Business – The Pagosa Springs SUN The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Thu, 30 Jul 2020 19:08:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Business – The Pagosa Springs SUN 32 32 Taco Bell major design review application approved Fri, 31 Jul 2020 11:00:36 +0000 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

At a regular meeting on July 28, the Pagosa Springs Planning Commission approved a final major design review application for a planned Taco Bell at 2911 Cornerstone Drive.

The sketch plan for the planned development was considered and approved by the town planning commission on May 26 with a variety of recommendations made in the approval motion.

According to agenda documentation the proposal is to construct a 2,053-square-foot chain restaurant with a drive-thru and parking for 24 cars including two spaces that are compliant with the  Americans With Disabilities Act.

The motion to approve the final major design review application for Taco Bell was approved unanimously by the planning commission, with the planning commission directing the applicant to provide the following prior to the issuance of a building permit: evidence of a neighboring property owner agreement to physically modify their property, drainage report stamped by a state-licensed engineer, a revised exterior illumination plan, evidence of a properly sized dumpster enclosure, replacing of missing street trees at proper distances, design details on wall height and veneer finish, and verification that listed plant species are appropriate for Pagosa Springs’ climate.

Other items include relocation of trees to parking lot islands and recorded shared access agreements, among other items.

Public Meetings Thu, 30 Jul 2020 21:00:44 +0000 The following meetings are subject to change.

Thursday, July 30

Pagosa Springs Town Council special meeting. 5 p.m. See town website for participation information.

Friday, July 31

Pagosa Springs Town Council work session. 8 a.m. See town website for participation information.

Monday, Aug. 3

Archuleta County Board of Equalization petition hearings. 9 a.m. Archuleta County administration building, commissioners’ meeting room, 398 Lewis St. Possible Zoom meeting.

Pagosa Peak Open School Board of Directors regular meeting. 5 p.m., 7 Parelli Way.

Tuesday, Aug. 4

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners regular meeting. 1:30 p.m. Call 264-8300 one to two days before the meeting to obtain the login information.

Pagosa Springs Town Council meeting. 5 p.m. See town website for participation information.

Pagosa Springs Sanitation General Improvement District meeting. 5 p.m. See town website for participation information.

Thursday, Aug. 6

Town of Pagosa Springs Combined Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting. 5:30 p.m. See town website for participation information.

Public meeting information should be sent to with “Public Meeting” in the subject line. The deadline is noon Monday each week prior to publication for that week’s issue.

‘The new normal’: Urban renewal authority discusses July 14 election results Thu, 30 Jul 2020 21:00:31 +0000 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

At a July 23 regular meeting, the Pagosa Springs Urban Renewal Authority (PSURA) Commission discussed the aftermath of a special election held on July 14 in which voters approved Ballot Question A, amending the Town of Pagosa Springs’ Home Rule Charter.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

Town reports sales tax, lodgers’ tax and overall finances in good shape Thu, 30 Jul 2020 21:00:09 +0000 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

May 2020 sales tax collections were 21.5 percent higher than May 2019 sales tax collections, according to a report given to the Pagosa Springs Town Council at a regular meeting on July 23.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

Wolf Creek Ski Area seeking public input with reopening survey Thu, 30 Jul 2020 11:00:02 +0000 By John Finefrock
Staff Writer

Wolf Creek Ski Area (WCSA) is seeking public input to plan for reopening next winter amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

New cell tower on Bastille under construction Wed, 29 Jul 2020 11:00:17 +0000 By John Finefrock
Staff Writer

An AT&T cellphone tower is currently under construction on Bastille Drive, according to people involved with the project.

Late last year, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners approved a Board Conditional Use Permit for the new tower construction.

Justin Causey, land use planner for Md7, a consulting firm that handles everything up until construction for cellphone towers and was contracted for the beginning part of this project, told The SUN in November 2019 that he thought that construction on the tower would start in January or February and take about a month to complete.

On May 5, Causey provided an update to The SUN.

