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It’s About Time historical photo: Roll out the barrel

Rolling out the barrel meant just that when this turn-of-the-century (20th, that is) picture was taken in front of Ed. S. Hughes Liquors in the 800 block of Grand Avenue. The storefront later hosted Benedeck's Furniture, Top Drawer Office Supplies and, from 2011 to 2021, the offices of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. The White Elk Museum and Taxidermy shop is on the left. Jake Schwarz’s Furniture and Undertaking is center foreground. The gentleman standing at the left of group on the sidewalk was Ed Hughes, owner of the liquor and bottling establishment.
Provided by Glenwood Springs Historical Society

Glenwood Springs Lions Club taking a look back on 100 years of community building

Members of the Lions Club look through old photos in a scrapbook documenting the history of the club in Glenwood Springs. This year the club celebrates its 100-year anniversary.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Four years after two Chicago businessmen founded the first Lions Club in 1917, about a dozen residents from Glenwood Springs followed suit, forming one of the city’s first organizations dedicated to strengthening community bonds.

A century later, members of the Glenwood Springs Lions Club still work diligently — funding scholarships, promoting eye care and volunteering around the city — to uphold that legacy.

Adorned in red fleece vests and gathered in one of the city’s oldest chapels, the First Presbyterian Church, a handful of local Lions gathered Tuesday, May 3 for coffee, donuts and business as usual.

“We spent the weekend celebrating our anniversary with members from all over the region,” Club President Dave Merritt, 73, said. “On Saturday, we hosted the district convention, and on Sunday we held our 100th anniversary dinner at Glenwood Vaudeville Review.”

The club’s inaugural bell, brazen and glinting in the morning sunlight, rested on a table at the center of the group.

“All Lions Clubs use a bell to start and end meetings,” Merritt chimed. “And, there’s a tradition of rival clubs trying to steal the bell. It’s a bit of a fun prank we like to pull on each other.”

Traditions are important to Lions, and among the oldest is a commitment to eye care, Lions member Kathy Wren, 64, said.

“Hellen Keller charged the Lions with becoming ‘Knights of the Blind’ in the 1920s,” Wren explained. “And it’s something we as an organization continue to strive for even to this day.”

Lions Club members sit in the Sayre Park baseball field bleachers that were built in the 1950s with the help of the club. Pictured from left to right are (bottom row) Gary Broetzman, Sharon Crosby, Margie Trebesh, Kathy Wren. (Top row) David Merritt, Rob Trebesh, Carrie Fell-Miller, Collette Wren.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Changing with the times

While the club’s membership is double that of the original charter signatures, Lions member Rob Trebesh, 77, said the roster count is a far cry from its heyday in the 1940s and ’50s.

Rob’s wife, 67-year-old Margie Trebesh, ran her pen down a printed list, tallying the local membership at 25, including four members who now reside out of state.

“Society has changed,” Rob Trebesh lamented. “The generation following us is more self-serving and self absorbed.”

Finding new members is increasingly difficult as older members age out or move away, he said. Margie Trebesh emphasized the need for growing membership, encouraging anyone with an interest to attend a meeting or call Merritt to learn more.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” she said. “Lions Club is more of a physical organization. We get up, go outside and pick up trash, man the gates at high school football games and build projects to benefit the community.”

Margie Trebesh unofficially joined the club in 1982, when she married her husband. At the time, club membership — locally and internationally — was restricted to men, but women’s auxiliary groups supported the official efforts.

In 1987, women were officially welcomed into the international organization, but Margie Trebesh waited until 2010 to join the roster.

“Rob was president then, and we needed to recruit a certain number of people,” she recalled. “So I officially joined to help make sure we met those numbers.”

Long before doling out a membership fee, however, Margie Trebesh paid her dues in sweat equity, earning the coveted Anne Sullivan award, which is given to members and non-members alike for their tireless efforts behind the scenes.

The honorific is a tribute to Keller’s caretaker, Anne Sullivan.

One of the club’s newest members, Sharon Crosby, said she joined for a few reasons, the least of which being peer pressure.

“Everyone on my block was a Lions,” said Crosby, 70, chuckling. “So I figured it was time, and I wanted something I could do that would give back to the community.”

Looking ahead

Nowadays, the local Lions contribute to Glenwood Springs through fundraising efforts, volunteering at local events and promoting eye health and early eye-problem detection.

Over the past 100 years, however, the organization has left a mark throughout the community.

Merritt said they rallied together after World War II to build the bleachers in Sayre Park, unofficially known as Lions Park.

Before the city’s Parks and Recreation Department was well-established, Lions members maintained the park, building a picnic structure that has since been removed.

Before the Grand Avenue Bridge was built in 2017, the Lions decorated the thoroughfare with garland during the holidays, Wren said.

Before helicopters dumped loads of fish into Deep Lake, Lions Members filled milk pails with trout and hiked them up on foot, helping the Colorado Division of Wildlife stock the lake.

In the 1980s, the Lions Club was in charge of the city’s Independence Day fireworks display, which initially attracted Rob Trebesh to the organization.

And through it all, their commitment to serving the sight-challenged remained stalwart.

“We harvest corneas from organ donors around Colorado and Wyoming,” Merritt said, explaining the program benefits a wide-range of people struggling with eyesight ailments. “We also conduct early life eye testing throughout the elementary and pre-schools in the area, helping parents identify early eye conditions at a crucial point in a child’s life.”

