From My Window: Remember our veterans on Wednesday; mock disaster sobering

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
Wednesday is Veterans Day, and while so much has been written about what we owe our veterans over the years, it is never enough. It is tough to put into simple words what our nation’s veterans have meant, mean and will mean in the future to this United States of America.

Countless thousands of veterans have been there through many worldwide conflicts, fought to protect the downtrodden of other nations and to guarantee that these United States remain secure from forces meaning to harm our freedom and the freedoms of other nations be it in Europe, Asia and even in the Caribbean.
Countless thousands have given or risked their lives and limbs for the freedoms we enjoy today and will continue to enjoy for years or even centuries in the future. From the land, sea and air, these American veterans—both men and women—have put their lives in peril to preserve what is now the strongest nation on this planet.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen for your service.
Neither you nor your service will ever be forgotten.

Thursday’s afternoon’s mock fatal traffic accident at Meeker High School was an exercise in reality for the emergency services personnel in the Meeker area, but it was also a sobering experience for the students at Barone Middle and Meeker High schools.
The event was an emergency drill for the emergency medical and law enforcement personnel in the Meeker area, but it was much more than that.
The emergency crews did a stellar job. It was well-coordinated from the beginning and was a lesson in working together.
In a remarkable 28 minutes, the emergency crews arrived, extricated four youths from a car that was little more than scrap metal, treated the four at the scene and hauled them off to the hospital—via ambulance and helicopter.
Twenty-eight minutes after arriving, the only memory of the accident remaining in the high school parking lot was the empty, roofless and windowless skeleton of a vehicle that had been carrying five local teenagers. One of those had obviously died directly in the accident.
But more important than an emergency services exercise was the hopefully sobering effect the “accident” had on the Barone Middle School and Meeker High School students who witnessed the exercises, complete with the one uncovered body when they arrived and the four youths in the vehicle who were made up to look like victims of very severe injuries.
The one-vehicle accident could have been caused by teenaged drinking, the driver texting or even falling asleep, horseplay between those in the vehicle or a bee stinging the driver, who lost control. But this particular accident was caused by an inebriated driver; a driver who was supposedly “less drunk” than the other people in the vehicle.
None of the spectators at the scene knew what had caused the accident when they arrived at the scene.
Some of the students were visibly upset to see the scene with the exposed body and four injured people inside the vehicle even before the emergency personnel arrived. Some of the adults were also a bit shaken as the scene unfolded.
But if one statement can be made for certain—the entire scene and exercise were sobering.
Not a single chuckle, joke or outbreak of laughter was heard during the entire 28-minute exercise that involved the Meeker Police Department, Meeker Fire Department, Meeker Fire and Rescue, the Rio Blanco Sheriff’s Office and Classic Air Medical, which brought in a medical helicopter from Steamboat Springs.
The Thursday exercise wasn’t the whole story.
The scene plays on.
Three of the five youths were killed. Driver T.J. Shelton was arrested, charges were “filed” against him for a mock trial planned in November, and he was required to wear a a jail jump suit at school on Friday and Monday after having been “charged” as an adult with three counts of vehicular homicide.
The three fatalities in the accident—acted out by Delenn Mobley, Kendra Nelson and Madeline Amack—had to wear black on Friday and Monday, and, because they were “dead,” no one could speak to them nor could they speak to anyone.
The other passenger in the car, Nick Burri, reportedly had talked Shelton into driving because, Burri had reportedly told him, “You are more sober than I am.”
The drinking had reportedly started at an 18th birthday party for Shelton, where beer, full alcohol and marijuana were being served.
Full circle of education?
Not yet. But that is the hope.
When the entire scenario is played out, the students will have seen the accident and its victims, will have seen what the injuries looked like, what it felt like to lose three classmates, and then seen the circle of justice from the arrest at the scene to what is likely to be seen as a conviction. They will see and live the effects the loss of the three classmates has on the class and they can imagine what those losses can mean to the victims’ families.
Drunk driving convictions are much more serious today than they were 40 years ago. A DUI, particularly with a single fatality or more—will likely mess up your entire life.
Costs are exorbitant, fines are prohibitively high, prison time will ruin an individual, one’s conscience will never be without the memories and a lot of drunk drivers never get over the circumstances.
Hey teens! Hey boys and girls! Hey young adults! It doesn’t pay off to get drunk, drive, text, etc., while driving.
What if you had been T.J. Shelton? What if you were what T.J. Shelton actually is—a great athlete with a tremendous future in whatever he wants to pursue? And then, this happens. An entire future snuffed out for three individuals killed in a stupid vehicle accident and the future ruined for a teenager who had everything to look forward to.
Think about it, students—students at Barone Middle School and Meeker High School. It indeed could be you—in real life (or death)—next time.
Learn now. Learn through this experience. It truly is never too early.

Downtown Meeker from 7th Street to 5th Street, including the grounds of the Rio Blanco County Courthouse, were packed Saturday afternoon with pirates, monsters, princesses, rock stars, movie stars, clowns, ghosts, vampires, hunters, storm troopers, mummies and many of their decorated pets.
Downtown Meeker trick-or-treaters converged on the downtown businesses that were open and handing out treats, then several hundred kids, parents and their pets converged on the courthouse lawn, where the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Parks District ran costume contests for all those present in several categories of costume as well as decorated pets.
What started out as a cold morning gave way to beautiful weather when the festivities began at 3 p.m. Hundreds enjoyed the warmer sun, which allowed the participants to shed their jackets and really show off their costumes.
It is great when a town the size of Meeker can pull that many people to venture outdoors to one location on the last day of October.
Lots of trick or treats were handed out. It is easy to figure that the kids would enjoy it, but it was pretty obvious that many, many adults on hand also were having fun.
This type of gathering doesn’t always draw a lot of people, and there are towns much larger than Meeker where I guarantee there weren’t as many people gathered together to celebrate “the fall festival.”
But a great time was had by all. A large number of the costumes took a lot of work and a particular few were remarkable, and it was just plain good fun to see that many local folks gathered together.
Thanks to the merchants, the ERBM Recreation and Parks District and the many children and parents as there were on hand for going to the trouble to stage and participate in such an event. It kind of makes one proud to be a part of the community.

Well, it got down to the crunch time on Sunday evening as the undefeated 6-0 Denver Broncos played host to the undefeated 6-0 Green Bay Packers at Sports Authority Field in Denver.
The Broncos had been winning, but they had also been struggling. The Packers had just been winning and looking pretty good along the way.
Sunday’s clash could well be a first meeting between the two teams that will meet in Super Bowl 50 in early February. Who knows?
It certainly was wonderful as a life-long Bronco fan (actually, I predate the Broncos’ inaugural 1960 season) to finally see the entire Bronco team show up and take a strong 29-10 win over the Packers.
In reality, it was Aaron Rodgers’ worst passing performance as a pro, and that is a pretty good statistic for the Broncos’ defense to put up.
The Bronco defense was spectacular, stopping the passing and running games.
But the best part of the game was that Peyton Manning and the offense also showed up for the game, starting with the opening drive.
The running game finally got off its standstill and Manning hit the passes he needed to when he needed to, and Demetrius Thomas actually held on to the passes thrown to him.
Denver, for the first time this year, came with the complete package. Let’s hope that continues this weekend, when Denver goes to Indianapolis to play the Colts, which have not been particularly nice to Manning or the Broncos for the past couple of years.
Go Broncos! Let’s make it 8-0!