| PostIndependent.com

7 formas en las que tu participación en el censo beneficia a toda nuestra comunidad

Presentado por el Comité de Conteo Completo de Aspen a Parachute

Asegúrate de que tu voz se escuche

Ser contado en el censo de EE. UU. es una forma de hacer que tu voz se escuche a nivel local, estatal y federal. Tu participación influye en todo, desde la representación política hasta importantes servicios públicos de la comunidad. ¡No te quedes en silencio, ayuda a tu comunidad! El censo de EE. UU. es completamente seguro y su información personal es confidencial.

Para obtener más información, visita a2pcensus2020.com o 2020census.gov.

Si vives en los Estados Unidos, independientemente de si naciste aquí o de cuál es tu estado migratorio, la ley te exige ser contado en el censo de EE. UU. 2020. Hay solo 10 preguntas, que se estima toman unos 10 minutos en completarse.

Desde 1790, el recuento del censo de EE. UU. ha influenciado todo, desde la representación política en el congreso hasta la financiación federal para servicios públicos esenciales.

Los condados del Roaring Fork y Colorado River Valley, así como otras partes interesadas formaron el Comité de Conteo Completo de Aspen a Parachute como un esfuerzo de colaboración para aumentar la participación en el censo en nuestro valle. A través de su campaña “Juntos contamos”, el objetivo del comité es desacreditar los mitos y calmar los temores sobre el censo.

Dado que el conteo del censo solo ocurre una vez cada 10 años, deja que esta lista sirva como recordatorio de por qué no debes ignorar el censo: la participación de cada residente es esencial para la vitalidad de nuestras comunidades.

Ninguna pregunta sobre ciudadanía

En toda la comunidad, el efecto a largo plazo del clima político actual y la confusión en torno a la cuestión de la ciudadanía daba diferentes matices a las percepciones de las personas sobre el censo, dijo Phillip Supino, director de desarrollo comunitario de la ciudad de Aspen y miembro del Comité de Conteo Completo.

Los tribunales federales bloquearon permanentemente los planes de la administración Trump de agregar una pregunta al censo que habría consultado si tu eres ciudadano estadounidense. El comité está recordando a todos los residentes del Roaring Fork Valley que no habrá tal pregunta en el censo 2020.

Tus respuestas al censo son confidenciales.

Las respuestas del censo se utilizan para producir estadísticas, y nada más. La oficina del censo de los EE. UU. tiene la obligación legal de mantener la confidencialidad de tus respuestas.

Las preguntas del censo solicitarán información acerca de la cantidad de personas que viven en tu hogar, los nombres y fechas de nacimiento de cada ocupante, raza, sexo y relación entre ellos. El censo no te preguntará acerca de tu religión, afiliación política o ingresos.

Además, todo el personal de la oficina del censo hace un juramento vitalicio para proteger tu información, y cualquier violación trae consigo una multa de hasta $250,000 y/o hasta 5 años de cárcel.

Los datos del censo NO se pueden usar en tu contra por ningún motivo

Las preguntas del censo solicitarán información sobre el número de personas viviendo en tu casa, los nombres y fechas de nacimiento de cada ocupante, raza, sexo y relación entre ellas. El censo no te cuestionará sobre religión, afiliación política o ingreso.

La ley federal garantiza que tu información personal y tus respuestas no puedan ser utilizadas en tu contra por ninguna agencia gubernamental. Eso significa que tus respuestas al censo no pueden ser compartidas por la oficina del censo con las agencias de inmigración o policiales.

“Sin lugar a dudas, bajo ninguna circunstancia, los datos del censo se pueden compartir entre las agencias”, dijo Supino.

Conteo insuficiente conduce a un financiamiento insuficiente

Los números del censo equivalen a fondos federales para servicios comunitarios vitales como: carreteras, transporte, hospitales, servicios de emergencia, alimentos subsidiados, atención médica y más.

Por cada persona que se cuenta en el censo, Colorado recibe alrededor de $2,300 en fondos federales. Eso es por persona, por año, durante los próximos 10 años.

Eso significa que solo una persona que no se cuente podría resultar en la pérdida de $23,000 dólares federales hasta el próximo conteo del censo en 2030.

“Con solo unos minutos de tu tiempo, puedes ayudar a garantizar fondos para servicios comunitarios importantes como educación, mejoras de carreteras y servicios de salud y humanos”, dijo Jenn Ooton, subdirector de la ciudad de Glenwood Springs. “Además, nuestras comunidades del Roaring Fork y Colorado River Valley están en mejores condiciones para planificar el futuro cuando tenemos recuentos de población precisos”.

Alex Sánchez, director ejecutivo de Valley Settlement, una organización que trabaja para mejorar las vidas de las familias inmigrantes, dijo que la comunidad latina del Roaring Fork Valley fue muy poco contada en el censo de 2010. Esto lleva a una incapacidad a nivel local para apoyar completamente a todos los miembros de la comunidad con los recursos necesarios.

“Esperemos que este año el conteo del censo pueda ser un verdadero reflejo de esta comunidad”, dijo.

Mejor representación política.

Cuando una comunidad se cuenta con precisión, puede representarse de manera más efectiva. Colorado es uno de los cinco estados en occidente que podrían obtener un escaño adicional en el congreso después del censo 2020, pero primero necesitamos una participación exitosa en el censo.

“Todos tenemos un interés personal en asegurarnos de que estamos participando”, dijo Sánchez. “Independientemente del estado migratorio, este es nuestro deber cívico”.

Participar en el censo es fácil

Tu invitación para participar en el censo 2020 se entregará entre el 12 y el 20 de marzo. Una vez que la recibas, puedes responder en línea (www.2020Census.gov), por teléfono (llama al centro de llamadas del censo utilizando el número de teléfono que figura en tu postal de invitación) o puedes enviar tu formulario de respuesta por correo postal.

