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Thursday letters: Aspen Public Radio, snow and ice, and retail workers

To the Aspen Public Radio board and listening public

I am writing to voice my disgust and sadness over the recent actions taken by the Aspen Public Radio executive director and any others responsible for the abrupt cancellation of all current music programs and the dismissal of all the hard-working, dedicated and talented volunteer hosts. This is in addition to the decision some time ago to change weekend programming to repeat so many programs, and to now add additional repeats during the week.

My husband and I have supported Aspen Public radio for 25 years, even before moving to the valley 20 years ago. Until a few months ago, we listened almost exclusively to the station, from morning to night. When the weekend duplication of programs began, we stopped listening to KAJX on weekends and began exploring both KDNK and Colorado Public Radio, as well as direct streaming of preferred programs. In our opinion, since the departure of Carolyne Heldman (who did an outstanding job), the station has continually gone down hill to the point where we will cease listening.

We are now “voting” with our hands by turning our dial to those other public radio stations and sources, and with our checkbook — we have cancelled our KAJX Evergreen membership, and will direct our financial support to those stations that value local participation and diversity in programming.

We encourage other listeners who feel as we do, to do the same.

Marjorie MacDonald

The soul of Aspen Public Radio is being ripped out

I am very disturbed by the changes made by the radio staff at KAJX/KCJX to remove local music programming and replace it with syndicated talk programs such as Fresh Air and international news that you can stream elsewhere. The presenters of Jazz from Aspen (I am a regular listener of Stu’s and Jeannie’s programs) are an amazing group of volunteers and community members. I was also saddened when the Sunday morning “Pass the Mustard Bluegrass” was curtailed last year. I am happy it found a spot at KDNK.

BBC is on every night. Fresh Air is already programmed for early evenings and on weekends. To learn we are losing our music programming for more programming of Fresh Air makes no sense to me. There are other examples such as “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” weekly episodes that are repeated over the weekend.

I did intend to complete the 2019 radio listener survey. It focused too much on delivery formats and was going to take me an hour or more to complete. I don’t remember being asked to rank which programming I preferred. I was saddened when Krista Tibbet’s “On Being” program was removed. I wrote to the station expressing my disappointment and did get a reply, but not a satisfactory response of why it was dropped.

Do we really have to accept this as the final decision? No, not if we decide to withhold contributions during 2020 fundraising. The soul of Aspen Public Radio is being ripped out and KAJX will soon become a very generic radio station on the path it is pursuing.

Thanks to Maddie Vincent of the Aspen Times for her in depth reporting of this community loss.

Emily Miller
Glenwood Springs

Don’t expect to have all snow and ice removed

I just want to mention that we live in a mountain town surrounded by ski areas. It always has been a mountain town surrounded by mountains that collect snow and ice.

I choose to live here. If you’re here you obviously do, too. I don’t think anyone can expect all snow and ice to be removed. Come on! I have five joint replacements and in 69 years haven’t had something I can’t handle.

If you choose to live here you need to deal with it, and be prepared, always.

Jodie Bay

A retail workers lament

Having been a retail worker on and off for years, I’ve come to notice many things about people. Recently, more than ever, it has been a frustrating job because of the way customers behave in the stores they frequent and how badly retail workers are treated. For the most part, society seems to have lost its luster — aka courtesy.

What gives a parent the right to let their child(ren) loose in a store and treat the aisles like a raceway and a playground? — knocking over products, harshly playing with items that won’t be bought (and now are too dirty to sell) is something workers see on a daily basis. Rude brats shouting all over the store and disturbing everyone is nothing folks leave their house for. What happened to manners being taught?

There are many people who treat retail workers as if they are meant to be slaves. There are overly demanding customers that believe they are on this Earth to behave horribly to anyone at a register. Why? Because the workers aren’t rich-wannabes who are pulled tighter than a rubber band? What makes the customer think they can get away with such behavior?

