COUNTY ASSEMBLY: REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES SEEK SUPPORT FROM DELEGATES. A3
SHORT HAIR FOR
The Slaughterhouse Derby Girls are a force to be reckoned with in the rink, but they make sure to give back to the community. D1
8-year-old Hallee Wilder chops off 10 inches of her hair in order to make a wig for Locks of Love. A2
SUNDAY Serving Greeley and Weld County greeleytribune.com
MARCH 25, 2012
GREELEY, COLORADO $1.50 VOL. 141 NO. 135
THE ROAD AHEAD, PART 12 | A TRIBUNE SPECIAL PROJECT
LESSONS LEARNED TO BE
Knowing the oil and gas wave can be a wild ride, Weld looks to its neighbor to the north to avoid being left high and dry.
A7: The Boys & Girls Clubs of Weld County holds an elegant night of silent auctions and games for its fundraiser.
C1: Store brands are upping their game with new packaging and more organic products to compete with name brands.
PHOTOS BY JOSHUA POLSONemail@example.com
THE RAILROAD THAT RUNS through Casper, Wyo., also stops at the Sinclair Plant in Evansville, where a large percentage
of the unrefined fuel is delivered and processed.
Monday: Greeley group teaches kids about leadership, teamwork and discipline.
BY JASON SHUEH
ASPER, WYO. — Tonight the streets of Casper are quiet. Old ice is frozen against the curbs. Snow clumps around the lamp posts and melts into puddles. A few cars roll through downtown. Small groups of people walk huddled under the chipped brick of buildings and Western signs. The storefronts are dark, but the bars downtown are warm and glow through the windows. The World Famous Wonder Bar is among them, advertising dollar “old school” beers in its lighted billboard and Monday Movie Day showing “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” This is the local hangout, where oil workers go in their new pickups, Fords and Chevys, a place for after-work beers and talk. Inside it’s a ruckus. Outside, and beyond downtown on the outskirts of this town, known as “Oil City,” it’s a blur of chain stores and restaurants. There are Outbacks and Applebee’s, Walmarts and Targets, Starbucks and shopping centers, all speckled with Days Inn, Ramada, Best Western and Marriott hotels. Beyond these and the four large golf courses in Casper twinkles the Sinclair Oil Refinery, where trucks stand waiting to transport the petroleum, the source of the region’s wealth.
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alongside Gene Karbo in the World Famous Wonder Bar, a bar in downtown Casper, Wyo., that serves many oil contractors in the area. It’s the kind of oil-driven economic activity and abundance that Greeley and Weld County hope to see in the years ahead. Thanks to the emerging boom in the Niobrara shale formation, the region already is seeing lower county property taxes, added employment, revitalized roads and additional funding for education, such as for Aims Community College. Yet — as anyone who has lived in Casper can tell you — with every oil boom there is a bust, a downfall that’s not a matter of “if,” but when. And you’d better plan on it. There are lessons to be learned from Casper and other oil towns that have been through this cycle before, but it remains to be seen whether they’re being heeded. This much is clear: Weld’s addiction to oil dollars is growing. Oil and gas already account for 45 percent, or more than $172.4 million, of Weld’s property tax revenues. Some school districts depend on oil and gas revenues for much of their funding. Among the questions for Greeley and Weld residents: What happens if oil activity dries
» About the series This is the 12th installment in The Road Ahead, a series of stories that explores the power of plans to shape Greeley. To see previous stories in the series — covering Greeley’s past, immigration, the Stampede, U.S. 85, recreation, water, education, agriculture and “the smell of money” — go to www.greeley tribune.com/roadahead.
up? Will schools, homeowners and others be left high and dry? Or will the Niobrara continue to pump prosperity into the region for decades to come?
CONTINUED A4: Road Ahead
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The Road Ahead
SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012
« THE TRIBUNE
Wyo. commissioner: ‘When oil stops, everything stops’
Lessons to learn Oil can be a game of red light, green light, moving and stopping. This is the way Natrona County Commissioner Ed Opella tells it. In the boom years, money spreads. The bars and restaurants, hotels and apartments fill in. New homes, new roads emerge. Schools and prisons are expanded or built. Ambitious county projects are drafted, then break ground. Workers from out of town are brought in to fill the demand. A seller’s market hits real estate because rentals are in short supply. The roads brighten in the shine of
$100,000,000 $90,000,000 $80,000,000 $70,000,000
PHOTOS BY JOSHUA POLSONfirstname.lastname@example.org
HALLIBURTON ADVERTISES AN OPENING with one of the many signs sitting near the Sinclair Oil Refinery in Evansville, Wyo. The oil industry has constantly looked for new truck drivers, equipment operators, refinery workers and many other positions, bringing in jobs and helping the economy of the Evansville and Casper area.
» More in store » Feeling the effects: One North Dakota town is the epicenter of a huge oil boom. A6 » Tribune Opinion and guest column: Analysis of the impact of the oil and gas industry’s boom-and-bust cycle. A8 » More rigs, more wells, more men: Oil and gas living quarters have spilled over to an east Greeley “man camp.” Monday’s Tribune » Video: An interview with Natrona County Commissioner Ed Opella. Go to www.greeleytribune.com/roadahead
new cars coasting down the highways. In the bust years, everything is bleak and hopes dim. The economy screeches to a lethargic halt. Dark storefronts spread through downtown, the streets empty out. Grand ideas are put on hold, reduced or dumped. Oil rigs and gas pipes rust in the fields. Families leave town. Foreclosures rise. Homes and buildings sit vacant. The county trims the ranks of its employees. Unemployment shoots upward. And the family providers, once earning thousands, are left with minimum wage or no wage at all. Yet the bars, they’re still full, but this time for different reasons. “When oil stops, everything stops,” Opella said. “I used to be in the pump business, that was my business. And everybody fixes pumps when things get bad. They lay off people when things get bad. Most people leave town because they need work. Then there’s vacancies in apartments ... It’s a ghost town figuratively speaking.” When so many people and sectors in society — real estate, school districts, businesses and government — are so dependent on energy revenues, there’s only so much that can be done to prepare for a downturn or bust, Opella said. “You just react to it when it happens. The same as when it goes up, as when it comes down,” Opella said. Despite the obstacles, Opella said the county tries to be as conservative as possible in the boom years by avoiding ongoing costs in personnel and new buildings that must be maintained for years to come. Residents try to adjust, as well. Those who can afford it know to sit on houses and oil equipment until another boom returns. Those in oil and gas trades leverage their skills by fixing equipment or applying them in a different industry. “I don’t know if you ever get used to it,” Opella said. “It’s tough, and sometimes it’s painful for a small community to go through.” Opella said he doesn’t know if anybody is smart enough to balance the boomand-bust cycle of oil. Typically, he said, events will dictate what happens and county officials must make the hard decisions, which usually translates to layoffs. Overall though, Opella said oil and gas has been a plus for the community. Signs on the sides of buildings or on billboards around town show support, directly or indirectly. “Oil and gas pay most of our taxes,” reads one. “When regulation increases freedom dies,” reads another. Michael Dembro is among the many Casper residents who see the results of oil. Dembro is the kitchen manager at Dori Lou’s Restaurant, which lies at the
PEOPLE EXIT THE CROWDED World Famous Wonder Bar in downtown Casper, Wyo. The Wonder Bar is one of the popular bars for the oil workers, contractors and other people related to the oil business in Natrona County.
» Weld’s oil: A brief look back
LEWIS TAUBERT OF Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters stands among
some of his most popular merchandise with oil workers — boots — in his store in Casper, Wyo. The store has been outfitting oil workers with boots, gloves and a variety of other gear since Casper’s oil boom began more than 100 years ago. southern edge of town not far from the blinking lights of the Sinclair Oil Refinery and across the street from Halliburton. Dembro said Halliburton has given the diner-style restaurant a lot of business since he moved to Casper from Boston a year ago. Halliburton’s extra crews coming from Texas and Rock Springs, Wyo., Dembro said, have even led to an increase in staffing. “We have almost doubled, or even tripled, our business from me starting here,” Dembro said. “It has given us a
good 20 or 30 percent more capital in revenue.” Tom Mast, business editor for the Casper Star-Tribune newspaper, has covered issues relating to oil for years and knows the feel and texture of the booms, as well as the busts. Mast knows the rise and decline of oil and gas isn’t a matter of “if,” but “when.” “The foundation of this economy has always been oil and gas. It’s been here since they opened the Salt Lake field in the late 1800s,” he said. “When oil and
Oil is not new to Weld County, and for more than a hundred years geologists and oil companies have been searching the Niobrara shale formation that passes beneath the county for its suspected oil resources. The formation dates back 87 million years. Oil and gas exploration came to northern Colorado inspired by wells in Wyoming and oil finds in Boulder and Fort Collins. This began the drilling, haphazard and fruitless at first, here and there across the face of northern Colorado in the late 1800s. In the 1900s, Poudre Oil and Gas Co. drilled a 4,000-foot well in Fort Collins. The company saw only the first traces of oil, before abandoning the site. Providence finally struck 283 feet deeper on Nov. 11, 1924. Hungry and determined, California’s Union Oil Company had been purchasing land leases in a fever. Another Fort Collins test well was drilled, and it gushed hysterically for 49 days before it could be controlled at 400 barrels a day. Union drilled again that year, and again another well began spurting on July 19, this time 4,216 feet down. It ignited four days later and records report a pillar of flame swirling 100-feet high, burning 31 days until, exasperated, officials decided to have it dynamited — eventually controlling the well at 63 million cubic-feet of oil per day. This was the genesis of the oil boom in northern Colorado. The Rocky Mountain News reported in 1955 the call for oil “echoed and re-echoed” throughout the state as the boom permeated the 1940s and into the 1950s. Weld now has more than 18,000 active wells, and in Greeley, about 500, according to Becky Safarik, Greeley’s assistant manager. Jason Shueh
gas companies sneeze here, everybody catches a cold.” A major aspect of the instability of oil, Mast points out, is that major declines or spikes in demand aren’t necessarily caused by a region’s supply of oil and gas.
“There are no guarantees with oil and gas. You are at the mercy of the international markets. That’s the bottom line,” Mast said. And this is good and bad. Mast said it also means that during a general
Weld’s boom It might be difficult to plan for a bust, but planning for a boom brings its own
$50,000,000 53.65% 48.34%
43.87 % 37.29%
» Weld County oil and gas percentage of revenue $450,000,000 $400,000,000
Seeking a cushion
» Natrona County assessed values
» Weld County assessed values
YEAR 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011
YEAR 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011
OIL & GAS
274,093,789 434,872,944 441,634,964
TOTAL $344,124,345 457,202,578 349,806,680 302,952,424 578,110,019 944,105,934 1,176,173,158
challenges, too. A boom can attract a rapid influx of people, traffic, money and crime. The challenge for Greeley and Weld will be to encourage and shape the good — economic development, upgrades to infrastructure, lower taxes — while avoiding the sprawl, vice and growing pains that can follow. Casper’s downtown, like Greeley’s, has struggled over the years. It watched the growth in nearby towns with bigbox stores, bars, restaurants and hotels springing up on its edges and southward as growth marched along Interstate 25 toward the refinery. However, Peter Meyers, Casper’s assistant to the city manager, said recently they’ve been able to channel growth back into the downtown area by rezoning the city center into its own district. Meyers said the downtown area, now called the Yellowstone District, was initially zoned as industrial space. The rezoning has opened up the district to residential apartments and commercial businesses, zoning that typically requires higher density limits. “The proof is in the pudding and we’re starting to see a lot of redevelopment,” Meyers said, as empty warehouses are turned into renovated apartments, restaurants and commercial businesses. Meyers said the rezoning has provided the city more balanced economic growth as small towns around Casper, such as Bar Nunn, have experienced notable growth in residential housing. If the oil investment widens in Weld, as companies like Noble Energy and Anadarko Petroleum have committed to do in the next few years with billions of dollars pumped into operations, this would likely mean planning for an increase of new labor. But Greeley officials are not worried about meeting a new demand. They’re hoping for it. “I see it as a positive,” Greeley Mayor Tom Norton said. Norton said that even with the oil boom throughout the last few years, population and growth — predicted by the city planning department to average 2 percent from 2011-16 — has not reached excessive levels and there are many parts of Greeley, like its older downtown, that could use business generated by the new demand. “I don’t think any of the growth prediction will be any strain on the city,” Norton said. “Greeley is in pretty good shape” And yet, oil companies are not opening their doors in Greeley’s downtown but farther out, and while there is a general plan for growth, there is no specific plan for the potential of a dramatic oil boom.
