Editor column: Don’t forget the sunscreen | PostIndependent.com

Editor column: Don’t forget the sunscreen

This is not intended to be a boastful message, but I may have reached the pinnacle of stupidity this past weekend.

I have the photos and peeling skin to prove it, but let me explain.

What was planned as a relaxing couple hours at Rifle Gap Reservoir Sunday turned out to be a gamble with, in hindsight, extremely poor odds. After throwing the car in park at the swim beach, I asked Sam if she grabbed the sunscreen from my hiking backpack. Fully expecting he to say “yes,” we found ourselves facing a crucial decision when she answered “no.”

Do we risk a couple hours in the sun without any protection or do we drive the 20 minutes back home to fetch the sunblock and cut our visit in half?

I was covering some work duties for the Glenwood Post Independent this past weekend, which seemed like a good enough excuse to push writing my Monday page 1 story on Louisiana relief efforts into Sunday evening.

We set out to the gap with the understanding that we’d need to be back on the road by 3 p.m. in order for me to have enough time to write the story without irritating the Sunday designer who puts the paper together.

It was around noon when we arrived, and rather than trek back home I convinced Sam, and myself, that we would be OK without the sunscreen.

“We’ll only be here for a couple hours. It’s not even that sunny. I’ll just wear my shirt.”

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

For those who have not met me in person, I’m what you might call “a fair-skinned guy,” which is a polite way of saying “a person who turns into a human-sized lobster after a couple minutes in the sun.”

Both Sam and I are fairly mindful when it comes to protecting ourselves from the sun. Most hiking adventures include several applications of sunblock, just to be safe.

(It might be worth noting that two of three bottles of sunscreen we had disappeared at some point during the past four weeks.)

While she has a complexion much more suited for extended sun exposure — the type of skin that turns brown, not red, and draws envy from pasty folks like myself — her concerns stem from health detriments, mainly skin cancer.

She, being the more rational of the two of us, is right to be concerned.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. In 2013, the most recent year for such data, 71,943 people were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin — 42,430 men and 29,513 women. Those numbers do not include non-epithelial skin cancers, which represent 7 percent of skin cancers tracked by central cancer registries, and they do not include basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, which are not tracked by registries, according to the CDC.

Did I mention she is right to be concerned?

Unlike Sam, I take a more narrowed approach. I’m just a fan of being able to move around free of excruciating pain, and although being purple would be very festive say around Mardi Gras, it’s a color I don’t pull off particularly well.

After 2 ½ hours parked on the beach, the result was both excruciating pain and a nice deep red color on my back and legs.

The question that played over and over as I grimaced in bed Sunday night — sleeping was too painful — was: How could I have made such a decision after a lifetime of lessons indicating that the sun and I are not friends?

It took less than five days in Colorado for me to learn that I burn even on a rare overcast day. A two-hour hike to the top of Tenderfoot Mountain in Salida on such a day left me bright red just in time for my first week at work (much to the delight of my new coworkers, who seemed to find joy in informing me of my ignorance).

I’ve largely avoided bad burns since then, which may have fed my amplified whining Sunday night and Monday.

Sometimes we just need a painful, remedial lesson on some of life’s facts, including never forgetting the sunscreen.

Lesson learned.

Ryan Hoffman is still complaining about how it hurts to walk. You can reach him at 970-685-2103 or at rhoffman@citizentelegram.com.

Garfield 16 completing $36M in capital improvements

When students in Garfield School District 16 returned to classes this week to start the 2016-17 school year, many of them stepped into some vastly improved facilities.

From the elementary school to the high school to the transportation department, the district is wrapping up sweeping capital projects totaling $36.4 million.

Some of those improvements, such as modified entrances intended to improve security at the Grand Valley Center for Family Learning (CFL), Bea Underwood Elementary School (BUE), L.W. St. John Elementary School and Grand Valley High School, are more noticeable.

