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Inspire to Lead: Third annual Youth Summit slated for April 6

Middle- and high-school youth will be “Inspired to Lead” during the third annual Youth Leadership Summit, set for 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at Colorado Northwestern Community College.

All middle- and high-school-age youth are invited to attend this free, youth-driven event, according to Jill Hunstad, Grand Futures Moffat County youth development coordinator

In April, about 50 middle- and high-school students attended “Inspire to Grow.” During the event, volunteers from Rise Above Colorado encouraged kids to create posters, and the top three posters were reproduced and displayed in schools and throughout the community.

This year speakers will include School Resource Officer Ryan Fritz, Moffat County United Way Executive Director Kristen Vigil, and Rise Above Colorado’s Jonathan Judge. Youth will also lead breakout session activities. Prizes will be offered by Grand Futures.

Transportation sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of Craig will be provided to the college, with buses being staged at the Safeway parking lot and at City Park.

A continental breakfast will be catered by KS Creations Bakery, and lunch will be catered by Subway.

Grand Futures, the Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership, and Communities That Care are sponsoring the event, with United Way, Boys & Girls Club of Craig, Grand Futures, and CNCC organizing and providing in-kind services.

Registration is at 9 a.m.

For more information, call Jill at 970-824-5752, Reina at 970-699-6778, or Annette Norton at 970-757-0187.

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

Craig City Council will discuss police canine proposal Tuesday

Corporal Grant Laehr, of the Craig Police Department, will present the Craig City Council with a “canine team proposal” at council’s regular meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, at City Hall, 300 W. Fourth St.

Other council business may include discussions about City Attorney Sherman Romney’s contract, which will be conducted during executive session toward the end of the meeting.

For more details, see the agenda below.


Moffat County Economic Trends — Unemployment continues to rise

CRAIG — The unemployment rate for Moffat County rose to 5.2 percent in February, topping the highest rate reported in 2018.

A 4.8 percent rate was recorded in December, compared to a rate of 4.5 percent recorded one year ago.

The current rate translates to an estimated 396 people unemployed and a workforce of about 7,290.

Moffat County's unemployment rate for February was higher than the state average of 3.7 percent, unchanged from statewide averages recorded in January. The national unemployment rate for February decreased two-tenths of a percent in February, ending at 3.8 percent, which was 1.4 percent lower than Moffat County.

Employers in Colorado added 700 non-farm payroll jobs from January to February, for a total of 2,749,600 jobs, according to a survey of business establishments by Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Private sector payroll jobs increased by 1,200, and government decreased by 500.

For the year, the number of Coloradans in the labor force increased by 84,400, total employment increased 56,900, and the number of unemployed increased 27,500, according to CDLE.

Across the state, the largest over-the-month, private-sector jobs gains were in professional and business services and financial activities. The largest over the month decline was in leisure and hospitality.

There were 146 jobs advertised online in Moffat County as of March 23, according to data from the CDLE.

The same data shows the five employers with the most advertised vacancies in Moffat County included Memorial Regional Health and Moffat County School District; each is seeking 21 employees.

Ace Hardware Corporation was seeking seven employees, and Pizza Hut and Wendy's were each seeking six new employees.

Over the year and across Colorado, the average workweek for all employees on private non-farm payrolls decreased slightly from 33.3 to 33.1 hours, and hourly average earnings increased from  $28.42 to $29.93 per hour.

Moffat County workers’ take-home pay increased slightly from prior months, averaging $23.78 per hour, $951 per week, and $49,452 per year through wages, continuing to trend below state averages.

The non-farm payroll job estimates are based on a survey of business establishments and government agencies and are intended to measure the number of jobs, not the number of people employed, according to CDLE.

Additionally, the unemployment rate, labor force, labor force participation, total employment, and number of unemployed are based on a survey of households. The total employment estimate derived from this survey is intended to measure the number of people employed.

