A week’s worth of reasons 
to celebrate what we have

The light bulb turned on last week. Actually, several light bulbs as I wandered around Happy Valley, all illuminating a few of the many reasons we have to celebrate and look forward to a bright future.

On Monday, I walked upstairs at the Avalon Theater intent on getting an update on water issues at the annual State of the River presentation by the Colorado River Water Conservation District. It was also a chance to say thanks to Eric Kuhn, the soon-to-be-retired head of the district, whose contributions to state and regional water discussions cannot be overstated.

That update was, as always, informative but it was the prequel to the river district’s presentations that found me in an optimistic mood when I pointed the old Land Cruiser back up Seventh Street toward home.

Certainly, the information shared in the back and forth about “Why Should the Business Community Care About Water on the Western Slope?” was interesting and valuable. But it was the makeup of the panel that left me feeling hopeful about our future. What I saw assembled at that table overlooking Main Street was a cadre of young professionals beginning to accept and assume leadership roles in our community.

The panel included Kristi Pollard, the homegrown executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership and Sarah Shrader, co-owner with husband Thaddeus of Bonsai Design and founder of the Outdoor Recreation Coalition focused on building our recreation-based economy. Seated with them were Sam Williams, general manager of Powderhorn Mountain Resort and another with longtime local roots, and Bruce Talbott, who talks knowledgeably about more than peaches, apples and grapes as a leader in the agricultural community. Alpine Bank vice president David Miller, probably the senior member of the panel, added his expertise as all answered questions from Adventure Bound owner Tom Kleinschnitz, now spearheading Moffat County’s tourism efforts.

Tuesday at noon, I had a chance to sit with Steve Schultz and Tom Parrish, who were on hand to watch the Grand Junction Lions Club hand out nearly $50,000 of the proceeds of our most recent carnival and raffle to several district schools. It was also an opportunity to see Schultz honored for his many contributions to local kids and their schools as a teacher, administrator and finally as superintendent. And a chance to get an update from Parrish about plans for a much-needed bond issue that could be on the ballot in November.

Whether or not any of us currently have kids in District 51 schools or among the newly minted graduates, we’re all the beneficiaries of schools, teachers and administrators doing their best with what resources they have. The honors, accolades and scholarships earned by local graduates bear witness to the quality of their education. We can only wonder what might come from additional resources targeted for safer and more modern facilities, updated technology and other student-focused improvements.

The weekend brought still more illumination.

While attending the “First Shot” ceremony marking the beginning of actual construction of the shooting range at Cameo, I was struck by two things. One, that the facility is another example of the partnerships that get things done around here, this one a joint effort of the Town of Palisade, former site owners Excel Energy and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The second was talking with John Hakes, another with generational local ties, about Mesa Precision Arms, still another local business most of us are unaware exists. If I could afford that 8.5-pound hunting rifle and scope John demonstrated to admiring shooters, it might add 10 years to my hunting career.

Friday, while reconnecting with Terry Farina over lunch downtown, I remembered calling on him sometime in the mid 1980s, assigned by local Democrats to see if he’d consider running for Congress. I recalled either Terry or Pat Gormley, who was also on hand, looking over their reading glasses and telling me they’d taken their turn, that it was time for “you young folks” to step up.

It’s a mantra I’ve repeated many times since leaving active politics. It’s gratifying to see another generational change with fresh and capable faces taking the reins and leading our community.

Jim Spehar values perspective now that he’s accumulated some, but thinks it’s past time for 70-year-old white guys to make room for younger leaders. Comments are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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