Capital projects top $100 million


— More than $100 million in capital improvement projects are slated for the next two years in Craig.

The Memorial Hospital, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Moffat County School District and Craig Fire/Rescue are in various planning stages for new facilities and equipment that officials from each organization say will greatly enhance public services. The total price tag: about $108.6 million.

Voter-approved measures in November 2006 and 2007 paved the way for the projects with either direct funding or, in the case of CNCC, a chance to pursue future facilities.

Below is a breakdown of the projects.

Colorado Northwestern Community College

Project: New Craig campus

Cost: Approximately $35 million

Scope: Residence hall capable of housing 32 students and one or two advisers, 18,000- to 20,000-square-foot career and technical building, and 78,000-square-foot academic building.

College officials have an aggressive timeline - just two years from now - for the completion of its Craig campus addition on land in west Craig.

Currently limited to the school's Bell Tower, encompassing about 6,000 square feet, and randomly leased spaces throughout the city, the campus addition will centralize the college's Craig operation, broaden the school's appeal and provide a "truer college experience," Craig campus dean Gene Bilodeau said.

"It's a huge step forward for CNCC," he said.

Immediate dividends could come as soon as the fall. That's the target completion date for an $850,000 residence hall, which would house 32 students and one or two advisers.

A career and technical building, entailing about 18,000 to 20,000 square feet, is slated for a fall 2009 completion.

The bulk of the project, a $23 million academic building with 78,000 square feet for classrooms, laboratories and student services, could be finished by 2010, Bilodeau said.

However, the academic building comes with a catch: Its construction is contingent upon state funding. It currently is on a list of projects under consideration by the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee.

Other funds for the project will come from the school and fundraising efforts.

Bilodeau said the community's approval of an indefinite three-mill extension for the college in November 2006 has made the campus project possible. The approved measure reaffirmed the community's commitment to the school, Bilodeau said, a fact state decision makers could look favorably upon when considering the academic building funding request.

"To a large degree, our ability to move forward came about through the voters continuing the mill," he said.

Moffat County

School District

Project: New school construction

Cost: $29.5 million

Scope: New Craig Middle School, renovations to each district school.

Pete Bergmann, Moffat County School District superintendent, said his school district will undergo a wide-spread upgrade the next 20 months, highlighted by the completion of a new Craig Middle School.

"Every school," Bergmann said, "is getting a makeover, so to speak."

A November 2007 voter approved bond issue greenlighted $29.5 million for the new school and improvements and renovations to all district schools.

The new middle school accounts for a significant portion of the total, about $16 million. Construction is scheduled to begin in June, and the building will be ready for occupancy by September 2009 and completely finished by November 2009.

The current middle school includes about 64,000 square feet for the seventh and eighth grades. The new school project will be built on the existing middle school site, but salvage about 30,000 square feet of space by keeping the school's gymnasium, auditorium and industrial arts shop.

The new construction would account for roughly 70,000 square feet, raising the building's total to about 100,000 square feet and allow for the addition of the sixth grade.

The new school will be designed to house about 200 students per grade, Bergmann said.

The remaining project includes improving air quality, technology and safety measures, among others, at all other district schools.

Ridgeview and East elementary schools will undergo projects this summer; Craig Intermediate School, Sunset Elementary and Moffat County High School are slated for summer 2009.

The district already has completed upgrades to school lighting systems - a project that will save the district about $60,000 a year in utility costs - and "we're working on the technology components as we speak," the superintendent said.

Renovations to the elementary schools also will allow for the additions of preschool classes, Bergmann said.

District officials plan to present a finalized scope and cost of the total bond-issue funded project to the Moffat County School Board at its meeting later this month.

Bergmann said the project solidifies the school district's future for years to come, allows for growth and provides a better learning environment for students.

"This is going to really set us up : for the next 20 years," the superintendent said, "and put our students in a more healthy, quality learning environment day to day.

"It's really going to be best for kids."

Craig Fire/Rescue

Purchases: Three new fire engines

Cost: about $1.5 million

Scope: new 100-foot aerial and two wildland/urban interface engines.

"We're replacing old equipment with new," Craig Fire/Rescue chief Bill Johnston said of the department's three new trucks slated to arrive this year. "We're being smart about it, and getting the very best for our district."

Money from a mill levy increase approved in November 2006, combined with funds from the Department of Local Affairs is paying for the new trucks.

The DOLA grant money accounts for almost half the total bill.

The 100-foot articulating aerial platform truck, scheduled to arrive in December, replaces a 30-year-old, 50-foot truck. Its cost is $926,000.

Johnston called the truck the "first of its kind in America," and the "small town of Craig, Colorado will own it."

The two wildland/urban engines - at a cost of about $302,000 each - replaces two enginers more than 20 years old, Johnston said, and can be used to fight either wildland or structure fires on the outer rims of the city.

The two engines are scheduled for a July delivery.

The Memorial Hospital

Project: New hospital

Cost: $42.6 million

Scope: An 80,000-square-foot facility with 25 private rooms on 15 acres west of Shadow Mountain Village.

"Full speed ahead."

Those are the words George Rohrich, chief executive officer of The Memorial Hospital, used to describe the progress of TMH's new hospital project, following a key meeting last month with federal government officials.

In February, a team of TMH executives traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The hospital is applying to HUD for a federal loan guarantee.

The hospital is requesting HUD act essentially as a loan co-signer, or an agency that will guarantee repayment of the project financing.

"The overall outcome of the meeting was very exciting," Rohrich said, adding that HUD officials are "enthused" about the project and the processes and measures TMH has used in planning it. "Things are on track."

TMH will submit its application to HUD in April. The department then has 120 days to respond.

Moffat County voters approved the hospital's proposed 3-mill tax package in November 2007 to fund about 50 percent of the new hospital's estimated $42.6 million cost. Loan financing will cover the remaining costs.

Hospital officials have said HUD's consideration will play a primary role in the project moving forward.

A TMH timeline of the project indicates the hospital design should be completed this month; the public will have an opportunity to comment on the design. Construction of the building would begin about five months later, in August.

Construction would take roughly 13 months, with a move-in date coming in either September or October 2009.

"Our intention is to be open and taking care of patients in (fall) 2009," Rohrich said.

The new hospital would become the second location for TMH since its inception in 1950. TMH and county officials are currently in discussions regarding what will become of the hospital's home for nearly six decades, the Russell Street location.

Rohrich said the mix of capital projects on the books for Craig combine to give Moffat County a promising future.

"It's a cornerstone, not the cornerstone, but a cornerstone of the community," the CEO said. "The school, college : there is some great stuff coming. It makes for pretty solid growth for our town."

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 875-1791, or


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