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Moffat County commissioners to consider personnel requests

CRAIG — The Moffat County Board of County Commissioners will consider three personnel requests from the Human Resources Department when it meets at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way, Suite 130.

All three personnel requests, to be presented by Human Resources Director Lynnette Siedschlaw, deal with the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s Office and specifically refer to the positions of motor vehicle supervisor, chief deputy, and election coordinator.

The position of motor vehicle supervisor was eliminated when former Motor Vehicle Supervisor Tammy Raschke took office as Moffat County’s new clerk and recorder on Jan. 8, but now, Raschke is requesting the position be reinstated and that Clerk and Recorder Technician Stacy Morgan be promoted to the job.

If the request is approved by the BOCC, Raschke further asks that the position of clerk and recorder technician be eliminated.

The position of chief deputy was not included in the 2019 budget, but Raschke is asking it be reinstated and that current Senior Clerk and Recorder Technician Debbie Winder be promoted to the job. The move, if approved by commissioners, would eliminate the position of senior clerk and recorder technician.

Finally, the position of election coordinator is also open, and Raschke is proposing it be downgraded from election supervisor — a role formerly filled by Tori Pingley, who resigned Jan. 8 — to election coordinator, reducing the position from grade 22 to grade 19.

The latter two positions are crucial, as Raschke last week informed the city of Craig it would not be able to conduct the upcoming municipal election, as no one in her office had undergone the training required by the Colorado Secretary of State's office to conduct an election.

The BOCC's agenda for Tuesday also includes the following items:

  • Approval of the consent agenda.
  • Public comment, general discussion, and BOCC reports.
  • The November financial report, presented by Finance Director Mindy Curtis.
  • A update from Dorina Fredrickson, with the Craig Association of Realtors.
  • An organization update from Jennifer Holloway, executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce.

The BOCC's next scheduled meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5.

For a complete agenda and packet, visit colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/jan22_docs.pdf.

Municipal polling cast into doubt — Moffat County County Clerk’s office has no one certified to conduct elections

CRAIG — According to a Jan. 16 email from Moffat County Clerk and Recorder Tammy Raschke to Craig City Clerk Liz White, the county clerk and recorder’s office will not be able to conduct the April 2 municipal election due to a lack of training, a development that has left city officials scrambling to contract election services.

In the email, Raschke wrote:

"As discussed in our phone conversation today, the County Clerk and Recorders Office will be unable to conduct the city election. We have not had the training to access the SCORE System as required by the Secretary of State's Office. We will not have the training completed in time to meet your deadlines. We apologize for the great inconvenience and look forward to assisting you in the future. If you have any questions regarding these issues, please feel free to contact me at my office."

According to Craig Mayor John Ponikvar, only three officials in the county clerk and recorder's office were certified to conduct elections: former Clerk and Recorder Lila Herod, who left office in January; former Elections Coordinator Tori Pingley, who resigned in January; and former Deputy Election Clerk Amanda Tomlinson, who also resigned.

Ponikvar said he was meeting Monday with Craig City Manager Peter Brixius, City Attorney Sherman Romney, and White to discuss options for contracting services to carry out the municipal election.

"This has never happened before," Ponikvar said. "We've always contracted with the county to do our elections."

Despite this historical precedent, however, the county is not statutorily required to conduct municipal elections, according to Craig City Attorney Sherman Romney.

Reached by telephone on Monday, Romney said the city is currently exploring its options under the Municipal Election Code, set forth in Title 31 of Colorado state law.

He noted that some other municipalities around the state conduct their own elections, so there is precedent.

"We have a city clerk, who's our election official, and we will probably use contractual services," Romney said. "We have a couple of options on who we might contract with."

He said the issue is likely to be added to the city council's agenda for its Tuesday meeting, and while he added he doesn't think the complication will interfere with election deadlines, it may necessitate the need for in-person voting and hand-counting of ballots.

"We should know a lot more after Tuesday's meeting," Romney said.