CONTINUED A6: Road Ahead
OIL & GAS 219,953,860 302,685,640 247,107,380 298,730,960 623,293,310 1,736,735,240 2,439,298,540
According to the well-recited fable, the ants stored their kernels of corn in summer while the grasshopper sang and questioned. Winter came and the grasshopper starved. As the lesson goes: “There is time for work and time for play.” The concept reverberates for Conway, the chairman of the Board of Weld County Commissioners, who said the county has been discussing this long before the recent boom. Instead of using additional oil and gas money for ongoing costs — such as salaries, county programs and services — Conway said the commissioners have tried to put the funding into reserves, one-time projects such as road projects and lowering homeowner property taxes through temporary tax relief. Already, due to oil and gas property tax revenues on the roughly 30 oil companies operating in Weld, Conway said homeowners pay on average about $300 less than they normally would, thanks to a temporary refund that commissioners have been able to approve with the budget nearly each year. “The county believes that if we’re able to meet basic needs, then the money should go back to the taxpayers,” Conway said. “And if this Niobrara play continues in the direction where it continues to go, I would anticipate in the near future again lowering the mill levy. That would be my hope.” The lower taxes, Conway said, is the county’s “buffer” should oil revenues go away, a move that means property taxes could jump during an oil bust if commissioners cannot afford to approve the refund. Conway said Weld’s biggest safeguard is in its programs to stimulate diversification. “Our whole economic development strategy has been on diversification,” Conway said. “One of the concerns that has been expressed for years now is that the county not be too dependent on oil and gas. This discussion was happening in 2005-06.” Weld funds Upstate Colorado Economic Development, an organization tasked to bring businesses to Greeley and Weld. Weld also seeks to entice businesses by keeping taxes low and it supports regional and national economic campaigns to boost incentives for manufacturing and commercial companies. Freight Rail Works is one such campaign. Conway said it seeks to promote freight rail through tax credits and other economic and regulatory incentives. Conway said freight rail is an important draw for Weld, which is strategically placed between two long-haul rail routes. Vestas Wind Systems, a wind turbine manufacturer in Brighton and Windsor, is one of many manufacturers drawn to Weld primarily for its rail shipping, Conway said. “All you have to do is see the train tracks with the blades going north,” he said. And yet despite current and previous efforts to diversify, property tax revenues indicate a trend toward greater oil and gas dependence. Don Warden, Weld’s director of budget management, said when he first took his position about 30 years ago he remembered oil and gas property tax revenues representing only about 20 percent of all revenues. Now, he would not be surprised to see the percentage climbing into the 60-percent range. Warden is well aware that what goes up, can go down. “In a matter of a one-year period, you can have a spike and then (revenues) can drop dramatically,” Warden said.
Back at the Wonder Bar, it’s 7:30 on a Wednesday night and the bar is packed. “American Woman” is blaring in the background. Casper residents, such as the Wonder Bar’s Amy Frontiero, know the highs and lows all too well. When the price of oil goes down, production goes down, too, then jobs. Casper, an epicenter of infrastructure with discoveries dating back to the 1800s, knows the struggle. Here families can measure joy and sorrow, not just by the moment, but by the barrel. Frontiero works the bar tonight. She serves up Budweisers and glasses of Jim Beam. She moves quickly, takes orders while making conversation, three glasses in one hand and a bill in the other. Oil, she said, has been providing customers ever since she can remember, and tonight is no different. Oil, she says, is the town, and sacrifices — great and small — are made to keep it going. “People have missed deaths in their families. People have missed being able to go to weddings. You hear a variety of stories,” Frontiero said. “We actually had a guy in here a couple months ago that missed the birth of his child. But times being the way they are, it’s not like he can just drop what he’s doing and just go home.” The oil workers come and go in rotations, some for one week, some for two weeks, some permanent and others part of the industry, selling motors, pumps, whatever is needed, she said. “You see the guys who are away from their wives, the guys who are still very young and are looking for girlfriends,” she said. “You see the people who miss their children. It’s just like having a long-distance family that comes back and forth.” There are major differences between Greeley and Casper, Weld County and Natrona County. For starters, Greeley’s population of more than 92,000 is nearly double Casper’s of about 55,000; Weld has about 253,000 people to Natrona’s 75,000. Also, Greeley and Weld have well-established industries and strong agricultural roots. Casper and Natrona are much more dependent on oil and gas. From 2001-11 oil and gas property tax revenues averaged about 44 percent per year of Natrona County’s total property tax revenues. Yet, every day, Greeley and Weld find themselves leaning more and more on oil and gas money. From 1981 to 2003 Weld’s oil and gas property tax revenues — where Weld receives direct funding from the oil and gas industry — fluctuated between about 21.5 and 35 percent of all county property tax revenues, averaging 25.8 percent. By 2004, the percentage of oil and gas revenues in the county’s budget climbed to 32.4 percent of all property tax revenues. It peaked at 49.7 percent in 2009 — roughly $192.2 million. According to Weld assessor records, the county assessed oil and gas properties at $623.3 million in 2001, and most recent data in 2011 showed a rise to about $2.44 billion. Currently, property taxes — including revenue from oil and gas — provide about one-third of the money Weld generates and account for the largest source of income for the county. The Niobrara formation’s role in Weld fuels the revenue rise, coupled with hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, two oil extraction processes that have made previously inaccessible shale a more profitable target. According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, estimates vary, but the Niobrara potentially contains about 1 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway said he’s been told by industry experts this means about 50 years of future oil development for the county. However, despite the sweeping influence on Weld, the county still has a long way to go before it becomes as dependent on oil as Natrona. Mining — which includes the oil and gas industry — represented only 8 percent, $590 million, of Weld’s total Gross Domestic Product of roughly $7.34 billion in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. Manufacturing — Weld’s largest industry — represented $1.12 billion, or 15.25 percent, of the county’s total GDP in 2010. GDP measures the total value of goods and services. Mining in Natrona represented 42.1 percent, about $2.87 billion, of the county’s total GDP of roughly $6.8 billion. And yet, the GDP also shows the bulging economic muscles of oil and gas in Weld. In 2001, Weld’s GDP from mining stood at $102 million. By 2010, it totaled $590 million — an increase of more than 578 percent.
The graphs below show the different between Natrona County, Wyo., and Weld County in respect to how much of the total revenue for each county is brought in by oil and gas companies’ taxes.
The path to ‘Oil City’
» Natrona County oil and gas percentage of revenue
recession — such as the previous one — Casper and Natrona can weather the storms much better than most. During the Great Recession, while states across the country were hit hard, Wyoming and Natrona County unemployment rates stayed low due to oil, Mast said. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Natrona’s annual unemployment rate for 2008, 2009 and 2010 — not seasonally adjusted — were 2.9, 6.7 and 7.2 percent, respectively, during the start and end of the recession. Nationally, the annual unemployment during those years was 5.8, 9.3 and 9.6 percent. Weld County’s annual unemployment rates for those three years were 5.2, 9.3 and 10.2 percent, respectively. Mast said the flip side of this is when the price of oil and gas dives, such as in the 1980s. He remembers residents in a panic when oil plummeted to nearly $10 a barrel. “There were hundreds of houses that were left vacant in Casper. There were bankruptcies. There was an exodus in population,” Mast said. “During a bust, you may have more than a hundred houses sitting vacant and they may be sitting there for years.” Looking at Weld, both Mast and Opella said economic diversity may be the best defense against over-reliance on energy income. “Unless oil and gas is big enough to really overshadow everything else that is going on in Greeley — which I doubt very seriously in Greeley — you’re not going to have that kind of exposure that Casper has had because your economy is already pretty diversified,” Mast said.
TOTAL 771,771,770 906,609,900 1,057,683,330 1,329,840,857 2,222,085,270 4,203,949,170 5,421,862,840
» Oil and gas quiz Want to test your oil and gas knowledge? Here’s a quick quiz about Weld’s oil and gas industry. 1. According to the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, how many millions of years old is the Niobrara shale formation? A. 66 million to 69 million years old B. 70 million to 74 million years old C. 82 million to 87 million years old D. 104 million to 110 million years old 2. Roughly how many active oil-gas wells are there in Weld County? A. 16,000 B. 17,000 C. 18,000 D. 19,000 3. Roughly how many active oil and gas wells are in Greeley? A. 300 B. 500 C. 700 D. 900 4. How much did oil and gas property tax revenues represent of all Weld County property tax revenues in 2011? A. 25 percent B. 35 percent C. 45 percent D. 55 percent 5. In the next five years, how much does Noble Energy, Inc., intend to invest into its Weld County oil exploration and production? A. $1 billion B. $3 billion C. $789,354,607.12 D. $8 billion Answer Key 1. C 2. C 3.DON’T B FLIP OUT: To check 4.out C the answers to the quiz, flip 5.your D newspaper upside down.
1. C 2. C 3. B 4. C 5. D
« ROAD AHEAD From A1
«The Road Ahead
Sunday, March 25, 2012 » The Tribune
Weld, Greeley officials believe boom is here to stay « Road Ahead From A5
“Greeley’s 2060 Comprehensive Plan (the city’s long-term growth plan) has projected growth north of the river up to State Highway 392 since the mid-80s and we actually have annexed well over 1,200 acres in this area in anticipation
of development in that area,” assistant city manager Becky Safarik said. “The biggest impediment to date has not been oil and gas but the cost of extending capital infrastructure into that area.” Safarik said to balance growth within Greeley, officials are promoting the rail corridor as a new industry area, fostering preservation
and support of the Poudre River as a recreational and open space amenity and providing economic development incentives throughout the community for qualified businesses, particularly in the older areas. The oil and oil service companies — such as Noble Energy, which recently announced a new $500,000
The Sinclair Refinery in Evansville, Wyo., lights the night sky as it
processes fuel delivered to it throughout the day. This refinery is just a small part of the oil and gas operations that takes place in Natrona County. storage facility on the west side of Greeley and Halliburton, which announced a Windsor facility to create 500 jobs last January — aren’t gravitating toward downtown due to space constraints. “The oil-gas companies that I’ve worked with require very large sites, usually to accommodate their offices, but also field crews, equipment, etc.,” Safarik said. “So a downtown location in an entertainment district isn’t a very logical match. That said, the employees associated with the industry are accessing and enjoying the retail, restaurants and services throughout the community, including the downtown.” Weld District Attorney Ken Buck said crime levels have not shown any spikes, either. “We have not seen any crime associated with the exploration and production of the Niobrara,” Buck said. “We don’t have any more crime being committed by the rough necks and drillers than anyone else.” In the 1980s Buck lived in Wyoming and said there has been a major change in both oil company management style and labor, compared to years ago. “I see a much different attitude. They get along now better with their partners in agriculture and they are much better citizens,” Buck said. Mike Blonigen, the district attorney in Natrona County, said Natrona is again going through a boom, albeit a gradual boom. He said drug testing and better education of employees have
»»Goods and services The total market value of goods and services, or gross domestic product, in an area is a good way to see the impact of an industry such as oil and gas, that falls into the GDP category of mining. Below is data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis reflecting Weld and Natrona County’s GDP in 2010. » Mining represented 8 percent or $590 million of Weld County’s total GDP of $7.34 billion in 2010. In Natrona County it represented about 42 percent or $2.87 billion of their total GDP of $6.8 billion. » Other notable Weld industries for 2010’s GDP include government, at $865 million or 11.8 percent; real estate rental and leasing, at $584 million or about 8 percent; construction, at $536 million or 7.3 percent; health care and social assistance, at $511 million or about 7 percent; retail trade, at $452 million or about 6 percent; and agriculture at $376 million or 5 percent. » Mining in Colorado represented about 4.5 percent of the total GDP in 2010 while in Wyoming it represented about 31 percent. Jason Shueh
cut crime. “Compared to the boom a few years ago there’s nowhere near the same amount of crime,” Blonigen said. He acknowledged that oil and gas have contributed to alcohol-related crimes, many involving young workers with lots of money and time on their hands. Greeley is also monitoring where and how sprawl expands as the city attempts to taper or redirect Greeley’s east-to-west expansion. So far, no oil companies have announced plans to move into downtown Greeley, but the head of Greeley’s Downtown Development Authority agreed with Safarik and others that the area
is seeing economic benefits already. “We feel that it’s great for the downtown area,” executive director Pam Bricker said. “It supports our businesses.” Norton, Conway and Bricker are among those who believe there’s every indication the Niobrara boom will continue for decades to come. That would mean Greeley and Weld can look forward to more money, more people and more economic activity. In fact, they’re banking on it. “The law of supply and demand has never changed in our history,” Bricker said. “When the demand is there, you grow.”
N. Dakota town the epicenter of oil boom By Jason Shueh email@example.com
Greeley and Casper, Wyo., have seen a boom in oil activity, but for the ultimate boom perspective, Williston, N.D., is the place to be. The town, once small and remote, is now at the heart of international attention, as job-hungry outsiders flock to be a part of a billion-dollar oil boom in their Bakken oil formation. Trailer homes and man camps cluster oil workers around town. Oil trucks are a constant through the downtown and big-box stores such as Walmart struggle to keep up with parking lots filled with customers. This is the mecca of all that is oil and experts report production is only beginning. Among the results of the massive boom: » In January, Williston Public School District 1 Superintendent Viola LaFontaine said the district has had to manage a 22 percent rise in students, at 480 kids, in the past two years. Next year, she’s planning for 1,200. » According to the U.S. Census Bureau, population has grown by 17.6 percent in the past decade, at 14,716 resident in 2010. This doesn’t, however, include temporary housing, which could increase the percentage greatly. » In the past five years, North Dakota’s oil production has risen from 115,370 barrels daily to 509,374 — which is greater than Ecuador, a South
American OPEC country. » Because of the oil boom, the state is considering abolishing all property taxes through Measure 2, to be voted on in June. » Brad Bekkedahl, a Williston city commissioner, said that although the city’s population of more than 14,000 is growing rapidly, almost 1,000 longtime residents have left in the past two years, fed up with the city’s newly acquired crowding and traffic problems. » Man camps of oil workers cluster across the town and real estate occupancy is estimated at more than 100 percent. » Walmart in Williston sells water and other goods on truck palettes due to the massive crowding. » Some workers live in tents, cars and campers. Hotels are booked for months. » Williston Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Amy Krueger says the number of hotel rooms in the city has grown by more than 300 rooms to 934 in the past year. But she says it’s still not enough. By June she expects 1,200 within six hotels. » McKenzie County, just south of Williston, is expected to grow from 1,744 — the last official Census count — to more than 7,500 people, a 430 percent increase. » Watford City, also south of Williston, used to have zero registered sex offenders and now it has 28. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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THE ROAD AHEAD, PART 13 | A TRIBUNE SPECIAL PROJECT
The rising tide of the manufacturing industry has gotten Weld County...
