STEAMBOAT SKI AREA OPENS TODAY
The Steamboat Ski Area is open. The resort opened today with their Scholarship Day. Lift tickets are discounted today and proceeds go to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. The club uses the funds to hand out scholarships to those who can’t afford its programs. No passes are valid today. In the last 20 years, the resort has raised over $650,000 for the club during Scholarship Days. While the weather hasn’t produced much powder for the resort yet this season, 14 inches fell on the mountain in this past weekend’s snow storm. As of now, the ski area has 43-inches of snow on the mountain.
CRAIG CITY COUNCIL APPROVES BUDGET, RAISES WATER RATES
The Craig City Council approved their $18 million budget for next year last night. Councilors were pleasantly surprised this year to discover a $700,000 windfall from severance tax and mineral lease dollars. The money goes into the general fund, and will be used for various line items in the budget. The council also gave final approval to a water rate increase. The base rate stays the same, but usage rates will go up an average of 5%. This is the last year of a 5-year study on what the city should be charging for water rates. At the end of the study, city staff will have worked out a formula for annual rate increases that will sustain the water plant’s operational costs.
BLM TO INVENTORY AND DESIGNATE OHV ROUTES ON PUBLIC LAND
The Moffat County Commissioners gave their support to the Little Snake Field Office of the BLM in their quest to secure a grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The grant would be used to inventory and designate Off Highway Vehicle routes on public land. The entire process is expected to take about 5 years. The grant would be worth $120,000. The money comes from OHV licensing fees paid to the state. Those funds are put into a pool, and are then doled out in grants to government or citizen groups looking to improve OHV trails across the state. BLM reps said yesterday that when the process is finished, they hope to have an interactive online mapping system for OHV users. The commissioners will send a letter of support to the state parks office.
FOREST VISITORS NEED TO BE AWARE OF UNSTABLE TREES
Visitors to the Medicine Bow/Routt National Forest are being reminded of the dangers of unstable trees. High winds took down large numbers of trees in parts of the forest over the past week. Many of the forests trees are either dead or dying, due to the bark beetle epidemic. Now that people are out cutting Christmas trees and using snowmobile trails in the forest, officials are urging them to be watchful for falling trees. Forest Rangers say you should avoid dense patches of dead trees, stay out of the forest during high winds, and to make sure camping tents are not set up in the path of a tree that could fall.
WILDLIFE OFFICIALS OFFER FENCING HELP TO FARMERS AND RANCHERS
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officials are urging farmers and ranchers to make sure their fences are secure going into the winter foraging season. Every winter deer and elk look for haystacks, orchards, nurseries and even barns in search of an easy meal. The damage caused to crops and feed supplies can be very costly. Wildlife officials say in most cases, it can be prevented with adequate fencing. The department will work with farmers and ranchers, if asked, to ensure the effectiveness of the fencing through their Game Damage Program. In many cases that means a special hunt on the affected person’s property. For more information on the Game Damage Program, visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.
MOFFAT COUNTY COMMISSIONERS CHANGE WORKER’S COMP PROVIDERS
The Moffat County Commissioners yesterday severed ties with Pinnacle Insurance for their worker’s compensation insurance. The county has been going through local provider Mountain West Insurance, whose reps told them yesterday that Pinnacle priced their rate high in an effort to discontinue their relationship with the county. They said the county’s loss ratio was too high. The county was sorry to break ties with the local provider, but approved joining County Technical Services Incorporated’s County Worker’s Compensation Pool. CTSI serves counties across the state and pools their premiums to keep them low.
COLORADO SEES DROP IN UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
Colorado’s unemployment rate dropped two tenths of a percentage point in October, compared to the month before. The 8.2% rate is also lower than the national average of 9%. Over the last year, the rate has gone down nearly a full percentage point. The rate was 8.9% in October of 2010. Over the last month 900 government jobs have been added, while 7,900 new jobs were created in the private sector. Labor statistics show there are nearly 2.7 million workers employed in the state.