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Ouray County declares economic emergency

OURAY COUNTY, Colo. — The mayor of Ouray County sent a declaration of economic disaster and emergency to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper Monday, asking for help on the behalf of the county’s business community.

Ouray County Mayor Pamela Larson submitted the declaration Monday at about 6 p.m., according to a release from the county. The Board of County Commissioners for Ouray County also approved a resolution in support of the emergency declaration on Tuesday.

The county described an economic emergency warranting such a declaration as “conditions beyond the control of the community that result in economic hardship.”

By submitting the declaration, Mayor Larson opened up the possibility for federal- and state-level economic assistance, including Small Business Administration loans.

According to Ouray County officials, the move to declare an economic emergency was prompted by a substantial landslide from earlier in 2014, which closed Highway 550 through Red Mountain Pass for an extended period of time — Red Mountain Pass connects the City of Ouray to the Town of Silverton and is the main thoroughfare between Ouray County and San Juan County.

The road is currently being repaired by the Colorado Department of Highways, however, county officials expressed concerns that the road closure at the beginning of tourist season will have an adverse effect on the fiscal health of local businesses.

Now, the declaration awaits formal consent from the City Council, which is slated to happen at a City Council meeting on May 19 at 7 p.m.