Citizen Telegram Community News Briefs – Jan. 30, 2014 |

Citizen Telegram Community News Briefs – Jan. 30, 2014

Rifle High School Drama Club students, from left: Colby Rennie (junior), Brett Christensen (junior); stacked, top to bottom: Austin Kennedy (junior) McKinley Phillips (senior), Rachel Sonntag (junior) and Kelly Coombs (junior).
Darcy Copeland/DC Photo/ |

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Silt officer earns scholarship

Silt Police Officer Joe Nassetta recently received the Jeff Cooper Legacy Foundation scholarship, which entitles him to five days of firearms training at Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Ariz.

Nassetta also helped design a sniper rifle, which helped him obtain the scholarship. Nassetta has been with the Silt Police Department since June 2012.

See the Blackhawk copters?

If you saw two Blackhawk military helicopters fly low over Rifle on Friday, Jan. 24, it wasn’t an emergency of any kind. But it was important to the residents of the Colorado State Veterans Home.

Every year, Colorado National Guard General H. Michael Edwards visits with his entourage and the general spends about three hours visiting with every resident. We’re told the general didn’t want the “distraction” of having a reporter or photographer around during his stay, so that’s why you don’t see any story or photos.

Spaghetti dinner at RHS

The Rifle High School Drama Club will host a spaghetti dinner during the Glenwood Springs/Rifle basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 30. Dinners cost $7 for one or $25 for a family of four. Meals include spaghetti, salad, dinner roll and desert. Serving will start at 5 p.m. outside the gym. All proceeds go toward the drama club and replacing the tattered curtains in the school’s auditorium.

Garfield Re-2 graduation rate tops state average

Garfield School District Re-2 is above the state average in graduation rate, according to information recently released by the Colorado Department of Education.

The “on time” graduation rates, a measure put into place for the 2011-12 school year, measures only those students who graduate from high school four years after entering ninth grade. For the 2012-13 school year, Re-2 had a graduation rate of 79.3 percent, higher than the state average of 76.9 percent.

Students from Re-2’s brick and mortar high schools, Coal Ridge and Rifle, had a combined graduation rate of 84.1 percent. The 2012-13 district graduation rate includes 16 students from Kaplan Academy of Colorado, the district’s online school that closed two years ago.

The state also calculates a completion rate that factors in students that needed additional time to complete their high school education, so it includes students that completed high school in five and six years. Re-2’s completion rate is 81.4 percent, and increases to 85.6 percent if only Coal Ridge and Rifle high schools are factored in the calculations.

“We still have to work to raise the bar,” said Re-2 Superintendent Dr. Susan Birdsey. “However, the staffs at Coal Ridge and Rifle high schools and our middle schools are working hard to provide individualized instruction, set high goals and high expectations for our students. The end result is that 84 percent of our seniors at Coal Ridge and Rifle High are graduating.”

Birdsey added the graduation rate is a testament to the staff’s dedication, as the district moved to the four-day school week in the 2012-13 school year.

“The four-day school week created a sense of urgency around maximizing student contact time, and insuring that instruction was centered around the academic standards,” explained Birdsey. “Our academic achievement data is moving in the right direction.”

Colorado also released statewide drop out rates. Colorado’s drop out rate is currently 2.5 percent while Re-2’s drop out rate is 1.1 percent.

“Attention to individualized instruction at our middle and high schools, involving students in extra-curricular activities, and maximizing our partnerships with organizations like Colorado Mountain College provide both academic and career track options for students to keep them focused on their future and help them graduate on time,” added Birdsey.

Running and learning

Girls on the Run of Western Colorado is accepting registrations for their spring 2014 program season, which will run from February to May. The Girls on the Run mentoring and life skills program is being offered at 90 sites in Western Colorado and Eastern Utah, including Battlement Mesa, Rifle, Silt, and New Castle. More than 2,300 girls in third through eighth grades are expected to participate this year.

The program uses an experience-based curriculum which uses running to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident, with topics such as self-awareness, building healthy relationships and developing personal strengths while engaging in physical activities. The curriculum also includes a community service project completed by each team, as well as a fun, non-competitive 5k run open to the community at the end of the 10-week season.

Registration will be taken through Feb. 1. The program fee is $50 per participant and includes 20 lessons delivered by trained coaches, a T-shirt, entry for the end-of-season 5k, and end-of-season awards and celebrations. No girl is turned away due to financial restrictions, and scholarships are readily available. Details and registration forms can be found online at

Vondette rounds out National Western

Rifle’s C.J. Vondette made her final 2014 appearance at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo on Sunday, Jan. 26, competing in the short go-round of the rodeo at the Denver Coliseum.

The first runner to go in the women’s barrel racing competition, Vondette laid down a fast 15.57-second run, consistent with her two previous runs of 15.54 and 15.68.

Aboard her main equine partner, Cache a Mount, her time set the pace for the next 11 competitors, the top 12 fastest combined runs of the original 216 entered.

Vondette’s 15.57 would hold for a sixth place finish in the go-round and Vondette ended ninth in the average.

The Denver paychecks will increase her lead in the Mountain States Circuit and advance her in the world rankings as well, where she currently ranks 21st. Vondette will begin a north-south trek that ranges from Rapid City, S.D. to Tucson, Ariz.

RHS grad completes Navy training

Navy Seaman Jake W. Murphy, son of James O. and Christine M. Murphy of Rifle, recently completed U.S. Navy basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill. Murphy is a 2012 Rifle High School graduate.