As is the new turf football field at the high school, which was largely driven by a need to shed water away from the school.

Many of the repairs, though, are less noticeable, such as upgraded electrical service to BUE and a new boiler at the high school.

The four-pages worth of projects completed over the past 16 months were made possible by a successful bond campaign in 2014 that, when factoring in premium sales, totaled $33 million.

In turn, part of that money was used for matching grant funds that brought in another $3.3 million over two years through the Colorado Building Excellent Schools Today program.

BEST, as it is known, receives money from state land trust funds, Colorado Lottery spillover funds, marijuana excise tax dollars and interest. The competitive grant program aims to help public schools with construction needs.

Over the past two years, BEST dollars helped fund new roofs at BUE and St. John, the latter of which now serves as the district headquarters but can easily be re-opened as an elementary school should BUE reach capacity. BEST dollars also helped fund security and abatement work at those two locations, a vestibule at the CFL and multiple projects at the high school.

In addressing critical infrastructure issues throughout the district, Garfield 16 has positioned itself to be a destination for years to come, Superintendent Ken Haptonstall said earlier this summer.

“The core of what we were looking for was safety and security, but also to make sure our schools are an asset to the community,” Haptonstall said.

Megan Madden, who was taking her two children to BUE for the first time Tuesday, seemed to agree.

“I’m very excited they get to go to a very nice, new school,” she said.

Although the school is not new, it would be easy to make that assumption, especially from the outside. Along with the renovated main entrance, exterior doors and windows were replaced, a fence was built along the perimeter of the school grounds and the parking lot was expanded and improved.

So far, the projects have remained on time and within budget, according to Haptonstall. A field house at GVHS is the only remaining project on the list.

Overall, the district is a vastly improved one compared to 2013-14, when renewed discussions started at the community level. A committee was formed to discuss improvements that would increase the overall quality of the district, according to Haptonstall.

Among the few things that were broadly agreed upon was the need to upgrade the facilities and bring them into the 21st century.

Consultants were brought in to evaluate the facilities and determine repairs needed to either keep individual buildings functional or bring them into compliance with various codes.

After going through a lengthy list and prioritizing projects, the committee ended up proposing both the bond issue as well as a mill levy override to generate an additional $1.1 million per year for the district.

At the time, salaries had been frozen for five or six years, Haptonstall said, before noting the difficult nature of asking for both a bond and a mill levy increase.

It was a tough sell, recalled David Blair, fire chief with the Grand Valley Fire Protection District.

Blair, who ended up chairing the committee that campaigned for the ballot questions, said those involved went to great lengths to educate the public.

They had spreadsheets and hard numbers, including what the additional cost would be to individual property owners. Also, campaign organizers were able to show that with rising construction costs, the needed repairs would only become more expensive the longer they waited.

According to Haptonstall, the district would have wasted $5 million on construction escalation cost had it waited to start construction until now.

The bond question passed with 1,044 voting in favor and 943 voting against it. The mill levy also passed by an equally narrow margin; 1,046 for and 945 against.

The passing of both questions was a testimony to the work by community members, said Haptonstall, who noted that the district can not run the campaign for such issues

“Get yourself out of the way and let community leaders that you trust run the show,” he said. “It’s so key to have local community people champion the cause.”

In down-playing his own involvement, Blair seconded Haptonstall’s remarks.

“It was a community effort,” he said. “It wasn’t just me. It was several people on that committee and it was neighbors talking to neighbors convincing them it’s the right thing to do.”

Titans looking ahead to another successful fall season

The 2015 season was a very special one for the Coal Ridge Titans girls volleyball team under first-year head coach Aimee Gerber, who moved up from an assistant position the year before to steer the ship.

The Titans, who had just two seniors, including standout star middle hitter Kaitlyn Detlefsen, rolled through the regular season of the 3A Western Slope League without dropping a league game on their way to a 20-7 record that included an impressive 16-match winning streak that stretched from Sept. 24 to Nov. 7 — a span of 45 days.

