Mayor, town manager appeal for Rangely to house justice center

The old Early Education Center rests peacefully on the west end of Rangely, where it has been for sale for roughly five years. Rangely Mayor Frank Huitt and Rangely Town Manager Peter Brixius would like the Rio Blanco County commissioners to consider buying the 29,000-square-foot building from Rangely School District RE-4 to remodel into the new county justice center and jail.
The old Early Education Center rests peacefully on the west end of Rangely, where it has been for sale for roughly five years. Rangely Mayor Frank Huitt and Rangely Town Manager Peter Brixius would like the Rio Blanco County commissioners to consider buying the 29,000-square-foot building from Rangely School District RE-4 to remodel into the new county justice center and jail.
RANGELY I Feeling that his town has been left out of consideration for too long, Rangely Mayor Frank Huitt believes the Early Education Center, which is now for sale by Rangely School Ditrict RE-4, would make an ideal location for the new Rio Blanco County Justice Center.
“It seems the people in Meeker can’t decide if they want the center or where they want it or what the cost will be to restore buildings or tear them down,” Huitt said Friday. “I’m saying that Rangely would like to have the justice center. We have a building that will accommodate justice center needs for years to come, the sale would certainly help out our school district, and it could all be done for much less than the county is talking about spending for a new justice center, whether they tear down the old school or build a new building from scratch.”
Huitt said the old Early Education Center on the west edge of Rangely has been for sale for about five years by Rangely School District and that the newer building, which covers 29,000 square feet, would require very little remodeling to fit the needs of the justice center.
“It already has all the infrastructure and utilities in place, is easily accessible and it would give residents in the western portion of Rio Blanco County a feeling of involvement since most of the county offices are in Meeker with ‘not a whole lot of consideration about Rangely.’
“Data communications wiring and modern building code requirements are already a reality in this building,” Huitt said. “It is our contention that the cost of rehabbing the location and making it suitable for the county’s new justice center would save millions of dollars for Rio Blanco County residents and make use of an underutilized modern building that would be ideal for law enforcement and court purposes.”
Rangely Town Manager Peter Brixius said he also believes it would be a good move for Rio Blanco County, for Rangely and for the Rangely School District.
“Remodeling costs would be a fraction of the other two alternatives the county is looking at,” Brixius said. “It already has a gymnasium, it has classrooms that could easily be made into offices or cells and would seem to already meet several of the criteria needed for the justice center.”
Huitt added that the facility already has a parking lot that could accommodate a helicopter landing pad if that was ever needed and that the property is already well-landscaped.
The building already has a kitchen, he said, and there are entryways on the north and south sides of the building by the parking lots and it is a single-level building that would make it easy to secure in its use as a jail and allow for easy construction of an outdoor exercise area.
“Overall, we believe this single facility, Rangely’s stable economy and affordable housing for employees make Rangely the right place for Rio Blanco County’s new justice center,” he wrote.

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