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RBC I In spite of a severely dry summer season, excitement for the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree project dominated much of the second half of the year in the eastern end of the county, while the western end focused on CNCC’s 50th anniversary celebration and the completion of the brand-new Rangely District Hospital building, which opens this month.
July ~ December, 2012
• Meeker and Rangely both have spectacular fireworks displays but because of extreme hot and dry weather conditions and current fires burning in the state, both fire chiefs wisely announced this year’s Fourth of July displays would be cancelled.
• Range Call has celebrated Independence Day in Meeker since 1885 and Rio Blanco County has produced hundreds of soldiers over the years. The theme for the 127th annual Range Call Celebration is, fittingly, “Gone but not Forgotten.”
• A grand re-opening of Elks Park in Rangely was held Saturday last to celebrate the improvements to the park in the past year. Inflatables were set up for the kids and more than 100 people enjoyed “surf and turf” or hot dogs. A rib cook-off was won by Ryan Huitt, Brad Casto finished second, Dave Zikafose was third and John Fischer finished fourth. Rib judge Barry Swenson stated he would “pay top dollar in any restaurant for any of the ribs in the contest.”
• Rio Blanco County commissioners were notified July 3 that the federal funding for the Meeker Airport reconstruction project has been released. Planning for this project started back in the mid-’90s with airport manager Gary Coulter (Coulter Aviation), who was instrumental in identifying this project as a priority for the Meeker Airport.
• The Upper Colorado Environmental Plant Center (Plant Center) was privileged to host Senator Udall on July 2. On his way to select the 2012 White House Christmas Tree in the White River National Forest, Senator Udall stopped by and learned more about what the Plant Center had to offer regarding plant material development for specific revegetation and reclamation applications for the Front Range and the upper reaches of the Colorado River watershed. Also while in Rio Blanco County, U.S. Senator Mark Udall and Natasha Goedert, with the White River National Forest looked for the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree on Ripple Creek Pass.
• The Colorado 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2011 to recognize 4-H alumni who have made significant contributions or accomplishments in their lives and attribute those accomplishments to their 4-H experience. The 2012 4-H Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place July 21 on the Colorado State University campus during the concluding banquet of the Colorado 4-H state conference. Rio Blanco County’s Tony Seely was inducted into the Colorado 4-H Hall of Fame.
• It was a rodeo that started the Range Call Celebration and it was a rodeo that ended the 127th annual Range Call Celebration. The Ranch Rodeo was the final event Sunday at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds. The Brennan team left the arena with the prestigious belt buckles. Riding for the Brennan team were Ryan and Kelsey Vroman, Kari Brennan, Kash Atwood and Neil Brennan.
• Brice Glasscock, an IT technician for Rio Blanco County and a Staff Sergeant in the 928th Area Support Medical Battalion (ASMC) National Guard Unit based in Montrose, Colo., was surprised when his commander, Major Ed McLean, presented him with the Meritorious Service Medal last weekend when he reported for training. Glasscock first enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1988, has been deployed three times and just reenlisted for six more years.
• Until the 1980s, when Dawna Wardell first painted the wst wall at 117 W. Main St., the building was serviceable but not noticeable. It housed The Insurance Office in the 1960s and the Family Video store in the ’80s and ’90s. Wardell’s mural, a mountain scene depicting deer and elk, added something to the wall’s bare face.
• Forty riders participated in the first annual OHV Poker Run, sponsored by the Meeker High School wrestling team. Wrestlers were posted around the Dead Horse Loop trail.
• Smoke from the lightning-sparked Powell fire five miles northwest of Meeker could be seen from miles around. The fire has burned approximately 900 acres, including private and BLM land, part of which is on a Wilderness Study Area. The fire was 100 percent contained as of Tuesday. Lightning started the Powell and Little Duck fires in Rio Blanco County last week, burning more than 1,600 acres before monsoon rains helped more than 200 firefighters and a Type II fire management team contain the blazes.
• The pink flamingos have enjoyed visiting many homes and businesses over the last several weeks in an effort to help the Colorado Northwestern Community College Foundation raise funds for the college’s 50th anniversary celebration.
• Meeker trustees Rodney Gerloff, Dan Conrado, Russell Overton (director of public works), Lisa Cook (town clerk), Regas Halandras, mayor Mandi Etheridge, Katelin Cook, Andy Thomson, Scott Meszaros, town manager and John Strate, toured a few capital projects the town is working on including; plans for a sidewalk on the north side of Market Street (Colorado Highway 13) from Fourth Street to Watt’s Ranch Market, possible expansion at the recycle center and maintaining Ute Park for future uses.
