From My Window: Now not time for Rangely dinosaur repository; Range Call a success

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
In a battle between Rangely and Craig, who wins? No one, because there shouldn’t be a battle between the two, and that is pretty clear out my clear, recently rained-upon window.
The loser is Colorado Northwestern Community College if there is a battle. The winner is CNCC if there is no battle, and there shouldn’t be.

What we’re talking about here is a battle that is forming between a few CNCC benefactors in Rangely taking on CNCC-Craig over where dinosaur bones found south of Rangely should be stored.
The Craig campus has already received a big feather in its cap for having what has already been approved by the Bureau of Land Management as a certified bone depository. It took a lot of work on paper, and the building has the makeup needed to become a success —with its light-controlled, temperature-controlled and humidity-controlled facility that is safe from flooding or water pipes leaking, and can hold and display dinosaur bones without harm.
Come two weeks ago, when a tour was held for a number of locals to the dinosaur dig site, Rangely Mayor Frank Huitt wanted to know why the bones, when excavated, couldn’t be stored in Rangely.
That is a good, but easily answered question.
A better answer: The Craig campus of CNCC already has the building facility that meets BLM specifications for retaining dinosaur bones, and the building there was an expensive and successful undertaking for the Craig campus in terms of time and money spent.
The Craig facility is less than 100 miles away, whereas the next closest approved facility is many times that distance away and not even in Colorado. Cheers! We have a facility that will serve CNCC quite well for quite some time.
After all, dinosaur bones aren’t exactly rolling out in high numbers just south of Rangely,
As public information officer for seven years at Mohave Community College in northwest Arizona, it was embedded repeatedly in my mind that Mohave Community College was “One College, Five Campuses.”
The five campuses were defined as Kingman (Main Campus), Lake Havasu (70 miles away), Bullhead City (45 miles from Kingman), Distance Education (Internet and other computer classes on all four other campuses) and Colorado City (in the heart of polygamist country and the compound home of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs), which is about a six- to seven-hour drive through Nevada because there is no bridge over the Colorado River within Mohave County).
In comparison to what could happen here, Bullhead City’s campus had the college’s culinary program within the campus’ administration building. When in session, the aromas wafting through the building included various beef, pork and lamb roasts, several different varieties of bread (this was the real killer), veggies cooked in so many ways, all things made of chocolate such as pies and cakes, etc.
Needless to say, it was a delight to have your office in the building and every once in a while we would be treated to a few of the leftovers, which confirmed that the food was as good as it smelled.
The smells were truly mouth-watering.
But Bullhead City was the only campus that had the program.
There just weren’t enough students at each campus to offer the program at each of the others.
Bullhead City drew students daily from Bullhead City, Kingman, which was 45 miles away, and Lake Havasu City, which was about 45 miles from Bullhead City.
On the other hand, Lake Havasu, Kingman and Bullhead City each had their “favorite” programs not offered at the other campuses. It pretty well evened out and each campus was special in its own way.
However, everyone wanted the culinary arts program at MCC; at CNCC right now, everyone thinks it wants a piece of the action from the dinosaurs.
Now, 10 years later, Mohave’s Bullhead Campus is the only one with the culinary program, but classes are full with students from the Kingman and Lake Havasu areas filling those classes. There isn’t enough need for another school holding the program, yet the program is filled each semester. The supply, in other words, meets the demand.
Another very important reason the BLM repository was approved for Craig is that one of the federal agency’s requirements is that a paleontologist be on campus full-time and directly aligned with the facility.
Craig has that with CNCC-Craig science instructor Liz Johnson, who is also a certified paleontologist.
A few added pluses in Craig’s favor, the BLM designates a repository to “maintain the fossils for all time” and that there are currently classes offered on the Craig campus in related topics; not on the Rangely campus, although the Rangely campus is playing a major role in the dig, including a lot of support to the team of diggers.
It also is interesting to note that by state design, none of the junior colleges in Colorado are designated as research institutes, so doing lots of research and exploration, etc., is an expensive pasttime, it is not within the law or the finances would be staggering.
The key is the future.
It is the unknown when, how big and how popular the dinosaur business is going to become that needs to be considered long before a single dollar should be spent in Rangely.
Those dinosaurs are not just rolling themselves out of the ground by the tons on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, the number and size of fossils rolling out of the ground each day is quite small.
Depending on the size of the creature currently being worked on, it could be a long time until it is unearthed. It could take a year or more to pull a really large skeleton out of the hard sandstone so prevalent in the area.
In the long-term, anything is possible, but there are so many answers that are a long way off from being answered that a rush on Rangely’s part is years and possibly many long years away.
Eventually, if the situation grows the way it could, happenings down the road may deem it possible to pull in and expand on the Rangely campus.
That should be everyone’s hope.
Maybe there will be a need for an added facility in Rangely as the science classes grow, as dinosaur fossils become more numerous and ways are found to extricate the bones and skeletons.
But the need isn’t there now.
Let’s all be patient.

The Range Call events went with nary a problem, with two exceptions, which were the only negative factors I know of during the three days, but they did leave some folks pretty upset.
The carnival, which was scheduled to be at Ute Park on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, didn’t appear, leaving the kids and parents without anything to do. The carnival didn’t show up at all, and organizers said that was because the state wouldn’t approve the permits until Monday, which was obviously too late.
The other event occurred on Friday, when I went to Ute Park to take photos and eat lunch.
I arrived about 1 p.m. and the only choices I had for my lunch were a root beer float from the Rio Blanco County Historical Society and three types of Italian sandwiches from Ma Famiglia. A root beer float (and they are excellent) just didn’t do it for lunch; and I love Henry’s cooking at Ma Famiglia, but a meatball sandwich would cause me heartburn for a month. (I eat frequently at Ma Famiglia, but less acidic foods are what I order.)
There were, however, some real highlights over the three days.
I enjoyed, and I believe the audiences enjoyed, just through looking at the attendance: the truck and tractor pull, which filled the stands at the fairgrounds and kept the Meeker Lions Club busy preparing food; the Sawyer Brown band, which filled the infield where they performed and which caused an awful lot of folks to show up to sing along and to dance. The band was well received and well enjoyed, and I spoke with people there from Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Montrose and Aspen, and they were overjoyed with both bands, the weather, the cost and how close they could get to obtain their own photos of the band; the Pageant, which is the re-enactment of the Meeker Massacre, also filled the stands pretty well and was very well presented. Those I spoke with from out of town were really quite blown away by the quality of the production, “particularly in such a small town;” and even though I have had at least one long-time Meekerite disagree that it was the best fireworks show ever in Meeker, I was fully impressed and can state that the show this year was head and shoulders above the past two years and comparable to a big-city display. Obviously the addition of 100 extra shells this year made a huge difference.
For the most part, the 2015 Range Call Celebration was a success and it was obvious folks were strongly supporting the events like the 5K run and walk, the 3-on-3 basketball tournament, the Jon Wangnild Memorial Shoot, the bouncing building and slides at Ute Park as well as the overall list of events.
Congratulations, Range Call Committee, it was another impressive presentation.