Wilderness, education top list of county issues | CraigDailyPress.com

Wilderness, education top list of county issues

Sen. Wayne Allard spends hour with Moffat residents

Ryan Sheridan

In keeping with his pledge to hold at least one annual meeting in each of Colorado’s 64 counties, Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., held a town meeting Tuesday at the Shadow Mountain Community Center.

More than 50 people attending.

The meeting began with a short presentation by Sen. Allard concerning education, educational standards, and testing.

He said declining scores of students indicated a need for national testing and a concentration on core classes. These are necessary, he said, to improving student’s scores, and to give them the ability to function in the complex world economy.

Moffat County residents, though, were more concerned about wilderness area designation. Expansions that the Clinton Administration left behind were issues residents wanted Allard to address.

“We feel that wilderness designations should be authorized by Congress, not by an Administration’s declaration,” Allard said. “The new Administration is carefully examining these designations. Now, some of those decisions you’ll probably be very happy with, while other decisions you won’t.

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“My personal feeling is, when you are looking at making a wilderness designation, look first to the local communities,” he said. “If the local community doesn’t agree, I don’t support a federal designation being made. I support a bottom-up process, not the other way around.”

Duane Wrightson, superintendent of schools, asked Allard for his support on a Special Education bill.

Allard said he supported the program, but said that total funding in the near future was most likely not going to be available.

“President Bush has put an 11 percent increase for education in his budget, which is a dramatic increase over the former administration,” he said. “Still, not all the funding would be available right away, but some funding should be there, and over time the funding could increase until the total budget for the project is met.”

Independent Life Center Director Evelyn Tileston said Colorado is one of 10 states that did not receive federal funding for assisted living programs and asked why.

Allard said that taking federal money brings federal oversight, but he will see where the state is on utilizing federal funds.

The cost of prescription drugs was also on Tileston’s list of issues. She said some type of action needed to be taken to control prices.

“Most of these people live on a fixed income and now they can’t afford their medications,” she said.

Other topics discussed were:

The Endangered Species Act

Allard supports Bush’s initiative for suspending lawsuits by individuals, and proposes the use of “good science” that he said isn’t being used now. The Senator is doubtful these changes will happen because of the Senate’s present make-up.

China

“The Bush Administration handled it right,” Allard said. “If I were President, I would give the spy planes two fighter escorts, and permission to fire if they were threatened.”

Bureau of Land Management

Allard offered the assistance of his area director, Shane Henry, to a resident who was frustrated by her attempts to adjust her BLM lease parameters while the lease is still active.

“I can’t guarantee success,” Allard said, “but maybe our office can help the process.”

The Senator said the Snake River BLM office has been the source of more complaints over the last two years than any other BLM office in Colorado. Allard said he would get in touch with the office to inquire why, and also give the Little Snake River office a chance to respond. John Husband, director of the Little Snake River BLM office, was present at the meeting.

EPA

An agricultural bill under review has some components that deal with certain water control issues, Allard said.

“I’m new to the Senate Agricultural Committee, and I’m excited by the work I’ll be able to do through the committee,” he said.

In reference to specific water control issues, Allard wasn’t ready to make a full statement.

Trade

Sen. Allard favors free and fair trade in which international markets are opened to U.S. producers by the reduction of tariffs, taxes, and subsidies from foreign governments.

“This process is working,” he said. “Colorado’s international exports have risen 16 percent since agreements lowering barriers to international trade have been in effect.

“We should expand markets by increasing exports. We need to reduce taxes, rules, and regulations to promote free-and-fair trade.”

Education

Allard advocates the teaching of core classes such as reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as a reduction of mandates that force teachers to be responsible for other kinds of education or roles.

“We need to take care of achieving our primary goals, and then when we reach those goals, we can add additional jobs for the teachers,” he said.

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