Year in Review: June~December 2014

Gov. John Hickenlooper made an hour-long stop in Meeker on Oct. 10 at Mountain Valley Bank before heading to see the new Pioneers Medical Center and continue his state tour. The bank’s meeting room had a standing-room-only crowd of Republicans and Democrats from both sides of the county as Hickenlooper answered audience questions regarding the energy industry in Northwestern Colorado, economic and business growth in Colorado—recently pegged as having the No. 1 growing economy in the nation, how the state was the first ever to have to cope with 13 major disasters from floods to fires in just one year, how Colorado is being watched for its ability to get energy, environment and government groups together to work out an energy policy that pleases all sides, and state health issues, including how the state abortion rate has been cut by 40 percent and teen pregnancy is down 35 percent.

Gov. John Hickenlooper made an hour-long stop in Meeker on Oct. 10 at Mountain Valley Bank before heading to see the new Pioneers Medical Center and continue his state tour. The bank’s meeting room had a standing-room-only crowd of Republicans and Democrats from both sides of the county as Hickenlooper answered audience questions regarding the energy industry in Northwestern Colorado, economic and business growth in Colorado—recently pegged as having the No. 1 growing economy in the nation, how the state was the first ever to have to cope with 13 major disasters from floods to fires in just one year, how Colorado is being watched for its ability to get energy, environment and government groups together to work out an energy policy that pleases all sides, and state health issues, including how the state abortion rate has been cut by 40 percent and teen pregnancy is down 35 percent.
Gov. John Hickenlooper made an hour-long stop in Meeker on Oct. 10 at Mountain Valley Bank before heading to see the new Pioneers Medical Center and continue his state tour. The bank’s meeting room had a standing-room-only crowd of Republicans and Democrats from both sides of the county as Hickenlooper answered audience questions regarding the energy industry in Northwestern Colorado, economic and business growth in Colorado—recently pegged as having the No. 1 growing economy in the nation, how the state was the first ever to have to cope with 13 major disasters from floods to fires in just one year, how Colorado is being watched for its ability to get energy, environment and government groups together to work out an energy policy that pleases all sides, and state health issues, including how the state abortion rate has been cut by 40 percent and teen pregnancy is down 35 percent.
RBC I This week we will look at news and events that took place between June and December 2014.

• Tuesday’s election day belonged to the Republicans in Rio Blanco County as they had at least a couple of contested races while the county Democrats had none. Nevertheless, there is an indicator in even uncontested races as to how popular a candidate is when votes received are measured against other uncontested candidates.
• Almost a year into his role as Rangely School District superintendent, Matt Scoggins says with certainty that he loves his job and feels some elements have improved under his leadership. Without hesitation he adds that the job involves plenty of work, that the district has its challenges and that he himself has room to improve.
• The Department of the Air Force awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal (his second Oak Leaf Cluster) to Staff Sgt. Kyle T. Pittman on May 10 for outstanding achievement on April 22, 2014.
• The Rio Blanco County Cup is displayed in front of the score sheets, which document the closest contest in eight years of play between golfers from Meeker and Cedar Ridges Golf Course in Rangely. Rangely displayed the cup for a year but have yet to win in Meeker, which is where the 2014 tournament was played and where the cup will remain until next year.
• Town of Meeker water operations supervisor Tobey Willey recently informed the Meeker Board of Trustees that the town’s fluoride monitoring equipment is currently not working and therefore fluoride cannot be added to the water system.
• Chris Cagle brought folks to their feet several times during his headlining performance at the Range Call concert on Saturday night. Equally enjoyable was the opening band, Damsel. Cagle’s performance centered on patriotism, fatherhood and the family, which was the right chord to play on the 238th birthday of the United States. The Oklahoman made it pretty clear that he likes Colorado and said he spends some time each year in Denver, Breckenridge and Durango.
• More than 300 runners and walkers participated in the annual Run For Your Life 5K held in Meeker on July 4, and almost 90 entered the 5K Color Run in Rangely. Meeker’s race was won by Rangely graduate William Scoggins for the third year in a row. Andrew Dorris (who, along with his twin brother, Anthony, will turn 10 on Saturday) won the 5K Color Run in Rangely. Austin Russell, who will be a sophomore next year at Meeker High School, finished fourth overall and 5-year-old Orion Musser feels like he is No. 1 as he finishes in front of Cherlynn Muxlow.
