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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.

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.

Veterans honored at ‘Thanksgiving’ dinner in Craig on Veterans Day

CRAIG — Thanksgiving Day dinner arrived early in Craig as The Lighthouse of Craig on Sunday honored veterans, family, and friends with a special dinner.

“We have so much to be thankful for. … The good outweighs the bad,” said Pastor Tony Bohrer, as he asked the room to join him in thanking veterans for their service.

Army Veteran Patrick Winn, center, stands during a song of thanks. Also pictured are, left, Cory and Kelton Joyce and, right, Ashely Joyce.

Veteran Patrick Winn, who served in the U.S. Army from 2009 until 2012, said he felt very welcome and was looking forward to eating some “great food.” He added that, while they may not always have a chance to express their appreciation, veterans appreciate the community for holding events and activities to honor all those who have served.

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Craig Post 4265 presented a color guard before the festivities.

Veteran and color guard member Gerald Martinez said that, for himself, as for many veterans, the transition to civilian life was difficult, but it was made easier by the support he received from other veterans and the community at large.

Gerald Martinez said that he is grateful for the support shown him by other veterans and the community during an early Thanksgiving dinner, hosted Sunday by the Lighthouse of Craig.

Life is full of ups and downs and challenges, but that’s a good thing, said Bohrer, who used an analogy of someone hooked up to a heart monitor to explain: “If you have a heartbeat, it’ll go up and down.”

He then challenged the audience to “look around and find things you’re grateful for … the good and the bad,” each day. “If you struggle to find something to be grateful for his (God’s) mercy is every lasting.”

Referencing Thessalonians 5:15-18, Bohrer closed his remarks by saying: “In everything, give thanks” and asked those gathered to “thank our veterans,” before leading the blessing of the meal.

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


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Craig Middle School hoops outshoots Meeker Cowboys in Saturday series

It was a shorter day than expected in the Craig Middle School gym, but Bulldog basketball cleaned up quickly with a sweep of the Meeker Cowboys of Barone Middle School.

CMS won all three games against the visiting team in what was originally intended to be a full tournament only for half the teams to pull out late in the week.

Even so, the Bulldog seventh-grade B-Team made the most of their playing time and edged past the Cowboys 26-16, while the A-Team upped the ante at 54-25.

Coach Mark Carlson’s squad held a healthy halftime lead at 33-17 and didn’t bother to slow down from there.

“They shared the ball really well, 17 assists, so that was really nice,” Carlson said. “They drove really well, got a lot of turnovers, and ball movement was just great.”

The day ended with a 40-16 wallop by the eighth-grade A-Team.

Evan Atkin said he and his teammates worked to mix up the energy so Meeker never got too comfortable.

“We switch really well between our plays,” he said.

On a personal level, Atkin said he’s improved throughout the weeks in his shooting style.

“I’ve gotten a lot better on my open layups. I missed a lot of those last year,” he said. “Our passing has gotten a lot better, too.”

Coach Steve Maneotis noted the group’s ability to overwhelm the Cowboy offense.

“They played well. I thought we did a great job with our man-to-man defense, it really took them out of their flow,” he said.

He added the A-Team defeated the Cowboys 24-14 during a tournament in Steamboat Springs a week earlier.

“They have some good guards who are quick, and we saw them at Steamboat, but the biggest thing is that we ran the floor and looked for fastbreak opportunities, very seldom got into a half-court set,” he said.

The same event in Steamboat saw the Bulldogs fall to the Sailors for the second time as the hosts hit a last-second shot to win 23-21 despite the Dogs fighting their way back from a bad start in a 10-0 first quarter.

“They’ve made great strides,” Maneotis said.

A B-Team tourney hosted Friday by Soroco saw seventh-graders go 2-0 and eighth-graders 1-1, while 5-1 seventh-grade A saw its first defeat at Steamboat, one which players will be looking to avenge. Likewise, CMS eighth-grade A-Team is 4-2, still setting their sights on a couple goals: a 60-point game and defeating the Sailors at districts, hosted by Rangely in December.

