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Orval LaBorde, poet and patriot, was honored at a memorial service last Friday.
LaBorde, a well-known local World War II veteran, died the Saturday after Christmas. He was 86.
The family decided to put off the service for a few months, hoping the weather would be better for out-of-towners to attend.
And, fittingly, a storm system cleared out in time for the service, after having dumped several inches of snow the day before.
So, even though the ground was covered with snow, the cloudless sky was a bright blue as LaBorde was given full military honors at Highland Cemetery in Meeker, where he is buried.
An honor guard from Meeker’s VFW Post 5843, of which LaBorde had been a long-time member, was on hand for the service. Several of the VFW members were overheard saying, “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”
LaBorde enlisted in the Marines after high school. Having served in some of the fiercest fighting of WWII, his unit received four presidential citations.
“He’s truly one of America’s heroes, without question,” said John Robbins, who is interim pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church, where the memorial service for LaBorde was held. “Men like him made it possible for us to be here today. It’s an honor to be here to honor Orval.”
Wearing his Marine dress uniform, LaBorde was a fixture in Meeker’s annual Fourth of July parade. He was also a frequent writer of letters to the editor that were published in the Herald Times, often speaking out against what he saw as attacks on traditional American values. Whether people agreed or disagreed with his views, no one could doubt LaBorde’s love for his country.
“You could always count on him at the Fourth of July parade, there was Orval representing his country,” a woman said during the memorial service.
“Orval was a quiet man,” said his son-in-law Gerald LaBonte. “He didn’t often share his feelings, except in his writings.”
Another way LaBorde expressed himself was by writing poetry.
“He was a poet at heart,” Robbins said, reading a poem LaBorde wrote after his wife, Margaret, died. The poem was titled, “When God Calls,” and included the line, “When God calls, you gotta go.”
“He wrote poems as a child, and until the day he died,” said LaBorde’s daughter Karen LaBonte of Meeker. “He was a very consistent person. He didn’t change what he believed in, just because the world did. His mind was amazing, right to the end.”
At the memorial service, family members shared their memories of LaBorde, as did friends.
“He left a legacy for us … some big footsteps to follow in,” said LaBorde’s son, George, a veteran himself, having served in the Navy. “But that’s my dad.”
A longtime neighbor of LaBorde’s, Burnie Cox, said, “The Little Beaver (area) and the town of Meeker won’t be the same. I’m honored to have been his neighbor all these many years. He was a man’s man.”
LaBorde died Dec. 27, 2008. To borrow a line from one of his poems, when God called, he had to go.
• • •
Kent Walter, field manager for the Bureau of Land Management in Meeker, gave an update on oil and gas activity in the Piceance Basin during a report last week to Rio Blanco County commissioners.
“To date, just to give you an idea of where we are as far as the level of activity, so far this year, we have approved more than 90 applications for permit to drill,” Walter said. “And, actually, that’s about twice as many as where we were this time last year.
“So, it’s all fickle. We had some already in the process,” Walter said. “We continue to have brisk activity, as far as the number of APDs coming in the door. Certainly, the number of rigs out in the Piceance has been reduced. It’s about half the number of last year.”
Even with the drop in the number of rigs, Walter said the local BLM office is busy.
“A lot of pipelines, a lot of applications,” he said. “The way I’ve been explaining it to people, we’re busy, we’re just not crazy busy, like we were a year ago.”
• • •
Gov. Bill Ritter is scheduled to tour Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Rangely campus on Saturday.
“Weather permitting, (the governor) will be flying in at 9:30 Saturday morning,” said Becky Dubbert, CNCC executive assistant. “He will be here for an hour. John (Boyd, CNCC president) is going to pick him up. The plan is to have everybody come to the Blakeslee Building, and use one of the classrooms, which is fairly large. John will give a presentation. Of course, the public is invited.”
• • •
Last week, the state reported a predicted drop of $210 million in severance taxes on oil and gas production for the 2010 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
• • •
In his annual report to county commissioners, Sheriff Si Woodruff said the department saw a rise in every aspect of daily operations in 2008, with the exception of the civil division, due to increased activity in the oil and gas industry.