Telephone calls to White, Raschke, and Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold seeking comment were not immediately returned on Monday, likely due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Contact Jim Patterson at 970-875-1790 or jpatterson@CraigDailyPress.com.

College board to discuss sale of Trapper Building, VP search, housing issue

CRAIG  — Updates on the sale of the Trapper Building, the search for a new vice president of student affairs, and the issue of housing at Colorado Northwest Community College will all be on the agenda when the Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District Board meets at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at the CNCC Academic Services Building, Room 255, 2801 W. Ninth St.

Specific to the housing update, board members are expected to hear an update on the state system’s denial of the college’s initial housing proposal, as well as a status update on a proposal to purchase Valley Vista Inn — a hotel that sits to the southwest of The Memorial Regional Hospital — for use as student housing. During a December meeting, Board President Mike Anson said CNCC President Ron Granger was exploring the feasibility of converting the property into student housing.

Also on the college board’s agenda for Tuesday:

• A discussion about community education.

• Approval of meeting minutes and the treasurer’s report from the Dec. 17 meeting.

• President’s report from Granger.

• Vice-president of instruction report from Keith Peterson.

• Vice-president of business and administration report from James Caldwell.

• Foundation liaison report from Terry Carwile.

• City council liaison update.

• Other business, during which time the board will hear input from the public.

Committee to replace Rankin in Colorado House takes shape

A Republican panel will select the next state House representative for Garfield, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties in February, and candidates are starting to submit their names for consideration.

The House District 57 nominating committee will meet Feb. 5 in Meeker to decide who will replace Rep. Bob Rankin’s seat. Rankin is being raised to the state Senate for District 8 when Sen. Randy Baumgardner’s retirement takes effect Monday.

"The committee is trying to determine who is the best candidate to serve for this two year period,” Phil Vaughan, chairman of the District 57 nominating committee, said in an interview.

“This person will need to run, if they choose to do so, in 2020 for another two-year term in the state House,” Vaughan said.

The committee will hear presentations, and ask candidates questions “about how they would look at particular state issues, and issues that are important to Northwest Colorado,” Vaughan said.

Those questions could include topics like water, the state budget, oil and gas, recreation and tourism.

So far, two people have made their interest in the seat public. Joyce Rankin, Colorado Board of Education representative and wife of Bob Rankin, has already submitted her formal letter of interest to the committee.

Zachary Parsons, deputy prosecuting attorney for the 9th Judicial District, said he intends to submit his name for the seat. Parsons had also put in for the Senate District 8 seat.

Glenwood Springs resident Gregg Rippy, former state representative from 2000 to 2004 and current president of the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District board, had also sought to replace Baumgardner in the Senate. But he said he will not seek appointment for the House seat.

The committee will accept applications until Feb. 3. To be considered, potential candidates must send a letter of interest and biography to the committee, along with

name, address and contact information and proof of Republican voter registration. A voter registration report can be downloaded as a PDF document from the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.

The information can be sent to Vaughan by email at 57thhousedistrict@gmail.com.

At the Feb. 5 meeting, the panel of six will hear from each candidate, and whoever wins the majority of the vote will be sworn in as a representative.

The nominating committee consists of the Republican chairs of the three counties in the district, Vaughan and two other officers of the 57th District nominating committee.

At the nomination meeting for Baumgardner’s replacement Jan. 2, six candidates campaigned for the seat and the committee had to vote four times before Rankin received a majority of the votes.

Baumgardner announced his retirement in December. He survived an expulsion vote following an investigation into allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior and harassment.

After the state Senate switched to Democratic control following the November midterm elections, Republicans feared the majority party would rewrite expulsion rules and Baumgardner would be forced out.

The nominating meeting, which is open to the public, will begin at 10 a.m. Feb. 5, at the 4-H Community Building, 700 Sulphur Creek Road, Meeker.

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.

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.

