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CMC honors Martin Luther King Day with free, virtual events available to the public

Colorado Mountain College will honor Martin Luther King Day this Monday with guest speaker Dr. Marcia Chatelain and then Tuesday, Jan 19, will have a panel of faculty and students conducting a discussion about the topics presented in the lecture.

CMC announced these free events available to the public Jan. 14 in a press release. Chatelain is a professor who teaches African American studies and history at Georgetown University.

She is also the author of the books “South Side Girls” and “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America”. Chatelain was an Andrew Carnegie fellow in 2019 amongst several other accolades for her work as a historian.

The virtual lecture is titled “Building Bridges to Common Ground” and will be held at noon via zoom. Members of the community as well as faculty and students of CMC can access the talk here. Chatelain will discuss Dr. King’s life and messages and how they can help bring people together in a time of chaos and division.

Community members can also tune into the panel discussion Tuesday from 10-11:30 a.m. through this zoom link. More information about how to participate in these conversations can be found here.



Guest Opinion: Nazis have never been on my side of a protest march

Protest is an important part of the process in our country. Where would we be today without the hippies, the suffragettes, good ole Samuel Adams … we must use our voice in government, and protest is built into the structure of our history.

However, what happened on January 6th was not a protest.

Whenever I’m at a protest I can’t help but notice the myriad people marching alongside me: women, men, children, older adults, pets — the hoary and the hairy. We’re all usually talking and chanting and there’s a general feeling of safety in numbers, otherwise we wouldn’t bring our mother in a wheelchair or our toddler in his dinosaur costume.

I’ve marched beside politicians and plumbers, veterans and anarchists, transvestites and debutantes. In fact, the only type of person I’ve never seen in the crowd is a Nazi. And that is my sure-fire way to know I am on the right side of history.

“I have found that in times of confusion, particularly when emotions are running high and creating tunnel vision, the presence of Nazis can be an extremely helpful indicator. If I am attending a local demonstration or event and I see Nazis — neo-Nazis, miscellaneous-Nazis, or the latest-whatever-uber-mythology-Nazis — I figure out which side they are on. And, if they are on my side of the demonstration? I am on the wrong side.

I can always, always, always, rely on the presence of Nazis as a guiding light through a fog of disinformation.” — Rich O’Connor

I think it’s safe to say many of the Trump supporters at the Capitol were fed serious disinformation. Not misinformation, which can be a mistake. No, they were downright lied to. And it’s easy to get caught up in the energy of the event; anyone could miss the signs — like, why would zip ties be necessary to express First Amendment rights?

Human instincts are powerful and necessary for survival. Overriding an instinct with contemplation is not easy. The instinct to flee or fight after reading our neighbor’s body language when the lion decides to charge has gotten us this far. And the source of the information we absorb daily contributes to our E.Q. as well as our I.Q.

Back in the day, we would head down to the town square to catch up on the latest news and interact with fellow villagers. Now, we tune in to Fox News or Facebook to watch the latest feeding frenzy, and today’s news is all filtered through corporate consumerism. Sell, Baby, Sell! Which means playing to our base instincts like fear, and loathing.

Trump’s supporters seemed more interested in taking selfies while trashing their own Capitol than effecting real change in the political pendulum process, but image is everything these days — even in a revolution.

Speaking of image, we need to talk about the rebel flag. Personally, I understand the attraction; it’s a catchy design with bold colors, but there’s a real problem with its historical significance and it’s one strike away from representing dismal failure; one civil war lost, one coup botched.

The only positive associations left are southern rock and the Dukes of Hazzard. To those of us who grew up in the 1970s, Bo and Luke Duke were heroes, speeding through their redneck woods, eluding dumb deputies while yakking on a CB radio … But in hindsight, we can set the hero bar a little higher, no?

Like Eugene Goodman, a black Capitol police officer who stood up to an angry white mob.

Officer Goodman shoved a man and then ran up the stairs in a brave attempt to draw attention away from the Senate chambers. Since Washington, D.C. is not a state, there was no governor to call in the National Guard, leaving the police outnumbered and alone in their efforts to defend the Capitol. This was an orchestrated attempt to seize control of the government and bring about our first dictator — Fuhrer Trump.

