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All in favor of rec center, say 'tax increase'

A standing-room-only crowd at Wednesday's county commission hearing listens to the statements of teens and adults in favor of a youth recreation center.

Sun Advocate associate editor

Carbon High School students managed to drum up a room full of support for a youth recreation center at the county commission meeting Wednesday, but is that enough support to win a bond referendum for the facility?

The commission is not going to walk away from the plan and the money for a new county office complex. Commissioner John Jones told the audience that the county has managed to get a $6 million grant, a $6 million zero-interest loan, and another $6 million loan at 2.5 percent interest from the Community Impact Board.

If the county were to abandon that funding package, there is no guarantee that the money will ever reappear. Mineral lease revenues are depressed because of declines in coal production and low natural gas prices.

About a dozen adult speakers addressed the commission, stating that the need for youth recreation is apparent in the county. Helper Junior High School principal Tom Montoya, for example, noted that school curricula emphasize healthy lifestyle choices, and recreation and fitness are parts of a good health.

After public comments, the commission took its turn, explaining why replacing the current county building is a priority. Basically, its internal workings are no longer adequate to the task, Jones said. It was built in the 1960s, long before computers, so its electric system is more than maxed out. Its heating, ventilating and air conditioning system is inadequate, especially since storerooms have been converted into office space.

Commissioner Mike Milovich did not think that the county could afford to operate a center even if it could find money to build it. "We don't have the population to support it. If everyone paid $20 a month, we'd still be shy," he stated.

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