Up and down el Rio Blanco: It’s going to be a white Christmas

Are you ready for Christmas?
Thank God for my wife. I always look at her before I answer that question and so far she hasn’t given me the OK, so we are still not ready for Christmas but we still have two days, if I include today.
I’m so excited, all of our kids and all of our grandkids will be in town. My daughter Haylee and her husband Blake live in Fort Morgan with our four-year-old granddaughter Brookelynn and two-year-old grandson Braylon.
Haylee’s mom and I divorced when she was three and as hard as divorce is on a kid, she always enjoyed having two Christmases.
Fortunately, Haylee’s marriage is strong but she said her kids were really excited because they are going to have three Christmases this year; first at their paternal grandparents’ in Loveland, then at their maternal great-grandparents (Julius and Lomell Poole) in Rangely, then with us in Meeker.
Haylee’s kids call me Poppy and anytime I hear it, I always smile and if used in a question, the answer is always yes.
Wendy’s son Garrett and his two sons Cole (age 6) and Deegan (age 2), along with his wife Rikilynn will make the trip from Grand Junction, as will Garrett’s sister Fallonn. Cole and Deegan call me Pop Bob, I love it! We plan to have a prime rib dinner Sunday.
No decision was made at the school board meeting last Thursday, regarding Neil Joy, the high school girls’ basketball coach, who is currently on administrative leave. Superintendent Susie Goettel recommended the board terminate his contract. Joy requested a hearing, which was scheduled for last Thursday. After Goettel read a letter of resignation submitted by Joy, a motion and a second were made to accept it when Joy asked to withdraw it before it was voted on. The motion and second were also withdrawn and an executive session was called. More than an hour later, the doors were opened and everyone was told there was new information which needed to be investigated by the administration. A parent then spoke of her disappointment in the board’s lack of action and what this editor wrote in his column last week. The parent said my column likened Joy’s action (texting a player late at night), to the mistakes (misspelling of names) I admitted to in my column.
Please know, I do not condone Joy’s actions, nor does he or anyone else and I don’t believe everything is fine just because he apologized. My column’s bottom line was; we all make mistakes and admitting them is one of the hardest things to do in the world.
I think the process needs addressed, as this has carried on for almost a month now.
The Yellow Jacket Water Conservancy District (YJ) met last Thursday to adopt its budget and certify its mill levy. The district was formed in 1959 for the purpose of developing a water storage project to serve the needs of the district and the region.
According to the proposed budget information, the district’s primary focus remains the maintenance of the existing conditional and absolute water rights held for the municipal, agricultural, industrial, recreational and wildlife purposes and annually takes steps to conduct appropriate due diligence on its portfolio of water rights.
The YJ received a grant for more than $250,000 for a water storage feasibility study, which involves a three phase analysis of YJ’s water rights portfolio and possible water storage sites with a resulting recommendation for one storage site that would best serve the overall District’s and regional water management needs. The grant called for a $55,000 local match, with YJ budgeting $20,000 towards the match in 2011.
Several landowners in the district have filed statements of opposition and have asked the court to set these matters for trial, which it has in 2011.
Local outfitter Shawn Welder was at the meeting and suggested the district contact other water districts in the state to explore and see how they work and secure water rights for their users. Welder does not believe the district should spend more than $250,000 to study where a dam should be built.
Landowner Joe Livingston, is one of more than 20 parties, whom filed statements of opposition, after receiving a letter from the district that his land may be impacted but the board can not tell him how. Livingston asked the board to be more open and transparent and also questioned the district’s financial ability to litigate the matter.
The district’s proposed budget listed revenues at slightly more than $55,000 and expenditures of $51,500, leaving little for legal fees.
Trina Zagar-Brown, Secretary Council for YJ submitted the following statement:
“On behalf of the District I understand that members of the District and in particular the upper White River valley is legitimately interested in YJ, its activities and these due diligence filings. YJ welcomes and encourages the public’s interest in YJ activities. The upriver landowners are well within their bounds to file statements of opposition and YJ seeks to answer all their questions and concerns. YJ believes that it has legitimately done its diligence on these rights and will prevail at trial if it has to go all the way to trial. YJ has always been open and will remain open to all discussions for reasonable resolution to avoid litigation; however, it currently appears that the upper White River landowners seek to squash YJ and YJ’s goal of water storage management for the benefit of District and the future of our area. I believe that their “blood in the water” goal of squashing YJ would come at the expense of the local historical agricultural water users, future industrial growth that requires water supply and general regional water supply sustainability. This isn’t about water for theoretical oil shale; this is about the critical need for regional water storage management to preserve our basic way of life.”
In Rio Blanco County, we are blessed with many natural resources and water is arguably the most important to our future. We all must become more diligent to protect our water.
I believe YJ board members Ed Coryell, David Smith, Mike Brennan, Jim Joy, Kelly Sheridan, Doug Wellman, Dr. Albert Krueger and Bill Dunham make decisions with our best interest in mind.
Merry Christmas everyone, may God bless us all.