Patty Anderson is continuing a tradition started by her grandmother.
The day before Memorial Day, Patty and other family members and friends will go to two of the little-known cemeteries in the county and decorate the graves for the holiday.
“That was something my Grandma Burke started,” Patty said. “We make the flowers we put on out of crepe paper, which is something my grandma started, because she couldn’t get fresh flowers out on Piceance Creek, so she made crepe flowers and put them on the graves.”
There are two rural cemeteries where Patty will decorate the graves.
“The one up Black Sulphur is a little cemetery. It only has seven graves in it,” Patty said. “If a cemetery can be cute, it’s cute.
“The other one is what they call Miller Hill, and it’s right on the Piceance Creek Road,” Patty said. “It’s a pretty-good sized cemetery. Both are now in the cemetery district. Lila and Art Cox (who oversee Highland Cemetery and the cemetery district) have been just wonderful helping us.”
Patty and her husband, Harold, along with others who have ties to the Piceance Creek area — including Clint, Jimmy and K.C. Burke and their families and Arlene Estes, Bill and Phyllis Lake and Arola Gerber of Craig — have done volunteer work to help keep up the old cemeteries.
“Harold and I and some of the Burkes put a fence up and got some new headstones,” Patty said. “Some of them had never been marked. There was just a cross or a piece of wood you couldn’t read.
“This year will be kind of special because we have redone the cemetery,” Patty said. “This year, we expect a lot of people to show up (for decorating and Memorial Day). It’s usually just the family and some of the neighbors from Piceance Creek.”
Patty said the cemetery at Miller Hill includes gravestones from the late 1890s and into the 1900s. The cemetery up Black Sulphur also dates back to the 1890s.
“There are seven little graves in there, and two of them are children,” Patty said of Black Sulphur. “There were a lot of children who died back then.”
Legend has it there are two outlaws buried at the cemetery at Miller Hill.
“My mother used to tell me about it,” Patty said. “She said there were two outlaws buried down on the southeast corner, I think. All I know is that my mom told me they were outlaws. Mom used to decorate their graves. We could never find out what their names were, or what they did. We don’t know anything about them, so we put a stone down for them.”
Patty said the old cemeteries, rundown though they may have been, have a historical significance and an emotional attachment, which is why it was important to fix them up.
“There’s just something about that country. There’s a pull there,” she said. “To me, it is (meaningful), because my ancestors are buried there. There’s just something about taking care of them that has a soft spot in my heart.”
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The Herald Times Facebook page continues to generate comments — mostly in support — about the newly passed immigration legislation in Arizona.
This entry by Sam Love of Meeker, who is a college student, presented an opposite viewpoint. Sam decided to join the local discussion after reading some of the comments in the Herald Times. In a message, he prefaced his comments by saying, “When I returned (from college), I caught up on recent political activity in Meeker and read the recently published Herald Times papers. One issue dealt with the immigration bill passed in Arizona, and I was concerned with the level of enthusiasm in support of this bill by readers of the paper. Absent from any of these issues was any coherent and comprehensive attempt at defending the anti-Arizona law side of the debate. The Herald Times is widely read and circulated in the county, but there are hardly ever minority opinions being voiced, probably for fear of retaliation from the residents of the county. Students rarely contribute to the paper outside of school-ordered participation. Even more rare is the student-written minority opinion. I would like to change that … Originally, many of these ideas were posted on Facebook, but I was contacted by people I had never met who encouraged and requested me to publish my thoughts. At first I hesitated, but then I realized how often a minority opinion on anything is quickly stifled in this community, not taken seriously, or worst, never expressed for fear of these things. … I want to do justice to those not enthusiastically embracing the new Arizona law. My hope is that this letter will encourage others in the community to step up and voice their opinions and make those on the other side truly think about the issues at hand, rather than blindly accepting them.”
Here are Sam’s views about the immigration legislation …
“I should begin by saying that my attention was brought to this Facebook status through the recently published article in the Herald Times. I will be returning from my second year at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in just over a week, and found the level of political fervor in Meeker particularly interesting, as it seemed lacking for my years of residence there.
