More Community Faces 2008 | PostIndependent.com

More Community Faces 2008

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Subdivisions for mostly second-home owners are on the drawing board or have been approved in the area.

Oil and gas drilling and its associated facilities continue to proliferate into sensitive areas of the community.

It seems like the lands of the Roaring Fork Valley and Garfield County are a target for development.

But Martha Cochran, the executive director of the Aspen Valley Land Trust for the last six years, helps shield those lands from that prospect. Her group works to help landowners protect and preserve ranch lands in the area from future development and to help sustain the historic rural nature of the area.

Keeping those lands and keeping ranches sheltered from development helps to provide area residents with food and fuel on a local level, along with capturing and storing carbon. Cochran said.

“So open space has a lot of purposes other than just being pretty,” said Cochrad, adding the work AVLT does to conserve open space is also key to maintaining the sustainable economies of the area, such as tourism and hunting and fishing.

Earlier this month, the AVLT was awarded national accreditation from the Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission. Only two percent of land trusts nationwide have received that distinction.

Cochran came to the AVLT about six years ago. She has been a Roaring Fork Valley resident for 35 years.

During that time, she has had her own business, worked for Alpine Bank, Colorado Mountain College, and served as publisher for both the Glenwood Independent and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

The history and mission of the AVLT

Cochran said the AVLT started 40 years ago ” making it the state’s oldest land trust ” when a group Aspen land owners wanted to donate land to the city for parks and no other purpose.

That led the group to develop a third-party entity to take the land, a move that laid the foundation for the Aspen Valley Land Trust.

Since 1968, the group has helped conserve 28,000 acres of ranch land, wildlife habitat and scenic areas in the area.

The group’s aim to protect lands and keep area farmers working on their ranches gained another tool in the 1980s when the U.S. Congress enacted legislation to establish the use of conservation easements. Those easements overlay the land, forbidding development, Cochrain said.

Then in 1999, the state drafted legislation to increase the use of conservation easements by instituting a tax credit program. It was meant to produce a source of revenue, particularly for farmers and ranchers, so they could some of the equity out of their land wihtout having to sell it.

When a resident or a rancher agrees to conservation easement, what they are doing is essentially donating their development rights, Cochran said.

“That doesn’t mean you have to give up everything,” she said. “Ranchers almost always keep homesites for their children. You still have the ability to build hay sheds and do what you need to do to keep ranching and farming. What you are giving up is your right to subdivide and build houses.”

The vast majority of lands the AVLT has helped to protect are covered with a conservation easement, Cochran said.

About 85 percent of the lands the AVLT protects with easements are ranch lands. That acreage is mostly concentrated in Garfield County, she said.

Cochran said an AVLT success story is that 20 ranch families with lands around the Divide Creek and Dry Hollow area, which is south of Silt, have conservation easements on their properties.

“It is their hope that 100 years from now they will still be ranching in Garfield County,” she said. “And those are Garfield County’s most productive ranch lands down there.”

But one of the biggest challenges Cochran and AVLT faces is the extraordinary value of the land in the area, Cochran said.

“Our economy here, the highest and best use of land is seen as development, so open space and ranching is not propserous as land development is,” she said.

Despite the challenges of working in the area, Cochran said she thrives at her current position because there is nothing she likes more than land and protecting land.

“I really enjoy the private people who value land and care about it,” she said. “It is a very great job for me, personally. I would say what we are conserving is potential. I think a lot of people feel that way, and sometimes they feel trapped by not being able to do anything but sell out. (The AVLT) gives them an opportunity and alternative to selling their land.”

” By Phillip Yates

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” “¿Necesita algo mas? ¿Estampillas?” Maria Albertini asked a client at the Glenwood Springs Post Office in perfect Spanish on a morning in October.

Albertini, a postal clerk, said she learned English watching cartoons when she was growing up with her Mexican parents in Arizona. These days, Albertini’s knowledge of Spanish and English is an asset at her job at the downtown post office where she’s been working for more than a month.

Dealing with mail however isn’t a new career for Albertini, who has worked 12 years for the United States Postal Service “the last three at the distribution plant in West Glenwood.

But many things have changed for her since she was transferred to the downtown office. First, she doesn’t have to work all night and sleep during the day “her shift known as Tour One, went from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Second, she doesn’t get to sort the thousands of pieces of mail and parcels that arrive in seven trucks to the plant every day from Denver.

“I’m happy with the change. Now I can spend more time with my husband,” said Albertini who now works from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. “And I feel proud I can also help more people who can’t speak English well. We process a lot of passports here and the Hispanics sometimes need some extra help.”

