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Council updated on Farm to Fiddle, broadband

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Organizers of the first Farm to Fiddle celebration say they plan to bring the festival back for a second year. The event was held during the weekend of the Delta County Fair.

Marcie Moore and Lynda Cannon, the creators and main organizers of the event, came before the Hotchkiss Town Council last week to thank the town for its support and ask for support for next year's festival. The festival offered live music, arts and crafts booths, and provided a showcase for the valley's organic farms, wineries and vineyards. Moore read comments from vendors stating that they had a successful event and want to participate again next year.

Because of positive feedback, they plan to again hold the festival during the fair. "We would like to make it an even bigger event," said Cannon. "I really believe that if the town and the chamber could attach their name more to it, it would be a real benefit, for not only us, but for the town, for the chamber, for the businesses, for everybody."

Farm to Fiddle recently was granted nonprofit status and is in the process of creating a board of directors. A meeting for prospective board members and those interested in helping with next year's will be held at 5:30 Thursday, Oct. 20, at Tucker's, 221 E. Bridge Street. "We want to focus on what's going to work, what's going to bring more people in, and how we can do it and market it even better," said Cannon.

Trustees also received an update on Region 10 by executive director Michelle Haynes, who opened with the good news that R-10 will not raise its membership dues in 2017.

In Hotchkiss alone, in 2015-2016, R-10's Area Agency on Aging provided almost $50,000 in services including rides, meals, home care services and information and assistance. Its small business service agency provided more than $20,000 in enterprise tax credits.

R-10 also supports local businesses and provides counseling to start-ups and new businesses looking to expand. It has recently been approached by people seeking small business loans. It's been a while since they were asked about business funding. "So it's just exciting to see that," said Haynes.

Due to an increase in interest in small business development, R-10 is planning to offer webinars -- online seminars -- starting next year. By offering them online, people living in the more rural areas of the region will be better able to take the business courses, said Haynes.

Region 10 also recently hired a new small business development director to focus on business growth and counseling. R-10 is seeking additional funding to support local businesses in light of recent mine layoffs, said Haynes.

Trish Thibido, executive director for Delta County Economic Development, also provided information on efforts by DCED and other organizations and partners, including Region 10, to build and strengthen the local economy. Thibido said investors are an important part of the nonprofit and urged trustees to consider making a larger investment in DCED in 2017 as they head into the budget planning season.

DCED, along with state and local agencies, Delta-Montrose Electric Association and others, is also a partner in the Region 10 project to bring high-speed broadband internet service to Delta County. Region 10 was established in 1972 with a mission to provide affordable public programs and services and to help leverage resources to help meet the needs of businesses and citizens covering the six-county region.

Several businesses are coming into the county or expressing an interest in the area, said Thibido. A lot of their focus is on agriculture, value-added food product manufacturing, and innovation centers. The more the word gets out about the area, the more likely they are to attract more businesses.

Trustees also:

• Set a special meeting date of Tuesday, Oct. 25, to begin review of the 2017 draft budget.

• Discussed the final payment to Williams Construction for work the company did on the Second Street project. The final cost was about $140,000, according to town engineer Joann Fagan. The final payment of $64,641.78 is lower than the town had anticipated.

• Unanimously voted to grant permission to local rancher Dan Bolton to graze sheep on 18 acres of pastureland located in town limits near the town's lower water storage tank. A public hearing on the grazing was held and attracted no public comment.

• Unanimously voted to approve an application for a liquor license renewal application for Tucker's Pizza, Pub and Arcade.

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broadband, Farm to Fiddle, Hotchkiss
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