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Janet Sheridan: The allure of the forbidden

In 1961, Boston and Philadelphia banned the hit single, "Beans in My Ears," because the refrain, "My mommy said not to put beans in my ears," inspired children to load their ears with legumes. Some even poked beans up their noses. Being collegiate, I resisted the lure of the lyrics but felt its tug.

When I was old enough to know better, Mom made a special candy log for Christmas that had to season two weeks in a vanilla-infused cheesecloth.

"All of you listen to me," she said as she put it in the pantry. "This candy isn't ready to eat; it doesn't taste good yet. Leave it alone. We'll have it for Christmas."

That afternoon, I dragged a stool to the pantry and used my finger to gouge out a generous portion of candy, thought it tasted pretty good, and helped myself to more.

Barbara snitched, and I had a candy-less Christmas.

Having three older siblings, I grew up with "I'm telling you, you sneaky little snoop, if you get into my things, you'll regret it!" "Mom, if she messes with my stuff one more time, I can't be held accountable!" and, "Are those my socks you're wearing?" But I found the rewards of rummaging through the goods of others worth the risk.

Shortly before I turned 11, I carried out the most dangerous mission to date: Mom's chest of drawers. To my disappointment, drawer after drawer held nothing but clothing I'd seen hanging on the clothesline. Then, I opened a small drawer full of handkerchiefs and scarves and found a leather purse with JB tooled on one side. The initials belonged to me and no one else. It was almost my birthday. Bob was doing leather crafting in his junior high vocational class, and I knew he would never hide something for me in his room, which I tossed regularly.

For three blissful weeks, I sneaked into my parent's bedroom, retrieved the purse, fondled it, smelled its rich leather, and traced my initials. I couldn't believe the brother I both battled and worshipped had something so perfect for me. I've never regretted my early discovery of the best purse I ever owned.

So I continued poking my nose where it didn't belong. Several months later, in a new house in Spanish Fork, I sat at the kitchen table, studying the many cabinets marching around its walls and wondering about a section that stretched to the ceiling.

"What could Mom have stored on those shelves?" I wondered. "Nothing we use much; it's too high. Maybe I should have a look."

Soon, with the help of a kitchen chair, I stood on the countertop, stretched as high as I could, and discovered the top shelves held Christmas decorations and Dad's root beer making equipment, which Mom probably hoped he would forget. Then, in a far corner, I discovered a small, unmarked cardboard box, which I retrieved and carried to the table to examine.

Inside, wrapped in tissue, I found an 8-by-11 tinted studio photograph of a smiling baby I recognized from Kodak snapshots in our family album. It was Alan, my older brother, who died as a toddler from a respiratory infection four years before my birth. Underneath the photograph, I found his funeral program, dried flowers, and sympathy cards and letters my parents received at their small home, long miles from their Utah families, in Nevada City, California, where my dad worked the gold mines, and my mom made a home for him, my oldest brother, and the beautiful, beloved baby whose portrait I held.

Suddenly, I felt like an intruder in my parents' grief. This was not a fun game. It was emotional trespassing. In that moment, I realized there are things too private, too personal, too laden with feeling to be exposed to idle curiosity.

I whispered, "I'm so sorry," and quit getting into things.

Janet Sheridan's book, "A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns," is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at auntbeulah.com the first and 15th of every month.

Lance Scranton: Preference or conviction?

Evidently, Craig is one of the few towns in Northwestern Colorado that hasn't worked up enough of an appetite for legalized marijuana. The failure to collect enough signatures for a ballot initiative left supporters re-strategizing by trying to influence Craig City Council by running for a vacant seat.

Getting involved in our community and trying to bring about change can be a virtuous endeavour and is one generally worth pursuing. Separating convictions from preferences is an entirely different matter which can have a huge impact on how decisions are made. Convictions are deeply held beliefs that are the foundation upon which most of our potentially life-altering decisions are made. A preference is usually arrived at when given the choice between two alternatives.

Much of the discussion surrounding retail marijuana sales and subsidiary business opportunities seems to be based on a preference for money coming into Craig or dollars leaving our city. Whether from sales or taxes, the possibilities seem to be attractive as you look around the state and realize the potential for adding more revenue to our city coffers.