“AT&T has had some trouble with the power coordination through the State, but everything has been solved and the project is moving forward,” Causey wrote.

On Tuesday, Causey provided an additional update and wrote, “Just got an update form [sic] the construction team. The construction has already begun and the tower should start going up in the next few weeks.”

Asked how long construction will take, Causey replied, “Most likely will be on air in a couple months. This is very dependent on optimization and other factors that go into the final construction.”

According to the application submitted to the county, the tower is proposed to be 90 feet tall, and the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners granted a variance from the normal commercial zone height limit of 40 feet above grade.

Causey noted that former Archuleta County Planning Manager John Shepard suggested a higher tower with co-location opportunities to reduce the total number of towers in the county.

In addition to boosting AT&T cell coverage in the area (other cell providers have the option to co-locate equipment on the tower), it will also house equipment for the FirstNet Emergency Responders Network, a first for Archuleta County.

Causey explained to The SUN late last year that the FirstNet equipment allows emergency first responders to communicate on an entirely separate bandwidth from what regular cellphones use, so communication is perpetually intact for emergency personnel, even if the tower is bogged down with a high call volume.

“The FCC [Federal Communications Commission] released this bandwidth that only emergency responders can operate on. So, the equipment that we put up for FirstNet is solely going to be used by first responders,” Causey said. “They have a separate bandwidth that only first responders would have the equipment to operate within that, so it doesn’t have to fight for that coverage … They’ll have their own network that they’re operating on.”

AT&T was awarded the multi-billion dollar contract to build and maintain FirstNet in 2017 and is spending about $40 billion on the project.

FirstNet was proposed by the federal 911 Commission over a decade ago, following first responder communication failures after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Archuleta County Undersheriff Derek Woodman highlighted some of the other benefits of FirstNet in a phone call last year.

“If we have an event that there is no cell coverage, say we have a big fire in an isolated area and we need cell coverage up there, they are mandated to provide, within 14 hours of the call, provide a cell tower on wheels, a portable cell tower … That’s part of the federal mandate and they have to abide by it,” explained Woodman.

Woodman also explained that a Push-To-Talk feature of FirstNet allows emergency personnel to communicate even with limited to no cellphone coverage.

“It acts more like a walkie-talkie than it does a cellphone,” Causey said of Push-To-Talk in a phone call, noting that it doesn’t need sustained coverage to keep a communication channel open.

The AT&T tower is expected to be operational in the upcoming months.

Planning commission addresses downtown parking problems Wed, 29 Jul 2020 11:00:15 +0000 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

At a work session on July 14, the Pagosa Springs Planning Commission furthered its discussion on downtown parking and various ideas for the community.

Planning commission member Chris Pitcher and former planning commission member Bill Hudson had previously worked on an outline with some parking considerations for the town, and one of those ideas touched on in-lieu fees.

In-lieu fees for parking describes a scenario in which a development downtown would consider paying a fee instead of providing the on-site minimum parking improvements for the development, according to an email to The SUN from Planning Director James Dickhoff.

“The collected in-lieu fees could then be earmarked for future general public parking improvements that would serve the downtown district public parking needs as a whole. Lodging and Residential developments typically are not eligible for the in-lieu fee option,” Dickhoff wrote.

“I think the general idea is that the in-lieu-of fees, we certainly want to make sure that they are being applied to a location that benefits the business,” he said at the meeting. “It wouldn’t make sense to be spreading out the fees to different parts of the town that other parts have paid for.”

The in-lieu-of fees need to benefit the business that are paying into it, Pitcher explained.

“The idea was that the connection between where that money is spent and where the business is is relatively direct,” he explained.

According to Pitcher during the meeting, part of this process would be defining districts in town locally.

“In each area of town, there’s kind of these low-hanging fruit that we should be able to improve and create some additional parking capacity,” he said.

The price point for in-lieu fees ultimately comes down to the Pagosa Springs Town Council, Dickhoff noted.

