RGNF hosts groundbreaking ceremony at old high school


DEL NORTE — The Upper Rio Grande School District (URGSD) in partnership with Rio Grande National Forest Service (RGNF) held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 4, to mark the beginning of the construction phase of the new RGNF supervisor’s office located in the old Del Norte High School building. The project has been underway for some time now after the RGNF accepted the building as a gift from the URGSD two years ago.

The initiative started after the Del Norte School District was approved for the BEST grant to build a new school. During this time, the current school board and several local individuals started a repurposing committee dedicated to finding a way to repurpose the old school buildings rather than having them demolished. In this fashion, the school was able to save an exponential amount of money as well as offer some great opportunities to local organizations including the RGNF.

The groundbreaking ceremony kicked off with keynote speaker and Public Affairs Officer Gregg Goodland who welcomed everyone in attendance. Several key players in the project were attending the ceremony by Zoom as well as a small group of individuals who were able to attend in person. “I really appreciate everyone taking their time to come out and help us celebrate this very important milestone for us. This is a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction phase of our new supervisor’s office and our move from Monte Vista to Del Norte,” said Goodland.

Goodland welcomed guests from the URGSD including school board President Neal Walters, board member Bridget Kreutzer, Del Norte Chamber representative Will Kreutzer as well as Superintendent Chris Burr. Others that were not in attendance were members from the RGNF including Tom Malecek Former RGNF Deputy Forest Supervisor, Shoshana Cooper Former acting RGNF Deputy Forest Supervisor, Andrew Peterson Lands and Realty Specialist RGNF Patricia Hesch Regional Land Ownership Adjustment Program Manager who all were instrumental in making it possible for the project to finally get off the ground.

Goodland also recognized those who were attending via Zoom which included, Meg Sullivan Forest Engineer, Doug Wise Regional Engineer, Todd Michael Regional Mechanical Engineer, Roger Pritchett Regional Architect and Christina Schofield Contracting Officer.

“It is a really exciting time for us. This is the final phase of construction for our new supervisor’s office. Some real big changes are about to start, and people will see some portions of this building getting blown out and remodeled. It will be really cool. I have set up a webpage that will allow people to track the construction as it moves forward and if you haven’t seen that yet, please come visit.”

Goodland welcomed RGNF Supervisor Dan Dallas to the podium for a few words, “This has been a long, long process to get to this milestone. It has been a complex endeavor to do this. Our agency is accustomed to getting bare land and when we said we were being gifted a building, it came as a shock. There was a bunch of perseverance by a whole bunch of people both within and outside our agency but particularly Chris Burr and the school board for just hanging with us.”

Burr was the next to speak, “What a wonderful and exciting time for the Del Norte community. This is without question, the second-best groundbreaking that I have attended, the new school being the first. I am happy to speak on behalf of the current school board, and the previous board for working to make this a reality. Neal Waters, Bridget Kruetzer, Veronica Climey, Keith Brown, Cory Off, Donna Velasquez all played roles to keeping this alive over the years. Thank you all for tireless efforts and faith in this project.”

At the end of the ceremony, Del Norte Mayor Chris Trujillo, Chris Burr, Rio Grande District 3 Commissioner Gene Glover and Dan Dallas used shovels to mark the occasion. The remodel is expected to finish in the fall of 2022.

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