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Photos: CNCC hosts Spartan Showdown in Craig

Colorado Northwest Community College hosted its home rodeo, the Spartan Showdown, for the first time ever at the Moffat County Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday in Craig.

Homecoming parade canceled due to weather

The Moffat County School District has canceled the homecoming parade on Friday, Sept. 30, because of to heavy rain.

At this time, the tailgate party and the homecoming football game are still scheduled to take place. The tailgate party will be moved inside to the first floor commons inside Moffat County High School, 900 Finley Lane.

The football game will start at 7 p.m. at the Moffat County football field.

Humane Society of Moffat County offers financial assistance for some pet owners

The Humane Society of Moffat County is offering assistance services for local low-income pet owners. 

Through the program, Moffat County residents can receive financial assistance for essential services for their pets. 

Assistance services include spay or neuter expenses, emergency veterinarian services for injury or illness, emergency boarding assistance, and dog and cat food. 

Funding has been provided in part by grants from the Animal Assistance Foundation, Yampa Valley Community Foundation, and Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund. 

The local humane society has partnered with Craig Veterinary Hospital and Bear Creek Animal Hospital to provide these services. 

For more, call the Humane Society of Moffat County at 970-824-7235.

Severson Supply & Rental receives outstanding salesperson award

On Sept. 27, Dan Severson of Severson Supply & Rental Company received the Gerry Leake Excellence Award. 

This award is presented once a year to an individual who displays outstanding dedication, effort and superior performance in selling Esco Group LLC products. 

ESCO is a worldwide company, and in North America and Canada they give out the Gerry Leake Award to one salesman per year who excels in selling their products. Gerry Leake was an exemplary employee of ESCO, and the company created the award to honor his legacy. 

Dan Severson represents the second generation in his family to manage Severson Supply & Rentals, which has grown and expanded several times over the years. 

The business has been working in the community since 1975 as a mining and construction wear parts supplier. In 2006, Severson opened its equipment rental division and in 2014 became an authorized Bobcat dealer, adding to a collection of other trusted brands. 

Typically, ESCO holds an annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the Gerry Leake award is presented, but it has not been held since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

Dan said that he did have the honor of working with Gerry for a couple of years before he passed away, and receiving the award was an honor.

Craig residents spark conversation about crosswalks on US 40

A man’s presentation to Craig City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 28 requesting a crosswalk on U.S. Highway 40 highlighted the need for a larger plan to develop highway crosswalks in the city.

Local resident James Mathey told council members about the need for a mid-range crosswalk on Victory Way between the Centennial Mall and Pizza Hut to address pedestrian safety concerns and improve pedestrian access to the new Moffat County Courthouse at 1198 W. Victory Way. 

Council members acknowledged the effort that Mathey put into suggesting a solution but said that a larger study and plan for crosswalks would need to be done before a project could move forward. 

In his presentation, Mathey highlighted the need for “safer pedestrian access to the newly created hub” behind McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Pizza Hut near the former K-Mart building. 

There is an existing Craig-to-Steamboat bus stop in front of Pizza Hut, which could benefit from an improved pedestrian crossing. Also, surrounding businesses in the area that are currently difficult to access on foot could benefit too, he said.

Mathey pointed out that pedestrians are already crossing at this point in the highway and sometimes get stuck in the middle double-turn lane, waiting for a break in traffic to finish crossing. 

A view from the Centennial Mall parking lot to Pizza Hut and the future location of the Moffat County Courthouse in the K-Mart building.
James Mathey/Courtesy photo

The presentation provided several photos and diagrams suggesting a location for a midrange crosswalk. Mathey provided research and quotes for a Tapco crossing system, which allows pedestrians to push a button to trigger flashing lights to signal they are about to cross. 

“I appreciate you bringing a solution to us,” council member Derek Duran said. “In our budget retreats, we’ve been starting to discuss funding for construction, planning and engineering for crossing U.S. Highway 40, not only in this area, but also at Walmart because there is a need. The busier this town gets, the more bus stops and foot traffic there is going to be.” 

Any type of pedestrian crossing on U.S. 40 would need to be approved by the Colorado Department of Transportation, and based on traffic safety data, CDOT is unlikely to approve a Tapco crossing device at the proposed location. 

Craig Mayor Ryan Hess, who previously worked as a technical accident reconstructionist investigating crashes that resulted in deaths, said he has access to a ton of data on safety measures for traffic engineering. 