Retail workers are not there to be your babysitter. Retail workers are not there for you to use as a doormat, boot scrape or your verbal punching bag. Customers also have to realize that they need to think. Really. Use your brain when you leave your house. Retail workers are not mind readers, either. Sharpen up America! Sadly, relatable scenes are played out across the country. There are bright spots on some days with customers who are genuine.

All of the above brings me to this — why is it customers always think it’s the retail workers that are rude? Maybe it’s because the previously mentioned items and more have happened day in and day out. Maybe it’s because workers are seriously tired of literally picking up after rude and careless customers. Maybe it’s because retail workers are fed up with low pay and having to act somewhat pleasant to insolent customers.
Maybe it’s because retail workers are just plain fed up.

R. Carlin

Superintendent’s Corner: School choice is a family matter

Parents all want to make the best decisions for their children. While choosing the right school can be important, research shows that the home environment is the strongest determinant of a child’s outcomes in life.

Given the realities of work and family circumstances, not every family has the luxury of making an active choice about where to send their children to school. If you are one of the lucky ones, trust your own judgment and research, and don’t worry about what others think.

The Roaring Fork Schools have just announced our registration windows for the 2020-21 school year, and parents are starting to think about where to send their children to school in the fall. We strive to make all of our schools great, but we know that students and families have different needs, and we trust parents to make the right choice for their child.

We have found that most parents choose to send their children to the school in their home enrollment area. Some choose schools near where they work. But for a few parents in our valley, and for more around the state, deciding on school for your child is an important choice. You can find enrollment information on our website, as well as a schedule for visiting a school.

If you are considering a decision about where to send your child to school — whether it be preschool, kindergarten, or another grade level — here is some advice: make the decision carefully, and stick with it.

Just as kids benefit from a stable and consistent home environment, they benefit from constancy at school. They need time to develop peer relationships, to get to know teachers, and for teachers to get to know them. They will inevitably struggle at one time or another at school, perhaps socially, emotionally or academically, and like any good relationships you should commit to helping them work through the ups and downs rather than giving up at the first sign of trouble.

What should you look for when choosing a school? Here is what good schools have in common:

Clear mission and purpose manifest in daily activities.

Explicitly stated curriculum and instructional practices, and ongoing assessment of student learning.

Strong and positive adult-student relationships and structures to enhance them.

A schedule that supports student learning, including time for core academic subjects and flexibility to kick in extra support when needed.

Expert teachers provided with ongoing professional development.

A commitment to equity, which means holding high expectations for all, serving all students and families, and providing flexible support for individual needs.

Strong, responsive leadership that keeps the focus on learning.

How can you find information about a school? First, there is a range of available data, and you should be looking at more than test scores and ratings. The Colorado Department of Education SchoolView School Dashboard platform is a great source, which you can find by entering those terms into your web browser. You can easily look up any public school in the state and find lots of data including test scores, population statistics, attendance and graduation rates, and the state’s overall accountability rating.

Beyond that, and equally importantly, you should be looking at information about how students, parents and teachers perceive their schools. Our schools publish results from annual surveys, which you can easily find by searching “Roaring Fork school level data.” You want to be looking for schools where students feel they get help, where teachers feel is a good place to work and learn, where parents feel they have a voice, and where everybody feels they belong.

There are many popular school models, usually affiliated with national organizations or schools of thought. They can give coherence to a school and help make sure that everybody is working in common purpose. But they do not guarantee school quality and there are as many high-performing unaffiliated schools as there are high flyers with a particular brand.

Deciding where to send your child to school is a personal and family choice. Family considerations, such as convenience and transportation, as well as your own values, should come into play. If you continue to love and care for your children, no matter what school they attend, they will thrive.

Rob Stein is superintendent for Roaring Fork Schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

We will meet again at the Rainbow Bridge

It was the day after Christmas, and a day Carly and I had been dreading for over two years was here — still way too soon.

You know its inevitable, right when you give your heart to a dog. They just don’t live long enough to give all the unconditional love they carry for you, their human family.

