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Youthentity column: Industry snapshot — check out health care, veterinary services jobs and careers

In our third installment of the Industry Snapshot series, we’re highlighting the opportunity and growth in the health care and veterinary services industries. In introducing students to possible jobs and careers in a variety of industries through our youth career readiness programs, Youthentity aims to first bring local industries to the forefront.

Our valley’s economy has always included a strong hospitality and construction/building presence, which is why our high school Career Academy career exploration program offers classes in those fields. This spring, we look forward to adding two other industries which provide employment stability in terms of both anticipated projected growth in both wages and job creation: healthcare and veterinary services.

Health care in the US is a powerhouse industry. Since 2014 the sector has seen an average annual growth of 7%; as well, healthcare is almost 20% of the GDP in the United States, and the sector is the US’s largest employer. The average employee in this sector earns $60,976 a year, compared to the national average of $47,060.

When considering veterinary services, if the amount we’re spending on pets is any indication alone (over $72B in 2018!), the industry will continue its upward trajectory as more and more people prioritize the health and wellness of their furry companions.

Profiles of a few top non-physician health-care jobs

Radiologic and MRI Technicians: These professionals perform imaging services such as x-rays. MRI technologists are trained to provide patients with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to help physicians with diagnostics.

Median Salary: $61,240

Predicted Growth: 13% through 2026

Required Education: Most professionals need an associate degree and become licensed or certified in their states.

Dental Hygienist: Dental hygienists are responsible for cleaning patients’ teeth, checking for signs of oral diseases or decay and provide other preventative dental care measures such as fluoride treatment or x-rays.

Median Salary: $74,820

Predicted Growth: 20% through 2026

Required Education: Associate degree required at minimum; all states require licensing. Demand for dental hygienists is expected to grow at a faster than average rate.

Radiation Therapist: Radiation therapists are part of a healthcare team that administers high doses of radiation to help treat cancer or other serious diseases. As the population ages and radiation therapies advance, the demand for radiation therapists is expected to rise.

Median Salary: $82,330

Predicted Growth: 13% through 2026

Required Education: Minimum of associate degree, usually licensed or certified by their particular state.

Veterinary services

While jobs in veterinary science offer less diversity, its opportunities still offer stability in wages and stable employment.

Veterinarian: Veterinarians serve the healthcare needs of animals, including small animals, livestock, avian, and zoo and laboratory animals.

Median Salary: $95,460

Predicted Growth: 16% through 2029

Required Education: Doctorate degree.

Veterinary Technician or Technologist: Veterinary technologists and technicians do medical tests that help diagnose animals’ injuries and illnesses.

Median Salary: $35,320

Predicted Growth: 16% through 2029

Required Education: Technologists usually need a 4-year bachelor’s degree, and technicians need a 2-year associate degree. Typically, both technologists and technicians must take a credentialing exam and become registered, licensed, or certified, depending on the requirements of the state in which they work.

It’s never too early to introduce kids to the possibilities when it comes to careers. As always, our hope is that this program expansion into healthcare and animal services will spark a passion for the field in our students, helping them to find direction and purpose as they pursue a path towards successful, stable and happy futures.

Kirsten McDaniel is executive director for Youthentity and writes a monthly column for the Post Independent.

Guest opinion: Prop. 113 helps Colorado’s conservatives

The conservative industrial complex — what I call Colorado Conservative, Inc. — is failing the constituency that serves as its purported reason for existence.

How many more elections in the Centennial State does the right have to lose until rank-and-file conservatives wake up?

A perfect example is Proposition 113, aka the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

Opponents are avoiding an open and honest discussion on what is arguably the most important question on the ballot in this year’s general election. Instead, they propagate myths, falsehoods, and disinformation, including in the pages of this newspaper.

Their most popular claim is that Proposition 113 abolishes or changes the Electoral College. Those who claim this know they are lying.

For the record, I am a conservative who campaigned for Tom Tancredo and against John McCain during the 2008 presidential primaries and caucuses, worked for Ted Cruz, and fully supports Donald J. Trump. I would never support any proposal that altered the constitutional framework for electing the president.

Proposition 113 is both constitutionally conservative and constitutionally consistent. It exercises the General Assembly’s authority under Article II of the U.S. Constitution to replace the state-based, winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes — a method James Madison, better known as the Father of the Constitution, opposed.

Notably, Colorado’s present method of awarding electors is not in the U.S. Constitution, was not debated at the 1787 constitutional convention, and was never mentioned in the Federalist Papers. In fact, states have routinely changed the method of awarding electors since the first presidential election. Examples include Massachusetts, which has changed its method 11 times. Maine and Nebraska use a different method than Colorado. Using different methods to award electors does not abolish or change the Electoral College.

Opponents also regularly claim that New York and California would control a presidential election under the popular vote. This is demonstrably false.

California and New York, which together have given conservatives three presidents in Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Trump, account for just 18% of the country’s voters. Eighty-two percent of voters to be outvoted by 18%, unless you reject basic math.

It is understandable why some conservatives are instinctively opposed to Proposition 113. I had the same initial reaction when I first heard about the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact five years ago.

However, the more I stopped and thought about it, the more I realized that it amplifies the voice of conservatives and, more broadly speaking, Republicans.

Colorado, having gone ‘blue’ in the last three elections, is not a battleground. As a result, Coloradans in every part of the state are ignored as Joe Biden and Trump pander to voters in the handful of states that actually decide the election. This is why Trump gave $13 billion to Puerto Rico three years after hurricanes — there are at least 1.1 million Puerto Ricans in must-win Florida — while Colorado with never-ending wildfires gets only the usual disaster relief.

Arizona, a former safe GOP state, is one of this year’s most contested battlegrounds. In fact, the Grand Canyon State may determine the winner. Additionally, any honest pundit will admit that once solidly ‘red’ Texas and Georgia are either battlegrounds now or will be toss-up ‘purple’ by 2024. Without carrying these states, it is mathematically impossible under the present electoral math impossible for Republicans to win.

Voting ‘yes’ on Proposition 113 puts conservatives up-and-down the ballot in a better position after years of losses by Colorado Conservative, Inc. In doing so it would chart a path out of the political desert for Republicans.

To put it in better perspective: The Colorado Republican Party has been reduced to its second-fewest number of state House seats since Teddy Roosevelt was president. Then there is the fact that 37% of county GOP parties don’t have a website in the year 2020. This dysfunction is what happens to the minority party in a politically irrelevant state.

In a presidential election under the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, the Republican candidate would invest in each and every county in each and every state because winning would become a numbers game. This would be a game-changer for conservatives because running up the score in the vast swath of ‘red’ America offsets losses elsewhere.

It also explains why Trump says he supports a popular vote. He knows it is easier for him and other Republicans to win if the votes of every voter in every state count.

Conservatives who want to win elections should ignore Colorado Conservative, Inc. and vote ‘yes’ on Proposition 113.

Dennis Lennox is campaign manager of Conservatives for Yes on National Popular Vote.

Monday letters: Republicans, Trump, GOP, Soto and Robinson, Mitsch Bush, wolves, Hanlon, Boebert, and Martin and Samson

Republicans lost my vote while Democrats earned it

I was a lifelong Republican, but now I am the Coordinated Campaign Manager for the Garfield County Democratic Party — here’s why:
I chose my original party affiliation based on my understanding of history and the values my family had instilled. Fiercely patriotic, with a deeply held faith, and members of my family serving in the military, I seemed naturally aligned with the Republican Party. For 25 years, I worked to elect Republicans to local, state and federal offices. On Capitol Hill in Washington DC and Denver I served those officials. Over time, I noticed a trend developing within the party that today has caused the irretrievable decay of its moral and intellectual core.

I’ve seen consistent efforts to purge moderate voices. Thoughtful Republicans were labeled “RINOs” and challenged in primaries producing “ideologically pure” candidates. Being boisterous and divisive now proves a candidate’s merit for leadership and is valued above interest in or knowledge of policy, (Please see: Boebert, Lauren).

The Republican Party is divorced from its intellectual roots, fueled only by emotion and fear. They believe in tax cuts, regardless of deficits. The Christian faith is threatened, though Trump can’t name a favorite Bible verse and Biden is a devout Catholic. The Second Amendment is on the verge of repeal, yet gun ownership soars. Abortion should be criminalized, though the abortion rate was higher pre-Roe v. Wade. And, they love their endless internet-fueled conspiracies, which conjure so much fear of “leftist agendas” that any amount of un-American authoritarianism is acceptable to save the country. Governing in a style reminiscent of the oft quoted Vietnam paradox, Trumpists seem to believe they must destroy the Constitution to save it. This is not conservatism.