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FRANCISCO ALVEREZ WELDS TOGETHER pieces onto a large chassis mount at the Harsh International Inc. production
facility in Eaton. Harsh is one of many manufacturers that has come to call Weld County its home. As a result, many jobs have been brought to the county.
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BY NATE A. MILLER
right orange sparks gushed from the steel bar as Jim Frey held it against the rapidly moving belt, smoothing it to get it ready for welding. With his brown Chevy hat on backward and a white apron covering his dark blue T-shirt and jeans, Frey gripped the bar in thick black gloves, and held it against the belt deburring machine for a few seconds, before setting it in a pile to his right, and reaching to his left for a new one. “There’s still quite a bit of hands-on work. You’ve got to have some mechanical experience to work here,” said the 33-year-old who has worked at Harsh International Inc. for seven years. “Each week, it’s something different.”
Before he came to Harsh, the Loveland native worked at a cemetery. “I was one of those guys who did all the burials — not a fun job,” he said. “One of my buddies used to work here. He got me on.” The job pays much better than the cemetery, Frey said, his face breaking into a broad grin under plastic safety glasses. Frey is one of roughly 80 employees who works in a nondescript brown brick building on the northern edge of Eaton, making hydraulic lifts for dump trucks and components for feed mixers, among other products, mostly with an agricultural bent. Recently, other manufacturers — large and small — have joined Harsh and come to call Weld County home, and manufacturing has quietly come to account for as large a por-
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tion of Weld’s economy as any other metropolitan area in the state. Between 2005 and 2010, manufacturing output in the Greeley metropolitan « FOR MORE area, which is Weld County, GO TO PAGE Two Weld grew nearly 47 percent, ris- A4: manufacturing from $763 million to ers exemplify tradition and $1.1 billion. Large manufacturers, innovation such as Leprino or O-I, have A8: Tribune grabbed headlines as they’ve Opinion: Smaller manufacturing built plants and brought companies vital hundreds of jobs to the re- to Weld’s ecogion. But it’s the little shops nomic success — the kind many drive past every day without noticing — that increasingly have powered Weld’s manufacturing growth, one job at a time. Such jobs play a key
role in the health of any economy because they bring wealth into the region. Manufacturers and others point to several factors to explain Weld’s success: A low cost of doing business, a large, flexible workforce and a location that makes it easy to ship goods across the country. But to fully capitalize on these advantages in the years ahead, the county will need plenty of workers trained for the modern, high-tech factory environment. “We’ve seen a lot of success with manufacturing in Weld County,” said Eric Berglund, interim executive director of Upstate Colorado Economic Development, the nonprofit company that works to bring businesses to Weld. “One of the main reasons for that is we have the land. If companies are looking to expand we have the ability to put them someplace.”
CONTINUED A4: Road Ahead
This is the 13th installment in The Road Ahead, a series of stories that explores the power of plans to shape Greeley: past, present and future. To see previous stories in the series — covering Greeley’s past, immigration, the Stampede, U.S. 85, recreation, water, education, agriculture and “the smell of money” — go to www.greeleytribune.com/roadahead.
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The Road Ahead
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AL NARANJO DRIES OFF one of the pieces of the telescoping cylinders at Harsh International Inc. in Eaton. The cylinders have to be cleaned and dried quickly because the metal can rust quickly.
» Manufacturing output by state The United States is the largest manufacturer in the world, producing 22 percent of all goods and 11.8 percent of the nation’s economic output comes from manufacturing. About 7 percent of Colorado’s economic output comes from manufacturing. Here’s a look at the states with the highest — and lowest — shares of manufacturing as a percentage of their total economic output: TOP 5 » Indiana .....................................................27.1 percent » Oregon ....................................................22.2 percent » North Carolina .....................................19.3 percent » Wisconsin ..............................................19.0 percent » Louisiana ................................................18.1 percent BOTTOM 5 » Hawaii ......................................................1.2 percent » Maine .......................................................3.6 percent » Alaska ......................................................3.8 percent » Nevada ....................................................4.1 percent » Florida ......................................................5.1 percent MANUFACTURING OUTPUT IN COLORADO Manufacturing accounts for a greater percentage of economic output in northern Colorado and Weld County’s than in any other part of the state. Here’s a look at manufacturing output within the state’s seven metropolitan areas: » Greeley ...................................................15.2 percent » Fort Collins ............................................15.2 percent » Boulder ....................................................14.8 percent » Pueblo .....................................................11.6 percent » Grand Junction ....................................4.6 percent » Denver-Aurora-Broomfield .........N/A » Colorado Springs ...............................N/A Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis ing global supply chains, make the U.S. an ideal place to locate production for goods that will be consumed there. “As the labor cost advantage starts to erode, many of those other factors that play into your production decisions, quality, your proximity to your customers, proximity to your suppliers, just the sheer management of your supply chain, all of those things become more prominent,” said Michael Zinser, a partner with the Boston Group. “The headaches that you may have been willing to absorb when the labor-cost advantage was high, you’re no longer willing to take on when that labor cost starts to erode.” This month, the Boston Group also published the results of a survey in which 37 percent of 106 decision makers at companies across a range of industries said they planned to move manufacturing back to the U.S. — a trend called reshoring — or were actively
thinking about it. Among companies with $10 billion or more in revenues, 48 percent of executives said they were looking at the U.S. Zinser said the reshoring trend could lead to as many as 3 million new jobs across the country. “The jobs that left when they were off-shored are not necessarily going to be the jobs that come back,” he said. “For the U.S. to be competitive, certainly with the cost of living, we’ve had to have advances in technology, advances in automation, efficiencies in the way that we actually work. The expectation would be that jobs that are created are really more sophisticated than the ones that left.”
‘People don’t understand what manufacturing is’ When Kenneth Waldenstrom, 67, started at Harsh in 1973, he
CHRIS MARTIN AND CHUCK Wilson stand alongside the pile of scrap wood as tractors cruise by at A1 Organics outside
of Eaton. The scrap wood will later be chipped and transformed into mulch. In addition to mulch, A1 Organics also manufactures fertilizer and top soils. ran the most technologically advanced piece of machinery the company had. He’s stayed on the cutting edge ever since. His previous job, in Nebraska, where he built metal parts for computers — the large roomsized machines that college campuses and governments used — prepared him for Harsh’s technology. In his 38 years at the company, he’s only seen technological change increase. “When they brought in the new machines, I don’t think anybody really had that much trouble with it,” he said. Behind him, a large, box-like machine worked while he talked. “If you know how to do the basic things, then the computer is not that much different. It just makes it easier.” Harsh has invested more in high-tech equipment to reduce waste and boost productivity as it has grown. “I think you’re going to see more of that because a manufacturer, in order to survive, has to be ultra-efficient,” said Robert Brown, Harsh president. “There’s not room for slop and waste and scrap. You need to utilize every pound of material that comes in if you possibly can.”
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For more information about the Aims Community College’s Manufacturing Technology Program, call (970) 339-6413.
Still, Brown said, the company’s people will remain its most important asset, and buying a multimillion-dollar piece of equipment to automate production carries its own risks. “With that kind of automation, it’s just like your computer. The day you buy one, it’s already obsolete,” he said. In addition to some automation, Harsh also has had to innovate. About five years ago, the company went to a four-day workweek for production. That saved energy costs, and gave the workers long weekends. During the recession, when orders dropped off more than 40 percent, Brown chose not to lay off any workers. Instead, they cleaned the plant when they had down time, and put fresh paint in the parking lot and on the walls. Brown said it simply didn’t make sense to shed a trained worker only to have to retrain a new one
We’re really in the spring of this cycle. More and more companies are starting to see that Weld County has a large workforce that can be rapidly trained.”
— JOHN HUTSON, director of corporate training for Aims Community College’s Continuing Education Division
when things picked up again. “We did everything to keep people onboard,” he said. “Our philosophy is the people we have onboard today are the best people we could find in the last 25 years, and we didn’t want to lose them.” Despite high unemployment, it’s not easy for manufacturers to find the workers they need. Nationwide, 82.5 percent of manufacturers reported shortages of skilled workers, according to a 2011 report by the Manufacturing Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan think tank that works to advance manufacturing in the U.S. “There’s a significant skills gap,” said Jacey Wilkins, the spokeswoman for the institute. “When manufacturers look to hire, essentially, the product that is showing up at their doors has a huge skills mismatch.” Wilkins said the Manufacturing Institute estimates that 600,000 jobs are unfilled across
the country, even with unemployment at 8.2 percent. Scott Birmingham, CEO of Mead-based Boulder Scientific Co., which makes components used in plastics manufacturing, said while Weld is a good fit for his company, he struggles to find qualified workers for the company’s highly complex manufacturing process. “There’s really just not enough tradespeople who are trained,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a strong enough trade school environment here, and there’s not enough base manufacturing, either. That’s really one of the challenges for us.” Birmingham said he’s often had to leave positions vacant for lack of qualified applicants, and the problem isn’t getting better. “I think there needs to be more emphasis on the trades for people who don’t necessarily want to go to college,” he said. In Weld, Aims Community
College has begun working to close the training gap. The corporate training program offers customizable training courses for manufacturers, while the manufacturing technology program offers classes on a per-credit-hour basis as part of a certification or degree program. John Hutson, director of corporate training for Aims’ Continuing Education Division, said demand for training in manufacturing is rising. “We’re really in the spring of this cycle,” he said. “More and more companies are starting to see that Weld County has a large work force that can be rapidly trained.” In addition to the work done for companies, Aims also often works closely with the Workforce Centers in Weld and Larimer counties, which seek to help unemployed workers find jobs. “I think we’re all scrambling to try to meet those needs,” Hutson said. “I think we have the resources to meet those needs, we just need to focus on what those are.” Aims recently revamped its per-credit hour manufacturing program, changing the name from Sustainable Industrial Technology and Energy to the shorter Manufacturing Technology Program. “Our program’s pretty new, so we’re trying to get the word out about it,” said John Mangin, department chairman of the Aims Community College Department of Applied Environment Technology, which includes the manufacturing program. “We’ve had a lot of feedback from businesses as far as putting our program together, and it’s been very positive. We’re trying to get that word out to students.” The two Aims programs teach everything from basic math — a key need for many manufacturers — to specific high-tech manufacturing skills. The Manufacturing Institute also has developed a skills certification system and has begun working with community colleges and high schools across the country to implement the program. Wilkins said the institute has so much demand from other regions of the country — like the Southeast, a manufacturing hotbed — that it hasn’t made inroads in the Rocky Mountains.
CONTINUED A6: Road Ahead
*Gross Domestic Product: Value of all goods and services in the region. Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis
» Total jobs vs. manufacturing jobs in Greeley area 7,000 6,000 5,000
03 004 005 006 007 008 2 20 2 2 2 2
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From plentiful natural resources to a debt-free local government, Weld County has a lot to pitch when representatives talk to decision makers at companies considering a move to Weld, said Eric Berglund, interim executive director of Upstate Colorado Economic Development. Here’s what some presidents and CEOs from Weld-based manufacturers said about why they came to Weld or stayed there: » Robert Brown, of Eatonbased Harsh International Inc.: “Obviously we think it’s OK, we’ve been here for about 60-plus years,” he joked. “Weld County, as far as I’m concerned, is a very good place to be a manufacturing company, or to be any kind of company.” » Scott Birmingham, of Mead-based Boulder Scientific Co., which just bought land for a second site: “We could have gone anywhere, but we also wound up in Weld County again,” he said of the site in Milliken. “We have a pretty large technical staff. They’re interested in living in communities that have, maybe, more to offer culturally. The same thing is also true, really, of the whole staff. I think that most people who work for us find that northern Colorado’s a desirable place to be and live.” » Trent Johnson, of the Garden City-based Greeley Hat Works: “It’s centrally located. It’s a great place to ship, domestically.” » Chuck Wilson, of Eatonbased A1 Organics: “We still maintain our corporate office and our headquarters here in Weld County because we get a good pool of workers here in Weld County.”
‘They were like Google’
Millions of dollars
» Why Weld?
