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Craig’s 13th annual State of the Community set for April 1

The date is set for the 13th annual State of the Community event.

“The State of the Community is a great way to get an overview of important facets of our community,” according to an event announcement from Craig Chamber of Commerce officials.

The chamber will present awards for Businessperson of the Year, Business of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, and special recognition. The evening will also include presentations on the state of the city, county, tourism, and chamber, as well as industry updates from area mines, the Craig Station Power Plant, Yampa Valley Bank, and Memorial Regional Health.

Northwest Colorado Arts Council is also organizing an art show and sale to showcase the work of area artists as part of the event.

State of the Community begins at 6 p.m. Monday, April 1, at Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion. Tickets are $40 and include the program, dinner, and dessert. There will be a cash bar.

Reserve tickets online at craigchamber.chambermaster.com/eventregistration/register/53532.

For more information, contact 970-824-5689 or info@craig-chamber.com.

The Network to host Craig candidate meet-and-greet Thursday

Craig residents may have read about them in the newspaper or watched them speak during the recent candidate forum, but now, the community is invited get to know the candidates for municipal office in a more casual setting.

The public is invited to meet the candidates for Craig City Council and Craig mayor in a social gathering, set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at Vallarta’s, 2705 W. Victory Way.

This event is organized by The Network, a membership organization for locals working to positively impact the community. The group hosts a variety of events to give members the opportunity to make social and business connections through professional, fun events and community impact projects.

For more information, visit facebook.com/thenetworkyvyp.

Moffat County to sign natural gas pipeline resolution at special Tuesday meeting

The Moffat County Board of County Commissioners will show its support for a major natural gas pipeline stretching from Colorado to Oregon’s coast.

Commissioners are calling a special meeting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday to sign a resolution declaring Moffat County wants “an active role” in helping state agencies and Native American tribes in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado bring natural gas to the west coast for shipment abroad.

Tuesday’s agenda is available below.

Part 2: Craig City Council candidates address economy, recreation, marijuana at election forum

Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part story about the Craig Press/Craig Association of Realtors candidate forum held Monday in advance of the April 2 municipal election. Part one, featuring candidates for Craig mayor, was published Wednesday and is available online at CraigDailyPress.com/politics

A slate of six city council hopefuls, some of whom only relatively became residents of Craig, were given the opportunity to introduce themselves to voters at the Craig Press/Craig Association of Realtors candidate forum, held Monday, March 18, at Moffat County High School in advance of the April 2 municipal election.

The two-part forum began with a modified debate between mayoral candidates, summarized in the Wednesday edition of the Craig Press and online.

Council candidates — Paul James, Eric Simo, Joshua Veenstra, Steven Mazzuca, Brian MacKenzie, and Stephen Tucker — are in the running for three seats opened by Joe Bird, who has reached his term limit; Derek Duran, who decided not to run for re-election; and Jarrod Ogden — who is challenging incumbent Craig Mayor John Ponikvar.

Each candidate made opening and closing remarks and responded to a series of six questions, solicited from readers and posed by Steamboat Pilot & Today Editor Lisa Schlichtman, who moderated the forum on behalf of Craig Press Editor Jim Patterson.

The forum was streamed live and can be viewed on the Craig Press Facebook page.

A summary of each candidate's responses, appearing in the order they first spoke, follows.

Eric Simo

Craig City Council candidate Eric Simo talks the economy at Tuesday’s election forum.

From Columbus, Indiana and now working at "John Deere in Craig," Eric Simo said, "I'm the newest person in the community. I've been here one year and one month. I came here and fell in love."

Simo is running on a platform of economic development, a "passion" that he believes requires "focus on the future and enticing new business to the community."

Simo said he is in favor of the following:

• Build a recreation center in Craig, expressing his willingness to "take a little increase" in taxes to see that it’s done.

