From My Window… Wildlife out; tumblers and dancers excel; prayers now OK at meetings

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
It must be the first of May because all I see outside my window are a bunch of branches swaying and dust in the air. If you are a sinus sufferer, it could be better; if not, the last week has been pretty nice if you don’t mind a bit of wind.
Sunday was meant to be a fishing day, but the wind at Lake Avery and the three fishermen at the spillway interfered with the plans we had, but it opened up the opportunity to drive up County Road 8 as far as the Marvine Ranch road.
It wasn’t as successful a wildlife day as the one in early May last year, when we spotted roughly 30 deer, 50 elk, four kit foxes, a whooping crane, Canada geese, two turkeys, a whistling marmot, an eagle and even a couple of pheasants.
However, about 11 deer, 14 elk, one whistling marmot, one eagle, a whooping crane and several Canada geese crossed our path on Sunday, so it was a successful outing.

It was probably a good thing it was windy out and we were unable to go fishing because we had to hurry back Sunday afternoon to catch “On the Move,” the annual dance and tumbling recital sponsored by the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Parks and Recreation District in Meeker for dancers and tumblers from fifth-graders to high school seniors.
Over the years, I have covered many such events in several different states, and I wasn’t all that “jazzed” to catch another one but I knew I had to cover the event for the Herald Times.
I wasn’t disappointed. I appreciate fine dance and recognize the talent and work that goes into some of those moves.
These young ladies, for the most part, were far from stumbling, bumbling beginners falling all over the ground. From the youngest to the oldest, they really did themselves and their teachers proud.
There were some tough moves involved with the programs, which were held Saturday in three sessions with the final session Sunday evening.
On Saturday, the auditorium was a busy place all afternoon and early evening with those in Creative Movement and Tumble Fun; at 3:30 p.m. with Tumbling Levels 1 through 3 and at 6 p.m. with Dance for first through fourth grade.
There was no question in town that something was going on. All afternoon, all around town you would spot the young dancers in cars, on bikes and walking around town in all kinds of dance costumes.
On Sunday, the older girls presented great shows featuring ensemble dance numbers with solo dances and duo tap exhibitions.
The girls and their teachers did great jobs, and the children, the parents and the dance instructors were all involved in putting on the impressive show.

It is sad to hear the Meeker Range Call Committee is having such a difficult time finding a director or directors to lead the pageant during the Fourth of July Weekend. The pageant takes a good, well-researched look at the history of Meeker up to and including the Meeker Massacre.
Last July was the first opportunity I had to see the pageant, and it came across as a pretty wonderful production. In high school and college, my Colorado history classes acquainted me with the story, but the pageant and the thoroughly professional narration brought the area history and actual Meeker Massacre pretty much to life in a way that someone could easily follow the incident.
The pageant certainly entails a lot of work by the director and the volunteers who take part, but it would be a major disappointment if we have seen the last performance — a real possibility if a director (an individual, individuals, a couple or a family) isn’t found fairly soon.
If anyone is interested in taking over as director this year, they are asked to please call Range Call Director Kim Ekstrom at 1-970-623-1373.

This last item will brighten a few windows and darken a few others — prayer is now allowed at town meetings and perhaps others.
I must say I am quite happy to see the court finally act on a long-overdue subject of contention, yet I am dismayed at what I believe will be a long series of court battles regarding prayer at public meetings and those who see anything resembling God as a matter of separation of church and state.
The story itself is the best explanation:
Washington, D.C. — On Monday, in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway, the United States Supreme Court ruled that opening a town meeting with prayer does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment in a 5-4 decision.
Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief in this case.
“Using the Marsh v. Chambers decision, the Supreme Court gave an unequivocal recognition that even sectarian prayers before a legislative session are constitutional. Finally, the Supreme Court went back to a test that acknowledges a practice that was accepted by the nation’s founders, who wrote the First Amendment,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.
Liberty Counsel’s brief to the court pointed out, “The court’s continuing reliance upon the Lemon test has meant that the Establishment Clause, designed to respect religious traditions without taking sides, has morphed into a weapon aimed at eliminating all vestiges of public religious expression.”
The High Court agreed, ruling, “Any test the court adopts must acknowledge a practice that was accepted by the framers and has withstood the critical scrutiny of time and political change. … Any test that would sweep away what has so long been settled would create new controversy and begin anew the very divisions along religious lines that the Establishment Clause seeks to prevent.”
“This opinion refutes all of the nonsense that the atheist groups have been spewing for years,” Staver said. “The majority opinion even points out the absurdity of trying to force a minister to pray to a neutral deity inoffensive to all present.”
“Any insistence on nonsectarian or ecumenical prayer as a single, fixed standard is not consistent with the tradition of legislative prayer outlined in the court’s cases,” Supreme Court Justice Kennedy wrote. “Government may not mandate a civic religion that stifles any but the most generic reference to the sacred any more than it may prescribe a religious orthodoxy.” Kennedy added, “Respondents argue, in effect, that legislative prayer may be addressed only to a generic God. The law and the court could not draw this line for each specific prayer or seek to require ministers to set aside their nuanced and deeply personal beliefs for vague and artificial ones.”
“The First Amendment is not a majority rule and government may not seek to define permissible categories of religious speech. Once it invites prayer into the public sphere, government must permit a prayer giver to address his or her own God or gods as conscience dictates, unfettered by what an administrator or judge considers to be nonsectarian,” Kennedy wrote.
Justice Kennedy’s opinion concludes, “The town of Greece does not violate the First Amendment by opening its meetings with prayer that comports with our tradition and does not coerce participation by non-adherents.”
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono legal assistance and representation on these and related topics.