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After successful year, Grand Library District continues expansion of programs

The Grand County Library District celebrated a successful year and outlined plans to continue increasing programs across the county at the annual Friends of Grand County Library meeting Saturday.

The library added 3,370 digital and print books to its collections this year as of Sept. 30, according to a presentation at the meeting by Polly Gallagher, executive director of the library district.

This year, the libraries have seen an increase in digital use and interest in graphic novels. The district added free access to the Denver Post and Rosetta Stone for all patrons.

One of the biggest areas of success for the district this year was with the early literacy program. Part of this program includes story times, literacy kits and expert talks on the best methods to read with kids.

According to Gallagher, the program saw 5,114 visits to story times across the district.

Gallagher said because of the success of this year’s program, the state doubled the amount requested by the district for program funding next year. With that money, the district plans to add a Saturday story time in Kremmling and expand take-home literacy kits at all locations.

Access Grand continues to expand, giving library cardholders access to tickets and passes for all sorts of activities. Gallagher said the program impacted over 1,500 people this year.

The district hopes to expand other popular programs as well. STEAM kits, a popular hands-on kit for kids, were very popular during the summer reading program and something the district wants to do monthly next year.

The district recently celebrated their first five graduates from the Career Online High School and is looking for participants over the age of 18 who want to earn a diploma through the program. There is still at least one scholarship available for those interested.

The district wants to increase library field trips, which proved to be very popular this year, to provide three separate trips next year.

The create courses saw 341 visitors this year, after school programs saw 749 and the summer reading program had 842 readers.

Another program the district is hoping to grow across the county is Great Decisions, a discussion group where people of all views from around Grand County can come to the library and discuss national and foreign policy.

Gallagher credited much of the successes to the Friends of Grand County Library, which raises about $35,000 every year for the libraries. The district requested $32,500 for 2020, with $15,000 for programming and $17,500 for collections.

Last year’s fundraising was a “spectacular year” according to treasurer Melitta White, so not as much was raised in 2019. However, this was expected and the Friends budgeted for less income.

Year to date fundraising from the biggest programs put on by the Friends included $7,500 from book sales across the county, $14,100 from the Tops of the Rockies fundraiser and $1,400 from the pancake breakfasts.

Those interested in joining the Friends of Grand County Library can go their website at FriendsOfGrandCountyLibrary.org.

For information on the library and programs available, Gallagher recommended people reach out to their local librarian and request to be added to the district’s monthly newsletter.

Police blotter, Oct. 7-13: Llamas reported on railroad tracks near Kremmling

Oct. 7

9:45 a.m. — Car wreck with injuries on US Highway 40 at mile marker 217.

Oct. 8

10:59 a.m. — A man phoned in a complaint about his wife and a friend being shot at by neighbors sometime last year.

1:37 p.m. — A vehicle overturned on County Road 60 by Granby. Two people were reportedly taken to the hospital to get checked out and the road was closed briefly to remove the overturned vehicle.

9:24 p.m. — A caller told police a man at a Grand Lake business had been acting suspiciously and washing the same window on his vehicle for 10 minutes. It turned out he was actually waiting for a coworker.

Oct. 9

11:48 a.m. — A box truck hauling furniture rolled at mile marker 170 on Highway 40.

Oct. 10

7:13 p.m. — The Grand County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a man injured in an ATV wreck.

Oct. 11

2:55 p.m. — Someone reported llamas on railroad tracks east of Kremmling.

6:13 p.m. — A driver hit a power pole and fire hydrant in Hot Sulphur Springs, killing power to some customers Friday night.

Oct. 12

9:04 a.m. — Authorities were called to assist with a search and rescue for a hunting party after a device’s SOS function was activated. About an hour later, after authorities had identified the party’s location and designated a mission leader, the SOS was canceled.

3:35 p.m. — People in kayaks on Shadow Mountain Reservoir ran into trouble when one of their boats capsized.

Oct. 13

4:38 p.m. — A car lost a wheel on Highway 40 outside Kremmling and the runaway wheel sparked a wildfire on the side of the road. The fire spread quickly, reaching about a half-acre, before crews swarmed the blaze and extinguished the flames in under an hour.