• Put the question of recreational marijuana sales within Craig city limits on the ballot. Simo said: "I don't believe anyone should be denied something that is legal." He added that tax revenue from its sale could be used to pay the costs of a recreation center. He said he’d like to see the question on the ballot to "let the people have that choice once and for all."

• Provide support to Moffat County Libraries as a "fundamental right … I think the city should be taking on responsibility," he said, but qualified that grant funds — not tax dollars — should be sought to support the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

When it comes to managing a budget, Simo said experience owning a hardscape company, with a crew of eight and handling multiple, large-scale contracts would, along with the help of the city manager, help him oversee the city budget.

Most candidates described a similar level of fiscal experience, but as for a city budget, "none of us have any experience … with city’s help, we can move forward," Simo said.

When combining the words transparency and government, Simo laughed, before saying, "I agree we need it." He feels one simple solution is to record the meetings and post them online.

"I encourage everyone to come to the meetings … it is so easy to sit at home and complain. … Come to the meetings; let's work together; let's make Craig great," he said.

Paul James

Craig City Council candidate Paul James addresses the audience at Tuesday’s election forum.

A member of the Committee to Grow Craig, Paul James has, "been here my entire life." He said he believes in diversifying the economy, beginning with the legalization of retail marijuana.

"I'm pretty concerned about the next five years," he said, adding Craig shouldn't oppose any business.

"Definitely pro-cannabis," James said he believes in the following:

• Learning more information before supporting a mill levy to raise money for a recreation center. He added the idea of forming a special district for that purpose "does make me feel more comfortable." He's also in favor of using revenue from cannabis sales to fund such a center, should sale of recreational marijuana become legal.

• The legalization of the sale and growth of recreational marijuana. "This has been the work of my life the last three years,” he said. “It's frustrating. … Had we allowed it in the first year, Craig would not have had a budget crisis. Now, it won't solve all of our problems, but would help.”

• Looking at the option of running the museum more like a business, with an admission fee or "selling the museum to a private owner." He said he would consider asking voters to fund the library, though he said, " I feel hesitant to get the government more involved."

• Constant taxation is "unsustainable."

James said his experience managing the Craig Apothecary "pretty much by myself the last five years …" has given him an understanding of taxes and experience with numbers.

Social media is one tool James would encourage the city to use to "engage everyone." He also agreed with Simo that, "… streaming the meetings is a good idea and necessary."

Steven Mazzuca

Craig City Council candidate Steven Mazzuca discusses talking points at Tuesday’s election forum.

U.S. Army veteran Steven Mazzuca is originally from Gunnison. He served in 2003 and during the Iraqi invasion — operation Iraqi Freedom.

He works for Comcast in Steamboat Springs, but said, "I choose to live in Craig, because it aligns with my values. … I believe in community, small business, and small business growth."

Mazzuca said he supports the following:

• A recreation center, but "I don't want my taxes to increase," he said. He'd like to see costs paid for, in part, by tenants. "Yes I support it, but we have to pay for it … and the community has to invest in going there to continue to pay for it," he said.

• Recreational marijuana on the ballot because "we should always have the voice of the people heard. … We didn't outlaw it in Craig. You can smoke it, grow it … what have we gained by not selling it?" He's also concerned that some people may be driving under the influence of marijuana between Dinosaur and Steamboat Springs as a result of not being able to purchase it at local shops. He added that, by restricting one type of business, Craig is also losing out on secondary businesses, such as shops selling lights and irrigation systems.

• The city to be conservative and not pay for the library or museum until such time as business growth trends upward. "In our current state I would not be willing to help," he said.

As part of a Fortune 500 company, Mazzuca said he manages "an entire cable system …" that includes a budget. About transparency, he said it is "one of the most important things, next to honesty."

Josh Veenstra

Craig City Council candidate Josh Veenstra delivers his opening statement at Tuesday’s election forum.

Owner of Good Vibes River Gear, Josh Veenstra said he would like to see a focus on recreation in the area.

