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Former Craig mayor questions courthouse remodeling

Paul Shockley

Concerned Moffat County residents moved by a hot-button topic occasionally leave staff at the Moffat County Courthouse scrambling for more chairs at commissioners’ meetings.

But 130 concerned citizens?

“That’s a lot of people,” laughed Saed Tayyara, former Craig mayor and city councilman and now unofficial watchdog, who regularly attends commissioners’ morning and afternoon public meetings at

the courthouse.

“Maybe there will be 50 people at the most,” Tayyara added.

A revamped, relocated meeting room seating from 130 to 150 residents, in addition to individual offices for all three commissioners, is planned, according to a $51,677 grant funded recently by the state Department of Local Affairs.

Commissioners have budgeted matching dollars from the county’s capital projects fund toward the grant.

The move trading commissioners’ current 27-seat capacity room on the main level for more than 2,000 square feet in a room now occupied by the Department of Natural Resources in the building’s basement could happen either next year, or in 2004.

Tayyara will probably be there regardless, including the usual member of the media, and assorted county staff.

“I think we’re overdoing it,” he said. “Is there a need? I don’t

see it there.”

Commissioner Les Hampton, an office-less public servant who

signed off on the grant, insists

the work is needed for different reasons.

Hampton, while conceding some meetings are sparsely attended, said it would be nice to get all that county paperwork that now is stored in his truck, his home or boxed in a closet in the commissioners’ meeting room, into one office.

“A desk, chair, files, phone and I’m assuming a computer,” Hampton said of his expectations for the office.

“We haven’t discussed the details on how to equip that.”

When meeting with residents on potentially sensitive issues, or checking messages on voice mail, a little privacy also would be helpful, the commissioner added.

Current cramped quarters don’t allow that now, he suggested.

“If this is a public room, there’s no privacy there,” Hampton said.

“The commissioners should operate like any other business in town.”

However, despite existing inconveniences, Hampton insists he wouldn’t mind tolerating those conditions a bit longer.

“I’m not complaining,” Hampton said.

With the commissioners moving out, the election division of the county’s Clerk and Recorder’s office would move into a vacant commissioners’ room, which could make it easier on everyone wanting to vote early, Hampton said.

“The commissioners are not driving this,” Hampton added.

The grant, approved by Department of Local Affairs for funding in late October, included what county officials have described as a rough total cost estimate for the work at $103,000. True costs associated with the remodeling work, which includes moving the Accounting Department from the main level to the building’s basement with administration, won’t be known until bids are ready to go out, according to Department of Local Affairs.

Whether Department of Local Affairs could match that funding beyond next year, if needed, is unknown, county officials have said.

“I think we can continue to ask for grants,” Hampton said. “I don’t envision this being a burden on the taxpayers.”

Department of Local Affairs’ Energy Impact Assistance grants are funded from a portion of the state’s share of royalties paid to the federal government for the mining and drilling of minerals and fuels on federal land. The grants also include Colorado’s severance tax on energy and mineral production, according to Tim Sarmo, Department of Local Affairs’ regional director.

The state typically has about $21 million to distribute from these sources annually over three cycles, he said.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.


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