Monday letters: Dick Prosence, fund newspapers, Child Abuse Prevention Month
Glenwood Canyon and Dick Prosence
It was sad to hear of the passing of Dick Prosence, the outstanding engineer and leader of the construction of so many highways in our area, especially I-70 in Glenwood Canyon, one of the top 10 roads in all of America. I spent many good years associated with Dick on that extraordinary project and on occasions visiting him during his retirement in Meeker.
I first met Dick in the late 1960s. This was after a new four-lane highway was constructed into the canyon from Glenwood to the first tunnels. Objections to the design of that highway began to build since it represented a considerable disruption of the river and canyon walls.
A dramatic solution to subdue this controversy came from a joint resolution of the Colorado Senate demanding that the state highway commission appoint a citizen’s advisory committee to participate in the planning and design of a highway that would ensure that “to the fullest possible extent, the wonders of human engineering will be tastefully blended with the wonders of Nature.” This newly appointed committee was fired after its very first formal meeting when it said “look elsewhere,” not the canyon.
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A new chief engineer for Colorado was then appointed and in essence he said “enough with a citizens committee,” we’ll proceed with absolute care to design the highway on our own. Dick was the one that ultimately stood alone telling his boss “no, the politics are so intense we absolutely must have a second committee.” Dick’s warning was accepted and a second citizens advisory committee was appointed in 1976. I was fortunate to have been a member. The grand opening of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon was held on Oct. 14, 1992.
Dick never wavered in his support of our advisory committee and their task to help reach a public consensus on the highway’s final design. He absolutely understood the care and respect the canyon deserved. We called him “The Father of Glenwood Canyon.”
Fund local newspapers to provide the local content communities need
On Saturday, while families worried about having time to say goodbye if a high-risk loved one tested positive for COVID19 and medical professionals kept mental counts of n95 masks, President Trump attacked the media on Twitter. He gave the ultimatum that journalists disclose their sources if they wanted to remove the burden of being called “fake news.” Journalists are trained to review and evaluate sources; reputable outlets like our local newspapers and public radio hire credentialed and experienced reporters to provide highlights and context to the news that affects our daily life.
As I’m sitting in my quarantine trying to focus on self care, I started reading my local paper each day. I know you all are doing the same because I sometimes have to go to two or three boxes to find a paper by the end of the day. I’m getting inspired by the foresight of Chris Lindley at Vail Heath, the kindness of our own Mikaela Shiffrin and her fireside chat, as well as the local nonprofits working so hard to support our neighbors most affected by the shutdown. What a thoughtful, playful, and brave community we live in.
I also didn’t miss reporter Chris Freud’s note about being furloughed earlier this week or the sudden increase in the amount of Associated Press articles compared to local reporters. I’m worried that the spike in readership isn’t translating into funding that can carry the need readers have for local news they can trust with daily updates to keep us informed of resources and relevant community affairs. The ads aren’t coming in because the businesses are shut down.
Especially during this troubled time, our local newspapers should be funded to provide the local content communities need as an essential service. COVID-19 is the crisis of our generation. As we struggle under Trump’s domineering, unstable and wavering leadership we need to look toward our helpers; those individuals are given the hard choice and making the next right choice each time. I can read about my local heroes because helpers put their stories on the page.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and our attention turns to ways we can support children who have experienced abuse or neglect. In 2019, there were 1,875 calls made to the Child Abuse Hotline in Garfield County; 728 of these calls were opened for assessment, and 148 cases were determined to be substantiated child abuse and neglect. Forty-nine children in Garfield County were living in out-of-home care, such as foster care or with a relative, because it wasn’t safe for them to continue living at home (source: Colorado Department of Human Services).
For children to thrive despite abuse or neglect, resilience is key. The most common factor in developing resilience is having a stable relationship with a supportive adult. That’s where CASA of the Ninth comes in. We recruit, train and support volunteers who get to know the children, and who advocate for those children’s needs in court and the community. Our volunteers are people who care deeply about children and are ready to make a child’s life better.
For a number of these youth, CASA volunteers are that supportive adult. Our volunteers are trained to understand the impact of trauma on children, and advocate for services that promote healing and help children build resilience. The work volunteers do is life-changing, and sometimes life-saving.
Removing children from an environment in which they experienced abuse or neglect does not guarantee positive outcomes for those children. They need quality, therapeutic care and support to move beyond those experiences and thrive. To get that care and support, children need an adult who can advocate for them and who they can lean on.
Now is the time for each of us to become that adult, by becoming a CASA volunteer or supporting our programs so others can. Volunteer training will begin later this spring. If you are interested in joining in making a positive impact on the lives of children in our community who have been abused or neglected, please contact our Advocate Supervisor Taryn Giroux, at firstname.lastname@example.org 970-987-4332.
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