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Moffat County School Board to choose two new at-large board members

CRAIG — The Moffat County School District Board of Education is set to grow from five to seven members when it meets to appoint two new at-large representatives at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, in the board room of the Yampa Building, 755 Yampa Ave.

By the Jan. 18 deadline, the district had received applications from Jnl Linsacum, Cynthia Looper, and Kirstie McPherson. Applicants will be interviewed during the monthly school board workshop, which begins at 4 p.m. in the same location as the board meeting. The board will then vote to appoint two members to serve until the next regular school board elections in November.

Board members also plan to review the proposed 2019-20 calendar, discuss 2018-19 budget amendments they will consider approving at their meeting, hold a public hearing at the workshop and second and final reading, during the meeting, on policies that address safe schools, agenda, financial administration, bidding procedures, communicable diseases, staff health, support staff recruiting/hiring, equivalence of services,  student organizations, student organizations, open forum, and administering medications to students.

In addition to considering a consent agenda to approve previous meeting minutes, financial reports, and personnel recommendations, the board plans to hold an executive session pursuant to section 24-6-402(4)(b) of the Colorado Revised Statue to confer to receive legal advice about specific legal questions on a pending litigation matter.

The board will also discuss, at the workshop, and introduce, during the meeting, for first reading policies regarding the rules of order, security and access to buildings, drug and alcohol testing for bus drivers, secret societies and gang activity, and the use of physical intervention and restraint.

Policies and the agenda in full may be found at moffatsd.org.

College board to discuss sale of Trapper Building, VP search, housing issue

CRAIG  — Updates on the sale of the Trapper Building, the search for a new vice president of student affairs, and the issue of housing at Colorado Northwest Community College will all be on the agenda when the Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District Board meets at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at the CNCC Academic Services Building, Room 255, 2801 W. Ninth St.

Specific to the housing update, board members are expected to hear an update on the state system’s denial of the college’s initial housing proposal, as well as a status update on a proposal to purchase Valley Vista Inn — a hotel that sits to the southwest of The Memorial Regional Hospital — for use as student housing. During a December meeting, Board President Mike Anson said CNCC President Ron Granger was exploring the feasibility of converting the property into student housing.

Also on the college board’s agenda for Tuesday:

• A discussion about community education.

• Approval of meeting minutes and the treasurer’s report from the Dec. 17 meeting.

• President’s report from Granger.

• Vice-president of instruction report from Keith Peterson.

• Vice-president of business and administration report from James Caldwell.

• Foundation liaison report from Terry Carwile.

• City council liaison update.

• Other business, during which time the board will hear input from the public.

Boys & Girls Club of Craig closes Friday afternoon due to power outage

CRAIG — Boys & Girls Club of Craig has had to close early on Friday, Jan. 18 as a result of the power outage that been impacting the region.

Executive Director Dana Duran said the facility has been without power since the beginning of the outage.

Full-time staff worked all morning,  but by 1 p.m. temperatures inside the building had dropped to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the offices.

The corridors were dark, and the decision was made to close for the afternoon.

“I wanted to give parents enough notice to make other arrangements,” Duran said.

She contacted the newspaper, school district, radio station and announced the decision on social media in an attempt to alert as many parents as possible.

Duran said she expects the club, which is closed on the weekends, to reopen at the normal time on Monday. She will continue to provide any new updates on the club’s Facebook page.

For more information on club operations, call 970-826-0411.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

Always learning: Craig instructor Paul Cruz looks back on 3 decades in martial arts

The number 12 bears special significance for Paul Cruz.

It was the 12th day of the 12th month of the calendar at the start of his 12th year of life that he first began down a path that would last for decades to come.

Cruz recently celebrated 30 years in the world of martial arts with a gathering with his students at Northwest Colorado Tae Kwon Do/Hapkido.

The Craig Press recently caught up with the local teacher on his time in the discipline and how he’s honed his instruction across the years.

Craig Press: How did it first start for you getting in the field?

