This is an open letter to the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners.
Although I am a registered voter in Rio Blanco County, I am currently assigned and working overseas for the U.S. Government. Despite being halfway around the world, I am pleased to regard Meeker as my home town.
The natural beauty of the place combined with the hard-working legacy of its people makes Meeker a special place. Part of what makes Meeker special is its unique history, preserved prominently in buildings such as the Meeker Hotel, the museum, the courthouse and the old elementary school.
In a very real way, these old buildings and the surrounding natural beauty of the “China Wall” and Mesa represent the heart and soul of the community. These are the things that make Meeker an attractive community with an enviable, idyllic setting.
While it might be easily taken for granted, this unique setting is appreciated by the many visitors who stop in for events like the sheep dog trials. Sitting on the courthouse lawn during a summer evening listening to an outdoor concert, surrounded by these historic buildings, is a rare and genuine treat. At such a time, one can feel the heart and soul of the community.
But it won’t feel the same if one of these structures has been destroyed or converted into a jail or “justice center.”
Try as I may, I cannot envision how the demolition or partial conversion of the old elementary school into a jail and court facility will be a positive move for the community.
The historic old elementary school was built with stone hewed from nearby quarries and stands a testament to the hard-working legacy of this community and it’s commitment to education.
This is an irreplaceable building that should be protected, not demolished or turned into a “monument” dedicated to delinquents and criminals.
As a personal aside, I would note that my father spent what he would likely regard as the best years of his life serving as the principal of the old elementary school. He loved the students that he served, and he loved the community.
In part, to honor his memory, I write to add my voice to those of others who love their community and who would like to see this grand old structure repurposed for something that will add to the community’s quality of life and sense of purpose, not for something that will diminish it.