The county commissioners approved a contract with McMichael Management Services of Carbondale for a fruit and vegetable feasibility study at their Feb. 5 meeting.
The study was authorized in November 2017, when Delta County and Montrose County entered into a memorandum of understanding to evaluate the feasibility of a regional produce processing facility. The two counties will share equally in the cost of the $15,000 study.
Elyse Casselberry, community and economic development director for the county, said the county received four good proposals. McMichael Management Services has the best background for what the two counties want to see happen in this study, which is Phase 1 of the feasibility study.
McMichael will assess the market concerning the different processing methods, such as individual quick frozen, dehydration, juicing, and other processes. The study will look at value-added opportunities for crops coming out of Mesa, Montrose and Delta counties, and the market may extend to Cortez regarding processing opportunities.
The study will provide an assessment of the produce volume in the region, the external market for that produce, and evaluate whether a regional facility could process produce at a level to provide opportunities for value-added manufacturing to occur.
If the Phase 1 study provides information that indicates there are conditions to justify a regional processing facility, the counties will look for grant funding for a Phase 2 study, through READY grants through Colorado Department of Local Affairs or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The election results are in at the local, state and national level, and as expected, Democrats are doing well in state and national races. Colorado has elected Jared Polis as governor; nationally the Republicans appear to retain control of the Senate while Democrats now control the House of Representative.
With a ballot full of local and state measures, voter turnout in Delta County topped 71%, with 15,889 ballots cast. Statewide, voter turnout was just over 52%.
Of the three Delta County residents seeking state offices, Matt Soper won over Thea Chase in State Representative Dist. 54; Mike Mason lost to Julie McCluskie in State Representative Dist. 61; and Olen Lund lost to Kerry Donovan in State Senate Dist. 5.
Locally, in the City of Delta voters rejected a .5% sales tax increase to fund recreation, as well as recreational marijuana sales. The sale of medical marijuana and cultivation/manufacturing facilities was approved by a slim margin. Delta voters also gave the city the green light to move forward with selling or trading the Cottonwood and Riverbend Park, and to sell the old Municipal Light and Power Building.