Summaries of symposium presentations
Post Independent Staff
The State of the Valley Symposium held Friday featured a variety of presentations on current social and political issues. Here are summaries.
– Oil and gas drilling, presented by Doug Dennison, Garfield County oil and gas auditor.
Dennison reported that Garfield County is now the most active gas-producing county in the state. He said 35 rigs are currently operating, accounting for half the rigs in Colorado.
In 2003, 566 well permits were approved; already in 2004, 174 well permits have been approved, and he estimated more than 700 wells would be approved by year’s end.
Dennison said the newly formed Garfield County Energy Advisory Board, composed of people “from both sides of the table,” has had two meetings, and said the next meeting is at 6 p.m., Thursday at the Rifle Fire Station. The public, as always, is invited.
– Labor issues and the immigrant, presented by Tom Ziemann of Catholic Charities.
Ziemann said Catholic Charities is continuing to advocate for fair pay and safe conditions for immigrant workers.
He said two community advocates working in Glenwood Springs and Avon are assisting immigrants with mediations between employers over disputes in pay, particularly among undocumented workers.
He said the results of unsafe or unfair business dealings contributes to hatred, division and crime, and encouraged people to contact their legislators to create more stringent labor laws that will help to alleviate these problems.
– Watershed issues, presented by Kristine Crandall of the Roaring Fork Conservancy and Cindy Houben.
Houben and Crandall described the Watershed Collaborative, a group researching and providing information on watershed issues in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties. The research includes working with the Division of Water Resources, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, the Nature Conservancy and the United States Geological Survey, to collect data on river flow, fluctuations, water quality and sustainable watershed management.
– Affordable housing, presented by Susan Shirley of Mountain Regional Housing Corporation.
Shirley said communities are better when they include people from all economic levels. She said the MRHC’s housing rental and sale program is geared towards households making between $16,000 (single) to $92,000 (family).
MRHC acts as a nonprofit developer in rental and for-sale housing, and has been instrumental in valley-wide projects including Thompson Corner in Carbondale, the Ullr Commons in Aspen and White River Village in Rifle. The organization also offers home buyer classes.
– Energy efficient construction, presented by Steve Novy of Novy Architects and Joani Matranga of the Community Office for Resource Efficiency.
Novy told the crowd, “Energy efficiency makes sense for long-term affordability.”
Matranga said, working in part with Novy, CORE is helping people build energy efficient homes locally according to Building America specifications, including passive solar design, increased insulation, high efficiency furnaces, water conservation and xeri-landscaping.
– Leadership development, presented by Virginia Newton of Roaring Fork Leadership.
Newton explained that Roaring Fork Leadership, a 16-year-old Aspen-based leadership program that serves people from the Roaring Fork Valley, accepts individuals from the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Once a month for nine months, the group meets to listen to speakers, learn conflict resolution, enhance organizational skills and build community connections.
– Health care, presented by Lori Hogan of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
Roaring Fork Valley Community Health Plan, Hogan explained, began in 1993 to promote quality health care and health education to individuals and small businesses at an affordable cost. The organization now serves communities from Aspen to Rifle and offers group and individual health plans that address the needs of rural communities.
The coverage is provided by a leading insurance company and distributed by local brokers.
– Computer map planning, presented by Garfield County planner Randy Russell and Glenwood Springs city planner Mike Pelletier.
Russell and Pelletier demonstrated a computer mapping program that helps planning departments assess an area’s current status, and what it might look like at build out.
Using a projection screen and a laptop computer, Pelletier guided the audience on a simulated flight over the Four Mile area, showing what the area looks like now, and what it will look like if plans for developments, such as the former Red Feather Ridge subdivision, the Bershenyi property, and an Oak Meadows and Sunlight Mountain Resort expansion, are realized.
Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518
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