E-mail letters, June 14 2011

Police should be stricter
on expired license plates

Over the past year, I have noticed dozens of vehicles who’s license plates have expired up to a year ago. Last week, on my way to town, there was a State Patrol car with two officers in the lane next to me. Directly in front of it was a vehicle with expired plates. They were beside me from Clifton all the way to 30 Road when that vehicle turned left.

I would like to challenge all law enforcement officers in Mesa County to start writing tickets for
those expired plates. I am betting if they pull them over, at least 90 percent of them have expired insurance also. This would generate a lot of money for government if officers would just pay close attention.

I think this is only fair, since I have to pay monthly insurance and yearly tags. Next time you are in
a major retail parking lot take a look at those plates and count up how many have expired.
Janie May

Converting electric plants
from coal to natural gas

Remember the video that Newsbusters exposed back in 2008, the one where then Sen. Barack Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle that he planned on intentionally bankrupting the coal industry?  It had to do with “global warming.” Oops, that was a hoax. “Climate Change” is the preferred terminology now using the same scare tactics to demonize the coal industry.
A June 9 article in Coal News talks about two new EPA pollution regulations that will hurt the coal industry. Government data concluded that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost and electric rates will skyrocket as much as 23 percent.

The EPA considers the hit the industry will suffer is worth the health benefits.  The EPA claims a savings of $290 billion in annual health and welfare benefits in 2014. The purported savings includes preventing up to 36,000 premature deaths, 26,000 hospital and emergency room visits, and 240,000 cases of aggravated asthma. You can take this analysis to the bank!  The EPA with 19,000 employees provided the numbers using a secret formula.

According to the article, “Energy Cost Burdens on American Family 2010,” from the May Coal News, energy prices have risen steadily for the past two decades, with the sharpest increase over the past five years.  Gasoline and residential natural gas have increased the most, (131% and 100% since 1990, respectively).  Residential electricity prices have increased just 49% since 1990, below the rate of inflation of 67 percent. Using coal for approximately 50 percent of electricity generation has helped to keep electric prices low.
As a retired coal miner, I know the coal industry and its employees are genuine, good-quality people. I do not have a secret formula for this, but I suspect if you replace the 19,000 EPA employees with coal miners, they would contribute more to the economy and we wouldn’t have to worry about turning the lights on.
Dick Conkle
Grand Junction

Airport security fence is
detrimental to the public

The Commemorative Air Force, CAF, is a national organization dedicated to honoring military aviation and educating the public about the history that air power played in the defense of this nation. The Rocky Mountain Wing is the local affiliate of the CAF and has been a tenant of the Grand Junction Regional Airport for over 25 years. 

Installation of a limited-access gate to the general aviation area of airport is detrimental to the CAF for the following reasons:

1. The RMW has 70 plus volunteer members who would be effectively denied access to their facility and museum as only a few would have badges. Many are retired on limited income and cannot afford paying for a badge annually.
2. The visiting public would not have open access to the museum that is free and an asset to Grand Junction.

3. The Rocky Mountain Wing would be denied income from facility rentals to aviation organizations and special events such as anniversaries and memorial services.

4. Scheduled evening FAA Safety Seminars would be curtailed.

5. Tours of our museum by school groups, senior citizens groups and veterans from the VA Hospital would be greatly reduced due to cumbersome logistics.

6. CAF members from other airports would not be able to fly into Grand Junction and have the ability to leave and return to the RMW facility. Many do this for shopping and in support of the local economy.

While these have direct consequences on the CAF, it must be noted that the negative impact on general aviation of this limited-access gate is not a requirement of Homeland Security or the TSA. It has been sold as such, but in truth, is simply an individual’s local agenda to spend tax payer money at the expense of general aviation and local businesses
Robert (Bob) Thompson

Area conservatives failed
to support convention

Where were you on June 11? You say that you want to save America. Really?

The Save American Convention (open to the public) came to town June 11 with solutions. Where were you? At your child’s ballgame? Working? Rafting? Taking a day off? Spending time at something else?