» Total GDP* vs. manufacturing GDP in Greeley area
Thousands of employees
« ROAD AHEAD From A1 The story of Windsor’s Kodak plant offers an extreme example of the way a constantly evolving marketplace can impact the local economy, even if those at the plant do things right. “When I joined Kodak, they were like Google,” said Robert Gray, a professor at the University of Northern Colorado’s Monfort College of Business. He spent 35 years at Kodak, most of it in Windsor, including a four-year stint as plant manager. He left in 2010. “For the first half of my career, Kodak was very successful.” For much of its 120-year history, Eastman Kodak was a thriving business with an iconic brand. Kodak broke ground in Windsor in 1969, and the company employed 3,500 people at its peak in the mid-1980s. Last year, many of the buildings at the site were demolished. Roughly 200 people still work there in color paper finishing and thermal media manufacturing. Beset by competition from digital cameras, Kodak filed for bankruptcy this year. “Kodak faced a situation where they had an incredibly profitable traditional photography business for over 100 years,” he said. “I think when companies are in that situation, they find it very challenging to change their business model and adjust to a completely disruptive change in the marketplace.” Gray said Kodak’s difficulties had nothing to do with its manufacturing operations in Weld. Kodak, like Hewlett-Packard, which pulled out of a west Greeley plant in the early 2000s as part of a companywide change that sent most of its production outside the U.S., demonstrates the volatility of manufacturing. “I’m sure you could look at a product line from HP where you could see the same thing, where it’s diminished, but probably not the entire core of the company,” he said. “It’s not unique. It happens to other companies, too. Sometimes companies recover from it fairly well. IBM might be a company that responded fairly well to disruptive change. A lot haven’t.” Gray, who said he was always impressed with the quality of workers Kodak attracted to the Windsor facility, said that was never more true than during the tough times. “What was, I thought, pretty amazing, really, was how well the people who worked there just stepped up to every challenge,” he said. “Maybe you would think that people would just give up or something, when every year the challenges increased.” In the 1960s, manufacturing represented nearly 30 percent of the nation’s economic output. Today, that number has fallen to about 12 percent. “Manufacturing has been in relative decline for a long time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. As the country has changed, we’ve shifted more toward services of various sorts, entertainments,” said Charles Ballard, an economist at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. “There were plenty of years where manufacturing grew some, but lots of other things grew faster.” Much of that decline has come as many manufacturers have moved their production out of the United States to countries with lower labor costs. “The sort of dinosaur model of manufacturing, where you’ve got a great big installation that pumps out a whole bunch of identical things, that was American manufacturing of 50 years ago,” Ballard said. “Today, that’s what they do in Honduras.” Ballard said it’s too soon to know what the future holds for American manufacturing. Some of the recent positive signs could simply be the result of a stabilization after the devastating losses of the 2008 recession. However, some experts contend the future looks bright for U.S. manufacturing as changes to some of the same trends that drove production out of the country — low wages in China and easy and inexpensive global transportation — may bring some of it back. A series of reports from the global business strategy advisory firm The Boston Consulting Group concluded recently that many manufacturers are likely to return production facilities to the United States. The reports, the most recent of which was published in March, stated that the increased productivity of American workers — mostly the result of automation — coupled with rising labor costs in China and an increasing awareness of the costs associated with manag-
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SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 2012
The data above is for March of each year listed. March 2012 is a preliminary number. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
» Perception of manufacturing jobs 17% — My parents encouraged me to pursue a career in manufacturing
19% — Our school system encourages students to pursue careers in manufacturing
33% — I would encourage my child to pursue a career in manufacturing
The survey, conducted in August of 2011, polled a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans. Source: Manufacturing Institute
2 Weld manufacturers embody successful mix of tradition, innovation By Nate A. Miller email@example.com
Few places seem more removed from a Detroit assembly line than the 160 acres of windswept land in Eaton that houses A1 Organics. In addition to the small offices for the company’s corporate headquarters, mounds of colored wood chips and rich dirt dotted the landscape on a rainy late April afternoon as gray clouds hung low in the sky. The piles were compost and landscaping mulch, the company’s two main products. A1 Organics, and Garden City-based Greeley Hat Works, offer examples of smaller companies with deep roots in Weld County that have found ways to innovate and grow, despite the challenging economy. Interim executive director of Upstate Colorado Economic Development Eric Berglund said that kind of innovation is at the core of Weld’s recent manufacturing growth. “I think we’re seeing a resurgence of smaller manufacturers who are more nimble and able to respond to market conditions and needs,” he said. Once, the site of A1 Organics — which has been in the family for generations — was home to a farm. The company began as a way to offset the cost of disposing of the waste that was from the family’s lamb-feeding operation. Chuck Wilson’s dad, Duane Wilson, founded the company nearly four decades ago. “At that time, 1974, composting was a pretty new concept, especially in this part of the country,” said Chuck Wilson, the company’s president and CEO and Duane’s son. “I don’t think he imagined that it would grow into the diverse business that it is,” Wilson said of his father. “He knew it would be good at some point down the road, but obviously we’re 38 years later, and it’s really turned into something.” The company has completely replaced the lamb feeding operation. It employs 35 people at two sites in Weld,
and a total of 45 in all of Colorado, with 20 in a similar operation in Nevada. Each day, a fleet of eight trucks makes trips up and down the Front Range, collecting organic waste, such as discarded food, and waste wood, such as old shipping crates. The organic material becomes compost, the wood becomes mulch. In the past six years, the company has diverted 6 million tons of material from landfills, which equates to the size of a football field reaching a half-mile high. “It’s beneficial for us to have our type of operations in an agricultural area, for what we do, it meshes real well with agriculture,” Chuck Wilson said. “Agriculture and farmers are consumers of our products.” Greeley Hat Works has been around since 1909. Trent Johnson is the fourth hatmaker to own it. He worked for three-and-a-half years as an apprentice, and then 17 years ago bought it. About a decade ago, he expanded from the Garden City storefront into a wholesaling operation. At that time, the company made about 350 hats a year. Last year, the company’s best, it made about 3,500 hats. “I’m an overnight success, 17 years later,” he said, noting that his new challenge is managing the growth. “The two things that got me here are quality and customer service. I want to make money, but I don’t want to make money so bad that I sacrifice those two things.” The company, which employs seven hatmakers and is adding more, ships hats to about 70 stores throughout the U.S. and 14 stores around the world in countries such as Germany, France and Australia. When George W. Bush was president, Johnson made hats for the president and received a contract from the White House to make hats for visiting foreign dignitaries such as Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Johnson event met Bush in the Oval Office, when he gave him a hat. “It was awesome,” he said. “It was kind of mind blowing.”
Sunday, April 29, 2012 » The Tribune
Sector is high tech, fast-paced « Road Ahead From A5 “We’d love to be doing it in Colorado,” she said. “Where there is manufacturing, and where there is a need, we will certainly go.” Lack of training isn’t the only thing keeping potential workers from finding manufacturing jobs. The industry also faces a perception problem. Frey, who’s been at Harsh for seven years, said he likes the job, but it doesn’t really appeal to his friends. “I’ve tried to get some guys hired on here. Sometimes it doesn’t work out,” he said. “Sometimes it’s too hands-on.” That’s a nice way of saying the job has too much hard work for them.
“You’ve got to say it in a politically correct way,” he said with a laugh. Frey’s experience is indicative of many across the country. “People don’t understand what manufacturing is. They think it’s their grandfather’s manufacturing — dirty, repetitive tasks — and don’t know that it’s incredibly high-tech,” Wilkins said. “These are integrated workplaces that are fast-paced and clean and technology driven.” For his part, veteran Harsh employee Waldenstrom said his job has always been good to him. “I think it’s a very wellmanaged company,” he said. “There are a lot of companies that could follow the same kind of ways.”
Trent Johnson steams a hat at Greeley Hat Works, 2613 8th Ave. in Garden City. Johnson owns
and always helps out with the creation of the one-of-a-kind hats. Greeley Hat Works fits into a unique place in Weld County’s manufacturers by providing a custom-made product to people around the world.
A survey from 2011 by the Manufacturing Institute shows that while most Americans view manufacturing as key to a strong economy, manufacturers will likely struggle to attract talent in the future because prospective employees are reluctant to choose careers in manufacturing. Ranking by respondents of industries in which they would like to begin a career today: » 1. Technology » 2. Energy » 3. Health care » 4. Communications » 5. Manufacturing » 6. Financial services » 7. Retail Ranking of industries viewed by respondents as most important to maintaining a strong national economy: » 1. Energy » 2. Manufacturing » 3. Health care » 4. Technology » 5. Financial services » 6. Retail » 7. Communications
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Nancy Caudillo Cardenas Harold S. Winograd K-8 School 7th Grade
Do something about your painful joints. Talk to the specialists at Peak Orthopaedics about: t Joint resurfacing and repair. t Knee and hip replacement.
SCHOLASTICS/HONORS: 3.7 GPA CLUBS & ACTIVITIES: COURAGE team, track, participant in El Espejo
Summer Program at Poudre Learning Center, Fun in the Sun volunteer at Rodarte Center; Biliterate CAREER/COLLEGE PLANS: to study medicine and become an oncologist, or study criminal justice and become an FBI agent in the Behavioral Analysis Unit FAVORITE TEACHER: Mr. Bradford Every FAVORITE BOOK: “To Kill a Mockingbird” because of the symbolism PERSONAL GOALS: to earn a doctorate in whatever field that I pursue
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Nancy Caudillo Cardenas is an incredible young woman. She is bright, articulate, compassionate, and generous with her time and talents. Nancy has exemplified COURAGE ever since first grade. She is an excellent role model for students in Kindergarten through eighth grade. Nancy has set intentional goals for herself and there is no doubt that she will achieve them. ~ Holly Bressler, Harold S. Winograd K-8 School principal
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THE ROAD AHEAD, PART 14 | A TRIBUNE SPECIAL PROJECT
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GREELEY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS from top left: Greeley Central’s Addy Neibauer, University’s Rebecca Reeve and
Greeley Central’s Danny Butherus. Bottom row, left to right: Frontier Academy’s Eric Weiss, Union Colony’s Joel Kraft and Greeley West’s Joel Knepper. The students discussed what they think is the future for Greeley.
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This is the 14th installment in The Road Ahead, a series of stories that explores the power of plans to shape Greeley: past, present and future. To see previous stories in the series — covering Greeley’s past, immigration, the Stampede, U.S. 85, recreation, water, education, agriculture and “the smell of money” — go to www.greeleytribune.com/ roadahead.
BY SHERRIE PEIF
ll the experts in the world can give their opinions on the future of Greeley. Whether it’s transportation, agriculture, image, recreational offerings, education or health care, everyone has something to say. There are mayors, superintendents, business owners and lifelong farmers who have watched Greeley become what it is today and think they know where it will be — or should be — 10, 20, even 30 years down the road. But what about the young residents of Greeley who will be in those same leadership roles decades from now? What do they think about Greeley and where it’s headed? At The Tribune’s invitation, seven high school students representing Greeley West, Greeley Central, Union Colony Preparatory, Frontier Academy and University high school, chimed in on how Greeley is perceived by their peers and what they would like to see in the future.
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in Greeley that can accurately triangulate odors last year in the Greeley City Hall Annex. The device, called a Scentometer, is used by having an individual certified in odor detection sniff through the nozzles to take down the sources of bad odors. All the students are upperclassmen who were recommended by their princi- « FOR MORE pals because GO TO PAGE Tribune they are A10: Opinion: Engagleaders of ing Greeley’s their schools youth a step in and have the right direcstrong so- tion. cial studies knowledge. All high schools — public and private — in
Greeley were asked to participate. These seven teenagers give their views on all aspects of Greeley, and in some cases what they have to say may be hard for adults to read, but they believe it needs to be said. They aren’t yet old enough to vote, but these kids have every bit as much of a stake in Greeley as their parents, teachers and community
leaders. Some day, these kids and their peers will be the ones calling the shots in this community. And they can look back and see how the plans and decisions made today helped shape the Greeley of their future. They want it to be a good one.
CONTINUED A6: Road Ahead
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The Road Ahead
SUNDAY, MAY 27, 2012
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Students dive into city’s image, immigration « ROAD AHEAD From A1 Interstate 25
he building of Interstate 25, which bypasses Greeley to the west, played a major role in the city’s development — or lack of — and prompted many who started businesses downtown to relocate west, nearer to that interstate. Rebecca Reeve, who will be a senior at University high school next year, compares the significance of I-25 going through Fort Collins to a children’s movie. “Greeley is like Radiator Springs in the movie ‘Cars.’ ” Rebecca said. “The interstate was built for the convenience of the busy traveler, so cities surrounding it must have the retail and restaurants to satisfy the people.” Rebecca said, however, that it’s not necessarily a bad thing that I-25 bypassed Greeley, just as Interstate 40 bypassed Radiator Springs in the movie. “Greeley caters to the people living in the city,” she said. “So instead of having the chain businesses one will witness in every city by an interstate, Greeley has more locally owned businesses. Greeley will never be like Fort Collins in terms of retail, restaurants or entertainment. It will always be just Greeley. “Greeley should not strive to copycat interstate cities like Fort Collins or Loveland because cities like that lose their personal identities as they cater to strangers passing through instead of those living in the community.” No one knows what the city would look like today had the interstate passed through. But some of the students think Greeley may never recover from the loss of I-25. “Interstates bring with them commerce that almost nothing else is capable of,” said Eric Weiss, who graduated Saturday from Frontier Academy. “I think Greeley is beginning to get some of those retail stores, restaurants and entertainment that Fort Collins has. However, Centerra has really diverted a lot of commerce away from Greeley, and unless Greeley can match that shopping venue, it will be a big, negative impact for Greeley.” Danny Butherus, who will be a senior at Greeley Central High School this fall, still sees promise for Greeley. “I think that Greeley has grown and prospered despite I-25,” Danny said. “To me, it doesn’t appear that there is anything that needs to change. Greeley will eventually become bigger than Fort Collins since we don’t have the limits on land that Fort Collins does, which will bring in more people, restaurants, retail and entertainment.” Most of the students also say Greeley reaps the rewards of Fort Collins without the headaches. “Greeley has the benefit of being close to all of the stores and other attractions while still being small enough to not have large amounts of traffic,” said Joel Kraft, who will be a senior at Union Colony Preparatory School next year. “Greeley might be able to attract more people if it had some kind of an attraction, but I don’t think that it should try to do that. UNC brings a lot of students and gives Greeley its great small feel.”
ust like the teenage girl who diets to get the cute boys’ attention, image means everything to a community. For years, Greeley has been seen by some as a smelly cow-town, filled with illegal immigrants and gangs. Shaking a rough image — fair or not, real or perceived — isn’t easy, and tomorrow’s leaders are split on how immigration, the pungent odor of cattle and the Stampede affect Greeley’s image. Some adults might wince at this notion, but the students said odor and immigration are part of what makes Greeley unique. They’re here to stay, and they ought to be embraced. Just as Greeley became a city of immigrants at the turn of the 20th century, with European, Asian and Latino laborers pouring in to work the area’s booming agriculture industry, the city in the early 21st century is again a magnet for new arrivals, including recent waves of East African and Burmese refugees who have found work at the JBS USA meatpacking plant. The latest influx of refugees, who began arriving after the Swift & Co. raid in 2006, which picked up hundreds of immi-
TRAFFIC MOVES ALONG INTERSTATE 25 near the Berthoud exit in Weld County in 2010.
