Cradle to Career Initiative helping quell ‘quiet crisis’ |

Cradle to Career Initiative helping quell ‘quiet crisis’

In 2011, when the Aspen Community Foundation started digging into education issues affecting an estimated 20,000 kids from Aspen to Parachute, officials became convinced a “quiet crisis” was unfolding.

Substantial gaps had appeared in the education achievement of low-income children and more affluent peers. In addition, there was a rapidly growing number of English Language Learners that strained school district resources. Educators realized that a growing number of high school students either dropped out or were ill prepared for college or career.

The foundation convened 100 community leaders from school, civic groups and nonprofits in late 2012 to study how to improve education, particularly for students at risk of performing poorly and dropping out of school. They came up with an action plan about 18 months later.

The Cradle to Career Initiative was launched in May 2014 to prepare kids for success from preschool to college. The Aspen Community Foundation released a comprehensive report this month measuring results from the first two years.

John Bennett, director of the Cradle to Career initiative, said two results jumped out of the report for him. First, a variety of programs designed to get kids prepared for kindergarten appear to be working.

Cradle to Career’s first of four goals is to help prepare all children for kindergarten.

“The younger the child is, the greater the leverage,” Bennett said. In other words, programs can be particularly effective with younger students.

One of the programs is Jumpstart, which provides full-day, five-week, five-days-per-week summer programs for kids in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs who are about to enter kindergarten with little or no early education.

“Jumpstart reduces the kindergarten gap among low-income, primarily Latino children,” the Cradle to Career Initiative’s 2016 report says.

Another program, Preschool on Wheels, enlisted Gus the Bus and the Sunshine Bus, to fire up preschoolers about education. The program provides high-quality, licensed preschool to low-income children from Rifle, Silt and New Castle.

The report says that students enlisted in Preschool on Wheels demonstrated significant growth during kindergarten in using language to express thoughts and needs, demonstrating knowledge of the alphabet and demonstrating emergent writing skills.

The preschool participation in the region increased from 76 percent in 2014 to 89 percent in 2015, according to the report. “In 2011, most of our region’s children were not attending preschool,” the report said.

Bennett said another example of success is dedicating college-career counselors to high schools. Aspen Community Foundation funded the addition of a counselor at Basalt High School in 2012-13 under a five-year agreement with the school district. The foundation covers a decreasing amount of the cost each year while the school district picks up more of the expense.

Basalt’s graduation rate has improved from 77 percent in 2013 to 82 percent the following year and 87 percent in 2015. College enrollment also increased.

The community foundation is extending the partnership for a college-career counselor to the other high schools in the region. Aspen already had such a position.

The report has some less promising results. The Aspen Community Foundation and school districts in the region hired the national pollster Gallup to help with surveys of children in grades five through 12.

It showed 45 percent of students overall were “strongly hopeful” while 36 percent were “stuck” and 19 percent were “discouraged.”

Bennett said Cradle to Career Initiative wants to do what it can to raise the hopes of all students.

Rona’s garden in full bloom at Glenwood’s Downtown Market

Rona’s memorial garden is in full bloom at Centennial Park, where the fun takes place every Tuesday evening from 4-8 p.m. at Glenwood’s Downtown Market. I am thinking of the pie baking contest next week and how I can incorporate the gorgeous ripe currants hanging from the bushes among the blooms in Rona’s garden. This year’s annual pie contest is next week, Aug. 2. It is the event of the summer with the tension and excitement it creates in the contestants, judges and samplers. Judging from last year’s entries, competition is tough.

There are plenty of fresh fruits to choose from at the market already, but you are not limited to fruit for your pie. Categories are fruit, cream, and exotic/specialty. We are asking contestants to preregister by email at Your pie will not be turned away if you don’t preregister, however.

Pappardelle Pasta is available at the Market Manager’s Booth, as well as specialty olive oils and balsamic vinegar. We have just received a nice selection of oilcloth table cloths and tote bags.