"We live in one of the most untapped areas of recreation in the area," he said.

He believes recreational amenities are "what will bring people here to allow them to bring business here …" because "it allows their employees to have a great quality of life. … Let's get outside and explore."

Veenstra's vision for Craig includes support of the following:

• A recreation center to bring a "sense of pride" to the community. He added that he believes a special recreation district that includes Hayden would be more feasible and easier for the public to accept.

• Legalization of marijuana, and a council that is more responsive to the will of the people, rather than influenced by a few.

"I do fairly well at managing time and money," Veenstra said before describing the growth he's achieved in becoming "one of the biggest names in mesh gear …" He added that he organizes 21-day Grand Canyon river trips that are "managed to the penny."

Making sure the government operates transparently is about "being honest with everyone," rather than being worried about "getting reelected," Veenstra said. "Lay it out on the table … being upfront and honest will get you a lot further with the community."

Stephen Tucker

Craig City Council candidate Stephen Tucker speaks as Brian MacKenzie looks on at Tuesday’s election forum.

From a "homesteading family," Stephen Tucker said he "fought many years to get to Craig …" Of the city, he said, "it's where my heart is a … I want to see our kids staying here. They all leave town."

Tucker said he believes building a recreation center is important in the effort to keep families here and would seek funding from the mines and the power plant to pay for it.

He also supports the following:

• Removing sales tax from groceries.

• Having the question of legalized marijuana on the ballot.

• Rolling the library into a recreation center. He said the museum "is great …" that he loves to go there, and that his family has donated artifacts to it. "I think we need to keep it open somehow," he said.

Tucker said the 12 years he spent managing a homeowners' association saw him "budgeting, allocating, overseeing vendors, making sure every penny was well spent. I didn't want to raise rates and feel like 'why do I live here,'" he said.

Instead, Tucker said, he gave people reasons to live within the development that included such measures as opening a pool for 12 months of the year.

"Why have a swimming pool that you can't use in the winter?,” he wondered, adding that a recreation center proposal "would have that. I hate seeing the kids have to go to Meeker just for swimming."

In addition to honesty and transparency, Tucker said he believes people need to feel included.

"When I was president of the board, we didn't sit in front of you. We had a big table … when you came to our meetings you didn't feel like you were sitting in the audience, you felt part of the group. … That's what the city needs — to make people feel part of it."  

Brian MacKenzie

Craig City Council candidate Brian MacKenzie emphasizes a point at Tuesday’s election forum.

Wearing a jacket "covered" in terrier fur, because his dog "loves this jacket and won't stay off it," Brian MacKenzie said he moved to Craig from New York 2 ½ years ago to work at the college. After leaving the college he chooses to stay in Craig because "I love this community."

He described being active in community initiatives, including the effort to bring broadband internet services to Craig and developing a community brand. Now, he said, "I want to be that voice for you in city council and that's why I'm running.”

MacKenzie also said he supports the following:

• The creation of a "community center." MacKenzie added he would support other citizen-led initiatives, such as the group working toward an art and cultural center. He said he’s not in favor of increasing property taxes, however, recounting the tax hikes he faced in New York, he said, "I'm not going to allow that to happen here in Craig. We deserve better. We don't deserve the taxes."

• A recreational marijuana question on the ballot. "This is America. This is a democracy. Put it on the ballot, and let the voters vote," he said.

• City help in funding the library, but not the museum. He said he believes the museum can be funded in "other ways that are not taxpayer based."

After college, MacKenzie went into retail management, then worked 15 years in the marketing field “with large companies … we managed their budgets.” He said he later worked with the budget as Colorado Northwestern Community College's director of marketing.

MacKenzie noted that, in general, people are not good communicators and said it was necessary to "get the message out there and make sure it is accurate.”

In closing, many of the candidates reminded residents, as Tucker said, to "get out and vote."

