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Audacious faith, gift from Kum & Go, to bring Craig family together in Malawi, Africa

CRAIG — Over the years, many a mission has originated from Moffat County, as residents of a relatively small community with a big heart seek to make the world a better place.

For about two years, local resident Teneil Jayne has served the people in a county known as the Warm Heart of Africa — one of the poorest nations on earth, Malawi, Africa — as a non-denominational missionary.

She has returned to the United States once in the past two years. In April, for the first time, her parents — Tarryn and Tim Jayne, also of Craig — will visit their daughter in Africa.

Tarryn, left, and Teneil Jayne shared a rare international phone call and tears of joy when they learned Kum & Go would be sending the Jayne to visit Teneil in Malawi, Africa.

"I won! I won the essay contest! I'm coming to Africa and bringing your dad!" Tarryn wrote to Teneil on Facebook just before Christmas.

Tarryn, who works at Kum & Go, is the 2019 winner of the company's Denis N. Folden award.

Folden, a former Kum & Go chief operating officer, donated his retirement bonus to fund an annual award of $5,000 and 10 days paid time off to allow one employee to fulfill a long desired self-development dream, such as traveling to a foreign country, serving or volunteering with a charity, or pursuing a physical challenge.

Employees are selected based on a short, 400-word, essay describing their self-development dream.

"Tarryn's heartfelt essay led to her being chosen as this year's winner. That's due, in part, to the fact that the experience she wants to pursue is to assist a nonprofit organization, Living Out Loud, founded by her daughter, Teneil Jayne, in Malawi, Africa," wrote Amy Day, senior communications specialist.

Kum & Go owner Kyle J. Krause, son and grandson of the original founders, called Tarryn the Friday before Christmas to tell her she had won.

News of the gift prompted Tarryn to make a rare, costly international phone call to Teneil.

"I don’t know what to say other than THANK YOU Mr. Krause! Thank you for caring about family values! Thank you for caring about your employees!" Teneil wrote on her Facebook page.

Planning is now underway for "an adventure of a lifetime," Tarryn said, an adventure the Jaynes wouldn't have contemplated without Kum & Go's backing.

"Maybe if I'd sold a vehicle. It's not a place in my wildest dreams to go. When it became possible, I thought, look, I can dream that big," Tarryn said.

Travel to Malawi is time-consuming and costly, as is postage, so when the Jaynes leave Craig in April, they plan to make the most of the 200-pound total baggage limit by stuffing four suitcases full of items to leave behind.

April is the beginning of Malawi's cold season.

"We are talking about a fleece blanket drive to take some children's blankets. Many don't have blankets at all, and many sleep on the ground," Tarryn said.

A group of parishioners at the Journey Church in Craig are helping gather items and welcome help. Or, Tarryn says, people who wish tmay donate cash through the Living Out Loud, Inc. website.

"Even if you can't give, give prayer," Terryn said.

Faith and service run in the family.

Teneil's grandfather was a pastor, her uncles are pastors, and she has cousins who are missionaries. Her brother, Talon, serves in the military.

Teneil also has a heart for Craig and the struggles of her hometown.

"I consider my missions field to be America, specifically Craig, Colorado. It might seem like a strange way to go about it, but my heart is to inspire my own culture into faith and relationship with God," she wrote in an interview conducted via Facebook Messenger. "I want to show what audacious faith can do. I want to show people that love doesn’t have to be a side effect; love is the point."

She asked her mother, "Who would listen to me here if I didn't go do what I do there?"

By April "funding permitted," Teneil hopes to be "neck deep" in designing and building a school for children in first through eighth grade.

"… But that’s just a dream today,” she wrote. “Then again, I live out my dreams every day.”

Planning for the new school is underway, and Teneil has begun to outline her expectations, which include the following:

• 100 percent of the funds she puts into the building are to be matched by the school to provide scholarships for students.

• The building must include a public bookstore.

• The design is to include a community center open to the public and to be used for after-school programs, such as dance, theater, music, and book clubs.