8:13 p.m. — An illegal bonfire with flames has high as two stories was reported outside Kremmling.

These are a small number of the calls fielded by Grand County’s dispatchers, first-responders and law enforcement agencies. The police blotter was put together by the Sky-Hi News in conjunction with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. It does not include any reports about alleged sexual assaults, child abuse, DUIs or domestic violence.

Lake trout spawn; brown trout bite

Here is this week’s Grand County fishing report. Remember, the mornings are getting cold, so make sure to dress for them.

Lake Granby: The lake is fishing very well for lake trout. They are spawning in rocky areas in 30-50 feet of water. Small white grubs, spoons and hair jigs tipped with sucker meat are getting bit. Nighttime brown trout fishing is very good right now, and floating minnow baits are working well. Rainbows are around the shorelines hitting spoons and bait.

Williams Fork: Surface temp is 51 degrees warming to 53 degrees on a sunny day. Water capacity is holding at 84%. Ramp hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The inlet is open for fishing. Jigging for lake trout is very good.

Mixed age groups are hitting grubs, spoons or tube jigs tipped with sucker meat in 50-80 feet of water. Surface temps have dropped enough that shore fishermen casting from the rocks by the ramp are catching a few Lakers on spoons or spinners.

Lake trout are very close to spawning. Rainbow fishing has slowed, but we are seeing some big rainbows break the surface. Casting spoons, spinners or minnow baits at the rises may produce some hits. Northern pike and kokanee fishing is slow. — Randy H Guide

The fishing report is brought to you by Fishing with Bernie. Bernie Keefe and his team have been fishing guides in Grand County for more than 25 years. For more, www.FishingWithBernie.com.

Trail Column: Looking for someone to step up for public lands

What a day for the 25th National Public Lands Day. The weather was perfect, the projects all organized and ready to go, registration was smooth and volunteers showed up at either registration or at the project itself. Also, almost all of the anticipated work was completed yet again, and everyone was back to the Inn at SilverCreek for beer, wine, pizza, lasagna and door prizes for the volunteer appreciation party. All of the items were donated by local businesses as part of their support for our Public Lands, and we so appreciate our volunteers and our donations.

But some of us are tired. Several of us have been organizing NPLD now for 25 years as volunteers. It is a huge job when we are unable to find people to help with parts of the process. New people float in and out of the committee and need to be acquainted with what we are actually doing and how we do it. We kept adding in different partners and the projects keep coming. Every year we accomplish what some say the US Forest Service could do in 2.5 years. For the last 5-10 years, I myself have been looking for people to help organize this effort, as the last two months before NPLD is now effecting my health. I might succeed getting helpers for a few years, but then I get the job back as people move on or get other interests. Others in our committee are being affected the same way and we cannot continue without people stepping forward to lend a hand.

As people began to move on in their jobs, I created (with help from a volunteer) a chart of timeline, responsibilities and contact information to aid our process. That chart has saved my butt several times over the past couple years, as it made the contact process much easier when the jobs got handed back to me. It will help immensely anyone who decides to step forward to help coordinate NPLD. All the info is there in nine full pages, updated again this summer by another volunteer.

Also, the NPLD committee has a wrap-up meeting at the USFS Sulphur district headquarters in Granby from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 24. Every year we evaluate what we have done and look at ways to simplify and improve our process.

This year we are looking for people to step up and volunteer for the organizing committee and take on a part of this huge job. I just can’t do it anymore. We just can’t keep doing it anymore.

Now in my 70s, I want to enjoy the trails I have worked on, the places I have helped create and protect, the family and animals I have around me. I will help guide the process, but I just can’t do all that work anymore. I know my sentiments are shared. There are three of us who have been there all 25 years and we want to see this fabulous event continued. It is the largest and longest running NPLD event in the entire country. But it is time to pass the torch.

If you share the love of the public lands that we share and have some time to give from May-October, step up now or this event may be lost as you have known it through the years.

SKI SWAP AT YMCA

Mark your calendars and pray for snow in November. Hopefully since we got a taste, people are thinking about Nordic gear.