Clay Thorp and Andy Bockelman contributed to this report. Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

Kelly Hatten gives Craig voters write-in option for mayoral election

Craig residents not happy with the two choices for mayor in the upcoming April 2 municipal election have another option as of Thursday, March 21.

Kelly Hatten, a small business owner in Craig, officially filed his affidavit Thursday to run as a write-in candidate for mayor of Craig. Hatten will face current Councilman Jarrod Ogden and incumbent Mayor John Ponikvar.

In an interview Thursday, Hatten said he doesn't like the two choices for mayor, and though he said he had planned to wait two more years to run with his name on the ballot, he recently decided he didn't want to wait anymore.

"l'm not a politician," Hatten said. "I'm just an average person trying to do the best we can for the community we live in."

Hatten questioned the city's recent decision to switch to a monochloramine disinfectant in the city's water supply.

"It seems like the option being chosen is the cheapest route possible," Hatten said of the city's recent water decisions. "Well, the cheapest route may not be the best choice."

Hatten also said he wants to help facilitate a recreation center for Craig residents similar to the center in Meeker.

"We need to figure out a way to be able to build a rec center and have a rec center in Craig," Hatten said. "If we don't, we are going to lose our younger generation. They're gonna end up leaving our community."

Hatten also said he wants recreational marijuana in Craig and the tax revenue that will come with it.

"It needs to get back on the ballot," Hatten said.

In an interview Thursday, Sherman Romney, Craig's city attorney, said residents who haven't yet voted can come to the city clerk's office at the county courthouse beginning Monday, March 25, and get a ballot with a write-in area.

The city will also be mailing residents a notice of the write-in option.

"We're going to issue a notice of instruction for people who want to vote for a write-in candidate," Romney said.

Those residents who have already voted can't vote again, Romney said.

"If people have already voted, the law is pretty clear their vote has already happened, and they're not able to change their vote," Romney said.

The reprinting of ballots won't cost much. Romney said mailing out notices to all eligible Craig voters will be the greatest expense, though no cost estimates were available Thursday.

The city should have most of the notices mailed out by Friday, March 22, according to Romney, who added residents wishing to write-in their candidate must write in Kelly Hatten's name, or their vote won't count.

"If they put another name down, it basically nullifies their vote, because that vote cannot be counted," Romney said.

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

Businessman Kelly Hatten announces late entry into Craig mayoral race

In a surprising twist, Craig residents may have a new choice in the race for mayor. At about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, on Facebook, business owner Kelly Hatten announced his intention to run as a write-in candidate.

“I understand that this write-in option for the Mayoral race is quite last minute. My original intent was to run for Mayor of the City of Craig in two years. What a (sic) realized though, YOU need a choice NOW that you can feel good about making. I feel that sitting back and allowing another two years under one of your other candidate choices would mean that I was not doing all that I can to work for and support my home city,” wrote Hatten on his newly created campaign page.

Word of a mysterious person researching the rules for write-in candidates in the city charter began circulating soon after the Craig Press and Craig Association of Realtors candidate forum, held Monday, March 18, at Moffat County High School in advance of the April 2 municipal election.

“If you haven’t already turned in your city election ballots, Hold on… There might be another choice for Mayor!” Melody Villard wrote on her Facebook page, followed by more than 2,100, on Tuesday. The post was shared on other social media sites. Wednesday night, she posted, “Kelly Hatten’s affidavit to run as a write-in candidate for Mayor of the City of Craig will be in the city clerk’s hands tomorrow morning.”

Hatten stated that, “If you have already voted, Thank you for participating in our local government. If you have not…you can hold your ballot…new ballots will be printed and available at the Moffat County Courthouse on April 2nd that will allow you to write in KELLY HATTEN for Mayor. If you have already marked, but not turned in your ballot…bring it with you to the courthouse and you will be given a new ballot with the write-in choice.”

This is a developing story. In an exchange via Facebook Messanger, Hatten agreed to speak with a reporter on Thursday.