“For town council’s consideration, we just want to bring what the realistic cost of developing a parking space with all the accessories that are associated with that,” he said.

Another item to consider when it comes to downtown parking is walking distance for patrons to retailers or other areas in town.

“I think if you ask a native Pagosan like myself, they don’t like to walk very far at all because we never have had to,” Pitcher said. “I think there are some people who are used to walking pretty far in other places to get to where they’re going.”

For Pagosa Springs, convenient parking is preferred, but making people walk has benefits to not only the patrons, but other business owners, Pitcher added.

“If they have to walk by other businesses on their way back or to the car, there may be additional purchases that may happen along the way,” he said.

There is not an overall lack of parking, planning commission member Jeff Posey stated, citing the town’s 2006 comprehensive plan and adding that demand might only be in one district in downtown.

“I think there are some hot spots around town,” Pitcher said. “Specifically I think the east end of town.”

Planning commission member Peter Hurley noted that he had spoken with a couple of local business owners about parking.

“They were suggesting that we do a parking structure basically in that practice football field right across from Town Park,” he said. “They were suggesting doing a parking structure there that you access right off of U.S. 160 and on top of the parking structure have other businesses that could be on top of that.”

It’s important for the planning commission to give town council options and to consider other items, Dickhoff explained.

Some ideas to consider include if town council approves the use of in-lieu fees, where to put the money collected, Dickhoff explained.

Funds could be dedicated to a particular district in which the parking is located, or the money could be placed into a parking fund to deal with parking issues as a whole in the town, Dickhoff described.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to generate enough funds to outright pay for these parking areas unless we increase our in-lieu fees,” he said.

Next steps for this project would involve some parking counts of downtown Pagosa Springs to count parking spaces, Dickhoff noted.

In his email, Dickhoff noted that the planning commission would present its findings and recommendations on parking requirements in two to three months to town council.

County waiting on funding to repair part of Trujillo Road Wed, 29 Jul 2020 11:00:04 +0000

Photos courtesy Archuleta County
The San Juan River is causing County Road 500 to “slough off” into the river. Two photos (top) depict the damage in December 2019 and (bottom) the damage in June 2020.

By John Finefrock
Staff Writer

The San Juan River is causing part of County Road 500 (Trujillo Road) to “slough off,” according to Archuleta County Public Works Director Bob Perry.

The damage is a few miles from where County Road 500 intersects with Colo. 151.

In a presentation to the county commissioners on July 14, Perry explained that the damage was first noticed around April 2019, when the “erosion” area was still about 80 feet from the edge of the road.

He noted that after meeting with a few government agencies about the repairs, including the Army Corps of Engineers, the “finger in the wind estimate” was about $2 million to $3 million, which has proven to be accurate, and which the county is still working to secure funding for.

County Administrator Scott Wall told The SUN earlier this year that a retaining wall to support the hillside would cost about $1 million, noting that the Department of Local Affairs may have grants to help pay for parts of the project.

Perry estimated an additional $1 million to reroute the San Juan River so it no longer erodes the hillside.

“If there’s anything we can do to help expedite this, I think we should,” Commissioner Ron Maez said on July 14. “And maybe we could send a letter of how urgent or how important this road is before we lose it and then we spend another year deciding that — in confirming the fact that we already lost the road.”

“It’s just a matter of getting the funding mechanism moving forward,” Perry said. “I think they’re all set and ready to go, so I don’t know if this is gonna take a whole lot. Every time I get optimistic about what some of these agencies can do in a short time I find out that they can’t put their socks on without three permits.”

In a phone call Wednesday, Maez explained the county is waiting on various government agencies to approve funding for the repair.

He stated that anything dealing with rerouting a river, as this project does, tends to take an extended amount of time to get approval.

Wall confirmed Wednesday that even with the needed repairs, County Road 500, even around the damaged area, is still accessible and passable to vehicles.