“What research tells us is that unmarked crosswalks are actually safer than marked mid-block marked crosswalks in particular configurations,” Hess explained. “If you get hit by a vehicle going 40 mph, your chances of dying are 85%. If you get hit by a vehicle going 20 mph, your chances of dying are only 5%.”

Hess said the first thing state transportation officials are going to look at is the speed of traffic, which is 35 mph at this location before increasing to 45 mph in the next block. This section of the highway also has a high volume of traffic with 14,000 vehicles traveling it per day. 

With the high speed limit and traffic volume, installing a marked crossing at this location may create too much of a risk to pedestrians and a liability for CDOT, Hess said.

Traffic safety data shows that these types of mid-range crosswalks can actually make the crossing more dangerous for pedestrians, especially in an area with five lanes of traffic. The pedestrians, who have the right of way, often walk out into traffic, and the cars in the middle lanes may not see the flashing lights or the pedestrians because of large vehicles in the other lanes. 

“That’s where it becomes dangerous because pedestrians are more likely to cross at a marked crossing,” Hess said. “They are more bold because they do have the right of way.” 

According to Hess, the safest way for pedestrians to cross is in front of stopped vehicles at a traffic light. However, the nearest traffic light at the cross section of Victory Way and Finley Lane has other issues with walkability from lack of sidewalks and curb access. 

Council member Chris Nichols said that based on the presentation and the current budget meetings, council is taking the issue of crossings on U.S. 40 very seriously. According to Nichols, the city has budgeted for a physical study to see what can be done for crosswalks on U.S. 40.

Once a study has been completed, the city can go to CDOT with a plan and ask for approval. 

“We are working on it. I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight like you’re proposing,” Nichols said. “Until we get a study done, I just don’t see a lot happening. But we’re listening.”  

Mathey said that he hopes his presentation provokes a study to improve pedestrian safety along Victory Way.

Additional business

  • City Manager Peter Brixius said staff is still working on negotiating a lease with Con-Edison for a commercial solar farm on city-owned property near the wastewater treatment plant. 
  • There will be a budget retreat on Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Colorado Northwest Community College Library, and city officials hope to have a completed budget format after the retreat. 
  • Council member Tom Kleinschnitz attended the Colorado Tourism Conference last week and recommended that Craig City Council focus on a short-term rental tax policy in the next year. There are 19 Colorado communities that are going to be voting on a short term rental tax this year.

MSCD Whiteboard: Meet your 2022 homecoming royalty

Among the many traditions of homecoming week is that of homecoming royalty.

Students at Moffat County High School voted on members of their classes to represent them as king, queen and attendants, as well as a pair of honored faculty. Each elected royal will be honored tonight at the MCHS football game.

Get to know the MCHS homecoming royalty:

Honored faculty

Karen Chaney is in her 15th year with Moffat County School District. After four years at the Alternative school, Chaney is now in her 11th year with the social studies department. Chaney teaches AP U.S. History, AP U.S. Government, American Government, Intro to Criminal Justice and Intro to Criminal Law. She likes to garden, read and play trivia.

“Without question, one of the best parts about teaching here is getting to know the students and watching them grow,” Chaney said.

Joe Padon is a MCHS graduate himself from the class of 2003. Padon is in his 12th year teaching at MCHS. He teaches a variety of business and technology classes and is a former basketball coach of 10 years and former golf coach of four years. Padon has been married to his wife Lauren for 13 years. She is also a teacher in the district at Ridgeview Elementary. The Padons have two daughters, Macy and Olivia. 

Padon said he is grateful for this honor and can’t imagine teaching anywhere else. He loves Moffat County, the teachers he works with and the amazing students here at our school.

Freshman attendants

Millie Lowe is the daughter of Rachel and Josh Lowe. Her favorite subject is writing and English because it allows her the opportunity to voice her feelings and opinions through words. She competes in volleyball and is active in acapella choir. After high school, Millie wants to attend college to pursue her passions. 

Porter Webb is the son of Jamie and Derrick Webb. His favorite subject in school is biology because he enjoys learning how different organisms work. He is involved in football and basketball. After high school, he would like to go to college and become an anesthesiologist.

Sophomore attendants

Hannah Kilpatrick is the daughter of Melanie and Casey Kilpatrick. Her favorite subject is English because it allows her to express herself in many different ways and she enjoys reading and writing and being creative. Hannah competes in cross country and is active in DECA/FBLA, band and theater. After graduation, Hannah plans to go to college for food sciences and get a degree in microbiology.

