Possessing a musical ear and an acceptance letter from Colorado Mesa University, Kaitlen Bird is ready to strike out on her own. But, whether her father’s financial resources are ready to bear the cost of her education — roughly $16,200 a year for a full course load, housing and a meal plan — is unclear. “Right now, that hasn’t all been decided,” Joe Bird said when asked if he and Kaitlen are considering college loans. He hopes a mutual fund he set up for Kaitlen when she was born —just as he did for her sisters, Rebekah, 15, and Christa, 13 — will be enough to pay for her bachelor’s degree in music.
At the ripe age of 9, Laadan Griffin was making his first foray into business ownership Monday. He was the “L” in The B.Y.L Pet Shop, one of a handful of stores set up in Julie Sperl’s third-grade class Monday at Sandrock Elementary School. He and other third-graders took part in a simulation called Kid Town, designed to teach children about democracy and economics. The B.Y.L Pet Shop sold fish, birds, dogs, cats “and sometimes platypuses, if we run out of stuff,” Laadan said. Business was booming Monday.
John Haddan didn’t see it coming. When the Moffat County High School agriculture education instructor first learned Thursday morning that he’d been named the 2012 Teacher of the Year by the Craig Daily Press, his face registered astonishment bordering on disbelief. He was “extremely surprised,” he said. That was the point. Every year, the newspaper's editorial board selects one teacher for the award from a list of names submitted by the community.
Carson and Barnes Circus’ arrival Tuesday evokes childhood memories
The air inside the tent was sultry Tuesday afternoon with the mingled aromas of cotton candy and popcorn. The crowd watched, entranced, as two acrobats nimbly walked the tightrope while a third performer slowly lifted herself into a handstand on a bar between them. The Carson and Barnes Circus was in full swing at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. Among the 100 or so people who came to the big top was Jeff Schlim of Craig, with wife Stacy and their daughters, Ema, 7, and Taryn, 4, in tow.
Students can test river water in a class exercise, but they can’t produce the same reliable results as experts, right? Wrong, said Barb Horn, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife water resource specialist. More than 20 years ago, she helped kick start River Watch, a program that recruits school children and teachers to gather and analyze data from state rivers. Since then, one school has stood out for producing consistently accurate results.
The story of how Julia Foster got where she is today sounds commonplace at first. The usual career twists are there. Foster, now an instructional aide for Moffat County High School and Craig Middle School, studied to be an English teacher before she came to Craig with her husband, Steve, nearly 40 years ago. In 1999, she found herself in the aide’s position where her job included playing accompaniment for the schools’ choir, band and theater departments. As she reflects on her upcoming retirement, the memories are there, too. “I will miss the kids,” said Foster, 61. “I will miss them very much.”
Opening day creates interest from Craig and beyond
Monday was opening day for a new Norman Rockwell exhibit featuring all 323 covers the American artist illustrated for the Saturday Evening Post magazine throughout almost five decades.
Encased in light plastic to protect it during its long journey from Stockbridge, Mass., was Norman Rockwell’s “Spirit of Education,” an original painting on loan from the Norman Rockwell Museum, and the crown jewel of the museum’s most expensive exhibit to date.
When Dana Duran was a girl, she believed she could grow up to be one of four things: a doctor, lawyer, teacher or a blue-collar worker. As she learned later, though, her career opportunities were more varied than she was ever led to believe. “There’s millions of options, and I didn’t figure that out until I went to college,” said Duran, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Colorado executive director. She hoped the Girls to Women career conference Thursday helped local eighth-grade girls discover a wealth of career options at an earlier age.
As Barbara Jean Sonntag sees it, her husband Frank has nothing if not a good sense of humor. It doesn’t take long to see what she means. At their Craig home Monday morning, she lists off the names and ages of their five children — Jeff, 51; Lisa, 50; Richard, 49; Danny, 47; and Cathy, 43—when Frank chimes in. Having children, he said, is “like eating peanuts. Once you start, you can’t quit.”
A public hearing slated for Tuesday night on a proposed Craig nightclub has been postponed until May 22. More than 25 residents attended Tuesday’s Craig City Council meeting, including Archie and Dorcas Albaugh, who oppose Steamboat Springs resident Victor Tarango’s aspirations of opening Tarango’s Nightclub at 535 Green St. The Albaughs plan to be out of town May 22 and wanted to make sure their concerns about the nightclub were included in the council record. “I was quoted in the newspaper, rightfully so, that I would be hearing noise from the place,” Archie told council members. “What the paper didn’t quote is Moffat County has been statistically shown to be one of the most unhealthiest places to live on account of the smoking and drinking.