Budgets are being stretched, and tough choices have been made regarding funding allocations and where best our tax dollars should be spent. It is a commendable undertaking for city and county officials to tackle these issues head-on and not kick it down the road like their federal counterparts in Washington D.C.

My convictions tell me that allowing marijuana to become something we rely on for revenue generation is a dangerous precedent. The real question is how much are we willing to spend on the issues related to the effects of legal use of marijuana. Some estimates conclude that, for every dollar of tax revenue generated, upwards of four dollars is spent to mitigate the effects of legalization.

Preferences for relaxed laws are always attractive, because there is an issue of enforcement that makes the viability of using our legal system to police other laws is a solid argument. But, my preferences take a back seat to convictions when we are dealing with something as potentially destructive as marijuana could be to our city. Legalize it — or don't, but I sure do hope we don't make preferential decisions that go against our convictions and end up with something we never intended.

Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.

Prather’s Pick: Picture book from Richard Byrne spins chalkboard mystery

The leading characters in this week's picture book are pieces of chalk. "The Case of the Missing Chalk Drawings" was written and illustrated by Richard Byrne, and children will find this story both wacky and lively.

In the story, four pieces of chalk of different sizes and colors are happily drawing flowers on the chalkboard. Orange, pink, and blue flowers decorate the border of the board, and yellow chalk draws a sun above them. That's when the teacher, Mrs. Red (another chalk), calls the students to lunch.

When the chalks come back from lunch, they're surprised to find the flowers are gone. Only the bottom parts of the stems and leaves and the sun remain. Who could have taken the flowers?

So, the chalks start a new drawing, but this time, Mrs. Red draws a fence all around the flowers. She tells the little chalks the fence should keep the flowers safe while they go in for a story.

But, it doesn't.

When they return, the flowers are gone again — and the fence, too. Only three little lines of the drawing remain. It's clear now someone is stealing the flowers.

So Sergeant Blue arrives in his blue police car. He's a chalk, too, and wears a mustache. Sergeant Blue finds some evidence. First of all, he measures the distance between two of the lines of the drawing that were left on the chalkboard. He knows how tall the culprit is. He also notices some chalk dust.

Sergeant Blue doesn't lose any time rounding up suspects. He puts them in a line-up. First, there's a pencil. He's too thin. Next is a bottle of glue. The bottle is too small. A pair of scissors is too pointy, a ruler is too tall, and a paint brush is too hairy. Only one suspect is left: an eraser.

Sergeant Blue asks the eraser to turn around. Sure enough, he has a dusty red bottom! However, before Sergeant Blue can lock him up in the chalkboard prison, the eraser flees in a cloud of dust.

The chase is on! The chalkboard is covered with a bunch of colored lines and red dust as the sergeant and chalks try to catch the robber. What to do? Then, Sergeant Blue has a plan.

Children are sure to enjoy this imaginative book.

Byrne, and author and illustrator, has written other books with intriguing titles, such as "This Book Just Ate My Dog" and "This Book is Out of Control."

All the books are published by Henry Holt and Company, 2018. This week's book costs $17.99 in hardcover. You can also find it with other new books in the children's room at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries.

Memorial Regional Health: Support essential in quest toward weight loss — Research shows emotional, social, practical support bolster weight-loss goals

Editor's note: The following article is sponsored by Memorial Regional Health.

Year after year, Americans make New Year's resolutions to lose weight, but research shows many completely give up on their goal by February.

Many weight loss resolutions include some kind of quick-fix fad diet, which research shows is one of the worst plans a person can follow in terms of long-term success. Fad diets usually claim to help you lose weight quickly — more than 1 or 2 pounds per week — often without exercise. Fad diet marketing campaigns show promising before and after photos, contain boasting endorsements from people who are likely being paid as part of the advertising, and usually require you to spend money on things like pills, books, seminars, prepackaged meals, protein powders, and more, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

At Memorial Regional Health, a new monthly weight loss support group is aiming to help patients who have had bariatric surgery succeed the healthy way by providing education, tools, and social support for living a healthier lifestyle.

