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Economic development groups merge

by Larry Patrick

HUERFANO- Just when it appeared that Huerfano County was going to have two separate economic development groups, the two sides agreed last Thursday to come together.

    Those attending the meeting last Thursday evening were expecting the formation of a new group because talks with the Huerfano County Economic Development board appeared to be going nowhere.  But on Thursday morning, the HCED board met with representatives of the new proposed group and hammered out an agreement.

    The move came about when HCED showed representatives of the new group that they were in compliance and up to date with the state and the IRS on all necessary reports.  A letter from local attorney Gary Hanisch, also stated that the change in by-laws cutting the number of people on the board from the previous 14 down to 5 was in his opinion legal.

    Anyone is allowed to join as non-voting members of HCED.  The board of directors consists of Dick Edler as president, Ed Johnson as Vice-President, Betty Jo Cordova as treasurer and Wynelle Turner & Betty Ridge filling out the rest of the board.  It was agreed that when one of the board members resigned or had their seat up for election, all those belonging to HCED would have a vote in selecting a new board member.

    As it now stands, committees to advise the board will be organized and work on pushing Huerfano County forward will begin in earnest.  Ed Johnson was the only representative of the HCED in attendance but he said, “I’m glad to have you folks join us.  With your help, we can get Economic Development going.”  Johnson went on to say, “Economic Development will work to bring the city, county, La Veta and others together.”

    Al Tucker, one of the people spearheading economic development told those in attendance, “I think we can really work together. We will be a cohesive voice and talk with a single voice.”

    Debbie Channel, Todd Oberheu, Al Tucker and Jacque Sikes had met earlier in the day with Dick Edler and Ed Johnson in a last ditch effort to bring the two sides together.

    Joe Kost of USDA Rural Development was at the meeting and said he has 50 funding programs that are available to help get the HCED moving forward.  Kost says he has loans and grants available to help finance new businesses or assist in helping current businesses expand.  Money is available to get a revolving loan fund started for HCED.

    Everyone in attendance felt that getting Walsenburg Care Center into a new facility and keeping them in Walsenburg, was a priority that economic development can and should work to find solutions.