CHARLIE COLLENTINE AND HIS Labrador, Sable, watch as the corn fields are combined by Randy Schwalm. Collentine was transporting the harvested corn to Johnstown and
was awaiting the next load to be delivered. grants suspected of having false documents, now contributes to the 54 languages spoken in Greeley-Evans School District 6. The students say immigration is tough because although it’s part of Greeley’s history and leads to a culture rich in diversity, it’s hard on the city’s reputation. Because of that, they say, many people won’t move here, ultimately hurting the town more. “The image and reputation of a town is brought about by its people,” said Andrea Thorsted, who graduated from Union Colony Preparatory on Saturday. “Most of the immigrants I have met work in factories or on farms, and they help the industry of Greeley. I believe that the high number of immigrants adds diversity to this town, which is a trait that I find very favorable in a city; it helps people to form friendships with people from other cultures and lessens the amount of intolerance among the citizens.” Addy Neibauer who will be a senior at Greeley Central in the fall, said the high number of uneducated, unskilled workers leaves Greeley with an awful reputation. “The immigration is a huge factor in Greeley’s image,” Addy said. “Immigration has caused the schooling process to slow because many do not know English. I truly believe the immigration madness has initiated a chain reaction, leading to a lower standard of living.” Rebecca also said immigrants to Greeley have created image problems for the city, saying those outside of Greeley even have nicknames for the community. She said the industries moving into Greeley have caused much of the problem, but it is what it is and everyone just needs to go with it. “I have heard Greeley called ‘Little Mexico,’ ” Rebecca said. “But there really isn’t anything that can be done that wouldn’t be prejudice to any certain race. We have a lot of industry that offers cheap labor, which attracts immigrants. Having so much immigration causes the city to become split into different divisions. I think it’s just part of the natural growth of a city, though, and there really isn’t anything we can do about it.” Some say immigrants will continue to be drawn to Greeley by jobs that aren’t being taken by anyone else. Addy said the argument is valid, but it doesn’t help. “It’s encouraging teens to not go through with an education,” she said. “They think ‘Oh, I can get a job without college and
» In their words A brief look at some of the major issues considered by The Road Ahead respondents: » DISTRICT 6 EDUCATION: “I can achieve the graduation requirements in my sleep.” » ODOR: “Hey, it sure makes Greeley memorable.” » GROWTH: “Greeley should not strive to copycat interstate cities like Fort Collins or Loveland.” » IMMIGRATION: “Greeley has always been an immigrant town, and I don’t think anything is wrong with that — there is nothing I’d change.” » RECREATION: “It doesn’t seem like all these wonderful activities are promoted enough.” » SCHOOL STANDARDS: “School has become so traditional that it’s boring to students.” » AGRICULTURE: “I think (Greeley) should stick to its ag roots, but I’m just a farm girl.” » HEALTH CARE: “Competition is healthy for the economy.” » IMAGE: “I met a man in a Subway in Key West, Fla., who knew of Greeley and its smell.”
A HORSE NAMED ARIAT’S Night Moves leaps into the air out of the chute as it works to buck off Heath DeMoss during the finals of the Saddle Bronc event at the Stampede Arena last year in Greeley. high school.’ It’s lowering the standard.” All the students agreed, however, that immigration is part of Greeley’s culture that residents should embrace. “It is my belief that the high number of immigrants is a sign of Greeley’s growth and should reflect on the city in a positive manner,” said Joel Knepper, who will be a senior at Greeley West High School this fall. Danny agreed: “Greeley has always been an immigrant town, and I don’t think anything is wrong with that — there is nothing I’d change.” The students wouldn’t change much dealing with the “smell” of the town, either. Addy said the smell adds to the richness of the city. “The smell gives us our unique character,” she said. “I’m sure
people laugh as they pass through stinky Greeley. People get used to it. It sure did not stop my family from moving here 15 years ago.” But Rebecca said it, too, can cause an image problem. “Once a person has been in Greeley a couple of days, they can’t even smell any odors anymore. People just like to blow it out of proportion,” she said. “It does dampen Greeley’s image, especially when Greeley is shown on South Park as the opposite of Hawaii — smelly and gross. That wasn’t good for our image. But if Greeley loses sight of its roots, then there is no sturdy foundation for Greeley to grow upon.” Eric said Greeley’s smell reaches to all corners of the country. “I met a man in a Subway in Key West, Fla., who knew of Greeley and its smell,” Eric
said. “Despite this, it’s the cost of doing business — a necessary evil. And hey, it sure makes Greeley memorable.” Most memorable, perhaps, for the teens is the Greeley Stampede. Whether that is good for the city or not, is up for debate among them. Rebecca said it’s important for the economy of the community and helps make it more diverse. “Teenagers look forward to the Stampede year-round,” she said. “It is the biggest event of the summer for most. I think that the Stampede does a pretty good job at handling such an event that caters to a variety of different people. It’s a place where the country folk and the city slickers can mingle together.” Andrea said she knows how popular the Stampede is, but thinks it needs to take a break
for a few years. “It seems, though, that people are tiring of the same thing each year,” she said. “I’m not sure what more to add; the entertainment is great, and it is just like any other county fair. Others are upset because of the rising cost of the Stampede. ... Perhaps the event should take a break for a few years until the economy recovers or becomes a little better. It would cause the people to really miss the event, so that when it comes back, people will be more excited to take part in it.” Joel Kraft doesn’t think it matters either way. “I personally have only gone to it once and have not ever considered it a huge part of Greeley’s identity,” he said. “When I did go, I thought it was great. It had plenty of attractions and seemed to be doing rather well.”
ecreational offerings are an important part of any community, the teens said, and it was the one thing they all agreed Greeley is getting right. Rebecca said if people don’t see the numerous offerings available, they just aren’t looking. “There are places and activities for all ages, but most people don’t take the opportunities presented and just complain that there is nothing to do,” she said. “Also, other cities such as Loveland, Fort Collins and Denver offer so much more entertainment, which makes Greeley seem lacking in this area, but the fact is for the size and location of Greeley, it offers a sustainable amount of entertainment.” Joel Kraft said there could be a bit more for teens and young adults. “They seem to be focused on the younger age group,” he said. “I would love to see a drive-in
(movie theater) or a mall that was still alive that would offer these things for the teen/collegeage group. I’m not saying that there aren’t any attractions for these age groups, I would just like to see more.” Eric added that promotion and marketing could be part of the reason people don’t realize what is available. “The Greeley recreation centers do a wonderful job of getting the young and elderly active,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like all these wonderful activities are promoted enough. I didn’t know about the great programs the rec center offers until years after I started living here.” Andrea said residents must get more involved. “The recreational offerings in Greeley are great,” she said. “Perhaps there would be a more involved community if there were more offerings. But at the same time, the organizers cannot know what the community wants unless people become more involved.”
he students, from traditional and charter schools, all said major changes are needed in the way Greeley educates its students, or more families will continue to flee the district for neighboring communities. They said standards are too low, classes are boring and money is spent poorly. “I can achieve the graduation requirements in my sleep,” Addy said. “I’ve seen students that don’t know how to spell ‘college’ — just recently I saw a boy spell it ‘collige’ — graduate with a diploma. Shoving Galileo tests down the freshmen and sophomores’ throats is not quite getting the job done either. This is just causing more frustration among the students and teachers. The countless amounts of remedial reading and math classes are ridiculous. I do not know what’s going on in the middle schools and/or elementary schools, but tons of kids come to high school not knowing basic skills. “We need to raise the bar. The standards need to be set way higher than they are now. I’m not blaming the teachers or anybody in particular about our schooling system. It is just the culture of our student body.” Danny said the graduation requirements are on target, but agreed most everything else is lacking. “Most (of my) family meals cover the district as a main topic.” He said. “Based on what I see in school, there is a lack of motivation. School has become so traditional that it’s boring to students. You go to class, take notes and then have a test. The classes I’ve enjoyed the most and learned the most in are ones that I wasn’t constantly concerned over my grade. Hands-on activities and getting outside the classroom keeps kids awake and interested.” Andrea said she enrolled at Union Colony for more challenge. “The District 6 high schools are good if all a student’s goals are is to graduate just to get it over with,” she said. “But if a student wants to move above and beyond, then District 6 is not helping that student at all. My frustrations increased when the district lowered the gradu-
TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO
» MEET THE STUDENTS
Greeley Central High School, senior in fall 2012
Greeley West High School, senior in fall 2012
Union Colony Preparatory School, senior in fall 2012
Greeley Central High School, senior in fall 2012
Union Colony Preparatory School, 2012 graduate
Frontier Academy, 2012 graduate
University high school, senior in fall 2012
ation requirements. Now, kids are graduating as juniors and probably moving on to college without truly being prepared for it, making the high school diplomas nearly useless.” However, many of the students said the main problem is a lack of funding that caused cuts to programs. “It angers me that the government first turns to education to cut out money,” Andrea said. “The education of our students creates our future, why would you take anything away from it? Because of this, the district is now suffering.” Eric also said funding plays a key role in improving the education of the students. “Education in District 6 is well known as being some of the worst in all of Colorado,” he said. “Which is incredibly ironic since UNC has one of the greatest teaching programs in the country. Wages are low, standards are overly strict and not enough money is going to education. That is the main problem. When the economy falters, it’s easy to cut funding for education (it takes up a large portion of the pie chart), but even small cuts can really affect the level of education that students receive. Conversely, allotting a relatively small increase in the funding can have a large impact.” They all agreed that to change the current tide, the district must better allocate its money and raise the bar in expectations. “Frontier Academy high school ranks 26th of all of the high schools in Colorado,” Eric said. “They do this despite only getting as much money as the district gives the public schools, yet having to pay for their own buildings. The secret is the allocation of money.” Rebecca said graduation requirements also must improve. “My school requirements (include) community service,
job shadowings, internships and a senior project in order to receive our diplomas,” she said. “But students at other schools in D6 don’t have to complete such tasks. The Greeley-Evans school district needs to refocus on education and setting standards high enough to challenge a student.”
Farmland is homeland
reeley must hold onto its agricultural roots, today’s teens say. Adding big industry and retail would only ruin Greeley’s character. “We should embrace it and its smell as aspects of our community that help to define us,” said Joel Knepper. “I have lived in and around Greeley all of my life and do not notice the smell often, and people that move to Greeley should learn to accept Greeley for all of its ups and downs, however foul they may be.” Rebecca said newcomers to town should recognize the importance of the farm. “I think (Greeley) should stick to its ag roots, but I’m just a farm girl,” Rebecca said. “We have plenty of retail surrounding us like Denver, Loveland and Fort Collins, so I believe we should stick to agriculture because it is a secure means of financial support. Everyone will always need agriculture to survive.”
hen it comes to hospitals and health care, the students said competition is good. The decade-long duel between the two dominant health systems in the region — Poudre Valley Health System of Fort Collins, which operates Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins and Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland; and Banner
Health of Phoenix, which operates North Colorado Medical Center and McKee Medical Center in Loveland — continues with PVHS announcing a new emergency facility in Greeley and Banner agreeing to a partnership with insurance giant Kaiser Permanente. Officials from both groups contend that competition pushes both systems to deliver the best care possible. The teens agree with the officials, saying competition is always good for free markets, and they all support both hospital groups in the city. “I completely agree with the representatives of the companies in that the two corporations should push each other to provide better medical care while remaining within a certain area so that they don’t ‘step on each other’s toes,’ ” said Joel Knepper. Addy said it’s only obvious that competition begets better prices for its customers, regardless of the industry. “Competition is healthy for the economy,” she said. “It keeps the prices pretty reasonable and stimulates innovation. Having just one would create a monopoly, and the prices would get very intense. The government would then need to take action and get involved, only leading to more chaos and confusion. The economy needs competition.” Eric added that the benefits to Greeley are tremendous, and with the city growing and health care an always-needed commodity, there should be no worries of having too much. “In health care where prices can quickly get outrageous, these two competing businesses keep prices (relatively) low and give the consumers options,” Eric said. “Additionally, health care will never go out of business, so I do not foresee a time when either of these health care giants will fizzle out.”
GROWING MARKET: DEMAND FOR AG, FOOD SCIENCE AMONG JOBS EXPECTED TO INCREASE. C1
SMOKE IN THEIR
Former Colorado State University track star builds toward Olympic dream of competing in the hammer throw. B1
The Shook family gives a traditional barbecue a Colorado twist at their downtown Greeley restaurant. D1
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JUNE 17, 2012
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THE ROAD AHEAD, PART 15 | A TRIBUNE SPECIAL PROJECT
TRUCKS A2: Pickups from the 1930s and beyond roll through Greeley and rev up at the Island Grove Regional Park.
BLURRING THE BOUNDARIES?
Greeley leaders work to bridge the divide between the east and west sides of the city
ONES A3: Friends and family remember those they have lost at the Hospice of Northern Colorado's annual event.
MAKING HISTORY A6: The High Park fire has now claimed more homes than any other fire in Colorado.
LEYLA SAID LAUGHS WITH her friends at Najah, an East African restaurant in downtown Greeley. Najah is downtown Greeley’s first Somali restaurant.