Día del censo (1 de abril) y otras fechas importantes

Cada dirección postal física recibirá una postal con instrucciones sobre cómo participar en el censo de EE. UU., además de cartas recordatorias, desde hoy hasta el 27 de abril.

El censo de EE. UU. comenzó a aceptar respuestas en línea, por teléfono y por correo el 12 de marzo. El 1ero. de abril se considera el día del censo, lo que significa que todas las preguntas que respondas en el formulario del censo deben incluir a las personas que viven en tu hogar a partir del 1ero. de abril.

De abril a junio, se realizarán recuentos de instalaciones grupales como dormitorios y residencias para ancianos.

En mayo, los trabajadores del censo visitarán los hogares de los no encuestados.

Y finalmente, en diciembre, los datos del censo serán entregados al presidente y al congreso.

7 ways your Census participation benefits our entire community

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by the Aspen to Parachute Complete Count Committee

Census questions will ask for information such as the number of people living in your household, the names and birthdates of each occupant, race, sex, and relationship to one another. The Census will not ask about your religion, political affiliation or income.
Make sure your voice is heard

Getting counted in the U.S. Census is a way to make your voice heard at the local, state and federal level. Your participation influences everything from political representation to important public community services. Don’t sit in silence, help your community! The U.S. Census is completely safe and your personal information is confidential.

To learn more, visit a2pcensus2020.com or 2020census.gov.

If you live in the United States — regardless of whether you were born here or what your immigration status is —  you’re required by law to be counted in the 2020 U.S. Census. There are just 10 questions, estimated to take about 10 minutes to complete.

Since 1790, the U.S. Census count has impacted everything from political representation in Congress to federal funding for essential public services.

Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valley municipalities and other stakeholders formed the Aspen to Parachute Complete Count Committee as a collaborative effort to increase census participation in our valley. Through its “Together We Count” campaign, the committee’s goal is to debunk myths and ease fears about the census.

Since the census count only happens once every 10 years, let this list serve as a reminder why you shouldn’t ignore the census — every single resident’s participation is essential to the vitality of our communities.

1. No citizenship question

Community-wide, the long-term effect of the current political climate and confusion around the citizenship question was coloring people’s perceptions of the census, said Phillip Supino, director of community development for the City of Aspen and a member of the Complete Count Committee.

Federal courts permanently blocked plans by the Trump administration to add a question to the census that would have asked you if you’re an American citizen. The committee is reminding all Roaring Fork Valley residents that there will be no such question on the 2020 Census.

2. Your census answers are confidential

Responses to the census are used to produce statistics, that’s it. The U.S. Census Bureau is legally required to keep your answers confidential. 

Census questions will ask for information such as the number of people living in your household, the names and birthdates of each occupant, race, sex, and relationship to one another. The Census will not ask about your religion, political affiliation or income.

In addition, all Census Bureau staff take a lifetime oath to protect your information, and any violation comes with a punishment of up to $250,000 fine and/or up to 5 years in jail.

3. Census data can NOT be used against you for any reason

Courtesy Photo

Federal law guarantees that your personal information and answers cannot be used against you by any government agency. That means your census answers cannot be shared by the Census Bureau with immigration or law enforcement agencies.

“Unequivocally, under no circumstances, can census data be shared between agencies,” Supino said.

4. Undercounting leads to underfunding

Census numbers equate to federal funding for vital community services such as roads, transportation, hospitals, emergency services, subsidized food, health care and more.

For every person who is counted in the census, Colorado receives about $2,300 in federal funding. That’s per person, per year, for the next 10 years.

That means just one person who isn’t counted could result in the loss of $23,000 federal dollars until the next Census count in 2030.

“With just a few minutes of your time, you can help ensure funds for important community services such as education, road improvements, and health and human services,” said Jenn Ooton, assistant city manager for the City of Glenwood Springs. “Additionally, our Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valley communities are better able to plan for the future when we have accurate population counts.”

Alex Sanchez, executive director of Valley Settlement, an organization that works to improve the lives of immigrant families, said the Roaring Fork Valley’s Latino community was grossly undercounted in the 2010 Census. This leads to an inability at the local level to fully support all members of the community with necessary resources.

“Hopefully this year the census count can be a true reflection of this community,” he said.

5. Better political representation

When a community is accurately counted, it can be more effectively represented. Colorado is one of five states in the West that could get an additional Congressional seat after the 2020 Census, but first we need successful Census participation.

“We all have a vested interest in making sure we’re participating,” Sanchez said. “Regardless of immigration status, this is our civic duty.”

6. Participating in the Census is easy

Your invitation to participate in the 2020 Census will be delivered between March 12-20. Once you receive your invitation, you can respond online (www.2020Census.gov), by phone (call in to the Census Call Center using the phone number on your invitation postcard), or you can mail in your response form.

7. Census Day (April 1) and other important dates

Every physical mailing address will receive a postcard with instructions for how to participate in the U.S. Census, plus reminder letters, from now until April 27.

The U.S. Census started accepting responses online, by phone and via mail on March 12. April 1 is considered Census Day, which means all questions you answer on the census form should include the people living in your household as of April 1.

From April to June, counts will be done of group facilities such as dorms and nursing homes.

In May, census workers will visit the homes of non-respondents.

And finally, in December, the Census data will be delivered to the President and Congress.

Give where you live: Nonprofits strengthen our community

Editor’s Note: This sponsored contest is brought to you by Mountain West Gives.

Join Mountain West Gives for a rally at the tree lighting ceremony in Carbondale during First Friday, Dec. 6, to drum up momentum for Colorado Gives Day (Dec. 10).
About Mountain West Gives

A group of nonprofit directors from the Roaring Fork Valley got together about 5 years ago to work on a regional campaign after seeing a need to direct Colorado Gives Day donations to local organizations. From Aspen to Parachute, there are 49 nonprofits participating in Mountain West Gives this year. Contributing to these groups will help your money stay right here in the community, providing much-needed services for the people who live and work here in our valley.