"This will take thousands of dollars. I haven’t nailed it down yet, but I’m thinking close to $12,000 to open the doors, and with all that money going back into scholarships, this is going to exceedingly bless this entire community," Teneil wrote. "I want to make this school a haven, a place that encourages students to read, question, play, and thrive. I believe that we can do this."

Tarryn is looking forward to "helping the people whereever I can help. To be a part of her journey is going to be great."

"I’ve been here alone for a long time. When I visit America, it’s like living in two completely different worlds. Having my parents here will join those two worlds a bit," Teneil said. "It’s not an easy life here. There are so many challenges to face on my own, but there are so many times I wish I could hug my parents. Now, I’m going to be able to!

Learn more about Living Out Loud, Inc. by visiting teneiloutloud.com or following Teneil Jayne on Facebook at facebook.com/teneil.jayne.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

The cat’s meow: Western Slope entrepreneur couple pitch feline products on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’

For the second time in two months, entrepreneurs from the Roaring Fork Valley will peddle their products on ABC TV’s “Shark Tank” show.

Emma residents Nikki Linn and Rusty Niedwick were on the reality show Sunday night to pitch pet products they are already selling as Kitty Kasas.

“They’re sort of like Legos for cats,” said Linn. Except these Legos are designed for the cats to sleep and play in.

Three entrepreneurs with connections to the valley appeared on “Shark Tank” in December with a ski tote product.

Linn and Niedwick are big in rescuing cats from kill shelters and other predicaments. Until recently, they ran their ARMI Foundation in Florida for about 20 years. While running their shelter, they realized that carpet-covered scratch pads and cardboard boxes just didn’t cut it for their felines. They got destroyed or, even worse, got soiled and created the potential to spread disease. So Niedwick came up with the idea of using durable and cleanable plastic boxes about the size of milk crates in their shelter.

Some of the colorful crates are designed for cats to snooze in. Others are geared toward recreation.

“They’re fun for cats and easy to clean,” Niedwick said.

They fitted their shelter with the crates in fall 2013 and immediately had cat people asking how they could get some. That enticed them into the manufacturing and sales business, which has had its up and downs. Kitty Kasas is a big enough operation that it is difficult for them to oversee but it’s small enough that it has no leverage with big retailers. Their profit margin gets squeezed. They thought they struck a deal with a European manufacturer for distribution on a large scale about four years ago, but said the company ended up just stealing their idea and tweaking it enough to avoid copyright infringement.

While they didn’t intend to make Kitty Kasas into a company, it’s allowed them to maintain and expand their mission to rescue cats, Linn said. She jokes that Rusty makes the money selling Kasas and she spends it on the kitties.

In a perfect scenario, they would turn the venture over to a large company and use royalties to continue the cat-saving side, they said. That led them to an open audition for “Shark Tank” last spring.

They showed up bright and early at the location in the California desert thinking they would be among the first people there. They discovered the line stretched for blocks down the street. Linn, who is generous with her smile and easy to talk to, said they enjoyed meeting other hopefuls.

“It was fascinating,”she said, “a little slice of America.”

They had mixed emotions on how they would fare.

“We went into it thinking we don’t have a chance,” Niedwick said.

On the other hand, according to Linn, they felt, “We won’t be boring.”

They are ex-bikers who met in Sturgis, South Dakota, the biking capital of the U.S. They both have ample numbers of tattoos. They both exceed six feet in height. And while they are both very pleasant, there’s just a hint of badass in them.

With those qualities combined with their pitching of colorful kitty products, they were bound to draw attention.

“Tattoos and cats, you can’t go wrong,” Linn said with a laugh.

They had 90 seconds to make their mark on five “Shark Tank” producers. All the producers are looking for in that brief audition is, “will they do well on TV,” Niedwick said.

They passed with flying colors.

They were filmed in June in a segment that includes a motorcycle and demonstrates the durability of their products. Beyond that, they can’t let the cat out of the bag, so to speak.