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etting to the new East African restaurant on 10th Street is like looking for a pair of lost keys — you can’t find it until you stop looking. Boasting the first Somali cuisine of downtown Greeley, Najah is sandwiched between two larger stores just off of 8th Avenue and 10th Street in an unmarked, brick building. Many Greeley residents probably won’t ever find the small ethnic eatery. Left in the wake of restaurants like Red Robin and Panda Express as they follow Greeley’s population in a perpetual creep toward Interstate 25, Najah sits far beyond the 23rd and 35th Avenue boundaries that many residents cite as the separation point between east and west Greeley.
This is the 15th installment in The Road Ahead, a series of stories that explores the power of plans to shape Greeley: past, present and future. To see previous stories in the series, go to www.greeleytribune.com/ roadahead.
» About the series
HEAVY TRAFFIC TRAVELS ON 10th Street and 43rd
Avenue in west Greeley last week. While the east side of Greeley grows slowly, the west has seen a lot more commercial growth.
The city’s movement westward “Anyone who eats in this ressince the 1980s has been largely taurant is coming back again,” good news, a product of population gushed Abdirahman, who moved growth and new business. FOR MORE from Somalia to the U.S. « But as Greeley continues to GO TO PAGE six years ago. grow — its population has A8: Tribune The east-west divide increased by 75 percent over Opinion: isn’t just about demographthe past three decades — so Embracing our ics, Greeley officials say — it is good has to do with a difference does the gap between the diversity for business white, affluent population and residents in character, which may not in the west and the historic be a bad thing. “melting pot” of the east, where NaFor many west Greeley resijah manager Abdi Warsame Abdi- dents, downtown and east Greeley rahman sees customers of all colors have largely been out of sight and venturing into the restaurant. out of mind, irrelevant to their life-
style and interests or even somewhat threatening. But community and business leaders are hoping to change those perceptions, even as the city expansion continues to stretch toward the mountains. Downtown might be a bit rough around the edges, some say, but it has its own red-brick charm and attractions that can’t be found elsewhere. The challenge for leaders in trying to bridge the fissure in Greeley’s socioeconomic landscape will be to give all Greeley residents a reason to live, eat or play on the east side.
CONTINUED A4: Road Ahead
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The Road Ahead
Sunday, June 17, 2012
« The Tribune
City working to give residents reason to come downtown « Road Ahead From A1 Ethnic divide
»»Wide open spaces Greeley’s horizontal layout, which takes some extra time to travel, may be a valid reason for residents to keep to one side. But even before life existed west of 23rd Avenue, it likely still took residents just a bit longer to get around. Nathan Meeker, the city’s founder in 1870, came from the confined spaces of the East Coast with respiratory problems, said Greeley historian Peggy Ford Waldo. When he plotted Greeley, he did so with careful attention to wide boulevards and tree-lined streets on a grid plan. Meeker wanted people to come together as a community, but he also valued the family unit, Ford Waldo said. “It afforded community and privacy at the same time,” she said of Meeker’s preference for wider lots. The tradition of space has continued into west Greeley, where much development has also been dedicated to agriculture, said Greeley Mayor Tom Norton. “In Greeley, our land use is different than in a lot of places, because we have that key agricultural resource that we should not give up,” Norton said. “In the West, we’ve grown up to believe we have wide open space.” As the masses come in, Norton said, Greeley has maintained that spread-out philosophy. But, he said, “sooner or later, the masses are us.” Katherine Johnson, a professor of geography at the University of Northern Colorado, said much of Greeley’s layout probably won’t even be determined by city planners. “In terms of 20 or 30 years down the road, Greeley is not going to be in charge of its own destiny,” Johnson said. “It’s got this divided personality — is it really kind of a standalone center of an agricultural region, or is it the fringe of an expanding megalopolis? Larger economics will govern that.”
ivides within a city — spatial, ethnic or otherwise — are nothing new in any part of the world, said Katherine Johnson, an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Northern Colorado. In Greeley, migrant workers from places like Germany, Russia, Japan and Mexico have carved out a home for more than 100 years on the east and north sides as they worked in the fields and, more recently, at the JBS USA meatpacking plant. Those workers located there in part because they chose to separate themselves and in part because their settlement on that side was less of a visual “insult” to the first union colonizers, said Greeley historian Peggy Ford Waldo. Today, Greeley’s Latino population — at 36 percent of the overall population, according to the 2010 Census — is still largely concentrated on the east side. Of the residents who live on the east, near 35th Avenue at the farthest western point, 47 percent are Latino, according to data gathered by Greeley’s Department of Community Development. To the west, about a quarter of the population is comprised of Latinos. “I don’t see it getting any better or worse,” Johnson said of that ethnic divide. “It’s part of this town. It’s part of America.” Greeley and other cities should be most concerned that people are making a decent wage to stave off poverty, Johnson said. But in Greeley, about 28 percent of Latino families with children 18 or younger have lived at poverty status in the past year, compared with 6 percent of white families, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2005-09 community survey of Greeley. A divide in class, coupled with the separation of many of the community’s Latinos, makes it far less likely that their needs will be heard or their opinions engaged, said Priscilla Falcon, a Hispanic studies professor at UNC. “You can’t wait until the population is 60 percent Latino” to start a conversation about what Greeley’s Latinos need, said Falcon, who also volunteers at Al Frente de la Lucha center for Latino youth and immigrants in the area. Outreach is key in preparing for the future make-up of Greeley’s population, she said, especially when separation has only worsened since the 2006 immigrant raids of the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant, which left hundreds of Latino families broken apart and with no source of income. “You’re going to have engagement when people feel that it is their community,” Falcon said. With engagement, too, comes the potential to tap into rich cultural resources that would strengthen the city, such as inviting native musical groups to perform downtown, Falcon said. “Greeley is a global city,” she said. “We need to use our local resources. How many of us can go to Somalia? But Somalia is here. That is what we don’t recognize.”
tain a relatively linear east-west layout, which poses a few unique challenges, said Becky Safarik, Greeley’s assistant city manager. For one, it’s more costly to maintain, she said. Public works and other services must travel farther when tending to things like city roads and buildings. And the space between the two sides of the city costs residents time and money that they aren’t always willing to spend. “I’m a conservative-type guy,” said John Magadan, 24, who lives in central Greeley. “If it saves me gas, I stay on that side — I really don’t care which one it is.”
Path of least resistance
ince Greeley was first settled, expansion westward wasn’t just the preferred direction of development for the closer views of the Rocky Mountains — it also made the most sense. Water shares to the west are close enough to the filter plants at the base of the mountains that they can be used in Greeley’s drinking water system, said Jon Monson, Greeley’s water and sewer director. But to the east, water from the No. 3 Ditch is simply too far to be efficiently used in the same way, meaning developers on that land have had to pay for drinking water from the ColoradoBig Thompson Project. Future developments on either side of the city will have to start using C-BT water, Monson said, but gravity will continue to push development west. Anything to the east of the wastewater treatment plant off of U.S. 85 would have to be pumped there, which is more expensive than taking advantage of the downhill flow from activity on the west side, he said. Wastewater coming from the north would flow easily into the plant, but it would have to cross the Poudre River, which would take an enormous upfront investment, Monson said. Greeley is bordered by Colo. 392 to the north and Colo. 257 to the west. With development in south Greeley bumped up against the city of Evans, that leaves only one direction for easy expansion, said Greeley Mayor Tom Norton. “We’ve kind of got it open to the east, but the natural economics has us going the other way,” Norton said. After the city’s population fills out to Colo. 257, officials will eventually have to figure out whether to expand “up, or east,” he said. But Norton said he doesn’t anticipate that discussion until Greeley reaches maybe 1 million people — more than 10 times the number here now. Until then, Greeley will likely main-
TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO
Nataliyah Rodarte, 5, of the Argullo Latino Dancers performs
for the crowd gathered at the Greeley Recreation Center in 2011 for A Cultural Affair, an event to celebrate the cultural diversity of the area. Greeley’s Latino population — at 36 percent of the overall population, according to the 2010 Census — is still largely concentrated on the east side. ROBERT R. DENTON/For The Tribune
A child plays during a concert at St. Michael’s Event Center Thursday evening. The affluent subdivision in west Greeley continues to have new homes being built in the area.
We’ve kind of got it open to the east, but the natural economics has us going the other way.”
— Tom Norton, Greeley mayor
Crabtree said. The new building, which will be visible from U.S. 34, has a large, mature parking lot, is near a bike lane and is across the street from a Greeley-Evans Transit bus stop. Crabtree said he’s sorry to leave the east side of Greeley, where he was drawn to the historic architecture and unique character downtown. But he said he expects to see an increase in people who come in to his tasting room and, hopefully, locals who finally learn that the brewery exists.
A reason to come downtown
agadan’s school of thought is an increasingly popular one, said Pam Bricker, executive director of Greeley’s Downtown Development Authority. “People shop and eat in a narrowly defined radius of where they live,” Bricker said. Greeley isn’t unique in that way, she said. But as those residential circles shift farther to the west, Greeley’s sales tax revenue could take the fall, said Johnson with UNC. The offerings of the Centerra shops in Loveland contributed to a slow draining of retail consumers from east Greeley in 2003, at the same time that the Greeley Mall lost some of its major tenants, including Montgomery Ward and, just four years ago, Dillard’s. Once those stores left downtown, residents like Raymond and Ruth Nuss, both 80, said they stopped shopping on Greeley’s east side altogether. Most stores they go to now are either at Centerplace Drive on 47th Avenue or at WestLake Center on 35th Avenue, the couple said as they strolled through Sanborn Park earlier this month. Raymond said he doesn’t think the east side is necessarily deteriorating, especially with a large portion dedicated to UNC and its many students. But 15-year-old Carrie Hendershott said from a park bench that she feels the downtown area is more for college students, and she doesn’t often venture to the east side, either. “West is way nicer,” said Hendershott, a student at Faith Tabernacle Christian Academy. Sarah MacQuiddy, president of the Greeley Chamber of Commerce, said she has talked with the city about a retail analysis to fill downtown’s retail gap, but she’s also optimistic about the new owner of the Greeley Mall, which was auctioned online to Steve Maksin of New York for $6.15 million — a $35 million decline from its purchase
Construction workers continue to work on the new Leprino Foods cheese factory building in east Greeley last week. Leprino has
become one of the major boosts in the local economy for the city of Greeley.
»»Zip codes The two main zip codes in Greeley — 80631 and 80634 — roughly divide the city into east and west sections, as well. » 80631: Encompasses most of the city north of C Street and east of 23rd Avenue » Total population: 48,603 » Latino population: 23,548, or 48.7 percent » White, not Hispanic, population: 24,471, or 50.3 percent » 80634: Encompasses most of the city south of C Street and west of 23rd Avenue » Total population: 51,861 » Latino population: 12,464, or 24 percent » White, not Hispanic, population: 38,354, or 73.9 percent Population numbers taken from 2010 Census data and organized by the I-News Network JIM RYDBOMfirstname.lastname@example.org
price six years ago. Maksin said in a phone interview that he’s focusing on stabilizing the mall, and he has spoken with several interested tenants and hopes to make some decisions on who to bring in over the next few months. Maksin said competition from shops out west are certainly a challenge, but
Fireworks light up the night sky as people enjoy the Carnival Americana rides on the last night
of the Greeley Stampede last year. The east side of Greeley still hosts the popular Greeley Stampede, which begins Friday. the Greeley Mall’s movie theater and several restaurants make it appealing to “all walks of life” and market bases. “I think I have an upper-hand in this game,” he said. Jeff Crabtree, owner of Crabtree
Brewing Co., said location certainly plays a part in his business, which will move from the east side of town at 625 3rd St. to a more central location at 2961 29th St. in a few weeks. Crabtree said the brewery mostly
needed a new location so that it could expand, but the specific place he chose had a good deal to do with transportation. “I have customers tell me they won’t come across the tracks to buy my beer,”
he tricky thing with transportation is, you can’t design a system that tells people where they should go, Norton said. So while the city should look at making it quicker and easier to get downtown, bringing people back to Greeley’s east side must come from other places, he said. Phil Grizzle, manager of Zoe’s Cafe, 715 10th St., said that’s exactly why the coffee shop sprouted up near the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in 2009. Zoe’s, a nonprofit under Christ Community Church, doesn’t exist to make money, Grizzle said. With about 30 volunteers working at the cafe, which brings in enough money to cover operating costs, the church wanted to do something to revive the heartbeat of the city, he said. “You have to have a reason to come downtown,” Grizzle said. “So we’re trying to create a reason.” Grizzle said he’s heard a number of misconceptions about Greeley’s east side that seem to be slowly turning. “I think it’s a slow, moving-forward thing down here,” he said. “There’s a certain critical mass of energy I think you need to move a certain direction. In downtown, we still need that energy.” But it’s coming, Grizzle said. The DDA has pushed to bring more people downtown with initiatives such as open alcohol containers Friday nights on the 9th Street Plaza, and the city has invested in several studies this year to better understand how to market to Greeley’s visitors. Since 2010, the downtown district has seen a net gain of 35 new businesses, said Bricker with the DDA. And Operation Bear Aware, an initiative to get UNC students to visit Greeley’s businesses, reached its goal of 6,000 unique student consumers. Most of those businesses were downtown, Bricker said, and more people in the area is the key ingredient to creating a vibrant community. “It takes people,” she said. “If you don’t come, we can’t provide it.” Grizzle said he has certainly seen more oil and gas workers coming downtown in search of something for lunch, and he said he expects the opening of the Leprino Foods cheese plant, which will employ up to 500 people, to bring even more.
