Rifle joins natural gas ‘good neighbor’ group | PostIndependent.com

Rifle joins natural gas ‘good neighbor’ group

A nonprofit group formed by natural gas operators in Garfield County to help improve relations with residents gained the city of Rifle as a member, after action by the City Council on Wednesday, May 15.

Community Counts part-time executive director Sher Long said the group had grown since it was formed in 2007 and wanted to see Rifle join other area municipalities as members.

“We now have more than 70 members, including nearly every operator, contractors, businesses, citizens and local governments,” Long said. “We’ve been asked to expand our presence in Mesa and Rio Blanco counties, too.

Long added Community Counts “almost always” resolves conflicts and issues between affected residents and the industry within days, if not hours. Their main role is to provide a toll-free phone number (1-866-442-9034), where a volunteer staffer accesses contact information for area operators and pairs residents with issues to the responsible party, Long said.

“People feel powerless if they can’t find the right people to call, so that’s what we do,” she added.

The group also has a website, communitycountscolorado.com, with information and links to ask questions.

Community Counts is funded through membership fees, along with $20,000 from the county last year and again this year. Long said municipal members, such as Rifle, pay a $50 annual membership fee, a request City Council approved 5-0 with councilmembers Jennifer Sanborn and Jonathan Rice absent.

In other action, City Council:

• Watched Matt Sturgeon take the oath of office as city manager. Sturgeon replaces John Hier, who retired. They also watched as a plaque of appreciation was presented to longtime Recreation Director Aleks Briedis, who will relocate to Illinois to be closer to family.

• Learned of a concern from the city’s insurer, the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency, with liability from injuries to those who use the unofficial winter sledding hill at McIntosh Park. Council took no action, pending more information from the agency.

• Appointed Judy Ortiz as an alternate member of the city parks and recreation advisory board.

• Were informed current Parks Director Tom Whitmore will become the city parks and recreation department director at the end of the month. City Council earlier approved a reorganization of the parks and recreation department under one director.

• Also heard Nathan Lindquist, who has been the city planner for the last several years, now has the title of planning director. The city is seeking to fill the planner position.

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