Carbondale trustees interview board applicants |

Carbondale trustees interview board applicants

Carbondale trustees began interviewing applicants to fill the position that Trustee A.J. Hobbs is soon to vacate during their Tuesday meeting.

The board interviewed four of the six applicants, the majority of whom are women.

Since former Mayor Stacey Bernot’s resignation and the end of former Trustee Pam Zentmyer’s second term, the board has been dominated by men with the exception of Trustee Katrina Byars.

Prior to the interviews Ed Cortez, who’s running for mayor against Mayor Pro-Tem Dan Richardson, opposed the board’s decision to appoint the next trustee rather than send the issue to voters.

Heather Henry, a local landscape architect and owner of The Plantium Company and Connect One Design, who has also served on the town’s parks and recreation board and planning commission, said that building all that experience made her feel prepared to apply for the board.

“I’m ready to sit here and join you guys.”

Carbondale is frequently considering renewable energy issues, Henry noted, adding that alternative transportation is an issue close to her heart.

Henry’s vision for the town in five years is to have supported alternative transportation to the point that biking, walking and buses overtake cars on the roads.

Michael Durant, a local small business owner who’s also spent six years on the planning commission, focused on his commitment to solid financial management and accountability to taxpayers.

Durant said he doesn’t bring any ideology to the board other than a strong belief that a healthy economy is based on growth.

“If we’re not growing then we’re dying.”

He characterized himself as a “numbers guy” who wants to see specific results and returns on investment.

Durant said his chief concern for Carbondale is supporting the business environment. He suggested tapping into Carbondale’s art district as an economic driver.

Durant also ran for the board of trustee in the Carbondale municipal election in April.

Rebecca Moller, a paralegal in Carbondale who also has served on the parks and recreation board, focused on the double-edged sword of some affordable housing solutions others have presented.

Candidates in the most recent election all talked about affordable housing and many supported higher density in Carbondale, but they didn’t address the traffic and parking problems that high density brings, she said.

“I agree that affordable housing is a big issue in Carbondale, but we must do it smartly and we must not think that limiting the number of cars in a high-density area is a viable solution to the parking issue,” she wrote in her application.

Moller said she’s not afraid of being the dissenting voice in a room.

“I’m usually the one dissenting vote. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

Erica Sparhawk, program manager for Clean Energy Economy for the Region, said she’s put in plenty of time at long trustee meetings in her role with CLEER.

A Carbondale native, Sparhawk said there’s a lot more to her than just her position at CLEER. She focused on continuing the town’s improved connectivity and the need to diversify Carbondale’s economy.

The town’s boards and events also need to draw more representation from the Latino community, said Sparhawk, who also speaks Spanish.

For affordable housing the board should partly build its reserve funding to have the money available to jump into an affordable housing opportunity when it arises, Sparhawk said.

The board is scheduled to interview the last two applicants, Beth Broome, a local veterinary technician and ranch hand, and Gwen Garcelon, co-founder and director of Roaring Fork Food Alliance, during its Sept. 13 meeting, when the board may also decide on an appointment.

After the appointment, the board is still going to be short one member.

Bernot’s replacement will be elected in November, and if Richardson, the current mayor pro tem is voted in, the trustees will have to go through the process of filling a vacancy on the board, again.

Many first days of school for Mike Wilde

After 56 years, you might think the novelty associated with the first day of school would wear off. Not so for longtime Glenwood Springs High School teacher and now teacher coach Mike Wilde.

“There’s just an intrinsic excitement surrounding the first day of school,” Wilde said Tuesday as he prepared for what indeed is his 56th first day of school, including as a student and an educator, as classes begin today for Roaring Fork District schools.

“You can always feel the energy and the nervousness,” he said. “For the teachers, it’s their first best shot at the kids, and I think the kids look at it that way too.”

Wilde, now 61, taught science at GSHS for 25 years before “retiring” in 2007. He did miss his one and only first day of school that fall, but was back at Glenwood High by the second semester as a teaching specialist.

He now works as a half-time instructional facilitator, or teacher coach, working with the younger teachers and those new to the school to get them up to speed quicker.

Wilde remembers the name of his kindergarten teacher on the very first, first day of school in 1960 in Grants, New Mexico ­– Mrs. McNeil.

All of his primary and secondary school first days were in Grants, though his family moved to Washington, D.C. in the middle of his senior year of high school.