To give to one of these organizations on Colorado Gives Day, visit www.coloradogives.org/mountainwestgives. You can also set up donations in advance of Colorado Gives Day, or even set up recurring donations.

With 49 local nonprofits participating in Colorado Gives Day, there are at least 49 ways you could make a significant community impact this holiday season.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, a regional effort called Mountain West Gives is working to drive Colorado Gives Day donations to local nonprofits. Colorado Gives Day, an annual statewide charitable giving drive, is Dec. 10.

“$100 here will do so much more than at the national or state level,” said Julie Olson, executive director of the Advocate Safehouse Project, and one of the coordinators for Mountain West Gives. “It gives soul to our community when we work together and collaborate.”

Olson said that it’s sometimes easy to forget about the work local nonprofits do, but when you look at the services they provide to everyone, it’s easy to see how the impacts are so vast. From environmental causes that affect all of us to English language learning services that contribute to a literate community, nonprofits help us more than we often realize.

“Nonprofits enrich our community,” Olson said. “They are a safety net in our community, and even if you might not need one of them today, you or your family might need our services in the future.”

From Aspen to Parachute, there are 49 nonprofits participating in Mountain West Gives this year. Contributing to these groups will help your money stay right here in the community, providing much-needed services for the people who live and work here in our valley.
Give locally

All of the 49 nonprofits participating in Mountain West Gives have been fully vetted via a rigorous application process. If you’re thinking about making a donation on Colorado Gives Day, Dec. 10, it can be hard to sift through all of the organizations to find the right cause for your dollars.

At www.coloradogives.org/mountainwestgives, you can read descriptions about each nonprofit and make your online donation quickly and easily. All of the money donated will go directly to these organizations thanks to a FirstBank contribution toward Colorado Gives Day that covers all administrative costs.

Join Mountain West Gives for a rally at the tree lighting ceremony in Carbondale during First Friday, Dec. 6, to drum up momentum for Colorado Gives Day (Dec. 10).

Helping our neighbors

Nonprofits play a critical role in the Roaring Fork Valley, providing important services to meet local needs that wouldn’t otherwise be met. Blythe Chapman, executive director of River Bridge Regional Center and one of the coordinators of Mountain West Gives, said giving to these groups ensure funds stay in the community to help our neighbors.

“Nonprofit organizations are a bridge between the private and public sectors that help solve more problems to improve the world in which we live,” Chapman said. “In the past, a lot of people in our community were giving to these bigger statewide or nation-wide organizations and the money wasn’t staying here locally. … We’ve got to start with our community here if we’re going to expect any significant support and change for our entire larger community like the state or the nation.”

Nonprofits play a critical role in the Roaring Fork Valley, providing important services to meet local needs that wouldn’t otherwise be met.
Donation goal: $350,000

Donations to Garfield County organizations alone nearly doubled from $110,000 in 2014, when the Mountain West Gives effort began, to $210,000 in 2017.

In 2018, the local Colorado Gives Day effort raised $325,047 for 47 nonprofits in Garfield, Pitkin and (western) Eagle counties. The goal for 2019 is to raise $350,000 via 1,850 donations. Help Mountain West Gives reach its goal by making a donation at www.coloradogives.org/mountainwestgives.

Making it easy to donate online

Olson said the Mountain West Gives website makes it so easy to donate, which is especially helpful for the smaller organizations that wouldn’t typically be equipped to accept online donations.

If you go to the Colorado Gives Day website and search by county, that brings up a false list of organizations because it includes nonprofits that aren’t truly local. For example, national and statewide organizations that might conduct business in the county will appear on the list, but Olson said those funds aren’t necessarily guaranteed to remain in the community.

“They’re not here — they’re not the heart and soul of Garfield, Pitkin and Western Eagle Counties,” Olson said.

On the Mountain West Gives landing page, you can type in the services for which you’re interested in, such as animal-related services or health and human services. It’ll then display the local organizations participating in Mountain West Gives, including descriptions about the causes they support. This helps donors focus their dollars since it can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know where to give.

“Around here, neighbors are really important. Living in rural Colorado, people recognize that we’re supported by each other,” Chapman said. “Local giving is so important — give where you live.”

The energy-efficient home

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Holy Cross Energy

The Tvarkunas family converted all gas appliances to electric and they’re generating their own electricity with solar panels. They also own an electric car and take advantage of Holy Cross Energy rebates.
Courtesy Photo
Energy-saving measures
  • Operate heat tape only during daytime hours when melting is occurring and turn it off at night. Sun also helps melt ice dams.
  • Use a timer to control heat tape automatically. HCE offers rebates for heat tape timers (50 percent of the cost up to $100).
  • Make sure to turn your heat tape off at the breakers when there is no snow on the roof.
  • Use smart or programmable thermostats to control heating and cooling systems.
  • Don’t heat or cool your home more than necessary when you’re not home (50 degrees is sufficient in most homes to prevent pipes from freezing).
  • Remember to turn off crawl space and garage heaters in the summer months.
  • LED bulbs use 75 to 90 percent less energy than incandescent or halogen bulbs.
  • HCE’s new online store has instant rebates on LED bulbs, thermostat, water saving devices and more.

The Tvarkunas family’s efforts to live a more energy efficient lifestyle might sound impressive, but the family believes this is the lifestyle of the future.

Patrick and Lucila Tvarkunas moved into their Eagle home about five years ago and they knew they wanted to make important changes to improve the home’s energy efficiency. After energy assessments from both Energy Smart Colorado and Holy Cross Energy (HCE), the Tvarkunases invested in insulation, LED lighting, air sealing, programmable thermostats, super efficient heat pumps and more. All of these measures have resulted in a net zero home, meaning the home’s solar panels produce more energy annually than the family uses.