Regardless of what the appearance means to the future sales of Kitty Kasas, they will continue saving cats. They are building a barn in Emma, just off Highway 82 and downvalley from the old Emma brick store. The red roof is visible over an earthen berm.

Linn has part of the barn designed to serve as a place where she will be boarding cats and getting them in shape for adoption through the existing shelters in the valley. The other half of the barn will be a workshop for Niedwick.

When asked what would be the best-case scenario from appearing on “Shark Tank,” Niedwick replied, “We get good exposure and blow through some inventory. We’re going to have 9 million people see it Sunday night.”

They’re hoping to be the cat’s meow.

String of internet outages keeps Craig business operations tied up

CRAIG — In today's global economy, it's not always easy owning and operating a small business in a rural mountain town like Craig.

It's even harder without reliable internet.

In the past year, area residents and businesses have suffered through multiple bouts of internet outages — some lasting more than 24 hours — and these service interruptions have real effects on the local economy.

Liane Davis-Kling is owner of Downtown Books — a small coffee shop and book emporium offering free Wi-Fi to passersby. Usually, her small dining area is dotted with laptops and customers drinking fresh coffee. But Davis-Kling said in the days following Christmas, an internet outage forced her to conduct business on a cash-only basis, and she was unable to order books online for at least two customers until internet returned.

"It was irritating," Davis-Kling said.

Another Craig company, Chaos Ink, is especially dependent on the internet for its deadline-oriented printing business. Owner Jeremy Browning said he has eight full-time employees and will celebrate 15 years in business in May, but his business has been stopped cold more than a few times this past year.

"We grind to a halt over here when we don't have internet," he said.

Luckily, Browning has been able to improvise to meet printing deadlines, employing an internet hotspot through his cellphone carrier in the days following Christmas.

"We were running the whole front end of my shop off a hot spot …" Browning said. "But when you've got five computers and a printer connected to that thing, it slows things down for sure. But if it wasn't for that, we would have been DOA, man. We had stuff that had to be done that day on the web. We were in trouble. It was tough."

Browning said he has taken steps to be better prepared for internet outages, including making sure his business phone lines, which are also tied to his internet service, are forwarded directly to his cellphone in case the internet goes kaput.

The outages have also forced Browning to consider leaving a large company, like Spectrum, for a local internet service provider, such as Zirkel Wireless or High Rapid Networks.

"All it's gonna take is another big outage like that, and I'm gonna be shopping around, for sure," Browning said.

Chris Trower, 30, is co-founder of High Rapid Networks — a newer, local internet service provider based in Craig for the past two years. Trower said High Rapid Networks siphons customers from large internet service providers every time there's an outage.

"It actually boomed our business," Trower said. "We had a lot of calls from people wanting to switch providers because we were one of the only ones still up. I don't think Zirkel was affected, either. We were up and had a lot of sales calls and a lot of installs."

Trower said he's picked up between 50 and 100 new customers in the past few months from people leaving a larger internet provider due to outage issues.

"That was apparent," Trower said. "A lot of them were coming to us because we were still up. They needed internet as soon as possible."

Fighting for better internet in Craig

Many in the Craig community have fought for more reliable internet over the years. Most recently, the Moffat County Broadband Initiative was close to securing federal and state funding for municipal-owned internet infrastructure feeding the city of Craig. MCBI’s plans included 14.7 miles of middle-mile fiber infrastructure serving 38 community anchor institutions in Craig, as well as the buildout of a Meet Me Center.

Moffat County Broadband Initiative and Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) officials pose for a photo following a grant presentation to the State Advisory Committee on Nov. 7 in Burlington. Pictured, from left, are Craig City Manager Peter Brixius, DOLA Regional Manager Kimberly Bullen, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Michelle Perry, DOLA Executive Director Irv Halter, Craig City Councilman Derek Duran, Yampa Valley Electric Association CEO Steve Johnson, Mammoth Networks Vice President of Colorado Operations Evan Biagi, DOLA Regional Manager Greg Winkler and Craig Mayor John Ponikvar.