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Gift gala: Holiday Craft Show provides early Christmas shopping in Craig

Those looking to get an especially early jump on the holiday season needed look no further than Center of Craig this weekend as part of the Downtown Business Association’s annual Holiday Craft Show.

Homemade crafts, foods, pieces of art and more from local vendors were on display and ready to wrap up to put under the tree.

Among those setting up shop was Tina Fox under the mantle of Tina’s Creations, with a table of gift basket assortments and a shelf to the side with canned goods, offering specialty foods for every taste.

The business is one she’s had for about three years, and she was eager to get to selling at this year’s two-day show.

“Yesterday was kind of slow, but that’s Friday for you,” she said Saturday afternoon. “Saturday is always the better day.”

With booths set up on both floors of the community building, as well as an appearance by Santa Claus, the venue was packed with shoppers already putting some thought into Christmas gifts.

Under the name Handmade with Love, Kim Griffin’s inventory included holiday decorations and ornaments as well as festive stationery.

“I’ve almost sold out of the little Post-It notes, and I started with tons,” she said. “My paper crosses and rosettes have been doing really good, too.”

Griffin added that a good turnout in November is an indicator that buyers will be even greater in numbers in a month.

“It’s a great kickoff, definitely a good start, and we’ll probably be doing even better in December,” she said.

Craig Bantam hockey hits hard in home opener with Telluride

The season is in full swing for Craig Youth Hockey Association’s 14 and under Bantam team, and a meager roster is bolstered by a group that’s ready and raring to hit the ice hard.

The trick, according to coach Cary Herndon, will be making sure players harness that excitement properly and keep their heads.

The Cougars began their schedule Saturday at home with a doubleheader against Telluride, one which the Craig team split with the Lizardheads, falling 6-5 in the early game only to dominate the next round 9-3.

The match-up was a highly physical one between Telluride, who relied on speed, and the Cougars who, even with only seven skaters to the Lizardheads’ eight, came out swinging as the undeniable bruisers.

The two opponents were close in penalty minutes for the opener, but Craig players were far more frequent visitors to the box in the afternoon game, amassing 29 minutes.

Even so, Telluride’s power play possibilities were limited to three goals in the second period, at which point, Craig had already put four points on the board, with Chayton McDonald already earning his second hat trick.

“I’ve been playing Telluride for a while now, and they always come out strong in the first game and then just get worn out,” McDonald said. “A lot of it’s mental, and then fatigue kicks in.”

Despite a major penalty for head contact that kept him confined for 10 minutes, he had five goals in the second game, eight total for the day.

McDonald spent the past season playing for Steamboat Springs but was looking forward to suiting up again for Craig.

“We come together really well. We’ve got to work more on passing, but we’ve got the speed,” he said.

Brant Gutierrez also had a trio of goals in the second game to add to his two from earlier, while Garrett Anson put one past the Lizardhead keeper on a breakaway during the Cougar penalty kill.

In the Craig goal, Dylan Herndon earned 17 saves in the first game, doubling that with 34 in the second.

Cougars had nine assists across the day, split among Gutierrez, Carter Behrman, Forrest Siminoe and Baryn Suessmeier.

“They definitely came out aggressive,” Cary Herndon said of his athletes, adding that the heavy hitting had pros and cons.

A check from behind against the boards late in the day took Anson out of the game, with Telluride parents going so far as to urge the officials to end the match early. Even with the win, Herndon had some stern words in store for the locker room.

“They get a little riled up, and we don’t condone it, but it gets rough,” he said.

Even with low numbers working against him just as last year when he coached many of the same players at the 12U Peewee level, Herndon said the group has a lot of promise.

“They’re a good team so far, and they do really well when they focus and work together,” he said.

