high country materials

April 9, 2009

High Country Materials opened last weekend in the True Value shopping center.  High Country stocks and sells all manner of rock, sand, slag, and soil, including road base, decorative rock, and rail road ties.

Doug Branch, High Country owner, grew up in the valley but moved away for a while.  He came back five years ago and began paving driveways and trucking.  He noticed that anybody that wanted any work done had to order the materials from far away.  “I saw a need and decided to do something about it,” he offers.

High Country had a great opening weekend, in spite of the snow.  “We had a bunch of new customers this weekend, we had a lot of fun,” Doug explained.

Most material is in stock, and many more items can be ordered.  High country keeps regular hours, posted on their sign, plus will make appointments for other times.  All material can be delivered, or feel free to pick it up yourself.  High Country can be reached at 251-6027.

This article originally appeared in the April 8, 2009, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.

district 70 considering four-day school week

March 18, 2009

The Board of School District 70 is considering moving the district to a four-day week.  The four-day week will help alleviate a budget deficit caused, in part, by a sharp decline in student enrollment.

The District 70 budget has to be approved by the end of June each year, but enrollment numbers, on which the budget is based, aren’t known until October.  This past year, the unexpected decline in enrollment helped create a $4.5 million budget deficit.  The school board is required by state law to balance the budget every year, so the board is looking at some seemingly drastic measures to bring that deficit back down to earth.

Moving to a four-day week would also mean extending the school day.  Students would be in school from 8:00 AM to 3:45 PM, approximately.  Fall break would go away, and Christmas break would be shortened to two weeks.  These changes would allow to district to provide the state-mandated number of instructional hours, in spite of the shortened week.

All of these changes would help trim expenses in a number of ways.

  • Transportation and food service costs would be significantly reduced, as buses and kitchens would only operate four days instead of five.
  • Teacher absences, which are expensive due to hiring substitutes, would significantly drop off.  Teachers would be able to schedule their non-school related appointments on the week day that would now be available.
  • Student absences would also drop off, as doctor appointments and family weekend trips could now be scheduled on the extra day.

The school board is also expecting to trim costs through staff attrition.  Due to declining enrollment, the district has approximately thirty extra staff members, and many of these will be retiring in the next two years.

The board insists that, although they must make decisions to balance the budget in the very near future, they have not yet made a decision regarding the four day week.  They welcome all comments from constituents, and encourage any concerned parent to contact the board.

This article originally appeared in the March 18, 2009, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.

impulse spending

January 31, 2009

You know the feeling. You’re shopping and you see that one thing that you can’t live without. You’re surfing the web and there’s that one thing, and it could be yours with a click. That new iPhone app could be yours with a flick. That new book could be on your Kindle in under a minute. You know the feeling.

The problem, of course, is that all of these things cost you money. Not much money, but $0.99 here, a couple bucks there, $10 for a whole album or a new book, and it adds up quickly. Cutting out all impulse spending would solve the problem, but going cold turkey in never easy. How do you control impulse spending without cutting all the fun out of shopping and browsing?

Plan ahead
Before you hit the store, or the web site, recognize you are going to see a lot of tempting items, a lot of enticing ads. Since you know ahead of time that it’s going to happen, you can plan how you will handle them. Steel yourself now. Prepare yourself mentally to ignore anything but what you’re there to get. If you’re going to Amazon.com for a present for your folks, get the present and get out of there. Pay no attention to the “People who bought this also bought…” messages.

Make a list
Speaking of getting only what you need, make a list of items you intend to buy before you go to the store or web site. A list is a very handy tool for keeping you focused on the goal, and it can be used just like a To Do list. As you get each item you can check it off your list, and when all the items are checked, you get to come home.

10 second rule
The ten second rule is for those times when you pick up something interesting that wasn’t on your list. Spend ten seconds asking yourself questions like, “Do I really need this?” or “Could this money be better spent elsewhere?” or “What value will this add to my day?” It will be obvious, after ten seconds, what you should do with most of the things you pick up.

Sweet rewards
And, of course, don’t forget to reward yourself. Every time you successfully resist the temptation to buy something you don’t need, take the money you would have spent and apply it toward one of your debts. Or just put it in your piggy bank. I think you’ll be surprised how quickly the savings add up.

This article originally appeared in the January 7, 2009, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.

here’s a tip…

December 11, 2008

When you go to a restaurant, how much do you tip?  There is a wide spectrum of responses to that question.  Some people withhold a tip for the tiniest little inconvenience, while others tip heavily without regard to the service.  Some tip exactly 15% every time, down to the penny.  Others will tip $2 a plate, or something similar.

Servers are of one mind on the question.  Patrons do not tip enough.  Your server is typically making minimum wage, or less, and is dependent every dollar.  Meager tips can be depressing or insulting, and fat tips, while welcome, are rare.

Patrons, of course, don’t have tons of excess money either, and so tend to be stingy when paying the bill.  Any excuse to scrimp on the tip will do.  Even those who don’t scrimp can end up leaving small tips.  Consider: for $10 you can get a full breakfast of eggs, bacon, pancakes, grits, biscuits and gravy, hash browns, and coffee.  Oh man, now I’m getting hungry.  You also get visited at least three times by the server, and usually more than three.  At the end of the meal you settle up and pay the server – a buck and a half.