“The Tvarkunas family is a perfect example of an HCE member wanting to be carbon neutral, converting all gas appliances to electric and generating their own electricity with solar panels,” said Mary Wiener, energy efficiency program administrator for HCE.

Learning how to become more efficient

Seventy70Thirty, 70 percent clean by 2030

HCE aims to achieve 70 percent clean energy by 2030 by increasing clean and renewable resources and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The path to 70 percent clean energy requires a reduction in coal-fired power generation, improved energy efficiency of buildings, vehicles and businesses, and accelerated investment in new renewable energy resources connected to the electric distribution grid.

The first step in making any home or building more energy efficient is an energy audit.

“HCE provides one complimentary residential energy audit within a 5-year period for the same member at the same location,” said Eileen Wysocki, distributed resource program manager at HCE.

“It’s important to understand what’s using energy in your home and how to reduce usage from those items. People have many misconceptions about what’s using the most energy in their homes, and are often surprised when they see the breakdown of their home’s energy use,” Wysocki said. “Having an audit can also help identify areas of heat loss through the use of an infrared camera. Audits can also help prioritize what projects should be tackled first based on the needs of the residents and the greatest energy savings.”

Those savings can reach 50 percent or more depending on the upgrades. Wysocki said the average home sees about 10 to 20 percent in annual energy savings after making more efficient upgrades, but savings aren’t the only reason to seek more efficiency.

“Upgrades can make your home more comfortable,” Wysocki said. “And a more energy efficient home may have higher resale value.”

Patrick said his family’s home is much more comfortable now thanks to increased insulation and the elimination of drafts.

Small steps for greater impacts

The Tvarkunases use HCE’s energy assessments to guide them toward ways to maximize their efficiency upgrade investments.

“From simple things like switching to LED lights that use 80 percent less power than a normal light bulb, all the way to using rebates for our solar panels and having an electric car charger installed, HCE has been a great partner in helping us both save money on our monthly bills and reduce our environmental footprint,” Patrick said. “Energy Smart Colorado has also been awesome with their own efficiency rebates which have allowed us to invest more with their matching funds.”

The Tvarkunases are committed to doing their part by being more efficient and creating locally produced energy. It saves the family money, but it also contributes to the safety, reliability, and efficiency of the local electricity grid, Patrick said.

The family has even purchased a Nissan Leaf electric car, saving them more than 500 gallons of gasoline per year, or roughly $1,500 in annual fuel and maintenance savings. They’re also composting their organic waste to use in their small garden, and they of course always take the time to recycle.

“Each small step gets us closer to a sustainable future where we all invest locally instead of sending our dollars to huge mega businesses, which definitely do not have our local interests in mind,” he said. “Overall, there haven’t been any drawbacks — we save money and have a more comfortable house while reducing our footprint and being more self-sufficient.”

Energy Efficient Products and Rebates

HCEstore.com is HCE’s new online resource for members looking to give their home an energy efficiency makeover. Members can save up to $400 a year with upgrades such as air filters, advanced power strips, smart thermostats, LED lighting and water devices.

Visit HCEstore.com to learn more.

Where the owner knows your name

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Big John’s Ace Hardware

Big John’s Ace Hardware in Glenwood Springs offers products and services that aren’t readily available anywhere else in the valley, such as RV products, customized paint-matching, mower and grill assembly, electronic keys, hardware needs and more.
Courtesy Photo
About Big John’s Ace Hardware

The original Big John’s Building & Home, Inc. was founded in Glenwood Springs in 1988 and operated until 2010 before losing its lease and closing. In 2013, while searching for a location to open a sporting goods store, Big John fell upon a lease at 2602 South Glen Ave. and opened Big John’s Ace Hardware in 2014.

For more information about products and services, visit www.bigjohnsacehardware.com, call 970-945-5345 or just visit the store!

Big John might have gotten his nickname because of his 6’7’’ stature, but it’s his large personality and willingness to help people that seems to really stick when customers meet him.

“He’s never met a stranger — he’s just that kind of guy,” said Jan Harr, who works for John Lindsey in the administrative office at Big John’s Ace Hardware in Glenwood Springs. “He loves to talk to people and loves to share knowledge — people just really love him.”

When Big John had to close his previous location, Big John’s Building & Home, due to losing his lease in 2010, John’s big, friendly personality and top-notch customer service remained in the memories of those who knew him. Big John and his family had moved to Arizona, but his absence was felt in Glenwood.

“Once a friend, always a friend — John is one of those guys,” said Trey Holt, who has been friends with John for 30 years. “He takes a lot of pride in being a friend — not just an acquaintance, but really being there for you.”

Just as John had been thinking of moving back to Glenwood to open a sporting goods store, he heard that a space in the old Subaru building was available and that his name came up in the conversation about ideal tenants. His return to Glenwood was meant to be.

Locals’ choice

Big John’s Ace Hardware had only been open for six weeks in 2014 when it picked up the Glenwood Springs Post Independent’s Locals’ Choice award for best hardware/home improvement store. It’s now won the award for six straight years.

“That’s a real source of pride for me,” Big John said. “People said, ‘man, did we ever miss you.’”

Holt can’t count the number of times he’s been at breakfast or lunch with John when people come up to the table to ask him about a project that has them stumped.

“They’ll come up to ask how they can fix something and he always helps them figure it out,” Holt said. “He doesn’t leave work when he leaves the store.”

In the business of serving

John Lindsey, owner of Big John’s Ace Hardware in Glenwood Springs, believes “good service equals good results.”
Courtesy Photo

Big John believes we’re all in the business of serving others, and he has a philosophy about how to succeed.

“Everything is cause and effect,” he said. “Good service equals good results. Medium service equals medium results. Bad service equals bad results.”

Harr said Big John’s knowledge about the products in the store is obvious when customers talk to him. He’s great at troubleshooting and often helps people figure out the best way to reach their desired outcome.

By treating people the way he’d want to be treated, customer service at Big John’s isn’t just friendly, it’s genuine.