Albertini moved to Glenwood Springs from La Quinta, Calif. three years ago. She and her husband made the decision after visiting her brother-in-law here.

“We fell in love with the scenery,” she said. “I like the small town feel here and the friendliness.”

In California, Albertini, used to own a jewelry store with her ex-husband. She started working for the postal service after they got divorced.

“I needed a secure job to take care of my three children,” she said.

And so far, she said she has liked it despite the night shifts and dealing with some heavy stuff ” as employees of the postal service they are required to lift up to 70 pounds.

“Between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. we would receive at least seven trucks full of mail,” she said, “and these were 18-wheelers. It’s a very large operation, some people aren’t aware of it.”

According to Albertini, about 50 people worked three shifts at the West Glenwood plant sorting mail 24 hours , seven days a week. The plant in Glenwood Springs sorts mail for 32 cities.

“In Christmas, our busiest time of the year, we’d get 14 trucks a day instead of seven. They seemed to keep coming every hour,” Albertini said. “And with lots of parcels. It’s tough. It’s a good workout, but it’s also a good way to get injured which unfortunately I did last year.”

Albertini had to have surgery after she tore her rotator cuff in her shoulder when she tried to unload a piece of equipment from one of the postal trucks.

“Having the window job is good so I don’t have to do that anymore. I have the easy part of the job now,” she said. “And I’ve always enjoyed working with people.”

Albertini also is complimentary of the U.S. Postal Service saying it offers a lot of services in comparison to mail services in other countries.

“We offer services for free that other countries don’t, such as forwarding your mail; we have services to every destination and we live of the revenue that comes in, not from taxes,” she said.

In terms of the quality of service she has noticed that in “some countries it’s scary.”

“Unfortunately, Mexico is one of them,” she said. “People are always worried that their stuff won’t get there. Some people will break up their mailings, for example they will send one shoe first and the other one in another package.

“We take a lot for granted here,” she added referring to the safety and privacy of the U.S. mail system.

Still, Albertini warns customers to not always go with the “If you can put a stamp on it, you can mail it” way of thinking, which is true, but not always the best way to go.

“We had a nice table made out of wood here in Colorado mailed just with a stamp on it,” she said. “You risk that it will get beaten up in the conveyor belts.”

A tip from a mail expert?

“Always try to get you address correctly, write it clearly and put the zip code,” Albertini said. “And be patient at the window.”

Albertini said she’s happy she moved to Glenwood Springs.

“It’s a beautiful and safe area,” she said. “But I have to say I’m a little disappointed because I’m away from my children and my husband and I were also spoiled with the many options that offer a big city.”

In Garfield County, Albertini said, things are more nature oriented.

“Picnicking is as far as I will go outdoors,” she said with a smile. I’m too old and scared to try skiing. So I go home, I garden, I read and I take care of my cats. I have discovered Denver, so I like to go there. Locally, I like the afternoon markets.”

” By Veronica Whitney

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Keeping a low profile is something Sandy Lowell thinks he does pretty well.

That’s why he wanted to meet at the 19th Street Diner in Glenwood Springs. It’s a place he’s comfortable with and he enjoys the comfortable atmosphere that parallels his character.

“Hi Sandy, how are you?” a waitress asked the tall, blond-haired Lowell as he entered the diner.

“I’m fine, thank you,” was as familiar to the waitress as Sandy’s face.

“Sit wherever you would like,” she told him. But, he already knew the routine and was on his way to a vacant table in the middle of the noisy lunchtime crowd. The clang of silverware, meat frying on the grill and the constant ruckus of conversation echoed through the diner.

Lowell wondered why he should be included in the Community Faces section.

“I keep a low profile,” he said. “How did you get my name?”

Lowell is one of those local guys like so many others who are part of the community and is always willing to help out where and when he can. He doesn’t do it for recognition and he doesn’t do it for praise, and he definitely doesn’t do it to get his name in the newspaper.

When asked if he helps out the community, Lowell modestly said, “Not a lot, I do some.”

Glenwood Springs has been Lowell’s home since the early 1980s. In fact, speaking about his move to Glenwood stirs up conversation of the infamous Black Sunday, in 1982, when Exxon pulled the plug on its Colony Oil Shale project and left a couple thousand people out of work. At the time, Lowell started to rethink his move to the Western Slope.

“Oh heck yes,” he said. “I was real proud of myself. I’m not a big city boy, I chose to move to either here or Durango from Denver.”

His wife, Jennifer, was a successful structural engineer for a major company based in Denver at the time. She made a good living, according to Sandy. But he had the opportunity to move to a more remote location to set up shop for his employer, Wagner Rents, and he jumped at the opportunity. He still manages the Glenwood office today.