Behind Detlefsen, junior’s Nicole Mooney, Dana Kotz and Kaitlyn Harlow, as well as impressive sophomores Santana Martinez and Emily Wright, the Titans were clearly the best team in the league and one of the best overall teams on the Western Slope throughout the volleyball season.

Now, with Detlefsen off to the University of Northern Colorado, Harlow will have to step up in a big way as the No. 1 middle hitter on the 2016 team, while Mooney and Kotz will look to continue their steady play for the Titans.

Should Coal Ridge pick up where they left off in 2015, a third straight 3A Western Slope League title and yet another state playoff berth for the powerful New Castle program.

“It’s going to be a total team,” Gerber said. “I definitely expect to be fighting for the league title once again this year, and I want to see us host regionals again. We have a very tough schedule this year with us dropping out league play to once throughout the season. We added a lot of state qualifying teams, so it’s going to be a tough schedule for us, which makes for a tougher year for us.

“But I’m looking for a lot of team cohesion, because it’s going to take everyone on the court to contribute this year.”

Volleyball

Head Coach: Aimee Gerber, second season

Last season: 20-7, 7-0 3A Western Slope League, won regular season league championship and league tournament championship; won regional playoff title and advanced to state tournament in Denver

Key Returners: Nicole Mooney, Sr., OH; Dana Kotz, Sr., S/RS; Kaitlyn Harlow, Sr., MH; Emily Wright, Jr., L/DS; Santana Martinez, Jr., DS/OH; Cassie Greene, Jr., OH; Kara Morgan, So., OH

Much the like girls volleyball team at Coal Ridge in 2015, the boys soccer program had an outstanding season as well, rolling through the competition game after game, reaching the final of the 3A state playoff before falling to Fountain Valley, 2-1.

Now, with another core group of experienced Titans returning for a shot at a return trip to the state playoffs and a hopeful deep run, Coal Ridge is gearing up for another strong season.

However, the Titans under head coach Michael Mikalakis lost an astounding 11 seniors from last year’s team, so it won’t be easy early on for the boys in blue.

Boys Soccer

Head Coach: Michael Mikalakis

Last season: 12-6-1, 6-1-1 3A Western Slope League, lost to Fountain Valley in 3A state championship game

Key Returners: Carlos Ponce, Sr.; Luis Galaviz, Sr.; Josh Fulk, Jr.; Ezequiel Contreras, Jr.

PGA Tour playoffs get start at The Barclays

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — The top five players on the PGA Tour this season should be plenty rested going into the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Most of them haven’t played since the PGA Championship three weeks ago.

That’s because most of them didn’t go to the Olympics.

Jason Day is the No. 1 player in the world and No. 1 in the FedEx Cup, narrowly moving past U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson on the strength of his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship. They are followed by Adam Scott, Russell Knox and Jordan Spieth.

Knox won the Travelers Championship a week after the PGA Championship, but with a chance to earn Ryder Cup points last week, the Scot decided he needed a rest.

The playoffs begin Thursday at The Barclays, which returns to Bethpage Black.

At the end of this five-week bonanza is a $10 million bonus to the winner. That’s still a long way off. For now, there is plenty to keep their attention.

RYDER CUP QUALIFYING: The Barclays is the final week for American players to earn points — one point for every $1,000 in PGA Tour earnings — toward getting one of the eight automatic spots on the Ryder Cup team.

Five already have been decided — Johnson, Spieth, Phil Mickelson, PGA champion Jimmy Walker and Brooks Koepka. Brandt Snedeker tied for third last week to move up to No. 6 and would appear to be safe. He is ahead of Zach Johnson and Patrick Reed, the lone Olympian from that group.

The purse at The Barclays is $8.5 million, so nothing is set except for who’s not going to make it. Charley Hoffman at No. 22 is the last player who has a mathematical shot, and it’s a long shot at that.

