2010: The Year in Review

Rio Blanco County commissioner candidates Wendy Gutierrez, Pat Hughes and Shawn Bolton, are pictured during a candidate forum. All three ran on the Republican ticket and Bolton won the primary election in August. Bolton will be sworn in Jan. 11.


As the year 2010 comes to an end, we take a look at some of the top stories of the second three months of the year:

Rio Blanco County commissioner candidates Wendy Gutierrez, Pat Hughes and Shawn Bolton, are pictured during a candidate forum. All three ran on the Republican ticket and Bolton won the primary election in August. Bolton will be sworn in Jan. 11.
• The town of Rangely has competitive races for the position of mayor as well as for three trustee seats on the town council. While on the other end of the county, the Meeker election was canceled when one of the candidates withdrew, meaning none of the three seats open on the town board was contested. There are also elections going on in the county for hospital board and recreation board. And in Rangely, voters will be asked to decide whether to support a bond issue to build a new hospital. The date for the special district elections is May 4. Meanwhile, three candidates are vying for one seat on the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners and four candidates threw their hat in the ring for the job of county coroner. All of the candidates are Republicans.
• Pvt. Jonathan Burnell was graduated from BCT (Basic Combat Training) in Fort Sill, Okla., and is now in Georgia attending his AIT (Advanced Individual Training) training at Fort Gordon.
• Four-year-old Kacey Pozorski of Meeker underwent five days of experimental, intensive radiation treatments recently in Denver for a rare brain tumor.
• Rio Blanco County was well represented at the Colorado Coaches Girls’ All-State Basketball game in Denver. Stacey Fitzgibbons of Meeker and Audrey Hogan of Rangely participated on opposing teams, with each player scoring seven points. They were joined at the event by their coaches Hallie Blunt of Meeker and Jimmie Mergelman of Rangely. “I just can’t say enough about what a great reward this game was for two girls that have spent so many extra hours working at this game. Two truly exceptional young women that Rangely and Meeker should be so proud of,” Blunt said.
• Rangely’s Travis Witherell and Devon Rose were named to the Class 2A All-Colorado team by the Denver Post. Witherell, who was the state champion at 152 pounds was a first-teamer, while Rose, the state runner-up at 130 pounds, was second team.
• A heart condition unexpectedly claimed the life of 16-year-old Lynea Osborne in Rangely.
• Paula Davis was elected mayor of Rangely in Tuesday’s mail-in ballot election and Lisa Hatch was voted in as a new trustee. They join incumbents Clayton Gohr and Elaine Urie, who were re-elected.
• Jeff LeBleu, who has been the wrestling coach at Rangely High School for the past 11 years, announced at the end-of-the-season banquet he was stepping down.
• Trevor Brown, Rangely, an eighth-grader, was the first Rangely Junior High wrestler to place at the state tournament at Denver. He placed sixth at 145 pounds. “He did well. He did really well,” RJH coach Derek Stolworthy said of Brown, one of four Panther wrestlers to qualify for state.
• Tristin Pelloni, Meeker, a seventh-grader, was the first Barone Middle School wrestler to place at the state wrestling tournament at Denver. He placed fifth at 75 pounds. He pinned a rival wrestler he had lost to three times previously to reach the medal round. “It was a cool way for him to end the season,” said coach Lee Overton.
• Wendy Gutierrez was the only county commissioner candidate to receive the needed 15 votes to have her name put on the ballot. She was the top vote-getter with 23.
• Chris Strate greeted his niece Pegge Halandras, who visited her family for the Easter weekend. Halandras now lives in Chicago, where she is an assistant professor at Loyola University’s School of Medicine. She is the daughter of Gus and Christine Halandras of Meeker.
• Lois Sampson read aloud the mission statement for the Meeker Tea Party group, which is to support: Free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, a strong national defense and to defend the Constitution of the United States of America.
• Tax Day seemed a fitting time to hold the first Tea Party meeting on the west end of the county. “We figured that was too prophetic to let it go,” said Lisa LeFevre, who, along with her husband, Doug, organized the Tea Party meeting April 15 in Rangely.
• After months of studying the possibility of switching to a four-day school week, Rangely School Board members made it official Tuesday. They unanimously approved making the change.
• The Destination Imagination team of Cody Nielsen, Casey Turner, Sheridan Harvey, Delenn Mobley, Meghan Smith, Lori Ann Klinglesmith and Madeline Amack placed first at state and advanced to the Global Tournament in Knoxville, Tenn.
• Senior members of Meeker’s boys’ basketball team were recognized Sunday at an end-of-season banquet. From left, Mitch Jacob, Colton Brown, Seth Boesch, Dakota Rowlett and Brock Campbell. Seniors Tyrel Gerloff and Ever Olivas were also recognized, but not present.