Though hindsight is always 20/20, the group is polishing their lenses for the future as well.

Internationally, the organization has created a number of cyber charters, consisting of members who meet and conduct business via the internet, rather than in person, Merritt said.

Locally, members have opened meeting attendance to digital formats, such as Zoom, and recruitment efforts are underway to attract the next generation of Lions.

“In 100 years from now, the Glenwood Springs Lions Club may not exist in the same way it does today,” Margie Trebesh said. “But, it’s not going away, either.”

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at ifredregill@postindependent.com.

Community profile: No time to take it easy — from basketball courts to Christmas lights and coaching, Mike Picore takes on a cornucopia of ways to give back to Glenwood springs

Mike Picore stands on the blacktop of the new basketball court at Sayre Park.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Sayre Park is a special place for many in Glenwood Springs, where basketball players young and old come to partake in the great tradition of pickup basketball.

And when the weather’s warm enough, it’s hard for anyone driving along Grand Avenue to miss this centralized spectacle of asphalt jump shots and crossovers.

It’s a scene crafted in large part by Glenwood Springs resident Mike Picore.

Over the past 23 years, Picore has devoted much of his time to essentially making Sayre Park into what it is today: A street ball mecca.

On April 3, Picore was nominated by local real estate agent Joy White to receive Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s Dean Vogelaar Citizen of the Year award.

“He’s always looking to help people,” White said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, what language you speak, where you’re from, he is trying to find out how he can help you.”

Picore is originally from Deadwood, South Dakota. He spent time living on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, before his family moved to Worland, Wyoming, in 1979.

By 1999, Picore moved to Garfield County, where he took a job with Bank of Colorado.

This was a time when Picore, then 24, found himself in social limbo. Not a lot of people living in Glenwood Springs were in their 20s, so it was tough to meet new people.

“I didn’t have anything to do, and I didn’t know anybody,” Picore said. “So every night after work, we basically would go to Sayre Park and play pickup basketball.”

It was there he’d meet and shoot hoops with Glenwood Springs locals Fred Heisel, Craig Amichaux, Mike Vidakovich, Scott Bolitho and Kevin Flohr. These local legends all had a hand in winning either the 1979 or 1984 state basketball championships as Glenwood Springs Demons.

“I know those guys were all kind of in that group,” Picore said. “I just know because I always had to listen to them tell me about how good they were.”

It was also during this time Picore spearheaded an effort to host the first ever HoopD’Ville Basketball Tournament. This 4-on-4 tournament now attracts players from all over Colorado.

“I first met Mike probably 20 years ago when he first moved here, and he played basketball out at the park, and he started doing those HoopD’Ville tournaments — the three-on-three and four-on-four at Sayre Park,” Vidakovich said. “I always had a team, and a lot of the old Glenwood players made a point of starting to come back each summer for those two tournaments.”

But what’s most pivotal about this moment in Glenwood Springs history is how the tournament would bifurcate into a major fundraising event. From sponsorships to schwag, Picore used his then-position with Bank of Colorado to gather significant donations amassed from the basketball tournament to local charity organizations.

Picore also started setting funds aside to get the courts at Sayre Park redone. Teaming up with people like former Glenwood Springs basketball player Cassandra Irving and Greg Rippy of Grand River Construction Co., Picore helped raise more than $100,000 to help revitalize Sayre Park.

“We’re super excited,” Picore said. “The city, once they OK’d it, they’ve been super awesome.”

Mike Picore sits on the new bleachers next to the new basketball court at Sayre Park.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Meanwhile, Picore has used philanthropic talents derived from his love of basketball to help fundraise for so many other projects around the Glenwood Springs Community.

After establishing the Glenwood Springs Public Education Fund, Picore, with the help of so many others, has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to give back to public schools. The fundraiser: Roaring Forks, Corks and Kegs.

In 2021, Picore also coordinated with the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce to help create the Winter Wonderland event at Hotel Colorado.

When Picore is not fundraising, he’s coaching his children — Hayden, Mason and Austin — in basketball. Picore is married to his wife, Kristi.

Picore has operated Bay Equity branches throughout the Roaring Fork and Colorado valleys.

For Vidakovich, Picore’s efforts throughout the years are invaluable to making Glenwood Springs the best community it can be.

“He’s always been such an even-keel type of person,” he said of Picore. “I’ve never seen Mike not have a positive attitude and a smile on his face. He’s pretty unique.”

“I think Glenwood is lucky to have him around.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@postindependent.com

Three Garfield County students earn congressional military service academy nominations

Three Garfield County high school seniors join 12 other students from across the 3rd Congressional District in being nominated by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., to attend U.S. service academies.

Glenwood Springs High School senior cross country and track runner Ella Johnson has committed to attend the Air Force Academy.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Nominees for the Class of 2026 include Glenwood Springs High School’s Ella Johnson and Ray Rosenmerkel, both for the United States Air Force Academy, and Rifle High School’s Brandon Fletchall for the United States Naval Academy.

“The 15 students I nominated to the U.S. service academies are some of the Third District’s best and brightest,” Boebert said in a recent news release announcing this year’s nominees. “I am inspired by their commitment to using their academic strengths, leadership potential, and unique talents in the service of our country.”

