago, Craig’s Safeway store closed its doors for good. Another national chain store will be pulling out of the Craig market in August — Family Dollar will be shutting down. Net sales for the company dropped drastically compared to the first quarter in 2013 — from $2.9 billion to $2.7 billion, according to a press release sent out by Family Dollar.
The Moffat County Commissioner May 20 meeting recap.
Energy boom or bust? It all depends on what's found
Dorris and John Zimmerman have been living on their property just on the west edge of Craig for almost 40 years. The couple built their home in 1967 and raised their children there. In 1987, they welcomed an energy company on their land, allowing it to implement hydraulic fracturing as one means to extract gas and oil from the earth. The well has been there ever since, pulling energy resources out of the ground. In that time the Zimmermans said the well has seen at least three hydraulic fracturing efforts.
The Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board announced a change in leadership at their monthly meeting Thursday. Board member John Forgay will become the new president, and the board requested the resignation of standing president, Byron Willems.
The Craig City Council May 13 meeting recap.
Yampa Valley leaders worked together on an ongoing challenge facing the region: broadband access. Representatives from Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties met Tuesday in Craig with Nate Walowitz, regional broadband coordinator for Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, to catch him up on where the region is at with high speed internet.
The Craig Fire Board is facing heat again, but this time internally. Byron Willems, president of the Fire Board, used his Facebook page to encourage a boycott against certain businesses in town, creating an uproar that is leading board members to consider a no-confidence vote on his leadership.
The recap of the May 13 local government meetings.
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., made his way through the Yampa Valley on Monday, as part of his Colorado tour, to learn more about the issues facing the state and to share his plans in Congress. Tipton stopped in Steamboat Springs on Monday to discuss small business with F.M. Light & Sons and later hosted a town hall meeting in Craig.
The Moffat County Libertarians came together Saturday night to meet with candidates running for state and federal office. Craig resident Sacha Mero is running for House Representative Dsitrict 57, and her husband, Travis Mero, is running for Congressional District 3. The two are campaigning for smaller government and broader personal liberty.
With the onset of summer comes some exciting events at Loudy-Simpson Park. But due to a county project, some festivities will have to be adjusted. Loudy-Simpson pond long had been almost unusable. As of 2013, the pond was only about a foot and a half deep in its deepest parts. The county put together a $300,000 budget to get the pond at a good depth so people could use it to fish and float. After they pulled 40,000 yards of silt from the pond, it now is 10 to 12 feet deep. But the silt pulled out of the pond needed to go somewhere, and keeping cost in mind, the county hauled it — not to the landfill, which would have cost more initially and required a permit — and dumped it across the road from the pond on the on the grassy field in Loudy-Simpson Park.
Many Colorado sheriffs are re-evaluating their policy to hold inmates with questionable citizen status past their legal release date after the ACLU sent a letter in April highlighting the illegality of the practice. Most sheriffs honor requests by the federal agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security, to detain inmates who the agency wants to investigate.
Moffat County and Craig city officials hosted an informational meeting at the American Legion on Wednesday night to educate Shadow Mountain residents about the construction starting June 2 that will improve the subdivision. The $6.3 million project will take about four years to complete, but Phase 1 should wrap up Oct. 31. The upgrades will mean new water/sewer lines, roads, sidewalks and even streetlamps. The subdivision, built in 1972, was constructed with road and waterways only meant to last about 10 years. The first phase of the project will upgrade Aspen Street, the lower part of Cottonwood Street and parts of Maple Street. The work will go on from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days each week.
Three Craig Fire Board incumbents running against Bruce Timberg, a Craig resident who criticized the board, secured their seats for another four years Tuesday. Chris Nichols, John Forgay and Tony Maneotis ran against Timberg for four-year terms for the Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board. Board member Rodney Kowach was running, as well, but he was running uncontested for a two-year term since he was appointed to the position in 2013, after Alan Weber left.
The Moffat County Commissioner May 6 meeting recap.
Craig residents Sacha and Travis Mero are running for House Representative District 57 and for Congressional District 3, respectively. The married couple doesn’t anticipate easy wins, but they do want to get the message out about Libertarianism and challenge the two-party system. They both got the go-ahead at the Colorado Libertarian caucus in April and will be on the November ballot.
Elkhead Reservoir is closed to motorized boats until Memorial Day, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t finding other ways to address their itch to play in the water. Whitewater enthusiasts already are cruising on parts of the Yampa River, and other floaters are dipping their toes into the reservoir. But, while it’s warming up, people should remember to practice safe recreation, Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said.
Women in desperate need of a place to stay when they’re out a home, will have another option in Moffat County thanks to Yvette Davis and her husband who worked together to open a LOVE Mi. (Loyal Outreach Voluntary Evangelistic Ministry) women’s shelter. Yvette Davis has been on her own without a home before, and knows how meaningful it can be to have a place to stay while you get your feet under you. Originally from the Bahamas, Davis realized it was her dream to open a women’s shelter when, about 15 years ago, a LOVE Mi. shelter took her in. When she moved to Craig in 2012 to settle down, she didn’t give up on that dream.
Officials accept first bid for project
Moffat County and the City of Craig recently accepted a bid to start construction on the long anticipated $6.3 million Shadow Mountain improvement project — yet due to higher than expected costs, the concept could take four years instead of the proposed three. Ground breaks on the project June 2.