As for Rickie Fowler? He would have to finish no worse than a two-way tie for fourth.

THE POINTS: The PGA Tour made a slight tweak to the points system for the FedEx Cup playoffs. Points are quadrupled for the next three weeks, instead of being five times their normal value in previous years.

The hope is that it allows for volatility in these big events, without someone far down in the pack having one good week and being locked in for the Tour Championship.

The top 125 qualify for the playoffs, and then it’s a matter of attrition.

The top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings advance to the second playoff event next week at the Deutsche Bank Championship; the top 70 advance to the BMW Championship the following week at Crooked Stick outside Indianapolis. The top 30 move on to the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.

THE COURSE: Bethpage Black rose to prominence when the public golf course hosted the U.S. Open in 2002, and Tiger Woods held off Sergio Garcia and Mickelson to win his second U.S. Open. It hosted another U.S. Open in 2009, when Lucas Glover won in a rain-delayed finish.

Now it’s on the rotation for the FedEx Cup playoffs, with Nick Watney winning The Barclays in 2012.

The course is famous for its warning sign on the first tee: “The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers.”

“It should say it’s a risk even for really good players,” Spieth said. “The course I’ve played the last two days is up there with the hardest, probably top-five courses I’ve ever played in my life. And it’s Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and it’s soft.”

THE BUBBLE: Jim Furyk (No. 94) and Steve Stricker (No. 98) did well to make it to the playoffs because of their limited schedules — Stricker only plays a dozen times a year, and Furyk started late because of wrist surgery.

All it takes is one good week to keep advancing. If they miss the cut, odds are they won’t stay in the top 100.

Among those outside the top 100 are Keegan Bradley at No. 106. Happy to be here is Shawn Stefani, who tied for 14th last week to move into the top 125 (at No. 123) and even have a chance.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: The FedEx Cup figures to sort out who will be the front-runner for PGA Tour player of the year.

Major champions typically get the vote from the players, but there are four of them this year — Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Jimmy Walker. Jason Day won The Players Championship and leads the tour with three victories, so he can’t be ruled out.

Day believes he only has to win two events to be voted player of the year.

New Silt trustee hopes to continue beautification work in town

SILT — There was not one particular issue that drove Justin Brintnall to throw his name in the hat for a position on the Board of Trustees.

Rather, the father of three who worked for Dollar General and now works at Dish Network said he wanted to be a part of what he described as the town’s current positive trajectory.

“There’s nothing that I was like ‘I want to fix this.’ It was just more continuing (the work of the current board),” he said after Monday’s trustee meeting.

Brintnall, who was tapped to serve as a second alternate on the Silt Planning and Zoning Commission in July 2015, was appointed earlier this month to an open trustee seat vacated in July by Dylan Lewis. Lewis announced in late June that his family was moving to the Glenwood Springs area.

A resident of the Silt area for the past nine years, Brintnall will serve out the remainder of Lewis’ term, which expires in April 2018.

He was selected from a group of six people, which Mayor Rick Aluise described as one of the biggest and best applicant pools to apply for a single position.

Along with Brintnall, that pool included: Mark Anderson, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2014; Chris Classen, a former town employee of nine years who stated his support for efforts to bring a grocery store to Silt; Krista Cox, a resident of eight years who described herself as a 30-something-year-old woman and political outsider; Tela Robinson, a resident who grew up in Silt and cited her “extensive experience in business and project management;” and Paul Taylor, a former Silt police chief and town trustee who fell short in his bid for a seat on the board in the April election.

After interviewing the candidates at the Aug. 8 meeting, Trustee T.J. Tucker made a motion to appoint Taylor to the vacant seat, but the motion died due to lack of support. Mayor Pro-tem Bryan Fleming then made a motion to appoint Brintnall. The motion passed with trustees Keith Richel and Aron Diaz voting against the appointment.