“By moving from New Mexico I had many different choices for paying out-of-state tuition for college, because we hadn’t been in D.C. long enough to establish residency,” Wilde mused.

With relatives scattered along the Interstate 25 corridor from New Mexico to Colorado, he opted for Colorado State University, where he spent the next series of first days of class earning his teaching degree.

From there, it was on to his first teaching assignment in the eastern plains town of Julesburg, where he spent five years worth of first days before coming to Glenwood Springs and continuing the succession.

These days, his first days of school are less about getting students prepared for a long school year, and more about making sure the teachers themselves are prepared.

Because GSHS is the largest of all the Roaring Fork District schools with roughly 900 students, it’s the only school that has its own teacher coach.

There’s also been a steady transition in recent years from the Baby Boomers, who have made up the teaching corps for many years, to more of the millennial generation that is now entering the profession.

Wilde said he was asked by GSHS Principal Paul Freeman to come back and share his knowledge and mentor the younger teachers and those who are just joining the local school district.

“When I entered the profession we were kind of like independent contractors where we were handed the materials and expected to figure it out ourselves,” he said. “It can take several years to really get used to it and hit your stride, so my job is to help the teachers along and try to compress that learning curve.”

In the “if I only knew then what I know now” department, Wilde says he feels like he would have been a better teacher himself if he had that kind of support early on.

“Working with young teachers is a little like working with students,” he said. “They keep you young, and make you feel old all at the same time.”

Wilde cites three qualities that define good teaching: The quality of the teacher, the quality of the content and how successful a teacher is in engaging the students.

“That’s how you measure the gains when kids walk out of a classroom,” he said.

His current job also keeps him connected to the school community he’s come to love and enjoy going back to his days teaching science and the ever-popular River Watch Colorado program that he led for many years, but has since handed off to Rob Norville.

Wilde still does contract work in water education through River Watch and the Colorado River District.

“I still like getting kids out in the river and getting them wet,” he said.

Selfies: A tail waggin’ good time at the Shaggy Dog

Local attorney arrested on assault of ex-judge

Glenwood Springs attorney and former Garfield County Judge Jason Jovanovich and another local attorney are taking different seats in the courtroom following reports of an assault at the Silver Spruce Inn earlier this month.

Jovanovich was staying at the motel Aug. 12 with Lucette “Lucy” Laffoon, a 39-year-old immigration and criminal defense attorney in Glenwood Springs.

Police were called to the hotel at 2:41 a.m.

Jovanovich, who was visibly in pain, told police in the lobby that Laffoon had assaulted him in their room, according to an affidavit.

A police officer referred to her as Jovanovich’s “partner whom he lived with” in the affidavit. The two attorneys also have adjacent law offices in the same building on Grand Avenue.

In their motel room, Laffoon had hidden his phone, which she does often and without reason, according to the police report.

When he found the phone she “ripped it out of his hands to prevent him from calling anyone,” grabbed the motel phone and tried to hit him in the head with it, he told police.

She started slapping him and trying to bite his arms; she bit his left hand, Jovanovich said. At one point she “hit and or twisted his thumb.”

An X-ray at Valley View Hospital later showed his hand and thumb were severely fractured, which a physician classified as serious bodily injury.

“Jovanovich stated that he thought Laffoon was trying to break his fingers because he plays guitar and she wanted to punish him,” an officer wrote. “There have been previous domestic violence incidents between the two parties. Jovanovich is scared to report anything because Laffoon threatens him.”

Laffoon had driven away in a brown Mercedes, and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

She was arrested Aug. 15 on charges of second-degree assault, a class 4 felony, along with third-degree assault, harassment and obstruction of telephone services, which are all misdemeanors. Domestic violence could be considered as a sentence enhancer.

Her bail was set at $3,000, which she posted the next day.

Prosecutors successfully argued on Aug. 16 to also require Laffoon to surrender her passport as a condition of bond. A protection order has been issued in this case with Jovanovich as a protected party, as well as his children.

Judge James Boyd has since recused himself from the case and handed it over to Judge John Neiley. Likewise, the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office has recused itself because the two attorneys are defense counsel in active cases the DA is prosecuting.

The prosecution has moved for a special prosecutor, who Garth McCarty, one of Laffoon’s attorneys, said will likely come out of Mesa County.