Glenwood Springs High School senior Ray Rosenmerkel, middle, and other members of the Glenwood Springs High School Air Force Junior ROTC stand in front of veterans during the school's Veterans Day assembly on Nov. 11, 2021.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Each year, the 3rd District representative initiates a competitive process to receive academy nominations based on academic strength, leadership potential and extracurricular involvement. The process also involves an interview before academy nomination boards comprising area veterans, some of whom graduated from the U.S. service academies themselves, the release states.

This year’s academy nominees

United States Air Force Academy

Joseph Clark, Aspen

Jillian Carlson, Delta

Mason Dibble, Grand Junction

Ella Johnson, Glenwood Springs

Raymond Rosenmerkel, Glenwood Springs

United States Naval Academy

Brandon Fletchall, Rifle

Brooks Hudson, Crested Butte

Camille Johnson, Wolcott

Connor Sehnert, Mancos

Zane Zachary, Aspen

United States Military Academy – West Point

Kendall Harrington, Steamboat Springs

Alfonso Lorenzo, Pueblo

David Morehouse, Pagosa Springs

Shea Pepin, Steamboat Springs

Bowden Tumminello, Steamboat Springs

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy does not require congressional nominations for an appointment. No students from Colorado’s 3rd District applied for a nomination to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Applications for the next round of nominations in fall of 2023 will open on July 5. The deadline to apply is Oct. 14, 2022.

Valley Life for All: Redefining the perception of challenge among our elderly population

Editor’s note: The Post Independent, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, publishes a monthly series about fostering inclusion. We will be exploring the myriad of challenges that affect the older adult population in our mountain communities.

Judy Martin
photo by Annie Uyehara/courtesy

Depending on the society one lives in, the elderly population can be seen as wise and honored family members or they’re seen as a burden to society and a stress on the health system. But if we choose to get to know them better, we’ll find a population in our mountain towns that has a rich history, amazing stories of challenges and victories, and that has a wealth of resources and at the same time a great lack of them.

The best way to introduce our elderly population is to begin with the foundation of what resources are available to older adults.

There are generally five programs counties provide: transportation, meal programs, nutrition, information and referral, health and wellness programs, and some offer support groups. We’ll be exploring these issues and more throughout our series.

Judy Martin, manager of senior services in the Garfield County Human Services Department, is so busy administering daily senior resources, she can barely catch her breath. She affirms the wealth of services for older adults while admitting there’s a need for more.

“Our county has spent of a lot of time to build up our senior services, but do we have enough? Of course not, because of the high costs,” she says. Her department has three staff members including herself and a part-time nurse/nutritionist, who hustle to and from communities to serve a growing senior population.

Eagle and Garfield counties are seeing some of the highest population growth in this category in Colorado, according to the Denver Post (2018) and the Steamboat Gazette (2018). In Pitkin County, baby boomers (ages 55-73) outnumber all other age groups (Aspen Times, 2020). A senior population is considered anyone between the ages of 60-100 years old, but the needs of a 60-year-old will be very different from an 80-year-old, and not all the resources can cover that age gap.

Senior meals are popular, says Martin, where in Parachute, she’ll see an average of 40-70 people show up for the lunch program. “It’s more about socializing than it is about the meals. Up valley we have a grab-and-go lunch program on Mondays and Fridays, where we’ll see about 80 people on average.”

The meal program helps the older adult population cope with isolation issues and gives them an opportunity to connect, says Martin. “People say, ‘I won’t know anyone there,’ but if you’ve lived here a while, believe me, you’ll know someone at the lunches.”

She adds, “The older adult community is an amazingly friendly community that will let you in — they’re very giving, very helpful with each other and others.”

For Garfield County senior programs, please call 970-945-9191; Eagle County, 970-328-8840; and Pitkin County at 970-920-5432.

Local nonprofit Valley Life For All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. Find us at www.valleylifeforall.org or on Facebook.

Community profile: Dr. Gary Knaus retiring from family practice but staying on forefront of valley’s health care concerns

Dr. Gary Knaus, longtime family physician, speaks with a patient at the Carbondale Roaring Fork Family Practice office.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Dr. Gary Knaus is more of a “big picture person,” in his own words.

So, it should stand to reason that his retirement after 43 years with Roaring Fork Family Practice in Carbondale won’t be a complete retirement from health care matters in the region.

Knaus will no longer be seeing patients come the new year, as the Rifle native and longtime Carbondale family doctor concludes a career that has seen a lot of changes over the years.

He still plans to put all those years of experience toward his continued work with the Valley Health Alliance as a board member and medical director.

“I’ve been doing that in my spare time,” Knaus said, “but now I’ll have more time to put into that work, and I think we’re on the cusp of some good things.”

The Valley Health Alliance started in 2014 by a group of mostly Pitkin County employers to improve access to health care and work to control the cost of care and insurance in the region.

It has since grown to include the chambers of commerce from Aspen to western Garfield County and the major providers serving the region.

“One of the things that I really enjoy is talking about system things and transforming medicine away from some of the things that we don’t like about it toward more the things that will benefit patients and communities,” Knaus said.

Controlling costs

The Valley Health Alliance is a forum to do that, with a growing emphasis on the importance of primary care and making sure people have access to that basic level of care.

“When people have a primary care provider, they get better quality, they get better access, they get better costs,” he said.

Now with about 7,000 insured residents under the umbrella of the Valley Health Alliance, he said the goal is to proactively manage that care, focusing more on prevention, early intervention and integrated health care and avoiding the higher costs that result when things go unchecked.

