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Moffat County commissioners briefed on Amendment 73 by superintendent

CRAIG — Moffat County School District Superintendent Dave Ulrich gave the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners a presentation about Amendment 73 during the body’s regular meeting, held Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Ulrich said Amendment 73, if approved by voters, will help fund Colorado schools by increasing income taxes for C corporations and decreasing property taxes for most business property owners, farmers, and ranchers.

“I want you to have confidence and facts surrounding Amendment 73,” Ulrich said. “Others in the county will look to you as folks who are informed on the issues that will appear on the ballot.”

If approved, Amendment 73 would generate $2.6 million for the Moffat County School District annually, Ulrich said. Some school districts in Colorado are still struggling in the wake of the Great Recession, and though Ulrich acknowledged this year’s district budget has recovered to levels similar to pre-recession years, he added it was a long process that took years.

If the amendment passes, it will increase the school district’s budget by approximately 10 percent, Ulrich said, which would be a “game changer.” He added he plans to continue promoting the amendment across Moffat County.

Under the amendment, Ulrich said, only 8 percent of Moffat County’s population would see an increase in income taxes, and those are people who earn $150,000 or more per year. Additionally, he said, Colorado has the fourth-lowest concentration of C corporations in the nation, and the amendment would raise taxes on such corporations by 1.37 percent. Statewide, the tax increase would raise an estimated $1.6 billion annually, specifically for education.

As an example, Ulrich said that for the Moffat County School District to generate funds equal to those the amendment would supply, it would have to ask voters for a 6.9 percent mill increase, something he said he never wants to do.

The school district would use the money based on community needs, Ulrich said. Examples of such needs include programs supporting mental health and safety, as well as more opportunities for students.

Commissioner Ray Beck said he encourages county residents to do their own research into the ballot issues to make an informed decision, adding the county will try to remain neutral on all ballot issues.

In other business, county commissioners:

• Accepted a bid of $20,250 from from Intrawest, a Fountain-based company, for landfill tire disposal. Other bids came from Colorado Tire Recycler, a Denver-based company, for $19,375; and Liberty Tire Recycling, a Utah-based company, for $29,700.

• Approved a grant from Colorado Department of Local Affairs for $10,000 to fund cleaning at the Irish Canyon Rest Stop.

• Approved an agreement with Ellen Dana to clean the restrooms at Irish Canyon Rest Stop for $300 per month for a term of six months. Natural Resources Department head Jeff Comstock said that, after meeting with the Bureau of Land Management — which manages the rest stop — both agreed the county should help, and it was a reasonable request. The county wants the restrooms to operate even during winter months, because they are important to visitors in the area. Commissioner Don Cook added Dana is not a county employee, but rather an independent contractor.

• Signed a proclamation declaring Sept. 17 through 23 as Constitution Week. Daughters of the American Revolution Augusta Wallihan Chapter member Ann Dodd said it is fitting for Americans to remember the important document, which helped define the nation.

• Approved a letter of support to apply for a grant from the NRA Foundation to help make improvements on the trap shooting field a few miles west of Craig.

Celebration of the U.S. Constitution underway in Craig

CRAIG — Bells rang out at noon Monday on the corner of Victory Way and Craig to mark the beginning of Constitution Week.

School children and teachers joined members of the Augusta Walihan Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in ringing bells of all shapes and sizes. DAR members have organized displays and posters across town, proclamations by local government, and about 16 school programs to educate, inform, and celebrate.

Since a declaration by Congress in 1956, Constitution Week has been celebrated annually the week of Sept. 17 through 23.

How are you celebrating Constitution Week? Readers are invited to submit patriotic photos to news@CraigDailyPress.com.

Moffat County commissioners to review bids, contracts

CRAIG — The Moffat County Board of County Commissioners will receive a monthly report from the Road and Bridge Department and review bids for tire disposal during its regular meeting, set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept 18, at the Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way, Suite 130.

Commissioners will also hear three presentations, including the following.

• A report from the the Office of Developmental Services about a grant contract for upgrades to Maybell Park Campground.

• A report from the Natural Resources Department about a rest stop cleaning agreement.

• A report from Moffat County School District Superintendent David Ulrich about Amendment 73.

Other business includes the review of a letter of support for the National Rifle Association Foundation grant application and signature of a proclamation declaring Constitution Week.

Budget, operating plan, funding decisions scheduled for Moffat County Local Marketing District meeting Tuesday

CRAIG — The 2019 budget and operating plan will be up for discussion and possible approval when members of the Moffat County Local Marketing District board meet Tuesday, Sept. 18.

The board is also set to discuss and possibly approve funding for an application for events.

Board members will also receive a financial report and consider approval of expenses, discuss their procedures for invoices, discuss a date for an event funding discussion, and learn more about the Oct. 1 Sunshine Law workshop, which will be held from 8 a.m. to noon in the library at the college.

