Letters to the Editor: June 21, 2012

Thanks, Chevron
Dear Editor:
It is a real blessing that communities like Rangely have such wonderful corporate sponsors such as Chevron. On behalf of the volunteer firemen and trustees and the citizens of the western half of Rio Blanco County, we would like to sincerely thank Chevron for their generous $100,000 donation to the Rangely Rural Fire Protection District to be utilized for the purchase of an aerial truck and pumper truck. This donation will go towards ensuring that the fire department has excellent equipment to respond to emergencies and for ensuring the safety of its volunteers. These dollars will also help this community’s fire department to function on the resources provided through our current revenue sources.
The men and women of the Rangely Fire Department will not have to ride 30-40 miles in an open cab truck in the middle of winter to respond to an out-of-control structural fire or another highway accident thanks to the new equipment being acquired. The department will have greater confidence in the trucks and tools they are using, allowing its volunteers to perform at the highest level for many years to come. The Fire District, under the direction of chief Andy Shaffer and supported by its dedicated volunteers, will continue to work hard to provide excellent service and response to emergencies as they arise.
Again, we are all very thankful to Chevron for recognizing the dedication and service of our volunteer firefighters and for caring about the communities that they live and work. Thanks goes to Jeff Roedell for hearing the fire department’s request and recognizing the need, to Rod Ficken and Luke Allred for supporting this effort and especially to Cary Baird who worked behind the scenes with Chevron USA to help secure this donation.
God bless the men and women of Chevron. We thank you for your kindness and generosity,
Volunteers and board of directors
Rangely Rural Fire Protection District

Tax exemption

Dear Editor:
The Colorado Constitution establishes a property tax exemption for senior citizens and disabled veterans. For those who qualify, 50 percent of the first $200,000 in actual value of the primary residence is exempted from property tax. The State of Colorado pays the property taxes on the exempted value. For tax years 2009 through 2011, the General Assembly eliminated funding for the senior exemption. The senior exemption is returning in 2012 (taxes payable in 2013). If qualifying seniors have not already done so, they are urged to submit applications.
Senior homestead exemption program basic qualifications (generally, each of the following statements must be true to qualify):
The qualifying senior:
n Must be at least 65 years old on Jan. 1 of this year; and
n Must be the current owner of record, and listed as the owner of record for at least 10 consecutive years prior to Jan. 1; and
n Must occupy the property as her/his primary residence, and must have done so for at least 10 consecutive years prior to Jan. 1.
Exceptions to basic qualifications (the applicant may still qualify if one or more of the following statements are true):
n Ownership is in the spouse’s name and the spouse also occupies the property.
n Ownership has been transferred to or purchased by a trust, corporate partnership or other legal entity solely for estate planning purposes.
n The qualifying senior or his/her spouse was or is confined to a health care facility.
n The applicant was forced to move when the prior residence was condemned in an eminent domain proceeding.
n The applicant is the surviving spouse of a senior who previously qualified. The surviving spouse must be an applicant whose husband or wife met the qualifications on Jan. 1 of this year and who passed away on or after that date. The applicant must occupy the property as his or her primary residence and must have done so with his or her spouse.
If you have filed for the Senior Homestead Exemption in a previous year and your application was approved for the exemption, you do not need to reapply.
To apply, you must complete the appropriate application form and return it to the Rio Blanco County Assessor no later than July 16. Two application forms are used for the exemption: The “short form” is for a qualifying senior citizen who meets each of the basic requirements. The “long form” is used when the applicant falls within one or more of the exceptions to the basic qualifications.
Disabled veteran exemption basic qualifications (generally, each of the following statements must be true to qualify):
n The applicant must be a veteran who sustained a service-connected disability while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States. This includes members of the National Guard and Reserves who sustained their injuries while serving on active duty;
n The applicant must have been honorably discharged;
n The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has rated the applicant’s service-connected disability as 100 percent permanent and total. VA unemployability awards do not meet the requirement for determining an applicant’s eligibility;
n The applicant must be the owner of record and must have been the owner of record since Jan. 1 of the current year; and
n The applicant must have occupied the property as his/her primary residence since Jan. 1 of the current year.
Exceptions to basic qualifications (the applicant may still qualify if one or more of the following statements are true):
n Ownership is in the spouse’s name, and the spouse also occupies the property;
n Ownership has been transferred to or purchased by a trust, corporate partnership or other legal entity solely for estate planning purposes;
n The qualifying disabled veteran or his/her spouse was or is confined to a health care facility.
n The applicant was forced to move when the prior residence was condemned in an eminent domain proceeding.
To apply, you must file a completed application with the Colorado Division of Veterans Affairs postmarked no later than July 2. Late applications may be accepted until Sept. 3 if the applicant can show good cause for missing the July 2 deadline.
To print “Senior Homestead Exemption” or “Disabled Veteran Exemption” forms, please go to the Colorado Division of Property Taxation website at www.dola.colorado.gov/dpt, click Forms, then click on either “Senior Exemption Forms” or “Disabled Veterans Exemption Application” and follow the instructions. If you do not have access to a computer or the Internet, or if you have questions, please call the Rio Blanco County Assessor’s office at 970-878-9410.
Renae T. Neilson
Rio Blanco County Assessor

