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Writers on the Range: Looking back to when water was plentiful

During his 50 years in rural western Colorado, Jamie Jacobson has seen a lot of flooding. While caretaking a farm in 1974, Jacobson watched 3 acres of its riverfront float away. More recently, it’s been drought, and then worse drought.

Dave Marston

Jacobson farms on Lamborn Mesa, perched above Paonia, population 1,500. He keeps his orchard of peaches, nectarines and cherries alive thanks to the Minnesota Canal that serves 170 customers.

The ditch is 9 miles long and carries water from the snowpack that’s accumulated around 12,725-foot-high Mount Gunnison. This mountain of many ridges used to hold water like a sponge, but snowfall has been light year after year, and the ground sucks up a lot of the melting snow.

“Back in the 1970s, it was different,” Jacobson said, who moved from New York, where he started his career as a cameraman on film shoots. “Paonia was snow-covered in winter, and when the melt came, the river tore at its banks. One of my first jobs was using machinery to stuff boulders into junked cars and then cabling them to the riverbank. Now it’s scary because of water that isn’t there.”

This summer, Jacobson’s ditch rider told him irrigation water would run out by the end of June. “That would have been unthinkable decades ago,” Jacobson said. But the canal’s two reservoirs have filled only one year out of the last four.

“In the old days, daily highs in summers were in the 80s,” Jacobson said. “Last May it got really warm, and in June this year the temperature is hitting 100 degrees.”

So it’s not surprising that his orchard is suffering. “My trees are stressed, and some I’ve had to let go. I’ve lost a great deal,” he said flatly.

But Jacobson, 75, remains resilient and upbeat, though he was diagnosed with arthritis at age 10 and has suffered from back pain all his life. He even underwent a kidney transplant from a friend three years ago.

Now getting around in a wheelchair, he still hopes to fly in his ultralight — equipped with a parachute. During the 1970s, he enjoyed a moment of fame when he turned 20,000 gallons of spoiled apple cider into alcohol that substituted for gasoline.

“Coal company execs visiting their mines around Paonia all wanted to try out my alcohol-fueled car,” he recalls. “We had some great joyrides on moonshine.”

Jacobson’s ditch company was founded in 1893 by farmers and ranchers who knew they had to import water to make the semi-desert land valuable.

“They dug those ditches with hand labor and mule scrapers and built the canals incrementally,” Western historian George Sibley said. “You either bought in with money or sweat equity, enlarging the canals as neighbors down the ditch bought in.” It’s a similar story throughout the Western states, moving water from mountains through a system of prior appropriation — first to put water to work, first to claim it.

For example, Southern Idaho, in the grip of extreme drought, is braced for prior appropriation cutbacks. Junior water users in the Wood River Valley who pump water from wells have been notified that their water might be shut off early this summer. Meanwhile New Mexico’s ancient system utilizes a water master, or mayordomo, to administer cutbacks. And if one state knows drought, it’s Nevada, where Las Vegas sends most of its sewage-treated water back to where it came from — Lake Mead.

The water flowing through piped canals or open ditches into Paonia and its mesas was never meant to stick around. Farmers who flood-irrigate use roughly 20% of the water on their land. Eventually, that water may be reused by farmers and homeowners as much as seven times before crossing into Utah as part of the Colorado River.

These days, a lot less water ever gets there. The river’s two big reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, are only about 35% full, and river managers in the seven states that rely on the Colorado are trying to figure out how to cope. It’s a daunting prospect, squeezing out water in the midst of a drying climate.

Meanwhile, Jacobson looks at his diminished orchard and hopes he’ll have enough fruit for the people who came last summer. They brought their own baskets and wandered the orchard to pick what they wanted.

“People had a good time, and at $1.50 per pound. We sold out the crop last year,” Jacobson said. “If we go down this year, we’ll do it in style.”

Monday letters: Ascendigo, fireworks

In full support of Ascendigo

As parents of a 12-year-old girl with Down syndrome, we feel compelled to write in support of Ascendigo Ranch. We know that Ascendigo will welcome our daughter to participate in activities even though she does not have a diagnosis of autism.

Families like ours rely on support and guidance from local organizations, like Ascendigo, as this valley is still lacking in resources for families such as ours. Ascendigo has an opportunity to strengthen our community and bring people together even more by building this educational ranch. That is the hope, really, that our daughter and others who may be different can find a place in our community where they can contribute meaningfully, find friends and be happy.

Amid some questionable arguments about the true nature of Ascendigo as an organization, and well-meaning but unwittingly ableist concerns about the participants’ ability to evacuate in the event of wildfire, every single opponent has praised the value of Ascendigo’s program and the importance of providing such services in our valley … just not in their backyard.

