The good news is Colorado state highways are getting a shot in the arm from the stimulus package. The bad news is rural state highways in the region are once again getting the shaft. Out of a $317 million pot, our region is getting a paltry $25 million for rural state highway improvements. About $12 million is slated for improvements to SH 92 between Austin and Hotchkiss, estimated to modernize five miles out of many miles not improved since the 1930s or ’40s. The $13 million allotted to SH 13 between Rifle and Meeker will modernize five miles of that highway leaving 40-50 miles of a dangerous obsolete road built to the standards of the 1940s.
Why put $11 million into roundabouts at Edwards? Roundabouts do not save lives! Their main function is to make it a little easier for drivers to clear an intersection. Why not put that money into improving the safety of one of our obsolete rural roads? Eleven million would build about 20 miles of passing lanes along crowded rural roads where impatience can lead to a multi-fatality crash. Six mile-long passing lanes (three in each direction) would add greatly to the safety of travel between Rifle and Rio Blanco where heavy truck traffic is clogging the road. Four would be useful along SH 64 (two in each direction) between Meeker and the Piceance Creek road where the same situation exists. Safety should be the primary consideration when doling out limited funds for highway improvements.
I am writing to raise an issue that concerns the safety of our students at Meeker Elementary School. Being in a downtown location as we are, we don’t have the ability to control the vehicular traffic near our campus. We assign fifth-grade students to crosswalk duty before and after school in an effort to provide some level of safe passage for students going to and from the building. Recently, we have had a couple of incidents where our crossing guards have come close to being hit by cars and/or have been honked at while they are assisting their classmates crossing the streets. We ask that if you are coming to pick up or drop off your students or if you just happen to be passing by the school during the high student traffic times before and after school, please keep an eye out for the crossing guards and respect their job of helping students safely cross the street. The guards are present on Fifth Street and Park Avenue from 7:45-8 a.m. and from 2:55-3:10 p.m. If you are picking up students along Park Avenue, please park on the north side of the street and have your students cross the street at the crosswalks to get to your vehicle. Thank you for your support of our school and your attention to this important matter.
Principal, Meeker Elementary School
During the evening hours of Sunday, Feb. 22, the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office received a report that Faye Kincher and his sister, Lois Williams, had been snowmobiling near Sand Peak. They became stranded and were tired, unable to build a fire because of the location and lack of fuels. Without a fire they decided to call for assistance.
The sheriff’s office started calling for volunteers and received help from every person requested. Lanny Coulter would start flying his plane at daylight. Frank Huitt from Rangely with his helicopter would assist in case they were in the dark timber. He could drop provisions if necessary. The National Weather Service advised us we had a reasonable expectation of decent weather until 11 a.m. Monday. Then the snow should start falling at the elevation of Sand Peak.
White River Electric was called. Dick Welle immediately approved use of their brand new snowcat with operators. This would give us a place to warm people up if hypothermia became an issue or to pull machines out. It would be the work horse transporting a huge amount of fuel, food and supplies.
We all met at the Lost Creek parking area. We found them quickly because they had a light to signal with although it took some time to actually get to their location and get them out. We all got home by about 3 a.m.
I wanted to thank everyone including the aforementioned ones. They always make themselves available for assistance as do others. It was a pleasure to be with them.
I would ask you to thank them as well when you see them. I know Faye and Lois have already. Some lost time at work to help and were happy to help. Troy Hilkey, Nathan Pelloni, Cory Ruchti, Austin Rineau, Matt Nay, Lee Overton, Todd Gerloff, Brett Berthelson and Steve Williams with the Forest Service. These strong young men have the equipment, agility, endurance, dedication, knowledge and determination to help those in need. It is a pleasure to work with such individuals.
We would like to thank the volunteer snowmobilers and Si (Woodruff) and his office who sacrificed part of their night’s sleep to come get us out of the high country and we’d also like to thank the WREA for its snowcat.