Most Republicans abandoned their principles to follow Trump. Others, intimidated into silence, abandoned us when we needed principled leadership. Still others, chose to leave their party rather than betray their principles. Regardless, today’s Republicans are unworthy of office and deserve defeat at every level, so that a future center-right party might appreciate its ideological limits — never indulging Trumpism again.
Democrats didn’t just earn my vote, Republicans lost it.

Aron Diaz

Has Trump improved your life?

On the bright side, I am grateful to have Jean Albercio and her team responsible for the hard and careful work that I know is going on at the courthouse, and I am grateful to live in Colorado, a state that makes voting easy, inclusive, without forcing voters to stand in long lines and worry that their registration may suddenly be missing or altered. Locally, if I remember, Jean was re-elected by enough votes to show Republicans, too, respected her competence.

Voter suppression is ugly and has gone from a silent craven tactic of the Republican party, to being out loud and legimatized. Not in Colorado.
I can honestly say that the Democratic ticket represents what we need to move our county, state and country forward: all of us. The Republican agenda entrenches power, is reflexive to money and ignores the giant issues of climate change and social justice. Social justice ignored destroys Democracy and climate change ignored destroys our world.

Unexamined fealty to Trump, or guns, or oil and gas, or reducing government, is like gang loyalty. We don’t belong to a gang, we live in a country.

Most notably Important at the top of the ticket is the protection of everyone’s health: the mask wearers, the non-mask wearers, the insured, the uninsured, the rich, the poor. No one wants to watch their neighbor die of disease or incur unpayable debt. Of all his character flaws and misanthropy, Trump almost seems proud of this one. Spineless Sen. Corey Gardner lopes right along behind him.

The bottom of the ticket, our county commission officials, affect us day to day. A change in Garfield County is frightfully overdue. The current commission makes decisions based on a time past when gas drilling was the economic engine of Western Colorado. This will never be the case again and with good reason if you notice the West burning. It is not theoretical. Climate change requires new views and consideration that younger, and may I add intelligent, informed, female, commissioners will bring. Samson and Martin can not protect the economics of a diminished, dying oil and gas industry and it is disturbing they will use our tax money, mitigation money, to try to do just that.

Has Trump improved your life? Be honest.

Barb Coddington
Glenwood Springs

Longing for a kinder, gentler GOP

I met Russell George when I was a reporter for the Glenwood Post and he was the Republican District 57 State Representative from Rifle. Later, George would become Speaker of the House and director of the Division of Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Transportation.

I could see George was an astute, amicable man so we became somewhat friendly. When I told him my father was a retired attorney, George asked if he could meet him. So, the three of us had lunch and I endured an hour of legal-speak. The two lawyers got along well even though my father made light of the preponderance of water attorneys in Colorado.

“Water rights are a property right,” he said, “and we covered that in our first year of law school.”

A water rights attorney himself, I doubt if George agreed with my father’s assessment, but he respected his opinion and merely smiled.

This is why George has refused to endorse his party’s nominee for the Third District U.S. Congress seat, Lauren Boebert. George harkens back to a day when Republicans were primarily decent people who advocated for small government and a free-market economy, but never presented this ideology as dogma.

Boebert represents the new wave of Republicans that are leaning past conservativism into fascism. Their mantra is, “I love America and since you disagree with me, you must hate America.” That’s not only no way to create consensus, but it’s downright un-American itself.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams fought like cats and dogs when they were inventing the United States. They agreed on very little, but they listened and they compromised and what they came up with turned out be a pretty fair country.

George has endorsed Boebert’s Democratic opponent, Diane Mitsch Bush, because he sees himself in her. Different views on the issues, yes, but both realize government in America is a team sport. We don’t have benevolent dictators controlling our lives, but freely elected representatives of the people working with other legislators to achieve the will of the majority.

Fred Malo Jr.

Soto and Robinson will make Garfield County a better place

Here’s something to think about in the races for Garfield County Commissioner: Incumbent John Martin has been in office since 1996, and Mike Samson has been a commissioner since 2008. It’s time to get rid of these career politicians.

Beatriz Soto and Leslie Robinson have each worked hard for years to make our county a better place to live. They are in touch with our communities and the many challenges we face. The Board of County Commissioners has a huge impact on people’s lives. Soto and Robinson will serve all Garfield County residents with grace and dignity.

Allyn Harvey

Mitsch Bush is clear choice for CD3

There is a clear choice this year as we vote for our next 3rd District Representative in Congress. Diane Mitsch Bush is a strong, thoughtful leader and person of integrity. As an elected official, Mitsch Bush represented her constituency in a balanced manner. She is a master at working with colleagues across the aisle to find common ground.

Mitsch Bush understands the task in front of her. Not only has she worked on local and state issues, but during her time as a commissioner and legislator, she was engaged in national issues that impacted Colorado. She knows that we need a representative in Congress who can educate her colleagues in DC and fight for solutions to the unique issues that we are facing in rural Colorado, including lowering health insurance costs, protecting our public lands that support our agricultural and recreational economies, and bringing infrastructure projects to our district. As wildfires continue to spread across the West, Mitsch Bush knows how important it is for our country to work globally on addressing climate change, and nationally on supporting forest and grassland health efforts.

We are in need of leaders who are informed and will work to bring our country and world leaders together to address numerous issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic; high impact natural disasters; and the thousands of people uprooted by war, drought and poverty. Mitsch Bush is that person.
Please join me in voting for my friend and former colleague, Diane Mitsch Bush.

Trési Houpt,
former Garfield County commissioner
Glenwood Springs

Colorado does not need wolves

Prop. 114 wants to introduce wolves into Colorado just like the Feds did in 1995 in the Yellowstone area. Bad idea.

Ask the game departments in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming how they were treated by the heavy handed U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and their all powerful endangered species act. Very poorly.

The wolves didn’t stay in Yellowstone, they expanded in just 25 years all across the West, including Colorado.

The basic question is do we want to manage our deer, elk and moose to benefit the people of Colorado or give a high percentage to feeding wolves.
In 1995 the game units around Yellowstone issued over 300 moose licenses. Now they issue 10.

Our deer herds are nowhere near what they used to be. Let’s not pile on another high stress mortality factor.

Ballot box biology stinks. Shouldn’t we let our professional wildlife department make all wildlife management decisions based on scientific facts and leave emotional bias out of the equation.

Wolves are a bad deal for our ranchers, and guess who gets to pay for wolf management. The sportsmen and women who don’t want wolves in the first place.

Vote “no” on Prop. 114.

Don Waechtler
Glenwood Springs

Where are all the grey wolves

It all started with the legislators of Montana and Wyoming hunting down grey wolves for sport 25 years ago. Then, when they were asked to change the law because the wolves were becoming endangered, they just made it illegal to hunt them. But a short time later a lobby that represented the large beef producers in those states made it legal to shoot these wolves if they were perceived to be a threat to their herds. Guess what? Even though no proof was shown that they were losing calves or adult cattle, the ranchers were given the go ahead to hunt the grey wolves again.

Now, it seems according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife the grey wolves are showing up here and there in packs from North of Steamboat Springs to Estes Park.

So, the question is: should they be allowed to live in Colorado or not?
Wolves have been hunting in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado for centuries. Ranchers moved into their hunting space, not the other way around. Wolves were here first.

So, why would we, the citizens of Colorado want to kill them? They are endangered, and if we do not protect them, they will be gone forever, and become just a memory, and relegated to photos in books, as to what they used to look like.

It is our responsibility to find a way to coexist with the grey wolf. It is our mandate. Humans have systematically killed off so many species using the same old used up excuse that they are encroaching on the land used by ranchers. Keep in mind in Colorado much of cattle land is leased from the federal government, and ranchers just need to understand the needs of these wolves outweigh their need to produce beef for our dinner tables. I like a good steak like the next guy, but without sounding snarky, I prefer by steak to be from the mid-west, preferably Iowa, not Colorado beef. It’s better tasting, and those ranchers do not kill a precious resource of endangered wolves so we can eat beef. Sometimes we just have to bite the bullet and understand that protecting these majestic animals outweighs protecting the profits of ranchers in Colorado. Just saying.

Steven Gluckman
Glenwood Springs

County will be healthier, more prosperous under Robinson, Soto

We have a wonderful opportunity to elect two intelligent, caring, and practical women to represent us as Garfield County commissioners. Leslie Robinson is running in District 3 and Beatriz Soto is running in District 2. You can vote for both of them, and please do.

I had the pleasure of serving on the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board with Robinson for two years. During that time I got to witness her steadfast poise and unbridled strength to stand up for communities being negatively impacted by excessive oil and gas drilling that the current county commissioners allowed. She speaks up for the people, communities, land, animals, air, water and resources of Garfield County and will serve as a true representative for progress.

Beatriz Soto is also well versed in serving the public and standing up for the environment with her work at Wilderness Workshop. Her experience as an architect gives her the tools to see how systems work and how to improve them, including the government. She is also Latina and bilingual, finally giving the Spanish speakers that make up over 30% of our beautiful county the representation that has been long deserved.