At the heart of the opposition to this project is the fear of a loss of the quiet rural feel of Missouri Heights that drew the neighbors to move to this area. If you talk to the ranchers who have lived on Missouri Heights forever, they feel the same way about all of the opponents’ “ranchettes” that have sprung up over the past 30 years.

The cluster design of the buildings leaves the majority of the 126 acres undeveloped, maintaining the rural feel so much better than 21 homes evenly spaced would (we suspect the resident wildlife would strongly agree). We firmly believe that once completed, neighbors will grow to appreciate the way Ascendigo Ranch will actually protect the rural feel of Missouri Heights and feel proud to have a facility in their community that allows people differently abled from them to experience the enrichment and joy of adventures in nature that the majority of us take for granted.

We fully support Ascendigo Ranch and encourage the Board of County Commissioners to approve this resource.

Deborah and Julian Hardaker

Glenwood Springs

Wrong area for camp

I have lived in the valley for 40 years, 16 of those years in Missouri Heights.

I have a daughter with profound autism. She is 30 years old and still lives at home with me and my husband. We both work multiple jobs while being her primary caregiver(s). I know about disabilities and the challenges they bring. I know about the importance of services for our children and adults with disabilities.

Though we have never received services from Ascendigo, I appreciate what they offer and the population they serve. While a summer camp for autistic children and/or adults sounds amazing, it doesn’t belong in Missouri Heights.

Ascendigo’s proposed development is commercial. It doesn’t belong in a neighborhood. It belongs in an area zoned commercial, in an area with plenty of water, quick access to emergency services and especially in an area with roads that can accommodate the amount of traffic that their development will bring. Missouri Heights is not that place.

GarCo, please keep Missouri Heights rural.

Gwen Carew

Missouri Heights

Water is the issue

(This letter was originally addressed to the Garfield Board of County Commissioners.)

Ascendigo’s services are valuable, no doubt, and my compliments regarding their organization. Ascendigo represents a needed resource for the less fortunate among us.

White Cloud on Missouri Heights is not the right property for their large facility.

Our community rose to the occasion in 2008 when developers applied to build a large subdivision on Hunt Ranch, 600-some acres nearby on the north side of County Road 102. They painted a pretty picture but, as with Ascendigo, lacked some understanding of the basic facts governing our environment.

This is high desert. No rushing creeks, no large stands of trees or snow runoff. Missouri Heights is unique in that respect.

As our opposition proceeded, smart leaders took their findings to Colorado Water Court to challenge the subdivision based on potential water use. A very restrictive decision was issued by the high court and so limited the developer’s proposed land use — they quit.

I have lived in this immediate area since 1980 and been involved in water both domestic and agricultural. After 40 years of dealing with irrigation water, this summer is the first when no irrigation water is available in my neighborhood. Combine that with hearing about failing wells, and the whole dry picture becomes clear.

There is not enough water to support Ascendigo’s facility. Their original plan for a 2-acre lake says a lot; the proponents don’t have a clue about how scarce the water picture is on Missouri Heights. They own water rights but apparently didn’t get the part about that never being a guarantee water will flow from the tap.

Commissioners, please see here that a precedent has been set by Hunt Ranch opposition over a decade ago, a decade of rising temperatures and increasing drought. Water is scarcer on Missouri Heights now than 2008. No one anticipates this scarcity ending anytime soon. Don’t allow your constituents’ taps to run dry.

Vote no.

Susan Cuseo

Missouri Heights

Ban fireworks sales

The Garfield County commissioners’ ban on fireworks through July 5, while still allowing the sale of fireworks, looks like a “wink wink” to me.

I would love to hear the logic behind that convoluted ruling. Our fire risk could hardly be higher. The notion that those knuckleheads buying fireworks aren’t going to use them is naive at best, suspicious and dangerous at worst.

Loran Randles

New Castle


PI Editorial: We’re all responsible for keeping things safe and sane this summer

We’ve got some work to do this summer.

The Garfield County community currently faces a number of challenges, but that doesn’t mean you or I are powerless in the face of them. When it comes to fire prevention, minimizing wildlife conflicts and keeping our public lands clean and pristine, we all have a role to play — and in doing so, can help our community even on the individual level.

— First off, let’s talk about minimizing fire risk for everyone in our community this summer. With the Fourth of July right around the corner, some people might be feeling the urge to make a few bangs and pops here and there. Please, just don’t. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the nation’s independence — barbecues, pool games, good music are just a few options — without putting our entire community at risk of yet another major fire.