»»Western movement, eastern living More people may turn to west Greeley to shop, but the population density on the east side is far higher. While Greeley’s geographic center is about 16th Street and 47th Avenue, 63 percent of Greeley’s residents live east of 35th Avenue, according to data gathered by the city’s Department of Community Development, which was used to determine Greeley’s new ward boundaries. Greeley’s population center is about 2 miles east of its geographic center, at 19th Street and 26th Avenue. About 44 percent of Greeley’s residents live east of 23rd Avenue, and 60 percent live north of 20th Street. Analisa Romano
‘Every person’s city’
ricker said Leprino’s new employees are an opportunity to bring more residents downtown, hopefully shifting that radius of where Greeley residents shop and eat. With any luck, the new, national trend of many young professionals and empty-nesters who have relocated to densely populated areas downtown will also take hold in Greeley, Bricker said. Drew Notestine, who owns the 9th Street Plaza lofts, said the market in Greeley is strong for rentals, and he said he has noticed more interest in loft living among the exact kind of demographic that Bricker cited. Whether Greeley is truly poised to take in that kind of residential development is an interesting question, Johnson said. “Certainly we are going to be in more compact spaces,” and the housing crisis has moved many people to rethink their living situations, she said. “I don’t know whether Greeley will see that particular trend.” Notestine said he has seen more of an interest in lofts near arts and cultural activities in Greeley’s Entertainment District, which combines the UNC neighborhoods and downtown. “Once you’re there, you realize and start to appreciate kind of a sense of community and camaraderie with others who are downtown,” he said — a different experience than that of the west’s suburban sprawl. Safarik said that difference in living space from the east to west is one of Greeley’s strengths. As the city helps coordinate efforts such as the University District, which seeks to stabilize historic neighborhoods near UNC, and revitalization of the Sunrise Neighborhood, one of the oldest developments on the east side, the state of homes from east to west is less divided now than it used to be, Safarik said. Equalizing the economic divide, too, should come with revitalization, she said — ensuring that every neighborhood has homes with stable property values, availability to parks and a safe route to school. Ultimately, the goal is to give residents many equivalent choices, with the only variance being the character of the neighborhood, Safarik said. “It’s wonderful from the standpoint that there are so many housing choices,” she said of the suburban neighborhoods to the west, versus the smaller, more historic lots on the east, and the change in landscapes and driveway cuts of the homes in between. “We’re sort of that Renaissance,
‘every person’s city’ from that standpoint.”
The invisible line
ven so, Polly Delgado, a Greeley resident for 57 years, said she and her husband moved from their longtime home in Hillside, south of UNC, because the neighborhood has deteriorated. “We have a lovely house, but up and down the street, no one takes care of their lawn,” said Delgado, 77. “Everything is a rental.” And there is the lingering problem for many families who live in Greeley about the perceptions that surround Greeley-Evans School District 6 public schools. Gena Duran, 38, said she and her siblings had a difficult time going through Greeley public schools when they were growing up, and so did her daughter. That moved Duran to send her 17- and 10-year-old sons to University, a charter school. Duran, a Chicana, said she was torn by that decision. Having first attended Jackson Elementary just east of 23rd Avenue and then Scott Elementary between 28th and 35th avenues, Duran said she later realized a disparity between the two schools in the number of kids who looked like her. “Anything west of 23rd Avenue, that was the good side of town in the late1980s,” Duran said. “That was the invisible line of poor kids and the rich kids.” Today, Latinos make up 64 percent of District 6 public schools and 21 percent of its charter schools, according to the District 6 State of the District report. Most students in Greeley public schools — 67 percent — qualify for free or reduced lunch, which means they meet federal poverty guidelines. All of the charter schools for high school-aged students — Frontier Academy, University high school and Union Colony Preparatory School — are west of 47th Avenue. Duran, whose three younger brothers and sisters dropped out of school, said young kids, no matter their color, need to be made to feel they can succeed. She said her younger siblings probably didn’t graduate in part because their schools weren’t culturally responsive. “There needs to be a sense of hope and resilience in these kids, and the way to do that is through education,” said Duran, who holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in communication from UNC.
continued A6: Road Ahead
ÂŤIn The State
SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2012 Âť THE TRIBUNE
Support for minorities is key ÂŤ ROAD AHEAD From A5 Itâ€™s not just about the Latino population in Greeley, Duran said â€” the Burmese and Somali refugees in Greeley need more support, too. â€œWhen education is failing, itâ€™s pretty bleak. ... In my lens, the people doing something about it are just getting started.â€?
ack at Najah, Abdirahman listed the foods that lure customers into the restaurant with their spicy aroma. â€œWe cook beans in different ways,â€? he said. â€œWe grind them, or cook them in soup. We have corn, we can grind the corn,â€? Abdirahman said, then held his fingers as he counted off the meats that come from the kitchen: chicken, which can be grilled, beef, sliced goat, also eggs, sometimes in an omelette. â€œThese are all favorites in Somalia,â€? and they soon become the favorites of customers new and old, he said. Itâ€™s the thing that pulls people from all places toward the brick, unmarked restaurant, where they sit down and listen as Abdirahman lists on his fingers the good things to eat. Greeley seems a good enough place for business, he said. â€œWe have a restaurant, and it is bubbling.â€?
Wildfire destroys most homes in Colo. history Associated Press
D JOSHUA POLSONemail@example.com
ABDIWALI AMAAN SITS IN the East African
restaurant Najah, 811 10th St. in downtown Greeley on Thursday afternoon. Amaan owns Najah and the East African Store off of 8th Avenue in downtown Greeley, representing only a small part of the cultural mixes observed in east Greeley.
Âť Downtown crime? For many residents, the perception of Greeleyâ€™s downtown as a crime hub persists, despite a study commissioned by the Greeley Downtown Development Authority last year that shows just the opposite. A little more than 10 percent of the crimes committed in Greeley were in the downtown business district, according to the report. Even then, much of that is aggravated assault, which typically involves people who have been drinking for a while and get in a fight at the bar, said Greeley police Chief Jerry Garner. Loitering and panhandling, which is more common on Greeleyâ€™s east side, tends to give the sense that downtown is more dangerous, Garner said. But unless itâ€™s aggressive panhandling (persistently asking for money after being declined), which is against the law, nothing comes of it, he said. Still, crime in the sector mostly west of 35th Avenue makes up only a quarter of all criminal incidents in Greeley, according to the report. Southeast Greeley, which includes the University of Northern Colorado, sees about 44 percent of the cityâ€™s crime, while northeast Greeley sees about 30 percent. wellness
ENVER â€” Additional crews were arriving Saturday at a wildfire in northern Colorado that has scorched about 85 square miles and destroyed at least 181 homes, the most in state history. The High Park Fire burning 15 miles west of Fort Collins surpasses the Fourmile Canyon wildfire, which destroyed 169 homes west of Boulder in September 2010. Fire information officer Brett Haberstick said Saturday that more than 1,630 personnel are working on the Fort Collinsarea fire. The lightningcaused blaze, which is believed to have killed a 62-year-old woman whose body was found in her cabin, was 20 percent contained. The fireâ€™s incident commander said full containment could be two to four weeks away. Haberstick said hot and dry conditions were expected to continue, but crews have made progress in containing a 200acre spot fire that erupted Thursday afternoon north of the Poudre River, a critical line of defense against northward growth. â€œWeâ€™re hopeful that we will be able to contain it today, but that will be determined by Mother Nature,â€? Haberstick said.
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KIRSTEN BRAUSER EMBRACES KENNETH Feldman, 6, at an evacuation center at The Ranch in Loveland after finding out that her familyâ€™s ranch in Rist Canyon is still standing on Friday.
Firefighters have extinguished other incursions north of Vilsack the river, but the most recent one appeared to be more serious. The fire was reported June 9 and has since raced through large swaths of private and U.S. Forest Service land. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who oversees the Forest Service, met with fire managers in Fort Collins on Saturday and said â€œfighting this fire is going to require us to be
aggressive, persistent and also patient. â€œWeâ€™re going to continue to work to make our forests more resilient. Weâ€™re going to continue to ensure that adequate resources are provided for fighting fires and we are going to continue to make sure that we encourage appropriate stewardship of our forests,â€? he said. Vilsack praised Congress for allowing the government to contract additional aircraft â€” particularly heavy tankers â€” to fight wildfires across the West. But he called on lawmakers for budget certainty to help plan for future fires.
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The powerful lure of gang life can be difficult for Greeley’s kids to resist
A FAIR TO
REMEMBER A2: This year’s Weld County Fair has a plethora of events to keep the whole family entertained.
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Monday: A UNC grad wins a well-deserved national award for her dedication to helping minority children and their families.
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GRACE AND FRED FLORES stand over the casket of their son, Fabian Flores, 20, on July 9 at the New Hope Christian Fel-
lowship church north of Greeley. Flores died July 2, a day after the car he was riding in was shot at.
BY SHARON DUNN
n glossy 3x5 photos meant for the scrapbook, the shining faces of two boys with mischievous grins and eyes full of promise paint an almost Rockwellian picture of normalcy. Fabian Flores and Christopher Hale grew up together in the workingclass neighborhoods of Greeley. They played football together and were inseparable since they were 6 and 7 years old. Years later, they joined the gang life together. In 2008, they went behind bars together. Earlier this month, Fabian’s parents buried him after a drive-by shooting, while Chris completes his prison sentence in Buena Vista.
Their parents and teachers tried. There were frequent lectures about the dangers of gangs and a transfer to different schools to avoid gang influences. The boys seemed to be typical teens by day, but they cruised into the « FOR MORE shadows of gang life away GO TO PAGE Tribune from the watchful eyes of A8: Opinion: Gangs authority. aren’t going away, Not so long ago, but we can still try Greeley leaders denied A8: Police chief: there even was a gang Community help problem. Now, most is key in halting concede that gangs will Greeley gangs Photographs remain part of the city’s D1: capture the heartfabric for years to come break of Fabian’s and may never go away. family and friends Police can contain, track and lock up gang members, but they know their war on gangs is a fight they ultimately can’t win. Daily, kids like Fabian and Chris are inundated with the underground influence of
» About the series This is the 16th installment in The Road Ahead, a series of stories that explores the power of plans to shape Greeley. To see previous stories in the series — covering Greeley’s past, immigration, the Stampede, U.S. 85, education, agriculture and “the smell of money” — go to www. greeleytribune.com/roadahead.
» Today and Monday Recent shootings have residents once again frustrated and worried about Greeley’s gangs. Police say gangs are an unfortunate fact of life, and they are here to stay. This is the first of a two-day series looking at the allure of gangs for some of Greeley’s youth and the steps the community is taking to help kids choose another path.
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FABIAN FLORES, LEFT, AND Chris
Hale are seen in their uniforms when they played football at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Weld County. gangs, from the music they listen to, to the clothing they wear, to the school and neighborhood cultures. For some, the perceived prestige, excitement and attraction of a gang lifestyle — with the structure kids sometimes lack in their own families — is too powerful to resist. “It used to be something you saw in the poorer neighborhoods, in single-family homes,” said Ontika Porter, Chris’ mother. “Chris and Fabian are proof that it’s not.”
CONTINUED A4: Road Ahead
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SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2012 » THE TRIBUNE
« THE TRIBUNE « SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2012
Families worked to keep boys away from gang life « ROAD AHEAD From A1 The early years Fabian and Chris met on the football field at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Weld County. “You’re not very good at football. Why do you play?” a young Christopher asked his new friend, Fabian, so many years ago. “Because my dad made me,” Fabian answered. “Those were the first words me and my best friend exchanged when we first met at football practice. That was 14 years ago, and we were in the second grade,” Chris, now 21, wrote from his prison cell in Buena Vista earlier this month when he learned Fabian, 20, was shot and killed. From that time, the boys became inseparable. They became fixtures in each other’s homes and part of each other’s families. They treated each other’s parents as their own. “As little boys, when one would ask for something the other was right there saying, ‘Come on mom,’ ” Porter said. “They did everything together, everything. Chris would go to Florida for the summer and spend time with my mother, and he’d call Fabian. Ever since he was a kid, they’d call and talk. They always said they were going to live together, and they neither would get married.” Fred and Grace Flores had good jobs, worked hard and instilled in their four kids — Fabian was the baby with three very protective older sisters — the strong values they shared. They took their kids on family vacations every year to Disneyland and Universal Studios. Fabian loved science, often writing stories about aliens coming to Earth. He played the saxophone and did well in school. When Fabian was nine or 10, his parents divorced. “In the beginning he didn’t like it very well, we were doing the usual squabbling, we decided this was hurting him too much,” Fred Flores said. “We got joint custody so he could spend time with both of us.” Added Grace: “We decided we’re going to do what’s best for him and get along. And we’ve been like best friends ever since, spending family functions and birthdays together. “There was never a time when I couldn’t go to his house and he couldn’t come to mine and spend time with Fabian.” In the letter he wrote from prison, Chris talked about their dreams as boys. “Growing up, all we talked about was how we were going to live together in this big house with our families,” he wrote. “I was going to be an NFL player. He wanted to be one, too, but I told him he was better off being my agent. He didn’t like that very much. LOL.” Chris asked his mother to read his letter at Fabian’s funeral. She couldn’t bring herself to do it.
