Gypsum council considers higher funding requests |

Gypsum council considers higher funding requests

Derek Franz

GYPSUM — Money requests and a problem with empty modular units characterized the Sept. 24 Gypsum Town Council meeting.

The council members declined to make a decision on the funding requests since they are currently in the budget process for next year.

EGE Air Alliance Chairman Mike Brown made the most notable request. He asked the town to consider giving $50,000 to the public-private partnership group.

The other requests included the Vail Valley Partnership and Eagle County School’s transportation department. Vail Valley Partnership CEO Chris Romer asked for $5,000 to support the group’s economic development efforts in 2014, and school district transportation representative Jim Shoun requested $2,000 to support a good-behavior program on school buses.

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Air support

Brown said the Air Alliance is trying to raise more money to bring in more flights to the Eagle County Regional Airport.

“We’ve lost 90,000 seats since 2007, while our competitors have stabilized and even increased the available seats coming into their airports,” he said.

He pointed out that the competing airports such as Aspen, Montrose and Steamboat have long-term, dedicated funding sources and greatly outspend Eagle County when it comes to bringing in new air service.

“They are raising about $2 million annually while we never really exceed $400,000 to $600,000,” Brown said. “They are able to bring in multiple flights at once while we are only able to do one.”

Brown asked the town to consider increasing its contribution to $50,000 because the town benefits directly from having the airport there.

Economic development

As for the Vail Valley Partnership, Gypsum Council member Tim McMichael asked Romer if Gypsum truly benefits from the group’s efforts.

“We have our own economic development committee,” McMichael said.

Romer said some other towns do, too, and that the partnership is able to supplement the work those towns are doing.

“We want to make Eagle County more business friendly and Gypsum has the biggest upside by far,” Romer said. “Gypsum has the most land and is the most business friendly. We focus on the valleywide efforts while you focus on the municipal effort. The VVP can’t point businesses to Gypsum, but if a business is looking for a place it may locate in Gypsum.”

School bus behavior

The Eagle County School District introduced a Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program on its school buses a couple years ago and Gypsum has been the only town to help fund it so far.

Shoun and two other district representatives said the program encourages good behavior by focusing more on the positive behavior on the school bus.

“We praise them for doing something well before they realize they are doing it,” Shoun said. “We take it for granted but kids don’t always know how they are supposed to behave.”

The group said they have data that shows the program is increasing positive behavior in schools. The program’s strongest efforts have been focused in Gypsum because of the town’s contributions and the Gypsum area is showing a clear difference from the other areas in the last few years, Shoun said.

“We’re using Gypsum as a model for other towns,” he said. “This works and hopefully the other towns will see that soon.”

Modular problem

When Stone Creek Charter School moved its Gypsum branch during the summer, it caused a big problem for Glenn Heelan, who bought the modular classroom units to support the school. Now, the units are no longer needed.

Three months ago, the town gave him 90 days to handle the problem. With just days before that deadline expired, Heelan asked he be given more time. The council members approved an extension until the end of May but after that Heelan will be fined $1,000 for each additional day the units remain on the property at the Eagle Airport Commerce Center.

“We have $350,000 invested in this effort that was intended to help the school,” Heelan said. “We are very motivated to get them out of here. We are in a bad spot.”

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