Due to construction around the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center, the Grand Nordic Ski Swap and Dessert Potluck will be Oct. 25 in the Schlessman Commons building at Snow Mountain Ranch. This year marks the event’s 19th anniversary and aims to bring together the local Nordic community for an evening of fun, socializing and shopping for bargains on Nordic ski gear. If you have personal gear to sell, bring it to the Commons between 5-6 p.m. to register and label your equipment. You can print a copy of the equipment check-in form, fill it out ahead of time and bring it with you. To print the form, go to www.grandnordic.org/skiswap.html.

The Nordic Swap will run from 6-8:30 p.m. Please bring your favorite dessert to share but it is not required. Check out new and used gear from Snow Mountain Ranch, Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Winter Park Trading Company and more. Renew your Grand Nordic Membership, and purchase early season passes for Snow Mountain Ranch and Grand Lake Nordic Center. Bring unwanted equipment to donate to our kids programs. Credit cards will be accepted for ski swap purchases and membership dues. Service fees apply. Swap volunteers are needed to assist with food, equipment registration, member and volunteer signup. For more or to volunteer, contact Chris Lee at skiswap@grandnordic.org or call 970-887-0547.

Library Corner: Conflict Resolution

Do conflicts cause you to shut down? Run away? Blow up? Do you expect the worst when it comes to the outcome of a conflict? Conflict Resolution Day, which started in 2005 by the Association for Conflict Resolution, is a global event celebrated on the third Thursday of October. Throughout all of October, Colorado is promoting Conflict Resolution Month: Listen. Talk. Work it Out.

One goal is to increase education for all ages to “promote awareness of mediation, arbitration, conciliation and other creative, peaceful means of resolving conflict.” In other words, let us be civilized.

It sounds so simple. So logical. Yet we all know that this is sometimes hard to do.

A conflict resolution scenario: A toddler is screaming for a banana in a crowded grocery store. Do you peal the banana to quell the screams and evil stares of onlookers? Do you ignore the high-pitched shrieks hoping to finish the shopping before the windows shatter? Do you leave the cart behind and take your toddler home? Or do you turn to negotiating attempts, whispering to the toddler “If you really want the banana, you need to take a deep breath, stop screaming, and then we will talk about buying the banana.” It could work.

The point being, Conflict Resolution Day is not just for diplomats, the military, governments, and educators. All ages, backgrounds, and job positions can benefit from learning about peaceful conflict resolution practices. Ideas, motivations, goals, and perceptions are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what may cause a situation to become graver than a mere problem. A conflict has ties to a threat, whether real or not, when one or all parties feel as though they are under attack. Conflicts are often nerve-wracking.

When people are ready to regulate strong emotions and review the facts with an objective mind-set, they are working toward a resolution, as well as growth and building trust. According to Helpguide.org, “When you can recognize conflicting needs and are willing to examine them with compassion and understanding, it can lead to creative problem solving, team building, and stronger relationships.”

Sounds like a win-win situation. But how do those with opposing views actually get there?

Skills to help resolve conflicts include listening, being alert and calm, controlling both emotions and behavior, and maintaining respect by avoiding disrespectful words and actions. Stay balanced, focused, and connected. Deep breathing can be helpful. Keep motivated to find a resolution. Clear and effective communication is key. Resolving the conflict trumps the need to win or be right. Old grudges could impair your focus, so do your best to be in the present. Is now the right time to take on this battle? If not, let it go.

Remember, ignoring or running from a conflict is not a viable solution. Work on a resolution together. Be an active listener. Talk, don’t yell. Focus on working it out. Get the help of a mediator. Follow the Golden Rule, and in doing so, be willing to forgive. Or agree to disagree.

For more about conflict resolution, visit www.conflictresolutionmonth.org. Grand County Library District (GCLD) also has numerous resources available.

In the schools: Parent-teacher conferences underway at East Grand

Great Happenings in East Grand schools the week of Oct. 18.

• The first quarter of the year is already here. Our teachers and staff are conducting parent-teacher conferences. One parent called my office this week to tell me how great the transition from elementary to middle school has been for her child. It is always great to hear good news from our community.

• The GES Positive Behavior Support team is working on rolling out our NEW mantra: We are SAFE, KIND, and HELPFUL. The students will make skits and posters that will be on display throughout the school.