Property rights
Dear Editor:
Last week I attended the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association convention in Loveland, Colo. We discussed several items of importance to Rio Blanco County:
Sage Grouse – The Colorado Parks and Wildlife gave a presentation on them. CPW stated that the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service will rule on whether the Gunnison Sage Grouse, a species we do not have in this county, will be listed as threatened, endangered or will not be listed by the end of this year. USFW has until 2015 to determine what will happen with the Greater Sage Grouse. In the meantime, the Public Lands Council is compiling all of the state and local sage grouse working groups work into one document and will present it to the USFW. At this point the Fish and Wildlife Service has not wanted to include local plans in their deliberations. They want to write a one-size-fits-all policy, something that never works well at the county level.
Land use – Two ballot initiatives have been proposed that would drastically change the way counties and landowners interact. At this time, if a person wants to subdivide his land he does not have to go through county planning if the parcel is 35 acres or more. One of the initiatives calls for the limit to be 160 acres and the other is 640 acres. I believe that a planned unit development is a good way for a developer to go, but it should be voluntary and it is a property rights issue. I also think again that individual counties should be determining their own destiny instead of the one size fits all approach.
Water – Two ballot initiatives have been proposed to change Colorado water law from the Prior Appropriation Doctrine, take everyone’s water rights and place them in what is called the public trust. This would mean that even the towns of Rangely and Meeker could find themselves in the position of having to ask permission of some faceless board on the Front Range to use their adjudicated water right. Club 20 and The Colorado River Conservation District have both written resolutions against both of these. Our county could find ourselves with no possibility of growth or economic development if they pass.
The authors of the above initiatives have until Aug. 6 to gather 85,000-plus signatures to have them placed on the ballot so there is time to be prepared to fight them. As this election season progresses all voters need to take a close look at the issues, the candidates, their own futures and vote for the person that will be able to defend your property and rights.
Jon D. Hill
President, Cripple Cowboy
Cow Outfit, Inc.

Former student

Dear Editor:
Thank you for your article about Bill and Martha Mitchem. I was fortunate enough to have both as teachers during my education in Rangely in the ‘60s.
I had Mr. Mitchem for algebra and chemistry in high school. Unfortunately, he went to the college before my senior year, so I did not have a chance to learn physics from him. Mr. Mitchem was stern and probably not my favorite teacher at the time. Later, I appreciated the fact that his biggest concern was probably not being a student favorite, but actually teaching us something that could be used in later life.
Mrs. Mitchem was mainly a substitute teacher when I was in school. Occasionally, she tried to be stern, but was just too nice to pull it off with much conviction.
I am sure Rangely has benefited from the fact that these two good people have stayed in Rangely and have been such a big part of the community.
Mike Eller
Littleton, Colo.

County fees for a well pad?
Dear Editor:
I was curious if the county fees for a well pad in Rio Blanco County are really $30,000? I called my friend Kai the county commissioner and learned the county fees for the specific well pad mentioned in last week’s paper are as follows:
Base pad $500
Well permit X one well $250
Septic $223
TLQ (Temporary Living
Quarters) $400
Total permit fees $1,373
Additional wells on a multiple well pad are $250 per well.
The impact fee for the well discussed in the paper last week is $10,581.
I also learned Rio Blanco County is working to replace the impact fee with a more palatable program that would help keep severance tax money in the county instead of going directly to the state.
Impact fee and Rio Blanco County well pad permit is $11,954 for first well.
There seems to be a discrepancy in the well pad fee presented in the paper last week.
Thank you,
Dennis Cook

NRA member

Dear Editor:
There are two issues I’d like to clear up with my constituents. In addition to attacks from my opponent, I have been the target of an extremist group called Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. They have blatantly lied about my position regarding support and protection of our 2nd Amendment rights. A recent mailer called me an anti-gun liberal and a part of a coalition working to compromise our 2nd Amendment rights. It also says that I refused to return their candidate survey on March 8.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I signed for the certified letter on March 12 and when I opened it I saw that the deadline for retuning it was March 2. I was set up to fail, which seems to be their standard MO with targeted candidates. RMGO is notorious for their disgusting ambush tactics and blatant lies and for targeting solid Republican candidates, like Governor Bill Owens, Bob Beauprez, Pete Coors and Ag Commissioner Don Ament, so I feel I am in good company.
I am a member of the NRA and have gladly answered and returned their candidate survey. I was raised on a ranch where guns were simply a part of life and a loaded .22 rifle was always within reach. By now many of you know I have had a concealed carry permit of 15 years, and prefer shooting pistols.
I have also been attacked by Coloradans for Family Values, who accuse me of supporting gay marriage and for being in favor of abortion. Our constitution guarantees that marriage is defined as between a man and a woman, and I swear under oath to uphold the constitution. I support civil unions, because I believe in the Republican principles of individual freedom, personal responsibility and keeping government out of our lives. The civil union bill applies to all couples, gay or straight, who wish to declare their commitment to each other for the benefit of their family. It affords them the same rights, protections and responsibilities, and assures that they are treated equally in the eyes of the law.
Finally, the accusation that I am in favor of abortion is yet another lie. My husband and I adopted two beautiful babies; our son in 1980, and our daughter in 1984. Had their teen birth moms chosen abortion instead of following through with their pregnancies and giving them up for adoption, we would not be parents today.
Everyday I look at my children — now grown adults — I bless their biological mothers for their courage and the gift they gave to us. How could I possibly look at my beautiful children and support abortion? I can’t.
So, in the next several days, when you receive yet another mailer attacking me, please ignore it, or if the source of information is cited, check it out. And if you still have questions, please feel free to call me. I always have my cell phone with me, spend a lot of time on the road, and would enjoy the company.
Senator Jean White
Rio Blanco County