Printed Letters, March 5, 2014

R-5 team deserves congrats for mock trial performance
Attorneys Stephanie Fairbanks and Megan Marlatt from the Office of the Colorado Public Defender and I would like to extend our congratulations to the R-5 High School mock trial team who competed at the Regional Mock Trial Tournament in Glenwood Springs Feb. 22-23.

Over the course of nearly four months, the students learned legal procedure, the rules of evidence and trial practice and took a full-fledged civil fact pattern — Cook v. Ortiz — to trial.

The student attorneys, witnesses and timekeepers gathered materials from affidavits, photo exhibits, expert witness reports and the applicable law. The student attorneys assembled an entire trial plan: opening statements, direct and cross examinations, objections and closing statements, just like real attorneys.

The student witnesses mastered their story and gave testimony, including withstanding cross-examination, fully in character. And the student timekeepers made sure that everyone had their facts straight, the applicable rules were followed and the trial plan stayed within the allowed time limits in the heat of the moment.

We three attorney-coaches want to express our respect and admiration for what each of the R-5 students was able to do during our time together. Their hard work culminated in a fantastic, professional performance over a grueling two-day competition schedule.

We also would like to commend the students’ coach, Al Kreinberg, in particular. An English teacher at R-5, he has also coached the mock trial team for many years. What he is able to accomplish with his students is remarkable. They not only gain specific legal skills, but life skills that transcend the classroom and the courtroom.

That R-5 is the only high school in the area that participates in Mock Trial speaks volumes about Kreinberg’s commitment and dedication to the students of R-5. Congratulations to all!

Withers Seidman Rice & Mueller P.C.

Deputy Public Defender

Deputy Public Defender

Grand Junction

Removal of tamarisk leaves unsightly wasteland by river
As a daily user of state parks and the river trail system, I have seen the results of the removal efforts and, for the most part, it is an ugly sight.

What is left are stumps, piles of wood chips, dirt, alkali and weeds. I invite anyone to walk the trail from the Junior Service parking to the city shops or west to the river bridge to see what I mean.

The tamarisk killers are long on removal but short on effective long-range restoration. The invasive plants are not going away, so the resultant restoration effort will be to essentially farm the land using irrigation water, planting, herbicides, lots of manpower and funding.

Please slow down and concentrate on developing a long-term, working, affordable restoration plan before creating more wasteland.

Grand Junction

Remain reasonable, flexible 
in deciding use of public land
In Colorado we are fortunate to be surrounded by public lands that are there for the use and enjoyment of all.  Being a native of Mesa County, I remember how our public lands were utilized in the past. A large percentage was used by ranchers, farmers, hunters and miners. They generally accessed the land by truck or horseback or on foot. Roads were few and far between, and most of the maintenance was left to the user. When we went for picnics or helped my uncle with his cattle, we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.

Now we are faced with different circumstances that were not present years ago.  First of all, our local population base has greatly increased, and we now have more visitors from out of the immediate area using public lands.  We also have the benefit of a greater variety of off-road transportation with ATVs, motorcycles and mountain bikes. Our public lands now have many routes that were created by these new groups of motorized and non-motorized users. 

So, when you look at the maps of public lands, they reflect all of these newly made routes and/or tracks in addition to county roads and historical roads and trails. The bottom line is that letting anyone and everyone make the routes because they decided to go “off road” is not a responsible approach to the long-term use and care of our public lands. 

We therefore need to come to the table with the goal of what is best for present and future users and for the preservation of our public lands. If we are to succeed, neither position can be unreasonable or inflexible. 

These are public lands and are there for all to enjoy – now and in the future. 

Grand Junction

We may become addicted 
to marijuana tax revenues
I understand there’s considerable debate as to whether the use of marijuana results in psychological or chemical dependency, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that the stream of tax revenues generated by its sale is destined to become extremely addictive.

Funny, isn’t it, how the prospect of an easy buck here or there can entice even staunchly conservative communities to re-examine their principles?



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I agree with Gregory Dillon about the tamarisk removal program and its tragic effect on the riverfront, particularly the stretch he mentions from the Junior Service League Park to the Grand Ave. bridge. The tamarisk killing program has turned what used to be beautiful, lush, green wooded paths full of watchable wildlife into an industrial wasteland with ponds that reek interspersed with alkali flats that grow nothing but weeds. No more tamarisk should be removed unless there is a plan in place, backed up by plenty of money, to assure indigenous plants really do actually grow back to replace the tamarisk. This stretch has been utterly ruined.

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