Yes, it probably does throw a wrench into the works for the Rio Blanco County commissioners and even the Town of Meeker, but the suggestion put forward by Rangely Mayor Frank Huitt and Rangely Town Manager Peter Brixius that the county should consider putting the new justice center in Rangely does have some merit.
The old Early Education Center, which has been on the sales market for five years and which is owned by Rangely School District RE-4, is in great condition, has 29,000 square feet, has 6.5 acres of land that will certainly allow for expansion, already has utilities intact as well as the communications wiring needed for the dispatch center, has entrances at both ends and one at the center with lots of parking, which would make it easy to divide into halves, and it has an abundance of parking areas that could easily be expanded to hundreds more parking spaces.
Clearly put, there is no asbestos to worry about, there is no historical meaning that modifications to the building would cause offense, it has a huge amount of space for an exercise yard, a helicopter pad if needed and for future expansion, and it would take less time and a lot fewer dollars to modify than the old elementary school in Meeker.
Neither Huitt nor Brixius have any idea what the Rangely School District would sell the building and property for, but certainly no company is going to come into Rangely and swoop up the property for a couple million dollars, the projected cost for the county just to raze the current school in Meeker and abate the asbestos from the scene.
As I have heard commission chairman Shawn Bolton and commissioner Jeff Eskelson correctly state, it is their job to see that the county’s money is prudently spent.
Huitt and Brixius also have a good point in that now it seems that everything county-wise is located in Meeker and that it would be nice to see something thrown Rangely’s way.
“We sometimes feel like we aren’t a part of Rio Blanco County,” Huitt said. “It would be nice to be thrown a bone once in a while, and it isn’t like it would be a bad thing. The justice center over here would help out our employment situation, the sale of the building and property would benefit our school district and it might give the Rangely-area residents a tiny bit of feeling that we belong in this county.”
The commissioners are already feeling pressure on where to put the justice center in Meeker, and this is a third arm of the octopus to consider. But if giving the residents of Rio Blanco County more bang for the buck is the goal, then Rangely is a viable alternative to be considered.
But no one ever said that being a public official was going to be easy.
First there was a fire on Piceance Creek, followed a few days later by a fire that closed Rifle Falls State Park and the fish hatchery, then the third fire in a week was inside Dinosaur National Monument. On Monday, there was a lightning-caused fire that sparked briefly outside of Meeker on rec center property.
Yes, Northwest Colorado is better off than the rest of the state as far as moisture is concerned, but it has been a number of weeks now since we have had a good moisture-filled storm. Late-night sprinkles just don’t do it.
We have seen in the past week what is happening along the drier Front Range and even drier southern tier of the state. The only difference between us and them is a heavy lightning-filled storm.
It appears that the strong majority of all these fires were ignited by lightning instead of careless or inconsiderate campers or smokers. That is a good thing.
But the prognostication is not good for any part of the state if we continue to get sunny, windy days instead of the usual Colorado afternoon showers. Generally, the Arizona-borne monsoon rains don’t begin until after July 4.
One of the bad things about a good wet spring is that the native grasses explode. If they don’t continue to get good moisture, then they become nothing better than kindling in the forests and around homes.
Homeowners who live in Colorado’s rural areas are urged to clean undergrowth around their homes so flames can’t get close enough to cause structural damage. Overhanging trees and dry bushes are an invitation to fire.
It would be great if we were fortunate not to have any major fires in Rio Blanco County this summer. It would be a real blessing.
But the smart move would be to rid your property of long deep grasses near structures and to take a look around and see if there is something that you can do to lower the risk with the mindset of “What if…”
Good luck, and here is to hoping for a good moisture-filled summer.
I hope everyone is gearing up for the Fourth of July festivities that will take place in Meeker in conjunction with the annual Range Call celebration.
The activities start the evening of June 30 with a free movie open to the public and run through the weekend, wrapping up on July 7.
There truly should be a number of activities for everyone, and the Herald Times will have a schedule of events in next week’s edition.
This is a great weekend for fun and frolic and it is the first weekend of the summer that Rio Blanco County should be inundated with out-of-county and out-of-state visitors.
A lot of work goes into the weekend activities where fun, food, games and history are each a big part of the event.
See you there!