‘Boomtowns’ set to compare notes Aug. 26-27

MEEKER — Two heads are better than one.
Or, in this case, two towns are better than one.
As a way to compare notes, elected officials and community leaders from Meeker and Rio Blanco County will meet later this month with their counterparts from Pinedale, Wyo., to share information and learn from each others’ experiences, especially as it relates to working with the energy industry.
That’s something both communities have in common.
Representatives from Meeker and Rio Blanco County recently had a conference call with community leaders in Pinedale. Participating in the call from here were Mayor Mandi Etheridge, Town Administrator Sharon Day, County Administrator Pat Hooker, and Margie Joy, development manager with Pioneers Medical Center and one of the leaders with the community task force group.
Based on that phone conversation, the decision was made to extend an invitation to have officials from Pinedale visit Meeker.
“After talking to them on the phone for about an hour, I noticed there are so many similarities between the two communities,” said Mayor Mandi Etheridge, who reported to the town council at a meeting Aug. 5.
One of those similarities is the oil and gas industry.
According to a community Web site, there are nearly 45 drilling rigs operating in Sublette County. Pinedale, a town of about 1,400 people, is the county seat.
There were 26 drilling rigs in 2007 in Rio Blanco County.
“We are wanting to brainstorm on how communities are affected by energy,” Etheridge said.
Representatives from Pinedale are scheduled to visit Meeker Aug. 26 and 27. A tentative agenda includes meeting with members of Meeker’s community needs task force as well as town and county planning departments, a tour of the town, as well as a town hall meeting the night of Aug. 27.
“The idea was they could probably help us with some of their ideas, how to grow with industry, how to get the community involved,” Etheridge said. “They sound like exceptional people, really energetic about sharing ideas. So, I think it’s a step in the right direction for our community.
“I think community-wide, the (town) board, elected officials, Chamber of Commerce members, people who are trying to lead the community in the right direction will learn a lot from them, and vice versa,” the mayor said.