Earlier this year Jovanovich received a stayed three-month suspension of his law license after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor violation of a protection order, which barred him from contacting an ex-girlfriend. He pleaded guilty to this misdemeanor in February 2015 and received a deferred judgment, pending one year of probation.

The suspension of his law license was also stayed and contingent upon a three-year probation.

Laffoon has no public disciplinary history on file with the state.

The Post Independent could not reach Jovanovich for comment. Laffoon and her attorneys declined to comment.

Letter: Why Oasis Creek?

For weeks now I have been trying to figure out why our City Council approved the ridiculous plans for the Oasis Creek development, even though our Planning and Zoning Commission denied it. Why do our councilors believe that a single family home has only one car? Where do they think the overflow of cars will park? Not on Hwy 6&24. Not on Donegan. Clearly our councilors have not driven through other developments that have parking issues.

First we have Timbercreek development. These were built right next to Gregory Park in West Glenwood. Not only is there an overflow of cars parked on both sides of Center Drive, but we have small children darting to and from the park who cannot be seen because of all the cars. That sure is safe.

Now let’s talk about Cardiff Glen area. Cardiff Glen was built without enough parking, and now a new development is proposed out there. That went before our P&Z this week. There is not enough parking out there already. Can you imagine what it is going to be like when an emergency vehicle needs to respond to either of the before mentioned neighborhoods?

In Friday’s paper (8/19) our council denied the Fox Hollow development proposed for Midland Avenue. There are many legitimate reasons to deny this development. Councilman Davis, who lives on Midland, voted against it. Guess he doesn’t want that mess in his neighborhood. Well, we don’t want the Oasis Creek development in ours.

Lisa Orosz

Glenwood Springs

City looks to limit trucks on downtown side streets

Glenwood Springs officials are considering possible limits on large commercial truck activity along some downtown side streets and in residential neighborhoods around town.

The move is partly aimed at ongoing safety concerns related to semi trucks going to and from the U.S. Postal Service distribution center located at Ninth Street and Pitkin Avenue on the back side of the city’s main Post Office.

However, assuming the Postal Service and its independent trucking contractors aren’t exempt from any restrictions, the compromise may be smaller trucks but more trips.

“I don’t think this will address the noise and traffic concerns around the Post Office,” Mayor Mike Gamba advised during a recent City Council discussion, referring to frequent complaints from residents living near the Post Office.

But it would be a way to address the occasional damage caused to city street signs, light poles, planters and fire hydrants from large trucks that sometimes cut the corners too close, he said.

A regular safety concern has to do with postal delivery trucks, usually driven by contracted independent truckers, attempting to make the wide sweeping turn from southbound Grand Avenue onto Ninth Street.

The maneuver requires that the large trucks veer into the left traffic and turn lanes on Grand to turn right onto Ninth, sometimes cutting off vehicles coming up from behind, and forcing motorists waiting to turn onto Grand to back out of the way.

As a home rule city, Glenwood Springs does have the ability to limit the length and weight of trucks that can travel on certain city streets. Grand Avenue, as a state highway (Colorado 82), would be exempt.

“We did talk to some of the local businesses about the size of trucks they have making deliveries, to see what would be reasonable,” attorney John Hoistad informed council during an Aug. 18 work session.

The city can also designate certain corridors as truck routes, and any length restrictions could be limited to specific neighborhoods, he said.

“It’s up to you what you decide is appropriate,” said Karl Hanlon, city attorney. “Clearly, we’re not going to eliminate deliveries into the (downtown) … and we’re not going to suddenly make businesses stop operating.”

Dave Rupert, regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said it would be hard to eliminate the larger mail delivery trucks from coming to the downtown Glenwood facility.

“Our trucks don’t just have a singular destination, there is a whole string of deliveries that they are making,” Rupert said.

Any restrictions on truck sizes would just create another set of problems, he said. And, there’s a question whether the Postal Service, as a quasi-federal entity, and its contractors, would have to comply with any restrictions.

At the same time, Rupert said the Postal Service has to work with the communities that it operates in to provide efficient customer service while not overly impacting the local community.

“We will continue to work with the town council and the needs of the community to have that good balance,” he said. “We have been in that location since the early 1960s, it fits our needs and the needs of the community, and we have no designs on leaving Glenwood Springs.”

One of the things driving the nature and frequency of mail truck deliveries is the huge increase in the parcel side of the business, Rupert added.