Our 13-year-old one-eyed golden, Miley Noel, who could barely walk more than 10 steps from the pain of the arthritis, had ceased eating on Christmas day. The night before, when Shiloh got home for Christmas, they had laid on the floor and loved on each other for what would be the last time. Miley knew it was time and now she was ready. How many times have we witnessed that over the years?

Miley had shepherded Shiloh from teenager through Roaring Fork High School, Louisiana Tech and now to her chosen vocation. The natural vet was coming at 1 o’clock. Miley Noel had blessed our lives with her sweet spirit since Christmas day in 2006 when she was a Christmas present to Shiloh.

Named Miley (Cyrus) and Noel (Christmas) she had lived the longest of any of our dogs. She rode with me to work every day, proudly sitting shotgun until her legs wouldn’t allow and then she rode on the floor in the back. She absolutely loved for me to talk to her, cocking her head from side to side as if fully comprehending everything I said.

She loved for you to say “cat” as it was an all-hands-on-deck reaction not to give chase, but she found them strange and particularly intriguing creatures. We took her on her last wagon ride around the pond before noon, looking at the ducks one last time, then Carly and I took turns lying beside her in the den listening to her labored breathing and rubbing her incredibly furry head.

I write this to all who have experienced the loss of a dog who has looked into your eyes saying nothing but, “I love you so much.”

I don’t know about you, but each dog I have lost has taken a little bit bigger piece of my heart. I attribute this to the fact I have grown as a person, able to give more, knowing that the pain one day will almost be unbearable. This also has brought new vistas of compassion for other animals as well. I simply cannot stand to see or hear of any creature suffer.

The ecological disaster in Australia is breaking my heart knowing that all those critters are literally burning to death in unbearable pain, basically because of mankind’s greed and ignorance.

As Miley’s health failed, we adjusted our lives around hers just like most of you would. We moved our bedroom downstairs 3 years ago so she would not have to negotiate the stairs. We got her a wagon from Lowes and pulled her on “wagon walks” for 2 years. It was her favorite thing… well that and her monthly visits to the natural vet where she was queen for a day and got massage and acupuncture.

She was absolutely the happiest of our goldens and was so glad to see people, but it did not stop there. She would sit at the door or window for hours watching birds and squirrels. When she awoke in the morning, she would first announce she was awake by thumping her tail on the floor until someone acknowledged her. Then she would roll off her bed with all four legs sticking straight up and literally wiggle across the floor to get her belly rubbed.

She was an inspiration to me when my fused back or bum shoulder hurt, I would think to myself “if Miley can do this without complaining so should I.”

When the natural vet came though, there was no turning back. Her favorite treat in the world, a hedgehog whimzee, lay beside her barely cracked. We talked to her until there was no heartbeat and Cindy said “she’s gone.” Sobbing, I said, “oh my sweet Miley where are you girl?” And the still small voice said I am already at the Rainbow Bridge with Daisy Mae, I have met Cheyenne and we will be here waiting.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.

— 1 Corinthians 2:9

Be kind to someone or something today.

RFSD kindergarten registration April 17

Registration for all students entering kindergarten in the 2020-21 school year in the Roaring Fork Schools is set to occur from 7:30 a.m.–5 p.m. April 17.

Children must be age 5 on or before Oct. 1, 2020 to enroll in kindergarten for the 2020-21 school year. Full- and half-day kindergarten is now offered at no cost to parents.

Roaring Fork District elementary schools by attendance area include:

Glenwood Springs — Sopris Elementary, Glenwood Springs Elementary, and Riverview, a pre/kindergarten through eighth-grade school

Carbondale — Crystal River Elementary and Carbondale Community School (a K-8 district charter school)

Basalt — Basalt Elementary School

Note that Carbondale Community School and other local non-district charter schools have a separate application process. Parents must apply for admission by April 3. More information can be found at tinyurl.com/yh827bam.