The early season series is Craig Bantams’ last competition for nearly a month, next scheduled to host Grand Junction Dec. 2, the same weekend as the 10U Squirts’ first games against Durango.

The Peewees will host two games starting at 9 a.m. Nov. 11 against Telluride at Moffat County Ice Arena.

As for the 18U Midgets, the Moffat County Bulldogs started their season Saturday with a road win in Denver against Arapahoe’s Navy team.

Goalie Jack Doane earned a shutout, while skaters made it a 6-0 day, including four goals by Clay Durham and one each from Grady Anson and Garrett Stockman.

The Bulldogs moved to 2-0 for the season with a Sunday win against Arapahoe Gold, 8-3.

Energy Blend: Trapper Mine ‘good neighbor’ to Moffat County

Trapper Mine is a good neighbor, and it has the award to prove it.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in August awarded Trapper Mine the Good Neighbor Award, which is given to mines for outstanding commitment and innovative in mining and reclamation practices. It is an award the mine is proud to receive, Trapper Mine General Manager Michael Morriss said.

The mine has a history of receiving awards, such as the Sentinel of Safety Award, which Morriss described as the “Stanley Cup” of mine safety awards and the highest honor any mine can receive for safety.

The Good Neighbor Award, he added, isn’t handed out lightly.

“It’s an award that acknowledges our reforestation efforts and community efforts,” Morriss said.

But Trapper’s contributions to the community go far beyond that.

Employees and mine administration have been involved with building a soccer field, sponsoring Loudy-Simpson Park, working with the Moffat County United Way on improvement projects, and taking a leading role in other efforts to improve the community, Morriss said. He added he is very proud of the mine’s efforts.

National Mining Association president Hal Quinn said Trapper’s efforts demonstrate its sustained commitment to environmental stewardship, as well as its mission to provide the nation with the affordable, reliable energy needed for growth.

“This recognition is well-deserved,” Quinn said. “It is a testament to their relationship in sustaining a great legacy.”

Trapper Mine administrators were invited to Washington D.C. to receive the award in late September. Morriss added that is the first national award the mine has received since he became manager about a year and a half ago.

Production up; safety highlighted

Aside from the award, the mine continues to perform well, overall.

Morriss said 2018 production was up by 2.2 million tons, leading to the hiring of 25 new employees. Jobs are posted fairly regularly, he added, many of them mechanic jobs with good benefits. About 200 employees currently work at Trapper.

The mine has also made strides in terms of employee safety, improving its three-way radio communication system and giving employees more detailed briefings about their jobs. Morriss said the mine is dedicated to promoting a culture of safety.

The mine purchased a new excavator earlier this year, which has improved efficiency by about 45 percent, Morriss said. He added Trapper is continually exploring other means of improving efficiency without risks to employee safety.

Asked about the Trump administration’s relaxation of regulations governing the coal industry, Morriss said the changes have had very little impact on Trapper and its operation. He added, however, that the Trump administration has been fairly positive for the coal industry.

Trapper Mine currently has a coal contract with the Craig Station that will end in 2020.

Craig Middle School basketball season blasts off in strong games with Steamboat

With three wins and one narrow loss to their biggest rivals, Craig Middle School boys basketball teams had their share of learning experiences Tuesday afternoon.

CMS’s first home hoops games were full of energy to be sure, with solid play against Steamboat Springs.

In the Sandrock Elementary gym, the seventh-grade Bulldogs schooled the Sailors starting with a 32-21 win for the B-Team, complemented by a much closer 26-24 W for the A-Team.

CMS led by six points going into the final minute only for turnovers to get the Sailors within a one-bucket game. Still, Craig’s presence at the rim was what helped secure the victory, coach Mark Carlson said.

“We really squeaked it out. About four offensive rebounds just in the last 15 seconds,” he said.

He added that an off night at the free throw line — two for 15 — was an indicator of where to improve against competitive teams.

