Opinion: New Eden offers help for moms and moms-to-be

Mother’s Day is Sunday, but not all moms feel honored or appreciated.
Some may feel overwhelmed, or abandoned.
New Eden Pregnancy Care Services was started to help such moms or moms-to-be. New Eden is a crisis pregnancy center that will serve Rio Blanco County.
“It’s basically a benevolence organization geared toward removing some of the things — such as material needs or pregnancy testing — that may cause women to seek abortion counseling,” said Rogers Meredith, pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Meeker and a member of the steering committee that is organizing the crisis pregnancy center. “This is, specifically, for ladies who are pregnant. We just want to try to help them out, so they won’t succumb to the pressures that sometimes cause them to have abortions. We have also run across ladies who have a baby and are barely able to cope with just the physical needs, so we want to help with that.”
Other members of the steering committee include Aaron Zielinske, pastor of the Meeker Assembly of God Church; Keith Fitzgibbons and Craig Thiessen.
“We’ve got our constitution hammered out. The next step is to seat a board of directors. That’s what we’re looking for now,” Meredith said. “We’re in the process of getting incorporated. Once we do that, we can move on to 501(c)(3) status (to become a tax-exempt organization).
“Our timeline has gone a lot faster than we thought,” Meredith said. “We hope to be up and running by the end of the year, and it’s safe to say we’re on track for that.”
Meredith said the crisis pregnancy center will serve both ends of the county.
“This effort involves folks from churches in Meeker and Rangely,” Meredith said. “We have two or three churches from Rangely on board.”
Also in the works is settling on a location for the crisis pregnancy center, which Meredith expects will be staffed a couple of days a week.
“After that, we’ll have a number that rolls over to a cell phone,” he said.
Meredith believes the need exists for a crisis pregnancy center in Rio Blanco County.
“We have done some research and, just as an example, in Craig, the demographic is different but close enough for comparison, the center there sees on the order of 20 women a week,” Meredith said.
The crisis pregnancy center would be available to help women who may be considering an abortion or who have had an abortion.
“There is nowhere in Rio Blanco County that performs abortions,” Meredith said. “The statistics vary, but there’s a reliable statistic that puts the amount of abortions in the United States on the order of two million a year. That’s incredible. Say the statistics are wrong by half, you’re still looking at a million.
“Whatever point you think life begins … there is no doubt the emotional damage done to women who go through this is incredible, and we really want to help folks with that,” Meredith said.
For more information about the crisis pregnancy center, contact Meredith at the office of Christ Reformed Church, 878-3181, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
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Rogers and Marlene Meredith are new parents themselves.
They are in the process of adopting a baby girl.
Naomi Grace Meredith is 3 months old. Her birth mother was not in a position to keep her, so Rogers and Marlene stepped in.
“It was a family member who already had a child and was not able to take care of her,” Rogers said. “So she just asked us if we would consider (becoming the girls’ parents).”
They did.
“We have had her (Naomi) since she was a little bitty baby,” Rogers said. “We’ve had her since the very beginning.”
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Hallie Blunt figures she has coached her last game for Meeker High School, but it’s not the way she hoped things would end.
Blunt, who has been Meeker’s girls’ basketball coach for the past nine seasons, did not have her contract renewed.
The decision by Superintendent Doug Pfau not to renew Blunt’s contract, despite a recommendation by athletic director and high school principal George Henderson supporting Blunt, was controversial. That set the stage for a contentious meeting April 20 between school board members and Blunt‘s supporters.
Those supporters included some of the members of girls’ basketball team and their parents.
“It is heartbreaking because of the kids it effects,” Blunt said. “It is so hard because it creates animosity and stress.”
Blunt was told she could re-apply for the coaching job, but indicated she doesn’t plan to do so. As for her reason for not applying, she cited some on the school board who indicated they wouldn’t support re-hiring her.
“I love coaching, and I have been playing or coaching this game for 20 years, so it is extremely hard to just be done,” Blunt said. “I love this town and the kids here, so I will support them.”
After the April 20 meeting, Blunt said she was encouraged by supporters to contact an attorney, which she did, if for no other reason than to make a point. But after having a preliminary conversation with an attorney, she decided that a lawsuit wasn’t the course of action she wanted to take.
“As far as recourse, the biggest thing is to ensure that this doesn’t happen to any other coaches or teachers,” she said. “I have, per several people’s advice, contacted an attorney. Make no mistake, it is for nothing more than emphasizing that this was not just morally wrong, but illegal.
“The lawyer, who works on contingency with a large law firm in Denver, said there was certainly things worth looking at here,” Blunt said. “I have not called him back, because I don’t want any part of a lawsuit. I just want them (school board members) to understand that what they did was not only wrong morally, but actually illegal.”
Blunt acknowledged there had been issues in her own past, including DUIs.
“Two years ago, before the ’08-’09 season, I had a two-page contract I had to sign in order to coach, and I followed that and I have made huge changes in my life since then,” she said. “The contract obviously covered my drinking, (as well as) my transporting of kids, my personal kids riding the bus, and then the players calling me coachie, and the last part was that I had to have a meeting with Paul (Neilson) prior to the season starting. I was to meet weekly with Mr. Evig (Dan Evig, superintendent at the time). I tried to do that, but he was frequently too busy.”
Neilson, a member of the school board, stated at the April 20 meeting he had not supported rehiring Blunt.
“I have had concerns for three years,” Neilson said at the April 20 meeting.
As far as her future, Blunt said she hadn’t made any definite plans.