“We had great applicants,” Aluise said Monday. “It was a very hard choice because they were very, very good applicants. (It was) probably the biggest … one of the best crews we’ve had apply for one position.”

The appointment seems to signal a continuing trend where a growing number of people are interested in serving on the board.

Four candidates applied for a vacant seat last October, which ultimately was filled with the appointment of Tucker. And in the most recent election in April, four candidates ran for three positions on the board.

Along with the increased interest, Aluise observed a potential shift in people’s motivation for getting involved with town government.

“It use to be that people would run because they were mad about something,” he said. “I think they’re running now because they’re excited to be part of … making the town look better and the beautification (work). It’s just a different type of a reason why they’re running now than in the past.”

Indeed, Brintnall on Monday pointed to recent work in Stoney Ridge Park, as well as the ongoing Main Street infrastructure improvements as some of the good work he hopes to continues as a trustee, which he said was a natural progression for him after serving on the planning commission.

“When I took the p and z role it was actually with the thought of at some point possibly stepping into (a trustee’s position),” he said, adding that he wanted to test the waters of town government at a lower level to see if he enjoyed it. “And I do, so (this is) the next step.”

Some women feel unsafe in Carbondale

Often sparsely attended, Tuesday evening’s trustees meeting in Carbondale was packed with women who came with a clear message: They don’t feel safe in town and local government isn’t moving fast enough to fix it.

A month has passed since the Carbondale Police Department announced that it’s investigating two recent assaults on women walking at night.

The most recent of these was a sexual assault, while the other was an “alleged assault” that wasn’t sexual in nature, Chief Gene Schilling said Wednesday.

The department had a couple people of interest in late July, but it’s been unable to verify whether they are connected to the assaults.

Schilling added that investigators at this point do not believe the two incidents involved the same assailant.

Since then talk of public safety has popped up at trustee meetings. But no solid steps have yet been taken, no earnest discussion has happened and the matter won’t be a legitimate agenda item until the board’s Sept. 20 work session.

Carbondale’s bike, pedestrian and trails commission will discuss lighting and public safety at its Sept. 12 meeting.

“I’m here because I’m under the impression that this isn’t being taken seriously by the town council,” said the mother of one of the victims.

She was one of a dozen women who appealed to the board Tuesday to take some quick action to bring back a sense of security in town.

“I moved here after being attacked in Chicago. Now I don’t feel safe walking home from the movie theater at night,” she said.

These kinds of crimes can happen anywhere, so safety is a perception, said Annemarie Zanca. “Carbondale needs to put forth an effort to make people feel safe.”

Pam Williams said she went so far as to buy pepper spray after hearing about the assaults. “Something has got to be done and needs to be done fast,” she said.

One option to improve public safety that’s been mentioned is adding lighting to certain parts of town, including Gianinetti Park and the Rio Grande Trail. The women also pushed for more police patrols at night.

However, any work on the Rio Grande will require a conversation with Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, noted Erica Sparhawk.

The mother of a victim balked at some trustees’ concern that lighting upgrades might be too costly. The board is now going into budget season and is weighing its priorities for 2017.

“I feel like the costs should not be an issue,” said Laurie Guevara-Stone. “You can’t put a price on our safety.”

Guevara-Stone said that years ago she was attacked at night in Carbondale, and she doesn’t feel safe walking at night anymore.

Assaults on women often go unreported, and many more than these two cases may have not come to light, said Trustee Katrina Byars.

Schilling said these are not ordinary crimes in Carbondale.

Since January 2014 the town has seen only two cases of assault that resemble these recent crimes – namely, that they involve perpetrators whom the victims didn’t know.

“It’s very disturbing that we had it happen at all,” the chief said.

Schilling is holding off on talking about increased public safety steps until his meeting with the town trustees.

In the meantime the Police Department is partnering with the Carbondale Recreation and Community Center to bring back a women’s self defense course.