“That next year I went five months without a paycheck,” he said.

He and his family powered through the dark days and found a nice home in the Roaring Fork Valley. They found ways to kill time and being a family of engineers, the Lowell family even built their own cabin near Paonia in 1997 where they’ve owned a parcel of land since the ’70s.

It was a family project that probably got his sons interested in engineering, just like their parents. Both, Adam 25, and Forrest, 23, have master’s degrees in structural engineering from the University of Colorado.

“We did everything but the logs and the chimney,” Sandy said. “I would like to design a heating system where I could go up there in the winter and keep it to 50 degrees. That would be nice.”

Family projects build a strong foundation for family but participating in the community projects is what he believes builds a strong community. Projects like the Glenwood Springs Triathlon where he’s volunteered for 20 years.

“I ran it four or five times,” he offered up. “Then I retired and thought I would volunteer and help out with the transition.”

He’s helped set up the bike racks at the transition and said that, “It’s really not that much work.” Most people probably don’t even realize that Sandy is the guy who does it.

He likes to keep a low profile.

“You’ve got to do something to help out the community,” he said. “And I can handle this. You do what you can do and it’s a fun event to help out with.”

Through the years, he’s helped out with school events because, “In the community, when the kids were in school, you know, you always help out,” he said.

When he was asked to help raise money for YouthZone’s annual Kiss-N-Squeal fundraiser about seven years ago, he felt again felt it was his duty to help out his community. He ended up raising more money than the event had ever seen. His record stood until this year when U.S. Bank President Ian Exelbert and YouthZone Pals mentoring pair, Mark Hanson and Quintin Anderson, beat Lowell’s record by raising $61,076 and $56,124, respectively.

Lowell was proud of his record, but he was also happy that someone finally managed to top it.

“I was surprised by how many friends and customers who I would ask, ‘How much will it cost you to see me kiss a pig?’ I asked a bunch of guys and they just donated a whole bunch of money. It probably hurt my business for a little bit, but it was fun.”

And it’s that type of community involvement that makes people like Lowell a good neighbor without knowing it.

It’s all part of keeping a low profile.

” By John Gardner

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Reggie Jaramillo has been a pioneer at the national level for people with disabilities, and has sat on the Colorado Governor’s Council for Disabilities.

Beth Will picketed for affordable health care on the steps of the capitol in Washington, D.C. and has held all offices of the local People First chapter.

Admirable time spent for anyone. Realize they are Mountain Valley Developmental clients with developmental-delayed issues, and you gain a whole new level of respect.

Beth was in a Mountain Valley programs group home since October of 1982. Reggie came to Mountain Valley in March of 1987.

One day, Beth and Reggie talked for hours and they became roommates.

“We were talking, and I felt something against my foot,” said Beth, laughing. “Reggie was playing footsie with me. He grinned that grin and I went, ‘Wow!’ and we’ve been together ever since.”

Their families initially resisted Beth’s and Reggie’s independence, understandingly wanting to protect them. But Beth wanted to prove her independence, and she especially likes being with Reggie. Their 20th anniversary was December 17, 2007, which they celebrated with family in Gypsum.

Both Reggie and Beth are politically active with People First, and have held positions in this organization at the national, state and local levels. People First is a self-advocacy organization for people with disabilities which helps them speak up for themselves.

They have traveled by themselves on a cross-country train trip to Providence, Rhode Island, for the 2000 National People First convention.

The couple went on a cruise to Alaska several years ago with a tour group specializing in tours for the developmentally delayed.

“We got on the cruise ship and walked into the casino,” said Beth. “All of a sudden Reggie was yelling ‘My baby, My baby!’ he won $200 and the slot machine was going crazy. It was wonderful.”

Beth remembers watching whales from the ship.

“It was very cool. The whales were pretty close to the ship. We saw them from the window. They were blowing water and Reggie and I were laughing, every morning we got up early and went on top of the ship. I’ve always loved the water. We got to see the glaciers and everything.”

“The whole idea is, nobody thinks that people with disabilities can do things,” said Beth. “We like being out there and meeting people. On one of our trips, we met a man and his wife who had retired from another developmental service program. We showed him we can be independent. He said that made his job worth having. Reggie and I just grinned when he said that.”

Before People First, Beth claims she was the quietest girl in any room. Now that she’s been empowered by People First, “I talk their legs and arms off,” she said. And she does.

Beth and Reggie’s political activeness has been a positive role for other developmentally delayed clients, as well any other people they are around.