“The goal is to have a primary care source, so people don’t have to go to the emergency room for a cold,” Knaus said.

The Alliance’s efforts have also resulted in the establishment of urgent care facilities across the region, which has helped control emergency room costs.

Addressing mental health, integrated care management and even things like food insecurity and other social challenges that can impact health are also part of what Knaus calls “practice transformation.”

Knaus notes that one of the major drivers of health care costs is when someone ends up in the ER or is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days after they’ve been seen and treated for a condition.

Sometimes it’s because they didn’t understand a medicine that was prescribed, or maybe they couldn’t afford to buy their medicine, he explains.

“We’re trying to cover all those bases … and making sure our patients are doing OK, that they have all the resources they need, and reminding them that we’ll be seeing them again within a few days,” Knaus said.

That advanced level of primary care already has started to bring costs down for the employers who work with Valley Health Alliance, he said.

“With the cost of health care, some of it’s about how much we do, some of it’s about the price of what we do, but a lot of it’s about how well we do it and how efficient we are in doing it,” he said.

Small-town docs

Knaus, 72, was born in Glenwood Springs at the Hot Springs resort, when a portion of the historic lodge served as a hospital.

He grew up in Rifle before studying at Colorado State University, where he met his future wife, retired Carbondale teacher Jill Knaus, and went on to earn his medical degree at CU-Boulder.

Following his residency in Greeley, he reached out to a fairly new family practice in Carbondale that had been started by Dr. Rick Herrington. Gary and Jill Knaus moved to Carbondale, and Gary began working alongside Dr. Herrington in 1978.

“It was just the two of us, and back then it was kind of what you’d call a cottage industry, where you have your own small business, pay the bills and do all the hiring, and take care of people,” Knaus said of what at the time was known as Roaring Fork Family Physicians.

Together, they were part of a new wave of family doctors as the general practice profession transformed and evolved through the 1970s and 1980s. More doctors were looking to locate in rural communities, and as the small towns of the Roaring Fork Valley grew, more doctors were needed.

“One of the things that was unique about this community is that it was easier to build relationships and get to know your patients, because you’re taking care of every member of their family,” Knaus said. “Over time, you trust your patients, and they trust you, and it’s just that spirit of mutual respect.

“That’s really one of the values we’ve tried to carry through and persist with, and just the essence of what we try to do.”

While Dr. Herrington and his wife, Sherry, held down the business side of things with the practice, it allowed Knaus to focus on some broader pursuits.

“I’m more of a big-picture kind of person, so we really made a good team,” he said.

Eventually, the practice grew to include additional doctors, physicians assistants and nurses, and Knaus branched out into various community service roles, serving on the Roaring Fork School District Board, and on the board of directors for Rocky Mountain Health Plans. He was also a founding member of the Mount Sopris Nordic Council and more recently served on the Aspen Valley Land Trust board.

Knaus was named Colorado Family Physician of the Year by the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians in 2018.

Herrington, who has also since retired, recalled that Knaus gave up his summer vacation to join the practice in 1978, as Rick and Sherry were expecting their second child.

“He arrived just in time for me to take a week off to take care of our 3-year-old son, and help Sherry recover from a C-section,” Herrington said.

“Gary has always been a contributor to our community and the many organizations he has been part of,” Herrington said. “Beyond all his recognitions and service, Gary has been my valued partner and friend. He has a genuine concern for people — patients and their families, his colleagues and our many employees over the 40-plus years.

“Gary is a life-long learner, an avid reader, astute listener and observer, and has great intuition,” Herrington added. “His next role as mentor is a logical transition toward retirement.”

Dr. Gary Knaus, longtime Carbondale family physician, is retiring after 43 years.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

A family affair

Accompanying Gary and Jill when they arrived in Carbondale was their baby son at the time, Chad. For the past several years, Chad has worked alongside his dad as a physician at Roaring Fork Family Practice, which in 2011 became part of the Valley View Hospital network.

“You know, we never really talked about him going into medicine,” Knaus recalled. Degrees in history and Spanish prompted him to go back to medical school.

After his residency in Grand Junction, Chad joined the Carbondale practice for a few years before he and his family spent a year in Central and South America providing care as part of a global relief organization, which he remains involved with.

That work has taken him to Africa, Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean to assess and help with health needs in those regions.

The Knaus’s daughter, Megan, works as a physicians assistant with Mountain Family Health Centers in the area.

That has kept all of the grandchildren close, Knaus said, “so that’s been a real treat.”

Gary and Jill Knaus just celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary.

In addition to continuing his work with the Valley Health Alliance and possibly helping some with the local nursing home, Knaus said he looks forward to some more traveling, gardening and tending for a small vineyard they keep at their home on Prince Creek south of Carbondale.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.

Christmas wish-come-true will give increased independence for Glenwood Springs boy

12-year-old Turner and his mother Jenni Fautsko share a Christmas holiday moment.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Once the winter chill lifts, and if all goes as planned, look for a familiar face striding around Glenwood Springs in full celebration of an extraordinary Christmas wish that just came true.

A recent fundraising push to raise $35,250 needed to purchase a robotic walking device, called a Trexo, for Glenwood Middle School sixth grader Turner Fautsko, was a success.

“It makes me cry, and it’s just overwhelming to see how much love and support our family has in the community,” Turner’s mom, Jenni Fautsko, said.