Cruz: I was up at my babysitter’s house, and she was doing (martial arts) moves. She told me she was doing karate and she had a test coming up. I said, “Oh, I’m a black belt! I know karate!” She said, “Oh, well, can you help me with this?” And I said, “Oh, I was just kidding, I don’t know any of that.” But, then I found out there was a karate school in town, and my parents asked we what I wanted for my birthday, and I just happened to start lessons exactly on my 12th birthday, 12-12-88, just two doors down from where I am today. The old studio where I started was where The Embroidery Shoppe is now. Every time I have a birthday, I like to celebrate this more. Getting older is one thing, but 30 years in this has been a big deal for me.

When did you first start getting serious about the discipline?

I remember traveling to Missouri for a convention, and my instructor’s wife asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and she was really into education. I told her I wanted to teach karate, and she said, “I know you can do that.” That was when I was about 14, and I started taking more classes, some in Denver, and I knew that’s what I exactly what I wanted to do. It took me about five years to get my first-degree black belt, and I just got my fifth-degree last June.

I started teaching with my first instructor, he was taking me around to schools and seminars. We opened a school in Vernal (Utah) and one in Rawlins (Wyoming), like seven different schools in three states. I went with him everywhere he went, sat in the front seat and got to learn everything you could teach. I didn’t really learn the business side of it until I had another instructor who taught me how to run and maintain a school.

What kind of changes have you had throughout the years?

Jason Thomas is my master now, he’s a seventh-degree in tae kwon do, a fifth-degree in hapkido and first-degree in karate. I’m also a second-degree in hapkido and red belt in karate. The reason I left my first instructor was I was learning how to kick and punch, but I really wanted to learn the self-defense side of it as well.

The self-defense of most tae kwon do schools isn’t exactly the same as what I do. We use knives and sticks and learn how the weapon itself can turn into moves if you don’t have it. Say I have two sticks and then get my hands moving really fast and take the sticks away. Those moves are still intersecting the attacks coming after you, and I really wanted to learn close quarters stuff. I was always the guy with the long legs keeping people away from me, but if somebody got in really close and took me to the ground, what would I do? I wasn’t learning that kind of stuff, and I wanted to learn all martial arts not just tae kwon do, learn what everyone else is doing. With my students, I take them to open tournaments where you’ve got karate guys, judo guys, kung fu guys, and we put ourselves up against people we don’t train with. We know what we can do, but we go up against other cities and find out these guys train just as hard as we do. A lot of it’s universal, punching is punching, kicking is kicking, but how do those instructors teach them to put it all together?

When you get to master’s, fourth- or fifth-degree, you start to learn it’s not just all these kicks, punches and blocks, now you learn how to make a move out of it. Instead of just block and strike, you can turn one technique into three techniques. Once you get up there, you can teach better because you understand the level that it took to get you to that point. I’ve heard from a lot of people, “Well, this is just a hobby for me.” For me, this is a way of life. I’ve put everything I have into teaching this and learning from as many different people as I can.

How do you believe the culture of martial arts has evolved? Do students take it as seriously as you’d like? 

A lot of people treat a tournament like tag, if you will; you’re just trying to touch the other person and get a point. Here, we’ll put on our gear and we won’t go for knockouts, but we’re also not going to take it easy on each other. We’ll know what it’s like to get hit. If you’re walking down the street and get hit for the first time, it’s going to phase you. In here, we’re not beating them up, but we’re hitting pretty hard. You want to be able to protect yourself or your parents or whoever else you’re protecting. This is a contact sport, not knitting. We want to do realistic stuff, and you never what someone’s going to do on the street. What are the clues if someone tries to hit you, like raising the elbow.

