Letters to the Editor: Nov. 4, 2021

Veterans welcome at BMS lunch Nov. 11

Dear Editor:

The Barone Middle School Student Council Activities Committee would like to serve our local veterans lunch at BMS on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. The lunch will be provided by the Chamber of Commerce. The committee will help serve the lunch. On that day, after the veterans and BMS have had their lunch, we are planning to have a Pep Rally where the veterans can do their flag ceremony. Following the ceremony, at approximately 12:20 p.m., we will have the veterans split into different individual groups who will be interviewed by the student council members in front of our BMS student body, which will hopefully include them discussing their experiences as a veteran. All veterans and their family members are welcome. 


Nick Gates

BMS Student Council


Climate update

Dear Editor:

It’s interesting to re-read the earliest comprehensive climate forecast (Hansen, 1988), based on the climate models of the 1980s. The forecasts have turned out spot on: rising greenhouse gas concentrations heat the atmosphere and the oceans causing increased frequency of extreme weather events and regional ecosystem disruption. Over the intervening three decades since the Hansen/GISS report, we’ve witnessed the actual events: sea level rise, melting ice caps, torrential downpours, fiercer hurricanes, increased numbers of heat-related deaths, drought, disruption of food supplies, prolonged wildfire seasons with more extreme fires, air so thick with smoke you can’t breathe. And more. 

Improved climate models of recent years indicate it’s getting worse faster than Hansen’s team anticipated (IPCC, 2021). We are on the verge of ecosystem collapse affecting countries all around the world (Swiss Re Group, 2020; IPBES, 2019). If we had implemented policies back in the 1980s to address the problems, it would have been a whole lot easier and less costly to fix them. Now it’s really hard and it’s really expensive. 

Expensive no matter which way it turns out. If we finally get around to addressing the problems, it’s going to cost a lot. Restructuring the energy grid is expensive. Re-training displaced workers into a new sustainable energy economy is expensive. Dealing with the hundreds of billions of dollars in damages already inherent in the changed climate regime is expensive. On the other hand, if we don’t address the climate problem, we lose the ecosystem services that keep us alive. Soils. Watersheds. Oxygen from the rainforests, etc. 

At this point, there’s no hope of solving the climate crisis without global collective action. Individuals recycling plastic won’t do the job (though that’s still important, too). What’s required is dedicated effort by governments and by the major energy corporations to build a sustainable energy economy, weaned off of fossil fuels. We have the technology. It’s getting more efficient. Its cost is now competitive with the fossil fuels and getting more affordable each year. 

The good news is that we’ve succeeded in solving global environmental problems before. We know it can be done. The Nixon Administration was instrumental in establishing the first global environmental protocols. One outcome, the Montreal Protocol in 1987, set the framework to stop stratospheric ozone depletion and restore the ozone layer, which protects Earth’s living creatures from ultraviolet radiation. The ozone layer is recovering thanks to dedicated global collective action. On the national scale, regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency, also established by the Nixon Administration, restored the Great Lakes and rivers of the upper Midwest. Without that national effort, those waters would still be toxic sludge. 

The COP26 meeting this week in Glasgow (the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change) may be humankind’s last best hope to prevent catastrophic climate change. Global leaders have to decide whether to tackle the hard problems. Meantime, with some local leadership from elected officials and industry, we can still do our part right here in Rio Blanco County. Eliminating methane leaks from the gas and oil fields is important. Training and new opportunities for displaced workers is important. Encouraging conscientious individual behavior is important. And planning for a changing climate in the White River Basin is important. All of those need to be done. 

Dr. Bob Dorsett

Literature cited:

Hansen, James et al. 1988. Global climate changes as forecast by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies three-dimensional model.  Journal of Geophysical Research. 

IPBES. 2019. Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services. 

IPCC. 2021. Summary for policymakers. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGI_SPM.pdf

Swiss Re Group. 2020. One fifth of the countries of the world at risk for ecosystem collapse. https://www.swissre.com/media/news-releases/nr-20200923-biodiversity-and-ecosystems-services.html

The jail is closed, so what about the money?

Dear Editor:

Being fiscally responsible is quite a statement, coming from our conservative sheriff. 

In closing the jail portion of the justice center, it is my understanding he would actually be cutting nearly $1.2 million from the county budget. This would be a tremendous savings considering Rio Blanco County is roughly $2.6 million short, this year, just like last year. 

I was surprised by the sheriff’s willingness to outsource the duties required of him by Colorado State Statute; which are to maintain/operate the county jail. 

However, I can say that paying over a million dollars a year to watch an average of only five prisoners is not cost effective so if it saved the taxpayers anything near three quarters to a million dollars a year, I would stand behind this decision fully. However I can’t stand behind what is actually occurring according to what’s being said and heard in the community.

If Sheriff Mazzola is trying to be “fiscally responsible” he’s failing miserably. Sheriff Mazzola, you’ve already closed the jail, to the savings of nearly $1.2 million dollars per year. However you state you only anticipate a first year’s savings of $200,000 and perhaps $400,000 or double this amount in the next fiscal year. You are not telling the citizens of this county, the reasons you’re projecting such low savings:

1. $250,000 to Moffat County to hold our five (on average) prisoners 

2. You’re hiring three new deputies for patrol and to transport prisoners 

 a. (we only have five prisoners on average, how busy are the new hires actually going to be?)

