Sheek: a thriving community, suggestion box, bill pay and jazz

Mayor Karen Sheek Enlargephoto

Mayor Karen Sheek

Curious to understand why some rural Colorado communities located in the same geographic area with similar populations and assets thrive while others do not, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and the University of Colorado conducted a study.

Not surprisingly, they learned that investments in education and health care are critical and that a diversified economy helps a community weather economic downturns and contributes to faster growth. But what matters most in the end? A community’s vision of its future along with strong leadership to help get there.

If this indeed is true – and research shows that it is – then residents of Cortez should be pleased to know that City Council recently spent a full day discussing what they envision Cortez could be in the next five years and what we need to do to get there.

With the help of a facilitator, council identified five “critical success factors” – things that we deemed absolutely essential in order to achieve our vision for the future. These factors are:

An educated population, centering on community support for our children, as well as the availability for continuing education for adults wishing to further their education.A thriving economy which focused on the importance of competitive, living wages for our workforce.Sound infrastructure, which we all agreed included high-speed, affordable broadband deployment and investments in renewable energy and sustainability initiatives, while maintaining our streets and waterlines. A livable community, which included everything from trail development and downtown walkability and pedestrian safety to safe neighborhoods and the availability of medical services. Financial stability, which demonstrated council’s understanding of the importance of the city being fiscally responsible and maintaining healthy reserves in order to provide our citizens with necessary services.By looking ahead and thinking about where we’d like to go, we can now identify the steps necessary for us to get there so that city staff has a plan they can begin to put in place.

If you’d like to read the full report, go to cityofcortez.com and click on “Cortez City Council Planning Advance” in “News & Announcements.”

Last July, a citizen requested that we place a suggestion box at City Hall. That box made the move to our new offices and is located on the reception desk where you enter city hall. Other boxes are located at the recreation center and library. Staff does regularly check these boxes, and I want to share a couple of concerns – things you may have wondered about as well.

One submission asked why the vehicles our code enforcement officers use are not identified. Good question! A decal identifying this vehicles has been applied. Now you’ll know when Chris or Stephanie is in your neighborhood, on the job, and available to answer questions or address code enforcement concerns.

Last year, the city implemented “Xpress Bill Pay.” We’ve had feedback in our suggestion box that some customers are experiencing problems. To enroll for online payment, visit the city’s website at cityofortez.com and select “Online Payments” on the left-hand side of the screen.

It will take you to the Xpress Bill login. If visiting for the first time, select “Create a New Account” and follow the directions. You will need to have a copy of your bill to complete enrollment. If you experience problems enrolling or making a payment, contact Laurie Black in Utility Billing at 970-564-4010 or via email at lblack@cityofcortez.com. She will immediately assist you. If you wish to pay by phone, call 800-720-6847. Again, have a copy of your bill handy when you call.

Did you know that the city now has extended hours? In order to better serve the public, starting on July 3, operating hours changed to 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. These include offices at City Hall, the service center in the industrial park and the Police Department.

If you are into jazz and have admired the work of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, also known as “Trane,” you won’t want to miss “Chasing Trane.” This documentary is being co-hosted by the Cortez Library and Sunflower Theatre, the presenting venue, at 7 p.m. on July 17. Admission is free, but a $5 donation to help defray expenses would be appreciated.

Karen Sheek is the mayor of Cortez, a position elected by Cortez City Council members. Reach her at ksheek@cityofcortez.com or during her office hours from 12:30-1:30 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of the month.