Every week the produce vendors are bringing something new to the market. Kendra at Z’s saved some of the few okra plants she harvested this week. She said it is supposed to be one of the healthiest foods you can give your body, so I looked it up in Jonny Bowden’s book “150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.” Jonny says, “Okra contains a unique combination of valuable nutrients. It is one of a select group of foods that include naturally occurring glutathione, arguably the most important antioxidant in the body.” I hope it’s still counted as healthy if I bread and fry it.

The squash at Early Morning Orchards is beautiful and downright cute. I’m talking about the patty-pan squash, which is absolutely scrumptious sautéed in the Lemon Infused Olive Oil available at the Market Manager’s Booth. You can also grill it, which is an excellent way to enjoy getting your vegetables. And Bowden tells us “summer squash is high in the heart-healthy mineral potassium.”

This week in the Cooking Booth Natalia Franz from Trattoria Dionisia will dazzle marketgoers with a fabulous presentation of her chef’s skills. Tratoria Dionisia is that chic underground Italian restaurant at 809 Grand Ave. that is both sophisticated and quaint. The Cooking Booth is sponsored by the Pullman and Town restaurants.

In the Music Tent, the Logan Brothers return to the Downtown Market, sponsored by Carpet One. It is always a pleasure to welcome the delightfully entertaining Logan Brothers to our little market where I must say we have the most appreciative and attentive audience in the world. I know the musicians enjoy playing at the market because of the special audience members who show up faithfully each week and show their appreciation for the musical talent.

The Logan Brothers are a Glenwood Springs-based band that plays classic and folk rock, focusing on acoustic and electric guitar, harmonica and exceptional singing. The group has been playing together off and on since 1977. They are like brothers with a friendship that has lasted over 25 years. Next week Vid Weatherwax will perform in the music tent, sponsored by Valley View Hospital.

Come join in all the fun with your neighbors, local producers, artisans, musicians and chefs from 4-8 p.m. every Tuesday through the summer at Ninth and Grand Avenue.

We continue to double the value of EBT and WIC benefits up to $20 each week.

Thunder River Theatre founder Lon Winston stepping down after 21 years

Thunder River Theatre Company founder and executive artistic director Lon Winston has taken his final bow at as head of the nonprofit after 21 years.

Winston, 70, is retiring and will be succeeded next month by the Carbondale company’s associate artistic director Corey Simpson.

“I feel like I’ve done the job I set out to do 21 years ago,” Winston said Saturday morning at Bonfire Coffee. “That was to create a theater company committed to talent in the valley, emphasizing a professional standard.”

Winston founded Thunder River in 1995 and made it a home for serious, often challenging, theater in the midvalley — staging classics, contemporary works and original productions with local casts.

“Early on we had this reputation as that theater that just does depressing plays,” Winston said. “If it wasn’t ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ then it was depressing. It took years to educate an audience.”

The opening season included David Mamet’s “Oleanna” and Sam Shepard’s “True West,” and in the two decades that followed Thunder River staged more than 60 shows, including works by Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill, Chekhov and Ibsen (comedies and the occasional musical also had a place in Winston’s program).

“Our audience started to get it, and it became not just, ‘You’re the ones who do the depressing theater,’ but, ‘Please, don’t stop,’” Winston recalled.

On New Year’s Eve 2005, the company opened the downtown building and black box theater it’s since called home.

“That changed everything, having our own space,” Winston said. “It allowed us to focus on raising the bar.”

With a consistent season schedule and a venue to match its ambitions, Thunder River became an incubator for acting talent in the valley, a creative canvas for Winston and frequent collaborator Valerie Haugen, and a well-respected, if unlikely, hub of the dramatic arts in Colorado.

The season after moving into the new building, Thunder River was a finalist for the El Pomar Foundation’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities. In 2012, it won the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Award for Outstanding Regional Theater.

“In the span of those six years we were able to elevate the stature of Thunder River, with the help of all the artists,” said Winston.