The third Thursday of every month, MRH will host a different speaker to discuss various weight loss-related topics before opening the discussion for attendees to ask questions, said Adysen Jourgensen, registered dietitian at Memorial Regional Health. While the group is geared toward bariatric surgery patients, others can attend.

"These topics can vary from exercise to nutrition, and we are hoping to get some guest speakers who can come in and talk about the different bariatric surgeries and various other topics related to weight loss," Jourgensen said. "We are covering all of these topics in hopes of providing attendees more knowledge and various tips that individuals can use to achieve their weight loss goals."

Support works

Support, whether emotional, practical, or inspiring, is a major factor in achieving weight loss goals, according to The Mayo Clinic. Emotional support might be a shoulder to lean on when you're feeling discouraged, while practical support could involve someone watching the kids while you exercise. Inspiring support might include an exercise partner who motivates you on days you feel like giving up.

Psychological research shows it's easier to stick to a weight loss plan when you have support, according to the American Psychological Association. And just in October 2018, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported the findings of a weight loss study that showed intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions in adults with obesity can lead to clinically significant improvements in weight status. These interventions focused on nutrition, physical activity, self-monitoring, identifying barriers, problem solving, peer support, and relapse prevention.

MRH's weight loss support group includes all of these components, and Jourgensen said she thinks it has the potential to truly benefit attendees.

"Being able to discuss practical ideas when it comes to meeting physical activity goals, different nutrition tips, and various other topics of interest in the weight loss realm with peers can be great," she said. "Support is huge when trying to achieve any type of goal, and building relationships with others who are experiencing the same things you are can really help with staying on the right track. I think the comradery that will come from this group will be huge in helping our participants."

Why fad diets aren't the answer

Unfortunately when it comes to weight loss, there are no quick fixes. That's not to say you can't lose a fair amount of weight quickly with a fad diet, but keeping it off becomes the challenge.

"Slow, steady weight loss is more likely to last than dramatic weight changes. Healthy plans aim for a loss of no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week," according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. "If you lose weight quickly, you’ll lose muscle, bone, and water. You also will be more likely to regain the pounds quickly."

Jourgensen said her rule of thumb is that, if you don't think you can eat a certain way for the rest of your life, then you probably shouldn't start it.

"Quick results are much more exciting and satisfying than long-term lifestyle changes," she said. "I think all of us enjoy instant gratification, so it is much easier to get discouraged when you aren't seeing immediate results."

So what's the best answer? Jourgensen said it's eating healthfully — including lean meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and limiting eating out — and in the appropriate portion sizes, and getting 150 minutes or more of physical activity per week.

One of the best tips Jourgensen has is to write things down — your weight loss goals, the "why" behind those goals, grocery lists, workout schedules.

"As simple as this sounds, seeing your goals each day and reminding yourself why you started the journey can serve as a huge motivator to continue working towards achieving them," she said. "Those who make a life-long commitment to eating healthier and exercising have the most success in terms of weight management in the long run."

From Pipi’s Pasture: Getting those steps in

Recently, one of the evening news channels featured the findings of some experts on exercise. What I took from the report is that a person does not need to exercise (like walking) in one large block of time; small periods of exercise per day add up, too. I was happy to hear that, because I do quite a lot of walking during the day, mostly corral-related, so maybe all of it is beneficial to my health. Besides that, I usually carry a lot of stuff, too, which possibly makes my "workout" more challenging.

I don't have a way to keep track of my steps, so I tried counting them to and from the corral. However, the count wasn't really accurate, because there are too many variables involved, like having to backtrack if I forget something.

However, the steps I take each day generally add up as follows.

It begins in the morning, when I leave the house with a bucket containing a can of cat food and an empty can for measuring grain. The first stop is the carport, where I leave some cat food and measure out grain for the corral animals. Then, it's to the big double gates that lead into the hay/corral area.

By now, the cat Nuisance is walking in front of me, so close that I sometimes step on him. I'm not sure what effect the cat has on my "workout," but he surely is annoying. When I get to the corral, I have taken an estimated 357 steps.