A joint effort involving several local community anchor institutions, MCBI was led by the city, Moffat County, and Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership. In addition to those three entities, Memorial Regional Health, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Moffat County School District, and Moffat County Local Marketing District were also part of the effort.

After almost securing the grants needed to build a faster internet system in Craig, business and government leaders put the brakes on any municipal-owned internet infrastructure in November, when Yampa Valley Electric Association announced it would build a similar network.

YVEA CEO Steve Johnson explained the cooperative intends to offer the same open-access network MCBI had planned, while including similar middle-mile infrastructure and fiber extending to entities and residences that sign up for service.

“We have similar interests to the city of Craig — to serve our member organizations, businesses, and residents. This project falls in line with our mission of providing critical infrastructure to our members,” Johnson said. “The work done through the Moffat County Broadband Initiative — with the city of Craig, Moffat County, and CMEDP at the helm — acted as a catalyst for us to enter the broadband space, as many electric cooperatives across the country are doing. The collaboration within the community is making this buildout possible.”

Bryan Curtis, vice president of information technology at Memorial Regional Health, was among those intimately involved in the fight for better internet in Craig due to spotty internet at the hospital.

"We've had times when there's an outage, and we've had to reschedule appointments because we don't have access to the (records) to be able to treat those patients," Curtis said. "It definitely has been a hardship and impacted our ability to serve patients from time to time."

Curtis has become very familiar with internet service capabilities in Northwest Colorado and wants to see greater competition when it comes to reliable internet.

"One of the major challenges has been really the primary vendor in and out of Craig was CenturyLink, which runs east through Steamboat and eventually curls down to Denver," Curtis said. "That line just hasn't been stable, and it hasn't been reliable — I'm sure for a number of reasons on CenturyLink's end that I can't really speak to, because they never give us the details of what the failures are."

The Craig Press reached out to CenturyLink for information about the cause of any service interruptions during the past year, whether customers were reimbursed for interruptions, and what CenturyLink is doing to keep Craig's internet constant.

A spokesperson said in an email the company knows about Craig's internet troubles.

"We are aware of reports of network issues in Craig, Colo., and are investigating the matter," wrote CenturyLink spokesperson Francie Dudrey in the email.

CenturyLink did not respond to additional queries.

The problems with CenturyLink led Curtis to establish several redundant sources of internet to avoid more headaches.

"We've tried to leverage just about every available technology that's here to have as much redundancy as possible," Curtis said. "It's gotten better in the last little while with Mammoth and Visionary and some others moving into the area, but for a good while, it was a real struggle."

If Craig can secure fast, reliable fiber-level internet, Curtis is convinced the city can diversify its economy from a dependence on the more established coal and oil industries.

"I realize that energy is a huge boon here, but there's been some challenges in the last few years from government that should show folks maybe that won't always be something this area could hang their hat on," Curtis said. "If that's the case, we need to make sure we can continue to provide services to this community, and to survive, I think we have to look at other ways to diversify the economy. I think technology is one of the best ways to do that. If you look at almost any major industry these days, technology plays a major roll in it. So, I think taking the perception of 'we don't need that' is a little bit backwards when it comes to keeping this area viable."

Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or cthorp@craigdailypress.com.

Marijuana back on Craig City Council agenda for Tuesday

CRAIG — Less than a week after its recreational marijuana legalization petition failed to gain enough signatures, the Committee to Grow Craig isn't giving up and has secured a place on the Craig City Council’s agenda for its upcoming meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22.

According to the council agenda, released Friday, council members will "consider a request by the Committee to Grow Craig for the city council to adopt an ordinance to refer a question for the April 2, 2019, election to allow recreational marijuana sales and production."

If agreed to by council, the move would essentially circumvents the need for another possible 739-signature drive by the Committee to Grow Craig to put the question of recreational legalization on the ballot.