“I absolutely disagree with the new immigration law passed in Arizona, and am disheartened yet unsurprised, to see many of my fellow community members in agreement with this blatantly racist piece of legislation. The immigration law in Arizona is not a restatement of U.S. policy. It opens the door for dangerous and illegal practices of racial profiling.
“Obviously, the law targets illegal immigrants in Arizona, and a large portion of those immigrants are fleeing from Mexico. Countering that this new legislation is not racist ignores the fact that most Hispanics illegally crossing the border are phenotypically distinguishable from the average white American citizen. In other words, they look different.
“This law, S.B. 1070, emphasizes the use of ‘reasonable suspicion’ in Article 8, Section B. The term ‘reasonable suspicion’ seems extremely subjective and open to broad interpretation. If a white Arizona citizen of the United States runs a red light and is pulled over by a police officer, do you think that he will be asked for papers to verify that he is a citizen? (As an aside, a driver’s license is not necessarily proof of citizenship. This means that the driver would have to provide other documents, such as a valid birth certificate.)
“Now, imagine the same situation, but with a Hispanic driver. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that he is much more likely going to be questioned for citizenship papers. This decision, based on the race of the driver, is clearly racist. This is the definition of racial profiling, and the fact that a state in the United States is sanctioning this disgusting practice worries me more than the flood of illegal immigrants ‘pouring’ across the U.S.-Mexican border.
“Although I do not believe that anyone in this forum is racist and would not make such a judgment call here, I will say that you have all declared your support for an inherently racist policy funded with U.S. tax dollars.
“I understand that Arizona was ‘reacting’ to the ‘problem’ of illegal immigration because the federal government has not been invested in the project, but this is not a legitimate solution to the problem.
“Call me too young to understand, brand me as an out-of-touch elitist, wrongly accuse me of rallying behind the bleeding-heart liberals, but do not condone this vehement oppression of liberty in this country built on freedom.
“If you do not want to make this a question of racial profiling (as I assume many of you will not, unfortunately) make it one of liberty. It seems that the people in this discussion (and probably the town) have been focusing too much on the details of this situation; take a moment to understand the implications of the new Arizona legislation in a more national context. When anyone in this country is denied liberty, it endangers your liberty. By allowing the government, and institutions funded by the government, more control over anyone subject to the laws in this country (which includes illegal immigrants), you risk diminishing your own liberty.
“This bill effectively creates the potential for a Nazi Germany-style Gestapo, capable of questioning certain racial groups in society whenever ‘suspicion’ arises. Now, to equate the current situation with Nazi Germany would obviously be ridiculous and would do injustice to the millions who lost their lives as a result of that regime. But, realize that this bill grants more power to what many of you might classify as the ‘dreaded government.’ I know from living 18 years in Meeker that the majority of citizens cherish their liberty and distrust the ‘intrusive’ government.
“Choose one side or the other — liberty for all (including those not necessarily citizens of the United States), or the road to despotic, tyrannical oppression fraught with invasive government control. Jean-Jacques Rousseau once wrote … that liberty lost can never be regained. While you may not believe this to be entirely true, it is certainly an important idea to consider.
“It may be argued that our ancestors ‘lawfully’ entered the United States, and that these Mexican, or any illegal, immigrants should do the same. In fact, restrictive immigration has only been present in the United States since the late 1800s and early 1900s, and originally affected Asian immigrants. Most of our Meeker families (at least mine) were here long before this time period or are not of Asian descent. It is true that the Naturalization Act of 1790 stipulated some conditions for legitimate naturalization (not immigration), but this was mostly a political war between the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans vying to control the country and the voters within. This Act of 1790 was replaced with subsequent acts and ultimately repealed in 1802. Restrictive immigration, however, arose in 1882 with the Chinese Exclusion Act which disallowed all Chinese immigration to the United States. The Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 offered similar restrictions for the Japanese (although the limitations were enforced by the Japanese government themselves). Immigration as we know it today, took shape just over 50 years ago with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. Thus, an argument based on ‘lawful immigrant tradition’ is completely null and void.