• The Middle Park High School soccer team is currently ranked No. 7 in the state with a 9-2 record. Their final two home games of the regular season are 4 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday. We hope you can come out and support them.

• The sophomore class will be hosting a Cultural Identity Expo from 1:45-2:15 p.m. Oct. 23 and Oct. 24 in the commons area of Middle Park High School. Students will be presenting how different aspects of their cultures help form their identities. Topics include food, family traditions, sports, music and more. This event is open to the public. Guests may check in at the front office.

• Our local Lions Club has invited our schools to be included in an International Peace Poster Contest. FVE fifth grade students and EGMS students have been expressing what peace means to them in their artwork. The theme this year is “Journey to Peace.”

• Peace Posters of FVE fifth grade students will be on display at the Fraser Public Library in the community room until Oct. 24th. I invite everyone to stop by and visit this special exhibit of FVE students, our future, expressing “peace.” Thank you to the Lions Club for engaging with our school and students and for all they do in the community.

• The EGMS Parent Advisory Counsel awarded about $2,000 in grants to EGMS teachers this week. This includes money for our Spanish and French classes’ cultural celebrations, money for our technology classes to have some standing desks for students to use, and graphic novels for eighth grade language arts.

• We are excited to announce that Granby Elementary has been chosen to participate in the Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase Schools evaluation process. Capturing Kids’ Hearts is a program to help staff deal with student’s behavior and social-emotional needs.

• Just a reminder that AP testing registration ends Oct. 30. Registration forms and money, $94 per test, must be turned in by that day. Please contact Mr. Polonowski with any questions.

• East Grand students have been participating in the Communities that Care logo contest by submitting posters as a part of the contest to help them rebrand their logo.

Body of Steamboat man, 26, found south of Yampa; sheriff rules death a homicide

Steamboat Springs law enforcement has opened a homicide investigation after a body was discovered by a fisherman south of Yampa on Monday afternoon.

The body of Elliot Stahl, a 26-year-old Steamboat Springs resident, was found in the Routt National Forest off U.S. Forest Service Road 900, according to Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins. Forest Service Road 900 is the road leading to Stillwater Reservoir in the Flat Tops.

The sheriff said there was a substantial amount of blood found on Stahl’s body and his clothing.

Wiggins did not disclose the manner of death, citing concerns it would hamper the investigation. Forensic pathologists are awaiting a toxicology report to determine a cause of death.

Investigators have not yet identified a motive for the murder. Wiggins said Stahl did not have a “legitimate job” and had been in and out of jail on various drug-related charges. 

Wiggins said investigators have identified several suspects but have not made any arrests. He is not sure how many people were involved in the murder. 

“Our search is a little narrower every day,” Wiggins said. “There were a lot of people (Stahl) hung out with in the same mindset, the same culture and who have substantial criminal histories.”

ahl was last seen at a gas station in Craig at around 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, according to Wiggins. 

Law enforcement wants to hear from anyone with information about Stahl’s death. Call Routt County Dispatch at 970-879-1090 or, to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 970-870-6226. Information can also be shared via text by texting NABM, followed by the tip, to 274637.

Law enforcement is offering up to a $2,500 reward for information leading to the identification of the suspect or suspects in Stahl’s murder. 

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Steamboat Springs Police Department are assisting in the investigation.

“We have as many people as we can on this thing right now,” Wiggins said. 

Routt County’s last murder occurred June 2015 in North Routt.

Comfort in a crisis

On a clear May afternoon, Jim McCormick was enjoying some down time working on his cabin in Steamboat Springs when he got the news.

“It was a surreal moment,” McCormick recalled.

Earlier that day in Granby, a 2002 Ford F-250 eastbound on US Highway 40 rear-ended the vehicle in front of it. That collision pushed the truck into the westbound lane where it crashed head-on with a sedan.

The driver and the passenger of the sedan were the 24th and 25th deaths in the county this year. But to Grand County Coroner Brenda Bock and Chief Deputy Coroner Tawnya Bailey, they were Raymond Allen and Betty Jean Shelton and there was a family to tell.

McCormick answered the call around 3:30 p.m. May 15. The voice on the other end of the phone was Bock’s, and her first question after delivering the devastating news was: “What do you need?”