Hitler’s Nazi party studied America’s systemic racism while writing the Nuremberg Laws, and now I’m afraid some Americans have been duped into believing they are creating a defining moment in our country’s history, when in fact they are being used to perpetuate an old agenda. An agenda for Nazis.

Jean Perry is a freelance columnist from Carbondale.

Bessie Minor Swift Foundation now accepting grant applications from Garfield County

The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation announced in early January that it is accepting grant applications from nonprofit organizations in Garfield County.

Grants will be awarded to selected nonprofits that promote literacy, reading and writing skills and programs in the languages, sciences and interdisciplinary areas. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 15, and recipients will be announced on May 1.

The Fund will consider applications requesting a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $3,000.

The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation considers grants to organizations that provide direct service to help with the implementation or expansion of literacy programs for children who are below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading, and also to develop reading and writing skills at all age levels.

The Foundation supports STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) as well. The Foundation also occasionally supports programs for adults.

More than $700,000 in grant money has been awarded since 2008. The Foundation prefers to consider support for programs rather than grants for the purchase of technology. The Foundation also favors organizations that do not have access to large fundraising budgets and are local in nature. Grants are made only to nonprofit organizations certified as tax exempt.

More information and the application form is available on the Foundation website.

The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation was formed by the owners and founder of Swift Communications, the company that owns and operates the Glenwood Springs Post Independent [postindependent.com] and the Citizen Telegram in Rifle.

Bessie Minor Swift was the mother of Philip Swift, the founder of Swift Communications. She was born in Onaga, Kansas on June 29, 1887, raised in Kansas City, Missouri, then moved to Blackburn, Missouri where she taught school in a one-room schoolhouse.

Phil Swift recalled that the importance of education was reinforced throughout his upbringing, not so much through statements or concrete expectations, but through the example of his mother’s interest in English, reading, history and music.

Phil Swift passed away in November 2019.

Nonprofit organizations in the area are encouraged to apply.

Kaup to seek reelection to at-large Glenwood Springs City Council seat

In this April 2017 file photo, Shelley Kaup spends the evening with friends, family and supporters at the Rivers Restaurant waiting for election results.

Glenwood Springs City Council member Shelley Kaup says she will seek reelection to another four-year term to one of council’s two at-large seats in the April 3 election.

“The next few years are critical to help the city recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Grizzly Creek Fire,” Kaup said in a formal statement announcing her reelection bid.

“I have a vision for Glenwood Springs to prioritize quality of life for our residents, strengthen our diverse economy and safeguard our neighborhoods and environment from the impacts of growth,” she said. “My experience and willingness to work through tough issues uniquely qualifies me to get the job done.”

Kaup was elected to the at-large seat in April 2017, and had previously served a term on council in her downtown ward seat from 2007-11.

Petitions to run for three City Council seats that are up for election in April were made available the first week of January.

Also to be decided in the April 6 election will be the Ward 5 seat (south Glenwood) held by current appointed Mayor Jonathan Godes, and the Ward 2 seat (west and north Glenwood) held by Ingrid Wussow, who was appointed last year to fill out the term vacated by former councilman Rick Voorhees.

Godes and Wussow both said Thursday they intend to run in the April election, but no challengers have yet emerged. Candidate petitions are due at the end of January.

Kaup, who currently serves as mayor pro-tem, pointed to several achievements over the past four years in making her formal announcement, including support for local businesses and individuals during the pandemic.

“We were among the first local governments in Colorado to put a mask order in place, and we worked closely with the Chamber and Downtown Development Authority to deal with economic impacts,” Kaup said.

“The city has loosened regulations to allow restaurants to serve customers outdoors, provided business grants from the CARES Act to businesses most impacted by the pandemic, and directed $236,000 to local charities to make sure families in our community have support and enough to eat,” she said.

Kaup also cited the city’s response to last summer’s Grizzly Creek Fire, protecting the city and its water intake system at the time of the fire, and working with federal officials to prevent erosion on fire-damaged slopes within the city’s watershed.

Kaup noted that she has also been a champion for the new in-town recycling center, contracting for renewable energy to be part of the city electric supply, making improvements to the Two Rivers Park riverbank, and numerous street and infrastructure upgrades.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but we are making progress,” Kaup said.

