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Work and Life Skills has support

County officials would like to make program permanent

Collin Smith

Other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 2-0, sponsoring the Fueling Thought Energy Summit 2009 event for $500, with the condition that Moffat County can hang a banner during the convention.

Yampa Valley Partners will host the event.

Commissioner Audrey Danner asked court personnel to note in the meeting minutes she was once employed by Yampa Valley Partners. She served as the group's executive director until February, a few months after being appointed to fill a vacant commission seat in early December 2008.

Danner recused herself from voting on the funding request, but she did make the motion for the county to sponsor the event.

Commissioner Tom Gray criticized Yampa Valley Partners for charging what he considered "expensive" fees for people to attend.

The information presented throughout the event is important for the community, he said, and residents should be able to hear what is said about climate change, renewables and the economy.

Yampa Valley Partners charges $159 for admission to all speakers, spread across two days, which includes refreshments Thursday, and breakfast, lunch and dinner Friday.

Kate Nowak, Yampa Valley Partners executive director, said her group has considered moving the event to a bigger venue in Steamboat Springs so there could be room for more sponsorship booths. That way, her group could move from funding the event through registration fees to sponsorships.

Yampa Valley Partners also offers "scholarships" for residents who can't pay the whole fee. For more information, visit the group's Web site at http://www.yampavalleypa...

• Approved, 2-1, a roughly $1,388 property tax refund for county resident Pierre Johnson on the basis his property was incorrectly zoned vacant residential as opposed to agricultural.

Johnson had farmed the land for several years before selling it at the end of 2007. The Assessor's Office reclassified the land as vacant residential based on a May 2008 inspection wherein a county official did not see any agricultural activity.

Johnson lost contact with the man who purchased the property, and, believing he would have to repossess it at some point, began farming it in summer 2008. He legally took back the property in January 2009.

Danner said she cast the dissenting vote because the land was not meant to be farmed after it sold, and she wanted to follow the Assessor's Office recommendation to deny the refund.

• Approved, 3-0, a personnel requisition to replace a full-time grounds facility technician with the parks and recreation department after an employee resigned.

Per a new county policy, Tammy Seela, parks and recreation manager, provided the Commission with a written statement justifying why the position should be filled. She cited the need for full-time staff support at Loudy-Simpson Park, which is open seven days a week and hosts numerous community events year-round.

Other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 2-0, sponsoring the Fueling Thought Energy Summit 2009 event for $500, with the condition that Moffat County can hang a banner during the convention.

Yampa Valley Partners will host the event.

Commissioner Audrey Danner asked court personnel to note in the meeting minutes she was once employed by Yampa Valley Partners. She served as the group’s executive director until February, a few months after being appointed to fill a vacant commission seat in early December 2008.

Danner recused herself from voting on the funding request, but she did make the motion for the county to sponsor the event.

Commissioner Tom Gray criticized Yampa Valley Partners for charging what he considered “expensive” fees for people to attend.

The information presented throughout the event is important for the community, he said, and residents should be able to hear what is said about climate change, renewables and the economy.

Yampa Valley Partners charges $159 for admission to all speakers, spread across two days, which includes refreshments Thursday, and breakfast, lunch and dinner Friday.

Kate Nowak, Yampa Valley Partners executive director, said her group has considered moving the event to a bigger venue in Steamboat Springs so there could be room for more sponsorship booths. That way, her group could move from funding the event through registration fees to sponsorships.

Yampa Valley Partners also offers “scholarships” for residents who can’t pay the whole fee. For more information, visit the group’s Web site at http://www.yampavalleypa…

• Approved, 2-1, a roughly $1,388 property tax refund for county resident Pierre Johnson on the basis his property was incorrectly zoned vacant residential as opposed to agricultural.

Johnson had farmed the land for several years before selling it at the end of 2007. The Assessor’s Office reclassified the land as vacant residential based on a May 2008 inspection wherein a county official did not see any agricultural activity.

Johnson lost contact with the man who purchased the property, and, believing he would have to repossess it at some point, began farming it in summer 2008. He legally took back the property in January 2009.

Danner said she cast the dissenting vote because the land was not meant to be farmed after it sold, and she wanted to follow the Assessor’s Office recommendation to deny the refund.

• Approved, 3-0, a personnel requisition to replace a full-time grounds facility technician with the parks and recreation department after an employee resigned.

Per a new county policy, Tammy Seela, parks and recreation manager, provided the Commission with a written statement justifying why the position should be filled. She cited the need for full-time staff support at Loudy-Simpson Park, which is open seven days a week and hosts numerous community events year-round.

Three Moffat County High School students appeared at the Moffat County Commission meeting Tuesday with the same message.

The Work and Life Skills Program should be a mandatory class for any student who wants to graduate.

The problem is, the program was designed to be a one-and-done special opportunity for students from eighth to 12th grades, said Susan Whinery, a retired teacher and the Work and Life Skills Program coordinator.

The only reason it existed was because of an unexpected grant for about $111,000 from Moffat County Social Services.

The Commission agreed that is a problem.

“Seventy kids benefited from this, and we have 150 graduates every year,” Commissioner Tom Gray said. “We’ve heard for years in this community we need to train our kids for how they can get a job. It seems like we found a way to do that.”

The Work and Life Skills Coalition – made up of representatives from businesses, Moffat County School District, Colorado Workforce Center and Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership – hopes to find a way to continue to carry the torch.

The group plans to meet next week to discuss its options, EDP Director Darcy Trask said.

Whinery told the commission it plans to, at the very least, apply for enough grants to fund the program another year.

The course also could take other forms, such as becoming a regular high school class, but that is far from agreed upon.

School district superintendent Pete Bergmann said he is a “big supporter” of implementing some kind of post-secondary training, meaning work and/or college readiness.

He was part of the coalition from the start and has been working with the Colorado State Board of Education since late last year to develop statewide requirements for post-secondary readiness.

“This was very successful,” Bergmann said about the Work and Life Skills Program. “I hope it serves as a springboard for the school district to integrate and implement this kind of curriculum at the high school.”

The Moffat County School Board supports the idea, as well, Bergmann added. Its members directed the School Accountability Committee to investigate what local business owners, parents, teachers and students thought they needed to improve to succeed after high school.

The committee’s findings eventually informed most of what the coalition turned into the program’s curriculum, Bergmann added.

He plans to be at the coalition’s meeting next week to discuss the program’s future.

Whinery cautioned it could be difficult to re-create the program’s success if only the school district is involved, however.

“To me, it’s the business involvement that made the difference,” she said. “They heard from the people who have the power to hire and fire, and I think that made the biggest impact.”


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