“I know I’m going to give customers the right solution to whatever problem they’re working on,” Big John said. “I’ll get goosebumps when I know what I told them is going to work — I get a lot of satisfaction from that.”

Friendly, knowledgeable staff

Holt said you can bring a part in to Big John’s Hardware and they’ll help you find it in the store, or they’ll order it for you to ensure you buy the right item.

“John’s focused and driven, and he’s all about making his business work in a tough economy against big-box stores,” Holt said. “The personal care is there, and you can even see it in his employees’ character.”

The Google Reviews say it all:

  • “Very helpful and friendly,  Big John’s has that home town friendly feel and is the reason I enjoy shopping at Ace Hardware.”
  • “This kind of dedication to customer service can only be found in a small town local hardware store.”
  • “Caring and courteous. If you want to experience great customer service this is where I would shop!!!! Bar none!”

Impressive inventory

Big John is particularly astute in terms of his store’s inventory, Harr said. If you need anything from a bag of screws to paint to outdoor grills, Big John’s likely has what you need for home improvement projects and more.

“We’re currently better stocked than the warehouse that supplies us,” Harr quipped.

That’s thanks to Big John’s inventory experience. He’s been doing it since he was 8 years old at his father’s lumberyard in Cedaredge.

“I’ve been doing this my whole life,” Big John said. 

Beyond hardware

Big John’s offers products and services that aren’t readily available anywhere else in the valley. Customers can come in for computerized paint-matching or get electronic chip keys made, or they can get door, window or patio screens built or repaired. Big John’s also offers mower and grill assembly, grill repair, special orders, shipping and delivery service.

Free energy consult can add to business’s bottom line

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Garfield Clean Energy

Courtesy Image
Free consulting services

Maximize your energy savings and minimize hassle with free energy consulting from Garfield Clean Energy. Free consulting includes these services:

  • An on-site building energy walk-through with a professional facility energy manager.
  • A detailed written energy action plan that prioritizes projects and calculates paybacks.
  • Contractor referrals and bid analysis.
  • Access to rebates and incentives that can help stretch your project dollars.

For more information, visit cleanenergyeconomy.net.

From poorly insulated buildings to old lighting to out-dated heating systems, energy inefficiencies cost more, aren’t environmentally-friendly and often make business less comfortable for customers and employees.

Garfield Clean Energy offers free walkthroughs to help local businesses reduce their energy bills by improving efficiency, increasing comfort and reducing their contribution to climate change.

Garfield Clean Energy is a program funded by seven local governments plus RFTA and Colorado Mountain College and administered by Carbondale-based CLEER (Clean Energy Economy for the Region). One of its primary purposes is to help local businesses become more energy efficient and identify financing options that include rebates — sometimes thousands of dollars in rebates.

“We are here to help from start to finish and to make the process as smooth as possible,” said Maisa Metcalf, an energy consultant at CLEER. “We have helped complete over 340 commercial upgrades in the past decade.”

Energy Assessments

When a business enrolls in Garfield Clean Energy’s commercial program, it receives a free walkthrough with recommendations on how to improve energy performance.

GCE coaches start by talking to the business owner about their various systems and the building’s overall condition. They look at lighting, heating and cooling, insulation, windows and doors and make an assessment that they share with the business owner or manager.

For businesses that decide to make improvements, GCE energy coaches remain available to provide contractor referral, review proposals from the contractors, and assist with rebates and financing.

Metcalf said the most common energy inefficiency is old, inefficient lighting — both indoors and outdoors. But there are many ways a building can be made more energy efficient to lower costs and improve comfort.

“Our coaches also find poorly insulated buildings, leaky windows and doors and opportunities for heating system upgrades,” she said.

Solutions to inefficiencies

Here are the solutions GCE has been helping businesses to implement in order to become more energy efficient, save money and have a lighter impact on the environment.

1. Lighting: For all businesses, switching to more energy efficient light bulbs indoors and out can save money right away.

Modern LED lighting is more cost effective and lasts for years, whereas incandescent and fluorescent bulbs burn hot, burn money and burn out much more quickly than LED lighting. Installing LEDs is a simple way to reduce maintenance costs for a building or business owner.

Lighting controls and occupancy sensors also increase comfort and save on utility bills.

Installing a system to manage parking and security lighting is a great and often easy way for businsses to achieve significant energy savings. Metcalf said GCE coaches have seen the price of such lighting systems come down in recent years with significant improvements in quality.

2. Temperature Control: Upgrading heating and cooling systems have saved hundreds of businesses working with GCE tens of thousands of dollars on their utility bills over the last decade.

For larger businesses with a large space or multiple buildings, a more comprehensive plan may be worth considering. GCE coaches will help identify all possible areas of improvement and help develop a plan to meet the specific business’s needs. That may include additional insulation, replacing single-pane windows, or installing an up-to-date, highly efficient HVAC system.

But sometimes the solution is as simple as the thermostat on an office wall.

“You’d be surprised how much more efficient your heating and cooling systems can be with a new thermostat,” Metcalf said. “It’s a low-cost solution that can bring big savings.”

3. Industrial settings: GCE coaches also have experience working in complex industrial settings. In workshops and garages, GCE coaches can identify opportunities for installing variable speed pumps and motors, controls on ventilation equipment, and other maintenance measures which can improve the efficiency of equipment while also extending its life.”

Improving heating and lighting systems makes businesses more comfortable, which can equate to an increase in its employees’ productivity and customer/client comfort. Retailers have said better lighting improves their displays and art galleries say LED lighting protects the art they sell.

“When a building addresses air leakage by sealing the leaks and adding insulation, occupant comfort increases immensely and can also make the space quieter,” Metcalf said.