Energy industry, environmentalists react to Colorado Supreme Court ruling on drill permits

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday sided with state regulators and the energy industry, ruling that a plea by a group of Front Range teenagers to make public health a top priority in issuing oil and gas permits will not result in a rule change.

The case, Martinez v. Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, began several years ago when a group of young adults asked the COGCC to stop issuing drilling permits unless it can be proven that the drilling would not harm Colorado’s air, water, wildlife and public health.

The state’s high court praised the young activists for pursuing their goal of wanting to protect the health of Colorado citizens and Colorado’s environment. However, their request to prevent the COGCC from issuing any drilling permits unless it could be proven that no harm would be done to humans, the natural environment or the climate was denied.

The decision received praise from industry representatives and pushback from various conservation and citizen groups in Garfield County and across Colorado.

“Today’s outcome is positive for all Coloradans,” Colorado Petroleum Council Executive Director Tracee Bentley said in a press release.

“The court was right to deny a single out-of-state interest group — one that advocates for ending all energy development across the country — the ability to rewrite our state’s laws,” Bentley said in reference to similar cases involving pleas by young adults in other states.

“This case has dragged on for over five years, and it’s time to focus on uniting to encourage energy development in the United States, and, specifically, in Colorado,” Bentley said.

Likewise, West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association Executive Director Eric Carlson said he was pleased with the court’s decision and praised the industry’s stakeholder process.

However, Conservation Colorado Executive Kelly Nordi demanded change from the COGCC and Colorado Legislature, calling the decision “yet another reminder that we need to tilt the balance back in favor of Coloradans’ health and safety.

“With a new administration in place, we look forward to working with Governor Polis, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and legislative leaders to reform this broken system and put our communities first.”

NEW BATTLEMENT WELLS APPROVED

The court decision came just three days after the COGCC gave Ursa’s Phase II plans in Battlement Mesa final approval last Friday. Ursa consultant and former VP of Business Operations Don Simpson said the A Pad was the final piece that needed approval, which it received.

He said that a starting date has not been set for construction but that the time line will likely be similar to the company’s Phase I operations in Battlement Mesa, which moved into its production phase last year.

Phase I took a little over a year, according to Simpson. The A Pad was approved Friday for 25 wells.

Battlement Concerned Citizens Chairman Dave Devanney decried the decision on the local gas wells.

“Approving this project, in addition to the 52 wells already in place, will only increase the health risks to the residents of Battlement Mesa and make it a less desirable place to live,” Devanney said. “The approval of the A Pad makes it clear the regulatory process is not working to protect people and the environment.”

He added that the Supreme Court decision Monday “adds insult to injury for residents dealing with oil and gas development in their communities. The local and state government officials who are supposed to protect citizens have let us down.”

“These two decisions make it clear that the law is just wrong and rigged to support the industry,” Grand Valley Citizens Alliance chairwoman Leslie Robinson said. “At this point, it is clear we need an overhaul of the COGCC and the regulatory system of the industry in order to make policy to protect the people.”

Specifically, the case before the Supreme Court Monday asked that permits be denied, “unless the best available science demonstrates, and an independent, third-party organization confirms, that drilling can occur in a manner that does not cumulatively, with other actions, impair Colorado’s atmosphere, water, wildlife, and land resources, does not adversely impact human health, and does not contribute to climate change.”

The COGCC initially denied the request and was supported in a district court ruling. But, after a reversal in the Colorado Court of Appeals, the case was sent to the Colorado Supreme Court.

On Monday, the high court determined that the commission properly engaged in the rulemaking process and did not have to further consider the new laws originally proposed by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and other plaintiffs.

Among the reasons the court presented was that “the commission correctly determined that … it could not properly adopt the rule proposed by the respondents.”

Moffat County commissioners approve MOU for courthouse architectural work

CRAIG — During a brief special meeting Tuesday morning, the Moffat County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding that could lead to construction of an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant single secure entry point for the Moffat County Courthouse.