• A new 30-stall horse barn, announcer’s booth and sound system at Columbine Park is part of a plan to improve the facility and offer more events for community and college users. The $216,000 project, scheduled for completion in September, is part of a master plan created during former Colorado Northwestern Community College president John Boyd’s tenure. Discussions between the college, the Columbine Park board, and county commissioners centered around the future of CNCC’s equine studies and management program and rodeo team and the desire to return the park to a top-level facility.
• “Sagebrush Sidekicks,” the debut dinner theatre production of The Meeker Arts and Cultural Council (MACC), was a hilarious hit with more than 100 enthusiastic theatre patrons on Saturday evening. The cast of Sagebrush Sidekicks dinner theatre included Lathrop Hughes, Kalene Weinholdt, Elizabeth Landis, Meredith Deming, Caleb Dodds, Shana Holiday, Stephy Joos, Gary Zellers and Collin Cochran.
• The 1961-63 Meeker Swimming Pool Aquatics Staff consisted of American Red Cross certified Water Safety Instructors and Lifeguards Bob Amick, Barbie (Kennedy) Darnell, Paula (Starbuck) Armstrong, and Sally (Watt) Smith who were reunited during the Meeker High School Class of 1962 50th anniversary class reunion held at the Meeker Golf Course on Aug. 4.
• After years of playing a major role in Septemberfest activities, the Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District (WRBM) has become the event’s sole coordinator.
• In June 2011, Pioneers Healthcare Foundation held its formation meeting. Twelve months later PHF is proud of the progress the organization has made. The first step was to form the foundation with bylaws and governance policies, then to file for our 501c3 status. “We feel that the first 12 months have been a success,” says Trina Zagar-Brown, PHF Chairperson. “Our mission is to be a catalyst for philanthropic giving that will support preventative care, healthcare education, services, equipment and technology in our community. We have half-a-dozen programs that really speak to our mission.”
• This holiday season, the U.S. Forest Service and the White River National Forest, with help from their nonprofit partner Choose Outdoors and major sponsors including the Colorado Tourism Office, Mack Trucks and The National Association of Convenience Stores, will present a gift to the nation from the people of Colorado. The 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree continues a hallowed American tradition that originated nearly 50 years ago. This year’s Capitol Christmas Tree will hail from the Colorado’s White River National Forest, the number one forest for recreation in the U.S. The Forest Service and Choose Outdoors, a coalition promoting outdoor recreation announced the tree’s route across the country from Colorado to the nation’s capital.
• Rangely Community Gardens president Lisa Hatch and volunteer Brenda Pennell staff the farmer’s market. The market has sold 160 cucumbers and 15 pounds of green beans in its first couple of weeks. After months of cultivating plants, Rangely Community Gardens volunteers are sharing the bounty at the Gardens’ biweekly farmer’s market.
• An estimated 1,300 people attended the third annual Rock ‘n’ Bulls & Barrels and more than 70 cars were on display in Elks Park, which also featured more than 80 vendor booths. Septemberfest 2012, by all accounts, can be considered a success. Fun in the mud kicked off the celebration, which included a well-attended Ice Cream Social at the Rangely Outdoor Museum, fun in the park, a parade and the barbecue was served with a smile.
• After the field of 131 handler/dog teams was judged down to the top 15 for Sunday’s championship finals, Faansie Basson of Swellendam, South Africa, and his dog Don were judged the best team in the 2012 Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials. The finalists included Lyle Lad, Amanda Milliken, Virgil Holland, Jack Knox, Dennis Edwards, Ron Burkey, Dennis Gellings, Basson, Bill Berhow, Barbara Ray, Jean Gellings, Shauna Gourley and Tom Wilson. Don and Basson have competed in the Meeker Classic before. They were on “stand by” last year and did not run, yet made the best of their opportunity this year.
• The Middle Elk Fire had increased from 100 acres to 212 as of Sept. 24. It is burning in rough terrain in thick mixed conifer and aspen on the west side of the Buford/New Castle Road near Hiner Spring on the Flat Tops.
• The 67th annual meeting of the members of White River Electric was held on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at the 4-H Community Center in Meeker. Approximately 275 consumers participated in the member appreciation lunch prepared by the Meeker Lions Club. Following the lunch nearly 190 members registered for the business portion of the cooperative’s meeting.
• The Scrub Shirt Classic Race started the 2012 Fall Festival last Saturday in Meeker and 43 fifth- and sixth-graders completed the 5K. More than 50 percent of the fifth-grade participated. The seventh annual Scrub Shirt Classic Race hosted more than 100 participants.
