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First Choice Market gets abatement relief

by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG — The Huerfano County Assessor’s Office took another look at the taxes assessed to First Choice Market of Walsenburg and revised their tax bill downward by $22,000. Hugh and Denise Brown, owners of the First Choice, had appeared before the commissioners two weeks ago seeking relief from a tax bill over $50,000. The commissioners said they could file a tax abatement protest with the County Assessors Office, which they did.
The Browns were facing a $1,000 tax bill each week without changes. The first year of a food market is the most expensive because the store has to pay upfront for inventory and other costs. The drop will decrease the amount of money some governmental entities will receive this year, but will help a fledgling business move forward.
The county waste transfer station continues to struggle financially and the commissioners don’t want to continue losing money on it. They have asked the county administrator to check with local trash hauling companies to see if there is an interest in privatizing the waste transfer station. Commissioner Scott King said one of the major concerns he has heard from citizens when running for county commissioner the first time, was people dumping trash in arroyos and wanting to have a place to take trash and larger items for disposal. Yet, he says, people are not using the facility.
The Black Hills Energy Wind Farm and Chaé Organics projects are continuing to make progress. Local contractors are among those working on the wind farm project, and commissioners say other contractors are staying in Walsenburg motels and frequenting local restaurants. Approximately 70 temporary jobs are being provided in the county by Black Hills Energy.
Chaé Organics and the county have signed a performance agreement for the grant to assist in building their facility west of Walsenburg. Chaé will provide a minimum of 15 jobs.
The commissioners are requesting Ft. Carson to do an environmental impact study on the adverse effects of low flying helicopters, which are being used while mapping land between Ft. Carson and the Pinon Canyon area. Some helicopters are flying as low as 10 feet, scaring livestock and wildlife along with people in the area.