 

 

No more: Moffat County commissioners declare March 24 to 30 domestic violence week

The Moffat County Board of County Commissioners wants to do its part to combat domestic violence in the Yampa Valley.

During their Tuesday, March 19 meeting, commissioners declared March 24 to 30 as "No More" week in Moffat County. The week will be spearheaded by Beka Warren, executive director of Open Heart Advocates, which helps battered residents in abusive relationships get the help and services they need to change their lives for the better. Warren will travel to schools across Moffat County to serve food and educate kids about domestic violence.

According to an October 2015 report in the Craig Press, the Craig Police Department received at least 270 domestic violence calls that year.

After years of work as a medical professional, deputy coroner, and community leader, Warren is preparing to retire at the end of this month. Her service to the community and as part of Memorial Regional Hospital — most recently as vice president of quality — was recognized by the MRH Board of Trustees Dec. 20 with a bouquet of flowers and an art glass sculpture of a glowing jellyfish.

According to Warren, one in three American women have been victims of domestic violence while one in four women are victims of sexual assault. She said men are also often victimized.

Warren also maintains at least two people on call at all times to answer a hotline for domestic or sexual abuse victims.

“Our service is really to be with them and work with them and let them know what their choices are,” Warren said.

County Commissioners also currently lease an 11-bed shelter facility to Open Heart Advocates for $1 per year, where residents seeking protection can escape potential abusers and get back on their feet.

"Our advocates right now have a caseload of about 56 families that we work with on a regular basis," Warren said at Tuesday morning's commissioner meeting.

Considering the staggering number of domestic violence victims across the country, especially children, Commissioner Ray Beck thanked Warren.

"15.5 million children were exposed to domestic violence every year. That's horrific," Beck said. "Thank you for all you do for our community."

Commissioner Don Cook also thanked Warren for her dedication.

"She's a very dedicated community servant," Cook said. "She's been our deputy coroner for many years, which means many times she was the acting coroner."

Sasha Nelson contributed to this report. Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or cthorp@CraigDailyPress.com.

Commissioners nearing MOU on gas pipeline

Moffat County commissioners say they're close to signing a memorandum of understanding that would help bring part of a cross-country natural gas pipeline through Moffat County and the Western Slope.

The pipeline would be part of the Jordan Cove Project in Oregon, feeding a new liquid natural gas refining operation there for shipment across the globe, especially to Asian markets.

"We met with a Japanese representative that we've met a couple times in the past," Commissioner Don Cook said of a recent trip he took to Washington D.C.

Commissioners said the parent company behind the project, Pembina Pipeline Corporation, wants to ship liquid natural gas while mostly avoiding the Panama Canal.

Commissioner Ray Beck said the estimated $1.5 billion construction cost may provide a host of economic benefits over the long term, but an economic impact study for the Moffat County area probably won't be done until October.

"Hopefully, it will be a great economic impact," Beck said.

Beck said the pipeline project is already dealing with some 670 landowners.

Most of the natural gas will come from Garfield and Rio Blanco counties, but Cook said Mesa, Garfield, Rio Blanco, and Moffat counties will likely join with other amenable Native American tribes in Utah.

Organizers from Oregon and with EcoFlight organized a rally in Grand Junction in September and have attended public meetings before the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission in opposition to the pipeline, according to reporting from the Grand Junction Sentinel.

According to Jordan Cove's website, the company "has undertaken extensive cultural, biological, and botanical surveys," many of which were to study the pipeline's effects on endangered species.

"These include surveys for threatened and endangered species and their habitat, as well as botanical, mollusk, amphibian, reptile, and fungi surveys along the entire pipeline route and at the LNG Terminal site," according to the website. "These surveys provide the basis to design the project, in consultation with federal and state agencies, to avoid and/or minimize impacts to these resources."

