To whom it may concern,
As parents, business people and longtime members of this community, we are collectively writing to express our opinions on an important issue presently before us.
First of all, we would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for the people who work so hard to provide the countless things that we may all be taking for granted, such as:
• Our streets and roads have been plowed and (are) safe
• Our schools and health care systems are being well fortified
• Our grocery stores are fully stocked
• Our homes are fitted with water, sewer, gas and electricity
• Our country is still brave enough to fight for freedom
• And, thankfully, a very large percentage of us are sufficiently employed to be able to crawl into a warm bed each evening with a full stomach.
Yes, there are many things for us all to be appreciative of, including the dedicated members of our volunteer fire department who, consistently and with tremendous enthusiasm, hustle to serve any one of us at a moment's notice.
How frustrating it must have been for them during the Country Mall fire when all they could do was stand back and watch it burn.
For those of us who had businesses in the mall or did business in the mall or are acquainted with the two individuals who presently own the mall, it seems the grieving over this tragic, community loss will continue for quite some time.
In getting to the point of this letter, we, the undersigned wish to express our observations regarding one of the owners of the Country Mall and what his involvement has been in serving the people of our community as well as the development of the local economy. It seems as though some of us may have forgotten his long list of contributions, all initiated by him.
This individual, in association with his partner Lop Behrman, has been directly responsible for the rescue, refitting and reopening of Sandrock Ridge Extended Care Facility, including the certification, licensing and staffing protocol necessary to be legal and properly equipped.
He and his associate saw the impact the loss of the facility would be to the people of the community, and they took their own commitment to make it happen for us, the people of Craig.
Along with the profound and steady success he has created in his furniture business, he has ambitiously been able to step forward with efforts to purchase and co-purchase several buildings around town, refitting them for viable, individually owned businesses. His choosing to provide and install downtown's only elevator has rendered a second-floor office building accessible to our handicapped and senior citizens at the Independent Life Center. Because of his actions, our business community continues to expand, more people are being employed, our community aesthetics are improving and the quality of life has been upgraded for our handicapped and senior citizens.
This individual has been actively involved in economic development circles, bringing in knowledgeable acquaintances and consultants from Pueblo and Las Vegas for discussions about strategic economic growth and how to effectively market and grow our community. All this effort, not for his personal gain, but for the good of the community in healthy, solid, economic growth terms.
This individual continues to be very instrumental in putting people to work with his dedicated assistance in the development and improvement of numerous businesses in Craig and in Meeker.
His contributions in business plan development, representation at financial institutions and rock-solid encouragement have helped countless individuals achieve personal and business goals ranging from resolving transportation issues to housing issues to employment issues, as well as their own business expansion issues.
This individual has demonstrated understanding, patience and generosity for many individuals undergoing difficult times. Even his benevolence to children and children's programs is known by many, including the hundreds of kids receiving free Halloween pumpkins every year.
This individual has even seen to it that snow removal at the VFW and various other locations has been taken care of at his expense. A small contribution nonetheless, but profound in defining an individual's behind-the-scenes character and dedicated spirit of service (Thanks also to Gary Cole).
There is tangible evidence that this is an individual who has done and continues to do profound and constructive things for us, the people of Craig. He is worthy of our community's highest honor as a very effective businessman and philanthropist.
Thus far, the best we have done as a community is mention him on the front page under the "Arson" headline as the only named "person of interest " in the Country Mall fire investigation and seize his records when he is out of town on regular business.
Those of us who know Mr. Cortner and have done business with Mr. Cortner believe it would be ridiculously unlikely for him to deliberately and maliciously harm 50 working people, their families and their 12 businesses by putting them hopelessly out of work.
Please bring honor back to Mr. Cortner, as he is truly worthy of our most sincere gratitude and esteem.