Before Winston and Thunder River’s supporters built the company’s own space, it was based out of an 18-wheeler, traveling up and down the valley to stage shows wherever they could get a room. In 2003, Winston mounted a production of Israel Horovitz’s “Park Your Car in Harvard Yard” in the Carbondale storefront of what is now a CrossFit gym. For the first 11 years, Winston worked for free. Despite Thunder River’s vagabond existence, the company earned a reputation for artistic integrity and originality. Winston and Haugen’s “Greek Shards” series of adaptations of Greek tragedies, begun in 2001, brought the pair to Dartmouth University for two summers, where they staged excerpts and lectured Classics students.

The artistic mission of the company remained consistent through the years.

“It took educating our audience, not changing our mission,” said Winston. “I’m proud of that.”

Winston has directed the majority of shows for Thunder River, and he designed all of them until last year, along with acting in roles ranging from George Burns in the Thunder River original “Passionate Collaborators” to Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman,” King Henry in “The Lion in Winter” and Teach in “American Buffalo.” His hands-on approach also had him hammering nails to build sets and manning the concessions stand during intermissions.

When directing plays, Winston encourages actors to work with what he calls “informed vagueness,” an approach rooted in dramaturgy and research but with openness to differing opinions and interpretations. On the business side of leading the nonprofit — fundraising, working with board members and the like — he tried to use the same strategy.

“I run the theater that way, too,” he said. “So that anyone who gets involved with us feels like they are a contributor, not a puppet. And that’s a huge reason, I think, for our success.”

Winston moved to the valley in 1975 with his wife, Debra, a school administrator with tenures at the Aspen and Carbondale Community schools. Early on, they lived above Thomasville on the north fork of the Fryingpan River, where Winston served for a time as a reserve deputy for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. The Winstons left in 1980, when Lon took a post as a theater professor at Villanova University. They returned in 1992. Soon after, Winston began working on the idea for Thunder River.

In retirement, Winston plans to travel, beginning with a series of road trips around the west this summer and fall.

But he’ll be back in Carbondale for the first Thunder River opening under Simpson’s leadership — “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in September. Simpson, 44, comes to Thunder River from a job as digital marketing director for Timbers Resorts. A graduate of the theater program at the University of Colorado, Simpson has been performing in the company since the 2012 production of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” and last year made his Thunder River directorial debut in “Bakersfield Mist.” Simpson’s enthusiasm, his collaborative nature, and his business experience, Winston said, made him an ideal successor.

“I think of leadership on a horizontal model, not a vertical model,” he said. “That’s one of the things I want to instill in Corey.”

Winston will stay involved with Thunder River as a consultant and a board member. He is also slated to design and direct the spring 2017 production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” As he put it: “I keep telling everyone, ‘I want to be the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage.’”

RFTA preps for next year’s bridge detour

QUESTION: How are local entities preparing to adapt and contribute in anticipation of the 95-day traffic bridge detour?

As the Grand Avenue bridge project gains headway — we just successfully erected the final pedestrian bridge girders — decreasing motorist traffic begins to occupy our planning process.

About this time next year, the bridge team will prepare for construction of the new vehicle bridge. This means implementing a 95-day traffic detour, and the community’s help in decreasing traffic by 20 percent. Part of our strategy in reaching this goal is leaning on our regional commuter transportation provider.

Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which operates the Ride Glenwood Springs shuttle, in partnership with Colorado Department of Transportation, is working hard in anticipation for the 2017 bridge detour. Park and ride improvements will offer safe, flexible and efficient options for travelers with upgrades and a new stop for the regional system. These changes will allow for more parking and a bus turnaround area at the West Glenwood location and the recently added New Castle location.

Graham Riddile, CDOT project engineer, explained that the new bus turnaround allows a safer way for travelers to get on and off the bus. It also creates a more efficient traffic flow during the detour, especially for the West Glenwood stop, which is located directly off of Midland Avenue. In addition to these upgrades, the West Glenwood Park and Ride is expanding with trail connections to the Wulfsohn Trail and West Glenwood Trail.

Users will see 32 new parking spaces at the new West Glenwood Park and Ride, a new unisex restroom, the new turnaround area and improvements to the Bustang pick-up. Renovations are anticipated to wrap up around the end of August, and construction costs are about $1.5 million, with $642,000 of federal transportation grant funding.

