James Newberry: Incumbent Grand County commissioner seeks another term
Grand County, Colorado
James Newberry has served as commissioner for the past 12 years.
He and his family moved to Grand County in 1979 from Georgia. Newberry worked in the maintenance department of Winter Park Resort before being elected as commissioner.
Newberry chairs the Water Quality and Quantity board for Northwestern’s Colorado Council of Governments, has served eight years on the Colorado River Water Conservation District Board, has chaired land use at Colorado Counties Inc., served 12 years on the Fraser Valley Recreation District Board and is in charge of Grand County’s Juvenile Services department.
Shaping the lives of young people has fulfilled his personal time since 1980, from being the president of the local chapter of the Little League Association to coaching positions with the Fraser Valley Recreation District, the East Grand Middle School and the Middle Park High School.
He is currently the baseball coach at Middle Park High School.
Newberry’s wife, Kris Newberry, is a fifth grade teacher at Fraser Elementary School and volleyball coach at Middle Park High School. Their daughter Shelby is a student at Front Range Community College in Fort Collins. Their son Alex died in a boating accident in 2006.
Newberry serves District 1 ” Fraser Valley ” on the Grand County Board of Commissioners.
Q. Why did you decide to run again?
A. I truly enjoy the job and working with people. One of the most critical issues that will affect the county and impact our future is water. My involvement and experience in water matters has placed the county in a strong position for a positive outcome.
Q. What do you think needs to be changed at the county?
A. The county is continually changing to adapt to the needs of its constituents. The operations of the county are a constant work in progress. For example, we are revisiting our subdivision regulations, building inspections process, slash burning policies, bid for services process and updating the master plan, to name a few.
Q. What do you think are the top issues facing the county?
A. Protecting our environment: Water quantity and quality, pine beetle mitigation, solid waste/ recycling. Providing county services in an economic downturn, public transportation, early childcare /education, managing growth, services for seniors, trail improvements, and open space/view corridors. Grand County is already involved in these issues either in a leadership or support role
Q. What do you think you bring to the table?
A. Experience. I have been a commissioner through some of the best of times, and the worst of times. I believe that experience allows me to bring a prospective that provides a balance to the decision-making process.
I invite people into the process. I try to give people the opportunity to be involved and have a voice in local issues. I believe the best way to deal with concerns is around a table, face-to-face.
Q. As a commissioner, what have you learned about West Slope water issues?
A. Water is the life-blood of Grand County. Water provides for our quality of life and is the backbone of our economy. Water issues are very complicated. It is a battle with many fronts. Grand County has played a key role in uniting the west slope. This has given us leverage and power in the water arena that was not available before. During my service to the county I have been able to forge relationships and influence the water community in a way that will make sure that Grand County’s issues are at the forefront of any permitting or negotiation process. I am fighting for water at the local, state, and federal levels.
Q. What accomplishments are you most proud of as commissioner?
A. I am most proud of what I have been able to accomplish in working to protect water in Grand County. My role has been to help unify the west slope, start a dialog with east slope interest, and to bring the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation into the discussion regarding Grand County water. We are now looking for ways to work together to address past, present, and future water concerns. We have retained some of the best water counsel and water engineers in the state to guide and protect us through negations or permitting.
By budgeting conservatively, we have the county in a healthy financial situation. Since I have been a commissioner, the county has implemented a five-year capital expenditure plan and an employee pay scale. We have budgeted to pay for the new Judicial Building, remodel the original Courthouse, purchased water rights, developed a stream management plan, upgraded Road and Bridge equipment, upgraded technology, developed a department of Natural Resources, expanded Juvenile Services Department, overlaid all paved roads, put conservation easements in place (Fraser to Tabernash meadow and Parshall Divide), set aside 18,000 acres in James Peak Protection Area, 2,000 acres of wilderness in James Peak Wilderness Area, helped put sewer service in place in Tabernash, improved the Fairground facility, Flying Heels, and improved county airports ” all without asking for a mill levy increase or to pass a bond. Taxpayers did vote in a 2 mill increase to upgrade the EMS department, specific to EMS.
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A project that the Grand Fire Protection District has planned for since 2004 could begin soon.