Leading up to the registration date, each school is planning to host a kindergarten information night to share information about the school and the kindergarten registration process with parents. Below are the dates for each school:

• Basalt Elementary, 5:30 p.m. April 9

• Carbondale Community School, 5 p.m. Feb. 20

• Crystal River Elementary, 5:30 p.m. April 2

• Glenwood Springs Elementary, 5:30-6:30 p.m. April 2

• Riverview School, 5:45-6:45 p.m. April 7

• Sopris Elementary, 6 p.m. April 6

Each school is also offering tours for incoming kindergarten students and their families on the following dates:

Basalt Elementary: 8:30 a.m. every Thursday, and noon Feb. 13 through March 12. Tours are also available upon request in April by calling 970-384-5801.

Carbondale Community School: 1 p.m. every Tuesday, and 8:30 a.m. Fridays starting Jan. 27 through March 13. To sign up, call Sandra at 970-963-9647.

Crystal River Elementary: 8:30 a.m. every Thursday in March. Tours in February by appointment by calling Grace at 970-384-5623.

Glenwood Springs Elementary: Every Friday in March between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. for a tour and chat with school leadership. To schedule an alternate time, call 970-384-5450.

Riverview School: 8:15–3 p.m. every day during March.

Sopris Elementary: 8:45–9:45 a.m. every Tuesday in March.

There will be no tours the week of Spring Break, March 19–27.

To register, parents should go to the school they plan to enroll their student in (attendance area map can be found on the RFSD website) on April 17, with a copy of the child’s birth certificate and immunization records.

The registration process will include completing forms for the upcoming school year. All paperwork will be available in both English and Spanish, and bilingual staff will be present to assist families with the process.

Motorist incident south of Glenwood ends in arrest

An incident involving a motorist who appeared to be stuck in the snow and was reportedly acting strangely south of Glenwood Springs ended in an arrest Wednesday night without incident.

According to officers on the scene, Colorado State Patrol was initially called for a motorist assist around 7:30 p.m. involving a vehicle that was stuck in the snow near the Highway 82 and Garfield County Road 154 north (old Buffalo Valley) stoplight.

Police presence Wednesday night during the incident south of Glenwood Springs at the Highway 82/north County Road 154 intersection.

Officers arrived to observe that the driver appeared to be “huffing” from aerosol cans.

The suspect was non-responsive to police commands to exit the vehicle, prompting calls for police backup and resulting in a large police presence visible from Highway 82.

The suspect was ultimately removed from the vehicle without incident, and was placed under arrest, according to a Garfield County Sheriff’s deputy who was assisting at the scene.

Roaring Fork Schools sued over handling of GSHS student harassment claims following sex assault incident

A lawsuit filed in federal court in Denver on Wednesday claims the Roaring Fork School District mishandled harassment claims by a female Glenwood Springs High School student and her family in the aftermath of an alleged sexual assault involving a fellow male student two years ago.

According to the claim, even though school and district officials were made aware of the situation numerous times over the course of the 2017-18 school year, nothing was done to protect the female student while both students were still attending GSHS.

After the male student accepted a plea deal in juvenile court in the spring of 2018 related to the assault incident and was sentenced to probation with sexual abuse counseling, the school board allowed him to return to school and graduate with his class after he was initially expelled, the lawsuit states.

Throughout that whole school year, the female student, who was a junior, said she was subjected to frequent, uncomfortable encounters with the student and his friends. 

She also said she was the victim of physical and verbal harassment, and even death threats from fellow students, according to the civil claim filed by renowned sexual abuse attorney John Clune in U.S. District Court.

Following the male student’s expulsion and reinstatement, GSHS officials attempted to prevent him from attending prom. However, “GSHS classmates started and circulated a petition to instead allow [the male student] to attend prom and prohibit [the female student] from attending,” according to the lawsuit.