More about CLEER and GCE

CLEER is a nonprofit consulting company located at the Third Street Center in Carbondale. CLEER manages Garfield Clean Energy, which offers energy consulting to homes and businesses in Garfield County. CLEER also manages the Glenwood Springs Electric Sustainability Program, which offers rebates for energy efficiency upgrades and solar PV projects for homes and businesses.

Garfield Clean Energy is a collaborative of all the municipalities — the county, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) and Colorado Mountain College (CMC) — that provides education energy efficiency solutions, and alternative and renewable energy opportunities for residents, businesses, organizations and governments.

Rebates and benefits

Paying for upgrades may give some business owners pause, but there are actually many resources available to reduce costs and make larger investments possible.

“There are several different rebates available through utilities and local organizations for both heating and lighting systems to help reduce the upfront cost and the payback time,” Metcalf explains. “GCE can help you find and sign up for those rebates.”

Black Hills Energy, Xcel Energy, Glenwood Springs Electric and Holy Cross Energy all offer rebates and incentives to encourage businesses to become more energy efficient. The Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) also offers rebates in the Roaring Fork Valley.

CLEER is also registered to offer The Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing to businesses in Garfield County. Repayments are made through an assessment on the property’s county tax bill, with no upfront capital outlay.

C-PACE can be used to finance a variety of improvements, including new heating or cooling systems, lighting, water pumps, insulation, solar panels, and other renewable energy projects, and water efficiency upgrades.

The easiest way to learn about rebates and financing opportunities is to call CLEER at 970-704-9200 and talk to an Energy Coach.

For more information about GCE’s programs for businesses, visit http://garfieldcleanenergy.org/com-free-energy-consulting/

Why mental health is an essential component of physical health

Editor’s Note: This sponsored content was brought to you by Connect for Health Colorado

Every Mountain Family Health integrated clinic has behavioral health professionals on staff that offer both individual or group counseling.
Getty Images

Mountain Family Health Centers believes that you can’t have physical health without mental health. When you keep the entire body well and whole, you’re keeping families and communities well and whole.

“The link between our mind and our soul and our body is really a powerful one,” said Garry Schalla, development director for Mountain Family Health Centers, which has 10 clinics that serve more than 20,000 people in western Colorado.

Mountain Family’s integrated care model includes medical, dental and behavioral health. Services are offered to anyone, whether you have private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, or no insurance.

In each Mountain Family Health integrated clinic in the mountain region — in Rifle, Glenwood Springs, Basalt and Edwards — there are behavioral health professionals that offer both individual or group counseling. Behavioral health providers are also available to work with medical or dental patients at a moment’s notice, Schalla said.

Mountain Family Health Centers are not free clinics, but there is a sliding scale fee offered for those who are uninsured based on household size and income.

“We want you to be invested in your health,” Schalla said.  

Behavioral health is part of overall health

Patients who visit any Mountain Health clinic fill out a short patient survey that includes some questions about mental health. Schalla said the front desk staff, physician assistants, nurses and doctors are trained to identify signs that could indicate some mental health challenges.

Mountain Family Health Centers also works directly with crisis response providers such as Mind Springs and Aspen Hope, bringing not only follow-up counseling, but medical and dental support when needed, Schalla said.

“We also continue to do bilingual education around the stigma surrounding mental health for the Latino communities due to the cultural differences in how they view it,” Schalla said. “We want them to understand they don’t have to carry these burdens and there are resources for them to reach out that are bilingual and culturally acceptable.”

Educating communities about mental health resources is so important due to the fact that mental health is linked to overall physical health and longevity. Research shows that those suffering from mental health challenges live shorter lives than those who don’t.

“We know that it’s often those outside factors — the stress, fear and anxiety — that really contribute to our lack of well-being, so it’s really important that we offer an integrated system that includes that mental health portion of care,” Schalla said.

Shopping for health insurance

Since the first Affordable Care Act open enrollment in 2013, Mountain Family Health Centers has been partnering with Connect for Health Colorado to help get people signed up for health insurance. For the last three years, Mountain Family Health Centers has been an official assistance site, meaning their Health Coverage Guides can help people fill out financial assistance applications and review plan eligibility. The only thing they can’t do is advise people about specific health plans.

“Navigating the insurance system is hard and people often have trouble signing up or getting started,,” said Silvia Santana, outreach and enrollment manager for Mountain Family Health Centers. “We want to spread the word that we’re here to help people enroll in insurance through Connect for Health Colorado. Mental Health is considered one of the 10 Essential Health Benefits included in qualified plans under the ACA.”

For longevity in both the mind and body, stimulation is essential

Editor’s Note: This sponsored content is brought to you by Renew Senior Communities – Glenwood Springs

A senior community’s enrichment and activity program must be designed to redirect focus away from a resident’s limitations and toward productive, educational and social activities that will enhance the quality of life.
Courtesy of Renew Senior

Ample research demonstrates the mind’s capacity to influence a person’s health, both positively and negatively. If left unchecked, depression and despair can inhibit recovery from illness and lead to hopelessness and premature death.

Researcher Ken Wells, in the landmark Rand study at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that 50 percent of all depressed people are over 65. Wells studied depressed versus nondepressed people and found that depressed elderly patients used four times the amount of health care dollars than nondepressed seniors, and had a 58 percent greater mortality rate within the first year of admittance to a skilled nursing facility than their nondepressed counterparts.

For example, depressed people tend to lack motivation to get up and move about. This inactivity makes them susceptible to urinary tract infections and pneumonia, which if left untreated can lead to kidney failure and death.

Stimulating the mind and body

For a community’s enrichment and activity program to be effective, it must be sensitive to the emotional forces that motivate people in this age group. The program must be designed to redirect their focus away from their limitations and toward productive, educational and social activities with a positive emphasis that will enhance the quality of life.

Today’s senior apartments are full of activity. Residents are attending college courses, cooking classes, traveling, and remaining active in service organizations in the community. Variety and respect for individual preference are key elements in a successful recreational activities program. Leisure interests are lifelong habits that each person develops. These interests continue into later life, even after one has entered a senior living community.