Incumbents, one newcomer running for 2 open seats
Two incumbents sealed another term on the Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board during an election Tuesday. Byron Willems, the board’s president, received 73 votes in the fire board election, and board member Alan Webber garnered 77 votes. Talia Johnson, who moved to Craig with her family in August, also put in a bid for one of the two four-year seats open on the board. She received 19 votes.
Moffat County High School students were putting the finishing touches Monday on a concert to wrap up the school year. “I’ve Got the Music in Me” is slated for 7 p.m. tonight in the MCHS auditorium, 900 Finley Lane. Admission is free and concessions will be sold at the performance. The concert’s title isn’t simply a figure of speech for MCHS choir student Shilo Simpson, 18. “I was dancing to it in my car this morning,” she said, laughing.
If a proposed nightclub gets the nod from the Craig City Council this month, Archie Albaugh is worried it won’t bode well for his neighborhood. “I’m convinced I will be hearing Tarango’s if Tarango’s goes in,” he said, referring to a new business that has yet to open near his home in the 600 block of Pershing Street. Albaugh put his concerns on paper, signing a petition slated to go before the council today.
With their inaugural project nearly completed, members of a newly formed education group are looking down the road. Friends of Moffat County Education is wrapping up its 13-3 Book Project, which was designed to gather enough used books and cash donations to give 13,000 books to children in preschool through fifth grade. The nonprofit organization exceeded its target by about 200 books, said Chris Jones, Friends of Moffat County Education Board president. Moffat County residents can expect to see the Book Project next year. FMCE plans to offer it annually through a literacy initiative, one of the group’s six funding targets. The next step is to find the financial resources.
Kadi Scott stepped out of the whirlwind of noise and laughter Wednesday afternoon, seeking a calm corner in the Boys & Girls Club of Craig. Calm being a relative term. As the junior staff member spoke about her past and future, both now intricately connected to the club, a boy peeked into the room to show her a small vehicle he created from a toy construction set, his face alight with pride. It’s not unusual for children to be drawn to Scott. “She’s kind of like a magnet here,” said Kim Maneotis, Boys & Girls Club of Craig unit director.
A long room where patients were once wheeled in for day surgery was nearly empty Friday morning. A small stack of Bibles sat on the windowsill, remnants from when the building, now The Memorial Hospital Medical Clinic, served as the hospital before a new facility was built at 750 Hospital Loop. But the empty room is taking on new life. This summer, it will become the main waiting and check-in area for a new pediatric unit.
Sylvia Duncan never met Miriam Coulter Pence. Pence, Duncan’s great-grandmother, belonged era long past and her life was preserved only in relics and family lore. Yet Duncan, a Steamboat Springs resident and now-retired Moffat County High School English teacher, felt drawn to the spirited woman nonetheless. Duncan remembers her fascination growing when she saw a hairpiece Pence wore on her wedding day. She recalled the experience in the forward to “Hoosier Woman,” a book she self-published in March that evokes Pence’s life.
Call them gumshoes, private eyes or super sleuths. Whatever name you give sharp-witted fictional detectives, Hayden Short relishes reading about their exploits. “I love mystery books,” he said. “They’re just eye-catching.” Mysteries won’t simply be on the East Elementary School fourth-grader’s reading list this summer.
Until recently, Colorado Northwestern Community College scholarships were barely out of Audria Herrera’s reach. “I have been applying to pretty much all scholarships that have been available, and including ones that I’ve been able to come across over the Internet,” said Herrera, who is earning her associate's degree in nursing at CNCC’s Craig campus. But when it came to landing scholarships offered through the college, she always came in as the runner-up, she said. This semester, however, the tables turned for the 34-year-old Yampa resident.
Every other Saturday, local musician Bob LaFord performs for devoted fans. He begins each show with a rendition of Roger Miller’s “Walking in the Sunshine.” He always ends with “Show Me the Way to Go Home,” a popular tune from the 1920s, which he sings as he strums his guitar. In between, he plays a motley assortment of pieces —“Home on the Range” and “Give My Regards to Broadway,” sometimes with a few tunes by Buddy Holly or Elvis Presley thrown in.
