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CNCC to host community networking meeting on Craig campus

CRAIG — Colorado Northwestern Community College will hold its monthly community networking meeting at noon Monday, Nov. 19, in Room 185 at CNCC Craig Campus, 2801 W. Ninth St. Presenting will be officials from the city of Craig. City Manager Peter Brixius, joined by staff members, will update attendees about current issues facing the city, as well as plans for the future. For more information, email Keely Winger at keely.winger@cncc.edu.

‘Mary Poppins’ to bring magic to Meeker

MEEKER — Songs and dances first made popular by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke will come to life in Meeker during a production of “Mary Poppins, Jr.” — a musical based on the 1964 Disney movie.

Meeker Arts and Cultural Council’s Center Stage Youth Theatrical Group will present “Mary Poppins, Jr.” with shows at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Nov. 15 and Nov. 16, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Meeker High School auditorium, 550 School St.

The cast of Mary Poppins Jr. prepares for opening night.

General admission is $7. Children in kindergarten through eighth-grade will be admitted free if accompanied by a paying student or adult. Tickets will be handed out to elementary and middle school students during production week.

“Mary Poppins, Jr.” is the ninth annual musical presented by the CSYTG since the group was created in 2010 by MACC founders Gary and Laurie Zellers and features youth from third- through eighth-grade as cast and crew members. More than 45 youth are participating in the cast, and 39 youth and adults are supporting members of the crew for the musical production. Numerous community volunteers and organizations are providing assistance with production roles and support functions.

Additionally, Meeker High School Drama Club and International Thespian Society Troupe 1284 members are assisting and mentoring in technical and backstage crew positions.

Previous musicals in Meeker have included “Seussical, the Musical,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

“The magic that happens with the imaginative scenic design and special effects is catalyzed by the creative artistry embodied in characters that come alive with each youth thespian's personal creativity and talent and are immense and captivating … ranging from the first-time novice young actors to experienced youth veteran thespians," said Bob Amick, member of the MACC Board of Directors.

If the shoe fits: Moffat County fall musical ‘Cinderella’ promises fairy tale finesse

You’ll never hear the phrase “bibbidi-bobbidi-boo” mentioned on stage during Moffat County High School’s latest theatrical project, but that doesn’t make it any less magical.

The Bulldog drama department presents “Cinderella” this week with shows Thursday through Saturday at MCHS, 900 Finley Lane.

Evening performances are 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with an afternoon matinee at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $7 per person, and tickets to the show are good for 10 percent off a meal at Village Inn.

The production is based on the version of the French fairy tale as adapted by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II as one of the duo’s most beloved musicals.

The well-known story tells the tale of put-upon Cinderella (Caroline Riley), treated as a servant by her cruel stepmother (Maria Sanchez Silva) and vain, selfish stepsisters (Alexa Neton, Courtney Smith) while keeping a kind heart nonetheless.

Riley said the role was one she had always wished to play, with the Disney animated movie one of the first DVDs she remembers owning.

“I’m really grateful to have a lead role, and being a senior makes it a lot more fun and sentimental since it’s the last musical I’ll be able to participate in,” she said. “It’s very magical.”

The big transition is easily her favorite scene.

As most any 5-year-old could tell you, Cindy’s fortune changes drastically with the aid of her godmother (Rachel Updike), who turns out to have magical capabilities in providing a makeover to send the humble peasant girl on her way to a royal ball in style.

“Cinderella is the topper for my Christmas tree, so to be my favorite character from that movie has been really amazing for me,” she said. “I love how the godmother shows herself, and being able to bring it in my own perspective is really fun.”

Like Updike, Draken Blackwing had previously played smaller parts in prior plays. This time he portrays the prince hosting the evening who quickly falls for the mystery lady.

“I’m excited, and it’s kind of a big role to take, and I’m just having fun with it,” he said. “The singing is wonderful.”

The prince’s lengthy name is a song in itself, one of many that compete with the tunes from the 1950 cartoon — and its 2015 live-action update — including “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible; It’s Possible” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?”

Director Grace Pomeleo noted that while the Disney versions of the character are certainly popular, the Broadway show is one that has legions of loyal fans, and the fanciful costumes, live orchestral music and stage effects are certain to entertain.

As part of Saturday’s matinee, young children are invited to take pictures with the title character.

“Cinderella is kind of the ultimate Disney princess, so clearly she’s loved,” she said. “I thought it was time for another fairy tale, so I figured this would be a good one.”