• More than 60 drivers registered for the sixth annual Rangely Rock Crawlers trail ride and competition last Saturday in Colorado’s only designated rock crawl park. According to organizer Tami Williams, competition was held in two classes, unlimited and stock. All the winners were from out of town and not available at press time. Williams said drivers came from Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and all over Colorado this year and the Rangely Rock Crawlers club raised more than $1,700 in donations.
• At Colorado Northwestern Community College’s 50th anniversary rededication ceremony held last Saturday on the Rangely campus, it was said the whole community showed up in support of the first graduating classes back in 1964 and 1965 and many of those graduates, along with then CNCC president Dr. Nathan Ivey and coach/instructor Lee Vickers returned for the rededication celebration.
• The donated and decorated Mack truck that will be used to haul the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington, D.C., arrived in Meeker last Friday. The tree will be cut Nov. 2 and driven to Meeker for viewing and a parade of lights Nov. 3.
• Dan Francis hiked the new trail from Dorcas Jensen Memorial Park and took a picture of students arriving at the “new” elementary school. Teachers and staff of Meeker Elementary School held a public open house last week and hosted middle school volleyball matches between Barone Middle School and Rangely Middle School in its gymnasium last Saturday.
• With thanks to the Meeker Lodging Tax Board, Santa and Mrs Claus will promote Meeker and Rangely as they make the 30-day journey to deliver the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree to Washington, D.C. Santa and Mrs. Claus will share with people along the way how they “Celebrate the Great Outdoors” during their stays in Rio Blanco County.
• White River Electric Association was the first to donate to the Veterans Memorial fund earlier this year and the donation was made in honor of its general manager Dick Welle, a United States Navy veteran.
• Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Meeker last weekend to celebrate the harvest of the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree from the White River National Forest. Festivities included the harvest, a street fair, speeches, a 5K walk/run, music, Ute dancing and drumming and a parade of lights before the tree was wrapped up for its journey to Washington, D.C.
• Memorial benches and a walkway were the outcome of Fruita artist Jeff Bates’ work and efforts by a number of people in Rangely and Meeker. The benches represent Traker’s favorite characters from the movie “Cars,” in loving memory of Traker Frank Dembowski, the 17-month-old son of Melissa and Scott Dembowski who passed away in January.
• Rangely was the first of 27 stops the tree will make along its route as it tours 15 Colorado communities and nine more states before arriving at Andrews Air Force Base on Nov. 24. There it will be prepped for placement on the U.S. Capitol Building’s west lawn on Nov. 26.
• A public hearing for Rio Blanco County commissioners to take comments on a special use permit to build a 199-foot cell tower has been continued until 7 p.m. Dec. 11 in the commissioners’ meeting room in the Fairfield Center. Local attorney Joe Fennessy, representing Les and Susan Sprod, asked that RBC commissioners not give the applicants “another bite at the apple. The application is complete, you should vote on it and deny it.” Commissioners voted to continue the hearing until Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.
• Construction of the new Rangely District Hospital in Rangely is complete and equipment and furniture are being installed under direction of state inspectors. “We have received our temporary certificate of occupancy and once the inspections are finished, we will have our official certificate of occupancy (needed to treat patients),” RDH CEO Nick Goshe said. “Then all that’s left is stocking the hospital with supplies and preparing for the move and official opening for business on Jan. 7, 2013.
• Hundreds turned out to see the first Rangely High School drama production in six years, Craig Sodaro’s “Crumpled Classics,” Monday and Tuesday. Play director and drama teacher Cody Brunton was pleased with the students’ performance and the community’s turnout. “Everything I’m getting back from the community, students and staff was that everybody really liked it,” Brunton said. “It seemed like it was well-received.”
• The 2012 Share the Light campaign was dedicated to family and friends who have battled cancer and proceeds from the sale of Christmas bulbs support the Marvine Ranch Cancer Screening fund. The annual event sponsored by White River Electric Association, Meeker Fire and Rescue, Pioneers Medical Center and Pioneers Healthcare Foundation lights up the two Christmas trees on the south lawn of the Rio Blanco County courthouse Dec. 5. Cancer survivors, including Sue Duke and Jean Wood were recognized before Sue Duke was given the honor of turning on the lights.
• Though the event went off well as a whole, there were definite highlights at this year’s Christmasfest, according to organizer and WRBM aquatics/recreation director Camilla Kennedy. “I think it went pretty well,” Kennedy said. “The Parade (of Lights) was beautiful this year. We had tons of kids in the Snowflake Baby contest. And breakfast with Santa, I think, was packed.”
• After being harvested in the White River National Forest on Nov. 2, the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree was celebrated in Meeker for two days, then wrapped and started its journey to Washington, D.C., Nov. 6. Colorado’s gift to the people of the United States arrived at its destination, our nation’s capitol.