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By Mary Jo Coulehan
While the West Fork Complex fires burned primarily in the wilderness north and east of Pagosa Springs, there were obstacles to conducting business as usual in Pagosa Springs.
Reports that “Pagosa was on fire,” smoke concerns, highway closures, trail closures and other obstacles deterred some visitors from traveling through Pagosa Springs or staying in our community in June and early July, or from participating in some activities here in our area.
This economic downturn affected some businesses more than others as they relied heavily on this tourist traffic.
The Small Business Administration is offering disaster assistance to businesses in several counties included Rio Grande, Mineral, Hinsdale and some surrounding communities including Archuleta and La Plata. The loan program is open to small, nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, non-profit organizations of any size. Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses, which could have been met had the disaster not occurred, will be made available to qualifying businesses. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.
Counseling is available here in Pagosa Springs. If enough interested businesses contact the Chamber, we will schedule an SBA counseling class. If there are only one or two businesses that are interested, there is counseling available either through the SBDC at Fort Lewis College or SBA specialist Sherry Waner with First Southwest Bank. The Chamber can assist you with appointments or contact information.
Eligibility for the loan is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage.
The loans have an interest rate of 4 percent for small businesses and 2.875 percent for private, non-profit organizations with terms up to 30 years. The deadline to return economic injury applications is April 15, 2014.
You can access the application online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov.ela, call (800) 659-2955, or e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call Joe Keck at the regional SBDC office at 247-7009 or schedule an appointment with Joe at his regular monthly Pagosa Springs schedule by calling the Chamber at 264-2360.
Thank you firefighters
We have banners and posters hung around town thanking our firefighters. There was a movie last week benefitting the Pagosa Fire District Auxiliary at Liberty Theater; there is the 52 Club benefitting firefighter survivor families and The Outfitter continues its sock program. Firefighters blow through socks and this type of “thank you” program has always been very successful. Stop by The Outfitter and purchase a pair of Browning Antimicrobial socks for only $5. The store is working with the appropriate personnel to get the socks distributed. Over 500 pairs of socks have been purchased, over 300 pairs have been distributed so far and the goal is to bring some over to the South Fork fire crews still working on the Papoose and West Fork fires. So, stop by and express your gratitude to the firefighters and purchase a pair of socks.
You can also go to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation website, www.wffoundation.org, to find out more about the 52 Club. For $52, you can be a member supporting fallen or injured firefighters’ families, assist with family support and ongoing family contact and many more benefits. You can even purchase a T-shirt, a magnet or just give a donation. We are very grateful that with all the winds and weather during our West Fork Complex fires that there were no injuries here; unfortunately, those at the Yarnell fire were not so lucky. Consider showing your appreciation in some small way.
A couple of quick reminders.
Archuleta County Fair books are out. They can be obtained at the Chamber and at businesses all over town. Make sure you pick one up now if you are interested in entering one of the many contests that will be held — from baked goods and home brewing to quilting and photography. Don’t miss the deadlines. Plus, with a Fair Book, you will know about all the activities and when they will be held at the fair, Aug. 1-4.
The Environmental Film Festival Caravan will be held this weekend, July 26 -27. The films will be shown at the Liberty Theater and there will also be daily receptions and other related activities. There is still time to be a VEP (Very Environmental Person) and purchase your two-day pass with admission to all of the films and activities (and you get a gift bag). Check out the films and purchase tickets at www.pagosagreen.org. This event is hosted by the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership.
On Saturday, SHY RABBIT will host the opening of Print International 4 with an artist reception from 2-6 p.m. See how this show has grown and view works from artists from 27 states and countries such as Iceland and Canada. While the show will continue until Sept. 7, this reception allows you to meet some of the artists and speak to them about their work. For more information, visit www.shyrabbit.com.
The monthly Maximizing Your Membership Class will be held Monday, July 29, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. If you have been thinking about joining the Chamber, we invite you to attend. If you are a new member, you most definitely need to attend; if you are an old member, attend to see what benefits you might be missing. Lunch is provided so we ask that you R.S.V.P. so we can ensure there is enough food. Don’t just be a Chamber member — maximize your membership!
We have two new members to welcome this week, bringing our membership to 569 members.
Firewise of Southwest Colorado joins this week. You might have heard a lot about this organization for the past few months as they provide fire mitigation education with the goal to protect lives and property from wildfire. Firewise works with homeowners, property owner associations, businesses and various community groups. They have also been active in the San Juan Headwaters Healthy Forest Partnership, providing guidance and feedback. They can help you implement a plan and get you in contact with businesses that can help mitigate your livable space. For more information, give Bill Trimarco a call at 264-0430.
Also new this week is the Blanco River Resort located nine miles south of Pagosa Springs on U.S. 84. The Blanco River Resort has river sites and river access sites all with full hookup — as well as a few river tent sites. Their restroom and shower facilities are beautifully kept, with Trailer Life and Woodalls awarding them a 10. There is plenty of room for reunions and rallies and free WiFi is also available. Check them out online at www.blancoriverrvpark.com. Welcome to Sherley and Michel Albouy, the owners of Blanco River Resort.
Our renewals this week include Cool Pines RV Park, Mountain Majesty Chalet Vacation Rental, Elk Trace Bed and Breakfast, the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association, Colorado Land Title, and Sonrisas Spanish School.