Halandras on ballot for third mayoral term

Regas Halandras

MEEKER | There will be only one name on the ballot for Meeker mayor in the April 3 municipal election. Regas Halandras is running for his third, and, due to term limits, final two-year term. Halandras is a Meeker native and a second generation Meeker mayor. His father, Gus, served as mayor in the 1980s.

Q: You’ve served two, two-year terms as mayor and were on the town council for another eight years before that. Can voters expect your leadership to be about the same or do you have something new planned?

A. Nothing new planned at this point. We have been working to finish our strategic plan to assist the new board members as we move forward and we continue to pursue ideas towards making Meeker a better place to live.

This summer, we will be implementing a plan to upgrade our town water well system. This has been ongoing to update our old and outdated electrical systems as well as to ensure a steady supply of great water for the future.

We also initiated a process to review our facilities on the lower end of Third Street utilizing the University Technical Assistance (UTA) program with CU Denver and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. The UTA program previously assisted the town at the town park as well as at the Cultural Heritage Center and did work with the RBC Commissioners. Our project includes the water load out, animal shelter, recycle center, storage and the town shop. Many of these facilities are older than I am, and have been repurposed or rebuilt over the years to accommodate current needs. Additionally, as the recreation district has completed a substantial upgrade to our Town Park and facilities, we don’t feel that the recycle center, dog pound and truck traffic are complementary to the park’s use.

As always, the town will continue to maintain and upgrade our town infrastructure including roads and water lines. We will also be moving forward to identify a plan to improve the roads in the NW corner of town. The roads in this area have been a constant issue due to the unstable soils.

Q. Regarding recreational marijuana—what are the benefits and/or downsides you see to allowing marijuana businesses in Meeker?

A. At this time, there hasn’t been a need for the town or trustees to move forward with the marijuana issue. I hope that, if the need arises, the board can come together to steer the process toward a positive relationship with any possible business that may want to open up in Meeker whether it be recreational sales or grow operations. My personal thoughts are that we all need to support any business that is willing to try to make it in our small town. As it is, we are creating another reason for our residents to shop out of town; every time somebody goes out of Meeker for purchases of any sort, we lose.

Q. Regarding economic development, what do you believe is the role of town government?

A. Our role in economic development has never been more important. We are once again experiencing a downturn, bust cycle, in mineral extraction. The town businesses are feeling the effects of this slow period with flat or reduced patronage and revenues. Our constant diligence for our infrastructure keeps Meeker a great place to live, but without the constant support of our local businesses, Meeker will hardly be anything more than a bedroom community.

While I know that some have been critical, neither I nor the board feel that our relationship with the Better City group has been in vain. While the shooting center idea has been difficult, the idea behind it still provides Meeker an ability to take advantage of what we have to offer. The work that was put into the idea brought Meeker and Rio Blanco County a substantial amount of notoriety beyond our everyday life of “hunting season is coming” exposures.

Through this process, Meeker is now hosting businesses that have started “trekking” tours in the Flat Tops and we have seen various entities put together OHV rental plans. This summer, an episode of “Nick’s Wild Ride” will air on national TV which features a 2017 fall hunting trip done hand in hand with Ripple Creek Lodge. This came about due to the hard work of the Adventure Center push with Better Cities and Rio Blanco County making it happen. This was all paid for by a grant, which again, became available because of our plans to try to make something big happen. This same big effort has also drawn a number of state officials from various tourism and economic development offices to Meeker and the county due to the fact that we are willing to pursue big ideas.

Q. You worked hard bringing and keeping a weekly rodeo production in town last summer. Do you feel this was a helpful economic and cultural activity? Are you expecting it to happen again this next summer? How could the town be more helpful in making this happen? If you anticipate securing a rodeo production again, how do you think it will be funded?

A. The Summer Rodeo Series last year was something that came about from conversations in 2016. At this time, I don’t know of any other public venue event that has come into Meeker on a weekly basis. There were 13 of these rodeos last summer in addition to the annual Range Call Rodeo. Our RBC Fairgrounds saw 13 times more exposure than before. In my book, this is big.

Yes, we will see the rodeos again during the summer of 2018. We are in the process of making plans and the first rodeo will be Thursday, June 7. Including Range Call, there will be a rodeo every Thursday all summer.

We have been lucky in the fact that the series is brought to us by a hard working family willing to try to grow their business. We were able to get some commitments of support from various businesses and entities last year, and will again this summer in order to promote this activity. A very important part of putting on the rodeo is having our community coming out to see it. Remember, Meeker is the home of one of the longest running rodeos in Colorado and we want to build on this—we need you there, too!

While the town hasn’t been able to offer any monetary assistance, we are aware of the great opportunity this presents to the people of Meeker. The RBC Commissioners have seen this opportunity as well by investing in the Fairgrounds and again with the bathroom remodel. It should be noted that the commissioners have given the Summer Rodeo Series the use of the fairgrounds free of charge in order to encourage it.

Q. Has the town been actively involved in helping solve the concerns about algae and water quality issues of the White River? How important to the town do you see the river and its health?

A. The town has not been directly active in the river efforts as a whole, but we had trustees that have attended the meetings.  While the whole community, county and all Colorado River Basin water users should be concerned with the health of the White River, the town has no direct impact or ability to improve the river’s current health situation.  This issue has been discussed (and cussed) by many individuals, groups and organizations from private citizens to the federal government and is being intensively studied now. There is no question that we need our river.

Local citizens need to be informed that, due to our water well system, our town water is unaffected by river water. We have very stringent federal water testing to make sure that our water isn’t tainted by whatever the quality status of the river water.

It is my belief that we should pray for heavier snows to help wipe the algae off the rocks with a sustained, hard spring runoff.

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