Local government has a very direct and immediate impact on our community and by electing Robinson and Soto together Garfield County will be a healthier and more prosperous place now and into the future.

Please Vote!

¡Vota Por Favor!

A.J. Hobbs

Vote Hanlon for Senate District 8

As a past member of Glenwood Spring’s City Council, I have worked closely with Karl Hanlon as our city attorney for more than three years. I have gained great respect for his level-headed thinking, ability to work with all our citizens, and, above all, integrity. He’s been an invaluable asset to the council’s economic development agenda, especially during this pandemic. His accomplishments include expansion of city-owned broadband, advocating for sustainable jobs, opposing the Rocky Mountain Industrials strip mine that would subtract jobs from our economy, and advocacy for public lands. Karl also has worked closely with municipalities across the 3rd Congressional District fighting to secure water rights and economic prosperity for municipalities on West Slope and in southern Colorado.

Adding to his integrity is his thoughtful and proactive thinking. As an advocate for Glenwood, he’s been tireless in thinking about innovate opportunities and new ways of doing routine business. While some politicians in our state have been reckless by downplaying COVID-19’s threat to rural Coloradans, Hanlon has worked directly with local communities who took this crisis seriously and knows firsthand what we need to do to better protect public health.

Hanlon listens and communicates with citizens, policymakers, state legislators and has represented Glenwood effectively with congressmen and senators. To sum it up, Hanlon knows how things work and has the energy and ideas to get things done. Please join me in voting for him as our next District 8 Senator.

Rick Voorhees
Glenwood Springs

Hanlon has big heart for DACA students, immigration

I have known Karl Hanlon for many years professionally through his work as the city attorney for Glenwood Springs, and we both served on the Alpine Legal Services board together. But in all that he has done and continues to do, what has impressed me the most is his big heart for DACA students and immigration.

As a dad, Hanlon learned about the issue through the eyes of his daughter, who’s best friend in high school was a DACA student. A few years ago, he quietly stood by her side and that of her immigrant and undocumented friends to protest for the rights of DACA students. Many of the kids were terrified to speak up and protest at all for fear of endangering their families. Hanlon used his community experience to amplify their voices so these kids would have the same opportunities as his own children. When the time came for these same students to apply for college, Karl was the first to lend a hand, from helping navigate financial aid to just making sure everyone had a ride to the college fair.

To Hanlon, the issue of immigration is not an issue of red or blue, it is an issue of human rights. Cast your ballot for Karl Hanlon. Join me to see immigration policies changed to benefit the families and kids who came here for a better life and fighting for the right to stay in the only country they had ever known as home.

Blanca Uzeta O’Leary
Member, Latino Democrats of Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin Counties

A civics lesson for Lauren Boebert

I read Lauren Boebert’s interview in Friday’s Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Oct. 16) in stunned amazement. Boebert stated her “First vote in Congress will be to fire Nancy Pelosi.” For someone who is running to represent Colorado’s 3rd District, her ignorance is mind blowing.

Let me explain to you how Congress works, Lauren. Nancy Pelosi is the House Majority Leader. Since the Democrats control the House, they elected her to lead them in the House. Similarly, Mitch McConnell is Majority Leader of the Senate. Lauren, the Democrats will not invite you to vote on their choice for House Leader.

Your lack of civic understanding is one of many reasons I am voting for Diane Mitsch Bush.

Dave Malehorn
Glenwood Springs

Crying for our country!

I watched the documentary of the Obama years in the White House, “The Way I See it,” for two hours and cried for our country and what Trump has done to it. I was hoping that my Republican friends who are still supporting Trump would have been watching it. I doubt they will turn off Fox News long enough to hear the truth and the facts.

I keep saying to my friends, “I don’t understand how people can see what is happening and still vote for Trump.” The lies and conspiracy theories that people spread on Facebook and Twitter is partly to blame for all of this. People have lost faith in the newspapers like the NY Times and the Washington Post, which I believe is “true news.” I listened in amazement four years ago when Kellyanne Conway talked about “alternate facts” (lies).

We now have a choice to either have courage and face the truth and elect a man of integrity who truly loves his family and his country, or to stay in denial and believe the lies of Trump and be content to watch thousands more people die, who wouldn’t have to die, if we had honest dedicated leadership.

I do believe the American education system has failed to teach the history of our country and to show the courage and love of our country that the ‘Greatest Generation’ possessed before WWII, living through a depression and then the war and the years after the war. The “Me” generation has taken over and look where we are! There is ‘something’ beyond your selfish needs of the day!

I’m praying for healing of this nation and for moral and strong leadership in 2021. God help us and God bless America!

Linda Carr

Mitsch Bush will develop legislation for mental health services

Diane Mitsch Bush is a sociologist with legislative experience. We need her informed voice of reason, collaboration and hope to represent us in the U.S. Congress. She understands the need for high-quality education for all children and sponsored the bipartisan Debt Free School Act signed into law in Colorado. With a job market that changes rapidly due to new technologies and now, a pandemic, Mitsch Bush understands that promoting education, whether for children just beginning to learn or adults needing new jobs and careers, will lead to healthy communities.

Mitsch Bush voted in the Colorado legislature for universal background checks and limiting gun magazines. 39,773 people died as a result of gunshot wounds in the U.S. in 2017. Sixty percent of those deaths were suicides, 61% more than death by homicide. White men make up the majority of these suicide deaths. You are far more likely to know someone who died via gunshot in suicide than in a homicide. Suicides and murders leave a wake of sorrow for families lasting generations. I know.

Mitsch Bush’s Republican opponent to win Colorado’s 3rd District U.S. House of Representatives seat wears a gun to work and arms her waitresses in her restaurant. She is a one-issue candidate with no experience to prepare her for public service. She ignored the Colorado Health Department order for restaurants to close for indoor dining and lost her license temporarily for refusing to obey this mandate to protect the health of Coloradans.

We need Mitsch Bush to help our nation develop legislation that addresses the need for more mental health services at affordable prices so that we don’t have people with mental illnesses killing themselves or others. Additionally, a step toward ending police violence is having more counselors in our communities working with police and troubled people to prevent confrontations and provide help. Mitsch Bush has been endorsed by the former Speaker of the House in Colorado, Republican Russ George. The Pueblo Chieftain has endorsed her, as do I.

Illene Pevec

Keep Martin and Samson working for us

In Garfield County we are fortunate to have three dedicated, public servants as commissioners. Two, John Martin and Mike Samson, are up for re-election. They have made and kept our county among the most prosperous in Colorado.

They support the oil and gas industry that pays the majority of our bills. Their challengers will eviscerate our county’s greatest economic engine. These opponents are disciples of the new green scheme. They will raise our taxes and Californicate Colorado.

Why change someone who has done so well for us for so long? I believe Garfield County residents are smart enough to keep Martin and Samson working for us. Please vote for Marten and Sampson.

Bruno Kirchenwitz

Soto will bring diversity of age, background, gender, viewpoints

For those that have not submitted their ballots yet, I would encourage you to vote for Beatriz Soto. Soto and I both grew up in the valley and have seen the quick and drastic changes happening around us. Soto recognizes the opportunities in these changes, and also the need for government to balance and regulate the influx of people and wealth.

As a local farmer, I have seen land prices driven up by an influx of people and a growing hemp market. I have struggled to find housing to stay in the community I dedicate my time to. Soto understands the diverse issues facing our county and recognizes the need to prioritize a protection of our cultural and agricultural heritage, a desperate need for affordable housing and measures to address the second homeowners leaving so many valuable residences vacant during much of the year, and a need for affordable healthcare and childcare. She represents hard working locals, latinos and workers who prop up the ski town industries, those looking to protect our natural surroundings for future generations and not just for extractive companies, and all Garfield county residents.

Our taxpayer money should benefit all of Garfield County, and not be spent in $1.5 million lawsuits on behalf of oil and gas fighting against clean air regulation. Soto recognizes that we all use energy and oil and gas, and can work to diversify our energy and economic streams so that we can build resilient communities and buffer against our inherently volatile economic drivers of oil and gas and tourism as we transition away. Let’s challenge the stagnant mind-set that our current county commissioners have slipped into during their comfortable past 20 years, and remind those that represent us to remember that they still represent us. Let’s elect Soto and truly have our diversity of age, background, gender, and viewpoints represented on our Board of County Commissioners.

I feel invested in the community I grew up in and call home and encourage you to vote for Soto as well for the future of our valley.

Ben Armstrong

Wolves, Mitsch Bush, Hickenlooper, Robinson and Soto, Trump, and water

Restore the howl in Colorado

As a decades long wolf advocate and a hiker who feels most alive in our wild lands, I care about wolf reintroduction in Colorado. Proposition 114 is on our ballots and allows Colorado to restore the howl.

