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Weather station likely by spring

Local transmitter would provide more accurate forecasts 24 hours a day

Gary E. Salazar

— Routt County could have a new weather radio station by next spring but the project will hinge on $10,000 in local funds.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded a $20,000 grant to the National Weather Service and Yampa Valley Electric Association to install a radio transmitter on Walton Peak.

To seal the deal, about $10,000 in local funding is needed, said Routt County Emergency Manager Chuck Vale, who is spearheading the project.

“I don’t think there is any doubt we can raise the money,” Vale said. “The interest in this project has been unbelievable.”

The next phase is to develop a community group to coordinate the project and develop a strategy to collect the rest of the necessary funds, he said.

To get this moving, Vale has scheduled a meeting at 6 p.m. today at Yampa Valley Electric Association, 32 10th St.

The meeting is open to anyone in the county interested in the implementation of the radio installation.

“What I need is for someone from the community to stand up and lead this project,” Vale said. “We need a private person to set up a checking account for the money. We don’t want to filter the money through the county.”

The project got started earlier this spring when Vale met with a small group who was interested in the radio system, which is expected to provide local weather reports 24 hours a day.

Momentum for the project grew in June when Vale received numerous requests from residents saying a weather radio station is needed for the county.

Because of this support, Vale is hopeful the $10,000 needed for the project can be raised in a short amount of time.

Because of the interest Vale received from residents, he approached the National Weather Service in Grand Junction and got its blessing to apply for the federal grant.

Vale is hopeful local entities and businesses that rely on the weather will come forward and help fund the start-up costs.

Once the tower is in place on the peak, the federal government will maintain it with no more cost to county residents.

Residents are interested in the radio system because the majority of the weather alerts come out of the Grand Junction office.

A tower here would provide residents with information that will be more timely and detailed for Routt County.

The weather radio would come in handy during snowstorms, especially in places such as Rabbit Ears Pass, where road conditions can limit access in and out of the Yampa Valley.

If conditions warranted it, the NWS could issue a winter warning for the pass because forecasters would be in direct communication with Routt County officials and the Colorado State Patrol.

For weather forecasts and updates, county residents have to rely on local radio stations and Denver television stations for the information.

“Once we get all the money, it is a done deal,” Vale said. “The tower could be installed by spring.”


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