At the corral, I make several trips up and down the corral fence line to put out grain and hay and check the large stock tank to make sure the calves haven't unplugged the tank heater — again — so that the water is frozen. Finally, there are more steps inside the corral to put out more hay and to break the ice on the unheated water tanks. Once the ice is broken, I gather it in a bucket and throw it on the growing ice pile. More steps.

Then, it's back to the house to get ready to put hay out to the main herd of cattle. Right now, we're feeding big bales off a trailer, so I get to ride. However, in years when we feed small bales, I walk over the feedlot, breaking bales and spreading out hay, which means more steps — lots more steps.

Sometimes after feeding, I walk to the corral again to check water and sometimes to even put water in the tanks. More steps, especially if I have to stop at the shop for hoses.

In the afternoon, I always do have to fill stock tanks. I gather up my bucket at the house and stop at the shop for a bucket of retractable hoses and a short piece of garden hose that has been keeping warm. Then, I follow the same route to the corral as in the morning, except now, I'm carrying two buckets full of stuff and have a hose over my shoulder — and Nuisance is walking in front of me. It surely feels like a workout, especially to keep from dropping the hose.

At the corral, the steps are about the same, except this time, there is a tank filling job to finish.

During calving season, there are lots of steps involved in checking cows at the corral and in the pasture, sometimes every couple of hours!

I'm surely glad that these little "spurts" of exercise are beneficial to my health.

Editorial: Please end it now

Editor's note: Dan Davidson was unable to attend this week's meeting of the Editorial Board and did not participate in the development of this position.

On June 21, 1788, our Founding Fathers ratified the United States Constitution, the bedrock upon which our republic was built and from which it has grown and thrived for the past 230 years.

The preamble to that document — which most of us were probably forced to memorize way back in seventh-grade — states, in part, that the words following it were being enshrined in our founding documents to "provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

If that is the standard, then our federal officials — each of whom swore an oath to "protect and defend" those words and the precepts underlying them — are failing us, and they're failing us miserably.

As we write these words, the partial federal government shutdown has persisted for just over 26 days, making it the longest in U.S. history, and if we are to believe what our leaders are telling us, there is no end in sight.

As a consequence, 800,000 federal workers are going without their paychecks, national parks are shuttered, and a number of federal agencies — including the Internal Revenue Service, NASA, the Department of Labor, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration — are not being funded and will not be funded until Congress and President Donald Trump reach a budget agreement.

Most of us are very familiar with the point of contention: The president wants a $5.7 billion budget allocation to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, a wall he says is the only way to effectively turn the tide of illegal immigration and stem the flow of dangerous narcotics across our southern border. The Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives, on the other hand, insists funding such a wall would be an ineffectual waste of funds and argues instead that there are more sensible solutions to solve the border security problem. Consequently, they have vowed that the funding Trump wants will not be forthcoming.

In the Senate, meanwhile, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not call a vote on any legislation the president doesn't support.

In effect, then, the president refuses to sign a bill that doesn't include the $5.7 billion he wants for the wall, House Democrats refuse to advance any bill that includes the $5.7 billion, and the Senate has essentially taken a knee on the sidelines and is waiting to see how this whole miserable mess plays out.

Our purpose here is not to debate the merits of a border wall, nor is it to minimize this nation's problems with respect to border security. The problems are real, and it may be that a wall is the best way to address them.

But the shutdown, now about to enter it's fifth week, is doing nothing to solve those problems; on the contrary, it is exacerbating them, while simultaneously dumping a host of new problems into to the mix.

Make no mistake: This is not effective governance, it is not good for America, and it is not the way our government is supposed to work.

We're not assigning the blame to the president, nor are we foisting it upon House Democrats; we think both are equally culpable, and we suspect the whole pretext of a disagreement over border wall funding — while perhaps valid in the beginning — has become nothing more than an excuse to deliver yet another whack to the ideological wedge that's splitting our union like a dry log. At this point, it's nothing more than politics and the paralyzing fear on both sides that, to give in — even an inch — might be perceived as some kind of loss.