I am a retired educator, who developed numerous interdisciplinary units with emphasis on our wild lands and environment. I understand the importance of wolves in the balance of nature and their value in improving our ecosystems. I also am dismayed about the wrongful history of wolf eradication in our state and our country.

Please read the detailed information in the blue 2020 State Ballot Information Booklet about Proposition 114 to better understand this science-based plan for reintroduction of wolves to their rightful places in western Colorado. There have been many studies about this plan over the past couple of decades with input from biologists, wildlife experts and our citizens. Plus, before it is decided where and how to restore wolves in our state, more input will be included from Coloradans.

Ranchers and hunters seem most concerned about this plan, which has a high percentage of support in our state. Statistics in neighboring states show wolves improve the health of prey like deer and elk. Wolves are an apex mammal but also selective hunters; they are not killers at random. Only the alpha male and female breed in a pack, thus wolves do not overpopulate their range. Data since introduction of wolves 25 years ago in the Northern Rockies shows livestock loss is rare. In 2015, less than 0.01% of cattle were lost to wolves. There are already funds in place for compensation to ranchers. Better yet, non-lethal tools and techniques have been successfully used in the backcountry by ranchers.

Does Colorado have room for wolves? Research shows 17 million acres of public lands in western Colorado are ideal habitat for wolves in our state. Colorado needs wolves and wolves need Colorado. Vote “yes” on Proposition 114 to gradually and safely Restore the Howl in Colorado.

Ann English
Glenwood Springs

Let’s not create complications for our wildlife professionals

As a sportsman who recognizes the holistic picture of predator-prey relationships on a landscape scale, I’d ordinarily approve reintroducing an apex predator like the gray wolf to Colorado. That said, I oppose Proposition 114 for several reasons.

First, I oppose game management not based on science. Ballot initiatives are inherently emotion based, not science based.

Second, the financing of this initiative is vague. It states that the state will pay fair compensation to ranchers for losses caused by gray wolves from monies in the Wildlife Cash Fund. It later states that the general assembly shall make appropriations as necessary to fund the programs, including said compensation for livestock owners. Nowhere is there mention of funding for the additional Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) personnel to monitor the wolves.

The mention of the Wildlife Cash Fund is unsettling. That cash fund is funded from the Pittman Robertson act and the Dingle Johnson act, both of which funnel federal dollars from excise taxes on hunting gear and ammo and fishing gear to CPW. Any diversion of those funds can trigger a removal of them by the feds. That’s a $20 million-plus loss for the state.

All this puts CPW in the unenviable position of using monies from big game license sales to fund a wolf reintroduction plan. Imagine how hunters feel to know their dollars would be used to fund a program that will lessen their chance of a successful hunt? This is unfair in the extreme and has generated serious and justified backlash from sportsmen.

And, Colorado already has its first wolf pack. A biologist has seen a pup following an adult from the pack up in northwest Colorado. This pack is under full protection from the Endangered Species Act, and monitoring and the associated costs are borne by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, not the state of Colorado.

I hope supporters of this initiative realize that it should be a moot endeavor, with the emergence of Colorado’s own pack up near Cold Springs Mountain in Moffat County. Let’s not create complications for our wildlife professionals. Vote “no” on Proposition 114.

Bob Shettel

Mitsch Bush will work across the aisle

We need a representative who can work across the aisle to represent western Colorado. I will choose a proven pragmatist, Diane Mitch Bush, who cares about our health care system, not an inexperienced demagogue who will simply posture, and get nothing done. Please vote.

Dale L. Will

Mitsch Bush and Hickenlooper for Colorado!

I am writing to urge you to vote for Diane Mitsch Bush as our 3rd Congressional District Representative. She is focused on issues that affect Coloradans, especially on the Western Slope. Affordable health care is at the top of the list. She will fight for us to lower premiums, deductibles and prescription drug prices. She will work to protect coverage for pre-existing conditions and funding of rural health care clinics, and will support expanded substance/opioid abuse prevention and treatment programs. Her opponent, Lauren Boebert, has no plan to address these issues. Let’s elect Diane, an experienced representative for CD3. Serving in Congress is a job for a person that has knowledge of the job and their constituents, not someone who sides with conspiracy theorists and disregards law and order like her opponent.

I also encourage you to vote for John Hickenlooper as our U.S. Senator. His opponent, Cory Gardner, has disregarded many requests for in-person town halls across the state prior to COVID-19. It’s not as if he wasn’t in our valley; he was, but just for photo ops for himself. Hickenlooper may not be a slick-talking politician like Gardner, but he is thoughtful and respectful. Gardner has unsuccessfully tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act repeatedly, which would leave many Colorado residents without health care coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage for adult children up to age 27 on parents’ plans and coverage for people that may have met their lifetime maximum coverage amounts. Hickenlooper will protect health care for all of us.
Please join me in voting for Mitsch Bush for Congress and Hickenlooper for Senate. They both will stand up for Colorado, not special interest groups.

Connie Overton

County leadership has been stuck in the past

What will their world be like for our descendants? Be proactive and support meaningful change that will help today and into the future. With the power of your vote, you can make a difference. We can move past stale, nostalgic and partisan thinking to enlightened, fresh, more representative and adaptive decision-making. Our county leadership has been stuck in the past, “hitching their wagons” to fossil fuel extraction. Their support of and dependence on the natural gas industry ignores market realities and risks the health and well-being of our environment and residents. Opposing sage grouse protections and regulations on operations, to supporting the Jordan Cove pipeline to export natural gas are indicative of their single-mindedness.

Locally we survived the empty promise of oil shale and closure of two local coal mines. Other mines are closing with the move away from fossil fuels. Xcel, Black Hills Energy, Holy Cross and others are transitioning to renewable energy. Glenwood and Aspen use 100% renewable energy. Even China is committing to be carbon-free by 2060. Garfield County must adapt to these changes and not cling to being the outmoded “energy savior” for our country or Asia. We should no longer sacrifice our environment, wildlife and health of our residents nor allocate millions of dollars to fight against protections. Our region is successfully transitioning away from extraction dependency. The development of solar facilities has increased.

With the geography of Moab and Fruita, mountain biking has increased in popularity. Tourism and recreation are an increasing draw, without the demand to provide housing for service workers. The people, animals and environment should not be “collateral damage” from extraction impacts.
We are poised for greater successes working together, cooperating and identifying with entities less focused on resource extraction. Emblematic of the rigid, outdated and partisan beliefs of our incumbent commissioners is their support for candidate Lauren Boebert for, ”…her political ideology,” (Samson) and “…being the Republican candidate” (Martin). Prefer bluster, inexperience, dated, rigid and partisan decision-making or cooperative, visionary, flexible, energetic candidates? Use your power and vote for Leslie Robinson and Beatriz Soto for Garfield County commissioners and Diane Mitsch Bush for Congress.

Greg and Sean Jeung
Glenwood Springs

Promises made; promises kept

The Trump disinformation machine keeps cranking out the mantra, “Promises made; promises kept!” Voters should compare Donald Trump’s big four promises with the actual results:

  1. “We are going to have the best health care in the world with more options at a lower cost than ever before!” (Trump 2016). Actually, Trump has worked to eliminate health care for the 20 million young, poor, and elderly Americans covered by the Affordable Care Act, while providing no real alternative to replace it. In the meantime, health care costs continue to rise.
  2. “I will not be touching your Social Security and Medicare” (Trump tweet, February 2020). According to the Congressional Budget Office, Trump’s 2020 budget cut $1.5 trillion from Medicaid, $25 billion from Social Security, and $845 billion from Medicare. His 2021 budget also includes steep reductions in all three programs.
  3. “I will balance the budget in four years!” (Trump, 2016). Under Trump, the deficit has climbed higher and faster than at any other time in U.S. history. The Republican tax cut for corporate America added $1.5 trillion to the deficit before the COVID-19 crisis, and it has gotten much worse since then.
  4. “I’m going to bring beautiful, clean coal back!” (Trump, 2016-18). Actually, coal production was at a 40-year low in 2019 and demand is projected to continue dropping as coal-fired plants are shutting down all across the country. Trump gutted long-standing environmental protections to help the industry, but coal still couldn’t rebound.
    Bonus: Trump’s, “Big beautiful wall that Mexico’s going to pay for,” (Trump, 2016) has received no funding from Mexico, and mainly consists of upgrades to existing barriers on a very small portion of the 2,000-mile border.
    This is just the short list of Trump’s promises broken. America can’t afford another four years of his fantasy land.
    Cliff Colia
    Glenwood Springs

If there is no water for the Western Slope, nothing else will matter

This year is notable for its challenges — COVID-19, extreme heat, drought and huge wildfires. But there’s another challenge out there that we on the West Slope need to address that to my mind is the most urgent one. It’s about our water supply and the Colorado River. As Board President of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, and a lifelong student of the river, I am most concerned with the long-term ability of western Colorado to enjoy the benefits of our namesake river. The finite supply of water flowing down this waterway is being reduced by the continuing demand from burgeoning East Slope cities and the downstream states of Arizona and California. A decades-long drought is grimly and sequentially reducing rainfall and snow, and driving increasing demand for this most precious and globally valuable resource.