I heard an interesting idea recently.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I might.  On relatively cheap meals that come out to $10 a person or so, why not go wild and tip 35%, or just get crazy and tip 50%.  Is paying $15 for a ten dollar meal going to break your piggy bank.  Probably not.  But the server sees the huge tip and floats three feet off the ground the rest of the day.  Good investment?  But wait, there’s more!  Next time you go in there and see the same server, how do you think you’ll be treated?  Like royalty!

Take these two points to heart.  Never tip below 15%, regardless of service, and consider tipping extraordinarily well on the smaller meals.  And above all: lighten up!  Don’t be so miserly.  You’ll make your server’s day, and you might make your own as well.

This article originally appeared in the December 10, 2008, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.

wrapping station

November 26, 2008

Christmas is right around the corner again.  That wonderful time of the year, full of caroling, wrapping presents, hot chocolate, wrapping presents, sitting around the fire, and wrapping presents.  Around our house there is no end to gift giving.  The typical Christmas season involves picking up a present here and there, bringing it home and storing it in the back of the bedroom closet, away from prying eyes.  Some time in the final week before Christmas, and more often than not, on Christmas Eve, we find ourselves wrapping a huge pile of presents, swearing at the invisible tape, long into the night.

I have an aunt who does all her shopping in July.  She wraps each present as soon as she brings it home.  So when Christmas comes, she’s the only one who is calm and peaceful and not frantically wrapping gifts.  Of course, this only gives the rest of us something besides the tape to swear at.

This week I ran across an ingenious method of maintaining sanity around the holidays, without requiring ninja organization skills.  How about a gift wrapping station?  As soon as I say it, I think you know what I mean.  Pick a table or a counter somewhere out of the way, lay out all your paper, bows, ribbons, tags, tape, scissors, and red and green colored pens.  Don’t put anything else on this table.  That way, when you bring home the occasional present, everything you need to wrap it is already waiting patiently for you.  You can wrap it immediately, without having to drag out the supplies and put them all back away again.  In the final week before Christmas, most of the hard work will be done and you can remain peaceful.

This trick is easily adaptable, too.  Don’t have an extra table?  How about a guest bed?  Just put a piece of thick cardboard over it, and there’s your wrapping station.  Don’t have a guest bed?  How about one end of a kitchen counter, or one end of the kitchen table?

Set up the wrapping station right now and leave it up until after the holidays.  That way it’ll be available and you’ll be able to wrap each item immediately, and you can also wrap any last minute presents that pop up.  And don’t forget to wrap something for your favorite newspaper columnist.

This article originally appeared in the November 19, 2008, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.

Rye to dump radium-laced water into water supply

September 30, 2008

The Town of Rye has rights to some of the water in the Greenhorn Creek, but not enough rights to supply the whole town.  The creek itself has much more water than the town can legally take.  The town also has a well, and the well has a great enough flow rate to supply the whole town, but the water from the well is contaminated with super-high levels of radium, a radioactive metal that causes cancer and skin sores, among other harmful effects.

At the Rye Town Meeting on September 8, 2008, the board discussed the possibility of pulling as much water out of the Greenhorn Creek as is needed, and replacing it immediately downstream with an equal amount of well water.  The net effect of the flow in the creek would be negligible, and the town is within its legal rights to do so.  However, the Greenhorn Creek flows downhill into Lake Beckwith for use by Colorado City, so the Lake would see a higher concentration of radium.  But because the water from the Creek is mixed with water from other sources in Lake Beckwith, the radium would be greatly diluted and shouldn’t be a problem for people using that water, according to John Van Oort, Water Commissioner with the Division of Water Resources.

An acceptable level of radioactivity in drinking water is 5 picoCuries per liter.  The level of radioactivity coming out of the well in Rye is 160 picoCuries per liter.  By the time the water is combined with other sources in Lake Beckwith, the radioactivity would be diluted to 1.6 picoCuries per liter, well within limits.

Radium is an element that is stored in the bones, similar to calcium.  Radium displaces calcium, however, and the radioactivity causes cancer in the bones.  Radium was discovered by Marie Curie, the famous scientist who conducted early radioactivity research, and is blamed for her premature death.

This article originally appeared in the September 24, 2008, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.

CCMD meeting 9-9-2008

September 17, 2008

Is there a pilot in the house?  At the Colorado City Metropolitan District Board of Directors meeting on September 9, 2008, Andy Andrews, of Colorado City, made an appeal for pilots to speak up.  There is an airstrip east of I-25, right behind the old Texaco station.  The strip hasn’t been used in years, and is in a state of disrepair.  But it is paved and would be open to private general aviation aircraft after it is cleaned up.  If you’re a pilot, Mr. Andrews would like you to contact him regarding your interest in the airstrip.

Also at the meeting, the auditing firm of MBDG gave its report on the condition of Colorado City’s financial reports.  MBDG was also approved to handle this coming year’s audit.
Resolution 13-2008 was passed making some minor changes to resolution 9-2006.  Resolution 9-2006 is the resolution regarding public input at board meetings.  Resolution 13-2008 changes a few phrases to bring the former resolution into line with actual practice.  The text of the resolution is available at the Colorado City office.
This article originally appeared in the September 17, 2008, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.