Election Forum Part 1: Mayoral candidates address economy, recreation, leadership

In a modified debate format, Mayor John Ponikvar and Craig City Councilman Jarrod Ogden voiced their views about the city’s future during the Craig Press and Craig Association of Realtors candidate forum, held Monday, March 18, at Moffat County High School in advance of the April 2 municipal election.

The forum was organized into two parts — a modified debate between mayoral candidates and a question-and-answer style forum for council candidates. Steamboat Pilot & Today Editor Lisa Schlichtman moderated the forum in place of Craig Press Editor Jim Patterson, who was unable to attend. Each candidate was given two minutes to open with a statement about his vision for the city.

“We will not live in the past …” Ponikvar said, as he outlined his vision to “engage our youth, value our seniors, support and promote our lifestyle to the world.” He said he believes this is “the most exciting time I’ve ever seen …” in the history of Craig.

Craig has “a window of opportunity for the next two years” to attract and retain new businesses, Ponikvar said, pointing to his education, experience, time, and energy as strengths he would bring to a second term as Craig’s mayor.

Ogden said his vision is to “invest back into our community …” He emphasized the importance of small businesses, partnerships, and fostering great relationships, adding that he wants to initiate a review of the city charter to change “things that don’t make sense, things that might be hindering things in the community..”

The Craig Press solicited questions from readers and selected three issue areas around which to quiz mayoral candidates.

Leadership

Ogden who currently works as both transportation and facilities and maintenance director for the Moffat County School District said, “I’m a spaz; I like to be busy. The challenge is the thing I accept the most …” He added that serving as mayor “is not a lot different from what I’m currently doing at city council and at work.”

In contrast, Ponikvar said, “It takes time to do this job. I have the time …”

He described the “great” staff at his business — NAPA T & H Auto Parts — which affords him the opportunity to attend meetings throughout the day and take trips across the state to represent the city. He cited one such as a trip he made last week to Golden to lobby for a $1 million grant to support planned changes to Craig’s water system.

Readers wanted to know how Ponikvar planned to address the perception of business conflicts of interest and whether the mayor — as a business owner — profited from normal city business.

“… What I offer to the city is no more than I did before I got onto council. …,” he said. “You will not see me soliciting business from any city entity. I stay out of it.”

Ogden, who formerly owned Three Sons Construction in Craig, said that, when he owned his business, he abstained from voting “if something came up.” In his new role with the school district, Ogden said he represents the district. but added “there is no personal gain. … It has been helpful to foster the strong relationship between school district and city.”

The candidates also articulated different approaches to their involvement in the day-to-day oversight of city business.

Ponikvar described attending regular staff meetings. Ogden, on the other hand, said he intends to “allow department heads to do their jobs unencumbered. … They have done a wonderful job over the decades.”

Ogden added that he felt it was important to “continue the city of Craig’s transparency with community and constituents.”

Economic development

The candidates were given an opportunity to describe what City Council is currently doing to attract and retain new businesses and young professionals, as well as specific actions they would take to attract both. Both Ponikvar and Ogden emphasized the need for additional amenities to help make the community both appealing and retain young professionals.

Both spoke about recent efforts to revitalize downtown businesses with a matching grant program, new investments in Breeze Park, and trail improvements under the Master Parks and Recreation plan, finalized late last year.

About the grant program, which will see the city give a dollar for dollar match up to $10,000, Ponikvar said, “If you have a $20,000 project that will upgrade your business, we will become your partner.”

Ponikvar also spoke of his work to support growth at Colorado Northwestern Community College.

Ogden noted his recent work in bringing the city, school district, and Humane Society together in the creation of the town’s first dog park. He also said he would continue to encourage city staff to maintain the downtown snow removal program instituted this year.

The two men expressed different views on the role of community development versus economic development.

Ponikvar spoke of his disappointment that council didn’t fund the Moffat County Economic Development Partnership.

“They had a long-term vision for economic development …,” Ponikvar said, noting that Yampa Valley Electric Association was preparing to launch residential broadband services, something he said “would not have come here without what Michelle Perry did. … We still need a vision for the future and that your mayor will offer that vision and lead it for the future.”