Singer/songwriter Joyce Shaffer spent thousands of her own money and sold her precious horse to get the message out. What “horse” will you sell or do without to save America?

Where were members of the Western Slope Conservative Alliance, tea party, 9:11, gjresults, church attendees and anyone else reading this column?

Freedom isn’t free. Shame on you! We can’t slack off. We must keep up the fight!
Julie White
Grand Junction

Hickenlooper listened to
Coloradans’ concerns

The announcement recently weeks ago, (“Governor vetoes fees on kids’ health care program”) proves that the voices of Colorado’s families are being heard.

As faith leaders who are part of the PICO Clergy Action Network, our members joined with many others to encourage Gov. Hickenlooper to protect the health coverage of Colorado’s children. We applaud his decision to prevent these additional fees and his commitment to find other ways to address the state’s rising health care costs.

Health insurance premiums have already grown twice as fast as the average Coloradan’s wages, and are expected to take up 40 percent of the average Colorado family’s income in the next few years. Gov. Hickenlooper saw the financial and economic impact of these rising costs for everyday Coloradans and stepped in to protect the many children and families who would face the burden.

It’s clear that the voices of Coloradans matter. Positive change like this will continue to happen when we tell our leaders that getting the care we need, when we need it, shouldn’t require managing unpredictable costs.

Thanks for listening, Gov. Hickenlooper.
Rev. Dan Wilkie, United Church of Christ
Rev. Mike Burr, Koinonia Church
Grand Junction

U.S. shoulders burden
of non-war in Libya

Early on in the “not war” with the Libyan government, the American people were told by our president that we “have worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition.” Further, it was explained that our objectives were essentially to establish a no-fly zone and to protect innocent civilians. He also stated that this is “not about regime change”, after both he and Hillary Clinton had already stated that Gaddafi must go.

President Obama stated that he had approval from NATO and many Muslim countries to take action against Libya, although to date, he still has not received approval from Congress, as is required by the Constitution.

This is quite easy to understand, as Obama and his ilk view the Constitution as a living, “organic” document, a document that he should be able to change at his discretion, in the event that the existing language does not provide him with the latitude he desires in order to move forward with his liberal agenda, take military action, etc.

We were assured that America’s involvement with the “not war” would strictly be in a supportive role, or as his advisor stated, we are “leading from behind,” and that this not war would be of short duration. Now, almost three months after the initial launch of air strikes against Libya, we learn that the U.S. is shouldering 75 percent of the expense and that most of the all-so-supportive NATO countries have scaled back their involvement, financially and militarily.

Obama and his staff certainly have done a great job of building a “broad coalition” to achieve such well-defined objectives in Libya, and now unofficially have spent a billion dollars in the process, at a time when American taxpayers can least afford it.
Don Boyles
Grand Junction

City trash haulers prove
friendly and helpful

I would like to thank the city of Grand Junction Waste Removal Department. I missed my trash pick up this morning and called to ask if there was any way I could get anyone to return.

I called, and was greeted by a very friendly man who offered to call the driver and ask for him to return. I was delighted to come home this afternoon and find my waste had been removed.

Thank you to all who contributed.
Crystal Pierce
Grand Junction

Locals shouldn’t control
nation’s public lands

Jim Spehar is correct, as well as personally courageous, to point out that the public lands are owned by all the citizens. Rose Pugliese and Josh Penry won’t go wrong in playing to the local house, but it is still a greedy attitude. Numerous locked gates, of questionable legality, around the West, testify to this mindset

This viewpoint might very well seem reasonable to folks hereabouts, but if you were to tour New England, you might gain a different perspective. There, one must have a town sticker to use the launch ramp. The clam flats are strictly for the use of the locals. And the beach, should one find access, is limited to below the tide line.  Never mind that many of those fancy houses are covered by federal flood insurance

“They” tell us all politics is local, and it’s largely true, but it isn’t necessarily the best way to run a country. And then there’s that bit about the squeaky wheel.
Jim Thayer
Grand Junction

Scenic school is more
than outdated building

I would like to strongly urge the School Board to abandon the possibility of closing Scenic Elementary School.