The LMD board meeting is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., Tuesday in Room 175, CNCC Academic Services Building Room 255 at 2801 W. Ninth St.

To view the complete agenda and learn more about the LMD visit colorado.gov/pacific/moffatcounty/moffat-county-local-marketing-district-2.

Moffat County Tourism Association board of directors updated on mill levy, events

CRAIG — The Moffat County Tourism Association received updates from event organizers and representatives from the Museum of Northwest Colorado and Moffat County Libraries during its regular meeting, held Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Bank of Colorado.

Museum of Northwest Colorado Assistant Director Paul Knowles offered an update on the November mill levy ballot measure, which is intended to help support the library and museum — both of which were hit hard by recent county budget cuts. Both are in the midst of an information campaign to inform Moffat County voters about what the mill levy would mean for both entities.

Knowles said the campaign is designed to let residents know what the museum and library do for the county. So far, they have traveled to Dinosaur to meet with the town council there.

MCTA board chair John Husband asked if there is a sunset on the mill levy, and Knowles responded there isn’t.

“The main reason is, if both (the library and museums) are this vital to the community going forward, then let’s not go through this every five or 10 years,” Knowles said.

He added that a sense of stability is crucial to the museum and that the recent financial uncertainty has taken a toll on donations. Adding a sunset clause to the ballot measure, he said, would bely that stability, hindering the museum’s ability to operate effectively.

Moffat County Libraries director Sherry Sampson said the library’s three branches saw 83,000 visitors in 2018, a 14-percent increase from the previous year. She added the library currently has 7,800 card holders, representing about 60 percent of the county’s population. She said the library has much to offer to the county, adding that a thriving public library is a cornerstone of any healthy community.

“If the museum and library are important today, then they will always be important in Moffat County,” Sampson said.

Dinosaur 100

Dinosaur 100 organizer Mike Mathisen told the MCTA board he is looking to help revitalize area trails by holding a series of bike races. He said he is working with the Bureau of Land Management to remap the trails and hopes the process will be complete by June 2019, when he plans to hold the first bike race. He added he hopes this inaugural event will attract between 50 and 100 riders.

The second race, a foot race, would be held in July and run from Loudy-Simpson Park to Elk Springs.

Other races being considered include a 100-mile bike race with a 14-hour cutoff and a race in scenic locations around Moffat County, encompassing areas such as Loudy-Simpson, Elk Springs, and Juniper Mountain. Dinosaur 100 is looking for help from expert runners to test different parts of the trail to ensure some of the more intense races are safe for runners.

Dinosaur 100 isn’t allowed to promote the races until it receives a permit from the BLM, Mathisen said. It is, however, allowed to promote the trails, and Mathison said the group has already raised $25,000 to promote the trails for hiking. The trail races, he added, are a five-year project, with the goal of trying to attract at least 500 participants, in total.

The MCTA board also received reports from Moffat County Balloon Festival, Bear River Young Life Car Show, and Whittle the Wood Rendezvous representatives.

Contact David Tan at 970-875-1795 or dtan@CraigDailyPress.com.

Craig Press invites public to let Sun Shine In

CRAIG — The Craig Press invites the community to “Let The Sun Shine,” a workshop about government transparency, which will offer the opportunity to learn about Colorado’s Sunshine Laws and the Colorado Open Records Act.

The workshop will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Oct 1, in Colorado Northwestern Community College’s library.

Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Jeff Roberts and local expert Corrie Ponikvar will be lead the workshop and answer questions on the subject.

The Colorado Sunshine Laws are rules and standards governing how public meetings should be conducted. The law was passed in 1972 and modified in 1996. The law states all meetings with two or members of any public body where public business is to be discussed must allow the public to attend.

The workshop will also discuss the Colorado Open Records Act, or CORA, which was passed in 1969 to allow the public to access public records. Public records include any records created and kept by government entities, and such records are subject to CORA.

Roberts will provide examples demonstrating how the laws have been applied, offer advice to avoid pitfalls, and answer questions.

Ponikvar will speak about why government transparency is important and provide examples of best practices for well functioning boards.

Elected officials, members appointed to public boards, and interested citizens are encouraged to attend. The workshop is free, but RSVPs to snelson@craigdailypress.com will be appreciated.

The event is being sponsored by Candlewood Suites, CNCC, and the Craig Press.

Craig City Council makes a splash with water improvement projects

CRAIG — Craig City Council members had water on their minds as they approved funding two water improvement projects Tuesday during their regular meeting.

City Finance Director Bruce Nelson said the city’s current Sensus water meter reading system is 20 years old, and though the system has needed repairs only once during that time, it is now outdated and at the end of its useful life.