• Rio Blanco County is not currently issuing same-sex marriage licenses, Rio Blanco County Clerk Nancy Amick said Monday.
• Sure, it’s July, which to some feels like summer is half over. Strictly speaking, however, the gardening season is still young, which leaves plenty of time to join Rangely Community Gardens many activities.
• The “Save Our Track Walk-A-Thon, held July 5 in Meeker in an effort to raise funds to repair the running track at Meeker High School “Was very successful,” according to Meeker organizer Debbie Cook.
• Rangely Hurricane Patrick Scoggins won five events and the High Point trophy in the 13-14 division at the Western Slope Championships. Nineteen Hurricanes participated in the event and many finished in the top 10. Angelina Fortunato, Ezekiel Gianinetti, Aguirre Jackson and Ryann Mergelman all raced in the eight-and-under division at the Western Slope Championships.
• Deena Norell, a 2014 graduate of Meeker High School, was interviewed in a feature article about breakaway roping titled “Whiz Kids” in Spin to Win Rodeo magazine and competed in the National High School Rodeo Finals rodeo last week in Rock Springs, Wyo. Norell was quoted as saying her dad, Dee, is her main influence and she likes roping at home because her “Dad’s always here, he’s always helping me and he’s always making it fun but serious at the same time.”
• In a letter to the editor, Dr. Bob Dorsett, a favorite and long-time science instructor at Meeker High School explains that he and the Meeker School District could not agree to terms for him to return to MHS and that he will not be back next year.
• The Rangely Town Council voted last week to replace sections of the town’s municipal code to allow off-highway vehicles (OHVs) on public roads.
• Construction continues on the addition to the Meeker Library, located on the southeast corner of Main and Fifth streets. The addition, located east of the current library, is being enlarged for a classroom in the front of the building, which is the north end of the new construction, and will have a courtyard with a stage, planters and a fountain on the south end of the addition. Meeker librarian Mike Bartlett said the project is set for completion in September.
• Bill deVergie, the district wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) in Meeker acknowledged Friday that bears and lions have made a couple of appearances close to residences and businesses in Rangely and Meeker.
• It has taken time, but the efforts to clean up illegal dump sites around Rangely will no longer be necessary in some distant future.
• Ellen Reichert of Meeker made away with a large haul during the horticulture competition at the Rio Blanco County Fair. Reichert’s Red Lake currants captured the fair’s horticulture Best in Show award as well as champion and first-place ribbons.
• Today’s issue, Aug. 14, 2014, marks the 130th year of the Herald Times. The Herald Times is the oldest continuous business in Rio Blanco County and one of the oldest newspapers in Colorado. The Meeker Herald and the Rangely Times were combined into one operation in 2000 and current owner/publisher Mitch Bettis purchased the publication in 2001.
• Town of Rangely employees, subcontracted to the Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District, cut walkways through Hefley Park in west Rangely last week. The space, which will become a veterans’ memorial park, will feature a 1 1/4-life-sized soldier statue created by Meeker artist John Kobald and funded through collaborative efforts of the Meeker and Rangely VFWs, government entities, businesses and individuals in 2012-2013. An identical statue was unveiled on Meeker’s courthouse lawn on July 4, 2013.
• The Meeker School Board had a busy agenda on Aug. 5, taking action on items including the sale of the old Bureau of Land Management building on east Market Street and the naming of the running track at Starbuck Stadium for a long-time school official.
• Mossie Percifield hit the century mark Aug. 8, 2014, celebrating her 100th birthday. A century of love, laughter, work and devotion to family was honored with a party at Elks Park in Rangely.
• A celebration of “50 Years Wild” to commemorate the anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and a half-century of wild and special places, area residents and visitors are invited to an afternoon of wilderness education, primitive skills demonstrations, live music and food.
• Members of the Colorado/ Utah/Wyoming Viper Club of America toured both ends of Rio Blanco County last weekend.
• Trying to prevent a family situation from blowing up, Rio Blanco County Sheriff Si Woodruff suffered a stab wound to the abdomen on Thursday afternoon and had to be airlifted to Grand Junction, where he underwent surgery to repair the wound.
• Dr. Bob Dorsett said he was quite surprised himself when a plan was proposed to him that would have him back teaching at Meeker High School.