The situation ultimately prompted her to leave GSHS for her senior year and re-enroll at another area high school, limiting her academic opportunities and causing emotional pain, for which she is now seeking damages via the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was brought in federal court, rather than state district court, alleging the school district violated its obligations under the Title IX Education Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

It names the Roaring Fork School District and GSHS Assistant Principal Patrick Engle individually as defendants in the case. However, several school- and district-level administrators were aware of the situation and failed to act accordingly, the lawsuit says.

“As a result of the sexual assaults and resulting distress, plaintiff’s studies and education have suffered substantially,” the lawsuit claims.

“(Roaring Fork School District), through the inaction of various high-ranking administrators with the ability and authority to take remedial action to stop the sexual harassment and sexual discrimination, including Assistant Principal (Patrick) Engle, Principal Paul Freeman and Superintendent Rob Stein, had actual knowledge of, and were deliberately indifferent to sexual harassment that was so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive, that it deprived plaintiff of access to the educational benefits or opportunities provided by (Roaring Fork School District), in violation of Title IX.”

School district officials said late Wednesday that they had not yet been made aware of the lawsuit, and declined to comment.

According to the lawsuit, the assault occurred during the fall semester of 2016, when the female student was a sophomore and the male student a junior.

She did not report the assault to police until the following summer, and began to make school officials aware of the situation during the 2017 fall semester when she asked for protections to avoid any encounters with the male student involved.

Questions around the district’s handling of the student’s claims prompted Superintendent Stein and the school board, in the spring of 2018, to seek a third-party review of district policies dealing with harassment claims. 

Larry Nesbit, a retired schools superintendent and expert in human resources and school discipline procedures, conducted the review and interviewed parties involved in the case.

His recommendations were referenced in the lawsuit, which points out that Nesbit “issued a report acknowledging that GSHS had failed to investigate further when it initially received notice from the District Attorney’s Office that [the male student involved] had been charged with sexual assault.

“Mr. Nesbit concluded that there was a need for a more consistent formal process and procedures at GSHS in order to properly investigate and determine disciplinary action, particularly in the case of serious criminal charges, and that there were significant inconsistencies in how disciplinary issues were handled within GSHS.”

A final report issued by Nesbit to the school district in May 2019 offered second recommendations for future action. Among them: establishing better investigation protocols, proper use of the student disciplinary/expulsion process, better training for secondary administrators regarding student discipline matters and due process, regular updating of discipline policies, affirming school board and administrator roles, removal of any inconsistencies in the process, and providing further student education around sexual responsibility.


Rifle Police investigating crash that killed pedestrian

Rifle police are investigating a one-vehicle crash that killed a pedestrian Wednesday morning on U.S. Highway 6.

According to Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein, Garfield County 911 received a call around 7:20 a.m. Wednesday about a crash on Highway 6 between milemarker 93 and 94.

Rifle Police officers responded along with Colorado River Fire Rescue.

“Officers arrived first. They located a male lying in the roadway in the westbound lane of Highway 6. There were several people at the scene when the officers arrived,” Klein said.

“The officer provided life-saving measures as well as the ambulance crew when they arrived. However, those efforts failed and unfortunately, the male died at the scene.”

The Coroner’s office responded to the scene and the name of the victim is being withheld until next of kin can be notified.

Klein said from the preliminary investigation it appears that a subject was driving a blue Honda Civic traveling westbound on Highway 6 – the same direction as the pedestrian.

“After the male was struck the driver turned back around and returned to the scene,” Klein said.

Klein said the driver was arrested and that he will likely be charged with various offenses, one of which is DUI.

“All subjects are innocent until proven guilty in court,” Klein said.

Rifle Police Department is currently speaking to witnesses and gathering more information about the incident.

“We are looking for anyone that stopped at the scene to give us a call, and anyone that may have witnessed anything that happened and did not stop to please give us a call,” Klein said. “We would also like to talk to anyone who saw a man walking along the side of the road this morning.”

Witnesses of the crash can reach Rifle Police detectives at 970-665-6500.

Colorado Department of Transportation personnel and Rifle Community Service officers helped to divert traffic during the road closure. The highway was closed for approximately two hours while the scene was investigated.