3. You’re hiring one new supervisor to keep an eye on these three new deputies,

 a. (You have 7-8 patrol deputies, including the undersheriff, and at least two sergeants, so that leaves two sergeants to supervise three people each, can they not handle 1-3 more between them?

4. You’re hiring an additional office clerk, personal secretary or whatever the title or duty, why?

4. You’ve promised everyone pay raises. (Bold move when we’re broke.)

5. Let’s not forget the purchase of 3-4 new vehicles and their related equipment.

6. Let’s not forget mileage, gas, damaged vehicles during bad weather and animal strikes.

So of the original budget, be it $1 or $1.2 million, you’re going to save possibly $200,000! Well yay you! In return you’re going to cost the town of Rangely and Meeker severe increases in transporting prisoners since you’re only going to transport prisoners arrested by the sheriff’s office. This will cost the towns increased costs in overtime, vehicle expenses, wear and tear as well as vehicle damage repair from animal strikes or crashes during bad weather.  You will not haul prisoners from the town of Rangely, nor from the town of Meeker, nor from any other agency, such as DOW. Unless they pay a fee to you which I bet is in the works, much like your big dispatch fee you forced on Meeker Fire and ambulance, Town Police, and so on. We know you, we know what you’re capable of doing to others. Toss the liability and blame on others to protect your own assets. 

So in fact you’re hiring four new patrol staff members to transport however many people your agency arrests in a year, which isn’t much, somehow validating at least $90,000 per deputy and even more for a supervisor, that’s roughly $400,000 not counting equipment, vehicles and training. New vehicles, fully equipped $75,000 each = $225,000. Training can be much less dependent on their skill level so for four people a meager $10,000 a year should cover the basics. 

The county will pay $250,000 this first year for Moffat to house on average five people from Rio Blanco County, yet you yourself said the cost of housing and caring for prisoners are increasing every year, I think those costs will be passed onto Rio Blanco County in the future. Additionally there is increased mileage, wear and tear on the new vehicles and old ones which requires more money than normal. 

So far we’re up to $885,000 and I haven’t addressed the “pay raises” and new office clerk/personal secretary. Let’s just round it to about $925,000 per year to fund your new patrol/transport division, new office staff, etc… I’m not including fuel, repairs, maintenance, costs or that would probably eat all of the $1,000,000-plus budget you saved by closing the jail. 

My math may be off to some degree however I would project little if any savings at all for many years to come. 

On top of this you’re forcing all other tax based policing agencies in the county to transport arrestees much farther, encountering more hazards and bringing more liability to those agencies and the taxpayers as a whole.  

Even if YOU save $200,000 from your budget, the overall cost and liability to each town and their agencies have increased and the taxpayers will have to pay more of their hard stretched tax money in the long run with little or no real savings from your agency. This is bold of you after seeing how viciously you defended the dispatch center last year yet this year you abandon the primary duty of the elected sheriff with no real cost reductions and increased liability to every other agency as well as your own.

Repurposing $1 million (out of $1.2 million) is not a saving of significance and expanding your patrol staff by “four” is not fiscally responsible; and although you may desire a new office clerk, personal secretary or whatever; it is not a necessity?  

You’ve moved money from here to there and promised everyone a pay raise on top of this. Not very fiscally responsible and I see it as the equivalent of Joe Biden’s economics. “Bait and Switch” 

This in a time when many citizens of this county are hard pressed to make ends meet at home and the county doesn’t have the money to pay for all your new employees, equipment, expansions yet you try to sell it as a cost savings venture. This country is in dire need of conservative leadership, not Joe Biden Mathematics.   

Sheriff, you are quoted by the paper when speaking of closing the jail: “As revenues continue to decline, how do you justify $1 million in expenses?” Mazzola said by phone Tuesday.

Well I guess we’re all waiting for your answer!  How do you justify repurposing $1 million while selling it as a savings to the county? Sheriff Mazzola we await your answer?

Roy Kinney

Thanks from Lancaster family

Dear Editor:

We would like to thank the Panther football coaching staff — Ryan Wilkie, Keenan LeBleu and Mark Doolin — and the entire 2021 Panther football team for honoring Nick at the fourth annual Nick Lancaster Memorial Game. This year’s game was made even more special as the Class of 1990 (Nick’s class) and the Class of 1986 (Mike’s class) incorporated the game into their class reunion plans. A huge thank you to Justyne Peters of Heifer Gang Clothing for designing and Sylvia Dembowski — owner of Get Your Stitch On — for making the hats, sweatshirts and T-shirts for the game and for generously donating a portion of all merchandise sales to the Bleed Green Lancaster #17 Foundation four years in a row! You ladies always come up with the coolest swag! An extra thank you to Justyne Peters for the amazing game program that she created.  Also, thanks to Jeff “Buck” LeBleu for being the voice of Panther football and delivering Nick’s family’s message.  A special thanks to Gary and Kathy Staley of Sweetbriar for selling Bleed Green Lancaster #17 merchandise in their store.  A final thank you to all the businesses, friends, family, extended family, classmates and Panther football fans who have donated to the Bleed Green Lancaster #17 Foundation. The support and generosity of this community even when times are tough is truly astonishing!

Bleed Green!
The family of Nick Lancaster