Letters to the Editor: September 18, 2008

Dear Editor,
On the evening of Aug. 27, 2008, I was involved in a serious collision south of Meeker. At this time I would like to express my appreciation to all parties who assisted in extracting me, caring for me during and after the accident.
The lady who was first on scene and stayed, talking to me, until fire/ambulance crews arrived. She later visited the hospital to be sure I was OK.
The fire/ambulance crews with their prompt and professional response in extracting and transporting me to the ER.
The Meeker Police, Rio Blanco County Sheriff and Colorado State Patrol who answered the call and directed traffic.
Dr. Bullard and staff at Pioneers Medical Center emergency room for their care and treatment.
A special thanks to the Colorado Department of Transportation employees, staff and their families for getting me home and providing the help I needed.
The Meeker VFW for the use of special equipment, making it easier to be at home.
The community who has been concerned about my well-being and offered assistance in running errands and providing transportation.
My thanks to each and everyone of you.
Sincerely,
Mark A. Curto
Meeker

Dear Editor,
I read in the Sept. 8 Denver Post where the school districts in Colorado were going to ask the voters within their districts for a total of $2.5 billion in mill levy increases and bond issues. This is certainly a lot of money, and even when you spread it over 178 districts it averages to a little more than $14 million per district. Since any district in Colorado is severely limited in its ability to raise additional funds for operations, this is telling us something important about the physical conditions of our schools.
It has been widely publicized that in Colorado our per-pupil funding for schools is ranked near the bottom nationally. This $2.5 billion is an indicator that it is a statewide practice for our schools to defer capital expenditures and building maintenance so that they can place their meager funds into classroom education.
Obviously, you can only do this for just so long. Eventually the facilities become so decrepit that you must either spend large sums of money to catch up on the deferred maintenance or spend even larger sums to construct new facilities. This is a statewide phenomenon and we see it right here in our Rio Blanco county schools. It is nothing new and has been occurring for the last 20 years.
The Rio Blanco County commissioners recognize this funding shortfall and have granted, through the County Capital Improvements Trust Fund (CCITF), more than $500,000 to each of our school districts during the past decade for buses, roofs, floors and other capital needs.
In this system of very limited funding, teachers’ salaries and classroom supplies compete with maintenance needs. But not only are needs in the physical plant not being met, the average salary for Rangely teachers is now more than $8,000 below the statewide average. This, coupled with limited availability of adequate housing and rising housing costs, is making it ever more difficult to retain quality staff and attract new teacher recruits.
Computers and other technology that students have access to are dated and need to be upgraded. Vehicles have high mileage, safety concerns and repairs are getting ever more costly. Significant repairs and updates are needed in each of the RE-4 facilities.
Further, by updating the facilities to be more energy efficient, the schools can save significantly, allowing more of the state-supplied funding to be directed into the classroom.
There is little that we, as a society, can do that is more important than investing in our future leaders and future members of our workforce. For an investment of less than $4 per month I can help the RE-4 district provide a quality learning environment for these students over the next 10 years. This is what we all did ten years ago and it is every bit as good an investment now as it was then. I encourage all of the west end citizens to vote Yes on 3C, I will.
Thank you
Ken Parsons, former RE-4 School Board member

P.S. I also urge the east end to support RE-1’s ballot initiatives 3A and 3B.

Dear Editor,
In 2001 the Forest Service adopted a rule to limit roads in the backcountry or our state. This rule was supported by ranchers, hunters, hikers, bikers and everyday folks like me who recognized that national forest roadless areas are crucial for a variety of reasons.
Roadless areas provide clean water for people and wildlife. Some of the best big game habitat is in roadless areas and they also provide excellent backcountry recreation opportunities.
The 2001 rule was win-win by protection Colorado’s backcountry and did not cause any existing roads or trails to be closed.
The Bush administration is moving forward with plans to remove this protection for Colorado’s roadless backcountry. The Draft Colorado Roadless Rule would open loopholes to permit road construction almost anywhere in the state’s 4 million acres of roadless national forest.
The draft Colorado Rule would allow “long-term temporary roads” in the backcountry. These so-called “temporary roads” can be used for 30 years. The job of reclaiming a 30-year-old road would be difficult and the landscape is unlikely to ever fully recover.
This is not a recipe for conserving wild places in our state. Colorado and the people deserve better. The Bush plan does not reflect — or respect — the intent to protect Colorado’s roadless backcountry, as expressed by the people of Colorado. I say enough is enough!
Let’s send Washington a massive uproar from the backcountry! Contact Congress and the US Forest Service: e-mail COcom-ments@fsroadless.org or write Road Less Area Conservation-Colorado, P.O. Box 162909, Sacramento, CA 95816-2909 before Oct. 23.
Sincerely,
Monty Robertson
Craig