“This bill not only defaces the name of liberty, but unnecessarily encourages continuously strained race relations among states with large immigrant populations. Anti-immigrant sentiment is only increased with the passage of this bill — it has unfortunately brought these illogical and unsettling tensions to the surface. Earlier in this discussion, an interesting comment was made: ‘Speak American, read American, and be American.’ I am particularly interested in this statement, as it speaks to much of the distaste for immigrants and foreigners that I have confronted in this response. If anyone would care to teach me the language ‘American,’ I feel that I might more easily identify with the supporters of this Arizona legislation. My daily business is carried out in English, a language brought to this country by immigrants who arrived without restrictive limitations and knew nothing of massive amounts of paperwork. ‘Reading American’ offers similar problems; never in my life have I seen something printed in ‘American.’ This white American cultural and ancestral exceptionalist mentality is what plagues the United States today. Due to our immigrant heritage, we cannot be exceptional in our races, our physical characteristics, or our languages. These things exist as a result of our immigrant experience — a shared experience that was not wholly ‘American’ in its original form, but was affected by a vast amount of different cultures and nationalities. “What resulted could be described as ‘American’ — an apparent seamless mixture of radically different backgrounds — but it was hardly exceptional.”
Agree or disagree, if you want to join in the local discussion about immigration or other issues, sign up for the Herald Times Facebook page at www.theheraldtimes.com.
• • • • •
Clark’s Big Burger in Meeker will reopen under new management, and under the same name. For now, anyway.
Shannon Slaugh, formerly Purkey, and her husband, Justin, are opening the restaurant, which closed in April. The couple was married May 8.
“Today will be our first day open to the public. We anticipate a very busy weekend, with our opening, graduation and Memorial Day weekend,” Shannon said. “It’s taken a lot to get it going and my husband, Justin, and I couldn’t have done it without my parents. They used to run the video store here, J & S Video, so we look to them for business advice. We’ve cleaned and redid and upgraded a lot of things, mostly in the kitchen. Our menu is going to be tweaked a little, as we want to get back to being the old-fashioned hamburger joint. As time goes on, we will add things that are often requested to please our customers and we also plan on changing the name, to suit our family. Not sure what that will be, but until we get on our feet, good ol’ Clark’s suits just fine.”
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Gene Tardy is the new deputy district attorney for Rio Blanco County, replacing Jay Barasch, who was fired in March. Tardy is the third deputy DA in three years.
• • • • •
No official word yet on a new Meeker High School football coach to replace Shane Phelan, who resigned, but an announcement could be forthcoming.
“We do have a verbal commitment from a candidate on the football position,” said George Henderson, MHS principal and athletic director.
Asked when an announcement could be expected, Henderson said, “Soon.”
Both Henderson and Mark Skelton of Rangely have stepped back from pulling double duty. Henderson will turn over the AD duties to Brett Steinacher, while Skelton will continue on as AD at Rangely Junior/Senior High, but resigned as boys’ basketball coach at the high school.
Asked whether a decision had been made about his replacement, Skelton said, “Not yet.”
• • • • •
I attended the Eagles concert in Denver with some friends. It was my first time to be in the “big city” since I went through on the day I moved here from Kansas two years ago.
The Eagles were one of those bands — they were hugely popular when I was growing up — that I always wanted to see in concert, but never had.
While telling my best friend from high school about the concert, I mentioned another group that’s still on my list of bands I want to see — the Rolling Stones. My friend reminded me that I was all set to see the Rolling Stones — it would have been back in 1972 or 1973 or thereabouts — but I did something to get in trouble and my parents grounded me, not allowing me to attend the concert with him.
When I asked my friend if he had ever seen the Eagles, he could hardly contain the laughter.
“Yeah,” he said. “They were the opening act for the Rolling Stones.”
Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org