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County hires experienced grant writer, projects suggested

Archuleta County has hired a Lewis, Colo. grant writer to seek out and write grants for the county.

The writer, Sue McWilliams with Aspen Gold Consulting, has been contracted through County Administrator Greg Schulte and met with Schulte and the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners on July 10 to discuss viable areas for grant funding.

According to the contract signed on July 10, McWilliams will, “... provide grant writing and related services. These services include research, registration, data organization and entry, abstract, narrative, budget analysis writing, and submission for all grants identified by Contractor or and Archuleta County and approved by Archuleta County for submission.”

McWilliams’s contract is for a six-month period, during which time she will be paid a $400 monthly retainer to do grant research. The funding will come from the county’s administrative budget.

According to the contract, “Grant applications and further research will be billed at $35 per hour plus any travel or mailing expenses.”

According to McWilliams’ resume, she has 19 years of experience working with federal and state funding programs and has a 96-percent success rate on grant proposals submitted since early 2005 for various nonprofits, equating to over $5.3 million.

McWilliams’ resume also lists a stint with the USDA Rural Development office in Delta, Colo., from October 1998 to February 2005, during which time she served as area director and, among her responsibilities, reviewed grant submissions and helped to score and prioritize projects for funding.

“We believe that Sue has the experience and qualifications and demonstrated track record for grants,” said Schulte of contracting with McWilliams.

And while not from Pagosa Springs, Schulte said McWilliams is from the Four Corners area and has experience in statewide grants, which county staff believes will be beneficial.

At the July 10 meeting with McWilliams, several ongoing and potential projects were discussed as possibilities for grant funding.

The first project mentioned by Schulte was the county’s 95 acres near U.S. 84, for which a draft master plan is slated to be presented on July 31.

That master plan, Schulte said, could include things such as wetlands and Pagosa Skyrocket conservation, enough ballfields to host tournaments, central plazas with restroom facilities, playgrounds, a dog park, grassy areas, a horse arena, multi-events center, large vehicle parking, community garden and complementary commercial usage.

“I think it definitely needs to be phased,” Schulte said of possible development at the site, adding that once the plan is adopted, the county could potentially start with the roadwork development to show a “good-faith effort.”

McWilliams said work on the site would help and shows a willingness to move forward with the plan.

Other projects potentially ripe for funding were the county’s 120-acre open space park near the airport and Cloman Industrial Park.

Schulte explained that the county recently received a grant from the Colorado Forest Service to do thinning on the property, with the intent to use various types of thinning as a demonstrative, educational tool.

Schulte said county crews are slated to build the road to the site and a parking lot at the site in September.

Schulte also suggested the town and county Town-to-Lakes Trail as a project needing continued funding, with the first portion of the trail to be constructed soon on the west end of Pagosa Springs.

Schulte suggested the county courthouse, built in 1928, could benefit from grant funding for beautification, with Commissioner Clifford Lucero adding that roof work was needed.

County Attorney Todd Starr suggested the possibility of doing a fund-raising mural project on the end of the courthouse that neighbors a vacant lot.

Other potential projects briefly mentioned included geothermal projects, increased telecommunications capabilities at the Emergency Operations Center, technology to make the county more environmentally friendly (such as tablet computers for meeting documents), airport enhancements, senior and veteran needs, affordable housing rehabilitation, a new jail control panel, recycling equipment, and energy impact funding for roadwork.

McWilliams’ contract took effect July 10.

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