From My Window: Interesting tidbits about tri-county area; RBC county fair rollin’

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
My windows are so clean this week I could see all the way up to Moffat County, where I encountered the Yampa Valley Data Partners, which shares small snippets of news pertaining to Rio Blanco, Moffat and Routt counties.

Each snippet is about two or three sentences long, and usually compares reality issues in Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties to each other.
These I found quite interesting and really couldn’t come up with a better way to present them:
Employment:
May 2015 unemployment rates in Moffat (4.9 percent), Rio Blanco (5.3 percent) and Routt (4.8 percent) all represented improvement from May 2014. Colorado’s unemployment rate was 4.3 percent while the newly released U.S. rate for June dropped to 5.3 percent, the lowest it’s been since April 2008.
Industry:
Mining held its place as the largest industry in terms of total wages for both Moffat and Rio Blanco counties in the fourth quarter of 2014. Healthcare and social assistance led the way as the largest wage-producing industry in Routt County.
Wages:
The finance and insurance industries paid the highest average weekly wage in both Routt and Moffat counties in the fourth quarter of 2014, while utilities workers brought home the highest average weekly wage in Rio Blanco County.
Real Estate:
February 2015 median list prices for homes were up in Rio Blanco County (13 percent) and Routt County (19 percent) and down by 11 percent in Moffat County compared to the same time the previous year.
Energy:
Year-to-date coal production through April 2015 was up 92 percent in Rio Blanco County and 9 percent in Moffat County, but was down 35 percent in Routt County compared to the first four months of 2014. Year-to-date gas production was down 24 to 30 percent in each county.
Climate:
The end of June found Stagecoach and Yamcolo reservoirs holding at 13 percent and 19 percent above usual water levels, respectively. The Yampa River was flowing at 36 percent of its 2004-2014 average, with the White River flowing at 79 percent of average.
Carpooling:
Residents of Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties have access to a free, online carpool matching service sponsored by Yampa Valley Data Partners in cooperation with the three counties.
Commuters may find regular carpool partners or a car share for a one-time trip by registering on the website with a valid email address.
Organizers hope the website will help residents save on personal transportation costs and do their part to reduce fuel use and vehicle pollution.
Learn more at: www.carpoolworld.com/northwestcolorado

The Rio Blanco County Fair has been moving along slowly for roughly two weeks now, but the heavy action begins today with the livestock, the home ec products, and the arts and crafts, just to name a few of the activities that will be running from early in the day to late in the evening.
There are events for boys and girls, for teens and for men and women during the next three days, concluding Saturday night.
I must admit I most enjoy the 4-H/FFA livestock classes, featuring the cows, swine, goats and sheep, but checking out the chickens and rabbits (preference toward lop-ears) is right up there.
Also enjoyable are the baking and other food displays. But, face it, that stuff is canned. While you know it would taste great, when it is pickled or in a glass container, it just doesn’t excite the senses quite as much as a pie or cake or cookies would.
It is also a joy to take in the eating events available at the fair. At 11 a.m. Friday is the Rio Blanco County Woolgrowers’ Association’s lamb kabob sale at the fairgrounds, just outside the 4-H building. At 5 p.m. Friday is the Rio Blanco County Stockgrowers’ Association beef barbecue, also just outside the 4-H building. On Saturday, from 3:30 to 5:15 p.m., the Meeker Lions’ annual barbecue fills the stomach just before heading into the 4-H Bake Sale, which also leads up to the main event of the fair, the 4-H/FFA Junior Livestock Sale, where all the top winners at the fair will most likely be up for sale to the highest bidder.
This is always fun to watch as the kids realize this may be the last time they see their pets, which is, at times, somewhat emotional. It is also the time they realize a lot of what raising livestock really means, which is literally meat on the table and money in the pocket.
All of the competitions are fun to watch with the kids and teenagers competing at all levels of showmanship, from the young kids who still have a lot to learn about how to lead their critters, up to the veteran 4-H and FFA members who repeatedly come through with Grand Champion, Reserve Champion and top ribbon winners, year after year.
There are names you will hear again and again—representing members from Rangely and Meeker —and some of those names will amaze with how often you hear them repeated and realize just how much work those teens put in.
Here’s to hoping that everyone in Rio Blanco County gets out and enjoys at least a little portion of the Rio Blanco County Fair.
I may be a city slicker in reality, having grown up in Colorado Springs and Boulder, but there is also a big part of me that still enjoys watching the kids and teens at work to becoming future farmers and ranchers and seeing how these youths are doing at such an early age.
I’d say our agricultural future is in good hands, if Rio Blanco’s 4-H and FFA members are any indication.