MONTE VISTA— Upper Rio Grande Economic Development (URGED) met for their first meeting of 2018 on the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 9. The economic developers listened to a presentation by Tom Tancula, owner of San Luis Central Railroad and received updates from county, city and congressional governments.
San Luis Central
Tancula gave the program for the meeting. He offered an overview of his company whose parent company ownes several railroads throughout the world. Tancula reminded attendees to practice safety when around trains to avoid preventable accidents. He explained the business of his company and how they help transfer products such as potatoes from one part of the country to another. He invited attendees to use the services the railroad has to offer and to ask for a tour of the train or a ride if they had some extra time. He then answered questions from those in the audience.
After Tancula’s presentation representatives from several governments gave updates on the activities of their area or department.
Rio Grande County
Rio Grande County Commissioner Chair Karla Shriver gave an update for Rio Grande County. She said the county is ready to gear up for their annual audit. A feasibility study has also been conducted on the railroad in the county between South Fork and Creede. Shriver reported that the report will be available soon. An engineering partnership was developed between the city of Monte Vista and the Veterans Wastewater Treatment Plant to do upgrades that will be beneficial to Proximity Malt. An engineering firm was recently hired and the project is moving forward according to Shriver. She finished by saying a big item the county will be working on is a tax question either for this election cycle or the next and will be seeking professional help for the process.
Marty Asplin shared details from the town of Del Norte. The hospital construction is moving along nicely according to Asplin. Nice weather has helped to make the project run smoothly. Asplin also shared permits are now being sought to begin construction on the Riverfront Project along the Rio Grande River.
Councilor Joe Schlabach gave an update on Monte Vista. He said there had been many changes in the city including the majority of the city council being new other than himself. Schlabach said the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) program is moving along and there is now a rough draft of a manual which will help the city to access funds for the program.
Senator Cory Gardner
Andy Merritt, who is United States Senator Cory Gardner’s state director, was present. Merritt informed attendees to let the office know if anyone from the area needs help with issues surrounding hemp production and how it relates to federal law. Merritt also reported that Gardner has a bipartisan bill for that would give 10 percent of funds towards rural broadband development. Through estimates, the bill could generate around 60-70 billion towards rural broadband, according to Merritt.