“Five years ago we delivered 3 billion packages,” he said. “Last year, that number was 4.5 billion. That’s just how people are shopping these days, and it’s a big part of our business.”

For the city’s part, another issue is the inherent selectiveness of enforcement if semis are banned from certain streets, Police Chief Terry Wilson said during the council discussion.

And, the occasional damage that occurs on street corners often happens at night when it goes unnoticed until the next day, he said.

If any restrictions are imposed, Wilson and others suggested that the city issue special permits for construction projects and other one-time or limited deliveries. Certain types of larger vehicles, such as transit and school buses, would also be exempt.

Letter: The case for Trump

The economy is the No. 1 issue facing middle-class America. The economy has been stagnated at 1.2 percent for seven years when it should be at 4 percent annual growth. The big difference between Clinton and Trump is stark. Clinton is promoting trickle-down entitlements and Trump, like Reagan, is proposing trickle-down economics.

Right now under Obama”s leadership everybody has their hand out. Fifty-eight million Americans are on food stamps. The current federal government is what the Founding Fathers tried to prevent. If you vote for Hillary, the welfare state will expand and will evolve into a totalitarian state maybe as soon as one generation.

I worked hard for everything I have. Most successful people have done the same. Nobody should be entitled to my sweat equity. How does one measure “one’s fair share” when one works and the other one doesn’t?

The philosophy of the Democratic Party has taken a hard left turn. They went from slavery to enslavement. Why work for a living when you can just elect a Democrat for a free handout?

The problem is that I as a middle class American don’t want to pay for these give-away programs anymore.

How about a little history lesson? When the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery came up to a vote,100 percent of Republicans voted yes, only 23 percent of Democrats followed suit; the 14th Amendment, which gave former slaves citizenship, 94 percent of Republicans voted yes, zero Democrats supported the 14th Amendment; the 15th Amendment, the right to vote for all citizens, 100 percent of the Republicans voted yes, Democrats 100 percent no; and finally in regard to the vote for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), 100 percent of Republicans voted no, while 86 percent of Democrats voted yes. You decide which party has the best interests of all Americans in mind for the future of our country.

Donald Trump is a shrewd businessman, not a smooth-talking politician. Yes, he’s bold, brash and blunt. But those qualities catapulted him to a run for the presidency. That’s what we like about him.

Just think of this: He inherited $1 million and built a business worth $10 billion. Hillary on the other hand never wrote a paycheck or hired and fired an employee. She’s worth $200 million, which she acquired through influence peddling and money laundering. How else could a public employee amass this amount of money?

Hence the name “Crooked Hillary.” Ask yourself this: If you owned a company with employees and you needed some guidance and direction to make your company profitable, whose advice would you seek, Clinton’s or Trump’s? This country needs a Donald Trump and his kind.

Stan Rachesky

Glenwood Springs

Holy Cross offering bonus for small businesses

Holy Cross Energy is offering a $500 bonus to small businesses willing to make an investment in becoming more energy efficient.

Small businesses that sign up for an audit in August and complete an electric saving project with a minimum investment of $1,000 by Oct. 31 will receive a $500 bonus. The offer is limited to businesses that have never had an energy audit.

The audit consists of a one-hour walk through of the business to explore possible savings on utility bills. The audit also involves educating business owners on Smart Hub, which provides a way to look at kilowatt-hour usage.

Holy Cross hopes the promotion will help small businesses that may be on the fence about upgrading to efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems and efficient fan motors.

“We have rebate money and hope the August bonus will spark interest with small business owners to move forward with energy upgrades,” said Mary Wiener, energy efficiency program administrator for Holy Cross.

The promotion is available to the first 20 small businesses that sign up. So far, eight businesses have started the process, according to Wiener.

To sign up, businesses should contact Wiener at or 970-947-5432.

Guest opinion: The amazing success of Pre-Collegiate Program

Defining success in the social program world is challenging. In the case of RE-1 School District’s Pre-Collegiate Program, it’s clear as a bell. All 28 of the Pre-Collegiate Class of 2016 graduated from Glenwood Springs, Roaring Fork and Basalt High Schools and have been accepted to college. This includes some extraordinary accomplishments: Jimmy Serrano (Stanford), Jacqueline Henriquez (Pomona), Joselinne Medrano (Daniels Scholar), Grace Brown (Greenhouse Scholar), Esly Reyes (Regis/Si se puede program) and others.