— Secondly, consider the bears. Glenwood Springs in particular has seen more bear activity than usual this year. Many of us are not doing our part to keep potential food sources locked and kept out of reach from our ursine neighbors. There’s even concern that some people are intentionally feeding them. We need to take more responsibility for our actions and have more respect for the wild nature of where we live. Keep your trash locked up or put away in a garage or other secure space and don’t even think about leaving a treat out for them or any other wildlife. Whether it’s bears, deer or even chipmunks, teaching a wild animal to see us as a source of food is almost certainly a death sentence for that creature.

— Finally, consider this recent story from High Country News highlighting the strain we are putting on some of our most treasured natural spaces. One Zion National Park ranger even reported hauling out 9 pounds of human feces from just one stretch of trail last summer. Now, you might think that you would never pop a squat right next to a trail, but what about your dog? Canines have a lot more freedom in choosing where to go, but we have to do our part as their stewards and pack it out. That doesn’t mean bagging it and leaving it on the trail, either. To borrow a phrase from a Duluth ad campaign, there is no poop fairy. As is obvious, the same goes for trash and everything else we bring into the outdoors with us. Pack it out.

The bottom line is that we are seeing a lot of signs that we aren’t taking our roles as individuals within a community very seriously. Most of us choose to live here because of the access to public lands, but that privilege comes with great responsibility. If we won’t take care of our environment, who will?

The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Bryce Jacobson, Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representatives Amy Connerton and Karl Oelke.

Friday letters: Planning and Zoning Commission, anything is possible, highway construction, and fireworks sales

Apply for P&Z Commission

The city of Glenwood Spring Comprehensive Plan states that “Communities evolve over time. Glenwood Springs is different today than it was 20 years ago and different than it will be 20 years into the future.”

While there are many groups and factors that influence this evolution, the recommendations from the city’s advisory boards and commissions play an important part in guiding this progression. There are several opportunities to participate in these groups, and I encourage anyone with an interest to consider applying to volunteer.

One of these groups, the Planning and Zoning Commission, has a uniquely essential role in guiding our city’s growth. In total, nine Glenwood Springs residents (seven commissioners and two alternates) comprise this critical, quasi-judicial group which is responsible for reviewing and providing recommendations to City Council regarding zoning, annexations, large public and private projects and other activities that involve long-range planning. This commission also makes decisions on certain development proposals.

Right now, you can apply to fill a vacancy on this commission for one of the alternate seats with a term to expire February 2022. The commission meets one or two times per month with regular meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.

This opportunity is an excellent way to get involved in the community and your local government and help shape the future of Glenwood Springs. Community members who serve on this commission provide an invaluable service by advising City Council and city staff with developing recommendations on important policy matters.

While serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission can be very challenging, it is also incredibly important and a rewarding way to serve your community. Volunteers shape our community by thoughtful implementation of our Comprehensive Plan and ensure that development considers the needs of Glenwood Springs’ both current and future residents.

You, too, can make a difference and help shape our community. Applications for all boards and commissions are available online at CoGS.us/volunteer. Applications submitted will be reviewed by city councilors. For additional information, please contact Sara Weigel at 970-384-6449 or sara.weigel@cogs.us.

Jonathan Godes

mayor, Glenwood Springs

Learning from one’s challenges

I am Deatra. I was born and raised in Rifle. I went to school at Rifle High School. I am a current student at Colorado Mountain College preparing for nursing school. I have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers Danlos syndrome. 

My life flipped upside down when I turned 17. I began to faint almost every day, had multiple feeding tube surgeries and have been poked by a needle more than 100 times. I lost all my will to live. 

I began slowly volunteering for rare disease organizations, made care packages for others with chronic illness and started college. I was one of four accepted to participate in a 10-week internship at MUSC in South Carolina, to study Ehlers Danlos syndrome. The very disease that ruined my life was now bringing me passion and drive, it was now bringing me opportunities that I never thought possible. 

A small town girl from Rifle, Colorado, was staying in Charleston, S.C., to study her own disease, and making a difference in medicine. I hope that if this letter does anything, it can prove that anything is possible, even with an illness. Growing up in a small town can still bring you to do big things.

Deatra Bear


Highway construction advice

To the CDOT Interstate 70 Glenwood Canyon schedulers and planners:

I am a commuter. I have commuted from the Roaring Fork Valley to Eagle County for 32 years. I was around when the original work was being completed, sat for hours while work was being done. And I read the papers when they announced that I-70 through Glenwood Canyon was open. 

Problem is, they either never completed construction or the work they completed was deficient. 