So, what can you do? You can make a difference by voting “yes” for ballot measure 7A.

By supporting 7A you’ll be helping the Colorado River District to protect our West Slope supply of drinking water for communities, water for agricultural uses, and ensuring there will be a healthier quantity and quality of water for all river users. The cost is modest when you compare it with other things — $1.90 per $100,000 of home value.

Why is it needed? A combination of the effects of the state’s Gallagher and TABOR amendments, as well as the decline in the energy industry, is having an impact on the revenue available. None of the money will be used for new staff positions, and 86% of it will be used as a catalyst for projects with local partners in the 15-county district, ranging from forest health to reservoir and ditch improvements and advocacy for the Colorado River watershed.

The remaining money — 14% — will be used to address the ever-increasing cost of operating. The district has already cut staffing and reduced expenses.

Again, I urge you to vote “yes” on 7A.
If there is no water for the Western Slope, nothing else will matter.

David Merritt
Glenwood Springs

Whiting column: An organization is only as effective as its members

It’s the people, not the organization that can provide a problem.

When trying to find the source of an alleged issue, it is tempting to blame an organization as opposed to the individuals within it. It’s not an illogical occurrence. It’s easier to blame a faceless entity than ourselves. We need to remember that an organization reflects those comprising it. Consequently, the only way to improve the organization is to change or upgrade those within it.

It is tempting to argue problems are “systemic.” There may be occasional instances in which it’s true, but it’s usually a cop-out and generalization. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the system was created by individuals and sustained by them as well. Change or eliminate the offending individuals and the organization will either make necessary changes or cease to exist.

An obvious example would be the movement to “defund” the police. Obviously, there are specific law enforcement individuals whose attitude and behavior are not only unacceptable but abhorrent. Defunding the organization, however, is not the solution. Law enforcement is a necessary element of any civilization if its citizens are to feel safe. Defunding the police will increase crime and vigilantism, which are a detriment to society. The solution is eliminating the offending individuals and determining how to prevent them from being an officer in the first place.

An example would be my experience on the ranch where I grew up. At one time, especially before 4-wheelers became commonplace, we needed a significant number of horses to meet the varied needs of the ranch. So many, we had to both raise and buy them. Occasionally, a horse would never get to the point where it could be ridden safely or be trained to do the job. Some would continue to buck; others couldn’t be trained to handle the roping required. In those cases, we didn’t defund the ranch, we got rid of the horse. We then modified our breeding, purchasing and training procedures to minimize the chance of our acquiring such a horse in the future.

The correlation to law enforcement is evident. Eliminate those with offending attitudes or actions and change recruitment and training procedures to minimize the chance of a similar person becoming an officer. Not easy, but doable.

We do this with ourselves. If someone develops lung cancer, we don’t kill them, but rather do our best to fix them and change the behavior that created the problem.

In many cases, a problem may be better solved by individuals without an organization involved. A group can be the source of inaction, because it can be difficult for those composing the organization to come to agreement. An individual is more likely to think through the solution to a problem because they will be identified with it and have a vested interest in its success. If the group makes a bad decision, the members can blame the group and without fear of being held accountable.

It’s been said the organization is where people who can’t lead go to hide. There’s a reason that if politicians want to kill a bill, they refer it to committee.

It’s also good to remember every time an organization is created it takes money out of the hands of the people; many times, the people needing help. In order to function, an organization creates some sort of bureaucracy, which subsequently chews up time and spends money. Whether this money is generated through taxes or donations, it is consumed by the bureaucracy through wages and expenses. It often appears the main reason an individual desires to develop an organization is to create a job for themselves.

Those within the bureaucracy have a vested interest in not completing their mission. Its accomplishment would end their intended purpose, the organization and hence their paid positions.

The impending election season provides an additional opportunity to affect change as we choose for whom to vote. Sadly, too many politicians have learned that one of the keys to winning an election is to have done as little as possible, because someone will always disagree with whatever they did. Consequently, they have a vested interest in doing nothing. This is especially evident regarding multi-term incumbents seeking re-election. No wonder Congress seems unproductive.

Most politicians have also read and implemented Strategy No. 1 in the “Winning an Election” handbook: Promise to give people something they don’t have, but don’t tell them specifically how you are going to accomplish it or pay for it. Strategy No. 2: Focus on finding problems; it’s not necessary to provide a solution. This attitude demonstrates disrespect for the voter. It assumes we are ignorant and care about implementation and funding. They feel their enthusiasm is enough. Sadly, however, such strategies have historically been effective.

Whether it be an organization or a politician, not every problem is solved by adding enthusiasm. Most of us learned that on our first dates in high school.

It’s our personal responsibility to find, support and focus on individuals if we desire effective change.

Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of nonpartisan economics rather than government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to: bwpersonalresponsibility@gmail.com

Wednesday letters: Arts Council, Mitsch Bush, Soto, Robinson, Wilhelm and Hanlon, wolves, and two-party system

The Glenwood Springs Arts Council is alive and well!

This year has brought about changes for all of us and for the Glenwood Springs Arts Council those changes have meant turning formerly face-to-face events into virtual events. You’ll find videos of our recent International Jazz Day 2020 and Real Folk — A virtual Folk Music Tribute Concert at glenwoodarts.org. While you’re there, discover what other arts organizations are doing to make art accessible during this challenging time.

As we continue to support the arts in our community, the popular fall Culinary Arts Festival is also a virtual gathering this year. Free for all to view online is a four-day celebration of local culinary arts featuring videos of six local chefs showcasing their masterpieces with a local “celebrity” adding comments. Purchasing tickets for the event will entitle ticket holders to a 10% discount at one of our featured establishments and will support our art scholarship fund. We hope that you will join us for the event. Thanks to all for your support of the arts.

Thelma Zabel
Board member, Glenwood Springs Arts Council

Vote for honesty, integrity, and sound governance

Diane Mitsch Bush is the hardest working, tireless and dedicated elected representative I’ve ever met, and deserves your vote for Congress. She does her research, listens to all sides of an issue and works to craft fair, workable and beneficial solutions to regional concerns. Her extensive experience in the Colorado Legislature prepared her to represent and fight for West Slope needs and values, understanding the complexity of Colorado water law, the challenges facing agriculture, the dire need for transportation and infrastructure investments. Diane Mitsch Bush has the education, experience and empathy we need in Congress to end the pandemic’s devastation to our economy and community health, to see real investments in the sorely neglected roads, airports and water infrastructure, and to improve the access to and cost of health care.

Her opponent, on the other hand, doesn’t even recognize our region’s diversity or challenges or offer policy solutions. She has only empty slogans to offer: “Freedom” from this or that. But what is she really offering? Freedom for rural hospitals to go bankrupt treating the uninsured after the Affordable Care Act is repealed? Freedom to be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions? Freedom to bankrupt Social Security under the guise of pandemic relief? Freedom to discriminate against those different from you, ethnically, sexually or by faith? Freedom to pollute the air we breathe, the water we drink? The freedom to ignore science, drought and our changing climate?

Our representative in Congress should work to deliver the goods, services and policies that will improve the quality of life, economy and environment for all West Slope residents, not just cater to the fantasies of QAnon and militia cultists. The choice is clear — vote for honesty, integrity, and sound governance. Vote Diane Mitsch Bush on your ballot this November

Rachel E. Richards
Former Pitkin County commissioner,
current Aspen City Council member

Soto, Robinson, Wilhelm and Hanlon best fit Garfield County

I am voting for Beatriz Soto and Leslie Robinson for Garfield Board of County Commissioners. I feel that the incumbents, John Martin and Mike Samson, no longer represent the needs of Garfield County and are out of touch with many of their constituents. This is illustrated by the fact that they spent $1.5 million to pay outside parties in their unsuccessful fight against oil and gas regulations set out in Proposition 181. They even footed the bill for the lawsuit on behalf of a coalition of nine counties. Imagine how these taxpayer dollars could have helped county residents, including children, with the economic crises of COVID-19. Beatriz and Leslie will bring much-needed fresh thinking to the BOCC. They will listen to constituents, be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and explore new ways to create jobs.

I am also voting for Colin Wilhelm for HD57. His opponent, Perry Will, wants to open businesses up and push against Gov. Jared Polis’ COVID-19 orders. He also wants to continue investment in the dying coal and natural gas industries. Colin Wilhelm wants to maintain pandemic social distancing and masking mandates, which have proven so effective. Wilhelm supports obtaining economic support for businesses from the state and looking for large capital projects to create new jobs.

