Fresh Opportunities in Plateau Valley
Although business is good in Plateau Valley and throughout the mountain communities, business is also for sale in Collbran and on the Grand Mesa. In Collbran, the flower shop, restaurants, the grocery store, the convenience store, and a hotel are for sale. On the mesa, Mesa Lakes Resort, Spruce Lodge, Grand Mesa Lodge and Alexander Lake Lodge are all for sale, as well.
“It’s kind of a mystery to me,” says Angie Taylor, Broker Associate with United Country RealQuest Realty, “We feel like we’re booming.”
In many cases, the owners have been running their businesses for years and are looking at retirement. There’s no better time to retire than when business is good, cash flow is positive and prospects are good.
“I think we’ve been discovered,” says Susan Branson, owner of Branson’s Drive-In, a restaurant that her husband’s parents started 41 years ago. “It’s been a very busy summer.”
Recreation draws people to the mesa, but the gas industry is also bringing people and vehicles up the mountain roads.
“Our high mountain community is feeling stressed due to the oil and gas people,” says Collbran Mayor John Blady. “We receive very little of the severance money.”
The increased traffic and the large trucks that routinely drive through the main street in town cause minor traffic jams as they negotiate two 90-degree turns. The mountain roads weren’t built with large semis in mind, either, and are experiencing heavy usage as the trucks and machinery drill and service wells along Highway 330.
Although the gas industry is helping restaurants and hotels to be full, it’s not bringing families to the area. Lack of available housing could be one of the reasons. There is currently just one house under construction within the city limits of Collbran, and it’s already sold.
“If I had ten homes like one currently under construction, they would sell,” says Taylor. “There’s a definite shortage.”
The shortage is driving up prices, as well. Four or five months ago, Taylor estimates that there were seven homes for sale near Collbran under $120,000. Now, there’s only one. There are two near Mesa under $120,000.
It’s not only gas industry employees who would like to move to the mesa. Grand Valley residents have discovered that peaceful, cool mountain living can make up for a long commute. Retirees and pre-retirees are discovering the area as well, and are buying 2nd homes.
Wildewood at Powderhorn, a development of 48 lots near Powderhorn Ski Resort, has been selling for a few years and currently has 19 lots still available. The quarter acre lots range between $84,200 and $103,750.
“Mostly it’s 2nd home buyers,” says Carol Tompkins of Valley Brokers. “To have a residential home site that close to a ski area is terrific.”
Plateau Valley School District #50 serves families all over the mesa, drawing students from nearby Collbran, Molina and Mesa. The school district has one main school, with classes from pre-Kindergarten through high school at Plateau Valley School. Attendance varies, but there are usually between 300 Ð 350 students at the school.
The school recently built a new multi-purpose facility with a 500-seat auditorium, concession area, gym and locker rooms. The 2006 graduating class was the first to hold their ceremonies in the auditorium. District Superintendent Greg Randall anticipates that the new gym will not only make scheduling gym classes easier by providing much-needed space for both elementary and secondary classes, it will also enable more students to practice for sports at convenient times.
Grand Mesa High School is also part of School District #50 and serves students at the Collbran Job Corps Center. The Job Corps is currently in its 41st year, providing vocational training, educational opportunities and a stable living environment for young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who may need a second chance and are willing to work hard to succeed.
Gove Akers has been the Center Director for 10 years. He believes in his mission, and his enthusiasm and zeal is shared by the rest of the staff, who are eager to tell about the accomplishments of the students, whether they’re learning business-related skills, building a robot, or welding fantastic sculptures.
“It’s all based on character,” Akers explains, “Integrity, honor, dignity, character Ð all that matters here. Those old-fashioned things work.”
The kids at Job Corps aren’t just involved with the community of Collbran where they often help with clean-up projects; they work at Country Jam in Mack as well.
“The Job Corps is an incredible asset to the entire community,” says Angie Taylor, who not only sells real estate on the mesa but also lives in Plateau Valley. “It’s just a very great run ship. I’m very impressed with the whole facility.”
Gove Akers puts it a different way, “We just go in and take care of the community the best we can and they take care of us.”
The communities on the mesa offer a breath of fresh air, not just for the kids at Job Corps, but for anyone looking for a small-town atmosphere and a beautiful setting. The evening roping practice at the rodeo grounds in Collbran on Monday and Thursday nights, and the Concerts by the Creek offered at the Creamery, which is actually a gas station that allows dancing in the parking lot, offer opportunities to enjoy authentic country living. And with the number of businesses for sale in Collbran and the Mesa, there’s no better time to stake a claim in the area’s future.
• Plateau Valley Elementary School
• Plateau Valley Middle School
• Plateau Valley High School
• Grand Mesa High School