When one considers how often the canyon is under maintenance or re-construction because a boulder went through the concrete deck or a semi crashed, did CDOT make the right decision to put I-70 along the river? Most engineers said to keep it out of the river bottom, there will always be issues, but CDOT went with the river road. And now we pay for it yearly.

The past few days have truly shined a light on who’s on first. There are so many projects in the canyon we have traffic cones on top of traffic cones; multiple construction zones. Problem is: No one is working in these areas. 

The road was down to one lane from Hanging Lake Tunnel to No Name this past week. Last night there were two traffic control vehicles sitting in the closed lanes and not one single person working. That’s eight miles of closure with no one working. There were three guys painting on Friday, but they certainly didn’t need eight miles of lane closure to paint a 300-foot chain retaining device. This could have been a rolling closure and kept to a minimum.

And why doesn’t CDOT take into account the commuters and vacationing public? Start work in the EB lanes at 8 a.m., off the highway at 4. WB construction should be 6 a.m. start, off the highway at 2:30. 

Instead of washing the tunnels during the day, do it at night. You have better light and less traffic. And get off the highway by noon on Fridays.

Dave Little

New Castle

Ban fireworks sales

I commend the Garfield County commissioners’ decision to ban fireworks over the Fourth of July holiday. However, unless there is a legal constraint preventing them from banning the sale of fireworks, it is beyond my comprehension why this action was not also taken.

Pam Szedelyi

Glenwood Springs

Stein column: Challenging year ends in joy

Rob Stein

After a year of social distancing, I recently got about 200 hugs in a single day. But I think they were meant for somebody else. I think they were meant for the teachers, staff and parents whose efforts got our students through the most challenging year in memory.

After more than a year of health and safety precautions that separated us literally and figuratively, friends and families were able to come together to celebrate the graduating class of 2021, and the jubilation was impossible to contain.

It was my turn to attend Glenwood Springs High School’s graduation ceremony and to hand students their diplomas as they walked across the stage. My job was actually to give a 10-second mini-lesson to each graduate on accepting a diploma, posing for a photo, and navigating across the stage. I had my lesson plan ready: put the diploma in their right hand with my right hand, make eye contact, say “congratulations,” gently grab their left elbow, say “look at the camera,” and then pivot them to their left, break eye contact and look at the camera, so they knew which way to turn.

But, while turning toward the camera, the first student let go of the diploma and unexpectedly came in for a hug. Hmmm.

I repeated variations on the lesson 229 more times, but no matter what I did, nearly every student gave me a hug. The trend followed no demographic patterns: Latino, Anglo, male, female, tall, short — they all wanted a hug. This can mean one of two things: either I’ve become irresistibly huggable for the first time after two decades of handing out diplomas, or the students this year were feeling enormous jubilation and gratitude at making it to the stage.

I’m sure it was the latter.

After a year of obstacles and isolation, those hugs were meant for the teachers, staff and parents whom I was representing on the stage.

During the pandemic, our teachers and staff overcame discomfort and uncertainty, learned new skills at an accelerated rate, managed increased workloads and maintained an inspiring level of creativity and perseverance.

Our parents got unprecedented views into the learning lives of their children, adapted to constant change, and juggled their own workloads with increased roles in supporting their children’s education. The throughline in all these efforts was serving students, reaching out across physical and digital divides, and getting them through the year with learning intact.

As I have shared before, the notion of “learning loss” doesn’t honor the many gains our students and community have experienced over the past year. Our students, staff and families have shown enormous perseverance and resilience, developed deeper empathy and expanded pathways of collaboration. This growth, while an unexpected outcome of living and learning through a pandemic, will serve all of us in the future.

This year’s GSHS graduation speaker, retiring art teacher Tish McFee, talked about the importance of pausing to experience “aesthetic moments” — moments of beauty that happen when we stop to notice the rainbow colors on the paraglider’s sail (as happened while she was speaking), the mathematical pattern in the pinecone’s shell, or the sun reflecting off the frost outside a window on a cold morning.

As we continue to see more normalcy this summer, I hope everyone in our community has an opportunity to stock up on aesthetic moments, whether that be through nature, the arts or sciences, time with friends and family, or wherever you find beauty.

And, I hope you will catch up on hugs.

Rob Stein is superintendent of schools for the Roaring Fork District, including schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

Torres column: Happiness is the goal

When parents at an elementary school were asked what they wanted for their children, what did they reply? Love? Money? Fame? Recognition? Health? Awards? Happiness? More than 95% choose “happiness,” because happiness is not created by love, money, fame, recognition, health or awards. It’s the result of complex events and interpretations.

