County Beat: September 13, 2018

RBC | With no work sessions this week, the Rio Blanco County Commissioners met Monday for their regular meeting.

FOREIGN TRADE ZONE

Commissioners approved a letter in support of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce securing a foreign trade zone in western Colorado, based through the Grand Junction airport. Communities within a 90-minute drive of Grand Junction will be eligible for the benefits of the zone, which include reduced duties on businesses that import materials and export finished products. Meeker is expected to be included in the zone, but Rangely is not. The 90-minute drive time covers the area a customs agent can serve.
It’s hoped the establishment of a foreign trade zone will encourage new companies to relocate to western Colorado.

NEW SOLAR FACILITY IN PICEANCE BASIN

Commissioners also approved a USDA Rural Development intergovernmental review consultation form for the Bar D Solar, LLC solar facility near the Shell facility in Piceance Basin. The solar facility, to be built by Cypress Creek Renewables, will generate 10,080,000 kilowatt-hours per year for White River Electric Association customers. Upon completion, the facility will provide approximately $20,000 a year in property tax revenue for Rio Blanco County.
A $30,000 grant from the Department of Local Affairs will be matched with $30,000 from the county’s economic development department to be used to hire a consultant to develop a broadband marketing plan to drive economic diversity and an operations and funding plan for an outdoor tourism and recreation incubator.
The board also approved a Colorado Business Development Foundation agreement for the Certified Small Business Community Program in a grant amount of $15,000. This is the second year of three years of funding for the program, with no required county match. The grant funds are used for business consulting, a free service offered through the Small Business Development Center and business resource workshops.

NO SERVICE INTERRUPTION FOR LAI CUSTOMERS

Asked about the impending change in internet service providers following the audit of Local Access Internet (LAI), the commissioners said LAI customers do not need to be concerned about interruption in their service.
“Sometime here in the near future we will look at some other VARs and get them up and running as soon as possible,” said board chair Shawn Bolton. “They don’t need to jump ship. They can hang tight until a new VAR is found.”
Meanwhile, the current billing and payment structure will remain the same. Commissioners said the transition should be seamless for customers.
Communications Director Cody Crooks is preparing a statement.

COMMISSIONER UPDATES

Jeff Rector said there are still lots of questions being asked about the Wolf Creek Dam project.
“Funding is going to be a big issue for them. I think there’s some funding out there at the federal and state levels.”
Si Woodruff said he heard the City of Craig is beginning its vulture hazing project again and asked about doing the same here.
Shawn Bolton said he’s been working on a new job description for the county extension agent, following Bill Ekstrom’s retirement. Interim agent Carla Farrand from Garfield County is helping with the transition.

OTHER BUSINESS

– Approved a pre-disaster mitigation grant agreement encumbrance for $36,000 with the State of Colorado, Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
– Approved a grant agreement between the commissioners, the Colorado Northwestern Community Foundation, the Moffat County Commissioners and the state Department of Higher Education for the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative with no monetary obligation.
– Approved an emergency equipment use invoice to the BLM Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit for the use of the Rangely Airport from July 30 to Aug. 7.

By Niki Turner | niki@theheraldtimes.com

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