Chamber confab ponders state of communities in Western Garfield County
Garfield County business leaders, municipal officials and members of the Western Garfield Chamber of Commerce gathered Feb. 12 to discuss their successes over the past year while also looking ahead to the future.
Among the many West Garfield County issues that were discussed at the annual State of the Community Luncheon was an impassioned speech from Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson advocating for the controversial Jordan Cove natural gas pipeline and terminal project in Oregon.
“I will do whatever I can to move that forward,” he said. “I hope to be at a podium a like this and tell [you all] of our success.”
Currently under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Jordan Cove project is a proposed natural gas terminal to be set up in Coos Bay, Oregon.
Garfield County commissioners and other Western Colorado elected officials have touted the project, saying it could open potential markets for natural gas produced in the Piceance Basin.
Samson also touched on several other issues of interest to the county as a whole, including the pending release of another $7.2 million to $7.5 million in federal oil shale trust funds. The county was previously successful in lobbying for the release of $18 million of those funds, which will go into the special Garfield Federal Mineral Lease District coffers to go toward project grants in the county.
Samson also commended the many economic development projects brought up by the Rifle, Silt and Parachute mayors and other representatives at the chamber event, which was held at the Ute Theatre.
Parachute Mayor Roy McClung outlined his hopes for the town’s growing recreation opportunities, including rafting, mountain biking, ATV riding and more.
He said the town of Parachute plans to build new soccer fields at Cottonwood Park. And, like neighboring Rifle, Parachute also has plans to open a coworking space in a recently acquired property this year.
Rifle Economic Development Corporation Assistant Director Katie Mackley said the Rifle coworking space should be opening sometime in March.
That same month, Grand River Health also plans to host a groundbreaking for its new long-term care facility. The expansion is also planned for 2019.
Rifle city officials gave an update on plans for the Art Dague Pool renovation project, which is set to begin in next fall and be completed in time for the 2020 summer season.
Silt officials, meanwhile, updated the gathering and several town projects, including efforts to purchase the former Roy Moore school site from the Garfield Re-2 School District. The town is also looking for ways to utilize the downtown Urban Renewal Authority and the new federal Opportunity Zone designation to further economic development efforts in Silt.