Karl Hanlon has my vote in the SD8 race against Bob Rankin. Karl will fight for our health care, water and public lands. Bob has done an OK job in the Colorado House and Senate, but Karl will better represent the citizens of our district. In a recent debate on KDNK, the question whom the candidates supported for CD3 was asked. Bob laughed and said he hopes Lauren Boebert will settle into the position in Congress. Really? Settle in? Boebert has made it clear that she is tired of compromise, so what makes you think she will settle in? Karl chose the highly qualified Diane Mitsch Bush.

Please vote with me for the candidates that will best represent Garfield County residents: Beatriz Soto, Leslie Robinson, Colin Wilhelm and Karl Hanlon.

Connie Overton

Wilhelm is consistent, involved, accessible

Recently, KDNK scheduled a debate between Colin Wilhelm, candidate for HD 57 and Perry Will, the current representative. Except Will didn’t attend, claiming he forgot the obligation. I heard that he held a campaign gathering in Silt, instead.

This seems like an instance of Mr. Will being unable to keep his schedule straight. What about keeping his views straight? Will was appointed (not elected) in 2019, and during that session, was handed four different bills to increase access/funding for mental health care in Colorado. He voted against them all. In 2020, after Wilhelm announced his run for the representative seat, with mental health care access and funding as a paramount issue of his campaign, Will seemingly changed his tune, voting in favor of all mental health care bills this year.

He was given a “Heroes in Health” award this year, but Will vehemently opposes universal health care. It’s troubling how against this issue he is, considering that as a state employee for 40 years he’s had state-provided health insurance. He has it, but he wants to keep his constituents from accessing it. Will believes the way to provide “affordable” care to Coloradans is to fund hospitals. More hospitals would be excellent, but are they as useful if no one can afford to get care from them?

Perry Will’s campaign website includes little information, only a short bio and a “donate” button. His challenger, Wilhelm, has spent the past year openly discussing his plans and ideas with the residents of our whole district, constantly asking for input about what issues matter to us. Many have learned about his platform on his website or his comprehensive Facebook page, and by contacting him directly for a prompt response.
Wilhelm cares about mental health of Coloradans, access to affordable health care, increased funding for educators, and diversifying energy industries in a responsible way. He has never wavered on these issues. When you cast your ballots, think hard about who is consistent, involved, accessible and in the best interest of our region.

Cait Kennet
Glenwood Springs

Wolves may make matters worse

I can understand why some voters may be tempted to vote for Proposition 114, reintroducing wolves to western Colorado. Our world is a mess. Climate chaos has brought us late spring freezes, followed by excruciatingly hot windy summers combined with droughts not seen in the past 800 years. Our valley’s river, the Crystal River, is virtually dry. Fires roar over parched ground and their smoke makes being outside hazardous. Population growth has overwhelmed our highways, consumed much of our open space and made finding solitude increasingly difficult for humans and wildlife. On top of all this, a pandemic races around the globe, limiting social interactions and devastating our economy.

Faced with all this turmoil, voters want to do anything, and wolf proponents claim wolves will magically restore the balance. Unfortunately, wolves may only make matters worse. Our deer and elk herds are in decline and are not having enough fawns or calves survive to keep their populations sustainable. Our iconic aspen forests are stressed from drought, not overgrazing by elk. Ranchers are suffering from the multinational meat packing conglomerates keeping prices for their livestock below break even prices. They are going broke working around the clock to run 250 head where their grandfathers made money with a few dozen.

Wolves will only make these situations worse. Wolves cannot restore a world dominated by humans. The ecosystem of western Colorado is unrecognizable from what existed when wolves were last here. Wolves will not and cannot bring back the Colorado that existed in the 1900s. They can however decimate our declining wildlife and force ranchers to sell out. Much of our open space will be lost forever. Vote “no” on 114.

Bill Fales

We The People need to take back America

The current “Do Nothing Wealthy 1% Congress” and the Trump House has caused irreversible harm to the American people by stalling on the second stimulus package. The economy cannot recover back to any normal level due to their never-ending partisan gridlock. America will have millions unemployed for a long time. Millions of businesses cannot reopen. When this election is over, let this be a lesson to the American people. The Democratic and Republican parties have destroyed this country. We The People need to take back America from the two major parties who have governed America illegally for decades. We need to put the Democrat and Republican parties in our rearview mirrors permanently.

“Our children and grandchildren will remember this time in American history when our national leaders failed to help the American people.” This is a quote from my new book, “America’s New Revolution.”

Randy Fricke
New Castle

Superintendent’s Corner column: First day of in-person learning looks normal

Other than the fact that everybody is wearing a mask, it’s surprising how normal things look on the first day of in-person school at our elementary schools. Here’s a glimpse of the first morning back at Riverview School in Glenwood Springs.

Interspersed with lessons about the new safety routines, students jump right into academics. Teacher Sadie Elliott leads a reading lesson, picking up where she left off last week in distance learning. Ricardo raises his hand. “Can I have a mask break?” he asks.

Ms. Elliott tells him to walk to the break center in the hallway and start the timer. Ricardo walks to a chair right outside the classroom, flops over an hourglass timer, and removes one of the ear loops on his mask. He listens to the lesson through the open door, and returns to his classroom when the sand runs down.

Family liaison Missael Urtiaga Gutierrez reports, “We only had one kindergartener crying, so that’s a good sign for the first day of school.” Although kindergarten has been offered remotely, for some children, this is their first time in the school building. It’s hard to tell that they haven’t been together since the start of the school year — they sit in neat rows, three feet apart, listening to their teacher and asking their questions.

In the hallways, Dean of Instruction Julie Ramey helps a group of first graders learn the new routines.

“Remember to keep some space between you,” she says. “Walk on the right side of the line.”

Ms. Ramey has taken over the first-grade class because the class’s regular teacher will be teaching in the online school with students whose families chose that option. Ms. Ramey seems already to know her students well.

Principal Adam Volek is in his office assembling gift bags for all the teachers to celebrate the first day of in-person learning for grades PreK-3, and to thank the teachers for their hard work getting ready. He reports that it was a relatively smooth start. The buses arrived on time, parents cooperated with the distancing requirements — they aren’t allowed to walk their students into the building — and students got right down to business.

“We had to send a first-grader home with a runny nose today,” Mr. Volek reports. “He gets a work packet for a couple days and we’re going to try out a camera in the classroom so that he can watch from home.”

The student will have to stay home for at least 48 hours or longer until this minor symptom resolves. This will be happening throughout the year as students show mild symptoms that normally wouldn’t even be noticed.

STEM teacher Ryan Allen is setting up his classroom for a remote lesson.

“We are doing specials remotely to avoid introducing too many people into a cohort,” he explains. “Students stay in their crews and we teach from our classrooms. We’ll see how it goes and maybe introduce more in-person contact later.”

Upstairs in the middle school wing, teachers are still teaching remotely. Math teacher Holly Magee leads a class on her computer. She has a large screen TV displaying all of her students’ faces, while she looks at the math lesson on her laptop. She puts on her mask as I enter the classroom and keeps on teaching.

The kitchen staff are preparing breakfast and lunch for the students in school, plus for buses to pick up for home delivery. Students in school will eat breakfast and lunch in their cohorts, so as to avoid contact with other groups. That will continue until things return to normal.

Aside from these kinds of departures from the old routines, today looks like any other day of school. Counselor Missy Ivy says, “It just feels right to have students back in the building. It feels good to see all their faces, and they’re all excited to be here.”

Rob Stein is Superintendent of Roaring Fork Schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

CMC Column: A rural perspective on Gallagher

In 1982, Colorado was a different place than it is today. The population statewide was roughly 3.1 million. The value of the average home was about $130,000. The Denver Broncos were still a year away from drafting John Elway. And, in that year, the state passed the Gallagher Amendment, which was intended to maintain tax revenues from businesses and homes at predictable levels.

Today, Colorado is changed in many ways. Principally, our population has doubled to nearly six million. The state has the strongest economy in the nation, which is naturally attracting ever-larger numbers of retirees, young families and recent college graduates to experience the high quality of life some of us have enjoyed for decades.

These massive changes have resulted in a doubling of the number of homes in our state. And the average price of a home in Colorado has tripled since 1982, to more than $420,000.

Unfortunately, complications resulting from this growth aren’t limited to traffic congestion, urban sprawl or inflation. Population growth and property valuation increases over time force Gallagher Amendment adjustments that effectively lower residential property taxes, thereby raising property taxes paid by businesses and, in many cases, reducing revenues that fund critical public services. And these effects are more acute in rural Colorado than on the Front Range.

While the Gallagher Amendment is complex, it is important to learn the basic facts about it. This law is baked into our constitution and subsequent to its passage has become commingled with other competing measures. In essence, when residential property values rise faster than those for businesses, Gallagher lowers the percentage of a home’s value that is subject to taxes. Even if you’re not a public finance expert, it’s fairly easy to observe that home prices are skyrocketing to historic levels while local businesses are struggling to survive.