She said she continues to support other council members and residents in opposing the Rocky Mountain Industrials plan to greatly expand the limestone quarry on Transfer Trail.

“We have taken that fight to the highest levels of government, and we will continue to protect our community and our economy from what would be a devastating impact to our city,” Kaup said in her release.

Kaup has lived in Glenwood Springs since 1988.


RFTA board votes to cover $2M+ funding gap for Glenwood’s 27th Street underpass project

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority board has agreed to make up the funding difference for a planned underpass at 27th Street in Glenwood Springs to better service the South Glenwood bus station.

The inter-governmental RFTA board voted 8-0 Thursday to approve the $2.27 million estimated funding gap for the grade-separated underpass.

The project will use Destination 2040 Plan funding not spent for other service improvements that had been slated for Glenwood Springs in 2019.

Those delayed improvements had amounted to approximately $700,000 per year. They included the proposed extension of Bus Rapid Transit service from 27th Street to downtown Glenwood, and the resumption of local bus service along the Highway 6 & 24.

Those system improvements are still on the planning table, but have been delayed pending the outcome of the city’s jointly funded MOVE Study.

“Finalization of plans by Glenwood Springs regarding its intentions to reconfigure the Ride Glenwood service and, most likely, a reduction in the COVID-19 threat, should signal economic improvement and ridership recovery, and allow RFTA to get back on track with its pre-COVID-19 service plan,” RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship said following the Thursday board meeting.

Glenwood Springs City Council last week moved forward the plan to prioritize the pedestrian underpass at 27th Street and South Glen/Colorado Highway 82.

More than $2 million was still needed to complete the $10.1 million crossing, which was approved by City Council in August to improve safety at the busy intersection.

RFTA had already allocated nearly $4.3 million for the underpass through the Destination 2040 initiative, which was approved by voters three years ago through a new property tax and mill levy.

The agency also received more than $3 million in state and Colorado Department of Transportation funding for the project. Glenwood Springs set aside $500,000 in the city’s 2021 budget to leverage grants, but failed to secure a $1 million Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District grant.


Mountain Music — Lizzy Plotkin and Natalie Spears discuss making their new record

Lizzy Plotkin and Natalie Spears’ “Just Over the Ridge” will be released Friday.
Lizzy Plotkin and Natalie Spears
Lizzy Plotkin and Natalie Spears
Lizzy Plotkin and Natalie Spears
Lizzy Plotkin and Natalie Spears will perform a virtual “Streamin’ Steve’s” show on Friday night from Carbondale to celebrate the release of their new EP.

Who: Natalie Spears & Lizzy Plotkin

What: ‘Just Over the Ridge’ EP Release Party

Where: Streamin’ Steves, grassrootstv.org

When: Friday, Jan. 15, 7:30 p.m.

More info: stevesguitars.net

Inspired by our mountains and the creatures we share it with, the half-dozen songs on Lizzy Plotkin and Natalie Spears’ “Just Over the Ridge” are steeped in American musical traditions and powered by angelic vocal harmonies.

The album opener, “Seasons Change,” is an original they’ve been playing at shows since they began performing together four years ago. Spears wrote this poetic chronicle of a sleepless night spent contemplating the natural life of a mountain valley about six years ago during one such night in an old farmhouse off Highway 133 in Carbondale.

“I woke up in the middle of the night and started writing that song,” she recalled recently. “I was just looking at (Mount) Sopris. It captures a lot of the love I have for this valley and he beauty that’s in this valley.”

The duo is releasing the six-song EP on Friday. They will celebrate with a virtual concert hosted by Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale as part of the “Streamin’ Steve’s” series that’s kept the small venue’s years-long streak of Friday night live music going through the pandemic.

While the new record sticks to the sounds of traditional Americana and the combination of vocals, banjo and fiddle, it ranges across styles of the folk idiom. There are moments of smirking sweetness in the John Hartford tradition, there’s old-time, country and bluegrass and acoustic blues.

These original compositions will fit in with the covers and classics that make up the bulk of Plotkin and Spears’ live set lists.

