Letters to the Editor: October 9, 2008

Dear Editor,
Lately we have heard a rumor regarding one of the areas that the local residents use to ‘sight in’ our hunting rifles and just to plink our small caliber weapons.
I was ashamed, nonetheless, to see the condition of the range the last time I was out there. Some inconsiderate soul had shot numerous amounts of shotgun rounds and had left the hulls where they fell. My wife gathered a few dozen undamaged clay ‘pigeons that we shot with our .22s and .17HMRs. We gathered our used targets and and our cartridge boxes and brought them home to be disposed of. Later on I visited with long-term users of this particular ‘range’ and was advised that both parties had heard that this range was going to be closed to the public.
I would be interested in going forth and acting as the local contact with the county, state and BLM in order to get a more formal type shooting range established. With measured distances, for pistols, rimfire rifles, large caliber rifles and then long range targets for non-resident hunters.
I realize that something like this couldn’t be done for free but perhaps with help from all the local shooters and everyone who likes to plink on the weekends maybe we can get something going.
The most important thing first of all is to get the areas we’ve been using cleaned up.
I will make the initial contact with BLM, Rio Blanco County and the sheriff, and The National Rifle Association to see if they can offer any guidance in startup. The program that is working in Grand Junction is working good, and it’s on BLM ground. We have plenty of that around here. We just have to make sure that those on both sides agree on minimal invasion: keep it clean and don’t tear up the natural resources. Anyone interested, and I know there are plenty of you out there, please feel free to contact me at sid@lexry.com or at (970) 675-2224.
Sid Lawrence

Dear Editor,
In memoriam. It is with great sadness that we witness the demise of one of the oldest buildings in Rangely, the Cowboy Corral.
The building was built in 1946 by Roy Collins and opened in June of that year, housing a grocery store known as the GHC. The store was owned by George Greenbank, Howard Hoover and Roy Collins, all from Olathe, Colo. Roy and June Collins and George Greenbank ran the store, cutting their own meat and selling a variety of grocery items (including canned rattlesnake!) Their sons Tommy and Donny worked in the store stocking shelves, delivering groceries and sweeping the floor.
In 1948 an addition was added on the west side of the building. The front half of the addition housed a cafe named Johnny’s Chicken Shack, operated by John Wilson, June’s brother The back half of the addition housed Gil’s Bakery, owned by Gil Albiston. The cafe was only in operation for a few months, and after it closed GHC purchased Gusher Liquors and moved the business into the vacated building. Eventually the bakery re-located to a new building on Jeep Street. Gusher Liquors was re-located to its present location in later years by Walt Spetter.
During the early years several members of the Ray Hume family were employed by GHC, including Ray Sr., Ray Jr. and Ray Jr.’s sister, Bea. In 1954 the Greenbanks closed the grocery and subsequently opened a restaurant and deli renamed “The Snak Bar” and operated for several years by George and Opal Greenbank. The business was then sold to Walt Spetter and remained the “The Snak Bar” through several changes of ownership.
“The Snak Bar” was later changed to the Cowboy Corral, remodeled several times and recently operated as “Trail’s End,” perhaps a fitting name for its final demise.
Tommy and Dorothy Collins

Dear Editor,
The students and sponsors of Meeker High School Art Travel Club going to Greece this spring would like to thank Rio Blanco Abstract and Watt’s Ranch Market for contributing to our fundraising efforts at the Fall Festival. We would also like to thank Mountain Valley Bank for sponsoring such a fun and worthwhile event. We feel very fortunate to live in such a supportive community.
Meeker Art Club