• School board members and supporters of embattled coach Hallie Blunt confronted each other April 20 in a lengthy, sometimes heated, discussion. When it was all over — the accusations of hidden agendas, the perceived personal attacks, the emotional appeals — nothing had changed. So, for all practical purposes, Blunt is no longer girls’ basketball coach.
• Meeker High School’s Collin Cochran handed out copies of his proposal to repaint the football stadium as a community service project to become an Eagle Scout.
• JC Chumacero and Katie Stefanek, both seniors, were named king and queen at the 2010 Rangely High School prom.
• Rangely voters ok’d a new hospital by a narrow margin in the May bond election.
• Dawn Eichman, left, and Diana Jones are continuing the legacy of their grandfather, Herb Blagg, as the third generation to own and operate the family business, Meeker Drugs. Blagg died April 22, the same day the sisters hosted a Chamber of Commerce After Hours, where they talked about how they learned their work ethic from their grandfather and how proud he was of them for taking over the business. Blagg was a licensed pharmacist in Colorado for more than 50 years.
• “We will be offering both half-day and a full-day option for kindergarten in the fall,” said Jason Hightower, principal of Meeker Elementary School.
• Meeker High School prom royalty: Morgan Neilson and Cameron Glasscock (first attendants), Gabie Goettel (queen) and Seth Boesch (king), and Timbre Shriver and Nate Bradfield (second attendants). Crown bearers were Eva Scritchfield and Jonathan Fitzgibbons.
• The county’s first Tea Party rally attracts 100.
• Five arrests have been made following a break-in at the Meeker Golf Course. Nineteen bottles of liquor were stolen.
• The “Afterbirth Ball” made a comeback, thanks to Sam Stranathan and the Meeker Chamber of Commerce. An estimated 200 people attended.
• Dr. Bob Dorsett of Meeker, “Dr. Bob,” as he is called, received the Jared Polis Foundation Teacher Recognition Award. Jessica Mullins, a senior at Meeker High School, nominated the math and science teacher, a former medical doctor. “I have found (Dr. Bob) to be the most humble, intelligent, informative and caring teacher I have had in my entire educational career,” she wrote.
• A 23-year-old Meeker woman died in a one-vehicle rollover accident May 19 in Utah, but her three children, all under the age of 4, survived. Lindy Ross was killed when her vehicle crashed on Highway 84, about three miles west of Tremonton, Utah. She was not wearing a seat belt.
• Members of the 2010 class of Rangely High School were recognized Sunday. Teacher of the Year Jim Day commended the class for being “supportive of each other and getting along well together, while maintaining individuality” and for their “active involvement in a broad range of activities.”
• Scott McInnis, Republican candidate for governor, made a campaign
stop in Meeker, his wife’s hometown.
• Rob Winn, first-year principal at Rangely Junior/Senior High, did not have his contract renewed.
• Last Thursday was the last day of classes at Meeker Elementary School … forever. The 71-year-old building will be vacated as teachers and staff have already begun moving their things into a brand-spanking-new building, east of the Meeker Recreation Center.
• Ken Huey took over after former CEO Bob Omer resigned after six years at the helm. Huey started at PMC on Feb. 24.
• A strong wind that blew through Meeker knocked over a tall pine tree at Fifth and Market, which resulted in the downing of a light pole. “I do not believe that the wind was a micro burst, but it was above average for this area. The pine tree broke under the strain of the wind, due to the fact that it was quite rotten in the center and there was not enough good wood to keep it up with such wind. When the tree fell, it fortunately only fell across the wire serving the street light, pulling down the street light pole. There was no power interruption to any business or residence and the only loss is the metal street light pole, the light and a beautiful pine tree,” said Frank Sampson, manager of operations for White River Electric Association.
• Brock Campbell, who was recently graduated from Meeker High School, recorded a hole-in-one. “I was really excited,” Campbell said of the feat, witnessed by his dad, Brad Campbell.
• No one is saying why but Doug Pfau, the first-year school superintendent, won’t return for a second year.
• Ellen Nieslanik, director of the Meeker Classic Championship Sheepdog Trials, will turn over the duties to her sister Mary “Maym” Cunningham.
• Susan Mills has replaced Solveig Olson as clerk of the court for the 9th Judicial District’s office in Meeker. Olson retired after 30 years in the district.
• Both ends of the county were well represented at the all-state basketball games. Stacey Fitzgibbons, who was recently graduated from Meeker High School, and Patrick Phelan, who was graduated from Rangely Senior High, both participated in the all-state games.
• Aaron Zielinske of Meeker, pastor of the Assembly of God Church, is also a Marine veteran. He has been a guest speaker at rallies of the Meeker and Rangely Tea Party groups. He is president of Meeker Ministerial Alliance.
• Kyle Stewart of Rangely, who works as a welder in the family business, has combined his trade with his art. He cuts and welds pieces of metal to create art. His biggest project to date was a life-size eagle.