Although patients at The Memorial Hospital in Craig may not know Anna Rippy personally, they’re likely to recognize the organization she’s volunteered with for about a decade. Members of The Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Volunteers, informally known as “Pink Ladies,” are familiar faces at the hospital. They greet patients and their families at the concierge desk, staff the gift shop and offer refreshments from a traveling cart that makes rounds twice a day at the hospital. Behind it all stands Rippy, a Craig native and Auxiliary Volunteers president. Rippy, who is a retired office manager for a Grand Junction insurance agency, has offered her time at the hospital for about 10 years, and she’s served as the group’s president for nearly six of them, she said.
After serving eight years on the Moffat County School Board, Jo Ann Baxter intended to step out of the spotlight. The former school board president, who was term-limited, started writing her memoirs and contemplated drafting a collection of poetry for her grandchildren after she stepped off the board last year, she said. But life had other plans. Instead of devoting her time to writing, Baxter is exploring new realms of the Internet as she gears up her campaign for a new career in public life. “I tweeted for the first time this week,” she said, laughing. Instead of reflecting on past milestones, she’s looking toward a new chapter that could entail a position in the state legislature. Baxter announced her candidacy for the House District 57 seat April 19, following urgings from friends and colleagues who encouraged her to run for the office.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers euthanized an adult male black bear Sunday in Craig after attempts to tranquilize the animal failed, an agency spokesman said. “Our officers did not put this bear down for any other reason other than the fact that it was a tagged nuisance bear and it did not look like it was in any hurry to leave the city,” said Mike Porras, public information officer for Parks and Wildlife’s northwest region. The bear was reported Sunday morning to the Moffat County Public Safety Center, where the call was forwarded to Parks and Wildlife. The caller reported the animal was in the yard of a home near the intersection of Third Street and Mack Lane, Porras said.
The case involving a 21-year-old Louisiana man suspected of robbing a bank in Meeker is scheduled to continue next month in Rio Blanco District Court. Jock Waylon Thacker faces one count each of robbery and theft of $1,000 to $20,000. Both are Class 4 felonies. Thacker was arraigned Friday morning in Rio Blanco District Court, where a status conference was set for 10 a.m. May 11. He has yet to enter a plea to the charges.
The Memorial Hospital Medical Clinic is on track to receive a new X-ray machine. “The process has already started,” said Jennifer Riley, chief of organizational excellence. TMH officials updated the hospital board on new equipment at its regular meeting Thursday. The hospital approved the purchase, along with other items on a capital budget, in November 2011.
Four Moffat County High School Speech and Debate team members are preparing to test their skills against other top high school debaters in the nation. Seniors Cullen Dilldine and Ryan Zehner, along with juniors Matt Balderston and Ben East, secured their spots in April for a national championship scheduled for June in Indianapolis. In doing so, they beat out debate teams from larger schools in the state, including those in Boulder, Fort Collins and Greeley. The victory was especially sweet for Zehner, who is the first student in MCHS history to qualify for nationals in three events, he said.
Rising insurance costs will soon hit home in the Moffat County School District. The Moffat County School Board entertained a recommendation at its workshop Thursday that would spread the impact of increased insurance rates to employees throughout the district. Dipping into the general fund to offset insurance costs was off the table, Finance Director Mark Rydberg told the board and about 40 teachers and school district staff in attendance. “We did not want to have general fund added expense due to the budget constraints,” he said.
Adam Foster, a Moffat County High School senior, is the front man. “The way that I perceive it is he goes in for the introduction,” said Thomas McCoy, a fellow MCHS senior and Foster’s partner in Distributive Education Clubs of America and Future Business Leaders of America. McCoy is more comfortable behind the scenes. He comes in with a softer tact and fills in the gaps, he said. Together, they make a winning combination at DECA and FBLA competitions.
Although patients at The Memorial Hospital in Craig may not know Anna Rippy personally, they’re likely to recognize the organization she’s volunteered with for about a decade. Members of The Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Volunteers, informally known as “Pink Ladies,” are familiar faces at the hospital. They greet patients and their families at the concierge desk, staff the gift shop and offer refreshments from a traveling cart that makes rounds twice a day at the hospital. Behind it all stands Rippy, a Craig native and Auxiliary Volunteers president.