“We patrol with what we have as much as we can,” Schilling said in response to the calls for more night patrols. The Police Department focuses on downtown but also sends officers into outlying areas as well, said the chief.

When the department is fully staffed (currently it has two officers in training) night patrols typically consist of three officers on weekdays and five on weekends.

“The process just takes time,” said Schilling. “If they said you can have more officers to patrol, and if I was lucky enough to hire a new officer today” it would still take months to get him or her trained and allocate equipment.

New, more secure school entrances part of bond issue

Students and visitors to some Roaring Fork School District buildings were met with new security features on the first day of school Wednesday. The new measures are part of the $122 million bond issue that was approved by district voters last fall.

Several schools, including Sopris Elementary School in Glenwood Springs, and Crystal River Elementary and Roaring Fork High schools in Carbondale, have new visitor entry vestibules that will be in operation during the school day after students have arrived.

The controlled entries require daytime visitors to check in at a secure front office window before being allowed access into the school once stating the purpose of their visit.

A separate set of doors at the main entry and elsewhere in the school buildings will be unlocked when students are arriving and leaving before and after classes begin. Those doors will be locked during the remainder of the day.

Jeff Gatlin, chief operating officer for the school district, said the primary purpose of the controlled entries is so that school staff is aware of who is in the building and to ensure the safety of students, teachers and staff.

All district schools are scheduled for safety features and a variety of other improvements as part of the bond issue, in addition to the bigger-ticket items.

Major projects include a new $34 million K-8 school at the district-owned Eastbank site south of Glenwood Springs, $20 million toward the roughly $30 million overhaul of Glenwood Springs Elementary School, and $15 million to start a teacher housing program in Glenwood, Carbondale and Basalt.

The security features were not specifically earmarked within the bond issue, but are part of the general school and district facility improvements that are being paid for out of the bond funds.

The new Eastbank and GSES facilities that are now under construction will include similar security features, Gatlin said.

Additional security features, some of which are being paid for outside of the bond issue, include new exterior door monitors and cameras monitoring the new entryways, new building intercom systems and new phone systems, Gatlin said.

The safety vestibules are designed in such a way as to not be too imposing, he said. The architecture of each building will also determine the design of the secure entries, so not all of them will be the same, Gatlin said.

New, more secure school entrances part of bond issue

Students and visitors to some Roaring Fork School District buildings were met with new security features on the first day of school Wednesday. The new measures are part of the $122 million bond issue that was approved by district voters last fall.

Several schools, including Sopris Elementary School in Glenwood Springs, and Crystal River Elementary and Roaring Fork High schools in Carbondale, have new visitor entry vestibules that will be in operation during the school day after students have arrived.

The controlled entries require daytime visitors to check in at a secure front office window before being allowed access into the school once stating the purpose of their visit.

A separate set of doors at the main entry and elsewhere in the school buildings will be unlocked when students are arriving and leaving before and after classes begin. Those doors will be locked during the remainder of the day.

Jeff Gatlin, chief operating officer for the school district, said the primary purpose of the controlled entries is so that school staff is aware of who is in the building and to ensure the safety of students, teachers and staff.

All district schools are scheduled for safety features and a variety of other improvements as part of the bond issue, in addition to the bigger-ticket items.

Major projects include a new $34 million K-8 school at the district-owned Eastbank site south of Glenwood Springs, $20 million toward the roughly $30 million overhaul of Glenwood Springs Elementary School, and $15 million to start a teacher housing program in Glenwood, Carbondale and Basalt.

The security features were not specifically earmarked within the bond issue, but are part of the general school and district facility improvements that are being paid for out of the bond funds.

The new Eastbank and GSES facilities that are now under construction will include similar security features, Gatlin said.

Additional security features, some of which are being paid for outside of the bond issue, include new exterior door monitors and cameras monitoring the new entryways, new building intercom systems and new phone systems, Gatlin said.