Dear Editor,
Leaking roof, water in the basement, plumbing issues, inadequate electrical system, lack of space, poor ventilation, unsafe entrance and egress from the property — a list like this would make any homeowner seriously consider moving, or at the very least a renovation of his/her property. Yet, these are the very issues faced by teachers, students and administrators at our elementary, middle and high schools every day. With the high cost of housing and everything else, it is becoming more and more difficult to attract new teachers to our district and adequately maintain our aging school buildings. A yes vote on ballot initiatives 3A and 3B will help overcome these challenges and keep our students on the path to academic excellence.
Meeker Elementary School will be 70 years old early in 2009. The building, although it has been maintained, is unable to meet the current needs of our elementary age population. Unfortunately, renovations would not be practical for three main reasons: asbestos abatement issues, a foundation that cannot structurally support a second story and no additional room for expansion. Additionally, renovation would not address the inadequate, unsafe area for the pick-up and drop off of students.
The addition of modular classrooms is a temporary fix for more serious problems. While they have helped alleviate the space issue, they pose their own set of problems. When students, as a class, trek to the main building to use the restroom, it takes up valuable instructional time (it will take even more in the winter). If students go to the restroom individually, it poses a security risk. Any way you look at it, the learning environment for our students is far from ideal.
The proposed elementary school would be a tremendous asset to the community by providing a full-size gymnasium, with seating for 400 people that the middle school, high school and rec. center could use. No more trying to watch a middle school or high school volleyball or basketball game while standing or sitting on the floor in the auxiliary gym at the high school because there is no room in the tiny bleachers. The new school will also provide a stage for school and community programs. The current elementary school stage cannot be used as it has been turned into storage space for all the P.E. equipment.
Now is the right time for us as a community to support the upcoming bond initiative. The Oct. 5 issue of the Grand Junction Sentinel stated that District 51 (Grand Junction) schools are looking at an increase of 12 percent in construction costs for every year they wait on a new school construction project. Guess what? We are looking at the same, if not a higher rate of increase. Prices will not go down if we wait. Besides, we have energy companies here now who will end up paying almost 85 percent of the total bond issue, in addition to the already generous donations they have made and will continue to make to our school district.
Our young people are our future. Who knows, one of this year’s second-graders may be a president in the making. Therefore, it is imperative to provide a safe and healthy learning environment and high quality teaching staff for our students in Meeker. It is for these reasons that I strongly urge you to vote YES on 3A and 3B.
Kathy de Vergie
Second Grade Teacher
Meeker Elementary School

Dear Editor,
Everything seemed to be going smoothly, then along comes the Grand Junction Sentinel front-page article detailing the costs of elementary school construction. It seems that Mesa County is not happy with the high construction cost of a new elementary school — the price tag — $14.5 million. Elsewhere the cost for an elementary school ranges from $13 million (Jefferson County), $14.5 million (Casper, Wyo.), with a high of $18 million (Sandy, Utah). This is also on the Sentinel’s front page.
Now, with only weeks to go until we step into the voting booth, we have yet to see actual dollar amounts attached to each of the districts’ proposals. Example, The “Bond Debt Retirement,” What is it? How much is it? The fact that oil and gas will pay 80 percent of it is meaningless without knowing how much the actual dollar amount will be. And the statement, “80 percent of the higher taxes from these ballot measures will be paid for by the oil and gas industry” is no less confusing. What are the “higher taxes?” Are there “higher” taxes, “medium” taxes and “lower” taxes? How about 80 percent of the taxes will be paid by the oil and gas industry?
I also think all property owners should step back and take one last look at the state of our economy before we vote. Not just our local economy, but there are deepening problems at all levels of our local, state and national government. And virtually all concerns revolve around money and energy.
The cost to heat our homes (and schools) during winter months with natural gas prices expected to double or even triple, add to that, the massive amounts of electricity used by energy development and exploration, which results in the purchase of electric power from other sources at substantially higher rates. If you attended the annual meeting of White River Electric, you heard the grim prediction that the time may be approaching when tax-paying citizens on fixed incomes will not be able to pay their electric bills. And fuel prices, it makes no difference if it’s the lawn mower, tractor or family car, high fuel prices are here for the long term. Alternative energy? We’ll get it — but the cost of development and implementation will make them most expensive energies as well. And guess who will ultimately foot the bill.
So the bigger picture should tell us to proceed slowly and with caution.
We should make every effort to be a little more conservative than a few years ago. The need for the new school and improvements to the others is real, but all the facts and information need to be presented to citizens of Meeker in plain, logical, accurate and easy-to-understand language. People here do not attend all the informational question and answer meetings in large numbers — never have, probably never will. Many school districts and governmental entities across the nation have decided to put tax increase issues on hold. I don’t advocate going that far — but any reduction in our property tax assessments would be welcomed by tax payers.
And the old elementary school? Who do you think will be on the hook for asbestos removal, and possible renovation into whatever (justice center)? And then who will be asked to pay for the new hospital? We seem to want all the fixtures that larger towns and cities have. The only difference is that they can spread the tax burden over a large population, perhaps in the 100,000 range or more. But here, property owners (renters don’t have to pay property tax) number somewhere in the range of 2,000 or so (just a guess). When you do the math, it’s easy to see who is going to be paying, and paying, and paying…
The district wants us to believe the cost is “reasonable” — the people of Grand Junction believe that $14.5 million is excessive, and there are many more of them to absorb the cost-per-taxpayer. I honestly believe that $24 million is excessive — when will we get an accurate accounting for each item in the proposal? The tax-paying property owners of Meeker deserve, and should demand more, accountability from its educational leaders. If costs cannot be justified, if questions remain unanswered, if no alternatives are presented — something is wrong. We need an elementary school, plain and simple, not a K-12 campus atop the educational “Acropolis” that is an entity unto itself — that type of arrangement is far too expensive — it could cost somewhere around $24 million taxpayer dollars.
Gary Hindman
Retired Jeffco teacher