Their “Carry Me With You” is a fiddle tune that that hits like a secular hymn written centuries ago. In the up-tempo “Sweet Song in the Tall Grass” they sing of “workin’ and singin’ and prayin’ and dancin’ and whoopin’ and hollerin’ all around,” with the energy of a campfire boot-stomper passed down by generations of cowboys.

Both were drawn to Colorado by the land and came in hopes of deepening their relationships with the natural world.

Plotkin first came here during a college summer for work as a bird researcher at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic.

“My songwriting started in Gothic,” she said.

The humbling perspective of being a human in mountains allowed her to write meaningful songs. She found landscapes and animals frequently made it into her lyrics but they’re also an active part of her creative process.

“When I’m writing a song, I always like to take it out on a walk with me,” she explained. “That rhythm is now just in me and I can muse on words and ideas while out in the land.”

Spears ended up in the Roaring Fork Valley through the natural building movement, working in cob and adobe home construction and coming to Carbondale for an apprenticeship in straw bale houses.

“I thought I would just come and spend a little bit of time in Carbondale and then move on,” she said. “The people here are what captured my heart and convinced me to stay.”

Her work in natural building fed her songwriting in unexpected ways. Studying land with an architect’s eyes, it turns out, is not so different from doing so as a poet.

“To learn how water moves on a landscape or where the winds come from or where the sun’s going to rise, I learned the value of connecting on a deep spiritual level,” she said. “It just became a big part of my life.”

She went on to run a nature-based summer camp for girls, which gave Spears new ways of looking at the world around her here. These days, Plotkin and Spears teach music.

They write lyrics separately, but arrange songs and write music together. And though this EP is their first release together, they have more in the works.

“We bring a song to the table and we know that it might not be exactly what we want for a few years,” said Plotkin. “That’s part of the process and of our partnership.”

Both also trained – separately – at Victor Wooten Center for Music and Nature, and both are the daughters of musicians (Plotkin’s dad a fiddle player, Spears’ a jazz pianist).

The creative fit was evident from their first times playing together.

“We have these overlapping musical interests and histories and life interests,” Spears said. “It’s special to find a music a partner with whom you share those things.”

The new EP was recorded in the fall of 2019 in Fort Collins. The duo had planned to release it in the spring of 2020 but the pandemic changed those plans. The pair played a handful of outdoor shows last summer at venues like the I Bar Ranch in Gunnison, and did a few virtual ones, and they’re hopeful they’ll be able to play to audiences again this summer.

But Plotkin and Spears are at ease putting the record out at a moment when they can’t tour to support it, not knowing when they might.

Though the pandemic delayed the release of “Just Over the Ridge” and, as much grief and stress and fear as the public health crisis has brought, it has also given the pair a creative freedom for which they’re grateful.

“It’s been nice to have this space to write music without the pressure of performance,” Spears explained.

And they’re trying to go easy on themselves, accepting that the all this at-home time during the pandemic may not be all that productive. Plotkin, noting that she lost a close friend early in the pandemic, said: “A lot of artists, everyone expected us to just be creating. It’s like, ‘We’re going through this, too. There was a lot going on that I think at some point will come out in song, but hasn’t quite emerged yet.”


Rifle High School welcomes one of its own as new athletics director

New Rifle High School Athletic Director Chris Bomba.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

There’s no better time than now to focus on what truly matters.

“I think with anything like this — and I try to have this attitude my whole life — is that you always have two options,” Chris Bomba said. “You can either let it beat you down and keep you down, or you can find the positives in it and try to drive the right direction.”

“What’s positive right now? We have basketball and we have wrestling,” he added. “There are states out there that are canceling.”

Bomba, a former Western State (now Western Colorado University) thrower originally from Moffat County, started this week as Rifle High School’s new athletics director, taking over for Damon Wells. He’s now at the helm of helping to navigate Garfield District Re-2 sports through some of the most unique circumstances known to modern-day athletics in Colorado.

If there’s an activities administrator out there in the U.S. who isn’t inundated with meetings with fellow athletic directors, state officials on yet another COVID-19 update or season schedule tweaks, they’re probably not doing their job.

But the 42-year-old Rifle High School head track coach and science teacher maintains a positive outlook, not just toward his new role as athletics director, but for the students recently given the opportunity to enjoy their last hurrah before graduating.

