URGED welcomes new executive director, receives community updates

Photo by Lyndsie Ferrell Tom Monaco was elected to be the new Executive Director for the Upper Rio Grande Economic group on Tuesday, Oct. 12.

DEL NORTE — Tom Monaco was elected to be the new executive director of the Upper Rio Grande Economic Development group by its membership on Tuesday, Oct. 12. He plans to continue his service through the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and the SLV Small Business Development Center in his spare time.

Monaco has been a member with URGED for several years and is pleased to step into his new position to help increase economic development in the western end of the San Luis Valley.

According to his bio through OEDIT, “Thomas Monaco comes to OEDIT from the San Luis Valley Small Business Development Center where he served as the director. Prior to that, he was the Production Manager and an Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. Monaco’s primary areas of expertise are in design/fabrication, manufacturing and facility logistics. As an entrepreneur, he ran his own custom design and fabrication company in central Florida for 11 years and served as a consultant to numerous businesses, arts organizations and universities. Monaco also taught in higher education for 14 years at Ohio Northern University and the University of Florida. He holds a BFA in Technical Theatre Production from the University of Arizona and an MFA in Design & Technology from the University of Missouri/Kansas City.”

Monaco said he was going to miss previous executive directors Marty and Bonnie Asplin and he was eager to continue the forward progress of URGED and economic growth in the San Luis Valley.

After a presentation on forest management and HR 4302, URGED members gave brief updates on current happenings throughout the San Luis Valley. Rio Grande County Administrator Craig Barraclough said that the county is working on the 2022 budget and is meeting with department heads to finalize the document for the coming year.

Del Norte Town Administrator Bernadette Martinez stated that the town was also working on its budget and that they would possibly be looking at a sales tax increase that would be for the roads in town. Martinez said that the town is also working with Element Engineering to complete a water study and will be looking at a youth entrepreneurship program through the Department of Local Affairs. 

South Fork Town Attorney Gene Farish updated the group on the town’s water project, stating that construction and installation is going well and that it is taking up most of the town’s time and effort but that it was moving along smoothly. 

Kathy Woods gave a brief update on the Ski Hi building in Monte Vista, stating that the project was held back slightly due to COVID-19 but that it was back on track. Woods stated that Friends of Ski Hi was looking at funding options to purchase furniture and equipment for the building but that they hoped to have it finished by February next year.

Rio Grande County Commissioner Gene Glover finished the updates by stating that the new school crossing bridge in Center was completed and that the project was a success in getting school students to and from school safely.