In an early season tournament in Rangely, the seventh-grade A-Team bested Hayden 57-10 and Meeker 47-12 to set a good tone for the schedule.

“The big thing is just fundamentals: rebound, box out, proper shooting form, tough defense without fouling, push the ball every chance we get,” Carlson said. “We’ve got an athletic team that likes to run.”

In the CMS gym, the eighth-grade B-Team blew out Steamboat’s second tier 39-5 for the largest margin of the evening, while the Bulldog and Sailor A-Teams kept things much closer.

After trailing much of the first half, CMS took a sudden lead as Marcus Pech threw in a three-pointer from well beyond the arc to beat the buzzer and make it 13-11 at halftime.

It was anyone’s game in the final period, but a successful half-court press by Steamboat saw them take away the ball again and again to get a comfortable advantage over Craig, the win ultimately going to the Sailors at 29-24.

“We had some poor passing, and Steamboat really did a good job with their pressure,” said CMS coach Steve Maneotis. “We didn’t have a great week of practice, and I told them, you practice like you play and there’s the end result.”

The first loss of the season served as a “good learning curve,” he added, especially given their dominating performance at the Rangely tourney, beating Hayden 53-12 and the hosting Panthers 53-18.

“You come out of that thinking you’re Superman, and you kind of need the ‘S’ knocked off your chest,” Maneotis said. “We made a lot of mistakes, and most of that’s on me. We’ll fix them.”

CMS teams will play a triangular this weekend in Steamboat against the Sailors and Meeker. Nov. 9 is a tournament hosted by Soroco, and the next day will be Craig’s home tourney, bringing in Steamboat, Meeker, Hayden and West Grand.

Downtown Craig’s Trick-or-Treat Street provides sweet satisfaction

The sidewalks of Yampa Avenue were packed Wednesday as part of the annual Trick-or-Treat Street hosted by Downtown Business Association.

The yearly gathering of young costumed candy fanatics was full of families dressed as their favorite action heroes, monsters, princesses and more to celebrate the Halloween holiday.

With businesses along Yampa and Victory Way dishing out bag after bag of treats — as well as The Jungle Pet Shop’s Fish or Treat with free goldfish — Moffat County High School students also joined the fun in Alice Pleasant Park, dressed as the “Scooby-Doo” gang, “Ghostbusters,” the characters of “Winnie the Pooh” and the cast of the upcoming musical “Cinderella.”

Top 10 triumphs: Moffat County girls cross country team 6th, Wyatt Mortenson 9th at state championships

COLORADO SPRINGS — In a sport where the smaller the number is the better when it comes to results, Moffat County High School cross country runners were at their lowest and their highest all at once Saturday.

The 3A CHSAA State Championships were kind to Bulldog distance athletes, who set new standards in both individual and team rankings with some of their best outcomes in years.

Cut to the quick

Hayden’s Wyatt Mortenson again led the bunch of Bulldog boys, pushing harder than ever during the last stretch of the course at Colorado Springs’  Norris Penrose Event Center.

The split between the second and third portions of the 5K race was one of the most difficult he’s had to face.

“Second mile was really hard, but I really felt good there, and I actually caught up there,” he said. “Third mile I was going good until about the last 800. It just tasked my body a lot.”

The Classical Academy’s Mason Norman, whom Mortenson finished second to at the Eagle Valley Invitational, set the pace for the day with a course record 15:33.4, a full 45 seconds ahead of everyone else. Mortenson’s final time was 16:37.4, which earned him ninth place in the field of 160.

The result was far stronger than the 17:49 he posted in August on the same course at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede and a huge jump in the rankings from last year when he took 50th at state.

“Definitely could improve, but I definitely had a good race,” he said.

Mortenson’s placement is the highest for either Moffat County team since Brenna Ciesco’s ninth-place finish in 2012 and the best for the boys team since Alfredo Lebron won his state title in 2011.