One of the biggest contentions is the feeling that Scenic needs to be remodeled to be less noisy and safer. Yes, one day, when we have money to spare, it might be a good idea to update the school.  ranted, the design is a bit unusual, but it functions.  Whatever the Board’s design objections are, don’t tell the principal, the staff or the students. They love their school.

As a parent of two Scenic kids, I love their school, too. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the physical design of the school. But, it has everything to do what is contained within that building. You can’t touch it, but you can feel it.

It’s called caring, and it starts at the top with the Principal, Doug Levinson. This man goes far beyond the call of duty and has devoted his career to making a difference in the lives of our children. It isn’t a living for Doug, it is a way of life. His wonderful attitude and aptitude are apparently contagious, because the entire staff shares his same enthusiasm. Each and every one of them!

They teach our children to work hard and be nice, and they too will make a difference in this world. But the difference with this school is that the staff doesn’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. And 240 children walk in their footsteps, with their heads held high and their minds growing each and every day of every school year.

Yes, the building might need remodeling. But the school housed within that building is priceless.
Sheree Blair
Grand Junction

If we can’t save school,
save Scenic’s staff

Having been recently notified that the School Board for District 51 is suggesting that Scenic Elementary be closed for the 2012-2013 school year, I have to question the decision process of the board.

I understand that tougher economic times call for spending cuts, but it makes no sense to close the best performing school, regardless of its location. Principal Levinson, his staff, and teachers are absolutely amazing, and if we want to best serve our community and our children it is vital that we keep this team together, even if they are moved to a different location.
Any intelligent business or organization that is looking to do more with less should not look to layoff the best employees who provide the highest results. All we have to do is look around at the other schools in District 51 and we can quickly determine that too many are not performing as the community needs.

Let’s shake up those facilities and put this amazing team in place. Wherever they go, I will want all of my children to follow. The school board must be encouraged to think outside the box. If we can’t save the Scenic Elementary location, then we must save the most important parts, and that is Mr. Levinson’s education team, whole and intact.
Joshua P. Starr
Grand Junction

Student wants to remain
at Scenic Elementary

I go to Scenic Elementary. I’m going to be in the third grade and I am 8 years old. I’ve been going to Scenic since kindergarten and I love it there.

My teacher’s have helped me when it was hard for me, and Mrs. Nelson especially helped learn to read. Now she may be losing her job. Mr. L greeted me every morning and made sure I was safe.

I don’t want to go to any other grade school so please don’t close Scenic.
Mikayla Loughlin
Grand Junction

District 51 must show
it values quality education

Scenic Elementary should not be on the cutting block. As artist in residence there, I learned how the school ran. As a sub, I’ve seen the workings of many schools.

The old open concept exists at Scenic but that situation has been modified. What I found there, is evidence that students are aware their behavior effects the rest of the student body, therefore the school is quiet, engaged and learning. I met teachers who did not have to constantly ask for quiet. Students already knew this because teachers worked well together, cooperating and mentoring behavior for everyone’s success.
The district is wrong to consider closing Scenic since it is actually a top-notch school as evidenced by good CSAP scores over the past years. The district should examine just why people want their children to attend this school over the newly built or remodeled schools with walls. It is because they realize the importance of effective education and know that Scenic delivers.
When will administration stop relying solely on data since data can be slanted however someone desires, another result of politics.

As a professional teacher, with years of experience at all levels, teaching teacher-training classes, doing curriculum-writing, being an administv Valley. Why destroy an effective school?
The Daily Sentinel’s June 12 article on no cuts to administration demonstrates again more politics. How can anyone justify adding on more paperwork (keeps jobs for paper crunchers) for teachers who will be overworked with larger classes due to layoffs?

Cutting 51 reading aids and not administration will not help literacy. Our kids do not learn to read from administration. If Superintendent Steve Schultz truly believes education is the foundation of democracy, then let’s see cuts at his level.
Administration seems bogged down with handling discipline problems due to parents who will not listen to anyone anyway. Let these parents help in a classroom a while or find alternative satisfaction elsewhere.