Tate Green is the son of Chad and Kacey Green. His favorite subject in school is ag. He is active in wrestling, FFA and 4-H. After high school, Tate plans on attending Trade School.

Junior attendants

Emma Tucker is the daughter of Luke and Michelle Tucker. She competes in volleyball and basketball and is also active in FFA. Emma’s favorite subject is science because she enjoys the hands-on approach and the technical aspects of it. After graduation, Emma plans to become a kindergarten teacher. 

Jimmy Jimenez is the son of Estella Munoz. His favorite subjects in school are weightlifting and history. Jimmy is active in football and track, and after graduation he would like to become a Navy Seal.

Senior attendants

Alexis Jones is the daughter of Misty and Don Jones. Her favorite subject in school is science because she really enjoys biology and learning through experiments. Alexis competes in volleyball and track and she is active in Key Club, Dog Pack, NHS and Student Council. Upon graduation, Alexis plans to pursue a science of nursing degree to become a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.

Billy Lawton is the son of Lisa and Chad Lawton. Billy’s favorite subject is construction because it’s hands-on and something he sees as a valuable skill in his future. He is a veteran wrestler at MCHS. He plans to get to work right after high school with an interest in the oilfield, ranching or construction. 

Senior queen and king

Lizzy LeWarne is the daughter of Michael and Allison LeWarne. Her favorite subject is science because she enjoys learning about biology and the way the human body functions. She competes in volleyball, basketball and track and is an active member of National Honor Society and Dog Pack. After high school, Lizzy plans to attend college to study nursing and become a traveling nurse.

Johnny Lopez is the son of Daniel Lopez and Gloria Alvarez. Johnny’s favorite subject is English because you learn and talk about real world problems and how to be a critical thinker. Johnny is involved with football and basketball and would like to go to college to become an engineer.

Craig City Council OKs grant to support Community Budget Center site improvement

The Community Budget Center was awarded a small business grant for $8,535 to upgrade the exterior facade of its downtown location. 

On Tuesday night, Sept. 27, Craig City Council approved the center’s grant request for site improvements including removal of the current turquoise and gray exterior facade, new signage and restoring the original brick storefront to match the sides of the building. 

Community Budget Center Vice President Delaine Voloshin appeared before council along with the center’s new executive director, Nancy Grijalba, and bookkeeper Wendy Nordstrom. 

“We really do good business downtown,” Voloshin said. “We’re a big draw downtown, but we think that by having the facade removed, it will certainly make it a more appealing building,”

The Community Budget Center has been in business for 25 years and its downtown location at 555 Yampa Ave. was built more than 100 years ago to service cars and wagons, according to the grant application. On Tuesday, Voloshin showed a picture of the original building with a horse-drawn carriage parked in front. 

The building has had several different purposes over the years — from an upscale dress shop to an auto parts store to a furniture store. Since the budget center moved in, it has become an attraction for thrifters throughout the region, and it serves as a hub for accepting local donations of used goods. 

“Even though we are a nonprofit, we bring in a lot of money to the community from various areas,” said Voloshin. “And the money that we receive does go back into the community to help people who may be in need with different programs that we have available.” 

The Community Budget Center is funded through donations and grants, as well as the sale of donated items. Currently, there are 13 employees, in addition to many volunteers throughout the year. 

The overall improvement project is estimated at $17,071, and all of the work is being sourced through local businesses. The Community Budget Center aims to complete the project by mid-December.

Small business grant program

City Council approved the small business grant for the Community Budget Center 5-0, with two council members abstaining from the vote. Council members unanimously expressed their support for the center’s work, but council members remained divided on the public value of the small business grant program.

Council member Tom Kleinschnitz abstained from the vote, stating that he feels the city should move away from the small business grant program, though he also emphasized that the budget center is a vital part of the community. 

Council member Paul James also abstained from the vote with similar sentiments. 

“I just don’t see facade improvement as public-cause and it’s been a long heated debate for me,” James said. “I worked very closely with Karen for quite a while, but as far as the public money, I don’t want to say no because I do appreciate you, but I am on the same page as Kleinschnitz that I am going to be abstaining.” 

Other voices on the council expressed support for the small business grant program, including council member Chris Nichols, who has been a strong supporter of the program to improve the community in general.

Nichols explained that the small business grant program has inspired other businesses that were not awarded funding to make facade improvements and building upgrades.