Meanwhile, the real losers are those who really don't have a dog in the fight they're paying for. They're the people who are desperately shuffling their finances to make their mortgages while they're furloughed from their jobs. They're the economically disadvantaged who depend on SNAP benefits to feed their children. And perhaps most ironically, they're the employees who continue working to "provide for the common defense" and "promote the general welfare," while their own personal welfares become more and more in doubt.

These are not anonymous anecdotes from hundreds of miles away; they're human beings, and many of them are our friends and our neighbors.

It's time for this to end, and it will only end when both sides agree to do what's necessary to end it. That will mean talking to each other, discussing compromises, and maybe — perish the thought — actually working together for the good of the nation.

We are not so presumptuous as to think anyone with the power to turn this shameful page in our collective history will ever read our plea or heed it even if they did.

But we make it nonetheless.

This counter-productive shutdown is the very definition of dysfunction, and it's causing incalculable harm to the people you swore to protect and serve.

Please end it now.

Dry January: Why take a break from booze?

"Dryuary" or "Dry January" started in 2013 in the United Kingdom and is gaining popularity in the United States. Committing to 30 days of not drinking alcohol is an excellent way to reevaluate your relationship with booze. As you explore other ways to relax and experience life sober, you will be improving both your physical and mental health. Caution: Chronic, heavy, and daily drinkers may experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and should seek the advice of a medical professional before attempting an abstinence program.

The negative effects of alcohol use may include liver damage, increased risk of many cancers, disrupted sleep, lost productivity, and often, disrupted relationships. Alcohol use also causes memory problems and impaired judgment. Even moderate use of alcohol may worsen depression and anxiety and cause impulsive behaviors. Many people commit suicide while intoxicated. 

With fewer than 30 days of abstinence from alcohol, improved sleep is almost immediate. Healthier looking skin and weight loss are common. Increased energy, improved mental clarity, and less anxiety result in more productivity and better moods. The sense of achievement is a powerful motivator to increase other healthy habits. Hobbies such as reading, exercising, or arts and crafts become more enjoyable. Thirty days of sobriety also results in an improved immune system and better liver function, and most people maintain these benefits well beyond the 30 days.

Research shows that habitual drinkers are often unaware of how much they are drinking and may not know the definition of moderate drinking. The latest research as published in The Lancet (April 2018), suggests moderate drinking should not exceed five to six standard drinks per week or about one standard drink per day — but not daily drinking! Also, moderate drinking means limiting how fast you drink and, as a result, keeping your blood alcohol concentration below .055, which indicates that, no, you should not drink all five to six drinks on one day. In certain situations, no amount of alcohol is considered safe, such as during pregnancy, when taking certain medications, when it involves those younger than age 21, or when driving or operating dangerous machinery. 

A standard drink is equal to the following

• A 12-ounce beer with 5 percent alcohol.

• A 5-ounce glass of wine with 12.5 percent alcohol.

• 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor.

Dry 30 offers the opportunity to reset drinking habits toward moderation. Studies show that, after completing "Dryuary,” most people continued to drink less up to eight months later. There are many online sources for self-assessment and support during a Dry 30, including Rethinking Drinking, Moderation Management, moderatedrinking.com, dryuary.org, alcoholchange.org.UK, and SAMHSA.

If moderation is not possible, there may be evidence of alcohol addiction or dependence requiring professional help. Mind Springs Health offers individual assessment of alcohol use and many approaches to treatment, including individual and group therapy, as well as pharmacotherapy. Why wait? Give dry a try!

For more information, contact Mind Springs Health at mindspringshealth.org.

Mary Horn, MN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC, APN, is an advanced psychiatric nurse practitioner for Mind Springs Health and is committed to reducing the stigma of mental illness through community education. She can be reached at 970-920-5555. For more information about local mental health resources, mindspringshealth.org.

Over a Cup of Coffee: About the mayonnaise cake …

Last week's column featured a recipe for Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. A few days later, Lois Stoffle, of Craig, called me with some cake-saving advice about the recipe. She said to make sure to check the ingredients/additives in the mayonnaise before making the cake. Some brands of mayonnaise contain onion and garlic, which can make the cake taste terrible.