Pre-Collegiate scholars are motivated first-generation students. Their parents did not graduate from college and in most cases did not attend college at all. Pre-Collegiate exists because the outlook nationally for low-income first-generation kids is not positive. Only 11 percent typically graduate from college. By contrast, since 2007, roughly 75 percent of RE-1’s Pre-Collegiate graduates have gone on to graduate from college.

With a recent $300,000 grant from the University of Colorado, the Pre-Collegiate Program set out to deal with both its lengthy wait lists of qualified students and to expand its services. Enrollment has increased from 200 students in grades seven-12 to what’s expected to exceed 320 in 2016-17, growth of more than 60 percent in less than two years.

Executive Director David Smith gave up a promising career as a lawyer with Garfield & Hecht to build on the years of success and grow the program to help more students.

“Years ago I volunteered as a Pre-Collegiate mentor and I witnessed firsthand the incredible difference you can make with these young, capable and motivated students if you could just level the playing field and assist them in navigating the maze of education and career options. We are so excited to be taking Pre-Collegiate into a new phase and be able to serve more deserving students in RE-1.”

“Mentors,” insists Assistant Executive Director Leslie Emerson, “are what make this program work. Our current group of 39 mentors are successful adults from all walks of life who believe in the importance of education and see that their efforts yield extraordinary returns. We always need more committed mentors.”

Scott Gilbert, president of Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley, former mentor and current Pre-Collegiate Advisory Board member says, “Being a mentor is even more rewarding and gratifying than the enduring benefits that students say they cherish. I am still in contact with my mentees 10 years later.”

Tom Neel, retired oil and gas industry executive, mentored students from grade seven through graduation. Tom was elected chair of the Pre-Collegiate Advisory Board. Tom’s recollection: “A wonderful and fulfilling opportunity to connect with our youth. What a great bunch they are.”

Estefania Vigil is a good example of the impact Pre-Collegiate has on leveling the playing field. She was raised in a trailer in Basalt with an extended family of 10-13. Neither Mom nor Dad had attended college, and while hopeful for their children’s futures, had no idea how to pursue them. Estefania graduated in the top 5 percent of her Basalt High School Class of 2009, won an Evans Scholarship to CU/Boulder where she majored in business administration with an emphasis in accounting. She earned a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Virginia and is currently employed as a senior auditor by Ernst & Young.

In her own words, “Pre-Collegiate not only helped me polish my success tools, it also provided me with life long relationships with mentors whom to this day I still count on for career counsel. It also put me in contact with other bright students who became my best friends. More than preparing me to be successful in college, Pre-Collegiate prepared me to be successful in life, and that’s something I will always be grateful for.”

RE-1 Pre-Collegiate was founded in 2003 through a collaboration of the University of Colorado, Colorado Mountain College, Aspen Community Foundation and RE-1. The partners provided staffing, money and support services with the aim of increasing high school graduation and building a college-bound culture. In addition to the volunteer mentoring program, an intensive two-week summer residential experience is provided at CU/Boulder for rising juniors and seniors and a one-week program at CMC’s Spring Valley campus for rising sophomores.

The recent growth of the program has exceeded the expectations of the partners, highlighting the tremendous need for increased college access options for this underrepresented population. With this success and growth come new challenges. The funding from University of Colorado terminates in June 2017 and the Pre-Collegiate Advisory Board, RE-1 administration and the program staff are engaged in developing the essential financial and volunteer support to keep this vital, uniquely successful program serving the first-generation students in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Jim Noyes is a former Pre-Collegiate mentor, current chair of the Pre-Collegiate Financial Advisory Board, a graduate of Dartmouth College and Stanford Business School and a Lisagor Journalism Award nominee.

I-70 exits impacted by Grand Avenue bridge work this week

Motorists are advised that the ongoing Grand Avenue bridge construction will result in traffic impacts at Interstate 70 Exits 114 and 116 in Glenwood Springs this week.

The main Glenwood Exit 116 westbound off-ramp will be down to one lane in order to complete structural walls for the new bridge.

In addition, due to ongoing work on the Exit 114 north roundabout, westbound semi trucks are being directed to take Exit 116 for freight access to businesses along U.S. 6 in West Glenwood.

Other work this week involves a crane that is being erected on Seventh Street for the start of construction on the elevator tower that will serve the new pedestrian bridge. Businesses in the area have been advised that the work will likely be noisy at times.