In contrast, Ogden said he believes economic development begins with developing the community. He also expressed a willingness to fund some community development projects by spending down reserves.

“The first step is, we start by cleaning up our own streets, our own backyards … then move forward with these programs and attract out of town businesses,” Ogden said in rebuttal.

The two men also disagreed on the proposal to create an economic development department within the city to work on a long-term vision. Ponikvar supported the idea, while Ogden did not, though Ogden did concede it might be something the city might need to consider in the future.

Recreation center

All candidates, including both men running for mayor, expressed support for a recreational center in Craig.

“I would love to see one in Craig,” Ponikvar said. “When you want to attract people to Craig. you have to provide recreation.”

Ogden agreed adding, “It’s something we’ve been missing.”

Both spoke of the need for the creation of a special recreation taxing district to help pay initial construction costs, as well as fund ongoing maintenance.

“If a rec center were to happen, it will happen because of you, the voters,” Ponikvar said.

Candidates ended with brief closing statements. The forum was streamed live and can be viewed on the Craig Press Facebook page.

Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part story about the Craig Press/Craig Association of Realtors candidate forum held Monday, March 18, in advance of the April 2 municipal election. Part two, featuring candidates for Craig City Council, will be published Friday. Clay Thorp and Andy Bockelman contributed to this report. 

City officials excited about $150,000 award for Breeze Park improvements

Craig residents and their families who frequent Breeze Park may be happy to know the park will get a six-figure facelift this year.

In a recent news release, Great Outdoors Colorado announced its board awarded the city of Craig a $150,000 grant to update Breeze Park, one of the city’s main municipal parks.

“This is the fourth time we have applied to GOCO for a Breeze Park Development Grant,” said Dave Pike, parks and recreation director with the city of Craig. “Since 2011, when the MCSD donated the Breeze Street property to us, we have been applying to Great Outdoor Colorado for some financial assistance. Each time we were unsuccessful, our feedback indicated that we needed to update our parks and recreation master plan. We finished that process last fall and throughout the project we heard from the public that completing Breeze Park was a top priority. With our updated plan in place we applied again last fall and we finally hit the jackpot.”

City officials have been making improvements to the park since at least 2015, but the GOCO grant will offer additional upgrades to the park, including a second construction phase on the park’s 35-year-old irrigation system, a concrete rail compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, new picnic shelters, a new 720-square-foot gazebo, new shade canopies, trash receptacles, park benches, and picnic tables.

“This phase of development will include a picnic shelter large enough to accommodate family gatherings, weddings or class reunions,” Pike said in an email. “Also there will be several smaller shade shelters, a walking path, a new irrigation system, and a poured-in-place safety surface throughout the playground system. In addition, we will be doing some more landscaping and installing some permanent corn hole boards.”

Great Outdoors Colorado noted in the release that the park sees about 5,300 visitors per year, many of whom live within walking distance for events like weddings, festivals, farmers markets, movies in the park, the Arbor Day Tree Celebration, and other programs.

“To date, GOCO has invested $8.8 million in projects in Moffat County and has conserved more than 37,400 acres of land there,” the news release said. “GOCO funding has supported the Moffat County Loudy-Simpson Soccer Field expansion, Elkhead Reservoir Recreation Facility, Dinosaur Sports Field and Ice Rink, Ridgeview Park playground, and Moffat County Fairgrounds, among various other projects.”

Completion of the Breeze Park upgrades are expected to be completed late this summer or early fall, according to Pike, who will continue to work towards providing a better quality of life for Craig residents.

“It seems like every time we talk about economic diversification recreation, trails and improved river access is always in the mix,” Pike said. “I think it is very important to continue improving our recreation amenities every chance we get. If we want to make Craig an attractive place to live and raise families we need to offer exceptional recreation opportunities.”