Freedom Hooves Therapeutic Riding of Northwest Colorado: Horses valuable partners in human healing

Did you know that horses can read human emotions, such as sadness or nervousness, even before we've even consciously registered them? Horses are known to provide "mirroring" and biofeedback of human emotions, allowing participants a compassionate partner who responds and reflects in a way that brings awareness, opens neural pathways to healing patterns, and reduces stress and anxiety. Experiencing the rhythmic motion of a horse can be very beneficial, as well. Riding a horse moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait, so riders with physical needs often show improvement in flexibility, balance, and muscle strength. The research is solid; horses are valuable partners in healing the human body, mind, and spirit.

Through Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies, about 70,000 children and adults, including more than 6,700 veterans, find a sense of health, wellness, independence, and fun worldwide. Freedom Hooves Therapeutic Riding of Northwest Colorado is beginning its seventh year of impacting lives in our region by connecting the healing power of the horse with the needs of our community. Whether it’s a 5-year-old with Down syndrome, a 45-year-old recovering from a spinal cord injury, a senior citizen recovering from a stroke, or a teenager struggling with depression, research shows individuals of all ages who participate in equine-assisted activities and therapies can experience physical and emotional rewards.

Under the helm of our new Program Director Talisha Christiansen, participants and volunteers will engage with horses throughout our 2019 season, running May through October. This year's lineup of programs includes the following

• Therapeutic Horsemanship — Provides therapies for riders with needs (cognitive, developmental, emotional, physical, sensory)

• Ranch Hands — Teaches youth ages 12 to 21 to overcome challenges

• Horsemanship and Job Skills, Horizons Specialized Services — expands opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities

• Family Services — Supports the healing process for family units

• Veterans and First Responders Program — comes alongside heroes through horsemanship activities.

If you or a loved one is facing mental, emotional, or physical challenges, consider participating in one of our programs. If the thought of helping others through horsemanship interests you, please consider serving our community through volunteerism or financial support.

Did you know horses can smile? Join us this year as we share smiles, and learn with us. Community members, regardless of prior experience, are welcome to come and help us train our therapy horses on Tuesday evenings through the season, beginning April 16. Additionally, volunteers to assist participants or to care for our equine partners are encouraged to join our wonderful horse care team. Are you interested in being a participant, but not sure if you qualify? Please connect us for more information.

March 30 claims the date for our annual fundraiser dinner, set for 5 p.m. at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. Join us as we celebrate the beginning of another great season and learn about all we have to offer. Participant and volunteer applications will be available, along with all the fun and activities. If the weather is just right and the stars all align, perhaps our unicorn will make an appearance at this special event.

Save the date of June 1 and join us on our family-friendly trail ride at the Bureau of Land Management's Duffy Mountain along the beautiful Yampa River in Moffat County, Colorado.

For more information, visit freedomhooves.org, come by the BBQ Dinner Fundraiser 5 p.m. March, 30 at the Moffat County Fairgrounds, email freedomhooves@gmail.com, or call 970-701-9085.

Connie Sue Ellis is the facility owner and instructor and was recently appointed executive director of Freedom Hooves. 

Most of Colorado is now drought-free after a few weeks of heavy snowfall

What a difference a few weeks can make. Over the past month, Colorado has gone from nearly 70 percent of the state in drought to less than 5 percent. That drenching happened over the past month, a four-week period that included the snowiest early March that most Summit residents can remember. Yet it remains to be seen whether the season’s precipitation will put much of a dent on the region’s near-20-year drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, which uses water flow levels and other data to assess drought conditions across the country, shows that only 6.4 percent of the state’s land area is experiencing drought conditions, with 46.1 percent being considered at least “abnormally dry.” Compare that to the middle of February, when 67.2 percent of the state was in a drought and 91.8 percent abnormally dry.

For Summit County, the difference has been especially staggering. Summit and 39.7 percent of Colorado were experiencing at least a “severe drought” on Feb. 19. Today, the county is back to normal conditions, with only 0.6 percent of the state experiencing severe drought or worse.

The reason for the striking drop in drought area is obvious: it’s all about the snow. The state now stands at 140 percent of normal snowpack. Southwest Colorado, which suffered the most from last year’s arid summer, is seeing anywhere from 150 to 157 percent average snowpack.

