From My Window: Christmas lights still few; keep sidewalks clean; more warmth?

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Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
Looking out my window on Saturday night it was pretty dark, but the snow reflecting the few lights visible made it look fairly light outside in comparison to a normal night.
Thought it might be worth it to head up toward all corners of Meeker to see how many folks had gotten a jump on the Christmas house or outdoor lighting, and the answer to that was, well, not very many.

Drove darned near every street in Meeker, and the lighting jobs done numbered less than 10 that would have qualified to get their photos taken so early.
That isn’t difficult to understand considering the weather over the past several days, with sporadic snow and flurries and some really cold temperatures. I know I wouldn’t have wanted to get up on a roof or up in a tree with all the snow, some wind and below-zero and single-digit degrees.
Hopefully, more residents will have the chance to get out and decorate the homes in Rangely and Meeker this week and weekend. The residents of both towns should be proud of the jobs they did last year, and perhaps Rangely even edged Meeker as to the number of homes decorated.
Christmas still seems to be the one time of year when the communities get excited and join in with the lighting, which, I believe, makes such a difference in one’s overall holiday attitude.
The past couple of years, the newspaper has featured photos of most of the best-decorated home and businesses in Rio Blanco County. We plan to continue showing photos of some impressively decorated homes and businesses, but there are one or two things folks should know if they want to have their light photos published.
Newspapers now have quick turnaround time on color photos. It used to be 25 years ago if you were a small town paper you would have to shoot the photo, come back to the office and develop the film, make a good print and then mail it off via snail mail so the color “separation” could be done at a much larger print shop, then they had to turn around and snail mail it back so the “separation” could be put on the press and color print made.
No longer.
It is possible to take a color photo at 10 a.m. today and have it on the printing press by 10:15 a.m.
There are some beautiful homes out and about that are well decorated, but using only white lights. That usually isn’t going to find its way into the paper because black background and white lights just don’t reproduce well in a newspaper.
The more colors, designs, animals, inflatable critters, etc., that are displayed in a smaller area are more likely to have their photos taken. Reds, greens, blues and purples are the top colors out there for multi-color bright designs, and white accent lights or things like a lighted snowman can really add to a Christmas decoration photo.
This is one time that quantity really does pay off, although quality is also a great attention grabber in many instances, such as with the Cindy and Richard Welle residence at the intersection of Eighth and Garfield streets in Meeker (photo in today’s edition). This is one home that is simply done, not with gaudy mixes of color and design, and offers the tranquil, warm feeling that Christmas is supposed to evoke.
Keep up the decorating, folks. Add lots of color and taste, and see if your home or business makes its way into the Herald Times.

This is a cordial but serious reminder about keeping the sidewalks clear of snow during and after winter snow in Meeker.
Meeker Town Administrator Scott Meszaros reminds all Meeker residents that there are harsh penalties for failure to keep business and residential sidewalks clear of snow within 24 hours on a business day and no later than 48 hours after a snow event.
Like all Municipal Code issues, Meszaros said, a citation can be issued and up to a $1,000 fine can be imposed by the Meeker Town Judge.
Meszaros pointed out that in Castle Rock a couple of weeks ago, the town code officer was sent out to issue to everyone in violation of the town statute a $300 ticket.
“The town of Meeker is not out to fine everyone in town, but we want residents to know that we are serious about wanting the sidewalks cleared and that we will cite violators,” he said. “Unshoveled sidewalks are a real health hazard and a large fine is nothing compared to a lawsuit that could occur if someone falls and is injured on your private property or in front of your business.”

This is a great time of year to think of our service men and women who are deployed around the globe or around the country.
The military life is not an easy one, starting with boot camp and continuing through the rest of training.
That is followed up by one’s first duty, which can range from some office job flipping papers in San Diego or mechanic work at Fort Hood, Texas. For those less fortunate, a military career may mean many months or even years at duty in a foreign country ranging from the steamy heat of Iraq or the frigid temperatures in Afghanistan as well as everything in between.
There is some glamour in the military world revolving around the travel, the benefits, etc., but few and far between are the jobs as drill sergeant in Hawaii or a cook in San Juan.
Hardships are an everyday occurrence for a soldier venturing into a war zone, being far away from loved ones on many birthdays or holidays, etc.
It is impossible to list all the sacrifices these men and women make to defend our country and to engage the enemy when needed.
Thank you for your service now and in the past. And may Santa smile fondly on you this holiday season.

The strong El Niño event currently underway is going to be a big player in this winter’s forecast, the National Weather Service and the Weather Channel report.
Stronger El Niño winters tend to favor cooler conditions across the South with warmer-than-average temperatures in the North, including what appears to be our area of Northwestern Colorado.
With this El Niño the strongest in 18 years and nearing its peak and considerable agreement from computer model guidance, there is increasing confidence in such a temperature pattern.
“The recent brief cold spell across the central/eastern U.S. was just that, brief. A textbook El Niño pattern will become established as we head into December, with a powerful Aleutian low and strong Canadian ridging,’ said Dr. Todd Crawford, WSI chief meteorologist, a division of The Weather Co.
Among the medium-range computer forecast ensemble members there is “unusually strong agreement out to 360 hours, depicting a robust pattern that closely matches the response also found in the last two “Super” El Niño events of 1982 and 1997.
After a brief taste of winter earlier in November, then warmer-than-average temperatures in mid-month, this warmer trend will likely return again and last through December.
A classic El Niño pattern will become established in December with a strong southward dip in the jet stream, or trough, expected near the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, where it will lead to a strong upper-level ridge of high pressure over Canada.
This will allow temperatures to be much warmer than you would normally expect in December across the northern tier of states. The area that is expected to see temperatures the most above average will be from the northern Plains into the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region.
Temperatures will be chillier than an average December from southern and central Arizona through the majority of Texas and into Louisiana and southern Mississippi.
Colder than average temperatures are usually found in the South during an El Niño winter. This is due to a more active sub-tropical jet stream, which can bring more rain and clouds than an average winter to the South, which helps keep temperatures colder.