“If we are going to transition from an energy community to attracting new businesses to this community we have to improve the looks,” Nichols said. “It has to be a warm inviting community where people want to move.”

Council member Sean Hovorka expressed support for the program stating that as Craig improves downtown, it draws more people to the area.

To date, there have been seven small business grants approved this year, spending $58,035 of the $85,000 allocated. That leaves $26,965 in available funding and the final deadline for applications to be submitted is Oct. 21.

14th District Attorney requests 12% budget bump with staffing ‘nearly in crisis’

The 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is requesting a 12% budget increase for next year, a move that hopes to stave off a staffing crisis in the office that prosecutes crimes in Routt, Moffat and Grand counties.

District Attorney Matt Karzen met with commissioners in each of the counties on Tuesday, Sept. 28, to request an 8% increase in his budget for personnel, which he said would be helpful to the office when competing for employees with other prosecutor’s offices and resort town sandwich shops.

“We are, I can tell you, nearly in crisis scenario in terms of our ability to recruit and keep qualified people,” Karzen said. “It’s not quite a crisis, but we’ve had a vacancy in our Moffat County office for some time.”

There will be another deputy district attorney vacancy in Grand County in October, as Karzen said that prosecutor lost their lease and has been unable to find an affordable option.

Routt and Grand county commissioners approved the proposed budget increase on Tuesday, but the board in Moffat County said it needed more time to assess their own budget before they could OK their share of the increase, which is $92,728 for next year.

While Moffat Commissioner Tony Bohrer admitted the increase is likely needed, he said they are trying to find about $1.7 million in their budget to give their own staff significant raises for the first time in 20 years. Also looming is a substantial decline in revenue in county coffers expected when the Craig Station powers down later this decade.

“We’re sitting here at about a $1.7 million increase just in our salaries … and still trying to figure out a budget knowing in four to six years you’re going to lose 47% of your budget,” Bohrer said. “I don’t see how we can’t do this, to be honest with you, but I want to make sure that where we are going to slide the money over and do those things before we make that decision.”

Bohrer said Moffat County should be ready to approve the budget by late October or early November. If Moffat would need to request a change to what Routt and Grand approved, it would require the three county boards to reconvene and reapprove the district attorney budget.

The three counties fund the District Attorney’s office based on population, with Routt paying the largest share of about 46%. Still, that is a slightly smaller portion than it was last year, as the 2020 census actually showed a decline in population when compared to 2019 American Community Survey estimates.

This increased Moffat County’s share of the personnel budget and is why its portion of funding increased 17%, while Grand County’s went up 12% and Routt County’s just 10%.

Prior to approving the increase, Grand County Commissioner Rich Cimino said while the increase for next year is steep, he trusts Karzen will use the money efficiently.

“I’ve been here six years and I’ve seen DA Karzen and his predecessor — man they’re thrifty,” Cimino said. “I’m glad we had this conversation, I’m glad we scrutinized this budget, but we’re ready to approve now.”

In addition to personnel expenses, Karzen said part of the increase is because they need to purchase a new vehicle for the office. He also asked for a total of $63,000 a year to significantly upgrade the office’s technology capabilities.

Currently, the office has different IT services in each county, sometimes requiring prosecutors to have multiple computers to log in to multiple private networks. While this has worked, Karzen said they have been exposing more and more problems with this system amid short staffing.

This is increasingly important as prosecutors are working across counties. For example, Karzen said the entire frontline prosecuting corps in Routt County would be out for the next two months with new babies.

“What I’m trying to achieve here is sort of the efficient and smooth operation of our information,” Karzen said. “I can get a ton of work done in the evenings or on weekends regardless of what county I need to be in if I can quickly get in and out of the information I need. The more I’m able to do that, the more [thoughtfully] I’m able to do my job.”

Money for a pretrial services program in the 14th District is not part of next year’s budget. Routt County is taking the lead to study the concept and Karzen said he has received several proposals to assess what program might fit the district and how it might be funded. A program could launch in 2024, he said.

“Right now, we’re taking it in steps and the committee’s preference was let’s get this data, let’s get the results of this study and then start looking at what a program might look like,” Karzen said.  

Pipi’s Pasture: Picnics on ordinary days

I’m guessing that just about everyone enjoys a picnic, and that goes for adults and children alike.

When I was a kid growing up on the ranch we planned picnics for special occasions, such as when we went on fishing trips. However, some of my favorite and most memorable picnics took place on ordinary days, right there on the ranch, and they were connected to work . These picnics were lunch breaks. (Lunch was better known as “dinner” at our house).

