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RANGELY | Last week the Rangely Area Chamber of Commerce hosted an open house designed to update the public on the status of various local projects and entities.
The evening’s presentations kicked off with Rangely School Superintendent Matt Scoggins who said that the local schools are “an economic driver in the community.” The district currently has 60 full-time and 30 part-time employees. Scoggins discussed the district’s ongoing financial woes and informed the group that they would be seeking a bond renewal in the coming year.
County Economic Development coordinator Katelin Cook said the county is currently working on a variety of topics including creation of an economic development website, a workforce assessment to provide a “holistic” picture of the local workforce, and county plans to build off the broadband project. Cook expressed excitement over the Wagon Wheel OHV system which will be the largest trail system in Colorado once completed. Cook also introduced the Colorado Rural Jump Start Program which provides an up to four-year tax holiday on state taxes to accepted businesses. Cook is working through the application process and will need resolutions of support from both the towns and county.
In contrast to Cook’s attempts to find tax breaks for businesses, Rio Blanco County Commissioner Jeff Rector announced that the county is pursuing plans to end the impact fee moratorium on oil and gas projects. Rector said he has reached out to all local producers regarding the fee increase and he hopes to have a draft of the plan by October.
Also on the new commissioner’s list is improvements to Rangely’s Columbine Park, which he said is in poor condition.
“Rangely has not got their fair share,” he said at the meeting.
Blake Mobley, IT director for the county, provided a broadband update. “Few of us know how amazing this project is,” he said. According to Mobley we now have the fastest internet county in the state. Mobley said that the 25 miles of Meeker and 25 miles of Rangely main line are close to completion and that he expects the rural towers to go up in June, which will provide service 8-10 miles out. His department is currently seeking a DOLA grant to fund secondary lines which would extend the signal even further.
The Bureau of Land Management White River Field Office Outdoor Recreation Manager reminded attendees that the White River Field Office covers approximately 1.5 million acres and generates a gross revenue of almost $2 million annually from recreation. The BLM is still in the process of updating the Travel Management Plan. County Sheriff Anthony Mazzola spoke up to encourage everyone to get involved in the travel management plan process as early as possible.
Lisa Hatch spoke on behalf of The Tank, which will open for the season on the first Saturday in May. They are planning an open mic night on June 17 and barbecue event on June 18.
Hatch also provided information about the Dinosaur Monument Hang Gliding event. Rangely is a host community for the event and according to Hatch, they are expecting 50 pilots. The event will coordinate with The Tank’s Summer Solstice celebration.
Town Manager Peter Brixius updated the group on the grocery survey, which had 235 responses, as well as the Better City Project, which began in 2014. Brixius said the town is still working through the grocery/retail store portion of the plan. They are also still considering the use of Tax Incremental Financing, which would require the support of the various local special districts.
Rangely Area Chamber of Commerce Director Konnie Billgren told the group that she hopes the town will come together for both the hang gliding event and Chevron shut in this summer. Billgren said the town would need local business to open early and stay late to meet the increased needs during those events.
Alden Vanden Brink provided a quick update on the White River Conservancy District’s water storage goals. Recognizing that the shrinking Kenney Reservoir is the river’s only storage, the district began researching options in 2005. While the process is still in its early stages, Vanden Brink hopes that the water rights for both storage options will be finalized this year.