By Jen Hill
RANGELY | The Rangely Town Council held their first meeting of the new year on Tuesday.
Police Chief Vince Wilczek updated the council on happenings in the police department including upcoming trainings, a new Facebook page and a new school program. Starting this year officers will be asked to spend one day a week eating lunch at the elementary school. Wilczek also informed the council that DUI’s were down 20 percent in 2016.
Trustee Andy Key asked why the RPD will not administer Narcan to drug overdose cases, a program which Meeker recently began. Wilczek responded that it was “like giving a drunk a drive home, they’re going to get drunk every night. Actions have recourses,” he said, “if there’s no recourse for your action you’re going to keep doing it. We shouldn’t incur any cost because of drug addicts.”
Town Manager Peter Brixius gave several quick updates to the board. He began with an overview of the grocery survey results which are almost done being gathered and the data aggregated. According to Brixius the town has received 187 responses. So far the data indicates that only about 10 percent of respondents use the current grocery store with regularity. More survey results will be available in the coming weeks.
Brixius also discussed the new town billboards Rangely can expect to see on the edges of town. These ones will be “more touristy,” said Brixius, and will include activities available in Rangely.
Brixius informed the council that gas department usage was down from previous years. This was attributed to warmer weather. Last year the town noted similar drops in revenue from decreases in gas usage.
A notable discussion of the evening was the council’s decision to table a resolution in support of the Ute Indian Tribe’s efforts to obtain BLM land adjacent to Dinosaur for the purpose of developing a casino. Councilmember Key expressed concerns about the Ute Tribe obtaining land in Colorado, where they don’t currently have a presence.
“I don’t support the transfer to tribal land, it will open Pandora’s Box,” said Key. “The tribe is very corrupt and very difficult to work with. Getting involved with them is scary,” he added. The council decided to reach out to an attorney inquiring what rights acquiring the land would give the tribe in Colorado. Mayor Joseph Neilsen added that the resolution in its current form was too supportive, wanting instead to convey that while Rangely has no fundamental objections, the decision is really up to Dinosaur and Moffat County.
Included in the council packet was a letter sent by the town to the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado (AGNC) asking for their support as Rangely applies for Enterprise Zone Status. In order to be eligible to become an Enterprise Zone the town must show that either the per capita income is less than 75 percent of the state average, that the unemployment rate is 25 percent greater than the state average or that population growth rate is less than 25 percent of the state average. In the past Rangely has been unable to meet this criteria, having a higher household income and lower unemployment rate. If awarded, the status comes with numerous tax incentives for businesses within the zone including tax credits for investment, new employees, job training, health insurance, research and development, vacant building rehab and contribution to public/private partnerships.
The Rangely Town Council will meet again on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. for a work session with Better Cities followed by a regular meeting.
By Jen Hill