When the government sends down unfunded mandates on partisan issues, those legislators need to be voted out. To actually devise procedures that will help education, those doing so, should be mandated to spend at least 3 to 6 months in actual classrooms, working as teacher aides. Some eyes would get opened.
It’s time we enable teaching staff to do their jobs unencumbered, educate those parents who need parenting skill and stop the political moves motivating administration. Our school board could use some backbone as they listen and make their decisions. Visiting a class for 5 minutes or having a good-feeling chat with administration does no good. Value where education happens — in the classroom!
Vera Mulder

Staff and students show
quality of Scenic Elementary

I am writing this letter concerning the closing of Scenic Elementary School. Scenic has been a part of our family’s life for the past two years.

I would like to express my love and respect for the school and its staff. The staff lives by the school’s motto, “Working hard and being nice.” This shows in how they interact with and teach the students.

The students, in turn, are a reflection of this motto.

Not only do I have the privilege of being a parent of a Scenic student, I have also had the opportunity to get to know the staff through volunteering in the classroom setting. I have observed that the staff not only care about the child’s experiences in the classroom, but about who they are as an individual and what makes them unique.

Before the beginning of each school year, Principal Doug Levinson greets each student by riding his bike around the Redlands area to stop by their house and welcome them to school. This kind of personal care and attention is shown not only because of who Doug is as a
person, but also because we are a family.

The closing of Scenic Elementary would be devastating to my daughter and our family. I speak for myself, my husband and other parents when I say that the closing of Scenic Elementary would have lasting negative effects on our children and community. I urge the district to look at other means of cutting our budget, and not punish our students by closing schools.
Heather Williams
Grand Junction

Parents choose Scenic
because of small classes

I have a daughter who is 10 years old, and she is currently attending Scenic Elementary. She is “school of choice.” That means, we made a conscious choice to send our daughter to Scenic.  The reason is that it is the perfect school for her, along with many other children in our valley.

Our daughter had attended Wingate from kindergarten to second grade. She started her third grade at Wingate, but a few weeks into the school year, she wasn’t the same little girl.  She wasn’t happy in school, and she complained that the class was so big that she couldn’t hear the teacher.  She was getting lost.  We were concerned for her well-being, and her education.

My husband attended Scenic when he was a little boy, and loved it. Not only that, but Scenic is actually closer to our house than Wingate. My daughter and I decided to visit Scenic, and we both fell in love with it.

Every single person on Scenic’s staff is fantastic!  There is not one “bad apple.”  Everyone welcomed Gracie with open arms.

Principal Doug Levinson knows every single kid in his school, by name. I don’t think there has been one time that I have seen him sitting in his chair, in fact, I don’t even think he has a chair!  He is involved in every aspect of his school, always trying to make it better than the day before

He isn’t the only one who has this work ethic and pride in his school. The entire staff does, and that enthusiasm rubs off on the student’s, making it a positive learning environment, and teaching our kids to be good people.

This is why we continue to choose Scenic for our daughter.  She loves it there, she get’s a good education, and she has learned beyond the three Rs.

Don’t close Scenic. It needs to be available for kids who need a smaller environment. America’s financial problems were not created by our schools, so let’s not take it out on them, especially the good ones!
Erin Rome
Grand Junction

Some would pay fee
to keep Scenic open

It is with a heavy heart I must beg for my child’s education. Yet here we stand as parents, however small in numbers, asking politicians, to grant our children some mercy. Strangely, that sounds like dictatorship to me.
At Scenic we’re family, and in the face of this battle, we’ll unite and face it as one. 
The idea of closing Scenic elementary is equivalent to asking St. Mary’s to close because we just can’t budget quality medical care.

Quite candidly, American education is under such pressure from budget cuts that quality education is nearly an oxymoron in this society. It’s a struggle to just get the generals down with big classroom sizes, where, unless a student is excelling, they’re unfortunately not granted the attention and focus they need to succeed.
At Scenic, Principal Doug Levinson, the staff and teachers take the time to know each student’s name, their parents, and all aspects of their learning processes in a way that I didn’t experience at other local elementary schools.

