2013 was good year of progress in Meeker

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MEEKER I It was a busy year for the Town of Meeker and, according to Town Administrator Scott Meszaros, a number of small projects were completed and some large-scale changes for the future were initiated.
“Besides infrastructure projects and sidewalks in 2014, the town staff will be handling numerous projects to the scale that Meeker has not seen for many years,” he said.
“The conveyance of the Main Street Building (the old elementary school) to the county was a financial move by the town that made a lot of sense,” he said. “Many of the upcoming projects will bring additional revenues, jobs and opportunities that will strengthen our tax base.
“The year 2013 was a good year for the town,” Meszaros said. “But 2014 should be a busy and exciting year.”
Meszaros pointed to eight major accomplishments and activities carried out by the town during 2013:
• He pointed to the town’s continued support of local businesses and the development of tourism by providing funding to the Meeker Chamber of Commerce to assist with the cost of the full-time director.
n Second, he pointed to the “Main Street Building” being donated to Rio Blanco County for a potential requested use as a new justice center and commons area in the core of downtown Meeker.
“This was a goal in the Comprehensive Plan,” Meszaros said.
• Third, he pointed to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) grant to the town for $825,000 for the combined infrastructure project that partners the town with Pioneers Medical Center, Rio Blanco County, Meeker Fire Protection District, Meeker Sanitation District, the Cemetery District and the Colorado Department of Transportation to provide water and sanitation services to the new Pioneers Medical Center complex, Curtis Creek and potentially out to County Road 15.
• Also, Meszaros noted that SGM Engineering completed the design, surveys and the CDOT process for the Market Street Sidewalk Project.
“This project should commence in the spring of 2014,” he said. “This will be done on the north side of Market Street and be a multi-year project to put sidewalks on both sides of Market Street, from opposite the BLM/Forest Service Building, down the north side to the west end of town and then back to the same area to the east end of town on the south side of Market Street.
“The first phase this spring should run from the east side of town to Fourth Street,” he said.
• The city was also able to replace several IT components and personal computers for the Meeker Police Department and the Public Works staff.
• Another of the accomplishments noted by Meszaros was enhancing the town’s Recycling Center using funds from the Yampa Valley Data Partners.
“This streamlined the recycling operation to include an enclosure of the processing center, adding additional enclosed storage, the purchase of a new forklift and putting a recovery system in the floor to assist in compacting materials with reduced hands-on labor,” he said,
• Another improvement completed during 2013 was the utilization of a 50 percent match with the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado (AGNC), the construction of the stone monument at Ute Park.
“The only thing left there is for the local sheepdog people to put up the sign on the monument that Ute Park is home of the Meeker Sheepdog Classic,” he said. “That ought to really add to the appeal of the park and it will be a great plug for the classic to outsiders driving through who don’t know about the classic.”
• And the last of the major projects, Meszaros said, was the town’s participation in the Stronger Economy Together (SET) project, a regional economic development program involving Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties as well as the numerous towns, chambers of commerce, economic development corporations and private partners.”
“This project brings all the towns, counties and groups together under a united flag to work for improved economic development in the entire area instead of each entity working for itself,” Meszaros said.
The town of Meeker will also hold an election with several changes looking likely.
Mayor Mandy Etheridge is term-limited out of office. Trustee Regas Halandras is term limited out as a trustee but is eligible to run for mayor if he chooses.
Trustee Rodney Gerloff is up to re-run if he wishes to retain his respective seat, and Trustee Bryce Ducey was appointed to the seat in 2013, so he will need to run in April to retain his seat.
“This could mean that four of your seven board members may be replaced, depending on their decisions to run or the results of the April election,” Meszaros said. “I personally would hope to see all of them continue, but term limitations and the dedication of personal time as well as the duration of the commitment is a lot to ask of anyone.
“Any registered voter who has lived here for 12 months may run for mayor or trustee,” he said. “Typically, the mayor is someone who has served as a planning commissioner or trustee, but that is not a requirement.”
If no one submits a petition to be mayor, then following the election, the board of trustees would vote to appoint one of themselves to serve as mayor until the next regular election in 2016.
“So it looks like it is going to be a good busy year ahead of us,” Meszaros said. “I think it will be an exciting year for Meeker and I am looking forward to the challenge of getting a number of things accomplished.”