Paul James, who helped spearhead the signature drive for recreational legalization, is one of two candidates who've officially handed in their petitions to run for Craig City Council in the April 2 municipal election. The other is Mayor John Ponikvar. This means at least two city council seats are currently open to any eligible resident of Craig.

The following items are also on the city council agenda for Tuesday:

• A brief presentation by the Craig Association of Realtors on the magazine "On Common Ground."

• Approval of a special events liquor permit for St. John's Greek Orthodox Church for its annual dinner and dance Feb. 16 at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.

• Approval of a hotel and restaurant liquor license renewal for Quality Inn and Suites.

• Two public hearings on new landfill fees for residential and commercial trash collection.

• A resolution to adopt the Craig Parks, Recreation, Trails and Open Space Master Plan.

• Approval of a bid from Ambient H20 for turbidimeter replacement totaling $37,516.

• Award of chemical bids for the water/wastewater departments in 2019.

Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or cthorp@craigdailypress.com.

UPDATED at 1:15 p.m.: Intermittent power outages continue to impact Yampa Valley Electric Association customers Friday

CRAIG — Many in Northwest Colorado woke up without electricity as heavy snowfall moved into the region causing widespread outages that began at about 2:25 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18.

As of 11:25 a.m. Yampa Valley Electric Association stated on their website that power had been “restored for the members west of Steamboat on U.S. Highway 40. Maybell members have also been restored.  We still have intermittent outages that crews are working to restore.”

At 10 a.m. YVEA had reported outages for more than 400 members-customers.

“Maybell and surrounding areas remain without power. We have some areas in Craig including Elk Head without power. South of Hayden a few members as well as West Highway 40 we have 400 members still without power,” stated the YVEA website.

Crews were working swiftly as two-hours earlier, at about 8:30 a.m., the company was reporting that the outage was impacting about 1,500 customers east of Craig including areas surrounding Clark in Routt County as well as areas west of Craig including Maybell, Lay, and Elk Springs.

The early morning outage had parents wondering if schools would close. Public schools in Moffat and Routt Counties held classes, though officials said buses were running late. For more information about school closures visit the story at CraigDailyPress.com.

When the outage began in the early morning hours it reportedly impacted most Yampa Valley Electric Association customers in Craig, Hayden, Maybell, Baggs, and Lay. Later it was revealed that Routt County customers were also affected.

Power was restored intermittently to some areas about 4 a.m., but a message from YVEA at 4:50 a.m. stated that Steamboat Springs customers were being impacted.

By about 8 a.m. most of Craig and the service area had power. No one from YVEA was available to comment on the specifics of the outage.

Craig Press will update this story if more information becomes available.


Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com

Recreational marijuana initiative fails; two seats still open on Craig City Council

CRAIG — A recreational marijuana initiative in Craig failed to garner the signatures needed to place the question before voters, Craig's city clerk confirmed Thursday, Jan. 17.

According to Craig City Clerk Liz White, the Committee to Grow Craig handed in about 850 signatures of the 739 needed to place the measure on the ballot, but White was able to verify only 585 of the signatures.

Accordingly, she said, 266 signatures were invalid, mostly due to signatures being ineligible, names not able to be found in the city's database, or residents including addresses on the petition not found in the city's records.

"I had to check every one — one by one," White said Thursday.

A similar city ballot initiative failed in 2016, as did a countywide initiative in 2014.

The ordinance connected to the ballot initiative would have provided for no more than three retail marijuana dispensaries inside Craig to have one cultivation license. Each establishment would have been allowed to have no more than two cultivation licenses per person without a locally held license for a recreational dispensary. The ordinance would also have capped the number of cannabis manufacturing licenses to four per person. Cannabis manufacturing licenses cover the production of edibles, tinctures, concentrates, or topical lotions.

At a Committee to Grow Craig meeting Jan. 4, Mayor John Ponikvar said he wanted to explore the possibility of developing Craig's marijuana cultivation similar to the nearby city of Hayden, without the need for full recreational legalization. Due to other city's in the area that have already legalized recreational marijuana, Ponikvar said recreational legalization may not be the huge boost to tax revenue some think it would be.

