President coming to Junction on Aug. 15

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President Barack Obama will visit Grand Junction on Aug. 15 during a one-day tour to promote national parks.

The president will make stops in Bozeman, Mont., and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming on Saturday before flying to Grand Junction. He will then proceed to the Grand Canyon before finishing the day in Phoenix, Ariz.

Word of a location and time for Obama’s appearance could not be obtained Friday from the White House. Given the nature of the tour, Colorado National Monument may or may not be featured during the presidential visit. Monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo said she could not confirm whether the president plans to tour the monument, but she said the monument’s staff will be prepared if he does.

Anzelmo has handled presidential visits to national parks for nearly every president since Gerald Ford during her work at Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Great Falls and the national visitor’s center in Washington, D.C. But Colorado National Monument has not hosted a president since 1911, she said.

“It would be fantastic to have the president visit the national park unit in western Colorado,” Anzelmo said.

Mesa County Democrat Chairwoman Martelle Daniels also welcomes the president’s Grand Junction visit.

She said she plans to gather some items unique to the area to give Obama.

“I think it says a lot about how much he is concerned about what is happening in the West,” she said of his visit.

Daniels also believes the president will highlight health care and potentially local health care, given a glowing review of Rocky Mountain Health Plans in a June New Yorker article by Atul Gawande.

Mesa County Republican Chairman Chuck Pabst also hopes the president will discuss health care.

“I welcome him to look at a viable alternative to the solution he’s proposing on health care,” Pabst said.

Pabst said as of Friday afternoon the local Republican party had no plans for activities surrounding the president’s planned visit.

Colorado Secretary of State Bernie Buescher said he and Sen. Michael Bennet will be in town the weekend Obama arrives. The two had planned to be in the Grand Valley for the Palisade Peach Festival before the announcement Friday.

Gov. Bill Ritter’s spokesman, Evan Dreyer, said in an e-mail Ritter heard about the visit Friday morning.

“He enthusiastically welcomes the news that President Obama will be visiting the Western Slope,” Dreyer wrote.


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