“When people see Turner the way we do and take the time to know who he is, it’s very special,” she said. “We’re so thankful.”

Turner, who turned 12 in October, is the son of Matt and Jenni Fautsko of Glenwood Springs.

He’s a bit of a celebrity among his peers, having attended Sopris Elementary School before graduating to middle school, and helping his classmates learn about the extremely rare genetic neurological condition that he lives with.

Turner has what’s called KAND, a KIF1A-associated neurological disorder that confines him to a wheelchair and causes spastic paraplegia, dystonia, developmental delays and scoliosis, plus numerous physical ailments that require routine surgeries. He’s also nonverbal.

There’s only one other case that Jenni said she’s aware of in Colorado, and just 350 documented cases in the entire world, she said.

Prior to a major spinal fusion surgery in October 2020, the Fautsko family had done a fundraising campaign to purchase a Galileo tilt table for Turner to use when out of his wheelchair.

However, the table manufacturer and the organization they worked with to raise the money to buy it, Bridging Bionics Foundation — started by Aspen resident Amanda Boxtel — decided it would not be safe for him to use after the surgery.

So that money was put toward the purchase of the Trexo, which, if all goes according to plan, should give Turner the mobility he needs as he grows to avoid future medical complications.

It will also allow him to interact with people more and generally improve his quality of life.

With some publicity help from Hannah Pfaff at Tri County Locksmith, the Fautskos were able to raise the additional funds needed to obtain the walking device.

“The sheer thought of Turner gaining more independence and confidence brings the biggest smiles to his parents’ faces,” Pfaff said. “Being able to finally purchase the Trexo will be life-changing for both Turner and his family.”

Jenni said they anticipate receiving the Trexo soon after the first of the year once it’s fitted with a custom gait trainer.

The device is equipped with a computer tablet. With assistance from his physical therapist, Turner will have to learn how to use the Trexo on his own, so that he can begin to take his first non-human-assisted steps.

Turner Fautsko and the new Trexo robotic walking device he is about to receive that his family hopes will soon increase his mobility and give him great independence.
Bridging Bionics donation page image

“Turner has never taken steps unassisted, has never stood unassisted,” Jenni said, explaining that he can bear some weight with help and was able to take steps when he was younger using a harnessed device called an Upseat.

“He’s gotten too tall and too heavy for that,” she said. “What’s incredible about the robot is that it will learn Turner, and Turner will learn it.”

Eventually, if he takes to the device, the machine will do less work and Turner will do more himself to facilitate his own movement, she explained.

Once Turner is used to the device, Jenni said she hopes to organize a celebration demo where he can showcase his new mobility and walk down the street through a finish-line ribbon.

Research is ongoing to learn more about KAND and other Kif1A disorders, including at a research lab in Boulder called BioLoomics Inc.

“The research that’s being done is astounding,” Jenni said. “We have five or six biotech and scientific research companies working on treatment and/or a cure.”

The Fautskos are also working to eventually purchase a specially equipped Toyota Sienna minivan that will help with transporting Turner to and from his doctor’s appointments and procedures in Denver. It will need to include a special lift to get him in and out of the vehicle.

“Turner is the light of our lives, and we just want his life to be happy and full and the best that it can be,” Jenni said.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.

Incrementan las referencias a Youth Zone de Rifle, según funcionario

Una organización que atiende a un promedio anual de 85 jóvenes de Rifle afectados por varios conflictos sociales, emocionales y físicos está experimentando un aumento en la demanda de sus servicios, afirmó un funcionario el miércoles.

Los funcionarios que representan a YouthZone, un programa de apoyo que sirve a las comunidades en los condados de Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle y Rio Blanco, dijeron al Concejo Municipal de Rifle durante una presentación que las referencias han incrementado debido a nuevos esfuerzos para mejorar sus servicios.

“Estamos aumentando la forma en que interactuamos con nuestras familias y nuestros sistemas de referencia para que esas piezas puedan ser un poco más digitalizadas, accesibles y electrónicas,” dijo la directora ejecutiva de YouthZone, Jami Hayes. “Y mientras hacemos eso, notamos que nuestras referencias, especialmente de las escuelas, aumentaron de cero a 40.”

“Eso nos dice que la necesidad estaba ahí, y que lo que teníamos que hacer era cambiar un poco,” dijo.

En particular, Hayes dijo que el aumento en las referencias está muchas veces relacionado con el uso de sustancias, que representa el 40% de las referencias de los jóvenes.

Cuando un niño requiere varios servicios de intervención, el sistema judicial, los cuerpos policiales, la libertad condicional, la escuela, los servicios para padres y demás contactan a YouthZone.

Recientemente, YouthZone eliminó las llamadas cuotas escolares.

“Cuando ocurre un incidente durante el día, no se cobra a la familia por los servicios,” dijo Hayes.

Airen Goodman, coordinador del Colorado Youth Detention Center Continuum, dijo que YouthZone también ayuda a los niños que son arrestados por delitos graves a salir de la detención juvenil.

“Brindamos la intervención y los servicios previos al juicio mientras pasan por el sistema judicial,” dijo. “Es realmente útil para las familias, porque puede resultar bastante complicado, confuso e intimidante en la corte, por lo que han sido ciertamente efectivos.”

La alcaldesa Barbara Clifton preguntó a los funcionarios de YouthZone sobre los delitos comunes en los que ven involucrados a los niños.

“Conducir sin licencia, sin registro,” dijo Goodman. “Pero también hay sustancias involucradas.”