Dear Editor,
On behalf of Mountain Valley Bank, I would like to thank everyone who joined us for the Fifth Annual Mountain Valley Bank Fall Festival either as a participant, attendee or sponsor. We had beautiful weather, wonderful food and fun activities.
The addition this year of the Smart Lifestyle segment was a success. More than 60 young adults participated by building a healthy snack, touring the library, learning skate safety, making bread dough, educating themselves on rural safety and getting a flu shot. Mountain Valley Bank hopes that the convenience of getting your flu shot in this venue will remain a popular part of future Fall Festivals.
Pioneers Medical Center hosted the annual Scrub Shirt Classic. Margie Joy reported that this year was bigger than the last with over 50 participants. Congratulations to Lisa Belmonte who won the 5K. Thank you PMC and all those that participated.
This is the third year for the Fall Festival Challenge, which was won by Dave Scherbarth. Not only did he score well in the challenge activities but he is a hand with Lincoln Logs. He built the Lincoln Log Train Course with speed and agility! He and his very excited family went home with the grand prize Wii Console and Game Pack. The two runners up will be awarded a Wii Console in the near future!
The Fall Festival benefited 14 not-for-profit groups in the Meeker area. Mountain Valley Bank handed out $4,009 of Bank Bucks to approximately 750 participants and another $4,231 was spent by attendees. This puts the total funds raised for the not-for-profit groups to $8,240.
Mountain Valley Bank and our co-sponsor White River Electric Association hope this opportunity to raise funds in these amounts will continue to benefit the many school groups, non profit and church groups that do so much for our community and their members. That is the reason for the Fall Festival, we appreciate all their support.
I am proud to be a part of this community as is Mountain Valley Bank. Hosting a function that brings our community together to celebrate life in a small town is truly an honor. We hope to see you next year at the Fall Festival — mark your calendar Sept. 26, 2009.
Tawny S. Halandras, V.P.
Mountain Valley Bank

To our friends in Rio Blanco County:
How important will leadership be in the coming months? As everyone now realizes the events of the last three months, and most notably the last three weeks, have focused our attention on the very real need to cross party lines in an effort to rebuild the American economy. What may be less obvious is the affect recent events will have at the state level. This same bipartisan leadership will be critical for the survival and viability of a strong Colorado economy. With the upcoming election we will have a unique opportunity to assure the future success for our children. Sound fiscal practices and balanced decisions will calm our fears and lead us beyond the present difficulties.
For residents of Colorado Senate District 8 the choice for leadership is a simple one. A single candidate has proven time and again his ability to successfully reach across party lines on issues such as education, economic stimulus, funding for the developmentally disabled, affordable housing, open space and private property protection.
His name is Rep. Al White.
From our days as owners of the Inn at Steamboat we experienced first hand Representative White’s efforts to secure $20 million in tourism funding ensuring the viability and survivability of the regions economy. As the former president of the Steamboat Springs Board of Education I had the pleasure of working with Mr. White to invest in the future of our children. His efforts resulted in an additional $4 million to the Steamboat School District alone providing higher salaries to reward our venerable district staff for their tireless efforts. During his tenure in the Colorado Joint Budget Committee Representative White championed support for the developmentally disabled, an area near and dear to our hearts.
It is these efforts and the nearly 50 bills passed in his seven-year term as a Colorado representative, which demonstrate Al White’s ability to transcend partisan politics. Whether a member of a Democratic or Republican controlled legislature, Al will get the job done.
More than ever the state of Colorado will require leadership from individuals who are of a sound fiscal mind. Those persons must be experienced, willing to make tough decisions while still appreciating our commitment to our children and those who need help the most. We must ask ourselves is the best candidate for these times the individual who has served on the state joint budget committee or the alternative.
As a U.S. citizen, we reserve the right to support the “best candidate” for election. As Democrats we treasure the opportunity to support a Republican as the next Colorado State Senator, District 8.
Tom, Roxane and Taylor Miller-Freutel