Family connections among county volleyball teams

BurkheadImageUseThisOneJimmie Mergleman, Rangely’s volleyball head coach, will be on the sideline Friday for the Lady Panthers’ regular-season finale against West Grand.
Two weeks ago, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy — Cutler Owen.
Knowing Mergleman, if she hadn’t had a C-section, she would have been back on the Rangely bench even sooner.
I’ll say this about Jimmie, she’s a gamer.
“I feel good,” said Mergleman, who returned to Rangely on Oct. 15, two days after Cutler was born at a hospital in Grand Junction. “It’s nice to be home. I’m glad it’s over with.”
Cutler, by the way, is a family name, she said.
“My grandpa Watson’s name is Lee, but his middle name is Cutler,” Mergleman said.
Owen is also a family name.
“That is (husband) Crandal’s dad’s middle name,” Mergleman said.
Being a coach, Mergleman knows statistics are important. So, here are Cutler’s: He weighed 6 pounds, 15.9 ounces, and was 19-1/2 inches long.
His older sister, Ryann, 3, was excited to meet him.
“Oh, she thinks it’s just great,” Mergleman said.
The Lady Panthers played Vail Christian the night of Oct. 13, the same day Cutler was born. Of course, Mergleman wasn’t able to be with her team, but she was there in spirit.
And by cell phone.
“Actually, my manager was texting me the whole time,” Mergleman said. “So I was kept up to date.”
Like I said, she’s a gamer.
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Even without Mergleman being there — she played for Meeker in high school and now coaches rival Rangely — Friday’s match was a family affair, of sorts.
Dennis Rohn, the former golf pro at Meeker Golf Course, filled in for Mergleman. He’s an assistant coach with the Lady Panthers’ volleyball team.
Meanwhile, his sister, Roxy Chintala, is an assistant coach for Meeker. And their mom, Marge, is a former head coach for the Lady Cowboys. Needless to say, volleyball runs in the Rohn family.
“Volleyball is my love, along with golf,” Dennis Rohn said. “I’ve been around volleyball ever since I was growing up. My mom was a coach for, I imagine, 30 years. And my brother (David) played pro ball. We all enjoy it. “
To continue the local connection, Meeker head coach Christy Atwood, a standout volleyball player for the Lady Cowboys when she was in high school, coached with Marge Rohn, serving as an assistant from 1996 to 2000.
“We all have the same mentor,” Dennis Rohn said. “It’s kinda fun.”
Marge Rohn is now retired and lives in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
“She has me call her once a week to let her know how things are going,” Dennis Rohn said. “She’s still very much into volleyball.”
Meanwhile, Dennis Rohn had nothing but good things to say about his coaching opponent in last week’s Meeker-Rangely rivalry match.
“I’m really impressed with the way Christy coaches,” he said. “We’re kind of the same. It was kind of a chess match. It makes the game fun.”
Dennis Rohn said while he enjoyed coaching last Friday against Meeker, he’ll be ready for Mergleman to return to her head-coaching duties.
“I’m going to be glad to have her back,” Dennis Rohn said. “I’ve learned a lot from her. She’s a heckuva coach.”
It’s like one big, happy volleyball family.
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Four weeks ago, Luciano Madrid was sentenced to three years in prison for selling methamphetamine to a confidential informant in Rangely.
The mother of the confidential informant said a heightened police presence is making a difference in parts of town known for having “drug houses.”
“The police here have been absolutely wonderful,” she said. “They have been doing patrols. I heard there was another drug bust. They have been fabulous. We see them everywhere, and it’s in places where the drug houses are. They’re letting their presence be known. It gives me a sense of calm. So I don’t worry near as much as I was.”
The informant’s mother said she believes progress is being made in the local war on drugs.
“Everyone I’ve talked to about it has been pleased,” she said. “I have people tell me they have been watching what’s been going on in their neighborhoods … and they want to get rid of (the drug houses) for good. (The increased police presence) has slowed them considerably. That’s the whole thing, to make them feel uncomfortable. We haven’t seen some of them around. So hopefully they’ve left town. That’s a good thing. I’m grateful things have settled down. I think things are going in the right direction.”
For this mom, her primary concern has been John Parks, the man who allegedly threatened to kill her son because of his role in leading to an arrest in the Madrid case. Parks was court ordered to not have any contact with the confidential informant.
“He’s been my main problem,” she said. “When that’s done, I will feel much better, because he’s still around. But there have been no encounters … not like there was. I think things are turning around.”
As far as Madrid, the informant’s mother said she wishes him well.
“I figured justice would be served,” the mom said. “Honestly, I’m praying that he will get the help he needs. I hate that it had to happen (for Madrid to be sent to prison). I’m just hoping he does good. I don’t wish him any ill will.”
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By far, the biggest float in the Rangely homecoming parade was an oil rig, courtesy of Alliance Energy.
The rig was as much a political statement as well as a parade float.
