Coalition seeks slice of mineral

A coalition of Mesa County municipalities and Colorado Mesa University is hoping to get a major share of $1.8 million that the Mesa County Federal Mineral Lease District will distribute early next year.

The district received a check for just over $1 million at the end of August, bringing the total of money it has to $2.9 million, which it hopes to distribute quickly.

“I want to get the money out the door where it can do some good, but I don’t want to be hasty about it,” district Chairman David Ludlam said.

To do that, the district is preparing applications for grants from the money, which comes from payments for federal mineral leases within the county. The board hopes to offer grants of up to $1 million, as well as smaller grants of up to $50,000 in separate cycles.

The only distribution the district has made so far was $1.6 million from 2011 revenues, which it awarded to CMU for the establishment of its Unconventional Energy Center. CMU matched that grant with an equal amount to create an endowment and the center has issued its first round of grants from the proceeds.

The award to a single applicant, however, caused some resentment among other applicants, said Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, who also sits on the district board.

The city managers of Fruita, Grand Junction and Palisade, as well as a CMU official, told the board on Wednesday that they would jointly support a grant for Colorado Law Enforcement Training Center, which so far includes a track on which law enforcement officers practice high-speed and other dangerous driving techniques.

The training center also has applied to the Garfield County Mineral Lease District for $1 million. The district made no awards from 2012 revenues because of the questions about the effect of the revenues on federal distributions.

The district also received $17,400 from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, which represents the county’s share of $5.9 million in mineral lease payments withheld from counties as part of sequestration, a 5.1 percent spending reduction.


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