In Rangely, school’s out for the summer. At Parkview Elementary, school’s out for good.
The Rangely School Board decided in March to close the 30-year-old building as a cost-saving measure.
Beginning with the 2009-2010 school year, preschool and grade-school classes will be moved to what had been the Rangely Middle School building. Middle school classes will be moved to the high school.
Last Friday was the last day of classes at the old Parkview.
“It was different, very different, for everybody,” said Principal Mary Lansing.
Lansing has been principal at Parkview for 15 years, and before that, she was a teacher there.
“Actually, this was my 27th year in this building,” Lansing said, adding her two children attended grade school at Parkview. “So it was a little sentimental.”
Elementary students were given a sneak preview of their new home when they “took a little transition trip” to the middle school building last Friday, Lansing said.
“They (middle school teachers and kids) formed a receiving line for the kids, chanting ‘Parkview,’” Lansing said. “Amy Ward (assistant principal at the middle school) was very gracious. The kids thought that was awesome. That made everybody feel better. It was kind of our initiation to the new building.”
School may be over in Rangely, but there’s plenty of activity going on at the schools. The district offices and BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) have temporarily located in the former Parkview building.
“We’re moving over and sharing space,” Lansing said.
In the meantime, elementary teachers will prepare for the move to the middle school building.
“Each teacher has earmarked a day during June when the custodial staff will help them pack up their room,” Lansing said.
The move to the middle school building will depend on the construction schedule, part of the $17.5 million bond project voters approved last November for improvements to the district’s buildings.
“We’re very excited,” Lansing said of the construction project. “There will be some pretty wonderful changes to the (new elementary school) building. They’re really working hard to make sure we have a full kitchen and playgrounds by the time we start school, but that depends on the construction schedule.”
While sentimental about the old grade-school building, where she spent so many years as a teacher and administrator, Lansing said she was glad the Parkview name will continue on.
“It will still be Parkview, that just had to be,” said Lansing, who will continue as principal. “There was no hesitation over that. It had to be.”
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Kim Gould, one of the organizers of the fundraiser for Toni Simmons of Meeker, who has cancer, reported more than 200 people attended the benefit May 17 at the fairgrounds and more than $20,000 was raised to go toward Toni’s medical bills.
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There’s been a lot of talk about the number of workers in the Piceance Basin being down, at least from the past few years.
But there’s still quite a bit of activity going on.
“Some of the good news is that we are not down as much as some parts of the country,” said Jeff Madison, natural resources specialist and planning director for Rio Blanco County. “We are about the middle in that regard. Eastern Utah and parts of Texas have been slowed even more than us. Even the Pinedale (Wyo.) fields have taken a 40 percent hit in rig numbers. The huge wild card is the rise in shale gas developments in parts of the country. This is something we may also see in the near future. But even those areas of huge new discoveries are having problems right now because of delivery systems, just like the west.
“I do suspect we will see a peak in late summer, as everyone is trying to get projects done before the weather sets in. Tell me what the price for natural gas will be next fall, and I can give you a better prediction of activities levels in the county because when all is said and done, that is the driver.
“One of the things I would like to convey with the numbers is that the premise going around locally that all the energy companies have left, is not accurate. While we are down by a third, there is still a lot of activity. One of the major companies just came into the office (recently) and said they are planning on a major addition to their gas plant. While I have not seen the numbers as yet, we are probably talking about three-quarters of a billion dollars for the project.
“People need to ask themselves why all the companies are locating their major facilities in our county. They can put these anywhere along the line from Mesa to Garfield to Moffat to places along the line in Wyoming. Right now, we are 4-for-4 with major gas plants. If the above facility goes forward, we will be 7-for-7. A large part of the answer is that we have the most favorable tax rates of any of these counties.
“How activity numbers compare with past years … understand that 2008 was not the norm. It was the record, and probably not sustainable for the companies, even with record gas prices. They overshot supply while demand was going down and the market reacted predictably. Added to this the credit crunch for the small independent drillers and you get what we see today.”
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As difficult as the recently completed legislative session was — with the state facing serious budget challenges — Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, who represents Rio Blanco County, said there were some victories.
“There was an attempt to take $500,000 from the Colorado Brand Inspection Board, and I was able to keep that money,” White said. “That (money) provides brand inspectors on the sale of cattle. It, basically, ensures transactions are on the up and up. Believe it or not, rustling still takes place in the west. It (the brand board) is kind of an enforcement agency, operated by the state. It’s very important to the ranching community.”
With the state facing a serious budget shortfall, there were attempts to pull funds from other sources.
White said he was glad to head off an attempt to take away $2 million from programs for senior citizens.
“Despite the fact there were a lot of difficult cuts to make, I was able to forestall that,” White said. “That would have been for programs like Meals on Wheels and transportation services.”
As a member of the Joint Budget Committee, White sometimes came down on the sides of issues that put him at odds with his party.
“I took some heat from Republicans,” White said. “But I was elected to represent my district first, and my party second. I know how critical (some of these issues) were to my district.”
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There will be a public presentation from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at the Meeker Airport for Gary Coulter, who has operated Coulter Aviation for 50 years. Cake will be served. There will also be a fly-in from 8-10:30 a.m. Saturday.
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A note of thanks to Dale Hallebach, who came to the rescue when I was in a bind. Dale, the former Meeker postmaster, who retired in January, is a serious photographer. Last Friday, while on assignment, my camera quit working. With a busy weekend of events coming up, I would have been in trouble without a camera. Dale generously allowed me to use one of his cameras. So, thanks, Dale, for helping me out.
Even though Dale’s retired from the postal service, he still delivers.
Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.