He asked her to keep the office open late so he could identify his parents-in-law before heading home to his family in Lakewood.

“They really knew the last thing we wanted to do was drive back to Kremmling for anything,” McCormick said. “(Brenda) could have easily said, ‘This is the process we have to do and you have to fall in line with the process,’ but she built the process in line with my needs. When you get that, you’ve got someone who’s gone way above what they’re supposed to be doing.”

McCormick wanted to be the one to identify his parents-in-law for his family’s sake, but he wasn’t sure what to expect once he made it to the Coroner’s Office in Kremmling that evening.

He found Bock and Bailey had already thought about how hard it could be for McCormick, and they had prepared the bodies accordingly and rearranged their own schedules to be there for him that evening. If he had needed it, McCormick could have grabbed one of the dozens of teddy bears placed throughout the office for comfort.

For McCormick, that level of care made one of his worst days about as good as it could have been.

“There was just a real sensitivity to us as a family that we really needed at the time,” he said. “I felt like I could have asked for anything and if they could have done it, they would have.”

THE HARDEST CALLS

At the coroner’s office, that kind of response is standard. According to Bock and Bailey, working with the deceased’s family is often the most difficult — and most rewarding — part of their job.

“We know that when you get that phone call from us or we come knocking on your door, we have changed your life completely,” Bock said. “They are not just a number, they are someone’s loved one and we have to treat them that way.”

Last year, Bock and Bailey had to inform the families or next of kin of 66 people who died in Grand County.

Sometimes, they were strangers, but often the deceased were neighbors, friends, relatives, members of the church or local figures. Other times, they were suspects in a crime, addicts or behaved recklessly.

“Whether they did right or wrong, or why we’re investigating their death, they are still somebody’s loved one,” Bailey said.

When it comes to informing the next of kin, coroners never know what to expect. They have to be prepared for tears, anger, denial, indifference and sometimes happiness.

The call gets exponentially harder when the manner of death is suicide or undetermined. In 2018, six people died by suicide and two deaths were undetermined, according to the 2018 Coroner’s Report.

These scenarios in particular highlight another most important aspect of the job, which Bock described as “writing the last chapter” of someone’s life.

“We are giving answers to the family about what happened to their loved one,” she said. “We are very protective of the decedent because we are writing that last chapter for them and we want to make sure it’s right.”

LAST RESPONDERS

Coroners are called to a variety of scenes and investigate sudden and unexpected deaths. Using medical records, evidence at the scene, any personal information that can be gathered and anything else that might help, they try to determine the manner and cause of death.

“We are kind of the last responder,” Bailey said.

The cause of death describes the medical condition that caused the death, such as heart failure or blunt force trauma, while the manner of death is the coroner’s best judgement on whether the death was an accident, natural, a suicide, homicide or undetermined.

Determining the manner of death is especially difficult because it’s hard to prove intention after the fact, Bock noted. It’s also getting more expensive because of the rising costs of toxicology and pathology tests.

Despite having 19 fewer deaths in 2018 than the year before, the cost for the Coroner’s Office to investigate each death skyrocketed from $2,192 to $3,479.

Man hours also make up a good portion of the cost. Like first responders, coroners must be ready for any situation when it comes to removing the body to take it back to the office.

According to the report, almost half of the deaths last year occurred outside a residence or medical facility.

Grand County’s terrain and weather often make their job unpredictable, Bailey explained, as she rattled off a few examples, like the times they’ve had to snowshoe, ride horses, raft down a down river or hike peaks to get to a scene.

In fact, the only thing Bailey can predict is the unpredictability of her job. No two days or weeks or years ever look the same.

“Death has no timeline,” she said. “And death is not usually convenient.”

Ken Fucik named Grand Lake Citizen of the Year

Corey Martens had driven past the Wooden Boat School in Grand Lake many times. One day, he finally stopped by to see what it was all about. Inside, he met Ken Fucik, who outlined his vision for the school to Martens.

After months of volunteering with Fucik, Martens was approached to nominate someone as Grand Lake Citizen of the Year and his choice was clear. He described seeing this community vision come to life during Fucik’s award banquet on Tuesday at the Daven Haven.