The new Sensus water meter reading system uses new technologies and software and represents an upgrade from the system the city currently uses, Nelson said. The upgrade will cost $55,037.

“We did attempt to look at other water meter systems equipment and software,” Nelson said, “but it is not compatible with the currently installed system.”
Nelson acknowledged that Core & Main, a Grand Junction-based company, had submitted a bid for $25,165, but this option would have necessitated replacement of every water meter in the city to be compatible with that company’s software and technology, significantly upping the overall expense.

Nelson said the upgraded Sensus system will last the city another 20 years.

The council approved awarding the upgrade bid to Sensus.

Council members also voted to approve a $428,457 design bid for a new chloramine secondary disinfection system from SGM Inc., a Glenwood Springs-based company.

City manager Peter Brixius said water stored in the city’s facilities ages over time, creating regulatory issues due to the lack of chlorine in the water. Chlorine dissipates over time, and there must to be a specified amount of chlorine per liter of water to comply with regulations.

The city needs a stable chlorine disinfection system, Brixius said, adding that the new chloramine secondary disinfection system will more effectively treat the water and help ensure the city remains in compliance with regulations. The final design package for the system requires an additional $428,457.

A sum of $65,133 had already been approved for the project.

Brixius pointed out the city of Craig has been designated as a disadvantaged community, meaning it is qualified to apply for a “principal forgiveness loan” from the state, which would fund some $300,000 of the project.

Councilwoman Andrea Camp added the money is coming from $585,000, budgeted specifically for this project.

In other business, City Council:

• Approved a special events permit for the Craig Chamber of Commerce’s Crabfest, set of Saturday, Oct 13, at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion. Organizer Gail Severson said this year’s event will be the city’s 17th Crabfest.

• Declined to financially support the Craig Press’s “Let the Sun Shine In” workshop, saying council members have other means to receive education about Colorado’s Sunshine Laws.

• Declared the week of Sept 17 through 23 as Constitution Week. National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution member Ann Dodd read the proclamation. Dodd said the purpose of Constitution Week is to celebrate the drafting of the Constitution 231 years ago.

• Reappointed Darin Hickey, Justin Jenison, Paul Gowdy, and Victor Updike to four-year terms on the Building Department Board of Appeals and appointed Mike Charchalis to a four-year term on the board. Charchalis replaxces Dan Martin, who is stepping down.

Contact David Tan at 970-875-1795 or dtan@CraigDailyPress.com.

Under the Dome: Candidates for office warrant respect

We just got home after a weekend in Grand Junction at the Club 20 annual Steak Fry and Debates, famous this year because one of the candidates for governor declined to attend. Plenty of other aspirants to public office filled the space in an all-day marathon of speechifying and trying hard to disagree. Pretty amazing variety of styles and political positions. Some of the debates (not mine) got superheated when the candidates got the chance to question each other.

After being there, I have a renewed respect for everyone who runs for public office. It's a unique experience to stand in front of supporters and detractors — some very strongly so on both sides — dig deeply into your backyard, expose your personality, and stand up for your beliefs.

And, my respect extends to the county, school board, and local level. Thanks to every candidate standing up this year and to the many volunteers for boards and commissions.

My read of the early history of our country is that we started out with a stronger interest in local politics and less focus on the national level. With the ubiquitous presence of news about the blood politics of Washington, maybe we've lost sight of important issues and dedicated candidates in our own backyard. I quit yelling at the television when I got involved in county and state matters and ran for office. Get to know and support your local sheriff, mayor, clerk, commissioner, assessor, etc. (and your state representative).

I'm helping write the five bills that will come from our "Alternative to the Gallagher Amendment Interim Committee." I’ll report more next month about the details, but we have to fix the drastic negative impact this constitutional mandate will have on our fire districts, counties, schools, and every other special taxing district.

My other summer recreational activity, the Education Leadership Council, is entering a new phase, as four subcommittees report the results of work during the past several months. More than 100 volunteers have helped shape a vision and strategy for the future of education in Colorado, from early childhood to adult retraining.

With the help of several advocacy groups, we're working on a plan, including several next-session bills to contain health care costs. We'll see our ballots in the mail soon.

I don't get very political in this column. I try to focus on western Colorado's issues and what's going on in Denver that affects us. But, I'm seeing maybe 13 ballot measures, in addition to voting for candidates. I like the solution to redistricting in Y and Z, but I'm concerned that several measures put more constitutional mandates and restrictions on the state's budget process. I'm spending most of my summer working on and trying to unravel conflicting amendments from 1982 and 1992.

The legislature should be allowed to do its job, otherwise we should elect someone else.

Let me know what's important to you.

State Rep. Bob Rankin represents Colorado's House District 57 in the state legislature. He writes the monthly column “Under the Dome,” hoping to inform and engage the constituents in his district. He serves on the Joint Budget Committee and represents Garfield, Rio Blanco, and Moffat counties.