With an able cast, stagehands and technical crew, as well as the music led by band instructor Erik Memmott from the orchestra pit, Pomeleo said it’s almost as if the fairy godmother has waved her wand over the show itself.

“This has been one of the smoothest shows I’ve ever done on stage. Everything has fallen into place really nicely,” she said.

Cool running for 5K boys race at Sandrock Elementary school Sunday

CRAIG — It was cool running for the final 5K race for the Sandrock Elementary School boys running in Mr. G’s running club.

Their final race was held on the combined campus of Sandrock Elementary School and Craig Middle School. When the start was called at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, temperatures were hovering right around freezing, but that didn’t stop more than 20 boys from running.

Third-grade teacher Josiah Grubbs began Mr. G’s Running Club at the former East Elementary School as a way to teach boys valuable life lessons through running.

“I wanted to show the boys that they are capable of more than they might think,” he said. Grubbs believes grit, determination, and endurance are only a few of the life lessons the boys learn outside the classroom.

With support from Sandrock Principal Kamisha Siminoe, when Grubbs moved schools, the club moved with him. From the beginning of the school year until now, the boys have met in two groups — a group of third-graders and a second set of fourth- and fifth-graders — to run four times per week.

They started slow and built up their endurance until they were able to run 5 kilometers. The culmination of their efforts, the final race, was less a competition and more a test of individual endurance.

“The boys learn that they have to work for their dreams,” Grubbs said.

Mr. G’s club will resume in late spring, when warmer temperatures return to Craig.

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

Craig elementary school students thank veterans

CRAIG — Elementary schools across Craig have joined in their efforts to recognize and thank area veterans for their service.

Ceremonies began Thursday, Nov. 8, with a Veterans Day performance of patriotic songs by the music club at Ridgeview Elementary School.

On Monday, Nov. 12, Sunset Elementary School School students, faculty, and staff gathered for a special flag raising performed by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 color guard. Veterans then led the school in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

The choir sang a number of songs including a salute to each branch of the military. Principal Jill Hafey, aided by Secretary Becky Fritz, on behalf of the school, gave a thank-you gift to each of the veterans.

Also on Monday, Sandrock Elementary School students, faculty, and staff gathered with members of the American Legion Post 62. Students sang patriotic songs, learned about the names, the branch of service and date of service given by each veteran.

Deposits due Dec. 1 for CNCC students planning to travel to England and France

CRAIG — Adventures await in England and France for those Colorado Northwestern Community College students and travelers who register and pay a $500 deposit by Dec. 1.

In England, walk the streets of London, visit Stonehenge, discover the site of the Battle of Hastings, and explore Dover Castle. In France, stroll the Av. des Champs-Élysées, admire icons such as the Eiffel Tower, and sip coffee at a sidewalk cafe.

The trip includes airfare, lodging, breakfast, guided tours, admission into many of the sites, and transportation.

Class fee is $2,950. Moffat County residents age 62 or older pay $2,750.

The adventure begins Friday, March 15, with travelers returning Sunday, March 24.

For more information, registration instructions or a copy of the itinerary, email Desiree Moore at desiree.moore@cncc.edu.

New vision for college focuses on offering students quintessential Northwest Colorado experiences

CRAIG — New mission and vision for Colorado Northwestern Community College will strive to give students a one-of-a-kind learning experience.

The new mission and vision statements, along with a four-point strategic plan, were completed in July and publicly announced by CNCC President Ron Granger in early November.

"The mission of Colorado Northwestern Community College is to enhance people's lives by providing an accessible, affordable, quality education. Our vision: Colorado Northwestern Community College will be the college of choice for students seeking a unique education grounded in the Colorado experience."

CNCC's mission is similar to the missions of the 13 Colorado Community Colleges System schools, but the vision is what sets CNCC apart from the rest.

"We are more centered on the experience our students get in rural Colorado, especially in rural Northwest Colorado," Granger said.

One point of difference is CNCC's ability to provide courses in paleontology, which have students work on dig sites and dinosaur fossils, a program run by science faculty member Liz Johnson.

Johnson said faculty and staff also develop field trips and programming for students across both campuses, allowing for interaction with area museums, rivers, and "Northwest Colorado experiences."

The new mission, vision, and strategic plan were about 18 months in the making and involved condensing the old mission and vision — about nine paragraphs in length — to two sentences.

Implementation of the plan is underway, with the first review due to CNCC leadership Nov. 15.