Murphy was promoted to his current rank based on sustained superior performance while at Recruit Training Command. During the eight-week program, Murphy completed a variety of training, including classroom study and practical instruction on naval customs, first aid, firefighting, water safety and survival, and shipboard and aircraft safety. An emphasis was also placed on physical fitness.

The capstone event of boot camp is “Battle Stations,” an exercise that helps give recruits the skills and confidence they need to succeed in the fleet, such as basic warrior attributes of sacrifice, dedication, teamwork and endurance.

Food for Fines and buy a book bag

Garfield County public libraries will bring back the popular Food for Fines program during February. Bring in non-perishable food items to any library and receive $1 credit on your library card account for each item you donate. Credits can only be applied to overdue fines, and cannot go toward lost materials or those fees. All food items will be given to local LIFT-UP locations. Last February, there were 4,542 items collected by the libraries.

The libraries are also selling book bags for $2 each. Proceeds support the libraries, so be kind to the environment while carrying your books in style. For more information, visit

Winter heating help

Heating your home during wintertime is expensive. If you’re struggling to pay your heating bills, the Colorado Low-income Energy Assistance Program can help.

LEAP provides cash assistance to help hard-working families and individuals pay winter home heating costs or help with broken furnaces or wood stoves. This year, the average benefit for people who qualify is expected to be $425 per household.

Applicants must be Colorado residents and U.S. citizens or legal aliens. They also need to provide a copy of a valid identification and a completed affidavit to comply with Colorado revised statutes regarding documentation of lawful presence. Applicants also must be responsible for paying heating costs, either directly to a utility company or to a landlord as part of rent. Applicants’ income cannot exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty index.

People interested in applying can call 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) to order a mailed application or pick one up at the Garfield County Human Services offices, most utility companies, and many community agencies, like Catholic Charities. Applications also can be downloaded from Applications can be made through April 30.

It’s tax time again

Taxpayers are advised to start planning and organizing their records now for the income tax filing season. Don’t put off planning and filing until April. Starting early can save you time if you realize you need to obtain additional records. Then file quickly, easily and securely through any of several Colorado income tax electronic filing methods.

Taxpayers can set up their own login ID and password to access their Colorado income tax records at Having access to your tax account in Revenue Online is similar to online banking. Some examples of things you can do in your account are: View and print copies of your tax returns (back to 2009), 1099-G amounts for prior year tax refunds issued by the Department of Revenue, payment history, file your return, get your refund status and upload electronic copies of tax documentation to your account.

Collect any documents, information or forms that are required when you file your taxes. This is documentation needed to support tax credits or subtraction claims. Then start checking for W-2 and 1099 statements by mail or other distribution methods. Put things in a safe place until you’re ready to file. Print and keep records of how you calculated your Colorado income tax for at least four years.

To file your state and federal returns, you can purchase tax software at a store or online or find a paid tax professional. Paper copies of returns should not be mailed to the Department of Revenue when filing electronically. Duplicate returns cause delays in processing.

Filing on paper will take longer to process and increases your chances of errors, which delays refunds. You should only file on paper if you cannot use one of the electronic filing methods. Paper forms and booklets are still available at participating public libraries or on the Colorado Taxation web site,

Filing as early as you can means you’ll get your refund sooner. You can get your refund in 10 days by e-filing and asking for direct deposit. If you file on paper, refunds could take as long as 12 weeks. The deadline for paying 2013 Colorado income tax is Tuesday, April 15.

Payment of owed taxes by e-check or credit card is available through Revenue Online, regardless of how you file your return. Nominal service fees will apply. Electronic funds transfer is available free of charge. You may sign up in your Revenue Online account.

Seedling trees available

Bookcliff, Mount Sopris and South Side conservation districts are offering seedling trees at a minimal cost to landowners who own more than one acre of land.

There are more than 50 species of trees and shrubs to choose from for any growing conditions on the West Slope. These seedlings are grown through the Colorado State Forest Service. Orders are taken throughout the winter with delivery the first week of May.

For more information, or to receive an order form, call the district office at 945-5494, ext. 105, or go online to

How to become a Girl Scout

Girls from kindergarten through 12th grade can sign up for Girl Scouts and earn their way to lots of fun and adventure.

Girl Scouts in Colorado are forming new troops and need adult volunteers. Girls can also sign up as an individual member until a troop becomes available. Individual members can sell Girl Scout cookies and also earn funds to pay for summer camp, community service projects and other leadership programming.

To enroll and for more information, go online to

YouthZone offers

parent consultations

A parent consultation is a one-time, 50-minute meeting with a youth and family specialist at YouthZone. A family’s issues and needs will be identified. Parents leave with a plan that includes various options and resources to meet the family’s needs. Call YouthZone at 625-3141.

Community volunteers needed

Garfield County’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP, is looking for people 55 years and older to volunteer for local youth, health, arts, environmental, senior, and education projects or RSVP’s Tax Assistance and Helping Hands for Seniors programs. Call 947-8462 for more information.

Small business help

The Northwest Small Business Development Center, hosted by Colorado Mountain College, combines information and resources from federal, state and local governments with those of the educational system and the private sector to meet specialized and complex needs of the small business community.

Low cost or free services are available to business owners looking for information about regulatory, management, financial and marketing. Free certified consultants work in partnership to provide entrepreneurs with crucial information that can mean the difference between success and failure.

Register at or email

Free addiction help

Narconon reminds families that abuse of addictive pharmaceutical drugs is on the rise. Learn to recognize the signs of drug abuse and get your loved ones help if they are at risk. Call Narconon for a free brochure on the signs of addiction for all types of drugs. Narconon also offers free assessments and referrals. Call 1-800-431-1754 or go online to

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