Pandemic could drive remote workers away from urban environments

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Earlier this month the Rangely Development Authority (RDA) and Rangely Development Corporation heard from Town of Rangely Marketing Coordinator Jeannie Caldwell. Caldwell said a lot of the people in chat rooms she is in are talking about moving away from the Front Range and working remotely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The availability of broadband internet services in Rio Blanco County is one of the marketing strategies employed by the RDA/RDC to stimulate and encourage economic development.

Caldwell also updated the Rangely Board of Trustees on May 26 at their regular meeting. The town has hired Mackenzie Webber to assist with marketing. Webber is a Rangely High School graduate and recently earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Grand Canyon University. Webber will also assist at the Rangely Area Chamber of Commerce.

Caldwell shared a Power Point presentation during supervisor reports and talked about some of the things she is doing to improve the Town’s online presence, including remaking the Town’s website to include tourism, demographics and relocation information. Through the website and social media, the Town is focusing on tourism, amenities, and the people in the community. The town’s website developers will be submitting the new town website to the State of Colorado as one of the best municipal websites, and Caldwell will share suggested hashtags with the trustees to use when posting to social media.

New Rangely residents Charles and Marlene Wuester, whose son will be attending CNCC,  have started a woodworking business. They have made a Rangely Area Chamber of Commerce logo and presented it to Chamber Director Richard Smith on May 27.

Trustee Keely Ellis represented the Town of Rangely and CNCC on a phone call with Senator Michael Bennet. Ellis spoke out about the town’s inability to qualify for rural grants due to the median household income being higher than allowable by the grant criteria.  Ellis said Bennet was receptive to her concerns. Ellis and Town Manager Lisa Piering also participated in a telephone meeting with Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.

Piering and others met with a business developer in Montrose and the business developer recommended drawing up a prospectus. The Rangely Prospectus is in draft and will take a few more weeks until it is completed. She went on to speak about retaining our community’s youth, workforce development, promoting the college and other districts within our community.

Piering said the water line bids will be opening this week. Jordan Hughes joined the Rangely Police Department this week following his graduation and POST examination.  Chevron gave a substantial grant to the Tank and also donated food to both Rangely Food Bank and Rangely Community Resource Pantry.  Piering said the town will be moving forward with a community trash pickup to help rid residents of refuse. The town will be working with Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Land Management to educate the public on the repercussions of dumping on public lands.  Flowers went out on Main Street and seasonal employees begin working on May 26.

By Roxie Froman | Special to the Herald Times