From My Window: Chamber dinner unique and enjoyable; congrats to CNCC grads

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
The annual Meeker Chamber of Commerce Membership and Awards Dinner on Friday night was a unique event for a couple of reasons—and both of them made for a mostly enjoyable evening.

First of all, it was held outside. The outside venue was great—located right off the new downtown gazebo between the courthouse and the new Justice Center. It is a generally calm and almost pastoral site, but was a bit interrupted Friday afternoon with heavy rains, hail and a cold wind at times.
It looked early as though the event might need to be moved to the Freeman E. Fairfield Center, but the organizers persisted and the rain and hail caved in to dry weather.
The cold wind, however, didn’t quit until almost dusk, so everyone there was happy the big tent was set up so they could move into where it was protected.
When one first arrived, the wind was quite cool and folks were wondering how it was going to play out. It didn’t take long however, for the strong winds to stop and for the members to pull into the tent.
Those who were most affected were the cooks and preparers from Ma Famiglia who had to set up, keep the pork and chicken warm, stand outside in the cold wind and keep the coffee and tea and water flowing. They did a good job.
Talk was heard after dinner of perhaps waiting another couple of weeks later next year if the chamber organizers decide on doing the outdoor venue again—which I detect was enjoyed by almost everyone involved—except for the weather.
The other unique feature was to not name any particular business as business of the year—an honor that was bestowed on all of the members.
I don’t know if there was not any one business that really stood out in the past year, but I think the members enjoyed a change of script and being a part of the overall draw.
The two awards that were given out went to two very worthwhile winners.
Diane Dunham was named Citizen of the Year for 2016 due to her involvement as a volunteer with numerous groups and organizations throughout the Meeker area.
The Meeker Arts and Cultural Committee (MACC) was awarded Non-Profit Organization of the Year for the numerous projects undertaken by the group in the past year including putting on “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Little Mermaid,” obtaining the new Western Heritage Cultural Center and beginning its refurbishment, working on having the downtown core area placed on the National Register of Historic Places and its efforts building toward Meeker and the surrounding area as a historic/agri-tourism center to bring tourism dollars and growth to the area.
With the exception of the uncontrolled winds, the entire event went over well and was kind of a breath of fresh air, so to speak.
Kudos to the creative minds at the chamber.

Not much can be said except a hearty “congratulations” to the more that 120 students who earned their associate degrees, diplomas and certificates over the weekend from Colorado Northwestern Community College.
From scientists to nurses to aviators to mathematicians to teachers and business administrators to those who earned their certificates and diplomas, what you have done is to complete a higher phase in your life, opening many doors much wider than might have normally been the case.
Having been public information officer for five campuses of Mohave Community College in Arizona for several years, it is easy to see it all—from those high school graduates struggling to make grades, to the single mothers and fathers who dedicate every free moment to their kids and then study into the night while sometimes even working two or three part-time jobs.
There are those not-so young students who decide to go back and pick up the college degree they missed out on—and become often the only college graduate in the history of their families.
There are those caught in dead-end jobs who return to help themselves and their families have a more-lucrative and fulfilling lifestyle with that education they never thought they would get.
There are the students reluctant for any number of reasons – from being homesick to a lack of tuition money—to leave home for a year or two after high school. And there are those who are taking advantage of the evolving education world, where it takes less money and a more-open schedule through distance education to get a two-year or advanced degree without spending huge dollars on a four-year university.
There are uncountable numbers of reasons to look at all facets of a two-year community college as the way to proceed after high school or as a route to take to remake your life after a few or many years away from school.
Hooray you Spartans. You have now taken and completed that next step in your life, better prepared to move on into the real world of employment and advancement or to taste the flavor of a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree.
You are admired for your accomplishments at CNCC. Where you head from there is up to you and there truly are no bounds on what the future can bring you.
Hold your heads up high. You did it!!!

Some odds and ends are offered below regarding the Rio Blanco, Moffat and Routt counties, our neighbors, to compare how the three counties are doing in some basic regional categories. We may remain close in proximity, but there are some vast differences in some of those categories:
Employment
Rio Blanco, Moffat and Routt counties continue to see an increase in their unemployment rates. Moffat and Routt are still experiencing worker shortages. However, Rio Blanco had an almost equal decline in its labor force and the number of employed workers, easing their shortage of workers.
Retail Sales
Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt saw significant increases in Food and Beverage sales in August of 2015, when compared to the previous year. Year-over-year Total Retail Sales increased slightly for both Moffat and Routt, with Rio Blanco experiencing a large decline in August 2015 spending compared to August 2014 figures.
Real Estate
Median monthly rents continue to gradually increase. Moffat and Rio Blanco have more foreclosures than a year ago, with Routt having its lowest foreclosure ratio within a six-year history. Moffat had a 12 percent increase in the number of houses for sale between March and April.
Precipitation
In April of 2016, the White and Yampa rivers experienced their first peak volume of the season. Snow-water equivalency is above 100% for the region, with both Stagecoach and Yamcolo reservoirs also experiencing above-average capacities.
Coal
Coal production increased for the state as well as Moffat and Rio Blanco countiew. However, Routt’s coal production dropped 58.9 percent in the course of the last month.
Oil & Gas
Moffat and Routt had slight increases in monthly oil productions, while all three counties experienced a decline in gas production when compared to January.