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RANGELY| The Rangely Town Council met on Tuesday night where they discussed the upcoming town election and a White River algae investigation.
The next town council election will take place on April 3, 2018. Petitions to run will be available Jan. 2 and must be returned by Jan. 22. Three trustees and the mayor’s position will be up for election. Trustee Lisa Hatch is termed out and trustee Ann Brady will not be seeking reelection. Trustee Andy Shaffer’s position will also be open for election. Shaffer has not yet announced his intentions. Mayor Joseph Nielsen, who was not in attendance, will not be seeking reelection.
Town Manager Peter Brixius covered a recent meeting with CDOT where he discussed drainage improvement on Birch Street and the street corners on Main Street and White Avenue which are difficult for semi truck traffic. CDOT will be exploring options to improve both areas.
Jocelyn Mullen, town planner, discussed concerns about the algae problem in the White River. The bloom, which is believed to be caused by elevated nitrogen and phosphorous levels, has impacted recreation and the water intake at Rangely’s water plant. Mullen cited a study conducted by private investigators hired by landowners on the river that claimed that earlier and slower runoff may be a contributing factor. Without a heavy quick flood flow to knock back the early algae growth the bloom is allowed to grow unhindered. Mullen requested funding for a continuous sampling, 3-year study to be conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The study would cost a total of $260,000 and USGS is seeking $160,000 from local municipalities. According to Mullen Rio Blanco County has offered to pay for half. USGS is seeking $15,000 each year for the first two years and $10,000 third year from Rangely.
Councilman Andy Key expressed frustration with USGS and the potential impact their participation in the study could have on local businesses including agriculture and fishing. “We as a government entity are going to pay another government agency to conduct this study,” he said. Key requested a study done by an independent group that wouldn’t have politics involved. Brady echoed his sentiments saying, “They (USGS) test and study for exactly what they want. We’ve had some bad dealings in the past with USGS.” The council did not make a decision on participation in the study but agreed to put a budget “place holder” for the funds.
Rangely uses the White River as its primary source of drinking water. The algae does not currently impact the water quality, but Mullen believes it could eventually.
Councilwoman Lisa Hatch informed the board that the hang gliding event will not be held in Rangely again in 2018. However, she is hopeful that the area will be considered in 2019.
The Council renewed the liquor licenses for Nichols Store, The Elks Club and Cedar Ridges Golf Course.
The Nov. 28 town council meeting will include budget discussions. They will vote on the final budget next month.