PCDI Board Urges Website Completion, Approves Pond Study Funding

Don McBee, Vice President of the Prowers Conservation District, requested operating funds from the Prowers County Development Incorporated board to help cover the cost of a two-year study to determine seepage loss from 20 surface irrigation ponds in the lower Arkansas Valley.  The results, he said, will set the standard for determining pond loss for augmentation between Rocky ford and the Kansas state line.  Sixteen ponds have already been metered from a $75,000 grant from NRCS for labor and solar panels; $47,000 was generated in donations, and $25,000 through in-kind donations.  McBee said $3,500 will purchase the remaining flow meters needed for the study.  Following a vote, the PCDI board approved $250 for the project.  McBee said if the study shows water is staying the same at current prices, the study results will help save Arkansas Valley farmers between $25,000 and $40,000 annually in augmentation water.  McBee said the impact area includes about 155 quarter pivots between Otero County and the Kansas border.

The PCDI Strategic Marketing Committee said the Washington street property, the former Big R warehouse and office complex, is being listed with local real estate dealers, and plans are developing  for future advertising on a wider scope than southeast Colorado.  The property was recently appraised at $494,101.34.  In other action, a mid June training session for local fire department personnel at the Washington Street Property was approved.  Fire Chief Marshall Cook assured the board, insurance coverage is available and no fires of any sort will be involved in the session.

Board members agreed with the PCDI Website Committee, that further delays on the organization’s new website are not acceptable.   Board members stressed the need to have a final design approved and operational as early as possible.   The new website will provide more comprehensive information about economic and business opportunities within Prowers County.  Board member Lawrence Brase stated the website will serve as the county’s primary information source for area, state and national parties that show an interest in economic development in the county.  On a related matter, work continues on developing a county-wide business inventory.  The listing will provide names, businesses, owners, phone numbers and websites as well as listing home based businesses.  Holly’s Town Administrator, board member Marsha Willhite said Holly’s listing has already been prepared.  A much used business retention questionnaire is being modified and pared to be used for continued business interviews.  The questionnaire was used by SEBREA volunteers several years ago to compile a business assessment in the six county region of southeast Colorado. 

PCDI executive Director, Lisa Nolder, briefed board members on conversations she’s had with representatives from six companies which are in the wind energy service sector.  Nolder said several have indicated an interested in opening field offices in the Lamar area.  She said one of the six, based in Durango, has had a good business relationship in Lamar and Holly in past.  Offering more somber news, Nolder said several of the independent wind generation companies have declined to continue lease agreements for future electrical energy transmission in southeast Colorado.  The current wind turbine developers will continue their present operations, but she said there are no future expansion plans on their part right now.  The March 2012 scheduled closing of the Ft. Lyon prison will result in 305 lost jobs, in the prison and through fallout in other business interests in the region.  The study was prepared by an economist, hired to provide information on how the job loss will translate to real estate, schools, labor market and area businesses in Bent, Otero and Prowers Counties. 

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinesscommunityCountyEconomyEmploymentEnergyFeatured


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