From My Window… God bless the firefighters; Range Call begins Wednesday

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Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
Smoke to the left of us, smoke to the right of us; smoke all around us. That seems to be the battle cry for the past two weeks for those of us in Rio Blanco County.
Thank God for the firefighters!
Firefighters have been fighting major blazes around Rifle, around Dinosaur National Monument — it seems everywhere but Rio Blanco County. Then that changed.
There was the Collins Fire in Piceance Basin, 17 miles southwest of Meeker, and the Wild Rose Fire, about 20 miles south of Rangely, and all of a sudden it started to hit a little closer to home. While both of those fires are burning in Rio Blanco County, they don’t appear to be a threat to any major structures or heavily populated rural areas.
The good news is that the fire crews are filling up hotels in Rio Blanco County. The even-better news is that they are here to help keep us safe.
These men and women work under incredibly difficult conditions. They work long hours on short supplies in conditions that are normally hot and dry. Those already dire circumstances are made worse by the heat of the fires and the heat and weight of the protective wear they must adorn.
Sure, those firefighters are young and in great physical shape.
But they are educated, well-trained and well-disciplined, and they face conditions none of us, regardless of age, would want to face if we had a choice.
They face intense heat, astronomical risk and danger of losing limb or life so we who choose to live in grassy or wooded areas can live the life of our dreams in the surroundings we love.
Hats off to the men and women of each of the fire crews. We truly can sleep more comfortably at night knowing you are out there with our best interests at heart.
Please pay close attention to the fire restrictions instituted Monday by the county commissioners. The rules that go along with those restrictions are located in today’s publication.

I was one of about 200 people who enjoyed at least part of the two free concerts Friday afternoon and evening on the Rio Blanco County Courthouse lawn in Meeker.
It was a pleasure to sit in the shade on the courthouse lawn with many Meekerites, listen to some good music and watch the groups of horseback riders circle the block and also enjoy the music.
The ERBM Recreation and Park District sponsored the event, which started off at 4:30 p.m. with the 101st Army Dixieland Jazz Band with all its members coming from the Colorado National Guard, then follow up with the 17th Avenue Allstars from Denver, who performed a variety of music from Doo-Wop to some classical tunes.
The Meeker Chamber of Commerce and its helpers also made the circuit through the gathering, offering free root beer floats. They were just the thing to quench the thirst on a warm and sunny afternoon.
Kudos to the recreation district and the chamber. The event was something you often don’t find in small towns, and it made for a most entertaining afternoon and evening.
The next concert on the courthouse lawn will be July 12 and will feature the Cowboy Dave Band, beginning at 6 p.m.
The concerts are presented for all age groups and attendees are encouraged to bring their own seating.

The Meeker School Board of Education wasted no time in trying to pare a list of eight candidates for district school superintendent down to two finalists — Mark Meyer of Alamosa and Gregory Wieman of Elizabeth.
During the July 18 board meeting, board President Iris Franklin said it might be possible to held the interviews with the two candidates as early as sometime this week.
It is a bit of a shame that there were no local candidates among the eight persons who applied, but it is a good thing that as many as eight persons did apply for the post.
Many challenges will face the next superintendent, including the replacement of Jeremy Voytko as Meeker High School principal, and they will also have to face the problems of improving the working atmosphere at the local schools.
The TELLColorado survey showed signs of problems with unhappy working conditions at all the schools, — some worse than others — but it is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Yes, the bottom line is that the education given the students in those schools is what is most important, but the working conditions do contribute to a happy or unhappy teacher, and that is bound to reach into the classroom.
I think it is safe to say that a happy teacher makes for a better teacher – one who is dedicated to giving the students the best education they can deliver.

The idea that Rangely wants to house the new Rio Blanco County Justice Center has certainly caught the eyes and ears of a few folks in the Meeker area.
I had one county official call me, concerned with two issues – one that it would be tough to make those employees now working at the justice center in Meeker to commute 57 miles each way to Rangely from their homes in Meeker or to move to Rangely, and the other that if the idea catches on and it proves to be much cheaper to put the justice center in Rangely, that Meeker’s bickering over the location of the justice center will lead to Rangely picking up another major employer.
I have been told that Meeker reportedly lost Colorado Northwest Community College to Rangely because many folks in Meeker voiced opposition to it being placed here.
If Meeker residents don’t come to some sort of a consensus, it may lose the justice center to Rangely and open another hole in downtown Meeker — something that town call ill afford.

A real quick note here to remind everyone that the 128th Meeker Range Call begins on Wednesday, the evening before the Fourth of July.
The ERBM Recreation Center will host the movie “The Music Man,” beginning at dark on Wednesday at Paintbrush Park.
The majority of events will take place Thursday (the Fourth) beginning at 6:30 a.m. with registration for the Run for Your Life 5K Run/Walk and 7 a.m. for the pancake breakfast put on by the Masonic Lodge.
Events will run all day Thursday, pageant events will take place Friday, several events will take place on Saturday, including the Gloriana concert at 7 p.m., and Sunday events will include the rodeo, kids events at the rodeo and the Jump for Jesus free event at 5 p.m.
A full schedule of events can be found in this edition of The Rio Blanco Herald Times and again in the July 4 edition.