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It has been a long, round-about trip to Rio Blanco County and my return to Colorado. I was born in Denver, grew up through grade school in Colorado Springs, went to high school in Boulder and to college in Grand Junction, leaving there after the last year it was a two-year college.
My next stop was as editor at the Aspen Today, one of the top weekly publications in Colorado by the time I left there. Then the long journey really began.
I was, in order, temporary editor in Rogers, Ark., managing editor in Eureka Springs, Ark., sports editor in Riverton, Wyo., then Worland, Wyo., then managing editor at Sierra Vista, Ariz. Next was managing editor at Yreka, Calif., managing editor back in Worland, publisher of a daily in Rawlins, Wyo., and then managing editor in Kingman, Ariz.
I am quite happy to say that I am back in Colorado for the long haul and not very upset to say farewell to the dry, brown and scorching deserts of Arizona.
I have longed for years to return to where there are four seasons instead of two. In Arizona, the seasons are summer and winter. There is really something like spring here. The best part, however, is the availability of trout, elk, deer and antelope. Some of the best memories I have of my years in Wyoming are of helping the ranchers with the lamb and calf castrations in late spring with all the neighbors gathering afterward for a good Rocky Mountain oyster fry. Even my wife, Cris, had a major role in the production. As a nail technician/cosmetologist who takes pride in her appearance, she was out there using those fingernails to separate the fries from the scrotum. She’s a tough one and a good sport — and she comes from a town of about 220 people in Wyoming.
I am not unfamiliar with Rio Blanco County. When I was a wee child, my father was director of area development for Colorado Interstate Gas. Each summer — a sibling or six at a time — we would join Dad as he visited the gas and oil fields between Cody, Wyo., and the panhandle of Texas. I usually opted for the trips in Colorado and Wyoming, and many a time we would stay at Meeker or Craig.
More often then not, it meant a day or two of relaxation for Dad, sometimes Mom and sometimes all seven of us children (I am the youngest) to get in a day of fishing.
The family’s favorite spot as a group was Trappers Lake and we would always wet our lines in the White River. The surrounding mountains, meadows and streams were beautiful and the weather and fishing were always good.
When I was a bit older, Dad became the state’s director of economic development, a position he held under Govs. John Love and John Vanderhoof. When I was in high school, Dad became president of the ill-fated Denver Olympic Committee, winning the Olympics for Colorado in its bicentennial year before state voters said they didn’t want to host and/or pay for the Olympics to be here.
During those last few jobs, my siblings and I often accompanied Dad to all corners, nooks and crannies of the state. I truly believe I have been on every paved road and most unpaved roads in the state.
Colorado has some of the most beautiful spots in the country, and Rio Blanco has some of the most stunning vistas, valleys, ranches, etc. in Colorado.
Why return to Colorado? I am in Meeker because I don’t miss the Front Range. Great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there again.
Northwest Colorado is a lot like Wyoming. People work hard and they play hard. The weather sees both extremes, but we can all learn to adapt to that.
It is the people who stand out. Folks are friendly around here. They extend their arms to make one feel welcome. They are just good ol’ folks. It may take a little time for them to let you get too close, but they go out of their way to be friendly.
Most of all, though, they are there when needed. I have been stranded in some mighty blizzards in Wyoming and Colorado, but it never failed that folks would stop to lend a hand. They wouldn’t hesitate to do whatever they could to help…
But why? Because they recognize that they have to rely on their neighbors as well. One never knows when trouble will hit, but the folks around here seem ready to chip in — as they would expect you to do if they were the ones in need. You don’t find that in a lot of places these days.
I feel like I have returned home.
Hopefully, my contribution to the folks of Rio Blanco County is to use those 35-plus years of experience in the newspaper business — small and large, weekly and daily publications — to keep you informed and entertained.
Your news is important. It is what makes this county one community. No news item — from organization news to letters to the editor to deep investigative reporting — are insignificant. The Herald Times cares about keeping county residents informed of what is going on, and you have my vow that I will make every effort to continue the service the Herald Times established 127 years ago — without playing favorites.
Since I turned 18, I have been a registered Independent voter. I owe no allegiance to any one party and aim to keep it that way. I have friends of all affiliations. I have attended functions of various political parties to cover the activities for my newspaper and I have endorsed candidates — because of what they stood for, not their party affiliation.
I will be getting out to meet the fair residents of Rio Blanco County as quickly as time allows. But neither should you be a stranger. Drop me an email, stop by the office, say hello on the streets. I want to become a resident again of Colorado and enjoy my life in Rio Blanco County.
I hope I can succeed at helping the businesses, the residents and the future in Rio Blanco County. I welcome your input, suggestions and criticisms.