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RV park closes after losing power over unpaid electric bill

Posted at 7:15 PM, Jan 11, 2020

FREMONT COUNTY, Colorado — An RV park that fell behind on its electric bill failed to raise the money they needed to keep the lights on. The owners of Prospectors RV Resort notified dozens of campers last month that they had to leave by New Year's Day.

Some who leased spaces just a few weeks before the news of the debt broke say they feel like the owners treated them unfairly.

Joy Garnhart said she paid approximately $2,000 for a three month lease back October. When the power went out, so did the water pumps that supplied the camp sites.

"We didn't have water or heat, and I'm disabled and retired," she said.

Sarah Meraz also signed a lease with the resort in late October. She was staying in town temporarily for a construction job in Cañon City and said she's spoken with several other campers who've been put out by the closure.

"People have really been damaged by this."

News 5 reported in November that owners Rhonda and Mike Schirado fell behind on their electric bill by roughly $35,000. They were on a structured payment plan when Black Hills Energy demanded repayment in full. The Schirado's created a GoFundMe page to try and raise the money but fell tens of thousands of dollars short.

"It looks and appears to be at this point that the whole campground is going to go under based on what Black Hills has forced me to do," Rhonda Schirado said.

She explained the part of the debt is due to her taking in homeless individuals from Cañon City. Schirado expected the city to help them financially.

However, Mayor Ashley Smith said no one asked Prospectors to take in the homeless and there was never an agreement to compensate the Schirado's.

"City councilors at the time, and the county commissioners who were in attendance decided it was not a feasible solution, and so there was never an agreement to house the homeless there," she said.

Schirado has not evicted any of the campers who are still staying on her property. She has been trying to contact all of her tenants to send refund checks.

"I have refunded and I am continuing to refund monies that were due with regards to deposits prorated rent amounts for the month of December," she said.

Garnhart and Meraz said they haven't see that money.

"Rhonda never reimbursed me a cent," Meraz said. "She gave me a $200 credit which was a $200 credit on a bill that I had overpaid already."

Schirado estimates she's returned money to about half of her customers and is still trying to contact the rest. She also said she called neighboring campgrounds last month to try and help relocate guests.

Mayor Smith said the city was able to add extra beds at the Loaves and Fishes emergency shelter to bring in others.