The safety vestibules are designed in such a way as to not be too imposing, he said. The architecture of each building will also determine the design of the secure entries, so not all of them will be the same, Gatlin said.

New Silt trustee hopes to continue beautification work in town

SILT — No one particular issue  drove Justin Brintnall to throw his name in the hat for a position on the Board of Trustees.

Rather, the father of three who worked for Dollar General and now works at Dish Network said he wanted to be a part of what he described as the town’s current positive trajectory.

“There’s nothing that I was like ‘I want to fix this.’ It was just more continuing (the work of the current board),” he said after Monday’s trustee meeting.

Brintnall, who was tapped to serve as a second alternate on the Silt Planning and Zoning Commission in July 2015, was appointed earlier this month to an open trustee seat vacated in July by Dylan Lewis. Lewis announced in late June that his family was moving to the Glenwood Springs area.

A resident of the Silt area for the past nine years, Brintnall will serve out the remainder of Lewis’ term, which expires in April 2018.

He was selected from a group of six people, which Mayor Rick Aluise described as one of the biggest and best applicant pools to apply for a single position.

Along with Brintnall, that pool included: Mark Anderson, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2014; Chris Classen, a former town employee of nine years who stated his support for efforts to bring a grocery store to Silt; Krista Cox, a resident of eight years who described herself as a 30-something-year-old woman and political outsider; Tela Robinson, a resident who grew up in Silt and cited her “extensive experience in business and project management;” and Paul Taylor, a former Silt police chief and town trustee who fell short in his bid for a seat on the board in the April election.

After interviewing the candidates at the Aug. 8 meeting, Trustee T.J. Tucker made a motion to appoint Taylor to the vacant seat, but the motion died due to lack of support. Mayor Pro-tem Bryan Fleming then made a motion to appoint Brintnall. The motion passed with trustees Keith Richel and Aron Diaz voting against the appointment.

“We had great applicants,” Aluise said Monday. “It was a very hard choice because they were very, very good applicants. (It was) probably the biggest … one of the best crews we’ve had apply for one position.”

The appointment seems to signal a continuing trend where a growing number of people are interested in serving on the board.

Four candidates applied for a vacant seat last October, which ultimately was filled with the appointment of Tucker. And in the most recent election in April, four candidates ran for three positions on the board.

Along with the increased interest, Aluise observed a potential shift in people’s motivation for getting involved with town government.

“It use to be that people would run because they were mad about something,” he said. “I think they’re running now because they’re excited to be part of … making the town look better and the beautification (work). It’s just a different type of a reason why they’re running now than in the past.”

Indeed, Brintnall on Monday pointed to recent work in Stoney Ridge Park, as well as the ongoing Main Street infrastructure improvements as some of the good work he hopes to continues as a trustee, which he said was a natural progression for him after serving on the planning commission.

“When I took the p and z role it was actually with the thought of at some point possibly stepping into (a trustee’s position),” he said, adding that he wanted to test the waters of town government at a lower level to see if he enjoyed it. “And I do, so (this is) the next step.”

Dyer ends tenure as Rifle police chief

Talk to law enforcement officials, both within the Rifle department and outside it, and they will say Rifle Police Chief John Dyer’s most noteworthy achievements as chief are directly related to his ability to become almost instantly ingrained in the community.

“He’s given us direction as far as, if the community wants it, that’s what they’re going to get,” Rifle Patrol Sgt. Kirk Wilson said of Dyer’s community-based approach to policing. “He preaches that. He wants to know what he can do for them and what he can do better.”

This week is Dyer’s last as Rifle’s police chief, a position he has held for almost exactly four years to the date. He is taking a job as the police chief with the department in Lake Stevens, Washington — a move that will bring him much closer to his daughters and grandchildren.

Patrol Sgt. Sam Stewart, a veteran law enforcement officer who has been with the Rifle department since 2001, will serve in an interim role until a new chief is hired, which is expected later this year.

