Blazing the path to success |

Blazing the path to success

Jon Mitchell
Cal Whitman of A1 Traffic Control in Silt
Jon Mitchell / Post Independent |

PEACH VALLEY — Julie Martinez has a lot of people inside and outside of the area who give money to the Coal Ridge High School Booster Club. Earlier this month, one person outdid them all.

“I’ve had people who have come to me and given $50 or even $100. You know, whatever they can give,” said Martinez, who serves as the booster club’s president. “But for someone to come to me and tell me they’re giving me a check for $10,000 is just amazing.”

The person who decided to give that check was Cal Whitman, who is the owner of A1 Traffic Control in Silt. The donation, according to Martinez, was 10 times the amount of the previous high donation and equals the annual budget for the booster club annually.

“I’ve worked in some big, hugs school districts,” said Rick Elertson, the fourth-year principal at Coal Ridge High School who has worked at a school district in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “This is by far the biggest donation that I’ve ever seen a school receive. This is a first for me, and it’s especially surprising considering how big this community is.”

The communities of New Castle and Silt, which combined have a population of a little more than 7,000 people, dwarf the school district in Milwaukee that Elertson said surpasses 100,000 in enrollment. Coal Ridge High itself has an enrollment of 547, according to the most recent Colorado High School Activities Association directory of member schools.

Whitman, who has lived in the area for close to three decades, simply said he wanted to show support for the school in the area. Of course, he readily admitted that he could have shown his support by simply paying admission and cheering at a basketball, baseball or football game.

To him, that wasn’t good enough.

“After being the chair of the Chamber of Commerce in Silt, I just saw the need that Coal Ridge needed a little bit of a recognition boost,” Whitman said. “Money wise, it can do so many things. They can have after-prom dances, sports uniforms, musical instruments.

“I mean, I’m doing what it takes to get those things,” he continued. “I mean, the money is for everybody. It’s not just for one sport or for one group. It’s to promote the whole school.”

Martinez said that’s the overall goal of the school’s booster club, who said that the club has never turned down a request by a school sport or on-campus club for money. Those who do make requests must follow a procedure that involves filling out a written request for funds, which is then submitted to the club.

“Really, we don’t say no,” Martinez said.

Still, that doesn’t mean the full requested amount is always given. Martinez added that the club will distribute the funds they can give no matter what, also saying that those clubs or teams looking for money are usually asked to volunteer in the concession stands or in other parts of the school as a way of working for the money. And that money has been distributed to everyone from cheerleaders to the rock climbing club to sports teams.

The club also goes to businesses in New Castle, Silt and Rifle to ask for donations, and Martinez said the club typically makes close to a $5,000 profit annually through those combined entities and can spend anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 during the school year.

Of course, Whitman had been donating time long before he began donating money. His business, free of charge, sets up the boundaries for the Titan Trot 5K, which is one of six legs of the Colorado River Valley Charity Race Series that is scheduled to take place in May.

Plus, he’s made a separate donation to the school’s After Prom Committee for this coming May. And Whitman said there’s more coming.

“Oh, I’m not done,” he said. “There’s definitely more coming. Coal Ridge deserves the recognition.”

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