New Castle residents have noticed the new park and ride stop coming along. Off of U.S. Highway 6 near City Market, this new stop in the regional system will accommodate 62 parking spaces. Construction costs reach just under $620,000 with the aid of $200,000 in Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District grant money.

During the traffic detour, RFTA buses will shuttle passengers every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from the West Glenwood location to the north side of the pedestrian bridge on Sixth Street.

Additionally, travelers will be able to easily connect to the regional bus stop at the 27th Street Roaring Fork Marketplace stop from the West Glenwood Park and Ride. This service will run every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

For more information about RFTA and Park and Ride or to find more locations visit

Readers Say Thanks

Springers track meet a success yet again

The Glenwood Springers’ Annual Community Track meet was held on July 6. The meet was a chance for families and friends to see the progress that the 70-plus boys and girls on the Glenwood Springers Track Team made over the course of the season.

The meet couldn’t have happened without our many volunteers — thank you. Also, we are grateful to our team sponsors: Bighorn Toyota, Bank of Colorado, Glenwood Springs Ford, and Glenwood Springs Subaru. And thank you to our relay sponsors: Auto Glass Specialists, Glenwood Insurance, Earth-Wise Horticulture, Summit Canyon Mountaineering, Kaufman & Kaufman, Dr. Setterberg, Alpine Bank, Paramount Professionals, Advanced Carpet Care & Restoration, Colorado Ranch House, Western Slope Paint Supply, Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub, Glenwood Adventure Co., Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, Blue Sky Adventures, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and Iron Mountain Spa.

We would also like to thank our volunteer coaches for their support this season: Jenny Barsness, Anne Swanson, AJ Crowley, Alex Cutright and Kai Uyehara. Along with a thank-you to our assistant coaches: Carly Setterberg and Melissa Thrun. Further, we are blessed to have the continued support of Jenny Cutright and Mike Kishimoto, who have been volunteering for the program for many years: Thank you.

The Springers’ Track Team qualified nine athletes for the Regional USATF Junior Olympic Championship and three for the National USATF Junior Olympic Championship: Jacob Barsness, Reid Swanson and Benjamin Swanson. Nationals will take place July 25-31 in Sacramento, California.


Coach Abbey

Glenwood Springers Track Club

Firekracker 4K a fun time

The Lions Club of Glenwood Springs would like to extend a hearty thanks to all the helpers and participants during our recent Firekracker Run on July 4th. A good time was had by all, and we couldn’t have done it without all of you. The funds raised by this event will be used for helping people with eye and vision troubles. Thanks also, to the Post Independent, for posting the notices about our event.

Frances H. Ralff

Glenwood Springs

Defiance productions are a community effort

On this beautiful July morning when we are busy planning our fall 2016 musical, it is important to pause and thank the many who made our last production, “Fiddler on the Roof,” so very successful.

Thank you, sponsors. Your enthusiastic support made our show possible. Thank you to everyone who helped supply, build, paint, sweep, transfer, reconstruct, hang, strike and return. Your efforts turned the design into reality. Thank you to those who shared space for building, rehearsing and performing. Your sacrifices and generosity made a huge difference. Thank you, creative team. Your vision brought the heart and soul of Anatevka to our community, and we all grew as a result. Thank you, cast, crew and musicians. The unselfish sharing of your talents transported and transformed us. And finally, thank you, audiences, for laughing, crying, applauding and making the awarding of $5,500 in performing arts scholarships possible.

A well-deserved standing ovation to all.

Recently at the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, we held our annual Defiance FUN-draiser. Once again, the community came together to show their support and appreciation for theatre and its positive impact. Thanks to everyone who took part. As a result of the generosity shown that evening, we are well on our way to funding our 2016 production “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” which will be presented this November. Stay tuned for the audition announcements.

We are proud to serve as your community theatre.