Jan. 18 — the first official practice day of Season B sports across the state — couldn’t come any sooner.

“I lived through track last year when it got canceled,” Bomba said. “For the seniors, that was their last chance at state. And the crying? That was so hard. So for us to be able to have a season … I’m beside myself.”

“It’s awesome.”

Bomba’s story takes place just about 90 miles up the road, in Craig. It was then, growing up a Bulldog, he was instilled with the inspiration to pursue a life of physical competition.

“I had a teacher in middle school that told me I needed to stick with sports,” he said. “It was one of the best things anybody could tell me. Sports have just been a mainstay in myself because of the positive things that I’ve gotten out of it.”

A 1997 graduate of Moffat County High School, Bomba would spend his time in high school learning to overcome adversity in varsity Bulldogs track and football.

“We had great coaches, we had great teammates at that time” he said. “We pushed ourselves to be the best. And if you weren’t — if you were slacking? It wasn’t like people were jerks about it, they were just like, C’mon, man … let’s go.’”

“We built ourselves up and worked our tails off to do the things we did.”

Bomba went on to represent Moffat County for Western State, throwing two years for the Mountaineers. But it was right after graduation when he got his first taste of coaching.

Bomba said he’d coach two years at Western before deciding the $2,000-a-year paycheck wasn’t going to cut it, so he took up a full-time position in Cedaredge, coaching middle school basketball and football. He also helped coach high school track and football.

Then, around 2010, Bomba moved to Garfield County, where he began teaching at Rifle Middle School. He’d also start coaching volleyball, basketball and football.

And, for the past five years, Bomba has been head coach of Rifle High School Track and Field.

Rifle High School Principal John Arledge said he was excited to announce Bomba’s new position as athletic director.

“Chris comes to us with experience as a successful head track coach and someone that has experience at both the middle and high school level athletics,” he recently wrote to RHS staff. “Chris was a college track athlete at Western State and was also a successful high school athlete coming from Moffat County.

Arledge also described Bomba as an outstanding science teacher who had served as a special education teacher at the Rifle Middle School.

“We are lucky to have such a qualified candidate that was here internally, and it is our hope that RHS welcomes Chris in his new capacity,” Arledge wrote.

Bomba said such an undertaking during such weird times is something he’s ready for; that the challenges ahead will be tough now, but will make life a lot easier in the future.

“I think it’s going to make me — for me, personally — a stronger person,” he said. “And I think it’s gonna make our kids — even though they don’t see it yet — stronger. It’s going to be a great story and it’s going to be a great story for your kids later on in life.”

“And next year, if it’s a normal year? Next year’s going to be easy.”


Glenwood’s Strawberry Days canceled for second straight year due to COVID uncertainty

Park goers enjoy free strawberries and ice cream at the park after the 2019 Strawberry Days Parade. The Strawberry Days Festival for 2021 has been canceled for the second year in a row.

The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association board has decided to cancel its Strawberry Days Festival for the second year in a row, due to continued uncertainty over coronavirus risk come June.

“We understand the disappointment the community may feel about this decision, especially when it seems like June is so far away,” Chamber President and CEO Angie Anderson said. “However, an event of this magnitude with so many moving parts requires a lot of advance planning and resources, and we had to make the call now.”

Strawberry Days is typically held the third full weekend of June.

Normally, by now, the chamber would be well into the process of getting contracts in place for vendors, music acts and lining up permits. But, due to an inability to plan ahead for large-scale events given the unknowns of the pandemic over the next few months, the festival will remain on hold until 2022, Anderson said.

Anderson said consideration was given to the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus, timing of vaccine administration and possible continued restrictions for large gatherings. Ultimately, it was determined that canceling the event was a “responsible and necessary decision for the health and safety of the community,” she said.

Currently, Glenwood Springs is open and operating in the Orange level on Colorado’s COVID-19 Dial framework. But, that still does not allow for large crowds to safely gather indoors or outdoors.

“While continuous reduction in the spread of the coronavirus is anticipated, especially as vaccinations are administered, the GSCRA Board believes June is too soon to safely move forward considering Strawberry Days is Glenwood Springs’ largest event, drawing thousands of visitors over its three-day operation,” according to a statement issued by the Chamber on Wednesday.