Courtesy of Renew Senior

A sense of purpose

Many innovative programs utilizing different services and modalities have been developed. Where communities provide supportive living and socialization, along with medical care, resident functioning is enhanced and deteriorations of old age are significantly delayed.

More and more research shows that if seniors want to feel younger and stay healthier, they need to get involved with life. The very act of volunteering and interacting with others brings a sense of purpose and contribution to one’s self and community in a way that can actually build longevity while strengthening the body, mind and spirit.

Improving brain function

According to recent studies, there is a strong and direct link between physical activity and how the brain works. Different types, amounts and intensities of physical activities improve brain function. Michelle Carlson of Johns Hopkins University is working with a novel new program called Experience Corps. This program embeds physical and mental activity into weekly volunteering for older adults to mentor children in local elementary schools.

“We need to address socioeconomic barriers to motivate older adults to regularly engage in healthful behaviors,” Carlson says. “And many people don’t appreciate the power of physical activity for our brains.”

Multiple studies from this and other similar programs have found that regular physical and mental activity has resulted in improved memory and other cognitive functions.

Theme-based activities

Intergenerational programs are part of the routine at Renew Roaring Fork. “We have a weekly music expressions group which brings seniors at the community together with toddlers to share a regular musical journey and explore the feel, sound and vibrations from various musical instruments,” according to Jennetta Howell, Renew enrichment director who leads the group.

As a musician and former singer/performer, she has both experienced and personally witnessed how the children and residents interact through the common string of music.

“The residents, children and moms all look forward to these weekly sessions which leave everyone invigorated and engaged,” she said.

She has found that targeting low-intensity activity that is theme-based, in this case music, is an important and scalable intervention that leaves everyone challenged and satisfied.

Renew Senior Communities are full of activity. Residents are attending college courses, playing golf, traveling, and remaining active in service organizations in the community.
Courtesy of Renew Senior

Meaningful impacts

Many older adults have a desire to participate in meaningful, productive activities that have been proven to be highly beneficial. In one recent study published in Aging magazine, epidemiological data suggests that for older adults, volunteering and intergenerational activities have been associated with lower mortality, improved well-being, life satisfaction and may decrease functional decline.

We all age differently mentally physically and emotionally. Whether you are you are simply experiencing “senior moments” or have been diagnosed with dementia, research shows that the condition is never bigger than the person and that there is something everyone can do to make an impact.

Whether it is helping children with reading skills or making art to donate to an underprivileged children’s program, seniors are not done yet and they still have something to contribute — and seniors are strengthened from that contribution, according to research in major universities like Johns Hopkins.

“We use activities and programming to promote a sense of well-being and purpose,” explained Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Management. “This provides a sense of accomplishment and contribution that is ‘instrumental’ to combatting the unhealthy effects of boredom and depression.“

Active aging

Research shows that creativity and imagination are untapped reserves in all elderly people and even in those with dementia. Given that, it’s possible that true retirement can actually become obsolete for active adults.

“We believe there are no age limits and that age is just another limit to shatter,” according to Mr. Tuchfarber. “Participating in a volunteer program drives health benefits through increased physical activity, a sense of contribution, and social connectedness. … Keeping busy by volunteering is a form of active aging and if you don’t use it you lose it, but if you do use it, you become stronger,” he concluded.

Youth mental health: Recognizing the signs and seeking help

Editor’s Note: This sponsored contest is brought to you by Mind Springs Health.

While emotional distress is a natural part of life as kids grow up, sometimes this distress can lead to more serious mental health concerns. As parents, it’s important to check in with your children often and ask them questions about how they’re doing.

Bullying, social media use, trauma, peer pressure, substance use, family violence, poverty — these are all factors that can influence the mental health of children and adolescents.

While emotional distress is a natural part of life as kids develop and mature, sometimes this distress can lead to more serious concerns.

Mental health isn’t just the absence of disease or a diagnosable disorder

— it includes emotional well-being, psychological well-being, social well-being and factors relating to quality of life, according to Youth.gov, a U.S. government website that promotes positive, healthy outcomes for American youth.

While research shows that youth or teen suicide often happens after a stressful life event, there are many other factors to consider when thinking about youth suicide risk.

Mind Springs’ Resiliency Program

Mind Springs Health has developed an entire curriculum called the Resiliency Program to promote positive mental well-being within local middle schools. The 30-week program includes activities and education on a variety of topics — such as optimism, building healthy relationships, positive emotions and more — that teach behavioral skills and help youth build resiliency.

“One of the things we know about building resiliency is practicing gratitude,” said Dr. Amy Gallagher, a licensed psychologist and vice president at Whole Health, a subsidiary of Mind Springs Health.

“The program is designed to help schools and other groups change culture, so everyone is speaking the same language to enhance mental well-being and to build strong and healthy relationships.”

The curriculum is designed for the classroom, after-school or recreation programs, but Gallagher said Mind Springs hopes to expand the program to provide educational opportunities for parents and communities, as well. She said the Roaring Fork School District intends to implement it during this school year.

What are kids struggling with?

The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, conducted every two years in schools across the state, provides a lot of answers about what kids are struggling with these days. Gallagher said the survey shows youth are reporting varying levels of depression and anxiety, experimenting with substances, and some are coping with thoughts about suicide.

Depression is the number one risk factor for suicide by teens, the

third leading cause of death in people between the ages of 10 and 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In ages 15 to 24, suicide is the second-leading cause of death, surpassed only by accidents.

One of the most effective ways to understand whether your child is experiencing mental health issues is to check in and ask them questions such as, “How are you feeling today? What’s going well? What’s not going well?”

“Make sure, as parents, you’re keeping communication lines open and really checking in with your children,” Gallagher said.

