From My Window… Just what does the Community Center Task Force want?

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
I was recently given a copy of the ballot initiatives sought by the Meeker Community Center Task Force to be placed on the November ballot.
Task force members say the initiatives were turned in to the county elections office on time to be considered for the November election; county officials say they were not. It is up to the courts to decide if the task force wants to pursue a case.
However, the proposed initiatives clear up many questions regarding who will pay for all the work needed at the old elementary school for the task force members to have their “community center.”
It will be you and I and all county residents because the task force thinks the county ought to fund the entire project — including the addition of at least two personnel and a community center staff.
In addition, it seems like most if not all of the grants available for “repurposing” the center are matching grants with the county having to come up with the matches.
I said early on that I don’t feel the decision of what to do with the old elementary school is one I ought to weigh in on. I am going to stick to that premise — for now.
But the public does have the right to know what the task force really wants, and there is no better document I have seen yet that lays it out any better than this one below:
Please remember while reading this document that the emphasis placed by bold print, underlining and capitalization are not those of this editor but of the petitioners and that the petition or proposed ballot initiatives can be translated to: “These things are what we want.”
1. Shall the Rio Blanco County (RBC) Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) be directed to ensure the complete and total preservation of the Historic Old Meeker Elementary School without partial or total demolition or alteration of any kind, as an historic building.
2. Shall the BOCC be directed to discontinue from further consideration, the Old Meeker Elementary School building (and the entire property of the downtown city block between 4th and 5th streets and between Main Street and Park Street) as a site to build a jail/court/law enforcement complex or for other county government building or purpose?
3. Shall the BOCC be required to observe and enforce the Historic Preservation mandate contained in the 2011 RBC Master Plan (Pages 29-30) as approved by the RBC Planning Commission and adopted by the RBC BOCC to prevent demolition or alteration of any kind to the Historic School?
4. Shall the BOCC ensure the nomination and subsequent designation of the Old Elementary School as a State of Colorado Historic Building, and as a National Historic Building through History Colorado and the U.S. Department of the Interior?
5. Shall the BOCC authorize the repurposing of the old Meeker Elementary school exclusively as a Community Center devoted only to appropriate purposes (that may include but are not limited to): housing non-profit community organizations and groups, small business incubator venues, a performing arts center, a conference and meeting center, an economic development/heritage tourism center, creatives, cultural and fine arts facilities, recreational venues, a post office and such other venues as may be determined to be devoted to the improvement and enrichment of youth, adults, and seniors, as well as for enhancing Economic Development and Heritage Tourism?
6. Shall the BOCC create a Department of Economic Development and of Heritage Tourism, and shall the Board allocate sufficient funding to recruit, appoint and permanently sustain a professional, experienced and highly qualified Executive Director of Economic Development and Heritage Tourism and a commensurate professional staff to carry out such functions competently and effectively, and to provide for the professional administration of the Community Center functions and operations?
7. Shall the BOCC authorize and fund a similar appointment of highly qualified and experienced professional grant writer(s) to support the office of Director of Economic Development and Heritage Tourism and the Community Center?
8. Shall the BOCC authorize the appointment of appropriate citizen advisory council(s) with representation from appropriate community organizations, individual or interest groups, to direct and consult with the Executive Director of Economic Development and Heritage Tourism, as well as the Community Center to advise and consult with, and to participate in the decision-making processes of the appointed officials, and of the BOCC and such other appropriate elected or appointed officials as determined to be necessary for the successful outcomes of the Economic Development, Heritage Tourism, and Community Center missions?
Signed by Meeker Community Center Task Force President Mary Ann Wilber and Robert Amick as task force petitioner’s representative.(End of document.)

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I recently spent four days in Las Vegas. I must say that it was a fun trip during which we ate like kings at their last meal, although I would have to admit that it was close to a financial disaster.
It is a good thing that my wife and I learned while living not too far away in Arizona that one should never take any more money than one can afford to lose. Usually, we hold our own. Sometimes it can be a highly successful trip. Rarely, thank God, it can be a tough journey back to reality. This time was one of those.
We escaped about 12 hours before the incredible onslaught of snow that brought down trees and shrubs, but were awakened by an email photo of the storm that on one hand made me quite happy to be in Vegas but on the other, I must admit I missed watching the snow fall.
Many may think I am crazy, but after 18 years in Arizona, where a few flurries fell here and there once in a while, I am still enjoying my return to Colorado, and the snow is one of the great joys. At least in Colorado, for the most part, snow falls down, unlike the previous 18 years in Wyoming, where snow fell sideways.
Anyway, I am now ready for winter. By spring, I may be as sick of the snow as anyone. But, for now, let it fly!

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It was a real pleasure to head to and from the Grand Junction airport via Highway 13 south through Rifle. Early summer saw me battle the road south on one horrible occasion where construction stops were frequent, mud was everywhere and it took nearly two hours to get to Rifle.
I swore wouldn’t go that way again until the road was complete, and I didn’t.
But I can report that the road is in great shape; it is much smoother than I remember it being before the work started and I didn’t have to stop for even one minute.
A fine job was done by the road crews and hopefully it will be a long time until the road is torn up again like it was this spring and summer.

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One can’t let this past storm go by without commenting.
Upon returning to Rio Blanco on Sunday, two things were immediately obvious: one was that it looked like a war had taken place and the other being that someone had been really, really busy since the storm Thursday night/Friday morning.
Very few limbs were still evident in the streets although it was tough to miss the piles of limbs and leaves and debris evident in what seemed like every other yard as well as several yards in a row.
The piles were neat; some had already even been cut into firewood — which is good thinking on the part of many folks.
It was also obvious that there were a lot of lucky property owners out there. After driving around town to look at the damage, I didn’t see a single home or car that was crushed. (I understand a few buildings were damaged, but after seeing similar storms in Colorado Springs when I was growing up, there was no visible damage compared to what could have been.)
Hats off to the residents, volunteers and Town of Meeker and White River Electric Association and, I am sure, other groups that got out there and pitched in to clean up the damage and debris. I am certain that the residents, volunteers and the Town of Rangely was joined by other groups and had as many heroes as well.
Once again, we have another example of when the residents and utilities in two towns out in the “wilds” of Northwest Colorado joined efforts and made the best out of what was a lousy situation.
Way to go folks!