Northwest Colorado projects make state transportation department ‘critical improvement’ list

CRAIG — The price tag shows it would cost $6 billion to fix critical transportation needs in Colorado.

Accordingly, a new plan, called “Together We Go,” was developed under the direction of the State Transportation Commission and the Statewide Transportation Advisory Committee. It describes "critical transportation improvements totaling $6 billion" including three projects on Colorado Highway 13 — one of the few truck routes between Interstate 80 in Wyoming and Interstate 70 in Colorado.

A map shows projects for the ‘Together we go’ plan for improving Colorado’s critical transportation infrastructure.

The “CO 13: Wyoming South” project would reconstruct Colo. Highway 13 to straighten out curves and add 8-foot shoulders, wildlife fencing, and underpasses. The estimated cost of the work is $48.3 million.

CDOT has identified several benefits, including the following.

• Mobility: The addition of 8-foot shoulders will improve function and safety of the roadway.

• Economic vitality: This area is an important farming and ranching area.

• Other: The 8-foot shoulders will improve the function and safety of this roadway. Wildlife-friendly, right-of-way fencing will also be added as part of this project.

A second project — “CO 13: Rio Blanco South to County Line Shoulders and Passing Lanes” — will continue work to improve Colo. 13 south of Craig.

At an estimated cost of $24.7 million, this project proposes to reconstruct Colo. 13 between Rio Blanco South and County Line to straighten out curves, add 8-foot shoulders, and construct uphill passing lanes between mile markers 16 and 18.

In addition to improving function and safety, "uphill passing lanes will allow vehicles to pass slower-moving trucks on Rio Blanco Hill, and the addition of shoulders will improve safety for motorists and bicyclists," according to the plan. It also notes that, "the Piceance Creek Basin is a large supplier of various energy sources."

The third project — “CO 13: Rifle North” — "addresses critical safety issues resulting from aging infrastructure, paving, and curves in four distinct segments to meet 65 mile per hour speed limit and provide wildlife mitigation.” The project, estimated to cost $60 million could be implemented in phases. The benefits of the project include the following.

• Mobility: Provides emergency responders with a safe route to serve rural areas, as well as connectivity to national parks, ski areas, and other recreation sites. It also will maintain freight mobility.

• Economic vitality: Leverages a return on investment, benefitting the economy, environment, and quality of life for roadway users.

• Other: Functions as the detour relief route when I-70, U.S. Highway 40, or I-80 closes and provides a critical corridor for emergency evacuation events.

An announcement of a new 10-year plan made on a post to Facebook by CDOT on Friday initially received criticism.

To learn more, visit togetherwego.codot.gov.

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

Craig City Council to review, discuss water treatment systems upgrade proposal

CRAIG — During its regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 11, the Craig City Council is expected discuss and review estimates on a proposal to switch the city from free chlorine to chloramines for the secondary disinfection of drinking water, as well as a number of water distribution system improvements.

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, at Craig City Hall, 300 W. Fourth St.

According to a Sept. 5 letter from SGM Project Manager Richard Huggins to Mark Sollenberger, city of Craig water and wastewater director, the improvements are intended to meet disinfectant residual and disinfection byproduct regulations and bring the city into compliance with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidelines.

Huggins wrote that SGM's proposal draws a distinction between contingent work — which relates to efforts that "may be needed based on input from regulatory agencies or design decisions" — and base scope work — which deals with work that "we know must be completed and which can readily be assigned a level of effort and value based on past projects."

He added that, assuming all "contingent work" turns out to be necessary, "the total cost of planning level work would be just under $585,000," which was allocated by City Council in the 2018 budget for "overall chlorine residual and disinfection byproduct compliance engineering work.

Prior to the meeting, Huggins will discuss the proposal in detail during a workshop, set for 5 p.m.

In other business, City Council is expected to:

• Consider a request from the Craig Daily Press’s for $500 to offset costs associated with "Let the Sun Shine In," a Colorado Sunshine Law workshop being hosted by the newspaper Oct. 1.

• Approve a special events permit from the Craig Chamber of Commerce for Crabfest, to be held Oct. 13 at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.

• Hear a presentation from Ann Dodd, of the Augusta Wallihan Chapter of the National Daughters of the American Revolution. The group will bring for City Council's consideration a proclamation to proclaim Sept. 17 through 23 as Constitution Week.

• Approve a bid for a water meter reading system upgrade package from Dana Kepner. The bid is for $55,037.

• Reappoint Darin Hickey, Justin Jenison, Paul Gowdy, and Victor Updike to another four-year term on the Board of Appeals for the Building Department.

• Hear reports from the city manager and city attorney.

• Hear reports from council members.

• Approve minutes from the Aug. 28 regular meeting and approve August 2018 bills.