Some of my students have gotten bullied, and they think I’m going to kick them out if that kind of stuff happens. No, I’m teaching you this so that doesn’t happen. You’d better not be the one starting it, but if you’re defending yourself for real, that’s what I’m teaching you, and how to be a good person outside of the school. It begins and ends with courtesy. I have a kid who’s been with me for eight years, and another kid at school just kept choking him and pushing him down. Finally, I started doing private lessons with him and taught him two moves. This is all you’ve got to do to escape. Guess what; that kid didn’t pick on him ever again. He didn’t have to hurt him, but he did a move to put him on the ground and ask, “Do you want anymore?” and the kid’s like, “No, no!” If they’re going to be attacked, I’m going to let them use it. They’re protecting themselves, and there’s no reason it should be any other way.

What does this three-decade milestone mean to you?

It’s been my dream. People say you can dream whatever you want and do anything you want, and this has allowed me to do everything better. Say you want to play a game of pool. I understand what focus means and understand the angles in it. Training like this has helped my mind to accept everything that comes my way. There’s always going to be a barrier, but it’s how you accept that barrier. You can either quit and go on or face it head-on. A lot of people don’t like to learn new things, the fear of not knowing something makes them feel like a child again. It’s a great feeling, almost spiritual. I just learned something new and it makes me feel even better because I’m not afraid of it. I’ve learned how to accept everything in a manner that’s beneficial to everybody around me. If I can’t take care of myself, there’s no way I can take care of these guys.

It means everything to me. I never thought I would be here as a kid. Maybe it was just a dream then, but as I got older, I saw this is what I wanted to do, not just learn martial arts but teach it. A teacher is just a student that hasn’t quit. A white belt that hasn’t quit. I’m always going to be a white belt because they’re always learning. If I have that mentality, I could wear a white belt, and these kids won’t even care because they know what I can do. It’s what I’ve put into it that makes it count.

UPDATED 1 p.m.: Moffat, Routt County Schools will open despite power outage, storm

CRAIG — There will be no snow day in Moffat and Routt Counties as public schools will be in session on Friday, Jan. 18.

“Due to power outages and snow levels, busses will be running about 20 to 25 minutes behind schedule,” stated an email sent from Moffat Couty school officials to parents at about 6:45 a.m. 

One bus was stuck in the snow, said Superintendent of Schools Dave Ulrich who added that all children on the bus were safe and accounted for. He added that rumors a bus had “rolled” were untrue.

Parents electing to keep their children home were asked to notify their child’s school to “ensure we have all students accounted for,” stated the email.

Students arriving late will not be penalized. Craig Middle School and Sandrock Elementary School were without power when the first bell rang.

“We expect power to come on fairly soon,” Ulrich said. “However, if parents are concerned about the welfare of their students they are always welcome to excuse them and keep them home.”

Power went out about 2:30 a.m. in Hayden, Craig, Lay, Maybell, Baggs, and parts of Steamboat Springs. It was restored in some areas and has been on intermittently in other areas.

The power outage did not impact schools in Hayden to the same extent.

“We have power today. Ours flickered on and off during the night, but we do have school today," said Judy Parrott, administrative assistant with Hayden School District.

They also experienced transportation delays.

"Our buses are running a few minutes late, but it looks like most of them are rolling in right now,” she said.

Goal Academy High School is also open at the Craig service location, said Administrative Assistant Jamie Hume.

However, Moffat County Christian Academy decided to ask their students to stay home today.

“With the electricity out this morning, the lack of heat in the building early on and the dangerous driving conditions, we just thought it would be best for students and staff to stay home,” said Secretary Janet Write.

More snow is expected throughout the day as the National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a winter storm warning until 6 p.m. Friday.

Yampa Valley Electric Association has not yet provided information about the cause of the outage other than to state it was related to the heavy snow that had fallen in the area.

Read more about the power outage at CraigDailyPress.com.


Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com. Clay Thorp contributed to this story. 

Across the Street: Colorado legislature working to improve education

During our monthly meeting, as the first week of the 72nd legislative session began, the State Board of Education walked across the street to attend the State of the State address, where Gov. Jared Polis reiterated his primary education related promise.

“Our top priority this session is empowering every single Colorado community to offer free, full-day kindergarten while expanding free preschool to 8,000 more Colorado children,” Colorado's new governor said.