Chip Winn Wells and

Jacquie Meitler

for the board of Defiance Community Players

Education Briefs

Skylark School graduates first 8th grade class

Skylark School, a full-time Christian school in Glenwood Springs, honored its 2016 eighth grade graduates on May 26. Students will advance to Skylark School’s high school program or to another school in the district. Graduates pictured are Sadie Barth, Molly Hancock, Kara Keathley, and Hannah Traver.

Skylark School is a K-high school offering an extensive and varied course of study in 18 subjects including math, science, language arts, history, foreign language, art, music, handwriting and composition. Additionally, families and students participate in field study days exploring the Roaring Fork Valley and after school clubs.

For more information about Skylark School and how to apply call 970-930-1804 or

Torrey Sanson makes the deans’ list at Azusa Pacific University

Carbondale resident Torrey Sanson made the academic deans’ List at Azusa Pacific University. Sanson, a applied exercise science major, is honored for a spring semester 2016 academic standing of a 3.5 or better grade-point average.

Wayne Starr of Rifle graduates from RIT

Wayne Starr of Rifle received a BS in software engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. RIT celebrated its 131st Academic Convocation in May. Diplomas were distributed to graduates following the event at separate ceremonies held by each of RIT’s nine colleges and two academic centers.

Hannah Macaulay earns dean’s list honors at Tufts University

Hannah Macaulay of Carbondale made the Tufts University dean’s list for the Spring 2016 semester. Dean’s list honors at Tufts University require a semester grade point average of 3.4 or greater.

St. Stephen School Golf Classic

The St. Stephen School Golf Classic will be held at the Aspen Glen Club on Sept. 30 with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. Entry fee is $185 per player and $700 for a four-person team and includes 18 holes as well as tee gift, prizes for winners, hole-in-one prize and dinner reception in the clubhouse following the tournament. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Contact or for more information and to register for the event, or check out the school’s website,

Skylark School enrolling

Skylark School is now enrolling students for the 2016-2017 school year. The school offers kindergarten through high school classes with an extensive and varied course of study and highly qualified teachers. The upcoming school year begins Aug. 15 for all grades. Call the school at 970-930-1804 to schedule a tour, or visit for more information.

St. Stephen Catholic School now enrolling

St. Stephen Catholic School is now enrolling students for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year. The school offers preschool through eighth-grade classes, with an emphasis on a Christ-centered and focused environment for the whole child, rigorous academics with test scores averaging two years above grade level, and highly qualified and certified teachers. The upcoming school year begins Aug. 22 for all grades. Call the school at 970-945-7746 to schedule a tour or for more information. Visit the website at

Business Briefs July 25, 2016

Steve Wells receives Galileo Certification

Steve Wells, personal trainer and owner of Midland Fitness, has been certified through the Able Bionics Foundation on the Galileo Vibration Trainer. Able Bionics USA is a local charitable program for the Roaring Fork Valley and I-70 corridor residents that is designed to help individuals who have mobility impairments to regain motility with the assistance of the Galileo.

Galileo is a proven technology that offers many benefits to abled and disabled members of our community who want to improve their quality of life. As a therapy method, Galileo Vibration training is proven to help various neuromuscular and autoimmune issues. For athletes, the Galileo rapidly decreases recovery time and offers the ability to get the benefits of an intense workout in a very short time with much less stress.

Contact Midland Fitness 945-4440 or for more information.

Mind Springs Health welcomes new chief financial officer

Mind Springs Health, the largest provider of mental health, wellness and substance abuse treatment on the Western Slope, has hired John C. Rattle as Chief Financial Officer. He is responsible for the accounting and financial planning, revenue cycle management and facilities operation for the organization and its affiliates, and he reports directly to President and CEO Sharon Raggio.

Most recently Chief Financial Officer for North Range Behavioral Health/Summitstone Health Partners of Greeley, Rattle brings nearly 35 years’ experience in health care with emphasis on mental health and substance abuse to Mind Springs Health. Rattle is charged with overseeing all financial activity for parent organization Mind Springs Inc., 13 Mind Springs Health outpatient offices, and West Springs Hospital, the only psychiatric hospital on the Western Slope. He also serves as Chief Financial Officer for West Slope Casa, the designated managed service organization (MSO) for the Western Slope.

