By Lisa Young
Visitors to the town of Hotchkiss entering from the Crawford side will be greeted by a fresh new welcome sign thanks to the Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce.
“The sign needed some work as it had been there about 20 years. The chamber decided to keep and refurbish the old sign,” said Kim Shay, Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce vice president.
Majestic mountains jutting up beyond the sign’s top border highlight the grandeur of the North Fork area. Those familiar with the region will recognize the West Elk Mountains, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the Gunnison River, the fruitful agricultural land and ample opportunities for outdoor recreation promoted in the artist’s design.
The town’s familiar motto “Friendliest Town Around” makes its way into the valley scene resting comfortably beneath the words “Hotchkiss.”
Vivid sky blue lettering matching the river and boarder contrasts nicely with the shimmering silver-donned snow-capped mountains. Jumping out of the Gunnison River is a huge rainbow trout begging anglers to make their way to the water’s edge. On the lower border a lone buffalo beckons tourists back to a history filled with settlers and Native Americans.
“West Elk Signs, a Chamber member, did a fabulous job. That particular sign was made by Kevin Clark, an artist who used to live outside of Hotchkiss, later moved to Delta,” said Shay, adding the refurbishing work cost around $900.
As for the town’s other welcome signs, Shay said the town doesn’t have any plans to replace them at this time.
In other chamber news, the town continues to work with Community Builders on a grant regarding the old town shop. The Brownfield grant (EPA) would asset the town in cleaning up any toxic chemicals on the property which has been some form of garage/shop for about 70 years, according to Shay.
Shay said the town is planning to sell the property but not until the shop and grounds have the “all clear on any hazmat mitigation” that might need to take place.
“The town would like to see it become a tax-generating venture, possibly several tenants,” Shay said adding that the town intends to write a Request for Proposal (RFP) when it becomes available for sale.
“We would really would like to see it become a sales tax generating operation (s), and intend to list that in the RFP. It is not ready for sale yet as the town’s new facility fence is not done yet. Once that happens, we will have more details,” she said.
Work on placing an electric vehicle charging station at the Hotchkiss-Crawford Museum continues to move forward with placement set for this spring.
“We were awarded the grant to put in an electric vehicle charging station. This will be in partnership with Atlasta Solar, who will maintain the unit. The station will accommodate two vehicles at the same time,” Shay said, adding that any type of electric vehicle will be able to use the station.
Total time to charge vehicles is expected to be 30-45 minutes. Users will be able to pay via a phone app that shows the locations of EV Chargers. Eventually Shay said they may try to install a credit card option.
The grant for the project was an 80/20 match in funds with the chamber securing the 20% in cash and in-kind.
“The museum will see revenue coming in from this, which is a win for them. And it’s close enough to the downtown area for people charging their vehicles can walk around town,” said Shay who hopes the charging station will be operational by April.