A monthly Craig Chamber of Commerce event will feature an artistic twist this week. Colorado Northwestern Community College, 2801 W. Ninth St., will host a Chamber Ambassadors Business After-Hours Mixer from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. The event, which is free and open to the public, will showcase the college’s new art collection, which represents work from artists in and around the region. Mixers are designed to offer a “networking opportunity for the business owners,” or in this case, “the college and the artists, as well as the people that come,” said Shannon Russell, Chamber ambassador liaison and membership director.
Heather Fross, a Moffat County High School science teacher, refers often to a source some consider an unusual one for biology class. It’s called “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” a piece of investigative journalism authored by Rebecca Skloot. It retraces the history of the book’s title character, an African-American tobacco farmer whose cells were taken without her knowledge and became a powerful tool in modern science. The book touches on cell biology, genetics and science ethics — all topics Fross covers in her classes — but it also addresses more universal issues. “Besides the science involved, this book is about race, class, ethics, humanity and family,” Fross wrote in an email. “These are subjects that we can all relate to.” On Monday, Fross will have 20 copies of the book to give away to students, compliments of World Book Night. The national initiative’s goal is to put books in the hands of young adults who may not otherwise read on their own.
Moffat County School District officials have suspended their search for a permanent Craig Middle School principal and promoted another administrator to temporarily fill the position. Julie Baker, principal of Ridgeview and Maybell elementary schools, will serve as interim CMS principal for the 2012-13 school year, Superintendent Joe Petrone said Friday. Her experience and track record with the school district made her an ideal choice to fill the gap left by outgoing principal Bill Toovey, Petrone said. Baker has “proven ability as a leader,” the superintendent said.
Students at Craig Middle School and Sandrock Elementary School will, at some point, have a safer way to walk to and from school. But exactly when the City of Craig can start a grant funded-sidewalk project is still “up in the air,” City Manager Jim Ferree said. The city plans to install sidewalks along portions of Yampa Avenue and Russell, Tucker and Rose streets between Eighth and Ninth streets, just south of CMS and Sandrock Elementary. Proposed walkways also are planned on portions of Ninth Street, Breeze Street and 10th Street, the last of which lies northeast of Sandrock Elementary.
Tara Shaffer was on her guard the night long ago that unalterably changed her life. The college freshman heard warnings that a sexual predator was prowling campus. She and a friend vowed to stick together that night as they went to a party. Shaffer believed she would be safe. But her attacker — the man who pushed her into her apartment and sexually assaulted her —wasn’t hiding in the shadows, she said during a presentation Wednesday night at the Moffat County High School auditorium.
A suspect has been arrested in connection with today’s bank robbery in Meeker, Meeker Police Chief Bob Hervey said. Jock Thacker, of Louisiana, is in custody at Rio Blanco County Jail on suspicion of bank robbery. He is being held on $10,000 bond. At 9:30 a.m. today, an employee of Mountain Valley Bank, 400 Main St., called 911 and reported the robbery. A suspect was arrested Thursday in connection with a bank robbery in Meeker, Meeker Police Chief Bob Hervey said. Jock Thacker, of Louisiana, is in custody at Rio Blanco County Jail on suspicion of bank robbery. He is being held on $10,000 bond. An employee of Mountain Valley Bank, 400 Main St., called 911 at 9:30 a.m. and reported the robbery. Four Meeker Police officers, three Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office deputies and one state patrol trooper responded to the scene within a minute and put out a description of the suspect, who had fled.
This summer, Moffat County School District will lose a longtime administrator who Superintendent Joe Petrone described as “pivotal” to the organization. Finance Director Mark Rydberg is leaving the school district to take the director of business services position at Summit School District, which enrolls about 2,800 students. The job offered “a different look at a different school district,” he said. “It’s a good professional opportunity for me and a good personal opportunity for me.” Rydberg, who is not under contract, gave notice of his resignation in late March, he said.
Romulus and Remus are twins who are dead-set on bringing civilization to a barely-settled hinterland. Only, in David Morris’ farcical retelling of local history, the twins aren’t vying over the future site of Rome. Instead, their story takes place in what will later be known as Craig. “I’m having this … pretentious, lofty idea and I’m bringing it a little bit more down to earth, you might say,” Morris said about his newest play, “Taming the Wilderness, or the Founding of a Town.” The Craig Middle School English and theater teacher went to Dan Davidson, Museum of Northwest Colorado director, to get familiar with the historical figures involved in Craig’s founding, he said.