Holding a bachelors of science degree in accounting from Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, Illinois, and an MBA in finance from the University of Colorado at Denver, Rattle enjoys golf, cycling, hiking and all family time. Active in his church, he loves singing, laughing and having fun.

Talus Research + Design releases cryotherapy product for head and neck injuries

Talus Research + Design, a Basalt-based company that develops field-ready first aid solutions, has introduced its first product, the Zero° Collar (Zero Degree Collar). The Zero° Collar is the first cold therapy specifically designed for field-side use to alleviate pain and inflammation in the head and neck following athletic injuries that are often associated with concussion.

Its custom, proprietary design provides an easy-to-use, ergonomic, cost-effective alternative to a single ice pack or cobbling together multiple ice packs with tape. It mitigates the need for field-side coolers or freezers; a simple burst of the pack instantly cools the product to near 32°F (approximately 0°C, as suggested by the product name).

The Zero° Collar is a one-size solution with full neck cooling that minimizes dead spots. It is self-cooling upon activation and secures quickly with an attached hook-and-loop system. It stores easily and has a shelf life of two years or more. The Zero° Collar is designed to help emergency medical technicians, first responders, athletic trainers and parents provide immediate, ice-like cooling to relieve pain and inflammation from injury to the head and neck, before and during transport to a medical care facility. It can be used in any setting, including the playing field, home or wilderness, since it will cool instantly upon activation.

The Zero° Collar is available now for purchase on

Letter: Beware of scam

My parents recently received a call from, according to the caller I.D., Dish Network, their television provider. The individual on the end of the line informed my mother that since Dish’s satellite was being realigned my parents would need to “upgrade” their receiver. For this to happen my mother would need to pay a $150 fee and give her credit card number.

When she refused to give out her credit card information the man told her that her TV would be turned off in five minutes. Surprise! Within minutes they no longer had TV reception. Thus, my mother called the Dish Network customer service, and after a 30-minute phone call they once again had their TV reception. But it didn’t end there.

The following day, my parents’ telephone didn’t work. Using my phone, my mother was able to get a hold of customer service for CenturyLink, and their response was “you will need to contact Dish Network” as the two services are “bundled.” My mother once again called Dish. What followed was a three-hour ordeal in which my mother explained what had occurred to a minimum of five different people as she was constantly transferred to different departments.

She was told that she was being charged a $500 fee for canceling her service prior to the contract end date even though she herself had never canceled it and she had already explained this umpteen times. Finally, Dish said that they would credit the $500 fee but she would need to call CenturyLink to get her phone back in service.

The funny part (not really) was that when she called CenturyLink again they informed her that they wouldn’t reconnect her phone until she had paid the amount due for Dish — which included the $500 disconnection fee. In the end, thanks to CenturyLink’s lack of service, my parents were without a phone for 11 days. Fascinating how someone can disconnect the phone service in a flash but to have it reconnected takes over a week.

As for Dish Network’s response, it was deplorable. When told that the caller I.D. came up “Dish Network,” their customer service responded that “any caller I.D. system can be hacked.”

I believe that more than just that was hacked — how else was someone able to attempt to extort money from Dish customers and then actually disconnect their service? Upon looking up Dish Network scams on the internet they are quite prevalent, yet Dish Network treats their customers, who are extorted, like criminals themselves.

Vreneli Diemoz

Glenwood Springs

Letter: ER help

Thank you to Jasmine, who came to my aid and took me to the Grand River Hospital emergency room Friday. You were so kind to take the time to help someone in need. I hope to be able to pay it forward some day.

Ruth Sante


Letter: Trump’s patriotism

Donald Trump asserts: “I know more about Isis than the generals. Believe me.”

Well, no, I don’t believe you. If Trump was the patriot he claims to be, why wouldn’t he share this alleged information with the current administration? It might be used to develop a successful strategy to fight them.

But then again doing something for the greater good is not his style. Sad.

JM Jesse

Glenwood Springs