OHV project rolls forward

MEEKER I Plans for the off-highway vehicle (OHV) project continue to move forward. Project proponents are looking at approximately 150 miles of trails.
“Non-profit and governmental groups are working on this,” said Meeker Chamber of Commerce director Katelin Cook.
The group is seeking to have resolutions from the governmental entities involved to give OHV enthusiasts the ability to access trails from town. Rangely already has a resolution in place and the county has a resolution on the table.
“What we would like to see is a similar resolution in all three places.”
The resolution will follow the model traffic code as well as the Division of Parks and Wildlife requirements for supervision of children. Speed limits shall not exceed 40 mph or posted limits, whichever is less. All OHVs must have a valid state park sticker.
Once resolutions are in place, the group will begin submitting grant applications to obtain funding for the project.
“This is a several billion dollar per year industry. The draw is to keep people in town, staying in the hotels, eating at the restaurants and going to the stores. This is something that hasn’t been done anywhere in the state of Colorado,” said Shawn Bolton.
“Tourism always comes up as one of the industries we want to focus on to get away from the boom-bust cycle,” said Mayor Mandi Etheridge. “My biggest concern would be education to local enthusiasts who don’t recognize there will be rules and regulations.
“So far this has been a hands up over all. There hasn’t been a single negative. We’ve got 75 percent public lands in this county. That’s what we have to work with. It automatically fits in to the new travel management plan for the forest service and the recreation side of the BLM.” Bolton added.
The board agreed to ask staff to draft a resolution in support of the OHV project and to provide a letter of support for the project.
The town board of trustees heard a presentation from Patti Arrington with the Meeker Giving Tree at the regular Tuesday meeting. The Giving Tree program which helps provide needed gifts and clothing for children at Christmas and food boxes for families in need. The Methodist Church took the project on five years ago.
“It is a secular program. We do not tie anything from the church to the Giving Tree other than hosting it and having the manpower to pull it off. That was how it was brought to us to do about five years ago and we honored those wishes,” Arrington said.
Giving Tree applications follow the same guidelines as the Low-income Energy Assistance Program and require supporting documentation. Applications are available at social services, Colorado West and anywhere children are taken care of. Businesses and individuals can sponsor a child or children for Christmas.
No names are involved. “It is a very strict confidential program.”
Businesses and churches who have requested to sponsor a child receive ornaments and begin shopping for the child. Leftover ornaments are taken to Meeker Drugs where individuals can pick up an ornament and purchase gifts for the child. Any ornaments left on the tree are taken care of by Giving Tree volunteers.
“Santa delivers the packages, which is a real treat for the kids. Thanks to the support of the community, our needs have always been met.”
Last year the program provided aid to 45 families and 115 children.
The board agreed to renew their donation to the Giving Tree of $250 for this year.
The trustees also heard from Doug Merrell about the town’s technological and networking needs for the upcoming budget year, including bringing the email system in-house to improve security, archiving, replacing aging equipment and contributions to the local fiber optic network.
“Last year we worked on the server side of things, this year we’ve got to move outward to some desktop things,” Merrell said.
In other business, the board of trustees approved a tavern liquor license renewal for Los Koras Mexican restaurant and bar, including a renewal of 2009 conditions dealing with bar operations and requirements for employee training, etc.
Trustees agreed to move money from one part of the proposed 2012 budget for the necessary tech upgrades in order to avoid dipping into the reserve funds.
Approved a lease agreement between the Town of Meeker and the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District for the rec district to take over operation of the town’s parks with the exception of Ute Park and the small RV park on Water Street.