Altogether, MCHS boys were 12th among 20 full teams, with Hayden’s Chris Carrouth and Keaton Knez next for the Dogs at 51st and 70th.

Carrouth concurred that the middle portion was the trickiest compared to a smooth start.

“First mile is quick, everyone gets out there and you don’t really feel it,” he said.

The intensity of other runners also added to the pressure, Keaton said.

“A lot of competition. I got cut off a lot, which is OK. I still ran well. We all ran well,” he said.

Coltyn Terry was the 100th runner for boys to cross the finish line, though a miscommunication from the announcers had spectators briefly under the impression he was leading the entire race.

“I must have really been flying and not even known it,” Terry laughed.

Theo Corrello was next at No. 120 in the first time at the state level for the Hayden senior, who joined cross country to bolster his track regimen for the spring.

“They welcomed me with open arms,” Corrello said. “I didn’t really have much of a goal this year, I just wanted to go for it and I did.”

Logan Hafey was shortly behind Corrello at 129th, while AJ Barber placed 159th in an event in which he wasn’t even expecting to compete.

Barber and Wilson Eike were alternates for the Bulldog boys team, and Barber got the call to get in motion when Kale Johnson was unable to compete.

“I didn’t even know until we got here, so I didn’t have a lot of time to mentally prepare,” he said. “This is what I’ve been working for three years, so it was nice to get here finally.”

The potential of the pack

Again and again this season, MCHS harriers stuck together like glue for as long as possible, and that strategy paid off in spades for the girls, earning sixth as a team, the best group result for Lady Bulldogs at state since taking fifth in 2014.

Hayden senior Makenna Knez placed 35th with a 20:36, bringing down the time and placement she earned in 2017’s finals — 21:20.6, 78th — in what would be her final cross country event.

A wave of emotions awaited her when she finally slowed down to catch her breath.

“It was relief that I was done running, but it was just sadness knowing it was over. It’s a lot more sadness for the seniors than pain,” she said.

Liberty Hippely had the best finish for Bulldog girls last season — 20:58.6, 63rd — and trimmed several seconds off that time Saturday with her 20:55.7, placing 46th. Halle Hamilton made it into the top 50 at 21:06.3 with Kelsey McDiffett coming in swiftly after her at 51st.

“Those hills were really tough, and you think you’re done, but then there’s a super-long straight-away,” Hamilton said. “All the girls start pushing then, so you have to keep up with them. There was a lot of elbows thrown, but that stuff just comes with running.”

Lydia Berkoff, Allison Villard and Emma Jones were comfortably in the top 100 of the field of 155 at 80th, 83rd and 88th, respectively.

The third time at state for Villard was her best yet, and she noted the weekly progress the group has also inspired her.

“We had such a good team this year, we did so great in every race,” she said.

Week to week, year to year

The girls’ ranking at sixth put them ahead of No. 8 Pagosa Springs, who denied the Lady Dogs a regional championship a week earlier, which was satisfying in itself, coach Todd Trapp said, though the more encouraging thing was seeing athletes give their all in their final race.

“Across the board, our guys and girls had a really great day today,” he said. “They had a lot more bounce in their step compared to the regional meet. They looked more recovered and ready to go.”

Each year, the introduction to Norris Penrose at the start of the season is one that gives runners an inkling for what they’ll face if and when they make it to state, as well as an incentive to improve, Trapp said.

“These kids have dropped whole minutes since the start of the season,” he said.

With seniors like Carrouth and Makenna Knez having run state all four years and Berkoff, Corrello and Barber taking on the top tier for the first time as seniors, the common denominator was one of leadership.

“This really is their day,” Trapp said of his upperclassmen. “We’ve had some great seniors with all the time they’ve put into the program.”

The past several months have been memorable, Makenna said, though it’s been far more than that.

“It’s been a whole four years to remember,” Makenna said. “Every year is different for different reasons, and I’m really glad. I think we all nurtured each other, we taught each other so much, and it was really a team experience.”