From My Window… Happy Mother’s Day: Unpacking woes and county cautioned

I can see sunshine clearly out my window, and that may be a good thing. It may actually turn into spring soon, and that will cheer up a lot of folks in Rio Blanco County who are waiting for sunshine and warmer temperatures after a particularly prolonged winter.
I, however, am having a tough time seeing around my abode as my wife arrived a week ago with a U-Haul full of furniture (and stuff) from 18 years in Arizona.
I won’t belabor the point, but it took two days of unpacking to be able to navigate my way to the kitchen sink, I still haven’t found some of the spices I had in the kitchen before my (loving) wife showed up to rearrange the kitchen, and it will be another two weeks until all the “stuff” finds its home and I will be able to see the carpet again.
In nearly 31 years of marriage, we have moved more than 20 times; sometimes just across town, but moved nevertheless. The last 18 years were spent in the same house, and that, we have found, is when you really start accumulating “stuff.”
We traveled quite a bit during those years, and much of the “stuff” includes Mexican glasses, statues and plates, saffron from Spain, ashtrays and knick-knacks from the Caribbean and general tourist materials from Ireland, Wales, England, Orlando, Breckenridge, Durango, Palm Springs, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, etc. You know — the stuff that is great when you are there to buy it. The same stuff that becomes useless when placed on the wall or some high shelf. Then there are those additional coffee cups that are now running over into a third cabinet.
I’m not certain I don’t believe that everyone should move — even across the street if need be — every 10 years or less just to keep from collecting more “stuff” and to weed out some of the old.
As long as some of the families in Rio Blanco County have lived around here and have occupied the same homes or ranches, just think about the daunting job of getting rid of the unnecessary “stuff” that may have accumulated there. The thought is daunting — and frightening.

The first thing former Rio Blanco County Administrator Kimberly Bullen said she was most proud of during her tenure was creation of a job description that lays the roadmap for Rio Blanco County to move forward without a hitch.
One of the first things current Rio Blanco County Commission Chairman Shawn Bolton praised Bullen for was this same job description that paved the way for the top county officials to continue on without any interruption of services or job fluidity.
The job description was a big move forward. Now, clouds are gathering out my windows with the news that the job description is being being altered in strange ways.
Looking at the job description being utilized now to find a new administrator, one can’t help but notice two considerable changes.
One is that the candidate for county administrator is only required to have a bachelor’s degree in business or public administration while Bullen’s original job description called for a master’s degree in business or public administration.
The other change raises the pay cap for the position. Bullen made $75,000 per year while in Rio Blanco County, but the new job description claims a salary range starting at $75,000 and running up to $120,000.
One can’t argue against a pay raise, but when the job description has been watered down from a master’s degree to a bachelor’s degree and the job pays more money, those angry clouds look like they are getting a bit darker.
Many years ago in California I saw the storm clouds burst.
The supervisors there (commissioners here) lowered the educational expectations and raised the pay, then hired a person from within the county who was well known and well liked. The person didn’t have the previously required masters and only had a bachelor’s degree, and, to make a long story short, signing that contract with the in-county friend was the worst thing the county could have done.
The new county administrator made a mess of the county. He didn’t have a clue what the job entailed. Department heads, employees and even the elected supervisors were pulling out their hair. But the problem was prolonged because the supervisors didn’t want “any hurt feelings.”
The supervisors eventually let the administrator go — about three years later than should have been done in the first place.
I am not going to tell the commissioners what they ought to do. But I will caution them to be careful of what they ask for. They may get it and live to regret it.
I would recommend bringing someone in who has experience in Colorado government and who has a master’s degree in business or public administration. Those extra years of knowledge learned while in search of a master’s are where the nuts and bolts of the job are learned.
The other piece of advice I would offer is to hire a well-qualified administrator and let that person run the department. The administrator is the top person in county government, implementing what the commissioners want. The administrator is not on an even level with anyone in any department, and all department heads should answer to that administrator. No questions asked.
Rio Blanco County has the ability and, obviously, the funds to hire one of the best county administrators available — for up to $120,000. But if that administrator is not allowed to do the job he or she is hired to do, then little good is going to come from it.
I wish the commissioners the very best in their search for a new county administrator. I hope they look to the long-term future of Rio Blanco County, not just at the immediate or short-term future. It will save heartbreak on all sides down the road.

Congratulations are in order for the students who will be graduating on Saturday from Colorado Northwest Community College with degrees and certificates earned during their years at the school.
For most, it is a two-year journey. Yet, it can take untold years of work for some students who took their classes and earned their degrees online through CNCC.
Many of the students are single parents, and that adds a whole lot of weight to the load they carried. Many had to carry full-time jobs in pursuit of that piece of paper. Family members and spouses of many students had to pick up the slack at home and sometimes at work in order to support financially and personally the student pursuing that degree or certificate.
Gaining a degree or certificate is a major accomplishment, whether the student decides to pursue a higher degree or goes to work in aviation mechanics or nursing or dental hygiene as soon as they pass their boards.
College is so important in this day and age. Community colleges similar to CNCC are so involved nationally in preparing students for more education or for going to work having learned a skilled occupation that their value cannot be diminished.
Congratulations to the CNCC Class of 2013 — or any other institute of higher learning. You worked hard and you earned it, and no one can ever take that away from you.

Congratulations are also in order to the graduates of Meeker and Rangely high schools. Twelve of the best years of your life are now over and it is on to the real world, whether that means continuing your education or going out into the work place.
Making it through those 12 years was likely a mix of wonderful memories and perhaps a few memories that are best forgotten. But you survived and aced an important part of your life, and you are to be congratulated.

And last, but certainly not least, Happy Mother’s Day.
Other than the biological ability of a woman to have a baby, motherhood is so much more than a physical manifestation. Mothers shape our lives; they make us what we become; and they often do so without the verbal and physical thanks they deserve.
Thanks to all mothers out there who understand what it is to be a mother and who practice daily what it is that makes them special.