For example, I have been thinking about these “ordinary” picnics during the past few beautiful fall days because that was what the weather was like when we took picnic lunches down in the field where Dad was working.

In the fall when the hay was up, the cattle had been gathered, and they were grazing on the meadows, Dad took the opportunity to complete fall work. Perhaps he was plowing a section of land for spring planting or putting a culvert in the creek that ran through the field, or a number of other jobs.

Since Dad usually drove the tractor down into the field, he didn’t want to drive clear back to the house for dinner so we kids and Mom fixed a picnic meal to take to him.

We didn’t have lunchmeat, chips, or soda in those days (they were reserved for special occasions). We didn’t have “boughten” sandwich bread, either, except for school lunches. Mom baked bread weekly.

Sandwiches for our picnic were likely made from a filling of cooked ground meat, pickles, boiled eggs, and mayonnaise or maybe from leftover roast beef. We also took homemade cookies or cake and iced tea or a soft drink. When everything was ready, we drove it down to the field in the pickup truck.

We chose a shady place under a bunch of chokecherry and serviceberry bushes, and Dad got off the tractor and joined us. I can still remember that Dad used his gloves to check the tall grass under the bushes, so he wouldn’t sit on a sharp rock. Then he sat down. We all did the same and passed around the lunch and enjoyed one another. If we were close to the creek, we kids checked it out later for minnows.

When we kids joined Dad to check cattle on summer pasture, we carried our lunches wrapped in our jackets and tied to the back of the saddles. Our picnics were in lovely places in the forest.

Many times Dad and the other ranchers also ate lunches together when they were checking or moving cattle. During hay season, however, Dad and the hired men came to the house at noon for dinner.

Some ranch families did eat dinner in the hayfield—big meals such as pork chops, potatoes, and gravy. Can you imagine carrying big meals to the field each day?

Picnics on ordinary days were special, mainly because the family was together. We got to talk about nature, community history, and family backgrounds. It was wonderful.

Faith: The most effective wrestling techniques exist in Scripture

“For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)

As I meet, talk and pray with Christians, I’ve come to realize we all have a hard time staying focused on the spiritual aspect of our Christian life because it is unseen and therefore unfamiliar to us. So the needs and pressures of everyday life become overwhelming and often intrude on the time we’ve set aside to read the Bible, pray or just be still and know that He is God.

I don’t begin to understand how this happens, but, I can be really “into” a passage in the Bible when a random thought about what to have for dinner pops up. In a split second my focus is derailed, and it’s really hard to refocus on that passage. Where did that random thought come from … and why right now?

I do understand that God has an enemy who is determined to keep me from knowing Him and living life in His kingdom. This enemy has been active since “the beginning” in the Garden of Eden when he spoke to Eve and challenged what she thought about God and the obedience He asked for regarding the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3).  

From that story, it’s clear Satan obviously believes our thoughts are fair game and he knows how to insert distractions into our minds. He is called the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2 ESV) and “ruler of this world” (John 14:30 ESV), so he understands life on earth better than we do.

We are so innately self-focused we tend to think every thought in our minds must be our own. Which is why Scripture tells us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV). I must wrestle against thoughts that distract me from my focus on the Lord, His Word and whatever I was doing. 

In John 14:30, Jesus says that the ruler of this world is coming but, “He has no claim on me.” Satan believes he has a claim on Christians, and that’s why he won’t leave us alone. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

We have protection and effective weapons against the schemes of Satan, but we have to learn and practice them. God doesn’t want to control us — He wants us to grow. He lets us learn from our mistakes as well as successful accomplishments so we can recognize our weaknesses and strengths.

God’s plan for our victory is rooted in the life, death and resurrection of the only One on whom Satan had no claim, Jesus, God’s only Son. The moment anyone believes Jesus is the Son of God who died to pay for his or her sins, that person becomes a child of God, and receives the Spirit of God who “will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13 NASB)

Our most effective wrestling technique is found in James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” We don’t have to pin Satan to the mat and hold him down for a certain amount of time. Jesus has already defeated him. We live our lives in Jesus’ victory. His Holy Spirit enables us to bring every thought captive, resist the distractions, and maintain focus on the One who gave all He is so we could have abundant life. (John 10:10 NASB)

Victoria Van Couvering is Women’s Ministry Director at Craig Christian Church. She can be reached at victoria_van_c@yahoo.com.