• The Meeker High School Cowboys opened the football season by defeating the Rye Thunderbolts, 26-14, on Saturday afternoon.
• The State of Colorado Energy and Mineral Impact Advisory Committee met recently to review requests for grants from state severance tax and mineral lease revenues, and has awarded Rio Blanco County $2 million.
• The parade grand marshals for the 2014 annual Septemberfest Parade were Jeff and Rebecca Rector of Rangely. They were honored for the many contributions the Rector family has made to the community as well as to Colorado Northwestern Community College, which also rededicated the Rector Science Building over the weekend.
• Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) and sponsors of the Governor’s Awards for Downtown Excellence have informed the Meeker Chamber of Commerce that the project “Rio Blanco County Veterans Memorial” is a winner of “The Best Small Town Public Space Project” award.
• College officials, local dignitaries and the Rector family were on hand Thursday for the dedication of the refurbished and enlarged Rector Science Building on the campus of Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely.
• First National Bank of the Rockies officially became the Bank of the San Juans last week after the oldest banks in Meeker and Rangely were acquired by Montana-based Glacier Bancorp Inc.
• Eddie O’Brien, the community liaison for The Colorado Grand, presented a couple of checks Sept. 11 as the charitable organization’s vintage sports cars rolled through town, with a stop at City Park, which included lunch served by the Meeker Lions Club. “We’ve been coming to Meeker for at least a half dozen times. We put on this event once a year. It’s a four-day event that runs through the state of Colorado,” O’Brien said. “We raise a lot of money. We’ll give away between $300,000 and $400,000 per year to all of the communities we go through.” O’Brien presented checks for $7,500 to the Meeker Lions Club and a $7,500 check for a local student going to a college or university in Colorado. Paul Jordan and Julie Pearce accepted on behalf of the Meeker Lions Club.
• Rangely High School alum and former Meeker teacher/coach Bill Turner, along with his former University of Utah teammates, winners of the 1964 Liberty Bowl, were recently inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame.
• Bud Striegel of Rangely has had a passion for cars for as long as he can remember. Now, he’s going to share that passion with others. Striegel is in the final stages of building a vintage car museum. The museum, which will feature about 30 to 40 cars from the 1920s and ‘30s mostly, is expected to open in the next month or two, Striegel said. The front part of the building will have room for a welcome center and the Rangely Chamber of Commerce office. “I’m trying to make this something really neat,” Striegel said. “And maybe people will stop and buy a hamburger or rent a room while they’re in town.” Asked about his favorite car, Striegel said, “I don’t have a favorite. I like them all.”
• More than 229 members were registered and 375 persons were fed Sept. 10 as members of the White River Electric Coop attended the annual WREA Membership Luncheon at the Fairfield Center in Meeker. Members cast votes for new or incumbent board members, and incumbents Hal Pearce and Stan Wyatt were re-elected. Addressing the crowd during the lunch were WREA Board President Anthony Mazzola, standing, and first-year general manager Alan Michalewicz, who announced that there is no foreseeable rate increase for residential members over the next year.
• In September, the Friends of The TANK, Inc. took additional steps to turn the old water tank west of Rangely into a Center for Sonic Arts to be used for performance, recording and education.
• After a 50-8 defeat of the Leadville Panthers, the Meeker Cowboy football team remains undefeated in five games. However, they will put it on the line Friday in Starbuck Stadium as they host the defending state champion Paonia Eagles.
• Crowned king and queen of the 2014 Rangely High School Homecoming royalty were King Ethan Allred and Queen Simone Heinle. A wide variety of activities were held all week long, culminating with the Homecoming dance on Saturday. The parade theme this year was “Electric Avenue.”
• When the economy fell one area the state cut was education. They did this by establishing what they term as the “negative factor,” which essentially means the amount of money they know they should be funding to each district, but are unable to.
• Incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper made an hour-long stop in Meeker on Monday at Mountain Valley Bank before visiting the new Pioneers Medical Center site. The bank’s meeting room had a standing-room-only crowd of Republicans and Democrats from both sides of the county.
• Petitions are being circulated by a Meeker man who is seeking the recall of three veteran members of the Meeker School Board of Trustees.
• Matt Scoggins, superintendent of the Rangely School District, and Rangely Junior/Senior High School science teacher Kyle Boydstun show off a $25,000 grant from Chevron for STEM resources.
