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It seems to me, there’s no shortage of community events in Rio Blanco County.
Who says there’s nothing to do in a small town?
OK, I’ve only been here for three months. But, during that time, there’s been plenty of activities going on. And I’ve enjoyed them all.
Of course, I cover these events for the paper, but I would go to them anyway.
I have enjoyed community celebrations or events such as Range Call, Ultimate Adventures (at the rock crawling park outside of Rangely), Smoking River Powwow and the Rio Blanco County Fair.
Now, I’m looking forward to this weekend’s Septemberfest in Rangely. To be followed the next week by the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials. And later in the month, then, is the fifth annual Mountain Valley Bank Fall Festival.
As is usually the case, outsiders sometimes seem to appreciate the charm of small-town celebrations more than locals do. But there is always a core group of volunteers — and businesses that donate money — that keep these community events going, year after year.
I’ve been impressed with how many of these hard-working volunteers there are in Rio Blanco County. They really do know how to get things done.
For me, these community celebrations are fun to cover for the paper. After all, covering meetings can get old, no offense to the County Commission or any other local board.
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Is it just me, or are there a lot of stray dogs running loose?
These dogs, in some cases, belong to somebody, because they are wearing a collar.
Just before the turnoff to Meeker on Friday, driving back from Rangely, I saw a good-sized Siberian Husky or Alaskan Malamute, with a collar on, walking along the side of the highway.
I couldn’t hardly stop; there were several vehicles behind me. With the all of the traffic on 64, I avoided looking in my rear-view mirror, because I was afraid of what I might see.
Then, as I am driving into town on 13, a small, black poodle-like dog was crisscrossing the road. Again, I was afraid to look back.
I’m never sure what to do in those cases. Do I call to report it? What number do I call? I’ve called 9-1-1 before, not here, but in other places where I’ve lived, to report a stray animal, and I got the feeling the person I was talking to didn’t want to be bothered with a non-emergency. I understand that’s not the intended use for 9-1-1, but how many of us have the local animal shelter phone number memorized? Now 9-1-1, that’s a phone number we can remember.
I’m a sucker for stray animals, I admit it. I want to take them home with me.
I was tempted, last Friday, to go back and see if I could coax the Husky or Malamute, or whatever it was, into my Jeep. It had a collar on, so there might have been a phone number I could have called. If I wasn’t able to find an owner, I would have considered keeping it. I used to have a Husky mix, back in my married days, and he was a great dog.
Plus, I get the feeling if I want to really fit in around here, I need to drive a pickup and have a dog riding in the back.
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With the recent primary election, I had people inquire about how much county commissioners are paid. I didn’t know the answer, so I asked County Administrator Pat Hooker. Here’s what he told me:
“Commissioners’ salaries are regulated by state statute. Rio Blanco County is a Category III county, and salary for commissioners whose term of office begins on or after Jan 1, 2007, is $58,500 a year.
“Commissioner Joe Collins is our only commissioner whose term started on or after Jan 1, 2007, thus his salary is $58,500. Both commissioners Ken Parsons and Forrest Nelson’s terms began before Jan. 1, 2007, therefore their salary is $41,714 a year.”
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You may have noticed the Herald Times recently celebrated its 123rd birthday. If I remember right, I’ve been told that makes the newspaper one of the oldest, continuously operating businesses in the county.
I can’t say I know a lot about the newspaper’s history, but I know the indefatigable Peggy Rector used to run the Rangely Times, back in the days when each town in the county had its own newspaper. And I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Lyttles and the Cooks, two well-known families who owned the Meeker Herald.
Tim Schultz, former Rio Blanco County Commissioner, and now director of the Boettcher Foundation in Denver, told me, when I met him a few weeks ago, how much he respected the Cooks from his days as a commissioner.
That’s the best we can hope for in this business.
Those of us who do this for living know we will never be universally liked (though we may be universally disliked), because of either something that did or didn’t get in the paper. But, hopefully, people will respect us for striving to be fair in how we report the news.
I’ve been on staff at the Herald Times for only a short time, but I’m proud to have my name associated with the likes of a Peggy Rector and the Lyttles and the Cooks.
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The Herald Times office in Meeker is located on the second floor of the Hugus Building, above Meeker Video.
Angie, who works at the video store and frequently sees me coming and going from the newspaper, asked, “Are you married to your job?”
It used to be, being “married” to my job was a bad thing, back when I really was married. Not anymore.
Now, I can work as much as I want. I guess being single does have its benefits.
Of course, Angie also asked me the other day, “Do you have a life?”
I think what she meant to say was, get one.