When the residential property tax rate is forced down by the Gallagher Amendment, it also results in reduced funding for K-12 school districts, public safety, fire protection and health care — in many cases services voters have initiated and approved in their local communities.

Though this “Gallagher thing” may be new to much of Colorado’s electorate, it’s actually been a challenge to small towns and special districts for decades. The net impact on rural areas has been greater than on the Front Range. In 2020, however, while managing the most challenging budget since the Great Depression, legislators from across the state acted to place Amendment B on the ballot. In fact, nearly 80% of all legislators at the capitol — Democrats and Republicans alike — support this measure. It has become that important.

While it is not appropriate for me to advocate one way or another for Amendment B, it is relevant to note that Colorado Mountain College has been at the forefront of this issue for several years. Our elected board of trustees initiated a successful campaign to “de-Gallagherize” in 2018. Since that time, we have provided presentations and technical advice to countless local special districts, and have hosted conversations and debates concerning the Gallagher Amendment’s impact on rural Colorado. 

Those who helped author or advocate for the Gallagher Amendment in 1982 could never have predicted the extraordinary changes to Colorado in the decades that followed. We should assume that their efforts were well-intended for the benefit of residential taxpayers. Today, however, we can all objectively say that the Gallagher Amendment has had a deep, cumulative and direct impact on essential public services, and those impacts have been more pronounced in rural communities.

It is important to underscore that Gallagher is not TABOR (Colorado’s Taxpayers Bill of Rights). If Amendment B passes, TABOR remains in the state’s constitution; any future property tax increases must still go to the voters. Amendment B doesn’t change this.

Heraclitus, the ancient Grecian philosopher, is credited with saying, “the only thing permanent is change.” This is certainly true for Colorado since 1982. And while some will argue that residential tax rates should forever be protected in a fixed formula created 38 years ago, the legislature and other experts believe it has unexpectedly denied rural Colorado the resources it needs to fund schools, public safety, fire protection, health care and other services enacted by its electorate. Adhering to the insights of Heraclitus, Colorado voters will be wise to understand the effects of the Gallagher Amendment and recognize the wisdom of preparing for the future of our evolving state while equitably balancing the needs of its rural and urban communities.

Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser is president & CEO of Colorado Mountain College, a local special district college with campuses and services spanning 12,000 square miles of Colorado’s central mountain region. She can be reached at president@coloradomtn.edu or @CMCPresident.

Monday letters: Flying low, Colin Wilhelm, Trump and COVID, Mitsch Bush, candidates, and Karl Hanlon

Subdivision is no place for low flying acrobatics

What is the meaning of conducting low level acrobatics in a small plane over an established subdivision on Saturday at 7:30 in the morning? Is it because the Elk Springs subdivision is close to the airport and you are too lazy or not proficient enough to navigate to a less dense area?

This is not the first-time pilots from the Glenwood Springs airport chose to buzz the nearby neighborhoods at the worst times. Why not fly up to Aspen and noisily fly over those houses, or are you worried they would have more pull with the FAA and clip your wings.

This shows a great deal of arrogance within the pilot ranks. Do you think your fellow pilots would approve?

Philip Maass
Glenwood Springs

Wilhelm will protect Western Colorado and our way of life

My husband, Colin Wilhelm, is the best option for HD57. I say this not only as his wife, but also as a voter. He wants to listen to our thoughts, ideas, and problems. He will take these to Denver to find a solution to these issues and grow our HD57 communities to solve the problems we are seeing today in manners that will not only benefit us, but also protect our communities and way of life for our children and our grandchildren.

Colin is from Detroit, I’m from the Denver area, and we met in Boston. I always wanted to be a small-town mountain lawyer. I fell in love with him because he treated me, and all women, well. He came out here too and we married a couple of years later. We have been through a lot. We have worked very hard the past few years to secure and maintain his sobriety. He lost his father to an accident and his mother to alcoholism. Through and because of all of this, I have been able to see who he really is. He has worked amazingly hard during his life, first to become a lawyer, then to obtain sobriety, then to work on and correct the issues underlying his alcohol use.

Colin wants to work hard for us. He wants to bring better mental health care to the 57th. It’s an enormous problem in our district; there are expensive providers available in Garfield County. And treatment options are slim in most areas of Moffat and Rio Blanco countries. Colin wants to explore all of the options to ensure that there is better access to and availability of mental health care in HD57. It’s a passion project that grew out of his experiences.

I can also tell you that unlike politicians, Colin actually considers your ideas. That is what he wants to do: be a catalyst for change by finding ideas to bring both sides together to make the changes that we need to make to make Colorado, especially HD57, more economically successful by bringing in stable jobs.

Vote for Colin to protect Western Colorado and our way of life for generations to come.

Erin Richards-Wilhelm
Glenwood Springs

Trump lied to us about COVID-19 danger

Imagine our lives today if COVID-19 had hit 5 years ago. Obama and Biden faced both the H1N1 and Ebola viruses. They created a dedicated office and concrete plan to tackle a COVID-like virus. Our HHS and CDC were fully funded and staffed.

One of Trump’s first acts was to disband the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense. Needing money to house detained immigrant children, he gutted funding for the HHS and CDC. He ignored reports from our HHS that the U.S. was perilously under-prepared to fight an influenza-like pandemic.

When COVID-19 hit, Trump repeatedly lied to us, keeping us in the dark while fully aware that COVID was air-borne and dangerous. Continuing his unethical and foolish habit of appointing unqualified family to crucial positions, his son-in-law, real-estate executive with no public health experience headed the COVID response team, overseeing FEMA’s distribution of medical supplies, a horrible failure that cost doctors and nurses their lives.

When we required clear, truthful leadership to avoid exposure to COVID, Trump spewed lies, pressured the CDC to falsify recommendations, and politicized the pandemic to support his narrative for his own re-election plans.

More than 220,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. With just 4.2% of the world’s population, the U.S. has had more than 20% of the COVID-19 deaths. Many more have been dreadfully sick, hospitalized, left with enormous medical bills, left alone. Every day 40,000 to 50,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. Our economy is in tatters, our lives are changed and upended.
How has Trump’s daily lying, name-calling, and promotion of divisiveness and violence impacted your life? Is this the future you wish for your children and grandchildren?

Annette Roberts-Gray

Mitsch Bush known for working across the aisle

Our country is more divided today than anytime I can remember since the Vietnam War. Congress is at a stalemate, unable to pass legislation to help unemployed workers and small businesses. Health care is too expensive for working people to afford. Education beyond high school is financially out of reach for many. Numerous other problems are not addressed because Congress is too political.

Congressional candidate Lauren Boebert says she will not compromise. Diane Mitsch Bush is known for working across the aisle, and for passing bipartisan legislation in her three terms in the Colorado State Legislature. If you want to see Congress accomplish something good for rural Colorado, join me in voting for Diane Mitsch Bush.

Nancy Ballantyne

Act together to find workable resolutions to our issues

A politician, by definition, is one skilled or experienced in the science or administration of government. Study, experience, commitment, knowledge and sincere desire to serve are components of the quality of political, or public, service.

Fortunately, we all live in a democratic society that allows us to consider and review the attitudes, positions, proposals, character and actions of those we may choose to lead our society. That freedom, the ability to select our leaders, is key to our democratic form of governance. But, to enjoy that freedom, each one must accept the responsibility of participation.

As we review our ballots and consider our options, we are made aware of the many issues facing us as a world, a nation, a state, a community. Issues like climate change, destruction of our environment, immigration rights, human rights, hunger, health, safety, gun violence, educational opportunities, racial inequity are all there. And we have the opportunity to engage in the choice of leaders and guidelines for governance.

As you review the qualities of the candidates, the judges and the issues put before us for review and vote, I hope you consider the concept of acting together to find workable resolutions to our issues, our differences and our collective need to preserve and protect our democracy.

Dorothea Farris
Crystal Valley

Mitsch Bush an advocate for broadband, rural health

I’ve been a doctor in rural Colorado for 30 years, and I have seen health access issues loom large — particularly in our own Congressional District 3. Many rural hospitals do not have adequate funding; many are being forced to close, and citizens of southern and western Colorado are often forced to drive several hours to reach a healthcare facility.

It is with concern that I hope voters chose Diane Mitsch Bush to represent our district in the House of Representatives as a proven advocate of broadband and rural health during her time as county commissioner and as a state representative. This crisis needs an advocate on the federal level, and Mitsch Bush has committed to just that — expanding access to telehealth by funding telehealth programs and investing in broadband infrastructure so that more rural Coloradans have internet access and can utilize telehealth services.

