Rangely town council selects new member

RANGELY | Tuesday the Rangely Town Council interviewed potential candidates for the open council seat, selected Matt Billgren as the new member Matt Billgren and conducted a regular meeting.
The council position, which was vacated by former Mayor Joe Nielsen last month, received three applicants: Alisa Granger, Rich Garner and Matt Billgren. The council interviewed each candidate, asking about their motivations for seeking the position and potential concerns they may have.
Alisa Granger, wife of CNCC President Ron Granger, said she decided to apply for the position in order to become more involved. She believes that her relatively new status as a citizen of Rangely is an asset, as she could provide fresh ideas. Granger said she was “not concerned about anything” currently within the community and highlighted the importance of acouncil member weighing pros and cons on spending issues. Granger said she did plan to run for the position in the spring election.
Matt Billgren, whose wife is Chamber of Commerce Director Konnie Billgren, said he was interested in serving on the council because he wants to give back to the community. Billgren said he has lived in Rangely for two and a half years after living in larger communities and knows how important the council is for the function of the town. “I have a vested interest in this community,” he said. Billgren stated that he does intend to run for the council position in April. He believes that a council member should be prepared to share concerns from the community while following hierarchy protocols. Billgren’s biggest concern about the community is maintaining or increasing home values and making Rangely “a place people want to come.”
Rich Garner participated in the interviews via phone conference. Garner, who has lived in Rangely since 2009, said he does plan to seek election to the council. Garner highlighted his military service saying, “This is just kind of a natural next step to continue my commitment to service.” Garner discussed several issues facing the town including declining revenues, and infrastructure needs. He talked about the need to clear up gray areas in communication with the community. Garner described the council as the upper management and “the voice of the people,” and said he is passionate about public safety. He also described himself as a problem solver and out of the box thinker.
At the end of the work session interviews the council voted via anonymous paper ballots. Matt Billgren was announced as the winner during the regular meeting. The council then formally voted unanimously to appoint Billgren.
Billgren stated that he was prepared to abstain from any votes that would put him in direct conflict with either his position with Chevron or his wife’s position with the Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor Ann Brady stated that the council decided to fill the vacant position through appointment due to the high cost of running a special election. The next election takes place on April 3 when there will be three council seats and the mayor’s position open. Petitions to run are due to the Town Clerk by January 22.
Andy Shaffer, Lisa Hatch, and Matt Billgren’s positions are the seats up for election. Shaffer and Billgren have stated that they will seek reelection, while Hatch is termed out. Mayor Ann Brady’s position is also up for election. Brady said she will not be running.
Town Manager Peter Brixius updated the Council on the Tanglewood project which is preparing for major road and utilities updates. Brixius said the town is applying for grants to help fund the project but is unsure that the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) will help pay for any asphalt work. The town estimates the project will cost approximately $450,000.
Brixius also talked about the workforce housing on West Main St. which was constructed in 2009. Brixius said that rent for the units has stayed below what the town had hoped for, but that the units do create revenue for the Rangely Development Agency, which helped finance the construction. He estimated the total revenue generated at $48,000.
The town and county are currently considering combining building departments and sharing inspectors. Rangely’s building code was last updated in 2006, and Meeker’s in 2001. The issue will be discussed at the next commissioner meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
The council quickly approved the special event permit for the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Crab Crack on Feb. 10. This year’s Crack is themed ‘Mardi Gras’.
The town council will meet again on Tuesday, Jan. 23 when they will swear in the new council member.