The state already pays for kindergarten students to attend for half-day classes, and many school districts offer full-day kindergarten, using district funds and parent-paid tuition to fund the additional half day. If the state agrees to pay for free, full-day kindergarten for all kindergarten students in Colorado, the estimated cost will be an additional $250 million per year.

In the first week of the new session, 107 new bills were introduced, and 17 of these involved education. Of the 17, five were sponsored by Democrats, four by Republicans, and 8 bipartisan. From their introduction, the bills will pass through the Senate and House committees and to both the Senate and House Chambers before they become law. Many never get that far, but for now, legislators worked into the night to get their five bills written and submitted by the Jan. 10 deadline.

In addition to following all the legislative activity at the Capitol, the State Board of Education met for two days. One of our duties involved a vote to approve the monthly allocation of state funds to the 178 school districts in Colorado.

Under the public-school finance act of 1994 (Section 22-54-115, C.R.S.), the state board is responsible for determining the monthly amount of money each school district receives from the state. At our January meeting, we certified the December 2018 calculations and distribution. All districts and state distribution amounts were listed. The calculations for January through June will be certified at the February meeting. All information is available on the State Board of Education website.

Following are examples of the state distribution for districts in three counties I represent:

• Roaring Fork, with 5,524 students — $1,825,907.67.

• Garfield, with 1,163 students — $681,911.92.

• Meeker, with 700 students — $191,591.25.

• Rangely, with 483 students — $288,488.64.

• Moffat County, with 2,106 students — $595,107.88.

Throughout Colorado, the December distribution totaled $367,678,953.24.

In another vote, the state board approved a Charter School appeal for the SKIES Academy. The SKIES Academy Charter application was initially granted, but later revoked, by the Cherry Creek School District. The state board found this was not in the best interest of students, families, and the community and remanded the charter to go back to the local district to work together for a resolution. Charter SKIES Academy, based at Centennial Airport, will be a hands-on, project-based curriculum for sixth- through eighth-graders. It will focus on students desiring a possible career in aerospace engineering, piloting. and other aspects of aviation.

Thus we begin the first month of the 2019 Legislative Session and the first state board meeting of the new year.

Joyce Rankin represents Colorado's 3rd Congressional District on the State Board of Education. She writes the monthly column “Across the Street” to share with constituents in the 29 counties she represents. The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the State Capitol.

$5,000 in scholarships on offer to Moffat, Routt county art, writing students

CRAIG — Area high school students will be awarded $5,000 in scholarships from the expanded crane-inspired creative arts contest, offered by the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition.

High school seniors in Routt and Moffat counties are encouraged to submit an original piece of writing or artwork inspired by greater sandhill cranes.

Art must qualify for one of three categories, be original, and accurately reflect the physical characteristics, behavior, and habitat of greater sandhill cranes. Categories are as follows:

Category 1 — Writing: A non-fiction essay or fiction story between 750 and 1,500 words.

Category 2 — Poetry:  A group of three poems.

Category 3 —  Other artistic media: Painting, music, digital art, and photography.

CCCC will accept only one entry per student.

The winner in each category will receive a $1,500 scholarship, and a $500 honorable mention scholarship will be awarded from any one of the three categories.

The prizes are awarded upon each winner's acceptance into an institution of continuing education. If the winner is not registered by Nov. 1 of the year of the award, the scholarship will be awarded in sequence to a qualifying runner-up.

CCCC reserves the right to use all submissions, with appropriate author credit, for publicity purposes.

The deadline for submission is April 1. All entries should be submitted to cranecreativeartscontest@gmail.com with the following information: last name, first name, address (street or PO box), city, zip code, telephone number, email address, school, category (and subcategory medium for Category 3), and title of entry.

For Category 3, the CCCC requests that a photo of the piece be included in the email. Shortly after the April 1 deadline, the coalition will advise students submitting work in Category 3 about where to bring the original work. For music, the CCCC requests both a copy of the music and a recording.

Students will be responsible for the delivery of the work in early April and pick up of the work after judging is complete.