I entrust my vote in Diane Mitsch Bush to bring health access and equity to our rural Colorado communities and to stand up for the issues that concern Congressional District 3. Please join me and the rural health community in voting for a candidate who is well-versed, well-spoken and willing to compromise and negotiate for our Colorado communities.

Kent Gaylord M.D.

Hanlon gets things done for us

As a neighbor of Karl Hanlon’s, I wanted to let everyone know what an excellent choice he is for Senate District 8.

Karl gets things done for us. He understands rural economic development. He helped bring the internet to the Western Slope by getting us broadband connectivity. He is successful keeping the Colorado River water rights here on the Western Slope. He knows how to work with all kinds of folks — city council members, U.S. Senators and most important, ranchers and farmers.
Make the best choice for Western Colorado and vote Karl Hanlon for Senate District 8!

Claudia Cunningham

Friday letters: Robinson and Soto, drilling in residential communities, Diane Mitsch Bush, ‘no’ on 7A, Perry Will

Robinson and Soto are educated, forward thinkers

County commissioners Mike Samson and John Martin have reached a new low. They endorsed the candidate that touts QAnon, open carry assault weapons, doing away with health insurance for preexisting conditions and oil and gas drilling close to homes, but not their homes, mind you. Absurd! All the more reason to vote for sensible people, Leslie Robinson and Beatriz Soto, who have a vision for all of us in beautiful Garfield County. Robinson and Soto do not believe in crazy, conspiracy theories. They believe in housing, jobs, environment, science, health care and the well-being of our entire county. They are educated, forward thinkers.

Michele Diamond
Glenwood Springs

Commissioners failed Battlement Mesa community

In response to Kent Jolley’s letter in the Post Independent (“Commissioners fighting for Western Slope residents”), one wonders where he was when the Battlement Mesa residents were fighting to keep drilling out of our residential community. He was sitting on the COGCC Board and approved the invasion. He sat quietly by when residents attended Energy Advisory Board meetings to complain about these industrial activities in their neighborhoods. He was on the Mineral Lease District Board which is designed to serve the citizens of the county by distributing federal energy extraction dollars to needy programs. This appears to be a conflict of interest when most of the funds found their way east of Parachute and Battlement Mesa, even though these areas were most impacted. For 2020 these two communities only benefitted minimally from grant funds. I hope the students of SD 16 will take advantage of funds received this spring for “digital capacity and equity” to educate themselves on other ways to earn a living without depending on the unreliable oil and gas industry.

Mr. Jolley was not selected for the current COGCC. Their mission has now changed from “fostering” to “regulating the development and production of O&G in the state of Colorado in a manner protective of public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife resources.” He need not fear for his many existing wells if they are still producing and he has been enriched by enabling the industry to drill on his properties for years, so what harm can a 2,000 foot setback cause him? New applications will have to comply with revised setback restrictions among other proposals under review following SB-181 mandates.

The commissioners failed those of us who actually built the beautiful Battlement Mesa community we call home. Activist groups, now more vocal due to self-preservation, are not the cause of the industry’s slowdown. That began following the 2008 boom with greedy over-production, and industry workers should have anticipated this. Sir Winston Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Eleanor Nelson

George’s endorsement of Mitsch Bush speaks volumes

The recent endorsement from Russ George, Republican and former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, has inspired me to write in support of candidate Diane Mitsch Bush for the Third Congressional District seat. His decision to speak out for her rather than Republican candidate Lauren Boebert, who is from his own town of Rifle, speaks volumes. He has publicly stated Boebert’s lack of qualification for the position.

Diane Mitsch Bush has a proven track record as a legislator. She has a strong background in health care, environmental issues and water law. Her ability to listen, build consensus and work within the two party system is clearly obvious as compared with Boebert.

Mitsch Bush has policy positions; Boebert is asking. Mitsch Bush has humility; Boebert has bluster. Mitsch Bush thrives on civil discourse; Boebert thrives on chaos. Mitsch Bush is a workhorse; Boebert is a show horse.

I urge all residents of CD3 to come together to elect Diane Mitsch Bush. The past four years have brought a spread of hate and fear to our country. It is time for healing and civility. It is time for an independent thinker. Vote for Diane Mitsch Bush.

Kathleen K. Barger

Crystal clear choice in CD3

The race for who will represent Colorado’s Congressional District 3 provides a crystal clear choice between the candidates.

Diane Mitsch Bush has a substantial resume built on public service including elected office to the Colorado House of Representatives and the Routt County Commission. She knows how to legislate and work across the aisle. She understands and cares about issues so important to our district: water rights, environment and climate change and affordable health care.
The candidate running against her is a gun toting, law flouting, restaurant owner who brags in her campaign literature about defying health orders put in place by the governor for the safety of all during this pandemic. She also touts repealing the Affordable Care Act, states that she is not given to compromise and would like the House to change its rules to let her carry her Glock in the chambers.

This is not a time for a grandstander who will bring more chaos to our government. Please vote wisely and vote for Diane Mitsch Bush.

Donna Grauer

Vote ‘no’ on 7A in the Colorado River District

If you live in the boundary of the Colorado River District, as nearly 400,000 West Slope residents do, your ballot will include a question — 7A — to double the property tax rate for the district.

First, the ballot question, and uses of the money, are completely vague. No actual projects are identified in the question, resulting in a blank check given to the directors of the district. No one knows how the money will be spent.

Second, the district makes the case that their budget has been hit hard by the coronavirus economic lockdown. We certainly appreciate the district’s financial needs in these difficult times, but their circumstance is no different than almost all property taxpayers in the district. We’ve all had to tighten our belts.

Third, the district has recently launched a public relations blitz about how they work to “keep water on the West Slope.” This is simply not true. Multiple dam and diversion projects, which will divert more West Slope water to the Front Range, are supported by the district.

Fourth, the district has voiced support for a large new dam and diversion on the White River in Rio Blanco County — to further irrigate land and serve water for fracking in the county — as one of the projects this new tax money could fund. The West Slope needs to stop damming, draining and destroying West Slope rivers that are increasingly the drivers of the new recreation economy supporting Western Colorado.

Finally, the Colorado River system is already stretched to the brink. We’re now in a 20-plus year drought that’s going to require that all of Colorado – including the West Slope — use less water, not more. Vote no on 7A this year and encourage the district to refine its needs to better reflect protecting the West Slope’s environment, rivers and economy.

John Fielder

Mitsch Bush will listen to constituents

I found my ballot in the mail today, which is a beautiful thing. I am writing in support of listening, compromise and in support of Diane Mitsch Bush.
She served as a Routt County Commissioner, as a Democrat in a conservative county. The only way to do that is by listening to, compromising with, and serving your constituency.

Through listening and compromise, we all can find common ground and move forward as a community; whether that community is a family, neighborhood, town, county, district, state or nation. That takes compromise. Not a compromise of values, but a compromise of outcomes. I am happy to compromise my discomfort of wearing a mask, when required or prudent, in the interest of my own health and the health of those around me.

Her opponent, Lauren Boebert, is on the record as being “sick and tired of compromise” as she has shown in her “past run-ins with law enforcement, food inspectors and tax bills.” (quotes from the Gazette). A legislator can’t possibly be effective with that attitude. Negotiating and compromising are job requirements.

Diane Mitsch Bush has a proven track record of effectiveness. Diane even earned the endorsement of Republican Russ George, our former Colorado Speaker of the House, because of her track record of listening to her constituents and colleagues.

Vote for Diane Mitsch Bush. She has the experience to listen to our diverse CD3 and find compromises that will represent us.

Patrick Fagan

Rep. Will sets the standard for honest representation

In a country where we are continually bombarded with divisive messaging, I am honored to know someone as genuine as our current House District 57 Rep. Perry Will. He is a native Coloradan and has a deep understanding of the people here and what is crucial to our way of life.

While others throw around the term “bipartisan” like a buzzword, Rep. Will embodies that philosophy in how he approaches issues. In fact, last year I sat down with him to discuss the critical need for local library funding. Rep. Will took notes, asked intelligent questions, and genuinely listened to what I had to say. He decided to endorse our measure, not because of any political party, but instead because he realized the important role libraries play in our communities.

You also can get a glimpse into his character by looking at all the awards and endorsements he has received in his relatively short time in office. He was named the “Freshman Legislator of the Year” by the Independent Bankers of Colorado, The Colorado Civil Justice League’s “2020 Common Sense in the Courtroom Award,” and was named in Healthier Colorado’s Legislative Scorecard as one of the top elected officials who “received the highest scores in the Colorado Legislature on supporting crucial pieces of legislation which made care more accessible.” He has been endorsed by the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police, Colorado Academy of Family Physicians, and Colorado Dental Association just to name a few.

We need more people like Rep. Will in the legislature who can bring honesty and critical thinking to the voice of rural Colorado. Please join me in voting for him this November.

Emily Hisel