Kids picking a dog to adopt from the animal shelter.

County grants $966,000 to local nonprofits

Pre-budgeted allotments help fund services throughout the community

February 8, 2024

Garfield County has approved $966,000 in previously budgeted discretionary grants for local nonprofits to provide important services throughout the area. The grant funds come from the county’s nonprofit general fund and the Oil and Gas Mitigation Fund, and all requests were approved unanimously, 3-0.

BOCES provides pathways to success

The Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) received $110,000 toward its Educational Pathways to Innovative Careers (EPIC) program, which hosted 307 students from local high schools in 2022. Career Technical Education (CTE) programming is now available in 10 high schools in the area, helping students to prepare for and begin careers in automotive, technology, hospitality, tourism, agriculture, and construction fields, to name a few.

Dr. Ken Haptonstall, executive director of Colorado River BOCES, told the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) that the focus is to prepare students to earn jobs right out of high school or teach them how to connect with opportunities to go to college and find success.

“Over this past year, we’ve increased our capacity to meet the needs of the kids in our communities, greatly due to your help,” he said. “The dollars you provide us with help get people out talking to kids and getting them interested in the work we do.”

Haptonstall added that more than 100 students are now learning how to build tiny homes in the region and that a tiny home building program is starting at Rifle High School next fall.
“We are working with the resources in our communities to be able to expand these opportunities for kids,” he said.

The board also provided $100,000 in grant funding to BOCES in 2023.

Local animal shelters each receive $253,000

The county also granted $253,000 to both Colorado Animal Rescue (C.A.R.E.) and the Journey Home Animal Care Center (JHACC) for sheltering services for stray or relinquished animals in Garfield County.

In 2023, C.A.R.E. housed 660 animals at its shelter, performed 362 spay or neuter surgeries and adopted out 515 animals (217 dogs, 279 cats, 15 Guinea pigs, and four rabbits) to new homes. The shelter microchips all stray animals, offers free identification tags for pets (139 mailed out last year), and hosts community vaccine clinics for pets.

Wes Boyd, C.A.R.E. executive director, told the board that C.A.R.E focuses on community collaboration, compassion, education, disease prevention, and gratitude, and has housing for 40 dogs, 50 cats, and space for various other animals who need shelter.

“We’re still practicing excellence in animal care, education, and advocacy to connect pets to their people,” he said. “Our vision is that every animal in the Roaring Fork Valley and Garfield County has a loving home and a community united by healthy, happy, and thriving pets.”

He added that more than 11,000 pounds of pet food was given away through local food banks in 2023, to families needing assistance.

In 2023, the Journey Home Animal Care Center continued to care for homeless animals in Garfield County, providing a “record-breaking” 1,672 vaccinations and 1,178 spay or neuter surgeries.

The care center is a beacon for community members who want to get involved and help connect animals with forever homes. Heather Grant, Journey Home executive director, told the board that its volunteer programs are an integral part of JHACC’s success.

“It’s been a record year for volunteers, and we’ve doubled our volunteer hours as of last year,” she said. “We are working with many businesses, Colorado Mountain College, Mountain Valley Developmental Services, elementary schools, the Key Club, Girl Scout troops, Two Rivers Community School, and the Glenwood Insurance Agency, all of which have participated in different volunteer programs. It’s very exciting to have so many groups come to our organization and contribute.”

Grant added that through JHACC, many local businesses host foster animals to shine a spotlight on pets ready for adoption.

“The Junior Volunteer Program, youth summer camps, pet food pantry, Senior Citizen Pet Alliance, all these programs are made possible due to your support,” she added. “We were able to reunite 279 stray animals with their families … and adopted out 1,071 animals, and we took in and cared for 1,370 animals.”

Garfield County funding accounts for a substantial revenue source for both entities.

County grant supports clean energy

Garfield Clean Energy (GCE) was granted $350,000 from the county’s Oil and Gas Mitigation Fund toward its efforts to save residents, governments, and businesses money on energy bills and promote clean energy solutions in the region. Projects include helping residents and businesses insulate attics and basements, providing rebates for energy-efficient appliances, and helping qualifying households save money on energy bills.

Comprised of Garfield County and all its municipalities, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), and Colorado Mountain College, the collaborative secures grant funding to provide residents and businesses with services and benefits. The Garfield County Library District and Holy Cross Energy are also affiliate members of GCE.

Through GCE’s ReEnergize Garfield County program, which is an energy-saving rebate program for households in Garfield County earning up to 150 percent of median income, residents saved $145,954 on energy bills in 2022 and ’23. During this time, an overall $4.95 million was saved on energy bills for county residents, businesses, and governments, according to a GCE report.

Morgan Hill, associate director at Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER), told the board that operating as a collaborative government allows GCE to apply for grant opportunities, much like a special district. She noted that CLEER is the nonprofit that operates the programs and services of GCE via a contract.

“Garfield County has been a key founding member of Garfield Clean Energy since it began,” Hill said. “Saving homes, businesses, and governments money on their energy bills and expenses [is the goal]. We also focus on locally produced clean energy, including the installation of solar. CLEER is also working on a geothermal project in Carbondale. We work on clean mobility and transportation, including both electric vehicles and active transportation – mode share and rideshare programs, and economic benefits and diversification.”

GCE provides free energy coaching for commercial buildings in Garfield County and saved these types of facilities $23,342 in energy costs in 2023. GCE has also provided more than $87,000 in value of eBikes, bike safety gear, and maintenance equipment to county residents through its eBike There program.

“We’re going to continue to save these residents a lot of money on their energy bills,” Hill added.

A leader in solar

In a recent CLEER report, Garfield County was identified as a leader in solar development in western Colorado. The county has invested in solar on its properties; modified land use codes to be more friendly to ground-mount solar projects; and has distributed rooftop installations.

County leadership through the GCE partnership supports far-reaching educational and technical assistance campaigns for solar, along with solar rebate administration and consumer awareness programs. Utility investments in renewable energy, prompted by decades of customer and shareholder support, supply a baseline grid-mix of renewable energy to all consumers in Garfield County.

Garfield County presents a prime location for investment-grade and cost-effective solar, based on high production value coupled with grid accessibility and the county’s solar policies. This production potential increases opportunities for residential rooftop solar and commercial-scale arrays.