Meeker trustees approve permanent electrical wiring hookup at Ute Park

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MEEKER I In a public hearing before the board, the Smoking River Pow Wow committee presented a request to authorize the installation of underground electrical wiring to the area where the powwow dances are performed. The cost of installation — trenching, wiring, etc. — will be provided by local businesses on a donation basis.
“This power will facilitate our lights and sound so that we don’t have any issues with flashing lights or noise feedback or fuzzy sound,” said Chuck Mills, speaking from his position as a member of the Smoking River Pow Wow committee.
“This will benefit not only the powwow, but the sheepdog trials, concerts and whoever plans to play in that area. It’s an extension of the existing power at the park that will improve the venue,” Mills added.
The board approved the ordinance, which revised the Ute Park master plan to approve the installation of the wiring.
Pow Wow committee member Lynn Lockwood thanked the board for its donation to the powwow and said the committee is grateful for the town’s support of the event.
The board also approved a request to build a 16×24 structure to the north of the recycling center to be used by the Meeker Police Department.
After research and discussion that spanned three meetings, Meeker’s board of trustees opted to draft a letter to our federal and state representatives stating the town’s opposition to the so-called “FRAC act” — Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act — and requesting further studies done on the effect of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water.
The pair of twin bills introduced to Congress in June would increase regulatory measures already in place on the oil and gas industry. Hydraulic fracturing is a process commonly used in the Piceance Basin and other areas to release trapped natural gas from underground rock formations.
Lobbyists for the oil and gas industry countered the bill with requests from towns and counties to declare opposition against the bills. The House bill was introduced by Diana DeGette, D-Colo., Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. and Jared Polis, D-Colo.
“I am in support of regulating the oil and gas industry to protect the environment,” said Mayor Mandi Etheridge. “From what I understand, all this bill does is add bureacracy to the process (of hydraulic fracturing). As a local government I feel like as a board we either need to pass a resolution saying we either support the frac act, or that we feel like it needs to have more studies, but I don’t feel like the pendulum should swing the other way by saying we support it. I don’t feel like this bill is an environmental issue, it’s a business issue.”
Dr. Bob Dorsett of Meeker told the board the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission has no record of hydraulic fracturing affecting water supplies, although surface activity — spills, leaks, etc. — have affected wells and aquifers. Dorsett said the potential for drilling in the rock formations where the town’s water supply might be affected does exist, but isn’t currently taking place.
After discussion, the board agreed to draft their own letter opposing the bills.
“I don’t like the idea of an oil and gas lobbyist writing our resolution for us,” said trustee John Strate.