"This plan shouldn't just sit on the shelf. It needs to be a living document that guides what we do on a day-to-day basis," said Director of Institutional Effectiveness Kelly Scott, who has developed some of the reporting tools that will be used

All full-time employees are in one of 12 groups focused on achieving one of five main goals: student support, communication, partnerships and sustainability with key performance indicators —measurable, actionable milestones for each. This plan is available at cncc.edu/home/cncc-strategic-plan.

"It's a grassroots-led effort at this point," Scott said. She explained this allows each group to choose its own passions.

Tools she developed and has trained faculty and staff to track document and show progress to prove when goals are met. She noted much of the plan is built around work that was already being done, but wasn't being measured.

"This will allow us to be more intentional," she said.

Progress reports to the college leadership council, the college's senior leadership team, and the cabinet will include information about actions being planned, timelines, resources available, and resources needed. The reports will also include updates on what has been done, and, once a goal is complete, the outcomes, all tied to the budget.

"The reports will drive decisions college leadership teams make about the budget," Scott said. "The plan should drive the budget, and the KPIs are our tool to do that."

This is the first time at CNCC has developed this type of strategic plan, and it will be under continuous evaluation.

"Each group will be reaching out to students and others to help define what progress is being done and what other things may need to be done in the future," Granger said.

Granger said that, while external consultation to this point has been minimal, he added: "We will be meeting with different outside groups on a continual basis to get input and to inform them what has been accomplished."

“The strategic plan will not be used directly to evaluate performance, however, if we don't reach the goals we have set, or if we reach our goals but a difference is not being seen, we will work as a college to adjust what we are doing," Granger said.

He also said tying the strategic plan and budget together will make it possible to determine when and where investments need to be made.

"This was a collaborative effort by every single individual on our campuses, and we believe that following this plan will help our college and our communities for years to come."

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

Delta Dental endowment recognizes 8 Colorado Northwestern Community College scholars

RANGELY — Eight scholars of Colorado Northwestern Community College’s dental hygiene program were among the first to benefit from a $1.5 million endowment made in 2017 by Delta Dental — the largest nonprofit dental benefits provider in the state.

Delta Dental Endowed Scholarships, the result of the 2017 gift, provides financial assistance for dental hygiene students at three Colorado Community College System colleges. For 2018-2019, Delta Dental also endowed eight scholars at Pueblo Community College and five scholars at Community College of Denver. It also provided support to one faculty member at each college. 

The scholars represent a variety of Colorado communities, both rural and metropolitan, and one – Dani Leon – came to CCD from Pachuca, Mexico.

Sarah Warren, who grew up in Colorado Springs and is now studying at CNCC, has been "fascinated by teeth" for as long as she can remember.

"I would say I was born to be in the field of dentistry,” she said. “I am ecstatic about the support from Delta Dental, which moves me one step closer to being a hygienist. When I finish my degree, my plan is to move back to Colorado Springs, where there is a lot of need for dental hygienists."

Delta Dental of Colorado's mission is to improve the oral health of the communities it serves, a mission aligned with that of many of the scholarship recipients.

"Having a career in the dental field has always been my passion," said James Qado, who is studying for an A.A.S. at Pueblo Community College. Qado is a 30-year-old Iraqi immigrant who moved to the United States in 2012 after working as an interpreter for the U.S. Army.

"I grew up in a community where oral hygiene was the last thing anyone would think of, and I volunteered with the only dentist in the area who could teach families the importance of oral health," Qado said. "That was really inspiring to me. The Delta Dental scholarship is making it possible for me to have my dream job, and soon, I will be able to provide the same care for those in need." 

The organization has given nearly $70 million back to the community during the past 15 years through its foundation and community engagement program. The combined efforts spotlight oral health as an important element to improve the health of all Coloradans. 

Beyond providing financial resources to ensure CCCS dental hygiene programs have state-of-the-art equipment and dynamic faculty, a primary goal of the $1.5 million gift is to support students who are committed to careers in public health for underserved communities.

"It is inspiring to hear how our endowment has motivated scholars," said Allison Cusick, executive director of Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. "These future care providers have the ability to create change and connect with underserved communities, such as geriatric patients and veterans in rural settings."

The endowment also provides funding to support one faculty member from each college's dental hygiene program. The first Delta Dental Endowed Professor appointments were awarded to Mary-Catherine Dean, R.D.H., M.S., of Community College of Denver; Linda Blasi, R.D.H., M.S., of Pueblo Community College; and Tiffany Douglas, R.D.H., of Colorado Northwestern Community College.

