Letter: Kelley shares background, experience

Dear Editor:

I had prepared the following biographical information for Monday night’s candidate forum at Meeker High School. It was never requested, so I thought I should share it with you here.

A Colorado native, I grew up and graduated high school in Jefferson County west of Denver. I then earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from The Colorado College in Colorado Springs. After working a year, I completed a two-year master’s degree from the Duke University School of Forestry and Environmental Science in Durham, N.C. Over this general time period, I also worked as a ranger naturalist/law enforcement and interpretation park ranger in Arches, Canyonlands, Yellowstone and Zion National Parks.

I came back home to Colorado and became involved in citizen concern about Front Range plans for significant additional transmountain diversion of Western Slope water from the Gore Range-Eagles Nest Wilderness near Vail, and elsewhere, with water collection systems to feed more water into Dillon Reservoir and on into Denver through the Roberts Tunnel underneath the Continental Divide. Those plans could have totally dried up streams coming down off those mountains, which I stridently opposed. We stopped them. At that time, I worked for a group of Vail Valley/Western Slope citizens known as the Eagle-Piney Water Protection Association. Our efforts led to the establishment by the Colorado Legislature of the Minimum (Instream) Flow Act of 1973. This past summer, provisions under this Act allowed stored water in Lake Avery to be released as a relief to the White River, providing a 20 cubic feet per second flow to what was otherwise nearly a dry river for a few weeks.

That advocacy work for Western Slope water morphed into working for sportsmen and women, hunters, fishermen, gun owners, river and big game outfitters—representing their interests at the State Legislature, Wildlife Commission, State Parks Board and the like. Therein, I met and worked with your Rio Blanco County, House District 57, state representative Kathleen Sullivan. I was lucky to be able to marry her and thereby come to Rio Blanco County 36 years ago. I chose Rio Blanco County and am very grateful that I did.

Here, Kathleen and I helped her father, the late Joe Sullivan, sustain his wheat and barley farming – and then converted the farm into the cow-calf and livestock forage operation we continue today.

While being here in Meeker full-time the last 30 some years, my primary endeavors have included:

n Continuing for nearly 15 years to be one of two sportsmen on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Habitat Partnership Program Statewide Council.

n Serving on the Pioneers Hospital and Meeker Family Clinic boards—bringing in national professional management support while maintaining and improving our access to quality health care—all of which led to the current Eastern Rio Blanco County Health Service District, our new hospital, new services, clinic and long-term care facilities.

n Serving as an officer of the Meeker Sportsman’s Club.

n Serving for a term as the Marketing Committee chair for the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.

n Serving on the Colorado Northwestern Community College Foundation Board for nearly 20 years, most of the time as the board vice-chair, raising scholarship dollars and striving to keep the college viable, improving and growing.

n Co-founding, just this past year, and serving as an officer for, the White River Alliance, a totally local endeavor of residents advocating for the health and well-being of our White River resource and watershed.

n Serving as a board delegate for Rio Blanco County on the Club 20 board of directors – the organization that is the 20-plus western Colorado counties’ “voice” for policy—and am currently the voting RBC delegate on that board—along with our commissioners Jeff Rector and Si Woodruff, elected for a two-year term by the Club 20 members in RBC.

n Serving on the board, currently as vice-president, of the Western Colorado Alliance for community action which is in business, out of Grand Junction, to enable western slope communities and residents to proactively pursue the futures they collectively desire.

n Outside of Colorado, being involved in the founding—back in the late 1990’s—of the Ranchers-Cattlemen’s Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, headquartered in Billings, MT, and serving for several years now as their International Trade Committee chair. We have been strongly supportive of President Trump’s efforts to improve U.S. trade agreements and improve conditions for U.S. agricultural and manufacturing producers; and lastly, but not least…

n Serving as a writer for this newspaper on a very part-time basis over the last several years. This work has given me considerable insight into and understanding of many of the matters that are important to us here.

I look forward to applying these experiences and the relationships they entail to the further benefit of Rio Blanco County and our citizens as an independent, party-unaffiliated RBC commissioner. I am committed to continue connecting with citizens in order to find ways to increase better paying jobs, deliver more affordable healthcare, be better recognized for our results-oriented education, and otherwise create communities to which our county’s kids want to return for challenging, interesting, good-paying livelihoods and small-town quality of life.

I ask for your support and your vote. Thank you.

Reed Kelley

Independent Candidate for County Commissioner

Meeker, 970-942-8104