The MOU approved by commissioners is with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the University of Colorado Denver's Colorado Center for Community Development, or CCCD. Under the agreement, CCCD would provide design and planning services to explore ideas and opportunities for an ADA-compliant, single entry point on the south side of the courthouse, which would replace the facility's current multiple entry points.

Work would include design and development of concept drawings and exhibits to generate schematic layouts for the proposed entry.

The cost of the planning work is estimated at $4,450, of which the county would contribute matching funds not to exceed $2,670.

According to Moffat County Director of Development Services Roy Tipton, the MOU makes no mention of façade work, despite initial reports.

Tipton further stressed that Tuesday's approval of the MOU only authorizes the planning and design work. He added that the actual project "will be a pretty lengthy process," which will include required public hearings, scoping meetings, and further meetings with CU Denver.

"This is going to produce us a drawing we can work with," Tipton said.

Following the meeting, Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume said single-point entry has become the standard for Colorado courthouses, and creating a single courthouse entry point here will benefit both the public and employees, as well as enhance security.

"It will improve the overall safety and security of the courthouse," the sheriff said.

During Tuesday's meeting, commissioners also unanimously approved Resolution 2019-06, authorizing Memorial Regional Health to sell a 0.28-acre vacant parcel of property on Russell Street near the old Memorial Hospital site at fair market value.

The request to sell the property came from MRH CEO Andy Daniels, and commissioners noted the property had been appraised for $22,000.

Contact Jim Patterson at 970-565-3593 or jpatterson@CraigDailyPress.com.

Under the Dome: Coming transitions

It looks like I'll be moving from the Colorado House of Representatives to the Senate on Jan. 22, all because state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, the current senator representing Senate District 8, is resigning effective Jan. 21, and a vacancy committee, meeting Jan. 2, chose me as his replacement. I've enjoyed six years in the House, with its 65 members, lots of turnovers every two years, members from every imaginable background, and many late nights. Even in the minority for all six years, I believe I've been able to make a difference for my constituents.

I'll remain on the Joint Budget committee as its longest-serving member and only rural member. Those roles come with some special responsibilities, and I intend to be very vocal in support of educational opportunities for rural kids, rural economic development, transportation, and lower health care costs.

I'll be representing four new counties and several tourism hubs in Senate District 8. My six years of service on the Colorado Tourism Board will help me understand their issues, and I may have to pull my skis out of storage.

I'll continue to serve as co-chair of the Education Leadership Council. Our new governor has expressed interest in our work and the vision articulated for making Colorado the best state in the nation for education, from early childhood to the workforce. Now that our vision has been voted on by the council and published, we are creating an implementation plan.

I'm very concerned about the fairness of state and local funding for education. In an editorial, the Denver Post has called me "a modern Robin Hood" for insisting that poor, rural districts deserve funding equivalent to the rich resort and urban districts. I intend to remain a leader in this area and intensify my efforts working from the Senate to rectify years of abuse of both taxpayers and students resulting from the conflicting constitutional and legislative actions of the past. Those efforts include repealing and replacing the Gallagher Amendment, bringing school taxes into equity, and compensating for local mill-levy override disparities.

I'm no longer term-limited, so I have plenty of time to work on these budget-crippling, longstanding problems should I win reelection in 2020 and beyond.

And let's not forget the discrimination wrought by health care disparities between the urban Front Range and both resort and rural Colorado. I'll be jointly introducing bills this year that will reduce our insurance costs substantially and will start to reveal — and hopefully reduce — basic cost factors.

It sounds like a lot of action, you bet, and meanwhile, I'll stick to my conservative principles of small government, low taxes, and personal freedom.

It's been an honor, and hard work, to represent House District 57, and the future as your senator will be just as much so.

State Rep. Bob Rankin represents House District 57 in the Colorado House of Representatives. Next month, he will more to the State Senate when he replaces retiring state Sen. Randy Baumgardner. Rankin writes the monthly column “Under the Dome” to inform and engage constituents in his district. He serves on the Joint Budget Committee and represents Garfield, Rio Blanco, and Moffat counties.