"This appointment will allow me to travel across Colorado to rural and urban areas to share information about our program," Dean said. "I will meet with groups of dental hygienists and local health departments to ensure they are aware of our program's focus on developing public health programs with an emphasis on outreach, education, and providing dental hygiene services to those in need. Thank you to Delta Dental of Colorado."

Moffat County educators disappointed by failure of Amendment 73

CRAIG — Moffat County voters were clear in their opposition to tax increases when they went to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 6, and among the taxing initiatives facing defeat was Amendment 73.

It proposed to change the way public education is funded by establishing a progressive state income tax schedule, increase the corporate income tax rate for C-corporations, decrease the property tax rate for school district levies, and establish a Quality Public Education Fund to set aside revenues generated by the new taxes to fund preschool through 12th-grade.

Moffat County voters rejected the proposal with 3,611, or 69.03 percent, voting against, compared to 1,620, or 30.97 percent, voting for the amendment.

The local result was in step with the rest of the state. Across Colorado, voters rejected Amendment 73 by a 54.88 percent to 45.12 percent margin. The amendment would have needed a super majority of 55 percent to pass.

"We are obviously disappointed in the results for Amendment 73. I’m proud of our teachers, other staff members, and board members who worked so hard to engage the local community," said Superintendent Dave Ulrich.

Had the measure passed, it would have meant an estimated 1.6 billion in additional funding for public schools across the state. Moffat County School District stood to gain about $2.6 million annually.

"Our current students have never attended a fully funded public school in their lifetimes," said Educator and Moffat County Education Association President Lauren Pontious-Powell.

Separate from the operating budget, roughly $17 million is needed for deferred maintenance, to replace aging equipment, to replace the old bus fleet, and address a long list of capitol needs based on a Colorado Department of Education Building Better Schools Today audit of public schools in Moffat County.

"I have communicated a clear message that the status quo cannot be maintained. We consistently live within our means operationally and have made difficult choices to provide new and better opportunities for our students. However, we are woefully behind in meeting our capital needs," Ulrich said

Funds totaling more than $7.4 billion that should have gone to Colorado's schools have been "withheld" since 2009, Pontious-Powell said. "The funding shortfalls have taken learning opportunities away from students and led to a massive educator shortage and the least-competitive teacher wages in the country."

School District Executive Director of Staff Services and Personnel Renae Dove has said teacher compensation is not competitive, making recruitment and retention of teachers, especially for positions requiring special certifications, increasingly difficult.

In the short term, the district will continue to look to the school board to prioritize where dollars are spent.

"We have a lot of work to do to begin to prioritize how we are going to go forward. We have a strategic plan and goals, and to the best that we can, we will try to fulfill goals," said school board President JoAnn Baxter.

Over the longer term, the campaign to better fund Colorado schools isn't over.

"As educators, we are resolute in our purpose to serve our Moffat County and Colorado families, and we will come together for all kids," Pontious-Powell said. "Our work will continue, and we will find another way forward in the 2019 legislative session or on a future ballot."

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

Measure 4A to redistrict Moffat County Board of Education sees narrow passage

CRAIG — In one of the closest local contests on the ballot, Referred Measure 4A was too close to call when the first votes were counted at about 8:15 p.m. on election night.

With 40.41 percent of the ballots counted, yes votes (1,946) were lagging by nine over no votes (1,955). Ultimately, the measure passed, with 2,597 votes for and 2,488 against, as revealed by final results released at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The measure will create five geographic districts and two at-large seats replacing the current structure of seven district seats and no at-large representation.

Now that it has been adopted, the measure will also allow the Moffat County School Board of Education to fill a seat left vacant for the past year when no one living in District 6 stepped forward to replace former school board President Darrell Camilletti.

Current School Board President JoAnn Baxter said she has had people interested in serving on the board, but under the current system, they were not qualified as a result of living outside District 6.

The new plan of representation will go into effect upon the canvas of election returns — when results are certified as official — set for later this month.

Once results are official the board will be able to declare the current vacancy in District 6 as an at-large vacancy, opening it to candidates living anywhere in Craig and Moffat County.

Candidates would need to qualify, submit a letter of intent, then submit to an interview before the board for selection.

If the seat is filled, the appointee would serve until November 2019, when the next school board elections are held. If the seat continues to remain open, or if similar circumstances arise in the future, the school board president is — after a specified period — allowed to appoint someone to the position.

"This should cure a problem in our inability to fill vacancies," Baxter said.

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