Dear Editor,
The Meeker Elementary School Building Accountability Committee would like to thank the following organizations and businesses for donating to Back-to-School Night at the elementary school and making this event such a success: Watts Ranch Market for hotdogs, buns and condiments; Lions Club for the tent and Bill Jordan for the delivery and pick up of the tent; Meeker Collision for plates, napkins, cups and chips; Recreation District for drinks; Stanley Crawford for his time as “grill master” and Meeker food service for making the delicious cookies. Thank you to these local businesses and organizations that continually support the Meeker community. You are more than appreciated!

Shelly Rogers, chair
Meeker Elementary School Building Accountability Committee

Dear Editor,
As Meeker School District Building Accountability committees, one of our duties consists of discussing safety issues related to the building environment. We are writing this letter to ensure that you have accurate information in which to make a decision regarding the upcoming ballot issues. Ballot issue 3A will ask voters to permanently extend an existing mill levy of $404,670. Ballot 3B will ask voters to approve a $24 millon bond initiative with which the District would build a new elementary school and make necessary improvements to the middle and high schools.
There are many concerns regarding the elementary school built in 1939. Perhaps the most critical is its poor learning environment. Crowded classrooms, a leaking roof and foundation, an old electrical system which is unable to handle present demands and plumbing and heating issues contribute to the situation.
In addition, there are safety and health concerns. There are no parking facilities and the flow of traffic around the school’s downtown location is an unsafe drop off and pickup area for children. Poor air quality in the building, due to inadequate ventilation, is a health concern.
The building is not adequate for the existing number of students. Studies show that a site for a school of our size should be 6-10 acres. The Main Street site is 2.28 acres. Classrooms are crowded and space for storage is limited. An old equipment closet serves as a special education resource room. As a result, two 60-foot modular classroom buildings have been placed next to the school — taking away valuable playground and physical education space.
A District Facility Needs study determined that remodeling the school would not be cost effective nor could the building’s foundation support a second floor. The encapsulated asbestos found throughout the building would have to be removed if any renovation were done which makes the cost more prohibitive. Schools are held to a much higher standard than any other entity when it comes to asbestos removal.
Both the middle school and the high school face poor lighting issues and the high school has deteriorating and inefficient electrical and heating systems. Both schools, like the elementary, have poor air circulation that, again, translates into health issues. The middle school roof needs to be replaced while the high school restrooms are not ADA compliant and the high school agriculture and wood shops face numerous safety issues.
It is our hope that this letter will answer some questions you may have had concerning the schools. If you would like to visit the schools, please call the school office to make an appointment to see the facilities first hand. Thank you for your time, and with the information we have provided, we hope that you will understand the importance of making an informed decision for the students in our community on Nov. 4, 2008. If you have further questions please feel free to contact a member of the Citizens for Meeker Schools committee or a School Accountability Committee member.
Submitted by the District Building Accountability Committees
Meeker

Dear Editor and the residents/property taxpayers of the Western Rio Blanco Rec. and Park District:
The demolition portion of the remodel is going quite well. The roof over the pool (natatorium) will need to be put back on before the pool can be removed. Things are on schedule and are moving along nicely.
The Recreation Center is now open at the EEC (Early Education Center) with the following hours of operation: Monday-Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday from noon-7 p.m. If the usage of the Recreation Center drops, the district will shorten the hours of operation, such as; if during the week no one is there at 8:30 p.m. the staff will close the facility. Please call the center at 675-8211 if in doubt to make sure the hours have not changed in the future.
Thank you for understanding and patience in this matter. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call me.
Timothy J. Webber,
executive director
Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation
and Park District