Government officials and conservationists worried about the impact one of Colorado’s driest winters on record would have on water levels in reservoirs across the region. The hot, dry spring and summer of 2018 was also accompanied by one of the worst wildfire seasons in state history.

And while the new precipitation is very promising, it is just one drop in the stream of time. According to the drought monitor, Colorado has been experiencing sustained dryness since the late ’90s. Since 2000, the longest duration of drought in Colorado lasted 395 weeks, or nearly eight years, beginning in October 2001 and ending in May 2009.

“The drought monitor is a snapshot of what’s happening now and ramifications into this upcoming summer,” said Jim Pokrandt, director of community affairs for the Colorado River District. “But there’s a longer-term picture, the long-term drought from the year 2000 through this year.”

Pokrandt said that since 2000, Colorado has only had four years at or above average levels. The 2018-19 winter will be the fifth, but he said one big year does not end a long-term drought.

“If we have three or four more of these years of average snowpack, we might talk differently,” Pokrandt said. “But I would not say the drought’s back is broken.”

County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier echoed Pokrandt’s words of caution, noting that the drought was so bad just last summer that remnants of Old Dillon resurfaced from the bottom of the lake. There is a lot of recovery left to go, she said.

“We’ve had very high temperatures for March, and the snow is already starting to melt off,” Stiegelmeier said. “Just because we have all this precipitation now doesn’t mean that in two months that we won’t be dry again since we get most of our precipitation in March and April.”

Stiegelmeier said that this snowfall may be a “blip” in the long term, and if the summer is once again hot and dry, Summit might run into the same problems as last year.

“We’re all dealing with less water and higher temperatures because of climate change,” Stiegelmeier said, noting how 40 million people use the Colorado River across the West. “Higher temperatures create so much evaporation, that even with above-average precipitation we’re losing a lot of water to the air.”

Regardless of whether the long-term picture is made any rosier, this upcoming spring will be very muddy, at the very least. Dillon ranger Bill Jackson cautioned residents and visitors to not use muddy trails if at all possible, as they can be deceptively dangerous and use during mud season can contribute to long-term trail damage. Additionally, Jackson cautioned adventurers to avoid crossing creeks and waterways to get where they’re going.

“In the morning, water flows might be low, making creeks easy to pass,” Jackson said. “But in the afternoon, when the temperatures get higher, there’ll be more runoff from the mountains, and you might get cut off.”

Travelers in the area are advised to follow standard precautions in the spring, including notifying someone of where they are heading to and keeping an eye on weather forecasts for potential storms and flash flooding.

Are you safe from injury at your workplace?

From a fall down the stairs to respiratory problems, people need medical attention for all kinds of work-related injuries or illnesses. Physician Assistant Carol Bolt is one of the providers at Memorial Regional Health who treats workers' compensation injuries and accidents.

Workplace injuries can cause physical, emotional and financial hardship for families. For employers, they can cause significant direct and indirect costs such as wage costs, administrative time, training costs, lost productivity and more, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

"OSHA believes that adoption of injury and illness prevention programs based on simple, sound, proven principles will help millions of U.S. businesses improve their compliance with existing laws and regulations, decrease the incidence of workplace injuries and illnesses, reduce costs (including significant reductions in workers’ compensation premiums) and enhance their overall business operations," according to a 2012 white paper published by OSHA about injury and illness prevention programs.

Through WorkWell — MRH's occupational health program — Bolt and other providers not only treat employees from several companies around Craig, they also provide pre-employment physicals, wellness visits, and go on site and educate work teams on how to stay safe at work.   

"A requirement of the coal mining industry is to have workers get regular chest X-rays and education on how to limit exposure to coal dust, and on quitting smoking, as smoking compounds their risk for respiratory problems," Bolt said.

Workplace injury prevention resources

Employers in the area are encouraged to sign up with WorkWell, a complimentary service provided by MRH that works hand-in-hand with local employers to increase healthcare access and lower workplace injuries and healthcare costs. The program provides a convenient way for employees to receive education on injury prevention, care for injuries when they occur, fulfill workplace health requirements, and distribute general health and wellness information. A 24/7 service line is available to schedule healthcare appointments.  