"Steamboat Springs is doing $45,000 to $46,000 per month right now,” the mayor said. “Dinosaur is predicting $250,000 this year in taxes, because they have a large draw from Utah. People come to Steamboat, they fly into the airport, and they go to the marijuana store before they ever go to their condos. We don’t have that same demographic here. I just don’t see it being a big economic driver for our community.”

Paul James, an employee of the Craig Apothecary who helped spearhead the ballot initiative, said the ordinance sought to give locals an opportunity to own any new licenses or marijuana businesses before outside interests could.

In a Facebook post, James said White called him Thursday to break the news his ballot initiative had failed.

"I am more than willing to continue on, to take more steps to get this through, and there are still options that can be taken to do this again," James said in his Facebook post. "It is a possibility for us to immediately turn around and run another petition, but doing so would not put us on a regular election ballot. Rather, should we be successful, it would put the measure on it’s own ballot in a special election."

James also addressed Craig residents who don't want recreational marijuana legalized inside the city.

"I’m sure to a few of you, this failure is very exciting, but the rest of us are disappointed that our work and efforts fell short and that we’re once again stuck with the status quo here in Craig," James wrote Thursday in his Facebook post. "I’ll end this post with a very slim silver lining; my petition to add my name to the ballot for city council was all good, so I will be running for a seat in April.”

White confirmed James and Mayor John Ponikvar are the only two candidates who've officially handed in their petitions for the upcoming municipal election.

That leaves at least two other council seats open for any resident of Craig who is willing to serve.

White said the deadline to file for city council is on or before the end of business Monday, Jan. 21

If no one else files for council by Tuesday, Craig City Attorney Sherman Romney said whoever is elected to the mayor’s office and council in the municipal general election will be tasked with appointing Craig residents to any open seats within 60 days.

"We've never had that issue before," Romney said Thursday.

The municipal general election is set for April 2.

Craig brewers over a barrel as result of federal government shutdown

CRAIG — Brewers are the latest beleaguered by the federal government shutdown as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has been unable to review or approve any labeling changes, new formulae, or permits for brewers and distillers across the country.

Yampa Valley Brewing Company — The Barrel Cathedral, which is expected to open in downtown Craig this spring, is one of the breweries caught in the backlog.

To manufacture beer in Craig, YVBC needs a brewer's notice from the TTB.

"That is a number for excise tax and is required for state approval of licensing," said Christian Dufresne, one of four partners associated with YVBC and its new venture, the Barrel Cathedral.

Dufresne said the company started the application process in November. At that time, the average wait was 70 to 80 days, providing a 10- to 15-day window prior to their anticipated opening date.

Delays from the shutdown will push back the launch of sour beers planned for the Craig location, but should not prevent the opening of the Craig location and its ability to sell beer brewed in Hayden.

YVBC — The Barrel Cathedral owner/brewer Erica Tieppo described the situation as "unfortunate," but said they have options not available to many of Colorado's more than 400 breweries.

"It's going to be really difficult for people setting the tone for the industry to do anything until this is all over," Tieppo said.

As a result of the possible impact on a Colorado's economy, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to address the government shutdown's “chilling effect on brewers and distillers as they await approvals, delay product launches, and halt projected growth.”

In his letter, Bennet described negative effects already plaguing the industry, such as delays in the launch of new beers and expansion of businesses, along with thousands of gallons of beer that could spoil before bottling.

"If the shutdown worsens an already lengthy approval backlog, brewing companies could suffer delays and tens of thousands of dollars of lost revenue," Bennet wrote.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

Meat packing giant JBS USA getting millions in subsidies meant for farmers impacted by trade war

GREELEY — The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to purchase $22.3 million of pork from Greeley-based JBS USA, which is owned by JBS SA, a Brazil-based company.