There are a million different things that make Scenic such an amazing environment, just one being Mr. Levinson reading to the kindergarteners and his principal awards at flag ceremony every Friday. They do not let any child fall to the wayside, but as a family, they guide them and nurture them to success. To deny this kind of education by closing a school is heart- wrenching.
I would rather pay a monthly fee than see Scenic close. What is $50 a month? Not much when you think in terms of Starbucks or a pair of jeans. It’s time we got our priorities straight and set our children up to succeed in our fast paced world with a quality education. What a loss to our community if this school is closed.
Randelyn Snow-Rafferty
Grand Junction

Scenic is a family
with high standards

When you walk into Scenic Elementary School, you are not just walking into a school where kids learn and teachers teach; you are walking into a family — a family that cares for one another.

It doesn’t matter if it is a high-achieving student or a student who doesn’t care for learning, each child is treated with a high level of respect. I can tell you all about how great Scenic is because I attended the school for six fabulous years.

Every teacher is amazing. Throughout my time there I did not have one bad teacher. Scenic picks the best of the best teachers. It seems like it would take years to find these fantastic teachers. Any time a teacher moves away it is because of his or her life circumstance and not because they don’t like the school or who they are working for.

I remember in third grade the principal came to our class and told us that we are like soft concrete and teachers make imprints in our concrete and if we allow them to stay, they will soon harden. This is saying that teachers make an imprint in our lives.  This is exactly what Scenic teachers do.

When I first started at Scenic, I did not like math. When I entered sixth grade, I was placed in honors math. In first grade I struggled with reading, and because of the hard work of the teacher and a very dedicated reading aide, I began to love reading and I became proficient.

I would reconsider the possible decision to close Scenic Elementary if I were you. It isn’t just a high-achieving school; it is a school with high standards and a very caring staff.
Kiara Morrison
Grand Junction

Scenic learning set
stage for success

It has come to my attention that a proposal to close Scenic Elementary School is being considered by District 51. I wish to express my opposition to this plan.

I am a member of a family including three Scenic alumni. I believe the years I spent at Scenic during the 1980s were pivotal in getting my education and my personal development off to a strong start.
Scenic’s small atmosphere fostered a feeling of family, achievement and inclusiveness that I believe has gone by the wayside in many school districts. My years at Scenic were among the most enjoyable of my school career, so much so that I created a Facebook group to get in touch with my former classmates. On several occasions, it has been suggested to me that a Scenic reunion be planned, which is a testament to the nature of relationships that were fostered by Scenic’s tight-knit, caring learning community.
Further, I believe the quality of education one gleans from an intimate learning environment, like Scenic, cannot be paralleled in a larger school. After completing my years at Scenic, I went on to be the valedictorian of Fruita Monument High School’s 1998 class and, later, to earn my Ph.D. I am convinced that the learning opportunities provided to me at Scenic were crucial in setting my trajectory toward achieving such goals.

As a current public school employee, I can testify to the importance of a small school setting and personal connections between students, families, and school staff.

I urge the school board to consider keeping Scenic Elementary open so that generations of future students can experience the type of quality education I and my former classmates look back upon with utmost respect and fondness.
Melanie M. Potyondy

Closing Scenic would
result in more problems

Closing Scenic Elementary, a top performing, de facto “magnet” elementary school, will likely exacerbate rather than solve mounting District 51 budget concerns, and also worsen the educational experience for the remaining area schools forced to accommodate the sudden swell of 247 displaced students.

Worse, the board proposal to close Scenic appears to be agenda-driven rather than a thoughtful deliberative process to address budgetary concerns.

Closing Scenic to expand Broadway into a bigger one down the street makes no programmatic or economic sense, nor does the resultant and inevitable overcrowding of both Broadway and Wingate appear desirable.

Yet without any public input, nor identifying or considering and publicly debating any other alternatives, the District has seemingly already made the decision to target and close Scenic due solely to its unique size and design — attributes that are suddenly deemed dated, flawed, and outmoded.

This is certainly news for the many committed Scenic families like ourselves — with three Scenic kids — fortunate enough to attend Scenic and who have experienced a dynamic, inventive, and top tier school, in an oasis-like setting.