Emily Finch, Mountain Valley Developmental Services apartment residential coordinator, has known the couple for more than 20 years. She said, “Beth and Reggie have always been on the political bandwagon. Beth told me that we shouldn’t have the right to vote if we don’t stand up for what we believe. She sends e-mails to people in government when she disagrees with their ideas.”

When the bus service to South Glenwood was cut off, both Beth and Reggie were part of the group which appeared before the council to state their case to continue bus service. Mountain Valley Developmental Services is on the South Glenwood part of the bus route, and its clients could not attend meetings and functions at the facility.

When People First appeared before the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) bus barn, Beth and Reggie were there to appeal to RFTA to make buses more handicapped-accessible. RFTA was open to making these changes, and asked Mountain Valley clients for advice about their handicapped equipment.

Beth and Reggie were also part of the process when People First brought a suit against Mountain Valley to have a Mountain Valley client become a member of the Mountain Valley Board of Directors. They fought for and won the right to have a Mountain Valley client sit on the Mountain Valley Board of Directors. Very powerful, very gutsy.

Reggie was on the Governor’s Council for Disabilities, and met with Governor Romer and Governor Owens every month to get more people involved in advocacy for the developmentally delayed. He traveled to Denver, sometimes by bus. And sometimes he’d hitch a ride with Bill Hauskins on his plane.

Besides all this political involvement, they both enjoy working on their computer, going to the library, reading, shopping and spending time with family and friends.

” By Kay Vasilakis

RIFLE ” Landon Churchill started dancing when he was 10 years old. He just turned 19, and is currently adapting a book into a ballet, and directing and choreographing the entire show, titled “Stargirl,” with The Artilluma Dance Company.

Landon has crafted his gracefulness in dance recitals and performances on a nearly constant basis since he started dancing. He has danced in the Rifle Academy of Dance’s annual recital for several years, and played Prince Desire in “The Sleeping Beauty Ballet” last January. He performed in the Glenwood Center for the Arts production of “Dancers’ Dancing” the last four years.

Landon and his brother Michael performed in Glenwood Dance Academy’s Rodeo Ballet last June, in which they portrayed cowboys and enacted a fight scene, and were paired for a final pas de deux scene.

“What I love about working on stage is the interaction with the audience,” said Landon. “It’s you and a couple of hundred people, all taking this journey through whatever story you’re portraying. It’s amazing that, when you’re on stage, you can make these people cry, laugh, or anything in between.”

When he was 12, portraying the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz,” he realized performing on stage was what he wanted to do with his life.

“I got up there, did a tap dance, sang my song, smiled, and then when the audience started applauding, I knew this was something I would always love,” said the 6-foot 5 inch, fire-opal red-haired talent. “It’s an art where you lay your entire being out on the stage every night for an audience.”

Landon has an amazing voice, but he’s humble about it and thinks humility is a vital part of any performing art. He enjoys good music of any genre, whether it’s classical, metal, bluegrass, Broadway musicals or opera.

Besides rehearsals for “Stargirl,” he’s working on his audition and resume to hopefully study at the prestigious Boston Conservatory.

Landon likes do normal kid stuff, too, such as writing silly songs with his sister, playing video games with his brother and spending time with his girlfriend, Alex Loter. He also likes to mountain bike, write music and poetry, eat and cook, learn new music, go off the diving board at the pool, and do yoga.

Landon has another long list of things he wants to accomplish.

“I want to entertain people. I want to make people laugh, to make them smile. I want to share my love of music and dance with people. I want to get arts programs back into schools. I want to bring back the quality of entertainment that was standard during the era of Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. I want to share the arts with people.”

“I also want to raise a family, write a musical, learn to play the saxophone, open a restaurant, and go to Ireland at some point.”

Landon has been a part of the Holistic Chorus and Holistic Harmony since June. What he likes about it is everyone is there with the intention of giving, and no one comes to further themselves.

“We’re all united in giving the gift of music and the healing it can bring.”

During the first time singing with the chorus room-to-room in the hospital, the group was warned by a nurse of patient in a foul mood, and they might not want to enter the room. The chorus went in anyway, and Landon spoke to the man’s son, who told him his father had always loved Irish tunes. Landon also loves Irish music, so he sang one of his favorite Irish folk songs, Molly Malone.

“I strummed along on the guitar for a bit, and then he began to sing along. Which would have seemed normal, except he had a stroke, and had not been able to formulate sentences. He sang every single word of all three verses and the chorus, perfectly in time and on pitch. It was truly one of the most magical experiences of my life, a testament to the healing power of music.”

” By Kay Vasilakis


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