Craig City Council gets updates on Elkhead Reservoir, museum, library
CRAIG – The Craig City Council heard an update on the status of Elkhead Reservoir and a presentation from the Museum of Northwest Colorado and Moffat County Library during its regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 28.
Steve Hinkemeyer, the city and county’s Yampa Basin Roundtable representative, said the group recently performed projection modeling on population growth in Craig. In 2008, the population of Craig was about 10,000, and about 2,000 acre-feet of water were used. An acre-foot of water is a unit of volume used in reference to large-scale water resources, such as reservoirs, aqueducts, canals, and river flows. Based on those numbers, the group estimates that, by 2035, the population will increase to 17,000, and water usage will jump to 3,700 acre-feet. By 2050, the median estimate for city population is 25,000, with 5,400 acre-feet of water used, Hinkemeyer said.
Moffat County’s growth is seeing a pattern similar to the city’s. In 2008, the number of Moffat County residents living outside Craig stood at 3,800. By 2035, that number is expected to have grown to 6,000, and by 2050, the group estimates county population outside Craig will have reached 8,300.
The Yampa Basin Roundtable projections exceed state forecasts, Hinkemeyer acknowledged.
He also noted that the city’s participation in generating the projection model helped provide future water demand projections for both the county and the city. Additionally, reservoir operations were modified to release more water to the Maybell gauge to supplement the flow for fish recovery efforts.
“Its really all about the fish,” Hinkemeyer said.
Yampa River levels have been critically low, Hinkemeyer said, though he added he believes there were problems with the Deer Lodge meter not measuring correctly.
The city maintains a 4,413 acre-foot pool at the reservoir, Hinkemeyer said, adding that he sees potential for the pool to be an asset for the city and possibly an income generator.
Mayor John Ponikvar said once new city manager Peter Brixius begins work in September, he might want to to revisit the city’s water situation and decide what direction should be taken.
City Council also received a report from the Museum of Northwest Colorado and Moffat County Library about preparations to campaign for a dedicated mill levy to support the museum and library. The mill levy is expected to appear on the November General Election ballot.
The institutions will be undertaking an information campaign to educate people about the importance of the library and museum to the community, said Museum of Northwest Colorado Assistant Director Paul Knowles. He added the campaign will be designed to let people know exactly what the money will be used for, should the mill levy be approved by voters.
Knowles offered numbers to stress the importance of the library and the museum.
In 2017, he said, the library’s three branches — in Craig, Maybell, and Dinosaur — saw more than 83,000 visitors, a significant increase over the 13,000 visits in 2014. The circulation of books increased by 17,000, and the library has more than 8,200 active card members, representing about 60 percent of the population of Moffat County.
“Libraries and museums help inspire and educate,” Knowles said, “regardless if it is on music, literature, history, science — the list goes on and on.”
The local library also provides opportunities for residents to search for jobs, write resumes, conduct research, and experience new ideas, Knowles added. Mothers meet other mothers during story time for children, and teens come to sign up for community organizations, he said, and the library’s “Boredom Busters” program has provided activities for the entire family.
In 2017, the library hosted 335 programs, attracting a total of 7,500 attendees.
“Technologies have definitely evolved libraries, and that makes them all the more valuable,” Knowles said. “People can now access materials via online databases.”
In terms of the museum, the attraction hosts an average of 12,000 visitors each year, Knowles said, with more than half that number coming from outside Moffat County and many from outside the United States. It is listed as the “#1 Thing to Do in Craig” by Trip Advisor, was ranked among the six “Top Original Museums” by the Colorado Tourism Board, and was recently named at the top of “15 Museums Not to Miss” by True West Magazine.
The museum also maintains a strong social media presence, with its Facebook page recently hitting 2,000 likes, Knowles said, adding that donations, museum sales, and sponsorships are at an all time high. The museum is currently “running on all cylinders,” he said.
The museum also has an extensive archive on many Moffat County families, Museum Director Dan Davidson added, as well as artifacts that are worthy of the Smithsonian Institute. He stressed, however, that the exhibits mean little without the research to tell the stories that go with them.
In other business, City Council:
• Declared Aug. 31, 2018, “International Overdose Awareness and Remembrance Day.” Tri-County Programing Director for Grand Futures Prevention Coalition Karli Bockelman said the day is to remember the people who have died from opioids and inform the community about the seriousness of the epidemic.
• Approved a resolution to appropriate additional money to the general fund to replace mobile radios. A total of $92,200 will be spent on the radios.
• Reappointed Chris Jones as representative to the Local Marketing District board for a three year term.
• Approved a quote from Revize Software, a Michigan-based company, to upgrade and update the city of Craig’s website for $11,800. The council said its current website is outdated, difficult to navigate, and poorly optimized for mobile devices.
• Tabled a bid on the first phase of the water plant’s process turbidimeters replacement program pending more bids. Only one bid was submitted, and council members said they want to see more bids before making a final decision.
• Tabled a discussion on changing the name of Alice Pleasant Park to Alice Pleasant/Julia Carpenter Park.
Contact David Tan at 970-875-1795 or dtan@CraigDailyPress.com.
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