Friday, February 20, 2015

Mesa County Fairgrounds celebrates opening of new arena

The Mesa County Fairgrounds already hosts 500 events a year, but thanks to the addition of a second arena, officials say they'll be able to host many more.

The new arena officially opens at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, 2785 U.S. 50, this weekend.

Total project cost was nearly $2.4 million for the 35,750 square foot, covered, partially enclosed arena, show office, restroom facility and 22 RV parking spaces.

Primarily, it is an equestrian arena, but it will be used for a variety of events.

"This arena will draw bigger and more horse shows," said Jo Carole Haxel, Mesa County Fairgrounds manager. "The old covered arena has been booked with a waiting list every season. The new one will allow us to accommodate larger shows, which draw people to the community for more days. It's a really good thing."

The old arena also will continue to be used for events.

On Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, rodeo enthusiasts will fill the new arena for a barrel racing competition. Barrel racing is a rodeo event for women and girls. The event starts at 10 a.m. with exhibitions. Barrel racing starts after noon.

A beer festival called Western Slope on Tap on March 14, as well as dog and horse shows are also already planned for the new space. During the Mesa County Fair, the new arena will host live music.

Members of the media are invited to attend Saturday's (Feb. 21, 2015) barrel racing event to report on the new arena. Contact Jo Carole Haxel at (970) 986-1104 if needed.

First property tax payment due Feb. 28



This will serve as a reminder to Mesa County taxpayers. If you are planning to pay your property taxes in two installments, the first one-half is due on or before Feb. 28, 2015. Because Feb. 28 falls on a Saturday, you will have until Monday, March 2, 2015, to pay your first one-half installment.

Colorado law requires payments in two equal installments, the first being due on or before the last day of February, and the second installment to be paid no later than the 15th day of June. However, if you are paying your taxes in full, they are due no later than April 30, 2015.

Property tax statements were mailed the week of Jan. 20, 2015. If you did not receive your property tax statement, visit

"We invite all taxpayers to utilize our website to check out the taxes they owe," said County Treasurer Janice Rich. "It is very easy to click on Pay/View Property Taxes. Follow the directions from there to see taxes owing for 2014 due in 2015."

Colorado law [CRS 39-10-103(1)(a)] states: "Failure of any person to receive such statement or true and actual notice ... shall not preclude collection by the treasurer of the amount of taxes due from and payable by such person...".

For more information, e-mail or call Janice Rich at (970) 244-1833.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mesa County Commissioners oppose HB 15-1054

The Mesa County Commissioners on Thursday sent a letter opposing the passage of Colorado House Bill 15-1054.

The bill concerns the use and regulation of Off Highway Vehicles.

Though the Commissioners were supportive of the original version of the bill, the amendments would "strip our county of many rights concerning the local regulation of Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) use."

In November, Mesa County adopted an ordinance allowing the use of OHVs on county roads for recreation and tourism. The bill in its current form would undermine the ordinance, the commissioners wrote.

OHV use on Mesa County roads is an economic issue, the Commissioners wrote. It helps support a growing recreational industry, enables access to public lands and provides travel options for residents and tourists.

Additionally, OHV use should be regulated on a local level, the Commissioners wrote.

To read the letter in its entirety, go here.

Upcoming Mesa County road closures


Several roads will be closed in the coming weeks for culvert replacements:

  • 1156 23 Road, Feb. 23-March 20
  • 1911 L Road, Feb. 23-27
  • 199 Lumley Drive, Feb. 24-25
  • 349 33 Road, Feb. 26-27

  • A culvert is a structure that allows water to drain and flow under a road rather than pooling on top of it.

    The repairs are part of Mesa County Road and Bridge's work to maintain roads in Mesa county. In all, Road and Bridge takes care of more than 1,400 miles of road, more than 200 major bridges, 250 minor structures, 250 cattle guards and more than 4,000 other sub-surface structures such as culverts and sub-surface drainage. 

    For more information on Mesa County Road and Bridge, go here.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2015

    Mesa County Commissioners support bill to create economic development grant program for rural counties

    The Mesa County Commissioners on Tuesday sent a letter of support for Colorado House Bill 15-1177, which would create an economic development initiative grant program for "highly distressed" rural counties. If the bill passes, local governments and private employers in up to 30 rural counties could apply for grants to attract new jobs or encourage private capital investment.

    Applicants would need to provide matching funds and meet certain performance criteria.

    The bill on Tuesday passed out of the State House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on a 12-1 vote, with some amendments. It will now be considered by the State House Appropriations Committee.

    In their letter, the Mesa County Commissioners wrote:

    "Many counties on the Western Slope were hit hard by the economic downturn that began in 2008, and for many reasons, such as low commodity prices, regulatory pressures and an over-abundance of federally controlled land, we have yet to see the economic recovery that other areas of Colorado are currently experiencing.

    "HB 15-1177 would provide capital, through a carefully managed grant system, for private companies and local governments to initiate economic development projects in order to help breathe life into struggling rural economies."

    For a full copy of the letter, go here.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    Commissioners ask for draft of a notice of intent to sue federal government

    The Mesa County Commissioners today directed County Attorney Patrick Coleman to draft a notice of intent to sue the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

    The move aligns Mesa County with the State of Colorado and other local governments in efforts to protest the federal government's decision to list the Gunnison sage grouse as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

    The State of Colorado has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Fish and Wildlife Service and certain federal officials.

    Among the concerns with the December 2014 decision to list the Gunnison sage grouse as a threatened species are potential impacts to energy development and agriculture in areas of the state where the bird lives. The Gunnison sage grouse primarily is found in southwestern and central Colorado, as well as in northeast Utah.

    A potential lawsuit would make three general arguments:

    1. Listing the Gunnison sage grouse as threatened is unnecessary because of the extensive successful cooperative efforts of local, state and federal government officials and private landowners to protect the bird.
    2. The best science indicates the Gunnison sage grouse is not threatened.
    3. More than 1.4 million acres in Colorado and Utah have been designated "critical habitat" for the Gunnison sage grouse, contrary to federal law.

    The State of Colorado asserts its conservation efforts have helped increase numbers of the bird.

    Mesa County's Commissioners directed the county attorney to draft the notice of intent to sue to show their support for the state's efforts. Plus, filing a notice of intent to sue has to happen before the Mesa County Board of Commissioners could sue the federal government.

    The Commissioners agreed: "This issue affects Mesa County."