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Outreach appreciated

I am writing in response to the March 22 column by Lesley Dahlkemper, titled "We all have a role in supporting education."

I want to say how much I appreciate the continued willingness of the Jeffco School Board and Jeffco schools administration to solicit community input by hosting budget forums and community conversations across the district to discuss the future of our schools. I attended the Jan. 28 budget forum at Evergreen High School. It was clear during that forum that the community felt the following were important to protect for the coming years in our schools: teaching positions (to maintain smaller class sizes), the elementary music program, Outdoor Lab, teacher librarians, and teacher salaries.

I honestly cannot fathom the idea that my children may not continue to receive music education during their remaining elementary school years or get to go to Outdoor Lab, which has been a blessing for sixth-grade and high school students in Jeffco for more than 50 years.

I find it appalling that our students receive $700 less per student than they did in 2009. For my daughters' school, that amounts to $280,000 less per year that our teachers and staff have to ensure our kids continue to receive the quality education they're accustomed to and deserve.

I am so grateful to Jeffco school district employees for doing all they could to keep the cuts from affecting the students in the classroom, including the significant reduction in compensation they have sacrificed. District employees have shouldered this burden on their own long enough. I'm concerned that principals and teachers will look elsewhere for more gainful employment if we, the voters, don't show them that we value education and their contribution to the future of our nation. If the United States is to be a leader in the world, we all need to invest in education — our children are our nation's future. It's time for Jeffco voters to show that we want our district to have the funding necessary to ensure the continued level of excellence we have come to expect in Jeffco.

Tina Gurdikian
April 12, 2012

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Time for policy change

The killing of 16 civilians in Afghanistan by a U.S. Army sergeant is a tragic event. It is also a predictable result of the failed policy of projecting U.S military power all over the world. This policy has brought us Vietnam, massive military spending, terrorism, multiple wars in the Middle East, assaults on our basic freedoms, torture and drone attacks that kill non-combatants. It has sacrificed our soldiers in wars that never should have been fought. It has left us with a divided country and a bankrupt government that is unable to deal with economic and social problems.

The best way to respond to this and numerous other disturbing events is to end this policy. World War II is over, the Cold War is over. This policy must be ended so we can heal our country and be what we were meant to be, a free, open and democratic society.

Bruce Morrison
April 06, 2012

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Take measures to fight stress in emergency

The Lower North Fork Fire in southwest Jefferson County has caused the evacuation of nearly 1,000 homes and anxiety for many. As a nonprofit community mental health center, we are working in close collaboration with the Red Cross and other agencies to provide support during this difficult time. A crisis situation like the recent fire can have an emotional impact. For many adults and children who have been displaced or experienced a loss due to the fire, as well as the thousands who have received pre-evacuation notices, there can be some normal responses to a difficult situation such as this, including

• Fear, uncertainty, apprehension, anxiety and worry

• Strong need for information, sometimes need for answers when they are not yet available

• Feeling irritable, tense, angry or resentful

• Trouble sleeping

• Feeling "scattered" and unable to focus; difficulty making decisions

• Depressed, crying

• Feeling powerless

We can help each other deal with the responses to this crisis:

• Reach out and talk to those who you trust and love for support — other family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, spiritual advisor.

• Explain the facts that you know about the situation to your child. Listen to your child, his/her fears and how he/she feels. Reassure your child often.

• Eat regular, nutritional meals — food low in fat, sodium and simple sugar. Your body uses up vitamin B, vitamin C and calcium during stress, so increase your foods or vitamins to replenish.

• Avoid excessive use of alcohol and caffeine — caffeine causes a stress response and it is not recommended when already under stress. Alcohol is a depressant and does not help you feel better.

• Remind yourself that the symptoms you or others are experiencing are ordinary reactions to an unordinary event. Realize that the stress response has a physical effect on you, and different people respond differently.

• Exercise and drink plenty of water. Get plenty of sleep.

• Simplify your plans. There is nothing more important right now than taking care of yourself and your loved ones.If you are concerned about your reaction or that of a family member, call Jefferson Center for Mental Health. Our emergency line is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week, at 303-425-0300.

Jeanne Oliver

Public information officer

Jefferson Center for Mental Health

Wheat Ridge

Jeanne Oliver
April 06, 2012

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Lay of the land

A lot of misinformation is being bandied about concerning H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011.

Contrary to what opponents may want you to believe, the bill — which is now being considered in Congress — wouldn't open nearly 44 million acres of public land to interests that would decimate it.

The bill would merely allow federal land managers to re-evaluate the 43.8 million acres of public land in question to determine what uses, if any, should be allowed, with input from the local community.

The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act involves 6.7 million acres managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management and 36.1 million acres of U.S. Forest Service land that was evaluated for strict congressional Wilderness land-use designations.

The federal agencies have determined the 43.8 million acres aren't suitable for wilderness designation, which is one of the strictest forms of public land management. Yet, because of various laws and rules, they must continue to strictly manage the land as de facto wilderness until Congress "releases" it for consideration for other possible uses.

In fact, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., stated in a hearing of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee that the bill doesn't dictate what will or won't happen on the released lands. Rather, he said, it returns management to the respective agencies using well-established criteria.

It provides them the flexibility to manage our public lands for a multitude of activities, including responsible motorized recreation.

BLM Director Robert Abbey and Harris Sherman, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment in the Department of Agriculture, agreed.

Wayne Allard
March 21, 2012

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Dim the LED signage

I love Bandimere Speedway — but its sign by C-470 is way too bright. Their sign was the first.

Now, along I-70 between Kipling and Colfax, there are about eight of these intensely bright signs, including Camping World, MedVed car dealership, Good Times and others.

These signs are infiltrating Union and Colfax business corners.