“I have just talked to a couple of schools, but nothing serious,” she said. “I really do love Meeker and I don’t want to move. I will just have to see what options come along.”
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Meeker’s newly organized Tea Party group will take to the streets this week.
The group’s first protest rally is scheduled for today from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Northwest Auto Tire Shop on Market Street.
“We asked for a show of hands, and about 40 people raised their hands,” Lois Sampson, one of the organizers of the Meeker Tea Party group, said of how many people she hoped would show up for the rally. “We also expect to get some people from Craig and I talked to Doug LeFevre in Rangely and he said some of them are going to try to come over.”
Rio Blanco County has two newly formed Tea Party groups — one on each end of the county. They are part of the national movement that is opposed to big government and higher taxes.
The Tea Party groups in Meeker and Rangely have been meeting weekly. Meeker’s group meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at the fairgrounds. The Rangely group meets at 7 p.m. Thursday in the banquet room at the Johnson Building on the Colorado Northwestern Community College campus.
Last week, Bob McConnell, a Republican candidate for Colorado’s 3rd congressional district, spoke to the Meeker Tea Party group. The seat is currently held by Democrat John Salazar.
“He (McConnell) talked about his philosophy and answered questions,” Sampson said. “He’s a conservative Republican … pretty much what he stands for, the Tea Party stands for.”
Pat Hughes, a candidate for the Rio Blanco County Commission, also spoke to the group. Commissioner candidates Shawn Bolton and Wendy Gutierrez are scheduled to address the group May 13. Sampson also said officers will be voted on at the May 13 meeting.
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There are no Democratic candidates running for office in Rio Blanco County. But that’s something local Democrats hope will change in the future.
Democrats from Meeker and Rangely met April 11 and elected officers. They also mapped out a plan for identifying Democratic candidates to run for local office.
“Like their Republican counterparts, Rio Blanco County Democrats held their county assembly earlier this month. Unlike the Republicans, who had more than enough candidates for at least two offices, the Democrats had to deal with not having any candidates who had announced an interest in running for any of the county offices,” Democrat Reed Kelley of Meeker said. “As a consequence, the Democrats formed a vacancy committee, as set forth in state and party rules, which is empowered to fill any county candidate vacancies by early June.”
The Democrats have advertised in the Herald Times, looking for interested, qualified candidates to come forward.
The numbers, however, certainly aren’t in the Democrats’ favor. Rio Blanco County is overwhelmingly Republican, with the GOP having 2,665 registered voters compared to 535 for the Democrats. There are 1,152 voters in the county registered as unaffiliated.
“With Republican registration outweighing Democratic registration in the county by five to one, the likelihood of a Democrat being elected in any race seems remote,” Kelley acknowledged.
At the assembly April 11, Democrats did re-elect Jon Bader of Rangely as county chair, while Joe Dungan of Meeker was elected vice chairman. Kelley was re-elected secretary-treasurer. County Democrats also selected Bader, Dungan, Kelley and Sue Hicken of Meeker as delegates to the state assembly May 22. Sandra Besseghini, Kristine Hicken and Bob Lange of Meeker and Kathleen Martynowicz and John Sims of Rangely to serve as alternates.
In a statewide race, county Democrats preferred incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet over challenger Andrew Romanoff, former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, by a big margin, 82 percent to 18 percent.
Outgoing County Commissioner Joe Collins was recognized at the Democrats’ County Assembly. Collins will retire when his term expires in January.
“County Commissioner Joe Collins was a special guest at the start of the Democratic County Assembly as he was thanked and applauded for what will be 16 years of distinguished and commendable service to Rio Blanco County,” Kelley said.
County Democrats also formed a bipartisan committee — made up of Bob Lange, David Cole, Sue Hicken, John Sims and Reed Kelley — to review the county’s master plan as well as housing and building codes.
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After two years, the future of the Smoking River Pow Wow is uncertain, but the relationship-building between the residents of Meeker and the Ute Tribe will continue.
“We are currently working on a Ute children’s camp and Public Lands Day activities,” said Lynn Lockwood of the U.S. Forest Service and a member of the powwow committee. “It appears there will be no powwow in Meeker this year. Our committee is still looking for someone to take over coordination of the event, and we will plan for a 2011 powwow when we find a lead organizer.”
The Northern Ute Spring Celebration Bear Dance in Fort Duchesne, Utah, will be May 14-17.
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One of Kacey Pozorski’s wishes will come true soon.
She and her parents will travel to Disney World this weekend, paid for by the Make A Wish Foundation. Kacey, 4, suffers from a rare brain disease, which is considered terminal. She recently underwent five days of experimental, intensive radiation treatments.
“She’ll return to the doctor sometime in June for an MRI to see what happened with the full effects of the radiation,” Kacey’s father, Kurt, said. “But she’s doing pretty good.”
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While the Buford Store upriver has been closed, the Buford Lodge has never closed. “We have both modern and rustic cabins for rent, camping right on the river, and full-service RV spots,” Tom Tucker said.
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Weather canceled last Saturday’s Bob Tucker Memorial Golf Tournament in Meeker, which has been rescheduled for May 22.
Saturday night, it snowed during the Meeker High School prom. Residents then awoke Sunday morning to find a wet, heavy snow had blanketed the area.
“It’s time to sacrifice something to the sun and summer gods,” suggested Dale Dunbar, who was signed up to play in last Saturday’s golf tournament, named for his former coach. “Don’t know what it may be that’ll make them send winter away, but it’s time.”
Amen to that.

Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at jeff@theheraldtimes.com.