I’ve studied many books, by authors like Jocy Meyers, Anthony Robbins, Napoleon Hills, Albert Einstein and Carlos Cuauhtémoc Sanchez, about how to release one’s potential, how to achieve happiness, how to live to the fullest and how to empower one’s life. To achieve these things is complex and involves self-awareness, personal security, adequate knowledge, progress towards one’s goals, a sense of purpose, finding the good things in life and being able to control one’s thoughts.

Since my passion is teaching health and weight loss, I’m going to focus on this aspect of “happiness.” Many develop diseases and have problems with weight gain because of their lifestyle. This often consists of bad food choices and behaviors and an inactive lifestyle. A person’s choices and actions create a negative lifestyle for them, which leads to negative results and situations, which do not contribute to human happiness.

Wonderfully, we have free will in our lives. Sometimes when people notice that their lifestyle is going in the wrong direction, they choose to start making better choices to better achieve happiness. In fact, “Happiness is the Goal” (a book in Spanish that I’m reading) states that happiness is actually not a long-term goal but can be an everyday goal.

“Happiness is the Goal” explains that to achieve our daily goal of happiness we usually have to do some uncomfortable but constructive things. In other words, discipline makes us happy. Odd sounding, I know, but true. The book continues talking about the importance of being fit.

An example of this can be seen at Custom Body Fitness every day. People are in there, knowing they need to exercise in order to lose weight or improve their fitness, but along the way they realize that exercise itself contributes to their daily happiness. The reason is because exercise has many advantages:

• Combats health conditions and diseases

• Improves mood and even sex drive

• Boosts energy levels

• Reduces the risk of dying prematurely

• Reduces the risk of diabetes and helps control diabetes for those who have been diagnosed.

• Reduces the risk of high blood pressure and helps reduce high blood pressure in people who already have hypertension

• Promotes psychological well-being

• Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety

• Helps control weight and lose body fat

• Rejuvenates the body

• Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints

• Improves the physical ability to drive a car in older adults

Not to mention that a person who is fit is able to do many physical tasks that the average person can’t.

I used to be a person with no discipline; I let life take its own random course. I thought I was happy, but I was only rationalizing my unfocused, if somewhat comfortable, life. But now, as I work out and try new things in life and in my business, I end up getting out of my comfort zone, and I see that this allows me to achieve many of the long-term goals that contribute to my long-term happiness. Not only that, it has helped me achieve daily happiness. This may sound a bit obscure, since it’s hard to explain to someone who has not achieved true daily happiness. It is like explaining the red color to a blind person. If you experience self-discipline, and find all the good things of life, you may know what I’m talking about.

Don’t let your life vanish, waiting for happiness when you have it in front of you. I encourage you to find what you require to start being happy every day of your life. I suspect that starting to exercise and changing your eating habits for better ones could be a first step towards this happiness goal.

Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Basalt and Glenwood Springs and author of the books “Lose Weight Permanently” and “Finding Genuine Happiness.” His column appears on the second Monday of the month.

Wednesday letters: Cost of poll, common sense about Ascendigo, and time for Ascendigo opponents to be heard

Hershey’s take on polling

The majority of the Glenwood Springs Council seems intent on wasting your money. The initial bill from a firm in Utah for a “poll” to find out what we think is $17,500. And that is just to create the poll; executing it will cost thousands more wasted dollars.

And what do you get for your money — money we could use to fix our failing infrastructure? A glorified “push poll” to try to convince you to increase our sales taxes and make ours among the highest sales taxes in the state. 

I recommend everyone ignore this process. We voted against a sales tax to fix our streets as recently as 2019, and then 2020 happened. To request a new tax now is not only unwise, it is bound to fail.

I am, and have always been, a supporter of the city of Glenwood focusing its resources on infrastructure, not beautification at Seventh Street and other places.  

In response to Mr. Kirch’s letter on June 7, I have consistently opposed spending millions of dollars on new park and beautification projects, including a major reduction in the Sixth Street roundabout price, so resources, for now, can be focused on needs, not wants — i.e. to fix our streets. And the last time I checked, Mr. Kirch, bridges and tunnels are infrastructure, but I could be wrong.

I will continue to fight for responsible government and spending of our tax dollars on fixing our streets (which includes an aging water and sewer system under those streets).  

If the voters disagree — and they just elected me and voted against a new street tax two years ago — then they get to vote for new council members or for more taxes. 

That is the only “poll” that matters, and it does not cost an extra $30,000 of your money.