The MRH Medical Clinic providers support the program by performing physicals, treating workers' comp injuries, and providing education and drug testing.

WorkWell helps oversee the healthcare needs for over 50 companies in Craig, including several of the mines. Healthcare providers also travel to these companies to give safety talks and assessments for how to prevent common injuries.

Bolt said it's common to see patients with injuries that resulted from a slip or fall at work. In the mining industry, respiratory problems, and back and shoulder pain are common.  

"People who work in the mines seem to have shoulder issues from all the above-head work they do, and back injuries from the heavy lifting," Bolt said.

To prevent injury at work, heed this general advice: Be aware of your surroundings. Wear protective equipment that's advised or required, even if it's not always comfortable. Avoid taking shortcuts to get the job done faster. Travel safely. Prepare for extreme temperatures. Stay hydrated. Get adequate sleep. Ask questions if you are unsure how to do a task. Slow down and be careful.

"Don't hesitate to report injuries when they happen. I've seen people be afraid to report health problems because they think their employer will think negatively of them, but if someone waits too long the injury can become chronic, and may not be covered under workers' compensation coverage," Bolt concluded.

Stronger and stronger: Craig native Jasen Kettle pushes past own record weight in bench press event

Jasen Kettle would be hard-pressed to find something he doesn’t like about the weightlifting world.

The Craig native and 2010 Moffat County High School graduate has spent the past several years building his strength and power, narrowing his focus and racking up some impressive numbers.

Jasen recently won the Jack Robinson Lifting Classic in Greeley for the fourth straight year in the bench press event with a lift of 345 pounds, more than twice the body weight of the 27-year-old, whose frame tips the scales at 155.

However, the feat was only one of many he has achieved in recent years, which includes setting a Colorado record — certified by United States Powerlifting Association — in September 2017, when he hit a mark of 342 at his then-body weight of 156 at the Colorado Fall Open.

His state record has since been broken, and since the recent lift was not at an official event, his new best was not technically recognized.

Still, the accomplishment meant a great deal to Jasen, who has been honing his body for most of his adult life, which largely started in the MCHS Bulldog weight room for sports including football, baseball and track.

He also credits his dad, Dale, with getting him on the path, as well as the namesake of the Jack Robinson Classic.

“He was the one who introduced to the idea of doing it as a competition,” he said.

Routine is crucial, between diet and workouts, he said, adding that his tactic is to get “a high number of sets of low reps at heavy weight.”

“You’ve gotta be really self-motivated, get to the gym whenever you can, stick to a regimen,” he said. “Keep going at it.”

Though he has a good crew of supporters in the gym, he does a lot of his training solo.

Outside of his physical pursuits, Jasen studied earth science and geology at University of Northern Colorado and works for West Greeley Conservation District, which works with rural landowners and city dwellers in the area and educates on soil health, erosion, and land preservation, among other agricultural topics.

“Not really a lot of heavy lifting in that job,” he laughed.

Though he’s less interested in full-fledged bodybuilding, Kettle is also hoping to build his capabilities beyond the bench, such as deadlift and squats.

“I haven’t done those yet, mostly because when I’m working on bench I’m not really 100 percent focused on the other stuff,” he said. “I really want to get my squats up before I’d compete in that.”

Jasen added he thanks his wife, Kaylee, and his parents, siblings and friends for the support they provide regularly on the path to getting increasingly stronger.

And, he’ll continue to be on the lookout for Front Range events to keep pushing to new bests.

“As long as they’re having competitions in the area, I’ll be looking for them,” he said.

Craig youth wrestlers move on to Rocky Mountain state meet after rocking regionals

There was no dogging it for Craig wrestlers as they took the next big step of the spring season Saturday.

Grapplers representing Craig Middle School and Bad Dogs Elite Wrestling are on their way to state following a successful day at Rocky Mountain Nationals‘ Region 5 Tournament in Montrose, with four kids ending the event as champions and many more placing.