While the signs draw attention to the businesses, they also distract drivers, create excessive light pollution, and diminish our landscape's natural beauty.

Freedom of speech protects the content of the signs, yet citizens should express outrage at the loss of control over our visual environment.

Lakewood and the western metropolitan region are blessed with precious views of foothills, mesas, and geographically interesting features. Our night skies still boast stars. These will soon be obscured by advertisements.

I urge Sentinel readers to contact city and Department of Transportation officials and ask that the density, brightness, size and placement of these new super-bright signs be limited by reasonable code restrictions.

I value my property values and visual comfort.

Janet Draper
March 21, 2012

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Parents step up

In regard to the March 15 story titled "Dropout bill headed to governor," I'm very pleased to hear the state is looking for more ways to lower our dropout rates. I can't agree more with hitting the problem at an earlier age.

Too often we wait until a child has struggled through most of high school, so helping them as early as middle school will make a huge improvement.

My concern with the legislation is with giving parents the ultimate decision of whether or not their child participates in an intervention program.

As a whole, parents have become more involved in their children's education, but they still have a long way to go. We are facing a changing society, with parents who find other issues — their jobs, personal lives, etc. — more important than their children.

I believe we need to offer parents the chance to become involved, but ultimately there must be requirements.

If we were to evaluate the personal lives of most dropouts, the answers to our questions would be there. These children need to be followed, and their parents must be held accountable. That would be the first step in teaching the children responsibility.

I have personally witnessed several children struggling, but schools appear to fear parents. The schools know these children need assistance at home, but they choose to turn the other way.

This type of action would definitely require teacher, school district and social-services intervention at times, but shouldn't our primary goal be what is best for the child?

If parents aren't willing to help with a child's education, what other aspects are they unwilling to help with? It's time to bring parent's responsibilities back into society!

Alisha Jones
March 21, 2012

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Thank you, Golden!

The Golden Visitors Center reached its 2011 fundraising goal, thanks to the enormous generosity of Golden's citizens and the assistance of a matching grant from MillerCoors.

We want to thank our community and the many volunteers and supporters of the center who participate in keeping the building at 1010 Washington Ave. running strong year after year.

We saw a nearly 20 percent increase in visitors this year, reaching 50,000 in 2011.

A review of our guest book over just the past nine months shows that we were a starting point for Golden visitors from all 50 states and nearly 50 foreign countries, including such varied locations as The Netherlands, Tahiti, Kosovo, India and South Korea.

Comments range from compliments about our "amazing and beautiful city" and its "charming and picturesque" setting, to observations about our lovely creek, artwork and "friendly, welcoming folks."

The Visitor's Center itself was noted for its "superb help," "great volunteers" and even for its "clean restrooms."

As we forge ahead in 2012, we look forward to further updates and environmentally friendly improvements to our lovely building in downtown Golden, and to the continued encouragement and largess of our friends.

Most of all, we wish to thank our great community for its excellent support and participation in meeting our recent goal.

Golden Visitors Center

Board of Trustees chair

Ken Kranz
February 29, 2012

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Too much ‘dumbing down’

In the weekly poll of Feb. 23,, I believe that the way the question was posed skewed the results. I do not believe that yet another bill needs to be passed for non-enforcement, but I do believe that there is a better question to ask.

That is: Should teachers hold back third-grade students who do not meet reading standards? Or better yet, should teachers hold back any student at any grade who does not meet reading, math, or other required courses standards?

This would then demonstrate whether parents take responsibility of their children's education and not all of the responsibility of the school or the school district.

As an adjunct professor at Metro State and Regis, I've encountered students who cannot read well enough to comprehend simple questions and cannot solve for one unknown in a simple arithmetic problem.

We seem to be continually "dumbing down" our kids' education.

Diann Sandy
February 29, 2012

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Neighbors helping neighbors

Feb. 3 brought a big snow storm. It also brought out so many neighbors — men and women with shovels, blowers and a ridding blade — all helping neighbors. Some are seniors, myself included. Add several dogs having fun. What a Norman Rockwell scene. Thank you all.

Cecile Thompson
February 29, 2012

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Smokescreen for input

Was the mayor-appointed Ad Hoc Committee on Lakewood's smoke-free ordinance and community-input process nothing but a smokescreen?

During a City Council study session Feb. 6, the mayor and majority of the Lakewood council rejected almost all the recommendations of its own Ad Hoc Committee and never fully considered and discussed the proposal from the community coalition.

Instead they assured that the drafted ordinance will propose only minimal improvements in Lakewood's tobacco control ordinance. 

After a 30-month process, the only significant change to the current law that the mayor and City Council are proposing is the expansion of the smoke-free perimeter around some doorways from 15 feet to 25 feet, exempting restaurant and bar patio areas.

With thumbs-down votes, they ignored the committee's recommendations to prohibit smoking in all tobacco retail businesses (thus protecting workers and neighboring tenants) and one that would prohibit smoking in all outdoor seating areas of restaurants and bars (thus protecting patrons and workers from the harmful chemicals in secondhand smoke).

Instead, their proposed ordinance reflects the sentiments expressed in a letter sent from the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) sent just days before the meeting. (The CRA has a history of working with the tobacco industry to try to stop local communities from adopting smoke-free laws.)

This smokescreen of a process is an outrageous betrayal of the civic-input process. It betrayed the Ad Hoc Committee members' devotion to fashioning reasonable protections from secondhand smoke, the people of Lakewood who spoke out and also informed us through their survey responses and, most of all, they betrayed the democratic process.  

If the mayor and majority of council prevail with their watered-down ordinance, the clear winners will be tobacco and the tobacco industry.

The losers will be the residents and workers who will still have to breathe tobacco smoke at work or in some public places.

Walter ‘Snip’ Young
February 29, 2012

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