“It just dawned on me one day, what’s happening here is exactly what Ken detailed to me when I first met him,” Martens said. “Through his passion of wooden boats, he wants the community to be able to come together and that’s exactly what’s happening every day.”

The Wooden Boat School is only a small part of Fucik’s community involvement. He works with students from Middle Park High School at the boat school, serves on the Heart & Soul Committee and Grand Creatives Board. He also volunteers at Rotary bingo nights and pancake breakfasts, helps out at the Grand Lake Area Historical Society and even assisted with developing a watershed grant for the Colorado headwaters.

“I’m not sure how many hats he actually wears,” said Dave Troutman, treasurer of the Rotary Club and good friend of Fucik.

The Rotary Club of Grand Lake sponsored the award selection, which honors a citizen each year that exemplifies service before self. Rotary members cannot nominate the Citizen of the Year, and the nominee cannot be a member of the Rotary Club.

Bob Scott was part of the committee of previous award recipients who selected the Citizen of the Year from these nominees.

“Ken has done so many good and positive things, including charitable work,” Scott said. “He serves with two different groups that are promoting the economy of Grand Lake. And, believe me, we need that.”

The students Fucik works with at his boat school surprised him that evening to attend the banquet. Called the Grand Crew, these students work with Fucik as part of an alternative school program that features hands-on craftmanship in unique internships and projects like the boat school.

James Craig, a junior at Middle Park, has been a part of the Crew program for almost three years and learned from Fucik.

“Ken is a great guy, awesome guy,” Craig said. “He loves teaching us how to do things and it’s a real passion for him with the boats. He brings his passion and gives it to other people, shows them what he knows. He loves to do it and he loves to give.”

While accepting the award, Fucik said it was a shame Rotary members couldn’t be nominated, because he felt their contribution to the community rivaled his.

“All of you guys deserve an award,” Fucik said.

Fucik described the award as an honor, but he also said he felt like it set a higher standard for his already considerable community involvement.

“It scares the heck out of me,” Fucik said. “Because I look around, I see so many people who do so much in this community. It puts pressure on me to try even harder.”

Grand County fees to go up

Four county departments will have increased fees beginning next year in an effort to make sure they are covering the costs to fulfill the requests.

The Board of County Commissioners heard and approved on Tuesday proposals for fee changes from four departments, including the sheriff’s office, public health, community development and accounting.

“You can assess reasonable fees, not to exceed actual costs,” explained Commissioner Kris Manguso. “I think we’ve really got to be careful about charging fees and making it difficult for people to get these types of things.”

The biggest changes approved are increases to the sheriff’s office fees for contract labor, false alarms and record requests. Sheriff Brett Schroetlin explained all of the increases are justified by the labor of his staff to fulfill each request.

Anyone wanting to contract the sheriff’s office for a private event or security can expect to pay $70 an hour beginning in 2020, while false alarms will begin costing homeowners after the third instance.

Currently, all records requests are billed at $5, but this will change in 2020. Mugshots will be $10, records requests will cost $15 and both background checks and audio or photo and video records will cost $25.

The cost of a retail food establishment plan review and a public improvement development plan review both increased as well because of the labor-intensive requests. A food establishment plan review will cost $50 on top of the $100 application fee.

Public Improvement Development applications, which cost the county over $2,000 to process, will cost applicants $500 in 2020.

Finally, the commissioners approved a penalty and interest fee schedule for businesses who have unpaid marijuana sales or excise taxes. The board set the penalty rate at 10% of the unpaid tax plus .5% for each month the taxes go unpaid. It caps at 18%.

On top of that, the county will be able to charge interest on the unpaid taxes at a rate determined by the calendar year of the unpaid taxes.

All of the new fees go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Fee20182019
Sheriff’s Office
contract labor
$50/hr$70/hr
Records request$5$10 for mugshots; $15 for records; $25 for
background checks and
audio/video/photo records
False alarmsn/aFalse alarms 1 – 3: free;
False alarm 4: $100; False alarm 5: $250
Food
establishment
review
$100$100 application fee + a $50 review fee
PID application$250$500
Marijuana sales &
excise penalty
n/a10% of unpaid taxes plus
.5% for each month unpaid;
caps at 18%