“While this decision was difficult, we believe it is prudent at this time,” said Eric Brotherson, who chairs the GSCRA Board of Directors. “We are excited to focus our efforts on making the return of Strawberry Days in 2022 a huge celebration for the entire community.”

Anderson added that various alternatives to the larger festival were discussed.

“Ultimately, it was decided to keep the Strawberry Days experience and brand fully intact and focus on making next year’s festival exceptional,” she said.

“We are also keeping options open of possibly hosting a community celebration in the late summer or fall, but it will be something of its own and not Strawberry Days,” Anderson said. “Individually and collectively, the community has overcome many challenges over the last year, and when the time is right we want to gather together to celebrate that in some way.”

Cancellation of the festival doesn’t mean some of the auxiliary events that are organized separately couldn’t still take place, she added.

Those might include the Strawberry Shortcut foot race, and various service club fundraisers that typically take place in conjunction with Strawberry Days weekend.

Updated information on the planning for that event can be found at the Strawberry Days website, www.strawberrydays.com.

Strawberry Days celebrated its 122nd year in 2019, although the cancellations these past two years doesn’t disrupt a continuous streak. The festival was also canceled during the World War II years in the 1940s.


UPDATE: Latest Garfield County COVID-19 Statistics and Risk Level


Cumulative cases: 4,524

New cases reported since Wednesday: 38

Deaths since outbreak began: 35 confirmed

Current Score: Level Red-Severe Risk

Current Restrictions: Level Orange-High Risk, with county policy variances

Recent 14-day case totals: Dec. 31-Jan. 13 – 522; Dec. 17-30 – 595; Dec. 2-16 – 917

Two-week daily case average: 37

Single-day high: 101 on 12/10/20

Two-week incidence rate: 857.6 per 100,000 people (Red-Severe Risk)

Test positivity rate: 8.8% (Yellow-Concern)

Days in last 2 weeks of declining/stable hospitalizations: 9 (Yellow-Concern/closer to 14 the better)

Community spread: 43% (Orange-High Risk)

Days before seeking testing: 3.2 (Red-Severe Risk)

Test turn-around time: 2.3 days (Yellow-Concern)

Percent of cases interviewed within 24 hours: 61% (Red – Severe Risk)

Source: Garfield County Public Health


Valley View Hospital, 1/14/2021

Specimens collected through Valley View — 18,229 (+506 since 1/12)

Positive results — 1,524 (+10 since 1/12)

Pending results — 43

Hospitalizations since outbreak began — 200 (+1 since 1/12)

Patients discharged (incl. transfers and deceased) — 173 (1 since 1/7)

Grand River Hospital, 1/12/2021

Specimens collected through Grand River Health — 6,125 (+75 since 1/7)

Positive results — 999 (+47 since 1/7)

Pending results — 26

Hospitalizations since outbreak began — 39 (0 new since 12/29)

Patients discharged — 27

Patients transferred — 12

Source: Hospital statistics released twice weekly on Tuesday and Thursday


Mesa Vista Assisted Living, Battlement Mesa: Date determined, 12/21 (updated 1/13); 3 residents and 8 staff positive cases.

Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home, Rifle: Date determined, 11/3 (updated 1/13); 15 confirmed resident deaths, 41 confirmed resident cases and 1 probable; 49 confirmed staff cases and 3 probable.

E. Dene Moore Care Center, Rifle: Date determined, 11/13 (updated 1/13); 4 confirmed resident deaths; 25 residents and 31 staff confirmed positive.

Renew Roaring Fork, Glenwood Springs: Date determined, 11/25 (updated 1/13); 2 residents and 2 staff confirmed positive.

Heritage Park Care Center, Carbondale: Date determined, 11/19 (updated 1/13); 4 residents and 17 staff confirmed positive.

Mountain Valley Developmental Services, Pitkin House, Glenwood Springs: Date determined, 11/30 (updated 1/13); 2 residents confirmed positive and 1 probable among staff.

New Castle City Market: Date determined, 11/22 (updated 1/13); 5 confirmed and 7 probable staff positive.