El miembro del consejo, Sean Strode, preguntó si YouthZone anticipa que la necesidad de servicios aumentará aún más con el tiempo.

“Los niños de mayor riesgo con más necesidades y las familias que están luchando, son mayormente de Rifle. Mi mayor número de casos es siempre de Rifl ,” dijo Goodman. “Tenemos muchos niños repitentes a los que les gusta regresar, pero también es el lugar de mayor riesgo donde los niños están siendo desplazados. Las familias viven en automóviles.”

En el condado de Garfield, el costo de servicio anual promedio para YouthZone es de $2.000 por joven, lo que equivale a $678.000. De ese total, la ciudad de Rifle representa $170.000.

Traducción de Edgar Barrantes. Puedes contactar al reportero Ray K. Erku al 612-423-5273 o rerku@citizentelegram.com.

Community profile: Western Garfield County Chamber Exec Director Julie Van Hoek envisions small business mecca

Julie Vanhoek, executive director of Western Garfield County Chamber of Commerce, sits with her dog Bo at Centennial Park in Rifle. Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Around 1:30 p.m. on an overcast October day in Rifle, Julie Van Hoek was just getting to lunch.

The Western Garfield County Chamber of Commerce director sat beside a cardboard to-go box carrying a half-eaten sandwich from Capitol Deli, the place down the street. The meal sat atop a cluttered conference table.

Across the conference table sat chamber consultant Julia Durmaj. Meanwhile, a muffled echo emanated from the front office as administrative assistant Natalia Campbell spoke on the phone with a client.

Van Hoek, who took the helm as WGCC’s executive director in June, delved quickly into the benefit of developing symbiotic relationships, commercially speaking, across the valleys.

“We need to drive up and down the corridor and visit each other, to do the things that we need to do in life,” she said. “That’s one thing that I’m bringing to the table, is that connectivity.”

Van Hoek’s connection to Main Street commerce and the entire business industry stretches back to the Front Range.

Originally from the Denver area, it was 1984 when Van Hoek began operating a cleaning and concierge service. Renting out, furnishing and cleaning 88 condos weekly as well as cleaning another 330 homes per month, one of her biggest clients was AT&T.

By 1990, Van Hoek transitioned into real estate.

“I became a managing broker, managing 150 real estate agents back in the day when it was boom time,” she said. “And a lot of my work was in development, land development and bringing in syndicated money for development.”

In 2008, Van Hoek said she became a neurological therapist. She spent the next 11 years helping clients struggling with drug and alcohol issues.

Van Hoek, moving to Glenwood Springs in 2018, began selling advertising for Western Slope Communications. Later, she’d sell advertising space for Swift Communications.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Van Hoek began selling television advertising space in Grand Junction.

By June 2021, Van Hoek took over for former Western Garfield County Chamber Chief Executive Officer Tanya Doose, a position Doose held since May 2019.

Van Hoek’s position as executive director is in its infancy, but her stated mission to promote local commerce is already taking shape with projects such as the launch of the chamber’s new website.

First, Monday marks the launch of the chamber’s new website.

“Websites are no longer the business card. They need to be interactive and progressive, and that’s what we’re building,” she said. “And with that, it’s going to be awesome for businesses because a lot of our small businesses have been struggling. They just can’t get it done. They don’t know how to do it. And it’s too cumbersome. They don’t have the time.”

Van Hoek said this is partly due to one main element: money.

“Money is a big deal,” she said. “And, coming from the advertising side, I know how many times each of us need to be seen and heard or touched in order for people to recognize and remember who you are so we can impart that knowledge to them free of charge.”

In addition to digital progress, Van Hoek encourages every small business to join the chamber, because small businesses hold a distinct advantage in small towns.

“It’s easier to shop here, because everything’s there,” she said. “But I think the draw is, people still want the hometown feel. They thrive on it. But the chamber drives commerce; that’s where we celebrate the businesses.”

Though more work is still ahead, Durmaj said Van Hoek is the person to lead the chamber into the future — and help local businesses connect with customers.

“I just think that she is an awesome person,” Durmaj said. “She definitely has a pulse on the beat of what’s happening. So I think she’s gonna do a great job here in Rifle and Colorado River Valley for the Chamber.

“Because she’s an all-encompassing kind of person,” she added. “(Van Hoek’s) got so many aspects to her and so many layers. That’s why she’s the perfect person for the chamber.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@postindependent.com.

Conectando a la comunidad: Brianda Cervantes de las escuelas de Roaring Fork une a las familias y al distrito

La organizadora de la comunidad escolar del distrito escolar de Roaring Fork, Brianda Cervantes, habla con una preescolar en la escuela Riverview durante el recreo.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

La pasión por ayudar a las personas inculcada en Brianda Cervantes cuando era niña por su abuelo en la zona rural de Nayarit, México, la ayudó a ponerse de pie después de emigrar a los Estados Unidos cuando era una joven recién salida de la escuela de leyes.

Esa misma pasión finalmente llevó a Cervantes hacia un papel único e importante en las escuelas de Roaring Fork poco después de inscribir a su hijo, Freddy, en la escuela Riverview en Glenwood Springs.

Cervantes, ahora de 31 años, comenzó en lo que en ese momento era una posición relativamente nueva de enlace comunitario con Riverview cuando abrió la nueva escuela enfocada en dos idiomas en el otoño del 2017.

