Welcome to a new monthly column from the mayor

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 2:30 PM
Karen Sheek

March always comes in with the promise that spring is on the way...and that college basketball fans will either be euphoric with hope or devastated by loss as they watch their favorite teams play their hearts out for a chance to be #1.

In Cortez, this March comes with special promise because after months of planning, problem solving, some handwringing, dreaming big, and a lot of just plain hard work, the Cortez City Hall remodel is finished and staff was finally able to move into the new — well, newly remodeled — City Hall.

On February 17, Weeminuche Construction Company — who did an outstanding job on this project — handed over the keys to the building, and the city officially took possession. Following a well-thought-out plan, the move was scheduled to coincide with Presidents Day, in order to cause the least amount of inconvenience to citizens.

Boxes were packed, furniture and personal possessions labeled, and the move was executed in less than the time allotted. Staff picked up screwdrivers and drills, and in some cases, figured out how to put together furniture with little or no available instructions.

One staff member shared that he was now ready to go on the factory assembly line — he had become that skillful at quickly assembling chairs! Now staff is putting the final touches in place: hanging art and photographs depicting our history; arranging furniture; adding plants and doing the final tweaks on building systems.

This has been a journey. Less than two years ago the city purchased The Cortez Journal building for $2,930,500. When all is said and done, the remodel will have cost $2.8 million, with $2 million of that coming from a Colorado Department of Local Affairs matching grant.

The remodel includes a new roof. Council took the prudent path and chose to replace the roof, which was near the end of its life, rather than risk having it fail, possibly causing damage and costing considerably more to replace later.

Council also decided to invest in solar panels upfront rather than retrofitting the building later. This system will pay for itself in seven years. It has a 25-year warranty and is estimated to save taxpayers $75,000 in utility costs during the remaining 18 years of service. With a price tag of $36,182, taxpayers will get a very good return on their investment!

The public is invited to celebrate the opening of the new city hall on Friday, March 17. Located at 123 Roger Smith Avenue, on the corner of Roger Smith Avenue and Montezuma, building tours will be given 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., with the dedication set for 5:00 p.m. Final tours will run from 5:30-6:00 p.m.

Come see the beautiful stained glass skylight created by local artist, Stephen Hanson. Check out the “floating cloud” ceilings installed in council chambers and municipal court to add architectural interest, and see firsthand how staff planned not only for current needs but for projected needs decades in the future. This facility not only looks good, but it also is energy efficient and incorporates recycled materials to make it an environmentally friendly building. A big “thank you” to staff who worked so hard to make this a reality.

I have thought for a long time that a regular “Mayor’s Column” and some office hours for the mayor would be nice additional ways to communicate with citizens. With the move into our new building, this is a great time to launch these efforts.

Beginning today, the Friday after the first Council meeting of each month, my column will appear in the paper. If you have something you’d like to see me address, please email me. And, beginning March 28, I’m setting office hours at City Hall on the second and fourth Tuesdays from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Got something on your mind? Stop by and we will chat over a cup of coffee. I would love to visit with you. Together, we can make Cortez an even better place to live!

Karen Sheek is the mayor of Cortez, a position elected by council members. She was re-elected to City Council in 2016 and elected mayor for a second term that runs through April 2018. At that time a new Council will be seated, and the mayor will be elected by those council members. Reach her at