After ending the regular season as district runners-up a week earlier, CMS athletes moved beyond the school schedule as Billy Lawton and Alex Reno claimed first place regional honors through RMN.

Lawton continued a year that has been pure gold — including a district title — with only one opponent in the 152-pound weight class, pinning Olathe’s Kalob Archibeque twice.

Reno, who earned second place in Meeker during districts, was likewise in a sparse bracket among the middle school heavyweights. He took two falls against East Grand’s Jacob Barr to stay No. 1 on the day, the first of which he gained after only 51 seconds.

Though the season is coming to the end for CMS, Bad Dogs Elite Wrestling is just getting going, and a pair of the youth grapplers placed first in Montrose.

In the fourth- and fifth-grade division, Bad Dogs Orion Musser (100) and Kolten Vasquez (113) each had a 2-0 run; Musser earned a 7-0 decision and a pin, while Vasquez took a pin to start followed by a 14-2 major decision.

Apart from the four champs, Craig boasted 10 more athletes who placed.

After achieving wins at districts, Blake Hill (160) started the day pinning Meeker’s Judd Harvey, only to get taken down by Bryson Tweten-Duke of Mount Garfield in the finals. Hill retained the silver when he was paired again in the second-place match against Harvey, winning by rule.

As the youngest of the Bad Dogs in Montrose, Chance Hixson was paired twice with Dove Creek’s Kycen Gritz, taking second.

Kaden Hixson competed for the Bad Dogs after gaining a district win for CMS, ultimately taking third in the RMN tourney. A 27-second fall and 14-0 began his run before he took a 6-4 defeat to Gunnison’s Royce Uhrig in the semifinals. Two more pins later, he had the bronze guaranteed and might have had a shot at second, though with Uhrig losing the gold, the by-rule format kept him at third in the 90-pound class.

CMS’s Brody Wiser (95) also finished as No. 3 with more matches than any Craig kid at 5-1. A 6-1 win versus Tayton Nelseon of Cedaredge was followed by a 7-5 loss to Meeker’s Trae Kennedy. From there, Wiser gained four pins as the terror of the consolation rounds.

Taking fourth for the day was Bad Dog Koy Weber, who had trouble later in the day, including a last-second tiebreaker in the semis of the 89 class, nonetheless starting with a fall against Cedaredge’s Logan Stillings.

In fifth was CMS’s Colt Call, going 3-2, complete with a 39-second pin, and decisions of 5-3 and 9-6 among his victories at the 85 weight.

Noah Duran (80) took sixth at 2-3 with one fall and a 7-6 win to start the tourney before facing tough foes in later rounds.

In seventh were CMS’s Memphis Herndon (140) at 2-2 — each win by pin — and Bad Dog Cyrus Goldsmith (130) at 1-2 with one fall.

Rounding out the placers was CMS’s Tyren Schaefer (105) in eighth at 2-3 with wins of 12-5 and 10-7.

RMN Events will host the Colorado Middle School State Championships and Colorado Elementary Super State Championships March 29 and 30 in Denver.

Craig Press will have a larger recap.

District Attorney decides not to file charges in Rangely officer-involved shooting death

RANGELY — No charges will be filed against Rangely Police Lt. Roy Kinney or any of the officers involved in the shooting death of Daniel Pierce, 58, last December. Ninth Judicial District Attorney Jeff Cheney outlined his reasons for the decision in a 12-page letter released earlier this month following the completion of an investigation conducted by the 9th Judicial Critical Incident Team.

Pierce, who moved to Rangely late last summer, had several altercations with the Rangely Police Department in the week prior to his death, according to the letter.


 Dec. 4, 2018: Lt. Kinney and Rangely Police Chief Vince Wilczek responded to reports from Rangely High School students about a man attempting to coax them into a van. Wilczek and Kinney identified Pierce as the owner of the van and spoke to him. Pierce's answers prompted Kinney to contact Pierce's mother in California, who told him her son had been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic several years earlier.

