MONTICELLO, Utah (ABC4 News) – Monticello is a small town right on highway 191 in San Juan County. Just like many rural communities, locals say there are several challenges and they want change.
Doug Whipple is one of many transplants in Monticello. He moved here in 1975 and is a local business owner.
“There’s a lot more traffic in this town, that’s what there is,” said Whipple.
He says tourists play a huge role for the city’s economy.
“Tourism from Europe, from all over the world, hasn’t been here because of COVID,” said Whipple.
Whipple says he wants more growth and stability for his community and he’s not the only one.
“We’re hugely agriculture community, we have a lot of farming and ranching,” said Bruce Adams, long-time resident.
Bruce Adams’ family is 5 generations into living in Monticello and he’s a county commissioner.
“I was hoping that some of the online jobs would attract some of our locals back, unfortunately hasn’t attracted a lot, but it’s attracted other people,” said Adams.
Adams says one of the biggest challenges for San Juan County is access to the internet, for students working from home and small businesses.
“And have our school systems, viable and have our small cottage businesses, our grocery stores, do a little better economically,” he added.
Adams says economic development grants are in the works but he wants internet services to be more accessible.
“We’ve gone after some grants to help that, we have a backbone broadband going in throughout the county from one end to the other, but it’s moving so slow to get all the right away and get everything done,” he said.
San Juan County is vast. Adams says he wants an expansion on roads.
“We’re four and a half hours away from Salt Lake City, I’m four and a half hours away from my community that is part of San Juan County,” said Adams.
Adams says he’s lobbying Utah’s Department of Transportation and hopes to see improvements on highways.
“Most of the way is two lanes, with some passing lanes here and then, but we’d like to see a four-lane highway come from the border of Colorado as well as Arizona, a four-lane highway from here to Salt Lake so we have similar opportunities that they do,” said Adams.
Monticello residents say they’re resilient but they believe these few additions, could be game-changers for their county.