The Colorado State Patrol also responded to the scene to help with the crash reconstruction.

“I want to thank everyone who stopped to help the gentleman who died,” Klein said.


Colorado driving laws with respect to ice and snow removal

When it comes to removing ice and snow from a vehicle before getting on the road, Colorado has little to no laws on the books. 

“There is not a specific Colorado law that prohibits driving down the road with a snow- or ice-covered vehicle,” Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Blake White said. “It could end up creating a civil liability if your failure to clear your vehicle results in damage or injury to someone else.”

Where the law could also apply is if snow or ice obstructs the driver’s vision through the vehicle’s required glass.

According to White, drivers often fail to clear their windshield, hood or other windows of snow and ice, which can lead to serious safety hazards. 

“The snow can blow and obstruct other drivers from seeing clearly or can come off in a large damaging sheet of ice and strike another vehicle,” White said. 

Subsequently, Colorado State Patrol highly recommends that drivers remove snow from their entire vehicle in order to prevent it from being a hazard to themselves or others.

Locally, Lt. Bill Kimminau said the Glenwood Springs Police department had received at least one complaint this winter of vehicles with too much snow on their roofs driving on the city’s streets.

However, unless that snow or ice obstructs the driver’s vision or prohibits the vehicle’s lights or license plate from being seen, law enforcement has limited tools at its disposal. 

According to Kimminau, 12 wrecks occurred in the area Friday during the day. 

“They were scattered all over town.” Kimminau said. “Side streets, parking lots, Grand [Avenue]…I know it was really slick in the morning.”

In addition to clearing vehicles of ice and snow before getting on the roadways, White also emphasized a basic winter driving principle – slowing down.    

“Let’s get everybody home safe at the end of the day,” Diane Reynolds, Take A Minute campaign member, said.

Take A Minute is a local grassroots campaign, which grew out of Imagine Glenwood’s ongoing mission to enhance neighborhoods by promoting pedestrian, cyclist and driver safety. 

The campaign’s name derives from the fact that the time saved by driving 10 miles per hour over the 25 mph speed limit through Glenwood’s core evidently amounts to exactly that – one minute.

“Obeying community speeds are really critical to Glenwood’s long term wellbeing,” Reynolds said. 

“In winter weather drivers must plan on it taking longer to reach their destinations,” White said. “Slow down, give yourself more room and don’t drive distracted.”

According to Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) data, Garfield County experienced eight fatal crashes which took the lives of 10 people last year.


Glenwood soccer standout Celia Scruton signs to play with Evergreen State in Washington

When it came to where she wanted to continue her burgeoning soccer career, Glenwood Springs senior captain Celia Scruton knew exactly what she was looking for.

It had to feel like home, and it had to have a family environment: two things that played large roles in her rapid development in the Demons’ program.

She believes she’s found that at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Scruton signed her national letter of intent during the holiday break in December to join the Geoducks under the tutelage of head coach Steve Schmidt.

“I verbally committed in August, but we made it official as soon as we could,” Scruton said shortly after her signing. “I chose Evergreen because I loved the team and the coach and the community that they have built within their team.

“It felt like home. I wanted to like where I live and really invest in this next step, and I believe I’ve done that with Evergreen.”

Glenwood Springs senior Celia Scruton signs her national letter of intent with Evergreen State College of Olympia, Wash., as her family looks on, during a Dec. 23 signing ceremony at Glenwood Springs High School.

The Geoducks are sure glad she picked Olympia, because the program is welcoming one of the best high school-level fullbacks in the state of Colorado into its ranks.

The all-state caliber defender has played a key role in leading the resurgence of Glenwood’s girls soccer program in recent years, helping the Demons’ defense clamp down on teams and leading to multiple state playoff runs, including a magical run to the semifinals in 2018.

“We knew pretty early on [she was a special player],” Evan Segal, a former Glenwood Springs assistant coach, said of Scruton. “Going back to freshman year, she was very vocal, passionate and a determined competitor.

