Weather station needs funding


— How quickly a new weather radio station will be up and operating will depend on how fast donations from the community come in.

With a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant secure, local officials are attempting to raise $14,000 for the project.

The grant, which was awarded to the National Weather Service and Yampa Valley Electric Association, will pay for 65 percent of the cost to install a radio transmitter on Walton Peak.

"We need the community to step up to collect matching funds for the grant," said Routt County Emergency Manager Chuck Vale, who is spearheading the project.

Vale is hopeful that 75 people who expressed an interest in donating money to the project in June 2001 will be sending in donations.

"We are ready to move forward," he said. "We now need the community to come through."

The project got started in spring 2001 when Vale met with a small group of residents interested in the radio system, which would provide local weather reports 24-hours-a-day.

Vale moved forward with the project when he received numerous requests from residents saying a weather radio station is needed in the county.

Vale teamed up with the local electric company because it could secure grant money the U.S.D.A. reserves for road and utility services.

Larry Covillo, president of the electric association, submitted the grant application last year.

Once enough money is donated, the transmitter will be placed on an existing tower on Walton Peak.

"The transmitter will then be taken over by the National Weather Service," Covillo said. "We are actually donating the transmitter to the National Weather Service."

Once the transmitter is in place on the peak, the weather service will maintain it with no additional cost to county residents.

Officials and residents are interested in the radio system because the majority of the weather alerts come out of the Grand Junction office.

A transmitter here would provide residents with information that will be timely and detailed for Routt County.

The weather radio would come in handy during snowstorms, especially in places such as Rabbit Ears Pass, where road conditions can limit access in and out of the Yampa Valley.

If conditions warranted it, the NWS could issue a winter warning for the pass because forecasters would be in direct communication with Routt County officials and the Colorado State Patrol.

"We hope to have it up when the snow flies," Vale said.

Anyone interested in donating money for the weather transmitter are to send a check to:

Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association

Attention: Weather Radio Project

P.O. Box 774408

Steamboat Springs, Colo., 80477


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