From My Window… Future of Brothers unknown; Piceance Creek an unexpected surprise

It kind of ruined my day when I saw the “For Sale” sign on Brothers Meat Processing in Meeker a couple of weeks ago. First of all, I hated to think that another business was going to leave Meeker, and I hated to possibly lose a store where I was at least a part-time customer.
I could actually get one of my favorite meats—tongue—there, and nowhere else I know of in Meeker or Rangely except from one or two of the small private meat packing plants on one of the area ranches.

Since I first noticed the sign, I had heard that Dave Satterwhite of Craig, the owner of Brothers in Craig and Meeker, was going to sell the Meeker business and get rid of it, not to return to Meeker; I had heard that he was going to sell or rent the deli/sandwich portion of the business and was going to reopen the meat processing portion and provide only retail meat; and I had heard that he was just going to keep the meat processing and deli portions until someone comes in and purchases the entire Meeker business.
So I asked him.
I talked with Satterwhite last week, and I can tell you that I know little more now than I did when I spoke with him.
I told him about the rumors I had heard in the past couple of weeks, and his comment was “Good. I kind of like that. At least people are talking about us.”
He went on to say that he just doesn’t know for sure yet what is going to come of the Brothers outlet in Meeker.
“Ya know, sometimes you buy a house and you put a big price on it and see if anyone is really interested in buying it; it’s like that,” he said. “You know, everything is for sale if the price is right.”
That was about all he said, letting us all wait and see what will happen next.
It would be a real loss to lose another business in Meeker and, specifically, one that keeps competition alive in Meeker.
The more the merrier. The more the cheaper.
But I think it is safe to say, there’s enough business to sustain each one.

It is truly heartening to see the Rangely and Meeker chambers of commerce combining efforts with Rio Blanco County to bring in Small Business Development Center satellite offices.
Having worked many times in many locations with the SBDC, it is easy to say that this is one of our government’s success stories.
Repeatedly, I have seen and heard of initial business plans being pitched to the director of an an SBDC office only to watch that business come to fruition and, in many instances, become a major success.
I have seen a small clothing store become the major clothing outlet in town in less than a year. I have seen a construction supply company open up like a small hardware store and within five years become the county’s largest construction/building supply business, now worth millions. I have seen a young chef’s interest in opening his own restaurant take him from meetings with the SBDC regarding financing the operation to it becoming one of the few three-star restaurants in Arizona.
If in all my years in the newspaper business I have ever beheld some kind of program that really can help make one’s dreams come true, it is the SBDC. Examples abound all over the country.
The SBDC offers expert/excellent advice on: financing and startup; on setting up a marketing budget and marketing strategy; on how to do the marketing; on ways to figure overhead versus profit and how to sustain and build a healthy business; and on expansion.
And it is all free.
You can’t beat the opportunity, whether the clients are wanting to start a new business or looking for ways to strengthen an existing business.
If Rangely and Meeker can each look to add a few new companies, if they can help existing businesses grow or even expand, or if they can help local businesses diversify and remain profitable, then the businesses, the county, the towns and the residents will all gain.
The SBDC has helped small towns in their attempts to get the ball rolling, and it just may be one of the catalysts we need in Rio Blanco County.

I literally just got back from a new adventure in Rio Blanco County, and I was quite taken back by the impression I had before my little two-hour jaunt.
Every conversation I have had about Piceance Creek since I moved here convinced me I was not in any hurry to take the circle around.
I was expecting to see a lot of sagebrush, a lot of little grasshopper oil wells, not much wildlife, not much stock of any kind and not much scenery to talk about.
Sagebrush I have lived around my whole life. No big deal.
Grasshopper oil wells I have seen in Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas and several other states. No big deal.
I figured for quite a while after arriving in Rio Blanco County that the Piceance Creek area was a lot like a high desert and pretty much void of wildlife. But Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Game Manager Bill deVergie has spoken in the past year how the Flattops and County Road 8 AND Piceance Creek have some great deer and elk hunting.
I have seen the critters up County Road 8 and off a few of the other county roads east and north of Meeker, and I can testify there are a lot of critters up that way.
I still figured that a big ol’ flat area that runs for miles and is filled with sagebrush and oil wells wasn’t going to produce much visible wildlife or desirable scenery, so I figured I didn’t need to hurry and that I wasn’t missing much.
And I figured that if it was a lot of old sagebrush and dry rocky grasslands, I don’t need to head up that way because there certainly couldn’t be a lot of nice ranchers up there among the oilfields.
Boy, was I wrong.
My wife and I drove south on Highway 13 to Piceance Creek Road (County Road 5) and turned right, heading west. From Highway 13, the view down Piceance Creek Road is attractive, but you can only see a mile or two.
I figured that by the time we got three or four miles west, the beauty of the drive would have disappeared.
Wrong again.
The entire length of the Piceance Creek Road was quite beautiful and totally enthralling.
The first half of the trip was winding through what could be called a canyon or a valley. Whichever way you look at it, the landscape, the ranches, the small stream and some seriously rough steep rocks or canyons was a beautiful setting, so often seen throughout the West, where mountains are mountains, the valleys are green, a tranquil creek runs through it all. I could never get tired of that scenery.
There were a few sheep here and there but some of the ranch country along the road was absolutely overrun with Angus, Herefords and mixes and the two-week-old or less calves from each of the breeds. It was a repeat of what I had seen during the first 20-some years of my life. It truly is springtime in the Rockies.
Eventually we arrived at what is obviously the oilfield country in Piceance Creek. It was rich with small plants, storage tanks and industrial plants that looked pretty intricate, like mini-refineries.
I don’t mean to show off my ignorance about the oil and gas business because my father was a vice president with Colorado Interstate Gas back in the 1950s and ‘60s. But I would have to admit I don’t know the purpose of each of those “plants.”
But two things did certainly surprise me from all the travels over northwest Colorado, Wyoming, Texas and Oklahoma: those plants, at least from the road, looked darned near spotless, kept in good repair and condition and seemed void of the piles of junk that were more common in years past.
But what was even more amazing to me was the high number of cows and calfs running and grazing on the flattest part of the grassy valley, meandering right up to the fences that surround the various plants.
And finally, we arrived back at Highway 64 right next to Rio Blanco Lake, half way between Meeker and Rangely.
We took our time on the trip since neither my wife nor I had ever been on County Road 5 before (I may have as a child, but that was a long time ago and I don’t blame myself for forgetting). We both found it to be beautiful country, interesting terrain and a delightful drive on a road that is in great condition. We found it a prime example of how beautiful scenery, serene lifestyle and industry can and do live together, it appears, in pretty much perfect harmony.
That road offers some magnificent ranches, gorgeous homes perched up on the hill and valley sides and, I am quite certain, some pretty intricate and expensive energy operations.
Besides, as deVergie said, it is one of the prime deer and elk areas in the region.
Plain and simple, that entire road is paved in expensive pastimes, and my trip on Sunday will not be the last I ever take that route. I was highly impressed by the beauty, diversity and scope of everything there.