Archuleta County Department of Human Services honored with C-Stat award for third year in a row Mon, 27 Jul 2020 11:00:14 +0000

Photo courtesy Archuleta County
Staff from the Archuleta County Department of Human Services (ACDHS) pose with the Archuleta County Commissioners after receiving a C-Stat Distinguished Performance Award. ACDHS has received the honor for three consecutive years.

By John Finefrock
Staff Writer

The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) recognized the Archuleta County Department of Human Services (ACDHS) for C-Stat Distinguished Performance for the third consecutive year.

In an email to The SUN, Matthew Dodson, director of ACDHS, shared the statement he made to his staff regarding the award.

“Being an Agent of Change is often a tough badge to bear. It is rare that those we serve say ‘thank you’ or express their gratitude directly as many of them seeking our support are experiencing a hardship or a difficult time in their life. Your work sometimes goes unnoticed. But the impact? Oh, the impact is very measurable!

“You keep children, families and adults moving along a path of being stable, safer, healthier, and thriving while empowering them and affecting real change.

“Today we are here to celebrate your individual and collective success. You truly are the A-TEAM and I am inspired by all you do on behalf of others. 

“I am proud to ‘strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward’ with all of you and know the work you do is hard. 

“Our county is a better place because of you.”

“C-Stat is a performance management tool that allows CDHS to better focus on and improve performance outcomes that enhance people’s lives. The Distinguished Performance Award recognizes counties that are timely, safe and accurate in work and meeting goals. Counties that meet their goals are more likely to be meeting the needs of individuals and families in their community, and more likely to have higher completion rates of applications,” a press release from CDHS notes.

“… the A-TEAM met or exceeded performance measured across the board and more importantly means that our service delivery met the needs of citizens and our community,” Dodson’s statement reads. “Not just numbers, people!!!! And, a reflection of our commitment to supporting others with a hand up.”

Archuleta nonprofits receive $25,000 in CERF funding Sun, 26 Jul 2020 11:00:20 +0000 By Briggen Wrinkle
Community Foundation serving
Southwest Colorado

The third round of funding from the Community Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) was distributed recently, addressing nonprofit recovery and stabilization for 49 organizations across southwest Colorado. A total of $175,000 was granted, with disbursements ranging from $1,300 to $5,000. The average grant was more than $3,500 per organization.

A nonprofit needs assessment conducted in conjunction with CERF Round 3 funding demonstrated significant financial worries across the nonprofit sector due to economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. More than one-third of organizations surveyed reported having to lay off, furlough or reduce pay to staff members over the past four months. Revenue streams for nonprofits have been highly impacted from the COVID-19 crisis, with program and event revenue losses this year estimated to be more than $8 million dollars in southwest Colorado. Offsetting emergency-related grants is expected to cover just 25 percent of the losses in the region.

“Uncertainty in future funding is the primary concern expressed by our local nonprofits,” said Briggen Wrinkle, executive director of the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado. “The CERF grant committee designated these recovery funds to support and strengthen nonprofits during these lean times.”

Round 3 emergency funding included matching donations from the Town of Pagosa Springs ($12,000) and the city of Cortez ($10,000). Archuleta County nonprofits received $25,000, Montezuma County and Dolores County nonprofits received $32,500, and La Plata County nonprofits received $117,500.

CERF has infused $500,000 into the community over the last four months. The first two rounds of CERF funding, totaling $201,000, were designated as rapid-response grants distributed in the first two months of the pandemic to human service organizations responding directly to the immediate needs of our community. Another $100,000 was utilized to purchase food for regional food pantries. 

Additionally, CERF funds have supported other projects, such as Southwest Colorado Disaster Assistance (; Save the Food, Feed the People; and the distribution of protective equipment to nonprofits, such as no-touch thermometers.

“Distributing half a million dollars in just four months has been astounding, inspiring and a little exhausting,” added Wrinkle. “Witnessing the generosity of our neighbors is so encouraging; it is what keeps the Community Foundation motivated to tackle the big issues and ensure our vibrant community will land on its feet when this is all over.”