La idea era conectar mejor a las familias de los estudiantes desde el jardín de infantes hasta el octavo grado y, a través de un proceso de comunicación muy intencional, alentarlos a participar más en su educación.

Sobre la base de su inmenso éxito en Riverview, su función se ha expandido desde entonces a una posición de organizadora de la escuela y la comunidad en todo el distrito a través de una asociación con Manaus Fund, al servicio de las escuelas y sus familias en las tres comunidades del distrito.

“Mi abuelo siempre solía decir: ‘Hagas lo que hagas, lo haces mejor,’” dijo Cervantes sobre su abuelo, Domingo.

Cuando Cervantes tenía 15 años, su madre, Ana, vino a Estados Unidos y su padre, Miguel, a menudo estaba ocupado viajando como abogado en México.

“Así es que, en cierto forma, crecí con mis abuelos,” dijo.

Domingo, un simple empresario con una pequeña heladería en su pequeño pueblo de Tepic, Nayarit, debido a su activismo comunitario, tenía algunas conexiones políticas.

Cervantes cuenta una historia de cuando ella tenía quizás solo 6 años, el gobernador de Nayarit vino a Tepic y su abuelo le pidió que leyera en voz alta una carta que le había escrito al gobernador. El periódico local escribió una historia al respecto con su foto y todo. Se aferró al recorte durante años como inspiración.

“Mi abuelo tenía una gran pasión por ayudar a la comunidad y gracias a él, la pequeña comunidad donde vivíamos tenía electricidad para los servicios básicos,” dijo Cervantes. “Él nunca fue a la escuela, pero era como un gran político, y todos en la comunidad conocerían y reconocerían a mis abuelos.”

Camino de inmigrantes

El abuelo de Cervantes murió en el 2007 cuando ella todavía estaba en la escuela en México, y su abuela murió después de llegar a los Estados Unidos.

Después de dejar la escuela de derecho, debido a algunas dificultades en su vida en ese momento, Cervantes se unió a su madre en los E.U. en el 2013, ayudándola con trabajos de limpieza antes de dar a luz dos años después a su hijo, Freddy.

Se tomó unos años para criar a su hijo pequeño. Cuando él alcanzó la edad preescolar fue cuando ella puso un pie por primera vez en la escuela Riverview, justo cuando se estaba preparando para abrir.

En ese momento, ella no hablaba inglés, pero su experiencia en derecho llamó la atención de la enlace familiar de la escuela en ese momento, Janeth Niebla.

Niebla la animó a considerar solicitar un trabajo en la escuela para ayudar a implementar el programa de dos idiomas, en el que las clases se imparten tanto en inglés como en español.

Vacilante al principio, en parte debido a la barrera del idioma, a medida que Cervantes se involucró más en la escuela de su hijo, Niebla siguió presionando.

Cuando Niebla decidió dejar el puesto de enlace a finales de ese año escolar, recurrió a Cervantes como posible candidato sustituto.

Tomó un poco de persuasión, pero finalmente aceptó y recuerda vívidamente su entrevista con Niebla, el director de Riverview Adam Volek, el ex subdirector Jami Hayes y el fallecido filántropo de educación de Roaring Fork Valley, George Stranahan, fundador del Manaus Fund, Valley Settlement Project y el Charter Carbondale Community School.

“Fue difícil, porque no hablaba inglés e hice lo mejor que pude, pero no pensé que lo hice bien,” dijo. “Un par de días después, me llamaron para decirme que el puesto es tuyo si lo quieres.”

Aprendiendo el idioma

Quizás sea apropiado que Cervantes creciera en su nuevo trabajo en Riverview School de la misma manera que sus estudiantes aprenden un nuevo idioma—con mucha ayuda del personal de la oficina principal e incluso de esos mismos estudiantes.

Cervantes nunca ha tomado clases formales de inglés. En cambio, aprendió en el trabajo.

Lo que realmente ayudó, dijo, fue cuando Volek se acercó a ella para que trabajara directamente en una de las aulas de la escuela secundaria, enseñando a los estudiantes cómo ser líderes en su comunidad.

Esa interacción con los estudiantes la obligó a aprender el idioma en un entorno más de intercambio (directo de idiomas).

“Me ayudaron muchísimo,” dijo Cervantes. “Era como si pudiera ser vulnerable con ellos y decir: ‘Esta es mi historia, y esta es quien soy.’

“Creo que los niños se conectaron con eso y me estaban ayudando al mismo tiempo que yo les estaba enseñando,” dijo. “Ha sido un camino de aprendizaje para mí en el que cada día aprendo algo nuevo.”

La organizadora de la comunidad escolar del distrito escolar de Roaring Fork, Brianda Cervantes, habla con el director de la escuela Riverview, Adam Volek.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Volek reconoció que el papel de Cervantes fue crucial en el desarrollo temprano del enfoque de aprendizaje único de la escuela.

“Brianda fue una parte muy importante para ayudar a Riverview a establecer un lugar en nuestra comunidad y garantizar que la equidad estuviera a la vanguardia de nuestro trabajo como organización,” dijo.

“Su papel en la escuela ayudó a establecer vías de comunicación entre nuestra escuela y nuestras familias, apoyando conversaciones personales, dirigiendo reuniones en casa y proporcionando a nuestra escuela una dirección sobre lo que nuestra comunidad necesitaba y pedía en términos de inclusión y voz.”