“As far as I know, it was the first time there was an oilfield rig in the parade,” said Sam Tolley, manager of Alliance and a 1979 graduate of Rangely High School. “Usually, they’re out working. But thanks to our governor and the administration, they’re not. With the new oil and gas commission rules, that hurt. It’s increased the cost of doing business 25 percent. Especially for the majors, they already have their money budgeted. So, instead of doing, say, 10 jobs, they’ll do seven and a half, because that’s all they have money for. With that being said, we have rigs sitting in the yard.
“The governor, back in May, said he wanted to get rid of energy … that he wanted to go all green. That’s a pipe dream,” Tolley said. “That stuff sounds good, but it’s a pipe dream, at this point. Somewhere around 70 percent of the income in Colorado is from energy. I don’t see us replacing that.”
Tolley said government regulators didn’t need to create additional rules for energy companies to abide by, because the companies already had a vested interest in protecting the environment. Their livelihood depends on it, he said.
“They’re trying to save us from ourselves,” Tolley said. “I was raised here. I live here. I don’t want to ruin the environment. We don’t need somebody telling us to clean up our backyard. We’re already doing what we need to be doing. What they’ve done is force these oil companies to go to other places, like Louisiana, Wyoming and Texas, places more friendly to energy.”
Tolley said Alliance Energy has worked closely with Chevron, which has had a long-term commitment in the west end of Rio Blanco County.
“I think Chevron has done a fantastic job (of protecting the environment,” Tolley said. “They’re a good company. I think Chevron will have a presence here for a long time.”
But the state’s new oil and gas rules are a deterrent to continued growth in the area, Tolley said.
“Having the rig in the parade was kinda cool,” he said. “But there are too damn many sitting around. We would have employed five people on that rig … then you have all of the trickle-down effect. It’s not just us. There are rigs sitting all over. I know the rig count is down.”
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As lopsided as Friday’s rivalry football game was between Meeker and Rangely — the Cowboys won 46-0 — things were a lot different 40 years ago.
In the 1969 matchup, Bill Hume of Rangely ran for three touchdowns in an 18-6 Panther win.
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Former Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Deputy Clay Caldwell has rejoined the Rangely Police Department — and he brought a friend with him.
“Rangely PD purchased our K-9 ‘Rio’ and the K-9 unit from the county,” said Mike Joos, RBC Undersheriff.
Joos said the county will look to hire a replacement for Caldwell and Rio.
“Yes, his position was a 2006 position, so we will replace him,” Joos said. “We have also requested money in the 2010 budget to purchase a new K-9 and train another deputy as a handler.”
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Rangely’s Shop at Home promotion in September exceeded expectations.
“I think it was a real success,” said Town Manager Peter Brixius. “We did this as a kind of stimulus. It brought in a lot of sales that would not have happened this year, or in Rangely. (Retailers) were very positive about the event.
“It was significant,” Brixius added. “Our people were just so busy handling receipts. It will be interesting to see the final numbers when they’re tabulated.”
• • • • • •
Meeker’s Pioneer Medical Center is continuing its physician recruitment efforts.
“We have had two physicians and their families come to Meeker during the past week to interview and see our community,” said Bob Omer, the hospital’s chief executive officer. “Both candidates have shown a high level of interest in joining our practice at PMC, and we will be following up with them in the next week. We are working with two recruitment firms and making other contacts in our search process.”
• • • • • •
Rangely School District’s enrollment count for October was 508. Meeker’s “funded count” was 667.5, while the actual count was 733.
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I attended a dinner party last weekend. It was a nice affair, with plenty of good food and lively conversation. However, not long after arriving, I was informed that “everything that’s said here, stays here.”
Hmm, as a reporter, I seem to get that a lot.
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I will say this, the location of the county’s proposed justice center was a big topic of conversation at the dinner party, with several differing opinions about a possible site and whether or not the facility should be located downtown.
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Speaking of the justice center, I’ve had a couple of people suggest the county, if its moves forward with possible plans to build an addition on to the courthouse, consider building an underground parking garage, to save the courthouse lawn — a popular site for community events — from being used for a parking lot.
Jim Lichty of Archetype Design of Leawood, Kan., who is working with the county on its justice center plans, said, “Underground parking is certainly an option. The cost is probably in the range of $20k per car under normal circumstances. The cost goes up when a parking garage is only a single story, and goes up again if there’s a 250 pounds per square foot of earth, grass, people and events going on top of it. An application like that would be more common in Washington, D.C., or New York City, where land value can be $300 per square foot or more (that’s $13 million per acre).”
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Yet another event on the courthouse lawn was Saturday’s pumpkin patch, co-sponsored by Homemaker Furnishings, White River Electric Association and Meeker Realty, with promotional help from the Meeker Chamber of Commerce.
Kids and pumpkins on a beautiful fall morning, you can’t go wrong.
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Meeker’s Chamber of Commerce e-mailed a survey this week to gauge its members’ opinions about the future use of the old elementary school, which will be vacated at the end of the school year. The survey is available at the chamber’s Web site:
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I tried my hand at “cooking” the other day. I decided to fry up some chicken strips. I bought the chicken, dipped it in flour, and put it in a frying pan on the stove.
The chicken strips turned out OK. However, I did set off the smoke alarm, which freaked out my dog.
At least I didn’t have to call the fire department. Now that would have been embarrassing.

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