“It’s tougher to teach players [to be like Celia]. You can develop them, but players have it or they don’t, and Celia had it right away.”

By the end of her junior year last season, teams stopped attacking her, “because they just knew,” Segal said.

“This is a kid who wants to play, wants to shut down other teams’ attacking players. And so it was awesome for us coaching, because we knew we had an awesome player. Now, it was about developing her.”

It took Scruton longer to realize her talents and find her voice as a leader. But she had a great role model in older sister, Nina, who captained the Demons in 2016 and 2017.

“My freshman year playing with Nina, she taught me how to be a captain and lead the team,” Scruton said. “That was huge for me, because she helped me find myself as a player and find my voice.”

Scruton’s energy, intensity and overall passion for the game has raised the level of preparation and focus for the Demons, turning the program into a powerhouse in 4A.

“She’s the heartbeat of the team,” former Glenwood Springs head coach Joe Calabrese said. “With her being vocal, the energy and passion that she brings, it sets a tone and a culture of high energy.

“It encompasses all that she is as a player. She really gets people energized pumped up for games. That’s who she is, and you can’t teach that.”

Segal said that unique characteristic has always been present with Scuton.

“She’s just really passionate,” he said. “She’s always been willing to grab her teammates by the jersey collar and drag them to success with her.

“… From a vocal leadership standpoint, she is and was the spark that drove a lot of her teammates to perform better than they thought they could. That was really, really invaluable.”

Scruton will likely be an attacking outside back, like she currently is in high school. Off the field, she’ll major in ceramics and minor in business. The love and interest in ceramics comes from four years of pottery classes in high school.

Now that the recruiting process is over and her next home is set, Scruton can focus on leading the Demons back to the state playoffs while playing in front of her younger sister, Abby, Glenwood’s standout goalkeeper.

“A lot of stress has been taken off my shoulders,” Scruton said. “I know where I’m going, I’ve been accepted and I have a plan. All I have to do now is enjoy my last year [in high school] and continue my leadership.”

Four-legged neighbor becomes a hero in Rifle

For Stacey Wilz and her dog Sitka, a typical day begins when they set out for their morning walk around 5:25 a.m. 

Stacey and her husband Ian Wilz live in the Homestead, a collection of townhouses set around Fir Court in the Graham Mesa area in Rifle.

The Wilz’s have lived there for seven years, and have become friends with many of their neighbors including Jane Holt and her mother Dot Holt, who lives across the street.

But last Wednesday something was different.

Sitka was the first to know there was trouble.

“We always go around the circle, and basically end up right in front of Jane and Dot’s house,” Stacey said.

But before they even got to Jane and Dot’s house, Sitka started acting unusual.

“He was pulling really hard, he got to the sidewalk right in front of the house and he just sat down and took attention right to the house,” Stacey said.

Stacey, who commutes to Glenwood to her job at Berthod Motors kept calling him and telling him that she had to get ready for work, but Sitka wouldn’t budge and kept staring at the house. 

“Finally I went to pull him one last time when I heard a murmuring, a really deep breathing sound.”

Stacey said it scared her at first, with thoughts of a mountain lion or something else on the front porch racing through her mind. 

But she noticed it was a consistent sound so she took out the flashlight she always carries in her pocket.

“At first I thought it was really weird because there was a blanket or something on the front porch that was making this weird noise,” Stacey said

When she shined the flashlight over toward what she was hearing Stacey thought to herself it had to be an animal or something, and that’s when she realized it was a person.

“My heart sunk and I began shaking.”

Stacey always checks the temperature when she leaves the house in the morning and she remembered it was only 15 degrees that morning.

Stacey ran back to her house to wake up her husband and call 911.

Ian Wilz said he was just waking up when Stacey burst through their front door, yelling that there was someone lying on the ground in front of Jane and Dot’s house.

Lying on the freezing concrete by the corner of the garage was 93-year-old Dot Holt, who has dementia.

Ian knelt down and started holding Dot trying to use his body heat to warm her up.