The purchase is part of a bailout program intended to provide aid to U.S. farmers negatively impacted by the international trade war. In November 2018, Smithfield Foods, owned by a Chinese firm, pulled its bid for $240,000 in pork payments after Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, echoed criticisms that the payment meant to help local farmers was going to an international firm.

The payments to JBS USA, totaling nearly 9.8 million pounds of pork for $22.3 million, have also drawn ire, due in part to the company's Brazilian roots. The Organization for Competitive Markets criticized payments to JBS through the trade mitigation program in a news release.

“It is a sad day when our own government will open its doors for global meatpacking corporations while keeping them closed during this government shutdown to America’s family farmers," the organization said in the release.

The petition calls on the USDA and Congress to halt the payments, citing a $5 million originally reported by the Washington Post. That $5 million only scratches the surface, as one of three contracts awarded to JBS USA. Other contracts include nearly $8 million for about 3.8 million pounds from the company's Marshalltown, Iowa, plant and nearly $8.9 million for about 4.3 million pounds from its Worthington, Minn., plant.

In a statement to The Tribune, JBS USA highlighted how its operations benefit local farmers and ranchers.

"JBS USA is proud to partner with U.S. family farmers and ranchers, helping create economic opportunity in hundreds of small, rural towns across our great nation each and every day," the company said in the statement. "As an approved vendor in USDA food purchasing programs, all eligible JBS USA pork products come from American livestock raised on American farms by U.S. family farmers, and are processed in American facilities in rural American towns."

At the company’s Greeley headquarters, JBS Carriers headquarters and a beef production facility, the company employs more than 4,000 people in Greeley, according to its website. Joyce Kelly, executive director of the Colorado Pork Producers Council and a Greeley resident, said to focus on JBS' Brazil headquarters is to over-simplify the complex protein market.

"On the outside, it looks like you've got a foreign company benefiting from this, but what people don't realize is that not only does JBS raise their own hogs, they contract with a lot of small farmers and small producers who raise hogs. And those people are American farmers who contract with them," Kelly said.

If that surplus pork isn't purchased, Kelly added, it could saturate the market, pressuring pork producers to lower prices in a way that would ultimately hurt the smaller, local producers. The Colorado Farm Bureau agreed the JBS payments would trickle down to support local farmers.

"We greatly support and appreciate the administration's efforts, as payments such as these will eventually pass down to local farm families," the Colorado Farm Bureau said in a statement. "This aid comes at a time when Colorado agriculture has dealt with some of the lowest commodity prices in recent years, severe weather and drought. It will go a long way to help weather this storm."

The company continues to rebound from corruption scandals in Brazil that brought company officials to pull a planned $500 million public offering on the U.S. stock market in 2017. JBS USA's Standard and Poor's credit rating was upgraded from BB- to B+ in October. In December, the company expanded a recall of raw beef from its Tolleson, Ariz., facility from nearly 7 million pounds to more than 12 million pounds. That recall marked another target for critics of the federal payments.

“While elected officials debate border security, JBS’ abusive takeover of the U.S. beef market and the resulting threat to our food supply should be at the forefront of the conversation. Instead, our government is handing JBS the taxpayer money meant for U.S. farmers,” the Organization for Competitive Markets said in its release.

Identity Graphics to host business mixer Thursday

CRAIG — A local business is expanding, and to mark the occasion, a business after-hours mixer is being hosted by Identity Graphics.

The business is creating a new department that will be headed by Brian Mackenzie, director of integrated marketing solutions, to provide new digital media marketing services.

Craig Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors will help Identity Graphics celebrate the launch with a ribbon cutting as it grows to become a full-service marketing agency.

The event will include food, door prizes, networking, and learning opportunities.

The mixer is set for 5 to 7 p.m., with the ribbon cutting at 5:30 p.m., at Identity Graphics, 455 Yampa Ave.

Economic Development Partnership board to meet Jan. 23

The Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership Board of Directors will host its regular board meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday,  Jan. 23, at Colorado Northwestern Community College, 2801 West Ninth St. Meetings are open to the public.

