County: Courthouse, Rangely expansion top priority for this year

RBC I In 2014, Rio Blanco County will implement a number of projects to update several county facilities and services.
“There are several projects planned throughout the year,” stated Eric Jaquez, the county’s planning coordinator. “I think the residents will be pleased with the improvements.”
The Courthouse Renovation and Expansion Project will be in full swing in 2014, with project completion expected in 2015.
In November 2013, Reilly Johnson was selected as the architectural firm on the project, and company officials have been meeting with the courts, sheriff’s staff and other users of the building to gain a full understanding of current and future needs.
The architects are currently working on a conceptual design, and the commissioners have requested that the conceptual design meet four key criteria:
Develop a plan that will bring the sheriff’s offices, judges’ chambers, district and county courts, and the detention center into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and current state regulations; create an environment for the historical downtown square of Meeker that will encourage economic traffic, while maintaining and enhancing a public gathering area that can be utilized for various events including concerts, community celebrations, and more; produce an architectural design that fits the flavor of the current downtown buildings; and take into consideration the historical value of, and explore possibly repurposing the old Meeker Elementary School building.
In Rangely, two county departments will be relocating to offer residents more centralized access to services.
The Health and Human Services staff will move from Rangely Town Hall to their own building at 101 E. Main, west of the Rangely Library, (formerly the Rio Blanco Realty Building).
“In the new location, Health and Human Services will have more space, and, more importantly, will be able to provide additional client privacy,” Jaquez said.
The second part of centralizing services is to relocate the Rangely office of the county clerk office, currently housed at the West Annex Building, into the Rangely Town Hall, filling the vacancy left by Health and Humans Services.
This will locate the county clerk’s services and health and human services in the same city block, making it easier for citizens to utilize their services.
“We hope bringing these offices into the center of Rangely will make the services more accessible and convenient for our residents,” Jaquez said.
In the spring of 2014, construction on public restrooms and showers will begin at Columbine Park on the east end of Rangely. Columbine Park hosts many 4-H, livestock and equine events but has been limited in recruiting more events due to the limited facilities. Additional services at Columbine Park may yield an economic impact through various events and additional utilization of the park.
The fairgrounds in Meeker will receive several upgrades and maintenance improvements throughout the year. The parking area around the 4-H building will be paved and drainage will be improved. The grandstands will also receive upgrades, including painting and bringing the electrical system into compliance with state code.
This year will also be a key year for further development of the Wagon Wheel OHV Trails. Utilizing awarded grant funds, there are three primary objectives: a) complete the Wagon Wheel Trails System signage and educational kiosk installation at trailheads; b) make improvements to various parking areas; and c) connect the trail system to the Town of Meeker by constructing a multi-use trail running from School Street, paralleling State Highway 13, and connecting to County Road 8.
The county has initiated the Rio Blanco County Trails Master Planning process, which will determine the feasibility and next steps in expanding recreational opportunities, including off-highway vehicle recreation, snowmobiling, hiking, mountain biking activities and more.
The existing Wagon Wheel OHV Trail System currently consists of approximately 250 miles of trails easily accessed from Meeker. The focus of the master plan is to extend connectivity throughout Rio Blanco County and Northwest Colorado, while expanding the trail system onto federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, further incorporating the western side of Rio Blanco County.
“All of the projects planned for 2014 will increase services, provide potential for economic contribution or offer improved safety for RBC residents and visitors” Jaquez said.