Expandiendo la voz

En Riverview, Cervantes trabajó codo a codo con los padres líderes de la escuela, los líderes escolares y los maestros y fue fundamental en el establecimiento de la Organización de Voluntarios Familiares, el Comité Asesor de Padres y Comunidad, y los proyectos de liderazgo estudiantil de la escuela.

No mucho después de la apertura de Riverview, los líderes de otras escuelas del distrito comenzaron a darse cuenta.

“Hicimos una encuesta para padres y obtuvimos una puntuación muy alta en la participación familiar,” dijo Cervantes.

Otras escuelas querían tener ese mismo tipo de participación y así lo que comenzó como un intercambio de estrategias entre las escuelas del distrito se convirtió en un nuevo trabajo para Cervantes en 2019 cuando Manaus acordó expandir su rol a un puesto de organizadora escolar-comunitaria en todo el distrito a través de la Centro de Recursos Familiares del distrito.

“Mucho de esto es simplemente tratar de encontrar a las familias donde están y derribar algunas de las barreras,” dijo Cervantes. “Tiene mucho sentido que el trabajo que estaba haciendo con Riverview necesitara expandirse.”

A medida que su enfoque creció para incluir el trabajo con familias en Glenwood Springs, Carbondale y Basalt, notó que algunos de los problemas eran diferentes según la escuela o la comunidad, pero las experiencias de las personas eran muy parecidas.

“Pude conectarme con ellos de una manera en la que confiaran en mí,” dijo Cervantes.

Eso se volvió increíblemente importante cuando la pandemia de COVID-19 llegó en la primavera del 2020, cerró escuelas y envió a los estudiantes a formatos de aula en línea. Las familias latinas en particular no estaban equipadas para adaptarse al aprendizaje en línea de sus hijos al igual que otras familias.

Cervantes y los enlaces familiares de la escuela desempeñaron un papel fundamental en la comunicación con las familias individuales para identificar sus necesidades, trabajaron con el departamento de tecnología del distrito para configurarles conexiones confiables a Internet y llevaron a cabo reuniones individuales para asegurarse de que ellos y sus estudiantes continuaran participando.

Muchas familias se vieron afectadas por la pérdida de empleo y la resultante pérdida financiera, por lo que su trabajo en la asistencia para el alquiler o el acceso a la atención médica aumentó sustancialmente.

“Muchas de las comunicaciones de la escuela solo salían en inglés, así que teníamos que hacer algo al respecto,” dijo Cervantes.

Facebook se convirtió en una plataforma importante para comunicarse con las familias latinas, al igual que la radio en español, a través de Radio Tricolor y la estación de radio pública KDNK en Carbondale, dijo.

A Cervantes se le pidió que fuera una de esas voces habituales en el aire, compartiendo información y dando actualizaciones. Fue un papel que le cayó bien.

“El discurso público es una de mis pasiones, especialmente si es en español,” dijo. “Me siento muy cómoda hablando en público y creo que mi carrera me ha preparado para eso.”

En México, Cervantes asistió a escuelas públicas, pero cuando fue a la universidad dijo que muchos de sus compañeros de estudios de derecho habían estado en escuelas privadas.

“Honestamente, no sentí ninguna desventaja proveniente de una escuela pública,” dijo.

Cervantes atribuye eso a los fuertes roles de mentor que le proporcionaron su abuelo y su padre, así como a Stranahan, a quien se alegró de haber conocido antes de que muriera la primavera pasada.

“Fue mi primer entrenador,” dijo. “Él siempre hacía controles semanales conmigo y se aseguraba de que tuviera todo lo que necesitaba para hacer mi trabajo, y de que estaba feliz.”

Aunque no podría ejercer la abogacía en los Estados Unidos sin una educación de seguimiento extensa, Cervantes dijo que su experiencia en derecho es útil en su función actual en el distrito escolar.

“Estudié derecho civil y de familia, así que mucho de eso se trata de justicia social y equidad. Así que creo que hay muchas interconexiones,” dijo.

Como organizadora de la comunidad escolar y del distrito, Cervantes también forma parte del equipo de comunicación del distrito y del comité directivo de equidad, y facilita el Consejo Asesor Familiar.

“Estoy profundamente comprometida con el fortalecimiento de la justicia social y la equidad en las escuelas y las comunidades,” dijo.

Además de su trabajo con las escuelas, Cervantes también forma parte de la junta del Mountain Voices Project y aún se mantiene activa como madre en Riverview (su hijo, Freddy, ahora está en primer grado) en el Comité de Responsabilidad y Organización de Padres Voluntarios de la escuela.

Además de su trabajo con las escuelas, Cervantes también forma parte de la junta del Proyecto Mountain Voices y todavía está activa como madre de Riverview (su hijo, Freddy, ahora está en primer grado) en el Comité de Responsabilidad y Organización de Padres Voluntarios de la escuela.

También se convirtió en ciudadana oficial de los Estados Unidos el verano pasado, y prestó juramento de ciudadanía en Denver el 13 de julio.

“Te da mucho orgullo,” dijo Cervantes sobre el proceso de casi cinco años para naturalizarse como ciudadano estadounidense. “Pasar por todas las dificultades y luego sentir que has logrado algo muy importante en tu vida, significa mucho.”

Puedes contactar al Reportero Sénior/Editor en Jefe John Stroud al 970-384-9160 o jstroud@postindependent.com.