“I’m trying to get her to respond, as I told Stacey to get Jane,” Ian said.

Ian, a fourth-grade teacher at Highland Elementary in Rifle, and was able to use a little background in emergency response; he was a lifeguard for many years when he was younger.

Stacey ran through the front door, which was still open, yelling for Jane.

“Jane came out with the blankets and we wrapped her up,” Ian said.

Stacey and Ian said the paramedics responded quickly, and rushed Dot to the hospital.

“The 911 dispatch was absolutely amazing, I would have probably been in tears if it wasn’t for them,” Stacey said.

“If he hadn’t pulled the attention to it, there’s no way I would’ve known she was out there. Our little rescue dog rescued someone else,”

Caring for her mother

Jane Holt has been living with her mother for nine years now. She decided to sell her shoe store in New Hampshire about 11 years ago and start the process to move to Rifle when she noticed that her mom was showing signs of Dementia.

Holt said people with dementia can change every day – they don’t really have any patterns.

“Every moment is different,” Holt said.

Last Wednesday wasn’t the first time Dot Holt has wandered out of the house and into the elements.

“She had done this once before and gone out our back door to the balcony, and was out for a time, but it was 40 degrees. I found her in the morning and everything was fine after a hospital visit, we ended up putting a combination lock on the door,” Holt said.

Since then she has an alarm by her mom’s bed that she usually steps on if she gets up.

“Somehow she has missed it a couple of times, and this time she went out the front door, which we don’t even use because we have a ramp going out the garage,” Holt said.

Her mother’s temperature was 85 degrees when paramedics arrived. Doctors estimated she had been outside for a couple of hours because of her condition.

“It couldn’t have been much longer, it was like 15 degrees,” Holt said. “I’m so in love with this dog, and I always have been. He is such a great dog.”

Holt admits that Sitka is her new favorite dog and even told her dog he is second now.

Jane said her mother has no recollection of the event.

“She keeps asking what happened here, when she looks at her scrapes and bruises,” Holt said. “The woman’s bones are made of titanium.”

Jane has finally admitted to herself that taking care of her mother is getting to be more than she can handle and is moving her mother to a memory care center in Grand Junction next week where she will be safer.

Holt calls Sitka the neighborhood mascot. Now he’s also the neighborhood hero.

“It would have been an absolute nightmare, they truly saved her life. They absolutely saved her, “ said Jane as she held back tears before giving Stacey and Ian a big hug.

Sitka is all smiles with one of his new toys he received for being a hero last week in Rifle. (Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram)

Finding Sitka

The Wilz family adopted Sitka from the Rifle Animal Shelter about a year and a half ago.

“We got him July 1, 2018, we had been looking for a dog for a while,” Ian said.

The Wilz’s don’t have children but wanted to share their joy and happiness to someone else.

“Being in this small space it is hard to find a dog, but this guy came up the day before my birthday. I said, ‘Oh my god we have to get him – he’s the one,’” Ian said.

He said he went down to the shelter to put his name down the day a picture of Sitka, known as Luke at the time, showed up on the shelter’s website.

Ian and Stacey were told he was 5 and that he was an American Eskimo when they got him, but not much else was known about him.

They changed his name to Sitka, after Sitka, Alaska, because Luke just didn’t fit his personality. 

Ian said he is still a little hyper and was skittish at first, but now he will walk up to everybody.

“He just loves being around kids, dogs, and other people,” Ian said.

Stacey said after word got out about Sitka’s heroics one of the neighbors made him a little hero medallion to wear and gave him a certificate.

He’s been getting treats from the neighbors and Jane brought him a basket full of toys and treats last Friday.

“He’s gotten quite the ego lately,” Stacey said with a laugh.

The incident has Stacey watching her surroundings more carefully and believes there are things people should watch for.

“If your dog is trying to tell you something, you need to listen, and second you need to look out for your neighbors, you never know what’s going on you have to be aware all the time,” Stacey said.