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Doug Atchley wraps up two terms as county commissioner

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"It's been enjoyable and very challenging, a good way to serve the people of the county," Doug Atchley said as his two terms as Delta County commissioner draw to an end.

"Eight years went by very quickly.

"Delta County has a lot of great people and it's more enjoyable when you are working with the very, very competent people that work for the county.

"We've had differences, but working with outstanding people makes the commissioners' jobs easier,"Atchley said.

After spending 40 years in banking and business, Atchley retired in 2007. He spent three years being retired then sought a way to serve the people of Delta County.

"Everyone ought to do it at least once in their life," Atchley said. "My personal philosophy is that we have no assurance of a tomorrow, so we should do the best we possibly can, in the circumstances we are in, to enhance the quality of life in Delta County.

"Commissioner is really a serving job."

When he became commissioner, the county and the country were still in the throes of the recession of 2008.

"And the recession continued for eight years," Atchley said. "Two coal mines closed. There was reformation in the retail world, people were purchasing less, and that affects local business and commerce.

"The county was managed very thoughtfully and fiscally conservative during that time.

"Delta County has for years avoided leveraged debt, has for years budgeted for reserve funds, and, though challenging during these years, Delta County remained debt free."

Asked whether Commissioners Mark Roeber, Don Suppes, and incoming Mike Lane will still be working on matters the current commissioners have dealt with, Atchley said, "Government takes longer. Many previous commissioners have worked on solutions we use today.

"Our current commissioners approved the update of the Master Plan this year. The previous master plan had been passed in 1996. The guidance in the 2018 Master Plan is the gateway to what Delta County will look like in the future.

"We are moving forward to address challenges for which the nation, western Colorado and the world will be seeking solutions. We will be studying food and how it relates to American agriculture, acknowledging that now we are blessed with an abundant food supply.

"We will be seeking innovations regarding energy -- the United States uses a lot of energy. There is a growing population worldwide and we will need all possible sources of energy because of that growth, including hydro."

Atchley continued, "And water, in western Colorado and Delta County we will have to be aware of the availability of water and water storage as we manage growth.

"We will need to be concerned about diversity in the use of land, how to utilize the land in multiple ways, and to acknowledge that individuals and industry contribute to the local economy."

Atchley sees the part the county commissioners played in bringing broadband to Delta County as a very significant investment and accomplishment.

The commissioners worked on the middle mile of the broadband project. The team consisted of Delta County, City of Delta, Montrose County and Region 10, which leveraged a grant from Colorado Department of Local Affairs. These participants make possible the last mile to enable broadband to be provided to the user.

Elevate, the for-profit subsidiary of DMEA, delivers broadband and is available to all providers on that last mile.

Atchley says that projects like broadband have always been a team effort with Delta County -- county commissioners, staff, constituents, whose ideas can be translated into tremendous opportunities, and business expansion groups.

Asked what he would say if someone considering running for county commissioner were to ask his advice, he said he would encourage that person to run.

County commissioner provides challenges, unforeseen situations; it's not mundane.

"There are so many different divisions in county government, so many different leaders. For instance, the Road and Bridge Department is responsible for 735 miles of roads, in addition to its many other responsibilities. Social Services Department deals with issues that are so huge. The jail takes lots of dollars to operate. A share of the costs to operate the office of the District Attorney, Seventh Judicial District, is part of the Delta County budget.

If that person is open to doing, likes challenges, accepts that revenue to do all this is limited, I'd say, 'Get with it!'," Atchley said. "Delta County is fortunate to have had some good commissioners."

When his commissioner commitment ends in a few days, Doug Atchley will continue his farm and ranch activities. "I have nothing else planned." he said.

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