Recently resolved/closed cases: Carbondale City Market; Garfield County Community Corrections

Source: Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Covid-19 outbreak data page


5PointVoices presents safe space for student self-expression through filmmaking

Ten senior students at Bridges High School in Carbondale created a short film documenting their lives for a capstone project. Adam Carballeira, an English teacher at Bridges, taught the class along with teaching artist Cassidy Wiley in-person when COVID-19 precautions allowed.

“We’re creating person-to-person, not screen-to-screen. …I think the filmmaking project could be accomplished online, but the fact that we were able to all get together I think strengthened it,” Wiley said.

The film is just under 10 minutes and a compilation of videos shot by the ten students and interviews where they share details about themselves and their lives one wouldn’t know just by looking at them.

“My goal was … to show the world that teenagers are amazing and have rich thoughts. For me I think, and adults, it gives us hope for the future, you know, because there are these young people out there who are just so powerful and passionate about creating a good world,” Carballeira said.

The capstone course was made possible by 5PointVoices – a collaborative effort between two local nonprofit organizations that wanted to use their goals of celebrating art and enriching communities to give underrepresented students a platform

Regna Jones, executive director of 5Point, said she thinks young people are frequently underestimated or perceived inaccurately. She said the short film gives anyone who chooses to watch it a chance to gain a better sense of who these students are.

“I think by having it be so student-centric and for them understanding that from the beginning really helped them to open up in ways maybe they wouldn’t have if they felt like they didn’t have a say in how it was going to be presented,” Jones said.

She also said that while the main idea for the course was planned out, most of it wasn’t structured with a binding format to begin with. The educational aspect of the course that focused on technical elements of shooting video wasn’t the only lesson that students or coordinators walked away with after the six weeks.

“There was so much learning within the group as a whole and I think being open to that idea that education is something that comes from within, it’s not like this top down experience. Great mentors and educators are the ones who also see students as teachers,” Jones said.

Renee Prince, the executive director at Voices, said the idea behind the project was to allow it to evolve as time went on. While the course had dedicated teaching artists, in-person and virtually, the intention was for it to be a student-led course; something adaptable depending on who the students are and what would serve them best.

“The creative process demands that we are all learning and taking real risks and putting ourselves outside of our comfort zone; the adults and students in the room. We’re all doing that because we’re creating something new that wasn’t there before,” Prince said.

Opening up a space for new connections to be made was also a goal behind the program. Closer relationships formed between students and with the teachers based on classroom activities and conversations where vulnerability became the norm. Prince said she didn’t realize how soon a sense of community could be formed, especially with a large part of the course happening virtually in the beginning stages.

“I think everyone was surprised by how quickly you can create community within a group of people through the creative process,” Prince said.

The film “premiered” on Dec. 14 in a virtual screening for students, teachers and program coordinators. In a conversation after watching for the first time, student Matt McComb commented on his emotional reaction to seeing all the footage put together in one final product.

“The last scene of the whole entire film made me start crying … What Angie said was so powerful … about how you can never just be satisfied with doing something and you should always go for more,” McComb said.

The consensus of the students was that everything was edited in a way where they all were able to present themselves. Student Angie Ramirez said she was thankful to all the teaching artists and coordinators who made the project possible. The combination of the students’ points of view in one autobiographical film layered perspective in a unique yet harmonious way.

“I feel like seeing and hearing what everyone else wanted to say, it gives you a different point of view in life and makes you see things in other ways. I saw the way Grace thought, Bailey and Parker and everybody … you can apply that to your own life. If it wasn’t for you guys we wouldn’t have that chance or opportunity to see it,” Ramirez said.

The film can be viewed by anyone at this YouTube link and Jones said 5Point plans to incorporate it into the student program section of the nonprofit’s annual film festival. The teamwork between 5Point, Voices and Bridges High School will continue this spring and ideally in the years to follow to keep creating a space for self-expression amongst students about to leave high school and forge new paths for themselves.

“I felt so invigorated and so inspired by being with these kids. They are hopeful, they’re not jaded, they’re kind to one another, they’re curious, and I think just to see the world for ten minutes from their perspective, especially in these times that feel so dark and heavy so often, I think it’s going to be really refreshing … I think they’ll gain a new sense of what makes kids so special,” Wiley said.