Addressing trauma

Every child or teenager is going to react differently to traumatic situations, which can include anything from abuse to neglect to grief or other stressors. Some children might have a significant response while others might not appear to be affected at all, said said Michelle Doll, licensed professional counselor (LPC) and program coordinator for Mind Springs Health outpatient services.

“When something traumatic occurs, we don’t want to minimize it,” Doll said. “It’s very important we don’t just assume that a kid is tough and therefore will be OK. Take the time to make sure they are in fact managing the trauma and we’re not seeing any signs of post-traumatic stress.”

Children will exhibit different symptoms of post-traumatic stress depending on their development level and age, but some signs might include social withdrawal, sleep problems, increased aggression, impulsivity, poor problem-solving, sadness and emotional regulation challenges.

Because a lot of these symptoms can be common among developing children and teens, it’s important to look at what else might be going on.

“When a child begins manifesting certain behaviors or symptoms, we look into whether there’s any history of trauma or trauma-related circumstances,” Doll said.

A thorough assessment with the youth and his or her parents or primary caregivers could determine the proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Treatment for a kid suffering from post-traumatic stress is going to look a bit different than treating a kid with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for example.

“Is it post-traumatic stress, struggles with adjustment as a child transitions into different stages of development or changing life circumstances, or are we looking at another mental health concern such as an anxiety disorder emerging,” Doll said, “or is it an age-appropriate response and maybe the youth could benefit from support in a different capacity, for instance support with social skills?”

Removing digital stressors

Screentime is an everyday activity that might seem like no big deal, but it could be having serious effects on children and teens’ emotional well-being. Teens that spend 5 or more hours online per day are at significantly higher risk for suicide and depression than those spending less than 1 hour, according to research.

From video games to YouTube videos to social media, the effects of the Internet are far-reaching. One example is bullying, which isn’t a new problem facing youth, but it has been exacerbated due to social media. Kids can no longer leave school for the day and get a break from the teasing or harsh comments— bullying can now continue on in the digital space outside of school hours.

“Having an electronic diet can be helpful — what can families do to have electronics-free time,”  Gallagher said. “Parents need to model this for their children.”

In Silt, a unique retail gift shop with impressive variety and a big heart

Small-town shopping has something that big box stores or online retailers will never have: Charm, character, human interaction and genuine customer service. 

In Silt, small-town shopping also has another one-up on less personal shopping experiences: Carol Back, owner of the Whimsical Wagon. 

Online reviews link Carol and her unique store — which won first place for  “Best Gift Shop” in the Post Independent’s 2019 Locals’ Choice awards — together like a two-for-one special.

Every single item in the store is meant to evoke a certain playful spirit within each shopper, which reflects Carol’s personality and joy for what she does.
Courtesy photos

“Wonderful gift shop, lots of variety. Great place to get a last minute gift. Carol is a delight,” wrote one reviewer. 

“Great local shop whether you stop in for a cup of coffee, or need that perfect gift! Carol the owner is so friendly and has great jewelry, home decor, candles, and Jelly Bellies,” wrote another.

Back has lived in Silt since 1992. While she said it wasn’t the easiest place to open up a retail store due to the lack of foot traffic, it was the only place she wanted to have her store. Silt needed a little gift shop, she said, and The Whimsical Wagon is located in a great spot on Main Street.

“We’re long-time Silt residents and my existing customers thank me for being here — they’re happy the store is in Silt,” she said. “I have a lot of customers who come in and want to support local businesses, and they want to touch and feel the products they buy. Many of my customers have become long term friends I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people.”

The Whimsical Wagon is located in a great spot on Main Street.
Courtesy photos

An evolving store

Carol opened The Whimsical Wagon in 2004 after spending 11 years as a banker. She had always made fun and creative gift baskets as a hobby, and her colleagues had been telling her for years that she had a special talent and should open up a business. 

Her husband had been operating a motorcycle shop out of their building in Silt, so they built an addition to it and she began The Whimsical Wagon in about 800 square feet of space. It started out mostly as a gift basket and collectibles retail shop, but over the years it has grown — both physically and literally — into so much more. 

“This is probably the hardest job I have ever done, but I like it, it agrees with me,” Carol said. “I click with it. I like to decorate and I do all of the displays, and I use a lot of unique things like antiques throughout the store. There’s life in antiques, so you get that warm feeling from them.”

The Great Recession hit and that caused the Backs to close the motorcycle shop, which allowed for The Whimsical Wagon’s expansion. As customers changed their habits — people weren’t as into collectibles anymore — Carol responded and started diversifying her inventory. 

“I do everything from my heart, including offering free gift-wrapping,” she said. “We’re one of those stores that has evolved. I have a kids’ corner, but we also have a lot of snarky humor items, too. It’s a store that caters to a wide range of people from all generations. In the past two years, the collectibles part of the business has picked up and Carol has added some new items to the many wonderful items already in stock.

She recently discontinued the espresso bar due to having two other coffee shops in Silt. She said it was a necessary change that has made room for more gift items.

A whimsical theme

Peruse The Whimsical Wagon and you’ll find unique gifts, lotions, soaps, greeting cards, wind chimes, puzzles, mugs, stuffed animals, jewelry, home decor and so much more. She added Charlie Bears in 2017— an English company that makes handmade collectible bears and characters — which keep with her whimsical theme and add something fun to the shopping experience, she said.

That’s what every single item in the store is meant to do — evoke a certain playful spirit within each shopper. It’s a part of Carol’s personality, and she loves to share this playfulness with her customers. 

Even the business’s hours are fun and unique: She opens from 9:57 a.m. to 5:49 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 9:01 a.m. to 3:49 p.m. on Saturdays. 

“It’s kind of a giggle,” she said. 

Carol loves to see new customers’ amazement when they walk into the store. She keeps things interesting and authentic, and it shows when people see the store for the first time.

“First time there and I could get lost in all the fun whimsical items and local artisan items,” wrote one reviewer on Google, “definitely will be going back again and again.”