Judges will be selected by the CCCC Board of Directors, and winners will be announced by the end of May.

The winners’ names will be published on the CCCC's website, in various media, and at the awards assembly of each area high school, as well as from the podium during the Yampa Valley Crane Festival.  A reception for winners and their families will be held in early June.

Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition, Inc. is a 501(C)3 nonprofit organization that works to ensure the protection of greater sandhill cranes and their habitat in Northwest Colorado.

Craig class aims to make parenting less challenging

CRAIG  — Parenting can be a challenge, but it’s a challenge families don’t have to face alone. Connections4Kids offers resources and services for children and their families from birth to age 8, including the six-week Positive Solutions for Families course.

“I love this class for several reasons,” said Trish Snyder, Parent Education Center coordinator. “First, because it is a proactive philosophy and guides families to look at what is behind the behavior. Second, it gives families the chance to respond, rather than react. And third, it is interactive, with open discussions in a safe, confidential environment.”

During the course, people share their own challenges and success stories and offer fresh ideas and strategies that have worked for them with their own children. The skills learned in the class work well for children of all ages.

"I use these strategies every day, even with my own husband,” Snyder said. “I have had parents, teachers, grandparents, and child care providers participate in this class.”

The six-week class is offered to at no cost, with dinner and free childcare will be provided.

Classes meet weekly from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave., and the next course is set to begin Feb. 20.

To register, call 970-824-1081, or email parented@connections4kids.org.

“Positive Solutions for Families is valuable for anyone who works with children and truly offers valuable, effective strategies that promote strong social-emotional development and helps in understanding and addressing challenging behaviors,” Snyder said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

4-H open house tonight at Moffat County Fairgrounds

Moffat County’s 4-H group will continue to honor the long legacy of Moffat County’s farmers and ranchers tonight at the fairgrounds.

The Moffat County Extension Office will be hosting an open house event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for all families and friends of Moffat County’s 4-H program.

The open house will be inside the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.

Residents can learn about 4-H and the programs offered in Craig or enroll in said programs.

For more information, call the Moffat County Extension Office at 970-824-9180.

From dean’s list to marching band, Moffat County grad Jeremy Looper excels at Wisconsin college

CRAIG — At the top of his class, Moffat County 2018 graduate Jeremy Looper has been named to the Dean's List at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater for the 2018 fall semester.

Looper among 3,460 students — out of about 13,000 enrolled at the university's Whitewater and Rock County campuses — to earn a spot on the list.

"I don't feel like it's that big of a deal," Looper said. "For freshman level, I think they work you in. There are a lot of things they do to make it easier for you. As long as you put in the work, it's not that hard to get your grades up."

To earn the honor, students must maintain a grade-point average of 3.4 or above.

"Earning a spot on the Dean's List is a reflection of our students’ strong record of academic achievement," Provost Susan Elrod wrote in a news release. "In classrooms and laboratories and out in the field, our Warhawks are succeeding in myriad ways."

Looper also distinguished himself on the field by participating in a marching band showcase when Whitewater hosted the Wisconsin High School Marching Band Competition.

"It was a cool experience to see all the high-schoolers in band around Wisconsin and demonstrate the next level of performance to them. We like to call ourselves Wisconsin's finest," he said.

His studies in Wisconsin haven’t caused Looper to think any less of his hometown.

"Colorado and Craig — this whole area — is such a beautiful place,” he said. “I look and see the beauty in the mountain ranges and the snowy valleys. I was so excited when I came back and saw the snow and mountains. There are amazing things about Wisconsin, too, but Craig is where I grew up."

Looper is looking forward to returning to school and will challenge himself with a full schedule and volunteer work.

"A lot of people who graduated from the area are doing really well. … You don't even have to be at college to be doing great things. There are people who are doing the technical part of it and doing really well," Looper said. "Don't be afraid to leave Craig. People have the idea that college is really hard, and you can't do it, especially if you come from Moffat County, but that's not the case if you put in the work."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.