Tony Hershey 

City Council member, Glenwood Springs

Common sense

Missouri Heights is not the right location for the Ascendigo project, and I believe most people know that, and it is just plain common sense. 

I have lived in Missouri Heights for almost two decades. This is not about the good things that the Ascendigo organization does for many people and how they have helped many people. 

This is about the location they have chosen for their intended project. 

First of all, how can Ascendigo be allowed to build their project in a zoned rural residential area? It doesn’t make sense. And secondly, why would they want to build their project in an area that is completely challenged? These challenges that have already been stated and restated: Water, fire, wildlife, wind, traffic and more are a reality to the people of Missouri Heights, and we live and learn to deal with them year after year. It just doesn’t make sense. 

Common sense tells me that they can’t find any other place for this project, and they have now targeted Missouri Heights. 

Common sense tells me that we are in the 2020 decade, meaning that it is time for everyone to put their 20/20 vision on and let the government know that “We the People” are making a stand. 

Missouri Heights is not the right location for the Ascendigo project, and it is just plain common sense.

Julie Hazard

Missouri Heights, Carbondale

Raise your voices

It’s time for Missouri Heights residents to make their voices heard on the Ascendigo change in land use application. It is rare that individuals can play a critical role in the future where we live. We now have that opportunity at 1 p.m. June 21 before the Garfield Board of County Commissioners when the commissioners will consider the Ascendigo land use change application. 

Much has been written about this land use application in the past six months and its negative impact on Missouri Heights residents and the future of land use in Missouri Heights. Should the application be approved, it will change the character of Missouri Heights from a rural, residential, agricultural and ranching community to that of commercial development. 

No matter how Ascendigo wishes to characterize its operation, it is clearly commercial. There are other organizations and developers closely watching this application, ready to begin development if Garfield County opens the door by approving the Ascendigo application. We know of organizations who have already approached development professionals to assist them in locating similar types of overnight lodging and dining facilities in Missouri Heights. This is not a scare tactic, this is reality. 

Missouri Heights has been protected from such development by the Eagle County Mid-Valley Area Community Plan Missouri Heights Character Area and protected in Garfield County by the Garfield County Comprehensive Plan 2030 Future Land Use Plan. 

Approval of this development will open the floodgates of development in an area that is zoned residential, rural and the home to over 600 signers of a petition to stop the project.

Show up at the hearing and let the Garfield County Commissioners know that they are accountable for upholding the principles expressed in their own county plan.
For more information, please log onto KeepMoHRural.com.

Karen Moculeski

Missouri Heights, Carbondale

YouthZone column: Teens’ emotional health impacted by COVID-19 restrictions

It has been well over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic changed all our lives dramatically. The social restrictions put in place to contain the pandemic have left most of us feeling exhausted and stressed out. Families have been in “survival mode” for all or most of that time with children experiencing a range of emotions, including sadness, anger and fear.

The pandemic has been especially difficult for adolescents. Peer groups and social interactions are an important aspect of development for teens, and the loss of these experiences during the pandemic left many teens feeling anxious and disconnected.

If the teens in your life have been struggling to cope throughout the coronavirus pandemic, results from a recent survey conducted by the University of Michigan Department of Pediatrics suggest they are far from alone. A national sample of parents was asked about the emotional impact that pandemic restrictions have had on their teenagers. The results, while not totally unexpected in content, are eye-opening in terms of the magnitude of the impacts.

A majority of parents in the survey reported that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their teen’s ability to interact with their friends. Very few parents indicated that their teens have been getting together with friends on a regular basis.

About half of the parents reported a new or worsening mental health condition for their teen since the start of the pandemic. The negative behaviors reported include changes in their teen’s sleep, withdrawal from family and aggressive behavior. More parents of teen girls than parents of teen boys noted an increase in anxiety/worry or depression/sadness.

As parents, guardians and trusted adults, we can support teens by modeling good coping skills, encouraging healthy habits and working to understand and relate to what they are going through.

An important step toward supporting young people through this challenging time is for caring adults to have empathy for what teens have been experiencing. Peer relationships are a big deal for adolescents because their still-developing brains are wired such that they feel rewarded when they socialize. Additionally, time with friends helps teens establish their identities and begin seeking opportunities to establish independence from their families.

The limitations on these social outlets have left many teens feeling lonely and bored. It is important for adults to make time to ask open-ended questions that show you care about what they are going through. Teens need to feel heard, so offering solutions is less important than simply being available to listen.

Adults looking to help teens manage their feelings can make a difference by modeling good self-care. When parents and guardians take care of themselves, they show adolescents how to deal with stress and be resilient in the face of challenges. Exercising, eating healthily and getting adequate sleep are all great ways to model self-care for teens.

