Nate Bradfield on his way to winning wings at AFA

Taking to the skies as an Air Force pilot is Nate Bradfield’s goal.
But, for now, his feet are firmly planted on the ground.
Nate is a first-year cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Basically, that means his world revolves around rigorous academic and physical demands, and taking whatever abuse upperclassmen want to dish out.
“He’s doing well. He’s having fun,” said Nate’s father, Wade. “Academically, he’s doing good. But the upperclassmen are brutal to them (the first-year students).
“There are tons of rules. Right now, he can’t carry his backpack on his right side. He has to carry it in his left arm, so he can use his right hand to salute,” Wade said. “And there are certain staircases they can’t use. That kind of thing.”
The abuse first-year cadets receive from upperclassmen will go on until Recognition Week.
“That’s the week before spring break,” Wade said. “There are 40 days prior to that, where it’s worse than basic training. But after that, that means you are a cadet. You are recognized by the seniors.”
Nate recently scored points with an upperclassmen by cleaning his room. The upperclassmen then gave Nate and his roommates use of his vehicle — cadets aren’t allowed to have a vehicle for their first two years — and they got together with two other MHS graduates Jared Doll and Bubba Mazzola, who are students at Colorado State University.
Another time, Nate and another first-year student sang the Canadian national anthem, in order to woo a female student to sit at their table during mealtime.
“If you can attract a good-looking female to your table, they (upperclassmen) let you eat in peace,” Wade said. “They sang the Canadian national anthem to this girl, who was from Canada, and got her to come to their table.”
Nate’s mom has an aunt and uncle who live in Colorado Springs, who applied to be his sponsor family. Wade and his wife, Marnell, and other family members spent Labor Day weekend with Nate at his sponsor family’s home. Nate’s MHS classmate Seth Boesch, who is a student at Denver University, joined them at an Air Force football game.
“It was a good time,” Wade said. “We probably overwhelmed Nate with all the family.”
Nate, who played baseball and football for Meeker High School, recently tried out for the Air Force baseball team, but he didn’t make it, at least this time around.
“There were only four slots open and dozens of kids tried out, so it was very competitive,” Wade said. “He played well, but just couldn’t hit the ball. The last time he had swung a bat was in Meeker (during baseball season). He knew it was going to be a long shot, but he wanted to give it a try. The coach told him to try out again.”
Nate will be allowed to return to Meeker for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“He will get to come home for a couple of days,” Wade said. “Then for Christmas he has a pretty good break. But from the time they get back from Christmas break to Recognition Week, that’s the time when they are pretty hard on you.”
Despite the shenanigans that go along with being a first-year cadet, Nate remains focused on his ultimate goal.
“He wants to be a pilot,” Wade said. “He’s just trying to decide what to fly.”
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Not only does Rangely’s holiday festival have a new chairwoman, it has a new name.
Kristina White is the new chairwoman of the annual event. The name of the event has also been changed from Holidayfest to Christmasfest.
“Some of the board and a lot of the Rangely people wanted to change (the name), so we did,” Kristina said.
There will be other changes, too.
“We got rid of some things, and we’re adding some things,” Kristina said. “We’re taking away the business treasure hunt. There will be the North Pole for the kids, like there always is. We’ll have the Light Up Rangely contest for residents and the Light Up Main Street contest for businesses. And we’ll have the king and queen and the parade of lights that night. We’re also adding a snowflake baby contest, where you dress up your baby like a snowflake.”
Other changes are being discussed as well.
“We’re trying to get the high school involved, so we’re meeting with the principal on Wednesday to discuss some ideas,” Kristina said.
This will be the fourth year for the Rangely holiday event, but Kristina’s first.
“Actually, my parents (Dick and Denise White) have lived in Rangely for 17 years,” Kristina said. “I moved back in February. I work at the county nursing office and somebody who was involved last year asked me if I wanted to be involved, and all of a sudden I was the chairperson.”
The Rangely Christmasfest is scheduled for Dec. 4. Regular meetings will begin in October for anyone who is interested in being involved. For information, call Kristina at 629-1619.
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Andy Goettel, Meeker artist and former high school art teacher, was the jurist for the Meeker Classic art contest. He had this to say about the winning entry by Gay Marks from Silver City, N.M.
“This year was especially difficult to pick a winner because there were so many quality works and any number of them would have made a great poster,” Andy said. “The winner I chose because it was unique and had impact. I believe it will look good in print.”
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Dakota Rowlett, the former Meeker High School basketball player and 2010 graduate, is recuperating at his grandparents’ home in Austin, Texas, following a Sept. 6 accident when he suffered serious back and neck injuries.
“He’s doing better,” his mother, Aimee, said Monday. “We go back to the doctor next week and set him up for physical therapy. They had to give him a month to heal (before starting physical therapy). His spirits are good, considering. He’s in quite a bit of pain, but he’s pretty heavily medicated. He is walking around and we got him a cane yesterday, so he can get around.”
Dakota will wear a neck and back brace for three months.
Contrary to messages on Facebook, Aimee said Dakota had not been issued a DUI. His 19th birthday, Sept. 5, was the day before the one-vehicle accident.
“He didn’t get a DUI. I think his dad was more irritated about that (report than Dakota),” Aimee said. “I’m very thankful (Dakota is expected to make a full recovery). I think he’s very thankful, too.”
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Donna Cox of Morrison, whose oil painting was the winning entry in the Meeker Classic art contest in 2008, has samples of her work on display upstairs at Wendll’s Wondrous Things.

Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at jeff@theheraldtimes.com.