Hayden is much more than a bedroom community. Here are five stories that prove that.
Hayden is much more than a so-called bedroom community for the larger ski town to its east, and I’ve found this out while covering it since arriving in the Yampa Valley.
It has long had its own economic driver — a coal-fired power plant — but that is shutting down, and has required some swift action to pivot fill the loss of the tax base the Hayden Station provides. Here are five stories I have written about Hayden you should check out.
This was a story that started with a draft press release from Xcel and has impacted nearly every decision for the small town of 2,000 residents since. The plant’s closure by the end of 2028 will not only impact the employees who work there but the special districts that rely on the tax revenue it pays.
It will trickle down across the county as well, as the main coal supplier for the plant — Twentymile Coal Mine — won’t have Xcel as a client anymore. The closure is facilitated by the company’s push to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by the end of the decade, a push that is being forced by Colorado’s own climate goals.
While still more than five years off, how the plant eventually shuts down and how Hayden prepares for that will be an important part of The Bugle’s coverage of Hayden. Read the story here.
With the plant closure looming, Hayden has been working to diversify its economy. One strategy has been to build infrastructure for an industrial park near the Yampa Valley Regional Airport, a project that got $5.2 million in funding last August.
The money comes from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and will help put in roads, water and sewer lines and other utilities to create lots ready for industrial development. The project is set to start work this summer and already has some interest from businesses both in the Yampa Valley and beyond.
As I keep covering Hayden, be sure to look for more stories on this project and how it hopes to replace the tax base the power plant provides. Read the story here.
Child care is short across Routt County, and while it isn’t quite the child care desert that South Routt is, the addition of Totally Tots within the Hayden Center was a vital step towards a solution. With it being in the making for nearly 30 years, Totally Tots completed a goal the group Totally Kids had since it started in 1994.
The center is full — it had a waitlist before it even opened. But through the new Main Street Apartments development next door, there could be an opportunity to add more space and expand the number of kids that can use it.
The fun wrinkle to this story was early childhood teacher Miranda Watts, who was returning to a classroom she once learned math in to work at the center. Read the story here.
Like Hayden, the welding trades are in a period of change as well, but former Hayden teacher Kevin Kleckler hopes to teach the next generation. He opened a welding institute in Hayden last year, and hopes it will allow residents of Northwest Colorado put themselves on a path to a strong career.
Kleckler had students that drove hours to get to his shop on the east side of town to learn the trade from him, some hoping to make it a career and others looking to create art. For some, it is both.
Doing stories about passionate people can be a lot of fun, and the morning I spent with Kleckler was just that. Read the story here.
This story is one that is still developing, and will likely have a broader impact as the weather warms this spring. I got a text from Town Manager Mathew Mendisco just after 6 a.m. and I jumped to get a story up. As the day developed, so did this story.
In the days since the initial flooding, Hayden has come together to help each other deal with the significant impacts it has caused. This was a cool story to write because it was buoyed by some great on-the-ground reporting by two talented guys at the Steamboat Pilot & Today, John F. Russell and Tom Skulski.
Keep an eye out for more flood coverage about Hayden and the rest of Routt County from the Bugle. Read the story here.