There will be instances where parents and guardians recognize that their teens need more emotional support than they can provide. This is normal and understandable.

Reaching out to other parents and seeking help from mental health professionals are acts of strength in parenting. One in four parents in the survey reported seeking help for their teen from a mental health provider in the last year, and the vast majority of them feel it helped.

As the pandemic wanes, there is a real opportunity for families and communities to better support teens’ emotional well-being. If you need support with the adolescents in your life, YouthZone is here for you. We offer youth coaching, counseling, parent consultations and mental health support.

Keith Berglund joined the YouthZone team as the assistant director in 2019. After earning a degree in marine biology from Occidental College, he started his 25-year teaching career as a science teacher and basketball coach at a middle school. Over the years his role expanded to youth mentor, public servant, nonprofit manger and Love and Logic Facilitator.

Personal Finance column: Perennial applications for vintage financial wisdom

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.”

— Will Rogers

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.”

— Charles Dickens

“Budget: a mathematical confirmation of your suspicions.”

— A.A. Latimer

Replace your budget with an intentional spending plan. Tell your money where to go instead of asking where it went. Connect with your core values on what is important in your life and direct the financial flow. You won’t be swayed by media or the perceived “fear of missing out.” Spending with joyful intention within safe boundaries is a powerful combination.

“Everyday is a bank account, and time is our currency. No one is rich, no one is poor; we’ve got 24 hours each.”

— Christopher Rice

Consider that return on life is just as if not more important than return on investment. Money is very necessary up to a point. There is a diminishing rate of return on happiness as it pertains to income. Each person has their unique narrative to live a life on purpose and in their potential. Put forth effort and energy toward people, activities and causes that make you come alive. Using your financial means to pave this path is where you create true wealth.

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

— Yogi Berra

Inflation is an integral part of life. Flash back to 1970 prices: a home, $26,600; a first-class stamp, 6 cents; a gallon of gas, 36 cents; a gallon of milk, $1.15. You can either seek to outpace the cost of living — save and invest in broad-based, diversified, tax efficient portfolios (such as real estate and the stock market) for long-term goals. Or you can reduce your lifestyle and choices down the road.

“The Stock Market is designed to transfer money from the active to the patient.”

— Warren Buffett

Investing is different from speculating. Investing requires vision and a long-term focus, goal setting, good habits and mindsets. It is necessary to keep emotions in check and where wisdom undergirds and directs knowledge alongside application.

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.”

— Henry Ford

These two both speak to the importance of character assets. Too often financial assets are the singular measure of “wealth.” Your net worth does not define your self-worth. When you focus on building and enhancing positive, productive character traits, the financial pieces will stay in their proper place to serve you and society.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

— Winston Churchill

Generosity is the secret sauce in creating true wealth. It is foundational for financial health as giving breaks the bind of consumerism. It is a profoundly personal journey and worth taking steps on the path.

With over 2,000 references in the Bible about money, this one is the most misquoted and misinterpreted: 1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Money is not in itself evil, but when it becomes the focal point of life either because of unsatiable desires or life-sustaining scarcity, immorality can bloom. The garden of your financial life needs to be well tended to keep this weed from taking hold.

“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”

— P.T. Barnum

“Master Card” – the irony is palpable. If used wisely, it is a tool of convenience and safety. For many, consumer debt has been normalized and expected, yet holds them hostage from attaining financial freedom.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

To me, this speaks to financial efficacy. We are not victims of financial circumstances. We get to choose — whether it is regarding the financial means you have or the mindsets you embrace. We can plan. We can save and invest. We can work hard. We can choose an attitude of gratitude and a mindset of sufficiency. We can recalibrate and pivot when things don’t go the way we had hoped. Where do you have wins and how do you want to build on them?

Danielle Howard is a CFP® and CKA® with Wealth By Design LLC in Basalt. Check out her retirement podcasts and blogs at daniellehoward4u.com.

Monday letters: equity, Take a Minute, Hubbard cleanup thanks, wildfire mitigation thanks, watering restrictions

Refreshing perspective

Ms. Sturm’s opinion piece (June 7 Post Independent) was a refreshingly honest look at the term equity. We believe all are created equal but none identical. All are unique, and our outcomes are shaped by genetics and environment. The latter, our home upbringing, is the most important, as that’s where values and moral tenets are learned.

Unfortunately, today’s economic/social structure has altered the family dynamic. Now, both parents must work, often multiple jobs, while single parents face twice the challenge. The sad result is parenting responsibility has been unfairly foisted upon teachers. If learning isn’t stressed in the home, how can it be taught in school?