I should have known. When I last made the cake, I used "regular" mayonnaise. Today, there are so many different kinds. Ironically, my brother, Duane Osborn, and I were talking about mayonnaise the day before Lois called me. He was using mayonnaise in a recipe and remarked that it sometimes contains olive oil, onions, garlic, and other ingredients. I rarely use mayonnaise and opt for Miracle Whip, instead. I just didn't think about the cake recipe.

Thanks, Lois! I hope this column reaches readers before anyone bakes the cake.

This has been a week for hearing from readers, and I love it! I also got a call from Lowell Anderson, who lives in Pennsylvania. He wanted to know how he could access the Craig Press. He visited Craig two years ago with a group of hunters from Pennsylvania and was the group's cook. While in Craig, he read "Over a Cup of Coffee" and sent me a recipe for "Cinnamon Roll Cake." It's a great recipe, and since it has been two years, I'm repeating it in this column. Enjoy!

Thanks, Lowell. I look forward to receiving other recipes from you.

Cinnamon Roll Cake

• 3 cups flour

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1 cup sugar

• 4 teaspoons baking powder

• 1 1/2 cups milk

• 2 eggs

• 2 teaspoons vanilla

• 1/2 cup butter, melted

Topping:

• 1 cup butter, soft

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 2 tablespoons flour

• 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Glaze:

• 2 cups powdered sugar

• 5 tablespoons milk

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or oil inside of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Once combined, slowly stir in melted butter, and pour mix into a prepared baking pan. For the topping, mix butter, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together until well combined and creamy. Drop evenly over the batter in the pan by tablespoonfuls, and use a butter knife to marble/swirl the mix through the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla, and drizzle evenly over the warm cake.

Courtesy of Lowell Anderson, Millersville, Pennsylvania.

Now it's your turn. If you have a recipe you would like to share with readers, please call me at 970-824-8809 or write to me at PO Box 415, Craig, CO 81626.

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.

Living Well: Ear infections common, but shouldn’t be ignored

If your children have never had an ear infection, they're anomalies, because five out of six kids experience an ear infection by their 3rd birthday, according to the National Institutes of Health. Ear infections cause pain, often indicated by tugging on the ears, loss of appetite, irritability, fever, and other cold-like symptoms. If symptoms last more than a day, especially for a child younger than six months old, it's a good idea to call your doctor.

Ventilation of the middle ear is accomplished through the eustachian tubes, a pair of narrow tubes that run from the middle ear to high in the back of the throat. The eustachian tubes are narrower and more horizontal in children, which makes the natural process of healthy draining more difficult. Swelling, inflammation, and mucus in the eustachian tubes from an upper respiratory infection or allergy can cause the accumulation of fluids in the middle ear, which can become infected.

When your child has multiple ear infections in a year, your pediatrician might refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. An ENT might recommend ear tubes, small tubes placed in the eardrum to allow air to enter the middle ear and prevent fluids from accumulating and usually remain in the ear for six to nine months. While the decision to place tubes in the ear is a big one, left untreated, chronic infections can cause hearing loss and affect speech development. Ear tubes may also help prevent or at least reduce recurring ear infections.

"We have firm criteria on when to place ear tubes, and I am a stickler on meeting those criteria. Sometimes, I advise waiting if we're coming out of the cold and flu season," said Dr. Robert McLean, ENT physician who sees both adults and children at Memorial Regional Health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, ear tube placement is relatively safe but does require general anesthesia and, of course, like any surgical procedure, has some risk. The tubes aren't permanent and usually fall out on their own.

Risk factors for children can include group child care, due to greater exposure to infections and cold; exposure to tobacco smoke or high levels of air pollution; and just the winter months, when colds and flu are more prevalent. Babies who drink from a bottle, especially when lying down, tend to have more ear infections than breast-fed babies.

While more common in children, adults can get ear infections, too. Symptoms can include dizziness or vertigo, nausea and vomiting, problems with balance, hearing loss, ear pain, and sometimes fever. Treatment can include antibiotics, or just time, if your physician thinks the infection is viral rather than bacterial.