– Dec. 8, 2018: The Rangely PD encountered Pierce again when bank personnel reported an incident in which Pierce told a teller "he was coming back Monday and Jesus was coming with him." Kinney contacted Pierce at home. During that interview, Pierce reportedly said he was Jesus Christ in the flesh and asked Kinney to examine scars on his feet and wrists. Kinney asked Pierce "whether Jesus Christ felt like hurting anyone or himself today," to which Pierce responded in the negative. Following that interview, Kinney contacted mental health personnel and was told Pierce was not subject to a mental health hold or commitment because he said he was not harmful to himself or others.

– Dec. 10, 2018: Pierce approached Lt. Kinney outside the Kum & Go store and told him, "the person who is causing all this trouble is in the school and has his girlfriend tied up in the basement." Later that night, a car was reported stolen from the Kum & Go store. Surveillance video indicated Pierce took the vehicle and left the parking lot. The owner of the vehicle told Kinney there was a rifle "that he did not think was loaded" in the front seat and ammunition in the vehicle, as well as a large knife.

– Suspect eludes officers: RBC Deputy Max Becker notified dispatch the stolen vehicle was southbound on Hwy. 139 and he was following the vehicle in a marked patrol vehicle, but would not initiate a traffic stop without back-up. Kinney responded to the request for back-up in his patrol vehicle. Chief Wilczek and Officer Tyrinn Hamblin (now interim chief) also responded, all in patrol vehicles with visible decals, lights and sirens.

Kinney caught up to the vehicle and passed it, at which time Pierce turned around and started heading northbound toward Rangely, ignoring demands via loudspeaker to pull over. Spike strips deployed by Wilczek deflated one front tire, but Pierce continued driving erratically, narrowly avoiding a collision with an oncoming vehicle. When Kinney attempted to pass Pierce, Pierce swerved toward the patrol vehicle. Kinney deployed a second spike strip, deflating the other front tire.

When Pierce attempted to turn left toward Rangely at the intersection of highways 139 and 64, Officer Hamblin was instructed to "bump" Pierce's vehicle, causing the vehicle to spin 360 degrees and stop facing northbound again.

With police vehicles on both sides and with Kinney's patrol vehicle in front of him, Pierce rammed Kinney's vehicle, causing extensive damage. Wilczek and Hamblin exited their vehicles, calling for Pierce to show his hands, which he did not do. As it appeared Pierce was about to ram Kinney's vehicle again, Wilczek said he was going to shoot out the rear tire in an attempt to further disable the vehicle. Still in his patrol vehicle, Kinney did not hear Wilczek's announcement, and when he heard the gunshot, he believed Pierce was shooting at Wilczek and Hamblin. Kinney fired twice through the windshield of the stolen vehicle, striking Pierce in the head. Within seconds, Wilczek fired an additional shot at the rear tires. All four shots were accounted for.

It was determined that Pierce was still breathing, and Kinney began efforts to get Pierce out of the stolen vehicle for the medical attention. Pierce was transported by ambulance to Rangely District Hospital where he later died.

Read more at theheraldtimes.com.

Craig teams forming as Steamboat Soccer Club expands

Steamboat Springs Soccer Club announced Friday it will form Craig Soccer Club, a satellite club for Craig players.

"We are excited to announce this opportunity for soccer players in Craig. They currently don't have an active soccer program aligned with the Colorado Soccer Association, and players travel 60 miles to play with Steamboat teams,” said Rob Bohlmann, director of Steamboat Soccer Club, in a news release. “This is a great opportunity to share the positive environment we've created at SSC over the past 35 years with the community in Craig."

Bohlmann will be joined by Doug Siegel, coach of the Colorado Northwestern Community College men's team, to help launch the program.

SSC plans to hire local coaches in Craig to run the practices and coach games. SSC will also provide foundational support for running a successful grassroots soccer program. Interested coaches can apply by contacting the Steamboat Soccer Club office.

Organizers plan to host a four-week season in May and June for players ages 9 to 14. Practices will take place twice a week, with games taking place on weekends between Craig and Steamboat teams.

An informational meeting takes place at 6 p.m. April 9 at CNCC, room 175.

For additional information visit http://www.steamboat-soccer.com or call 970-870-1520.