When Dyer came to Rifle in 2012, he stepped into a position held by Daryl Meisner for nearly three decades. Coming to Rifle from Oak Harbor, Washington, which had a population in 2010 more than twice the size of Rifle, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Dyer remembers being told it would take years to assimilate into a small community.

That was not the case.

“He was just a part of the game in terms of the other police chiefs,” said Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, who worked with Dyer in several multijurisdictional law enforcement groups. “He just was very comfortable … like he’d been there for years.”

While many credit him for being able to quickly adjust to life in a new and smaller community, Dyer says it is the people in Rifle who made it possible.

While being recognized at the Aug. 17 City Council meeting, Dyer thanked City Manager Matt Sturgeon for his mentoring, as well as the council for its professionalism and civility. Lastly, he thanked the community for being so welcoming.

“I kind of joke coming to a small community from the outside where people say ‘well that’s going to be tough — small towns … it takes you 40 years (to fit in).’ And from day one I felt 100 percent welcomed and since then I’ve felt 100 percent supported by the community,” Dyer said at the meeting. “So this is easily going to be the highlight of my professional career and I … thank everybody for that.”

In the past, the chief has cited the blue decals that adorn vehicles throughout Rifle, and the broader region, as on example of the community’s support. The “blue line” decals are a sign of support for law enforcement that came about following the death of Mesa County Sheriff’s Deputy Derek Geer, who was killed in the line of duty on Feb. 8.

Dyer, who occasionally contributed a column to The Rifle Citizen Telegram, noted in July, after an attack in Dallas left five police officers dead, that he felt some doubt about whether he could recommend a career in law enforcement to a younger person. Recent interactions between the community and Rifle officers quelled that doubt.

“This past week has reminded me of a training officer I had 32 years ago, who told me I should never shake anyone’s hand while working, as I do not know if their motivation might be to hurt me,” Dyer wrote. “I believe I speak for everyone here when I say that the day I can’t shake the hand of a community member is the day I quit this profession, as it goes against everything we believe in. To any young person out there who wants a profession filled with service and sacrifice for the communities in which we are a part of, I wholeheartedly recommend a career in law enforcement.”

The chief did not hesitate when it came to engaging the community. Along with several law enforcement groups, including the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team, Dyer previously served as president of the Rifle Rotary Club.

There is a lot that goes into the role of police chief, as Stewart said he is quickly learning in preparing for the interim responsibilities, but Dyer always had the community in mind.

“He’s able to make those connections between us and the community. That’s very valuable,” Stewart said.

In 2014, Dyer created the Rifle Public Safety Citizen Advisory Board, a group of residents who seek to enhance police-community relations, among other things.

One of the early pushes by the advisory board was a desire to see more community outreach — basically a presence in the community outside of service calls, recalled Jay Rickstrew, an advisory board member.

While tight budgets and limited resources can make that difficult to achieve, the department is highly visible in the community, which Rickstrew attributed to Dyer’s leadership.

“I think he leads by example,” he said. “If you look at everything he’s been involved in … I think you know he practices what he preaches, and that’s how it trickles down to the other officers on the street.”

Sturgeon said Dyer is leaving the department in a strong position.

“The police department, from top to bottom, is filled with highly competent, dedicated staff that are very capable of doing their jobs while we seek out the next chief of police,” Sturgeon wrote in an email. “I’m confident Chief Dyer is leaving the city in a safe and steady position as it relates to law enforcement within the city of Rifle.”

The city has retained Fred Rainguet, a private consultant who led the search that led to Dyer’s hiring, to lead the current search process.

In the meantime, Stewart will lead the department. He said he does not know if he will apply for the position once the process reaches that point.

Asked what he thinks an eventual search committee should look for when determining an ideal candidate to lead the department, Stewart gave a straightforward response.

“Find a good leader like John Dyer. That’s what you should do.”