Can we achieve equal opportunity if inner city schools “graduate” students who can’t do the three Rs of education? If Johnny can’t read, will he find a job or join a gang?

Critical Race Theory, the 1619 project and like woke witlessness indoctrinate our children to a culture of victimhood. It teaches that our race limits or improves our life’s potential. This is untrue and un-American.

Racist generalizations only divide us; teaching truth will heal us.

Good luck, teachers.

Bruno Kirchenwitz


Support Take a Minute

I support the Take A Minute campaign in Glenwood Springs. While driving in Glenwood on Grand Avenue I noticed how fast cars were going in a 25-mph zone, and I was getting caught up with the speeding traffic.

I tried an experiment and turned on my cruise control set to 25 mph. I was blown away with how really fast cars were going in a pedestrian and tourist area.

Won’t you consider supporting this important effort to slow down traffic and take an extra minute while you drive through downtown Glenwood?

Laura Hanssen


Hubbard cleanup thanks

I want to express my sincere gratitude to all who volunteered and supported our annual cleanup of BLM-managed public lands on Hubbard Mesa. Over 40 volunteers graciously gave their time and hard work to remove over 60 cubic yards of garbage and over 25 cubic yards of metal to be recycled from public lands, just north of Rifle.

I want to personally thank the White River Trail Runners, High Country 4-Wheelers, Rifle Area Mountain Bike Organization, the city of Rifle, Garfield County, Rifle Rendezvous, and the many individual volunteers from our local community that came out to help. Your hard work and dedication continue to make a tremendous difference in your public lands.

I would also like to recognize Green Zone Recycling and Native Waste Solutions for their valuable sponsorship, providing dumpsters and disposal costs.

In addition to this effort, I would like to thank the 93 students and staff from the Rifle High School Athletics Department who helped with a cleanup near Fravert Reservoir this spring.

Finally, I want to thank the entire community of recreationists that use and enjoy this area. Your voice and efforts in keeping your public lands in Rifle’s backyard clean, as well as your responsible recreation, keeps these lands and resources enjoyable for current and future generations. The effort and cooperation from everyone go a long way in the success of your public lands.

Larry Sandoval

field manager,

BLM Colorado River Valley Field Office


Wildfire mitigation thanks

On behalf of Swiss Village subdivision near Redstone, we extend heartfelt gratitude for the collaborative efforts of Pitkin County Emergency Manager Valerie Macdonald, Carbondale Fire Department Chief Goodwin and USFS manager Kevin Warner on a recent wildfire mitigation project near us.

Despite our best efforts at mitigating within our neighborhood, the reality is we are surrounded by forested public land. USFS land to our north (the project) was densely packed with aging and dead scrub oak, and contained a huge amount of standing fuel. If it burned, our neighborhood would burn.

Our neighborhood used to be mostly summer cabins. Now, homes are selling in the $600,000-plus range, and most are occupied year-round, many with small children. The property damage and potential loss of life in a wildfire is now much greater than in decades past.

It is a privilege to live surrounded by so much natural beauty, and we recognize the biggest threat we face to our homes and lives is wildfire. We greatly appreciate these three entities (Pitkin County, CFD and USFS) working together to help protect us if/when wildfire strikes.

Now that fire season has arrived, it’s a relief to know that the forest next to us is much less of a hazard. The more mitigation projects that can be done near neighborhoods like ours, the better prepared we all are for the inevitable.

Thank you for being on the cutting edge of collaborative effort, climate responsibility and forest management.

Diane Madigan, SVHOA secretary

Jon Amdur, SVHOA president


City should practice same watering rules

Please practice what you suggest others to do. The citizens of Glenwood Springs were recently advised by the city of Glenwood Springs to take measures and suggestions for water conservation. This information was recently mailed out. Our water bills starting June 1 went up by 30% to offset costs from the Grizzly Creek Fire.

I am not excited about the rate increase, but I do understand this probably needs to happen, and I am all on board with more water conservation on everyone’s part, including the city.

One of the suggestions is to water early in the morning around 6-8 a.m., which I always do and believe is the most effective and efficient way to water. As I was driving down Midland Avenue passing the Community Center, the sprinklers were running. It was 4:30 in the afternoon.

Now, I’m not a landscaper or a horticulturist, but I’m guessing it is still pretty darn hot to be watering anything at that time. This is not the first time I have seen city properties watering in the hot temperatures of the afternoons.

The suggestions you make are really good ones, and the city especially needs to lead by example, so please do so.

Patty Grace

Glenwood Springs