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City of Cortez Plugs Heart and Soul Project with Documentary Screening

Austin Cope
Cortez Mayor Karen Sheek hears comments from the audience after the screening of two films promoting small-town culture

About 40 people came to the Sunflower Theater on Thursday night for the screening of a short video produced for the City of Cortez’s “Heart and Soul” project. The video, which was funded by a planning grant from the Orton Family Foundation awarded in 2011, showed clips of various community members explaining what they loved about Cortez. It also mentioned components of the community such as education, businesses, agriculture, and cultural heritage.


In addition to funding the video, City Planner Tracie Hughes says the $100,000 planning grant also supported block parties and community conversations, and funded two paid positions to head up those events. Mayor Karen Sheek said the grant also helped encourage young people to join local advisory boards and helped beautify the medians on South Broadway. A storybook was also funded by the grant, which chronicled the takeaways from the project.


The grant also provided support for the city to produce a new land use code and more community beautification projects such as new “Welcome to Cortez” signs. City Manager Shane Hale told the audience after the film that developing the land use code is still underway. “A lot of people think that to make a land use code simpler, it’s fewer words, and actually to make it simpler it’s a lot more narrative, because you have to be a lot more descriptive on what you’re looking for,” he said. He said they were also looking for property to build the new welcome signs, but they haven’t decided where to place them yet.


A screening of the documentary “America’s Return to Main Street” followed the “Heart and Soul” video, which emphasized the importance of tight community roots to America’s culture. Mayor Sheek took comments from the audience after the film. Audience members echoed their support of the small-town feel and having a centralized downtown area.

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