Rather than being negatives, the size and scale of the school and its unique layout are positives, as is evidenced by its ability to consistently draw and retain school of choice families. Something certainly contributes to its consistently excellent test results and the overwhelmingly positive experience.

Closing Scenic would accomplish little, other than to illustrate the bemoaned “race to the bottom” mentality that seems to plague modern public education. Such decisions should not be arbitrarily made by committee based upon innuendo, but by the very constituents whose children’s lives will be profoundly affected following meaningful analysis and public debate. 
David Mueller
Grand Junction

Learning to be individual
was part of Scenic lesson

As a devoted Scenic Elementary alumnus, I am sincerely and deeply saddened by the prospect of its closure. My education at Scenic undoubtedly set me on a path of academic achievement and independence, and I am truly thankful for it.

The faculty at Scenic has always fostered a respect for accomplishment and creative thought, and this has led me to the pursuit of a doctorate in physical therapy at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine, Anschutz Medical Campus. It is from my third year of this intensive graduate program that I pull myself to write this letter. Of course, I state my current academic pursuits only as an example of the importance of Scenic Elementary and its promotion of academic excellence.

I firmly believe that my perceptions of academics, achievement and self-motivation were established at a very early age. Dare I say during my elementary school years at Scenic? I believe my experiences at Scenic helped to mold me into the person I have become today.

At Scenic I was able to realize my true potential for creative thought, whether it was through studying toads in Mr. Beebe’s Canyon, writing my own part for a play in Mrs. Danielson’s class, participating in the EEE program, singing songs in music with my mom, or during the innovative Cultural Fair Day.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, at Scenic I learned a lot about what it means to be Elise, even if that meant wearing only a black turtleneck and black see-through tights to kindergarten. (Of course Mrs. Wagner called my Mom, and she made me put on pants.)

With that, I implore the Grand Junction community to take a stand for academic excellence, creativity and Scenic Elementary.
Elise Willett

Closing Scenic Elementary
would be a travesty

At the school board meeting on June 7, one of the members made a recommendation to have Scenic permanently closed starting the school year of 2012-2013. This is a travesty!
For those of us family members who have children attending Scenic, we would implore those board members to vote down this recommendation without reservation.

From a logistical stand point, Scenic Elementary has one of the lowest number of students, with Broadway running a close second, admittedly maybe the enrollment numbers are down at the present time. But what does that mean?
As the other elementary schools in District 51 average 450 students per school, it means our children would be consumed and distributed. Most of these students would be re-zoned to Broadway. However, there are expenses with that plan, transportation, staffing and those are to just name a couple.

It doesn’t even touch on the reality of what happens over the next 5-10 years when our economy is striving to gain momentum in these tough times. What happens then, when a desirable location such as the Redlands area has an increase in residents? Do we overpopulate those schools that our children would be moved to and try and cram our students into classrooms? Do we then “build” another school (brilliant political strategy right? close a great school now and open a new one in a couple of years)? Do we re-open Scenic at that point (not likely)?
It also means the teachers have more students, less attention to divide among our impressionable young, less time to allocate to learning, and more homework to compensate for the short comings and allocated time.
There is something to be said for reasonably small schools. I would say that it is a cohesiveness on multiple levels, community, learning, friendship, individual confidence, and as Scenic’s theme states loud and clear “Work hard and be nice.”

Ideally, all elementary schools should have 300 or less students. This is a time in our children’s lives where they need the individualized attention and they enhance their self respect, individuality and learn the core fundamentals of education. The most effective way to do that is in an atmosphere that Scenic Elementary provides.

With Principal Doug Levinson at the helm, the friendly, competent staff, and PTO involvement that resides at Scenic, I’ll say it again, it would be a travesty to close this school.
As we all know, it comes down to dollars and cents in the political arena, but, where there is a will, there is a way.

I am confident there is a way to find the funding for a school such as Scenic. If you have an idea, please contact our school and share your thoughts and ideas. We at Scenic Elementary are a family school. Keep it that way. Do not break what doesn’t need to be fixed.
Roxy Rich
Grand Junction





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