Resident still skeptical about city transparency

It’s been a couple weeks since residents of an Orchard Mesa neighborhood celebrated a victory when a permit for gravel mining operation in their area was denied.

But for Carrol Zehner, one of the opposition members, becoming complacent is not an option.

Zehner hadn’t been one to pay much attention to the goings-on of local issues. That is until she received a notice about a year and a half ago that a gravel operation was seeking to locate a stone’s throw away from her back door. From then until now, Zehner has served as a spokeswoman for the opposition group, helped to form a nonprofit to aid the cause, endured the jitters of television interviews, hired an attorney, spent long nights doing research and testified at multiple public meetings.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s over,” she said, standing outside City Hall recently. “If you want the job right you better do it yourself.”

Zehner took a further step in November of exercising her right to information when she requested e-mails between Grand Junction City Council members and other parties who may have had discussions about the gravel mining conditional use permit submitted by Schooley-Weaver Partnership for a 16-acre parcel on a ridge at the end of 29 3/4 Road.

Her inquisition, in part, is changing how the city makes available public records for review.

Zehner first learned to stick up for herself when a blood draw gone wrong in 2003 left her with a debilitating condition. When her health continued to spiral downward and medical bills began to mount, she eventually sued the medical facility that performed the draw.

“Things that have happened in my life that makes me now question things,” she said. “If you don’t like what your government is doing, go and change it or monitor it.”


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