“The most visible increase to the citizens continues to be all of the traffic that is associated with the oil and gas development going on in Rio Blanco County,” Woodruff said in his report.
In response to the increased activity, the sheriff’s office started a new traffic division in 2008.
“The traffic division was started as a direct result of the oil and gas activity in Rio Blanco County and the ever-expanding responsibilities and calls that come with the additional traffic,” Woodruff said.
Adding to the workload of the sheriff’s office, Woodruff noted there are currently three trooper positions open for the Colorado State Patrol in Rio Blanco County, and neither the state nor the state patrol compensates the county or the sheriff’s office for handling the increased activity.
“The Piceance Creek area of the county incorporates a 500 square mile area and 27 of the busiest county roads,” Woodruff said. “The incidents and calls for services (in the Piceance area) has continued to rise since 2003.”
Other statistics from the sheriff’s office’s annual overview included:
n The total number of incidents coming in to the 911 Communications Center totaled more than 10,000 for the first time, with 11,674 calls.
n The total number of calls for service the sheriff’s office received was up by 20 percent over 2007, and up more than 84 percent since 2005, or 4,393 more calls than three years ago.
• • •
Meeker’s Police Department is looking to fill a couple of positions.
Police Chief Bob Hervey said Lt. Glenn Wilson and Officer Tim Creedon had both resigned. The department is currently advertising for the positions.
n n n
County officials are still waiting to learn more about how the federal stimulus money will trickle down to the county level, or if it will.
“At this point, I don’t know if, when or how Rio Blanco County will benefit from the stimulus program,” said County Administrator Pat Hooker. “Lord knows we have a ton of projects that need funding.”
• • •
Rio Blanco County Coroner Ran Cochran is back in the hospital.
“I went and saw him (Sunday),” said his ex-wife, Rhonda. “He’s doing better. The doctors are encouraged the infection is going away.”
Cochran, who was accidentally shot in the stomach while cleaning a .22 rifle March 11, had been home for about a week when he had to return to the hospital in Grand Junction, because of infection.
“It got really bad, I think, last Tuesday,” Rhonda said. “He went back into surgery Friday morning. He will be in the hospital a minimum of another week, but possibly longer.”
• • •
Apparently this wasn’t the first time Meeker’s boys’ and girls’ basketball teams both advanced to the state tournament.
“The 1991-1992 boys’ and girls’ basketball teams both went to state that year,” a reader informed me. “The boys’ team went with a 23-1 record, and the girls went to state with an undefeated record. I believe they were 24-0. Both teams were ranked No. 1 in state for most of the season. This was the first time a 2A school had both boys and girls ranked No. 1. The boys and girls were picked to win state. The boys lost both games and didn’t advance. The girls made it to the championship game and lost a heartbreaker.”
• • •
Mickey and John Allen of Rangely are active in an environmental group out of Vernal, Utah, called the Uintah Mountain Club.
“It’s been around since 1984,” Mickey said. “They have a monthly program during the school year. We, generally, meet the second Thursday of the month, at the Golden Age Center, at 7 p.m. The next program we will have will be on the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.”
The group’s next meeting will be April 9. For more information, contact Mickey by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the group’s Web site at www.uintahmountainclub.org.
• • •
Lisa Belmonte of Meeker finished third in her age division at the Canyonlands Half Marathon on March 21 in Moab, Utah. The 39-year-old Belmonte, competing in the women’s 35 to 39 age group, finished in a time of 1:30:31. She is training for the Boston Marathon, which will be April 20.
• • •
Meeker artist Pat Daggett had three paintings selected for display in a new addition being built at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.
• • •
RBC Undersheriff Mike Joos recently celebrated a birthday, his 49th, by the way. While sharing a birthday dinner with friends at Ma Famiglia restaurant, co-owner Kris Arcolesse came up behind Joos and, using both hands, let him have it with whipped cream.
“I had whipped cream all over my head, in my ears, it was all over the walls,” Joos said. “I had to go home and shower and change clothes. Everybody in the restaurant enjoyed it.”
Except, perhaps, Joos.
“All I can say is I know when Kris’ birthday is,” Joos said. “There will be payback.”
Ah, revenge is sweet.