Fishing enthusiasts will soon have an easier way to cast their lines into Loudy-Simpson Park’s east pond. This winter, county crews added a shallow pool to the pond on the east side of South Ranney Street. Improvements also include a parking lot and, if Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers’ plans come to fruition, a few picnic tables, he said. The pond, which is part of Loudy-Simpson Park, is a known but under-used fishing destination, said Lennie Gillam, Moffat County maintenance and facilities director. “I don’t think it gets fished as much over there because there isn’t as much access to it,” he said.
Dan McIntyre wasn’t the kind of man to seek prestige and notoriety. The Craig resident didn’t hold elected office, and he wasn’t a fixture in places of power. Although he served a term on the Craig Daily Press editorial board, he didn’t gauge his life against the fickle standards of public opinion. Instead, the retired U.S. Forest Service engineer and Vietnam veteran made a mark in a more personal arena.
Sexual predators are strangers who lurk in dark alleys. Young children are the primary victims of sexual crimes. Sexual assault doesn’t happen in Moffat County. The above notions are false, said Karen Zimmerman, who coordinates Moffat County’s Sex Assault Response Team.
Kelly Martin-Puleo was teaching a class at Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Craig campus Monday when the envelope came. The piece of paper inside would reveal whether two years of work had paid off for the college’s nursing program, which was seeking a nod of approval from a national accrediting commission. Martin-Puleo, the program’s director, opened the envelope and found the answer she was looking for: the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission had granted the program initial accreditation. Receiving the distinction was a welcome conclusion to a two-year candidacy process that included a site visit in fall 2011.
Norm Yoast is a science teacher to the core. Abbreviations from the periodic table of elements take the place of numbers on the clock in his eighth-grade classroom at Craig Middle School, and a picture of a wild-haired Doc Brown from “Back to the Future” hangs near the door. It’s only a few steps away from his door to the eighth-grade math teacher’s classroom. That teacher happens to be his wife, Deb Yoast.
In Corrie Ponikvar’s eyes, the nearly $480,000 raised during the 2012 Moffat County United Way campaign is more than a figure on a tally sheet. “This generosity shows the value our community places on making sure everyone has the opportunity for a better life,” the organization’s director told a group of about 45 people at an awards luncheon Wednesday at the Holiday Inn of Craig. The event recognized local companies and their employees who contributed to the campaign. The funds they raised support a range of local agencies, including Advocates-Crisis Support Services and the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.
Amelia Seiler was inspired by what she saw on a recent trip to Madison, Wisc. “It was so clean there,” the 32-year-old Seiler said. “I was completely impressed with people’s care and consciousness for the environment.” The Craig native decided to try to bring what she saw in northern climes to her hometown.
Getting diagnostic scans at The Memorial Hospital in Craig will carve less time out of patients’ schedules, thanks to a new machine the hospital board recently approved. The board gave a unanimous green light at its regular meeting for a dual-head nuclear medicine camera. The new machine will replace existing nuclear medicine equipment, which has only one camera. The new machine will reduce scanning times by about half, said Eric Zalusky, TMH diagnostic imaging manager.
John and Tracey Wall’s life together could be a blueprint for the American dream. They own a house on Yampa Avenue, complete with a back yard, a dog and a couple of cozy-looking hammocks on the front porch. John, 36, works as an accountant at Colowyo Coal Co. Tracey, 32, was until recently a physican’s assistant at Moffat Family Clinic. They have a 17-month-old daughter, Adalynn, with another due in April.
How does water get from the river to the tap? Finding the answer to that and other water-related questions has transported a group of Sunset Elementary School first-graders across the world — virtually, at least. With help from the Internet, Cheryl Arnett’s students are learning about water sources, water rights and conservation with students from around the globe.
In most cases, the job search goes like this: Step one: fill out an application. Step two: Wait, sometimes for months, to hear back from the employer. The 2012 Moffat County Job Fair scheduled for 2 to 7 p.m. today in Craig, however, offers “instant gratification” to job seekers and employers alike, said Jonny Murray, an employee with the Colorado Workforce Center’s Craig office.
A proposal to build a firefighter training facility south of The Memorial Hospital in Craig got a unanimous green light from the hospital board Thursday. However, the board’s support of the facility, which includes a live fire simulator, came with a condition. “I support the project,” Chief Executive Officer George Rohrich told Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board members at the meeting. But, the CEO expressed concern that smoke generated by the fire simulator could interfere with the air filtration systems that feed into the hospital’s operating rooms.