Range Call fireworks show ‘biggest of the Western Slope’

Just like Range Call’s 125th anniversary celebration, Meeker’s Fourth of July fireworks show will be a big deal.
Really big.
“I would have to say, it will be the biggest show on the Western Slope,” said Todd Morris, who is in charge of the fireworks production and is a licensed pyrotechnician. “We got more boxes (of fireworks) than Rangely, Craig and Hayden combined.”
Typically, Morris said about $10,000 is spent on fireworks for the Fourth of July show. The money is raised from local donations.
“We’ve been growing every year,” he said. “We’ve tried to add different things with the same amount of money.”
This year, though, is going to be a blowout. The amount spent on fireworks was doubled.
“We did $20,000 to celebrate the 125 years,” Morris said. “We’ve been trying to save a little bit (of money) each year to make it work. We doubled our show, plus. It will be fun. We want to make sure it’s a huge deal. We’re excited.”
On Sunday, the fireworks show will follow the Meeker Massacre Pageant.
“Usually, we start at dusk, but we’ll do it after the pageant this year, so it’ll probably be 10 or 10:30 (when the fireworks show starts),” Morris said. “But before the start of the pageant, we’re going to light some red, white and blue fireworks for the national anthem.”
Some communities, like Rifle, are having a fireworks show on July 3, because it falls on a Saturday, Morris said.
“Ours has always been on the Fourth,” Morris said.
The fireworks show will be the last program on the schedule of Meeker’s three-day Range Call event, and Morris said it will be a fitting finale to the 125th celebration.
“I guarantee it will be the best show this town will ever see,” he said. “It’s going to be good. They’ll be talking about it for the next 25 years.”
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Syble Barney was involved with Range Call and the Meeker Massacre Pageant for nearly half a century.
“She’s very, very much been a part of Range Call,” said her daughter Debra Barney. “I think it’s been like at least 50 years. I think she’s been at the pageant every year. If not in it, then at it. “
Debra said her mother, who is 85, has moved into the Walbridge Wing, Pioneers Medical Center’s long-term care facility, but will watch the pageant.
“She’s in a good place. We just wish she was home,” Debra said.
Being involved in Range Call runs in the Barney family.
“I’m 55, and I probably haven’t missed a Range Call,” said Debra, who was one of six children. “It was just the thing to do. It was always a big celebration for our family. We’ve all been involved as a family. We used to ride our horses to town (for Range Call) and we always got a new hat and a new white shirt. My dad (John) drove the stagecoach for I don’t know how many years for the parade. We were in the rodeo. Just a little bit of everything.”
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Residents of Walbridge Wing will attend the Range Call activities on Saturday. So, Jean Gianinetti, director of The Wing, said if families want to take residents out to the parade on Sunday they will be on their own, since the bus won’t be running on the Fourth.
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Traffic flow around the fairgrounds will be open, just in time for Range Call.
“Sulphur Creek Road will be open and the roundabout will be open for the Fourth (of July weekend). All of the signage is getting put up this week,” said Sharon Day, Meeker town administrator. “However, the leg going into the fairgrounds on the new road will not be open yet. We’ll still be using the current street going into the fairgrounds for Range Call.”
The road project is expected to be completed before the start of the Rio Blanco County Fair, Aug. 3-7.
“Aug. 1 is the completion date,” Day said. “That includes the sidewalks and the new Ute Road going to the (new elementary) school. So, yes, they are on schedule.”
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The search continues to find a place to relocate the old United Methodist Church in Meeker.
“We are indeed looking for a new home for the old church building,” said Pastor Johnny Arrington. “We have an individual here in Meeker that would like to move and restore the building, but we’re not having a lot of luck in relocation. They were hoping the town might see it located at the old elementary school as part of the historic buildings, but that wasn’t received so well. Another possibility is out at the sheep dog trials area (Ute Park). We are going to meet with the town at their next meeting and make that proposal. To say the least, this is a difficult task to accomplish.”
Meanwhile, work continues on the church’s new sanctuary.
“As far as construction, it is going quite well,” Arrington said. “Our hope is that we will have a late summer or early fall start time. A lot of things have to happen before we can set a date, but that is as close as I can get you for now.”
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There will be plenty of activity in downtown Meeker this weekend, but starting next Saturday, there will be another event going on — the farmers’ market.
The farmers’ market, which was new last year, will start July 10 and run each Saturday through September. The market will be held in the same location — on Fifth Street, between the Rio Blanco County Courthouse and the old Meeker Elementary School.
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Johnny Wix, a former Meeker High School student, will be sentenced Aug. 13. In a deferred case, he pleaded guilty June 18 to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and marijuana distribution.
Wix was arrested in January. He was graduated from MHS in May, but did not go through commencement exercises. He will attend college in the fall, his father said.
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The trial for Jerry Snider Jr., who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his father, Jerry Snider Sr. of Rangely, has been continued until Jan. 4, 2011. The trial, originally, was scheduled to begin July 26. Motions hearings in the case are set for July 28 and Aug. 11.
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A lawsuit has been filed against Meeker rancher Sam Robinson, alleging his Great Pyrenees dogs attacked a bicyclist on national forest land around Camp Hale in June 2008, according to a story in the Vail Daily News.
The story said Robinson has pastured his sheep on the land for years and had used dogs to protect his flocks from predators. Robinson said he’s not convinced it was his dogs that were involved, the story reported.
The victim of the dog attack, Renee Legro of Vail, was participating in a bike race when two Pyrenees dogs attacked her, according to her attorney. Legro suffered a broken ankle and “hundreds of stitches,” the release stated.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Legro and her husband, Stephen. They are seeking undisclosed monetary damages from Robinson.
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A former Rio Blanco County rancher — Vernon Wagner — had more than 300 head of cattle seized from his property in May near Hartsel by the Colorado Department of Agriculture after finding 140 dead cows on his property.
In a Denver news report, department officials described other cattle on Wagner’s property as emaciated. The Park County Sheriff’s Department is investigating.
Wagner’s lawyers argued the given a difficult winter, the cattle were in reasonable condition.
Wagner told The Denver Post that he is good to his livestock and believes the investigation stems from an ongoing land dispute with neighbors.
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Rob Winn, former principal at Rangely Junior/Senior High, is still job hunting.
Winn’s contract was not renewed after one year on the job.
“I’ve only had a couple of phone interviews and that’s it,” Winn said Tuesday. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I’m just hanging in there.”
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All three candidates for the seat on the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners will take their turn on a different seat — the dunk tank, sponsored by the Meeker Chamber of Commerce, during Range Call activities on the Fourth of July.
Sounds like a photo op to me.

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