Jim Evans gets his own day
RIFLE – At midnight on New Year’s Eve, Jim Evans will have two good reasons to celebrate.One will be his retirement after 24 years as executive director of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado. The other will be the proclamation by Gov. Bill Owens of Jan. 1, 2006, as “Jim Evans Day.”For nearly a quarter century, Evans has guided the AGNC, which represents five western Colorado counties – Garfield, Mesa, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt – on a variety of issues, including the oil shale boom and bust in the 1980s and the growth of energy development in the area in the last several yearsThe work he’s done is something he can look back on and be proud of.”I guess I’m proudest of the crucial role the AGNC played in the enactment of legislation in oil shale leasing in the 1980s,” Evans said from his AGNC office at Rifle City Hall. “The AGNC is one of the most progressive agencies in the state.”
Originally from Whittier, Calif., near Los Angeles, Evans graduated from UCLA with a degree in public administration and took a job with Los Angeles County. He was then hired by the National Association of Counties as director of the western states district and worked in Washington, D.C.”I was a lobbyist and dealt with energy and public land issues,” Evans said.Then the opportunity to work in Colorado arose.”The east coast was a fun place to be and it was an interesting time,” he said. “But I wanted to move back west. I had been (to Colorado) several times before on business and they told me about the oil shale and the rock that burns.”He was hired in 1981 by what was then called the Colorado West Area Council of Governments. The name was changed in 1982 to the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.As executive director of AGNC, Evans has been involved in a number of different issues that affect western Colorado, most recently on how the state’s severance tax money from the energy companies is distributed.
Last month, Rifle and a number of other communities received a far smaller severance tax check than normal after the Department of Revenue this year changed their interpretation of the formula that determines how the money is distributed.”As a region, we got $3 million less than we should have gotten,” Evans said. “And Rifle took the biggest hit. (The AGNC’s) number one priority has been the state energy programs, such as the severance tax program. That’s been our focus through the years.”Living in Grand Junction and working in Rifle, Evans was also called to travel extensively throughout western Colorado and to Denver. But after retirement, he plans to travel for pleasure to places such as Puerto Vallarta and North Carolina.”I hit 65,” Evans said with a smile. “Now I want to travel and spend more time with my family.”And play golf, he added.
But he looks back on his tenure with the AGNC with pride.”I’ll definitely miss working directly with the city and county officials,” he said. “They’re the first line of local government and a good group to work with. The job has been enjoyable, and northwest Colorado has always had good legislators, which helped me do my job and has been good for the region.”Obviously Evans has been good for the state as well, judging from a proclamation personally signed by Gov. Owens in honor of Jim Evans Day on Jan. 1.”Whereas the state of Colorado thanks Jim Evans for all that he has done in behalf of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado and for his continued commitment to the citizens of the state,” the proclamation reads.Evans has already bought a nice bottle of champagne to celebrate.”I’ll take the bottle to the governor’s office, and we’ll have a toast,” he said with a smile.
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