The CMEDP 2018 Annual Report was released Tuesday.

For more information about the meeting and report, call 970-620-4370 or email director@cmedp.com.

Moffat County Local Marketing District provides guidelines for event funding

The Moffat County Local Marketing District accepts requests for event funding twice per year. All funding requests are due with applications and supporting documents no later than noon March 31 and Oct. 31.

All other requests for funding are to use the Colorado Common Grant Application, along with proper supporting documentation, and should to be emailed to moffatlmdsecretary@gmail.com no later than noon one week before the regularly scheduled meeting.

All grant applications, as well as meeting dates, times, and locations, are available at

To be placed on the LMD agenda, contact Board Chair Luke Tucker no later than noon one week before the scheduled meeting. For more information, email Tucker at luke@mountainairspray.com.

Incentives offered to encourage agricultural intern opportunities

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is introducing the new Agricultural Workforce Development Program, which provides incentives to agricultural businesses, including farms and ranches, to hire interns. Qualified businesses may be reimbursed up to 50 percent of the actual cost of hiring an intern, not to exceed $5,000 per internship.

"Investing in the future is integral to continued progress in agriculture," said Tom Lipetzky, CDA Markets Division director. "With this cost-share incentive, we hope agricultural businesses see this as an opportunity to help build a talent pipeline and pathway for educating our next generation of agricultural leaders."

The program is the result of legislation introduced during the 2018 Colorado General Assembly by the Young and Beginning Farmers Interim Study Committee. It is aimed at providing hands-on educational opportunities for individuals aspiring to careers in agriculture.

About $40,000 is available for the first round of internships through June 30. Information about additional funding will be provided at a later date. Qualified internships must include at least 130 hours of work experience and provide a focused learning opportunity for interns. The department is now accepting applications from businesses interested in participating in the program. The application and additional information are available at colorado.gov/agmain.

For more information, call Glenda Mostek at 303-869-9173.

USDA to reopen some Farm Service Agency offices during shutdown

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that many Farm Service Agency offices will reopen temporarily in the coming days to perform certain limited services for farmers and ranchers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recalled about 2,500 FSA employees to open offices Friday, Jan. 18, and Tuesday, Jan, 22, during normal business hours. The offices will be closed for the federal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, Jan. 21.

In almost half of FSA locations, FSA staff will be available to assist agricultural producers with existing farm loans and ensure the agency provides 1099 tax documents to borrowers by the Internal Revenue Service's deadline.

The office nearest to Craig that will reopen is in Grand Junction.

"Until Congress sends President Trump an appropriations bill in the form that he will sign, we are doing our best to minimize the impact of the partial federal funding lapse on America's agricultural producers," Perdue said.  "We are bringing back part of our FSA team to help producers with existing farm loans.  Meanwhile, we continue to examine our legal authorities to ensure we are providing services to our customers to the greatest extent possible during the shutdown."

Staff members will be available at certain FSA offices to help producers with specific services, including:

• Processing payments made on or before December 31, 2018.

• Continuing expiring financing statements.

• Opening mail to identify priority items.

Additionally, as an intermittent incidental duty, staff may release proceeds from the sale of loan security by signing checks jointly payable to FSA that are brought to the county office by producers.

Information about the locations of FSA offices to be open during this window will be posted on the USDA website.

While staff are available in person during the window, most available services can be handled by telephone. Additionally, farmers who have loan deadlines during the lapse in funding do not need to make payments until the government shutdown ends.

4-H open house tonight at Moffat County Fairgrounds

Moffat County’s 4-H group will continue to honor the long legacy of Moffat County’s farmers and ranchers tonight at the fairgrounds.

The Moffat County Extension Office will be hosting an open house event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for all families and friends of Moffat County’s 4-H program.

The open house will be inside the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.

Residents can learn about 4-H and the programs offered in Craig or enroll in said programs.

For more information, call the Moffat County Extension Office at 970-824-9180.