The Senior Center Action Group met Monday evening to grapple with a long-term challenge and goal of the community: setting up a senior center. Tammy Workman, member of the site committee for the senior center group, spoke at length about the locations the committee wanted to focus on. Primarily, the committee was interested in the Colorado Northwest Community College Bell Tower or the American Legion building. Workman highlighted the American Legion building as the location with the most potential: being one level, it was great for accessibility; it had a large common space for activities and meals; it already had a kitchen; it had office space and there was space to spread out. While it was older, it might be the best existing spot for a senior center, she said.
The Moffat County April 29 meeting recap.
Moffat County United Way took on an ambitious project in 2013: to confront poverty, one of the root challenges the area needs to overcome. “After we’d held our community conversations and really started looking at the results of those conversations, it occurred to us that poverty, or lack of opportunity, were creating the issues we had identified,” said Corrie Ponikvar, executive director of United Way.
Four seats on the Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board are up for election May 6. Three current board members — Chris Nichols, John Forgay and Tony Maneotis — are running for another four years up against a contester: Bruce Timberg. The three candidates who receive the most votes will get a seat. The fourth board member up for election is Rodney Kowach, who was appointed to the board in 2013 when Alan Weber left the position. He’s running unopposed.
Fredrick Hererra’s trailer home in Shadow Mountain was swallowed in flames Friday afternoon. Herrera and his dog were able to get out of the burning trailer unharmed, but his home at 1265 Sequoia Ave. was gutted by the fire.
This was the first time most of them read poetry in front of an audience that wasn’t their classroom. But, the winners of the Carol Jacobson Memorial Poetry Contest — a writing competition for Craig Middle School (CMS) eighth graders — paced themselves, enunciated, hit the right cadence and proudly presented their own poems.
The recaps for the April 22 Moffat County Commissioner meeting and City Council meeting.
Advocates Crisis Support Services, a Craig organization that aids victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, is recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month by encouraging business to celebrate Denim Day today. The non-profit suggested businesses across the community allow their employees to wear jeans for Denim Day to address the problem of sexual assault and victim blaming, said Sharon Farquhar, executive director of Advocates.
Moffat County has long thrived because of the energy industry — the economic foundation of the community nearly inseparable from its culture. Tourism organizations are looking to highlight that energy history. Nancy Kramer, program coordinator for the Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Tourism Project (NWCCHT), partnered with community tourism entities across the state to develop cultural heritage tourism and create an energy trail route as part of her effort to exemplify that particular brand of tourism.
On average, five people each year in Moffat County will take their own lives, said Ronna Autrey, executive director of Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide. Those suicide deaths have a widespread impact, devastating loved ones, friends and co-workers, she said.
With the weather warming, and the snow melted, people are getting to enjoy outdoor recreation again. One of these activities is shed hunting, which Wendy Reynolds, manager for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Little Snake Field Office, said can either be good family fun, or a destructive sport. In early spring, deer and elk start shedding their antlers. This is a prime time for people seeking antlers to find the trophies as they are scattered all across the public land. But, while this is an activity the BLM widely supports, some people are approaching it without considering the impact on the land, Reynolds said.
The recap for the April 15 Moffat County commissioners meeting.
Craig City Council decided to invest money in a project that could help downtown business owners brighten up their storefronts. The project is be a partnership between the city of Craig and the University of Colorado, Denver to develop design concepts for downtown Craig, particularly on Yampa Avenue. City Council voted, 6-0 (Craig City Council member Joe Bird was not in attendance), to use $1,900 of the contingency funds to pay for the concepts.
During the weekend, nearly 20 Moffat County voters took part in the election process by heading to Denver for the Republican State Assembly. The Moffat County delegates attended the district and state assemblies to help determine which Republican candidates would make it onto the June primary.
The controversial gun laws passed in 2013 are now under consideration by a federal judge. After a two-week-long trial, people on either side of the gun debate anxiously await the result. The restrictions — which, among other things, would limit magazine capacity — are an infringement on Second Amendment rights, Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said.
Four pieces of legislation that would amend the Endangered Species Act faced a House Natural Resources committee hearing Tuesday. These bills would boost the transparency of agencies that list species as threatened or endangered and would change the litigation process regarding the ESA. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., attended the hearing and defended the legislation, saying that the ESA, which is more than 40 years old, is due for an update.
The Rotary Club of Craig took a break from its regular community service projects and fundraising to host a mixer Thursday night. “Rotary is a community organization, focused on how to make our community even better than it already is,” said Rotarian Sue Goodenow, who will become the club’s president come summer.
About 20 Moffat County voters are spending their weekend in Denver to take part in the democratic process. Delegates for the assembly were selected early in the election process at the Moffat County Republican caucuses in early March. Then, at the county assembly in March, those numbers were narrowed to 19 delegates and two alternatives who would head to the mid-April district and state assemblies.
United Way makes a point to annually honor residents who give back to the community with its Volunteer of the Year award. This year, the organization recognized Robin Schiffbauer, who among other things, volunteers for the community kitchen at St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
About 170 pinwheels are spinning gently in front of McDonald’s. The pinwheel garden, planted by local volunteers organized by Connection 4 Kids, is an effort to raise awareness about child abuse. Each pinwheel represents a child born in Craig in 2013, and the spinning mass is meant to make people consider the children they ought to look out for.
An overview of the April 8 Craig City Council meeting.
Decked out in lab coats and hard hats, carrying questionnaires and pens, high school students carefully eyed various cuts of meat Monday afternoon. They were scribbling against the clock, evaluating retail-packaged meat for type and quality. When their time was up with the retail section, the group of students spun around to confront hunks of cattle and hog carcasses.