• Five years have passed since the Meeker High School football team qualified for post-season play, and a win in their final game of the regular season in Hotchkiss on Friday night would guarantee the Cowboys a playoff berth.
• Election day on Tuesday brought good news to the Rio Blanco County voters in many respects, but not all votes went the way the supporters wanted.
• Just prior to the first snow of winter, all the trees on the property of the new justice center/old elementary school in downtown Meeker have been cut down to make way for the new center. Much work has also been done on the inside of the structure, which will undergo a major remodel.
• The Rangely Community Gardens finished its 2014 season by handing out more than 550 pumpkins to children and community members before Halloween.
• The Cowboys defeated the Ellicott Thunder Hawks 44-21 in the first round of the 1A Colorado state football playoffs on Saturday, advancing to the state quarterfinals, where they will host Rye in Starbuck Stadium Saturday at 1 p.m.
• Cold, clear weather marked the Veterans Day unveiling of the sculpture “Sacrifice and Resolution” in Rangely’s Hefley Park on Tuesday afternoon.
• “We were awfully excited about the way we started,” Meeker head football coach Shane Phelan said after his Cowboys jumped out to a 28-0 first half lead in the Colorado 1A state playoffs against the Rye Thunderbolts in a filled to overflowing Starbuck Stadium Saturday.
• Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet announced Thursday that Northwest Colorado Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) won a $2,914,997 grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) grant program to provide teachers with strong professional development assistance through its innovative System for Educator Effectiveness Development (SEED) project.
• White River Electric Association (WREA) reached a successful resolution to its wholesale rate complaint case with its power supplier, Tri State Generation and Transmission Association (“Tri State”).
• Rangely’s Epsilon Chi Sorority of Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA) raised more than $2,800 to fund local and national causes at its 51st annual holiday bazaar on Sunday.
• Five years had passed since the Meeker Cowboys qualified for the 1A Colorado state football playoffs. While there this year, they won two games before ending their season in Buena Vista, losing in the semifinals to the Demons 48-18.
• During the next month, one of Rangely’s prominent oil and gas companies, Crossfire LLC, will begin pulling out a small portion of their operation from Rangely and moving it to Vernal, Utah.
• Five Meeker-area teenagers and young adults were critically or seriously injured Wednesday afternoon in a one-vehicle rollover just west of Meeker, causing four of the five injured to be airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.
• White River Electric Association has announced an average of a 3 percent electric rate reduction for 2015.
• The ERBM Recreation and Park District’s Center Stage Youth Theatrical Group (CSYTG) delighted audiences with an extraordinary performance of Hansel and Gretel on Nov. 21-22 at Meeker High School’s auditorium.
• Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Title V permit allowing Deseret Power Electric Cooperative’s (DPEC’s) Bonanza power plant to continue operating under existing emissions control requirements.
• The Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District held a public meeting Dec. 2 to discuss the feasibility study for a new water storage facility within Rio Blanco County along the White River.
• Just before noon on Dec. 2, a cattle truck carrying 76 head of cattle purchased from Buffalo Horn Ranch overturned on a curve at the 11-mile marker of County Road 7, killing one steer outright and injuring several others.
• Colorado Parks and Wildlife is investigating three additional incidents of illegally killed bull elk in high-quality hunting units in Northwest Colorado, adding to three high-quality bulls illegally killed in Game Management Unit 10 in early November, near the town of Dinosaur.
• Depending on the event, this year’s Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan (WRBM) Christmasfest saw both high attendance and low turnouts.
• There will be no recall election for three veteran members of the Meeker School Board of Trustees.
• House Bill 10-1238 directed the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to establish highway Wildlife Zones where there is an increased presence of wildlife near the roadway, with signage that doubles fines for all traffic infractions within the zones.
• Rio Blanco County Sheriff Si Woodruff was awarded the Purple Heart by the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office Saturday in recognition of his on-duty stab wound to the abdomen sustained in Meeker in August.
• The Rangely School Board met Dec. 16 to discuss changes in direction for a district dress code policy, high school math offerings and the 2013/14 audit report.
• It had been several years since the Meeker High School wrestling team had been invited to the Warrior Classic, known as one of the toughest tournaments in the state. The Cowboys were represented well, winning 22 matches, placing two in the top four and the team placed 10th in a field of 36 teams.