From My Window: Apology to Rangely hospital and staff; New Belgium beers protested

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
This portion of this column comes quite painfully after 48 years in the newspaper business, but last week’s Herald Times, led by my editorial work, was the setting for the most grievous error I have been linked to in my career. The windows looked pretty dark.

Let me explain that my computer had very serious problems on Tuesday last week with stories, photos and cutlines (photo captions) getting zapped into and out of the computer file for the week’s paper.
Meanwhile, lightning fried the entire computer system of Niki, our ITT person in Silt, who puts the actual pages and ads together. Her entire system was shot, which caused her to have to come up to Meeker through Tuesday of this week.
When she got to the office up here, she found that the office here didn’t have all the software she needs, and this carried over for a couple days where her nightmare and my nightmare just hit the other at the wrong time.
To make a long story short, you understand there were problems with things jumping in and out and disappearing that caused us all kinds of confusion, anger, frustration and outright unhappiness.
An added black mark was that in my 48 years in the business, I have never been late for a deadline to the printer. Until last week. Our rule is to be to the printer by 2 p.m. on Wednesday, but we were not all done with the edition until 7 p.m., which meant we probably delayed an entire printing crew by five hours, which is not good for their work day, is again embarrassing to us here and is certainly again, something we certainly hope doesn’t happen again.
But back to the real reason for this portion of the column.
Caught in the crossfire was a Page One story reporting that the board of Rangely District Hospital was going to try and cut $1 million dollars in expenses from its budget.
Problem was, the story was in the Herald Times in late March, but here it was again, causing the administration at the hospital to want to hide under their desks and the employees to likely talk about getting up a lynching party because of the reported cuts only three months apart.
Folks, no way around it. An error was made and I cannot state how sorry I am the story caused a panic among hospital workers because of an error I can’t deny that I made.
I know how the accident happened, but that is a reason, not an excuse. Ultimately I am responsible for what appeared on the front page of the Herald Times, and that story should not have appeared.
I personally apologize to the employees and the board/administrators of Rangely District Hospital for the grief I know the story caused. As I said, I offer no excuses; it shouldn’t have happened.
Believe me, I was horrified when I realized what had happened and please believe me that Jennifer Hill, who wrote the story, had absolutely nothing to do with the story being rerun.
Again, I apologize to all of those affected and pray that another mistake like that never happens again.

Having lived through the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, when protests were common and product rejections occurred every day in the name of protesting what a company stood for, it is easy to admire what some liquor stores, bars and restaurants are doing in Rio Blanco County.
They are refusing to sell products produced by New Belgium Brewery, which is a highly popular craft beer headquartered in Colorado’s own Fort Collins.
Why? You ask.
Because New Belgium is a large financial backer of the WildEarth Guardians, one of many renegade environmental groups in the nation and the one that filed the suit against and hopes to see the closure of the ColoWyo Coal Mine, which is located outside Craig and which employs more than 200 employees in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties.
Two weeks ago, New Belgium released a statement that burns:
“At New Belgium Brewing, we support non-profit partners who advocate for healthy watersheds. WildEarth Guardians first contacted New Belgium in 2008 seeking grant money for restoration projects along the Colorado River. We supported these efforts because Colorado business, residents and the environment are dependent upon sound water management.
It continues: “Specific to any work Wild Earth Guardians has done regarding the ColoWyo and Trapper Mines, we were unaware of it at the time and that is outside the scope of our grant allocations. We have no further funding pending at this time.”
The press release from New Belgium further acknowledged that it provided funding for a 2011 donation for education and engagement on the Clean Water Act, another controversial policy for many Westerners, particularly those making their living in agriculture.
Lee Boghey, a representative of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which owns the ColoWyo Mine, said the mine adds more than $200 million to the area’s economy and employs 220 residents.
Several liquor stores and bars in the Craig area have since pulled their stock of New Belgium beers, including statewide favorite Flat Tire Ale.
Rio Blanco County bars, liquor stores and restaurants are following suit.
Rangely Liquor, owned by Jon and Erin Willis, is one of those.
According to a story in last week’s newspaper by Jennifer Hill, Willis said, “Due to the support of New Belgium … brewery to WildEarth Guardians, we will not be supporting these brands in our liquor store at this time. We support our community and the communities around us that rely on work in coal mines and in the oilfield.
“Without these industries and their employees, our communities would not exist,” he said. “Hopefully, these breweries will take a minute to evaluate their support of this group and find a resolution or compromise to the situation.”
White River Liquor in Meeker has followed suit in pulling New Belgium products.
“If we don’t have a coal mine, the businesses in town will go to hell,” liquor store owner Janice Wilson said. “I just pray they can keep (the mine) open.”
These two business owners pretty well sum up the reality.
The loss of a couple hundred jobs will truly hurt Craig, Meeker and Rangely, none of which can deal with another economic slam.
By the way, other notable business that are listed as WildEarth Guardian supporters, according to Hill’s story, are Dickey’s BBQ, Sprouts Market and REI.
Behind the story, WildEarth Guardians brought their claim against the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement, arguing that a decade-old decision to allow mine expansion failed to adhere to federal law.
A single man, a federal judge in Denver, sided with the WildEarth Guardians, not saying that the mine is bad but saying the Office of Surface Mining should have considered more environmental information than it did when issuing the permit to Colowyo.
He gave the OSM 120 days to go back and hold hearings, do research and work the red tape that should have been done 10 years ago.
If any form or division of the U.S. Government can accomplish in 120 days what this judge ordered of the OSM, it would truly be a miracle—right out of the Bible.
The alternative to getting all the work done within those 120 days is quite easy to explain, the judge said. He will close the mine down.
The WildEarth Guardians are like scads of similar groups out there. They are tools of the highly financed bottom feeders who are well funded by the big environmental entities in the country. They wiggle around, looking for environmental cases and file suit.
They can afford to lose the cases because of the heavy financing, but they make money when they win a rare case because the courts usually award expenses.
They are doing the grunt work of the big groups, but occasionally they win, such as in this case, when the group itself has no conscience about damage it does to communities and geographical regions.
They just want to keep their jobs.
WildEarth Guardians does not have a stellar track record by any means, and these types of groups are absolutely nothing better than leaches who uncaringly suck the blood of anything or one it can gets its suckers into.
I know there are other bars, restaurants and liquor stores in Rio Blanco County that have dropped New Belgium products—or at least say they have.
I would gladly afford those Rio Blanco County establishments a mention in the Herald Times. All they need to do is have the owner call me at 970-878-4017 or 970-675-5033 and give their name, the name of the business and their word that they have dropped New Belgium Brewery products, then I will make certain that goes out to the public.
I’m not going to go after those who don’t protest those products. That’s not my job. That’s the job of the consumers out there who see New Belgium products and other companies who blindly finance environmental groups admittedly without wanting to know what these groups are up to.

Rest up, folks! The three-day run of Range Call craziness, with its full slate of varied activities, begins next week, running from July 2 through July 4 with events running from early in the morning until late in the evening on Saturday.
Actually, the Jon Wangnild Memorial Shoot will be held on Sunday, but is the only Range Call event reaching into Sunday.