High school Though elementary and middle school went well for both boys, high school changed them. The gang influence was everywhere — even from Fabian’s first girlfriend in ninth grade, who would secretly flash gang signs to friends when she was with him. For many, the gang members in class represented somewhat of a cool clique in school. “You can’t really get away from it to some degree,” said James Lozano, a lifelong friend of Fabian and Chris, who went to school with Fabian at Greeley West High School. “To some degree there was some prestige in being involved” in gangs. There was alcohol, drugs, parties, lifelong friends going down the wrong path. But few involved knew then, or even now, the extent of Chris’ and Fabian’s double lives. “We always talked to him about not having anything to do with the gangs,” Grace said. Added Fred: “He said, ‘Dad, I’m not involved,’ because I drilled it over and over. He said, ‘I’m not involved in gangs. I have friends I grew up with. They’re involved in gangs. I’m not going to stop being their friend.’ That’s what he told me.” Indeed, they had friends who drifted into gangs. But they had other friends, like Lozano, who would become a class leader at Greeley West and who is now 21 going into his fourth year at the University of Denver, or Reynaldo Delgado, who is studying to be a firefighter at Aims Community College. “They were really good friends,” Lozano said of Chris and Fabian. “They helped me understand what true friendship meant.”
FOR THE TRIBUNE
FABIAN FLORES, RIGHT, IS seen with his father, Fred Flores, center, and friend, Reynaldo Delgado, one week before his death in a drive-by shooting. never knew he had been “jumped in,” a common initiation to prove worthiness and loyalty to a gang. In Chris’ junior year, he wanted out of school. His mother made him promise to finish out the year, then try to get his GED. If he wasn’t going to school, Porter said, he had to work. He got a job at Sonic. “Everything seemed to be going OK until the armed robbery,” Porter said. “Whatever they were doing behind closed doors, they absolutely kept it behind closed doors.”
ROBERT R. DENTON/For The Tribune
FAMILY MEMBERS OF FABIAN Flores embrace next to his casket on July 9 after funeral services at the New Hope Christian Fellowship. During the service, those close to Flores spoke about his
generosity and kindness.
» Greeley’s gangs Greeley police consistently track roughly 600 gang members throughout the city, with no clearly identified territories, despite their names: Norteño (north side) and Sureño (south side). There are various subsets of both major gangs. » Norteño street gang members often identify with the symbols XIV, X4, 14, and 4-dots. Fourteen refers to the 14th letter of the alphabet “N” which stands for Norteño or the Nuestra Familia. The gang associates with the color red and the words Norteño, Norte and Northerner. » Sureño street gang members often identify with the symbols XIII, X3, 13, and 3-dots. This refers to the 13th letter of the alphabet “M” which stands for Mexican Mafia. The gang identifies with the color blue and the words Sureño, Sur and Southerner. Chris, who once wanted to be a police officer, struggled academically and drifted out of sports given that he was shorter than other athletes and stopped making the teams, his mother said. She refused to let him drive until he could maintain a C average. Halfway through his sophomore year, Fabian transferred to Northridge High School. His parents believed he was being harassed by gangs at Greeley West. Around ROBERT R. DENTON/For The Tribune the same time, Northridge ofTHE FAMILY OF FABIAN Flores watches on July 9 as Flores’ casket is loaded into the back of a hearse. The 20-year-old Greeley native was shot July 1 after words ficials sought to move Chris to were exchanged with suspected gang members. Greeley West, seeing some of the kids he was hanging around with. guy and very loyal to his friends.” The boys spent their time out of home-schooled. “I was just as “He’d come to us all normal, Despite Fabian’s denial of gang school together. responsible for him making the then go to his other friends and involvement, strange things hapChris started skipping school decisions he made. I really did that lifestyle,” Delgado said. “He pened that still have his parents and lying. He’d sneak out at not know what to do. He’d look kept it away from me. He just scratching their heads. night, despite all of his mother’s at me with those big brown eyes told me the major parts, all the One day, a boy came to Fred attempts to keep things he was doing Flores’ door, asking to get his him home. … he would steal Chris was my first teenager. I was just as bike. Flores, confused, told the “He was hangfrom people at responsible for him making the decisions he boy there was no bike there. ing out with gang school and break made. I really did not know what to do. He’d look at The teen left, and Flores went to members, and into houses.” school to pick up his son. In the I’m sure they “I’d say his new me with those big brown eyes … and I believed him; I time he was gone, his house was weren’t out doing saw my 2-year-old in a diaper. friends are what robbed, but only Fabian’s clothes community serinfluenced him — ONTIKA PORTER, Chris Hale’s mother and accessories were stolen. Burvice and walking the most,” Delgado glars took everything from his old ladies across said. “I don’t know underwear and socks to his hats. the street,” Porter said. … and I believed him; I saw my his new friends. I just know they Another morning, Fabian Looking back, she knows she 2-year-old in a diaper.” were in gangs when he switched and his father woke up to all the missed many of the signs of his Fabian’s lifelong friend Delto Northridge.” windows of Fabian’s car busted. gang involvement. She knows her gado, 19, who recently completed Delgado didn’t know much Flores paid $1,800 to replace son played her. She wishes she the Aims Fire Academy and will about Chris, but he liked him the them. had done things differently. continue his schooling this fall to few months he did know him. FOR THE TRIBUNE The Floreses, until recently, “Chris was my first teenager,” get his associate degree, learned “He was the funniest guy I ever ONTIKA PORTER AND HER son, Chris Hale, during a rethought their son was being said Porter, who has four other of some Fabian’s gang activities in met,” Delgado said. “He was so cent prison visit in Buena Vista. harassed to be in a gang, but they children, three of whom are now the past year. creative. He was a pretty good
» Some signs of kids involved in gangs » Wearing predominantly blue or red T-shirts, shoelaces, belts, bandannas » Sports jerseys with gang numbers 13 or 14 » Belt buckles with gang initials or numbers » Hash marks shaved into eyebrows » Tattoos of gang names or numbers » Fake tattoos of gang names » Gang doodles or drawings » Facebook and MySpace page with gang talk » Skipping school » Staying out late » Coming home with unexplained bruises or injuries » Carrying weapons » Hanging out with gang members » Having an unusual interest in gangster-influenced music, videos, movies or websites » Having unexplained cash or goods, such as jewelry and clothing » Using hand gestures or signs to communicate with friends
Gang detectives had never even heard of Chris and Fabian until a series of robberies in 2008. But police reports in both Evans and Greeley revealed a group of young kids from June 16-20, 2008, committing four separate robberies, a couple at knifepoint and two more at gunpoint. Chris and Fabian were togethto be preaching about what we istering there. He’d write, and er in the robberies with Nolan were talking about. He elbowed say, ‘I’m ministering about God.’ Granados and Julian Gonzalez. me and said, ‘See? I told you.’ ” He said, ‘Sister, do you think I’m From 2-4 a.m., the group of Fabian rededicated his life to doing good?’ ” boys — all 16 and 17 years old — Jesus after that service. Fabian served his sentence in took off to rob a store, then anAfter church, the family went Sterling Correctional Facility, other as police busied themselves and he was one of the youngest to El Charro for lunch, where with the first one. In at least two Fabian ordered a hamburger and inmates inside the state’s largest cases, Fabian was said to be drivfries. prison. ing the getaway car, but in one Fabian returned to his father’s “All the older guys just talked instance, a store clerk identified house, and announced he was to him,” Fred said. “This guy him as pointing a gun at him, acgoing to the mall to get a pair of who’s doing 40 years, ‘You’re so cording to police reports. shoes. Fred had errands to run, young, you made bad choices, Chris was the decoy, often goand they went their separate when you get out, stay out.’ … ing to the cashiers and distractways. They wanted him to turn around ing them with purchases and “I called him at 5 p.m. I could and start changing his life. They small talk, while two other boys tell he was in a car,” Fred said. were talking positive to him. came in with guns or butcher “I told him to make sure he was That’s what made it all the betknives, according to police rehere on time to get back to Denter.” ports. ver. I told him I loved him, and Fabian got his GED and his All eventually were identihe said, ‘I love you, too.’ Twenty commercial driver’s license in fied in store videos, arrested and minutes later I got the call.” Sterling, and he kept up with his convicted. Three were charged Fabian was in the back seat of religion. He began ministering to as adults: Chris got eight years a car with friends — gang friends other inmates, as well as his dad. in prison; Fabian six. GonzaWhen he was released, he went — driving through downtown lez, identified in the robberies Greeley. A car of apparent rival to the halfway house in Denver. as holding butcher knives or gang members drove up from His parents didn’t want him shotguns against the clerks, had behind the car and someone fired returning to Greeley with the a history of theft. He got 20 three shots. potential of old friends coming years. Granados was sentenced Fabian was the only one hit. back. And Fabian worked hard, to 10 years in the Youth Offender A bullet hit his eye, shattering showing up at his employer’s System. his eye socket. Fabian was the He went into the I’d seen all of it, the way he was changing first to get out in emergency room his life, of trying to prove to me he could. He February 2011. complaining his worked his butt off. His fingers were all skinned up He had been eye hurt, that from tire busting. He was trying to prove to me that living and worksomething was in he could do it. So many times he almost gave up. ing Denver, in a it. Within minutes — FRED FLORES, Fabian Flores’ father halfway house. he was on the floor. Eventually, he was A friend called earning enough privileges to see Fabian’s dad, and his dad called doorstep in a suit to get a job his parents on the weekends in working on the trash trucks, even Grace. The parents were too late. Greeley. “To me, he was pretty much though he already had a job at a He was determined to walk the tire shop, his human resources already dead,” Fred said. “He was straight and narrow. all stiff, and he had a patch on director said at his funeral. “He did tell me he would find his eye. When they sedate them, “I’d seen all of it, the way he it hard to trust people now,” their eyes are just wide open.” was changing his life, of trying to Delgado said of his conversations prove to me he could,” his father The Floreses called Porter, who with Fabian after his release, rushed to be at Fabian’s side. said. “He worked his butt off. when Fabian would reveal his “I just kept thinking this His fingers were all skinned up troubled past. “The friends who couldn’t be happening,” Porter from tire busting. He was trying were supposed to have his back said of the last moments of Fato prove to me that he could do … they just kinda left him — the bian’s life. “I had some hope that it. So many times he almost gave friends that didn’t go to prison.” maybe he would pull through. up.” On June 30, Fabian, in town to And I just begged him to stay. Fabian’s passion to change is visit his parents, went to Porter’s “I held his hand. The nurses what pushes Lozano to better house to talk to his second mom. got a copy of his handprint, and himself. “He even told me, ‘I’m sorry they gave us one. I’m going to “He’s my motivation now to this had to happen, that everykeep it for Chris.” realize that now is the time,” thing happened with me and Lozano said. “There’s no time to Chris,’ ” Porter said. “He wanted waste.” Gang ties to tell me he was sorry. He Why was Fabian in that car thought I was mad at him and I The last day with gang members? Police, used wasn’t.” On July 1, Fred picked Fabian to most gang members getting Fabian had spent his time up in Denver to come to Greeley, out of jail and rekindling their behind bars contemplating what ties, would suggest Fabian was he’d done, what his parents even- and they went to church at New Hope Christian Fellowship in doing just that. tually felt was the best thing that north Greeley. He was allowed a In fact, a week before his could have happened. death, Fabian flashed a smile for Margo Preciado, a Weld Coun- day pass from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. “We were talking about the a photograph, wearing a bright ty Jail chaplain, remembers how Bible,” Fred said. “He was trying red shirt and a large silver cross. Fabian began to change from a to tell me, all you have to do is acHis family thought maybe quiet recluse to an avid learner cept Jesus and believe he died on he was just resuming lifelong during her Bible study in jail. the cross for your sins and you’re “When he went to prison, I saved. started talking to him again,” she CONTINUED “We went to church that day, said. “He said, ‘I love to pray, like A6: Road Ahead and the minister just happened you pray for me.’ He started min-
«In the State
SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2012 » THE TRIBUNE
Colorado victims mourned at funerals in three states Associated Press
FOR THE TRIBUNE
FABIAN FLORES, LEFT, AND friend Chris Hale.
Fabian was ‘turning his life for the better’ « ROAD AHEAD From A5 friendships that began at Meeker Elementary School. They didn’t know until the gang members themselves told the family he was ministering to them. “Not only was he ministering to gang members, but to lots of different people, people we didn’t know he was ministering to, until they told us,” Porter said. “He was making amends. He was paying for what he did, he was paying beyond the full extent of the law.” The family kept him alive to donate his organs to seven people. One person was able to see for the first time. Police still have not arrested anyone in the shooting, one of five gang-related shootings in a three-week period in Greeley. The gang members Fabian were with said
little to police — likely part of their code of silence. Porter grieves, not only for Fabian, but for the person who pulled the trigger that day. “I’m almost positive this is a young kid, and they probably had no clue they were going to take someone’s life,” Porter said. “They just thought they could prove they were badder or my gang is better than yours. “Still, when and if they get caught, this will be another young life lost. There is going to be some other parent dealing with a child going to prison.” Even in death, Fabian couldn’t escape his gang ties. Gang members showed up at his funeral, held just two days before what would have been Fabian’s 21st birthday. A group sat in the back of the New Hope Christian Fellowship hall, wearing their colors in various forms from
their shirts to their shoes. Few in attendance were pleased. All involved in Fabian’s and Chris’ story hope kids get one message about gangs: Stay away. Even minor involvement may be too much. “That isn’t a life,” Fred said. “That’s a life of fear, that is a life of doing wrong and wrong unto others. Eventually everyone has to pay for what they do wrong. No one gets away with anything. My son knew that, and he was turning his life for the better.” Said Grace: “There isn’t anyone out there who can’t change life for the good.”
»»» Part Two on Monday examines the way Greeley is trying to contain gang activity and trying to encourage young kids to stay away from the gang life.
SPRINGFIELD, OHIO — A man who saved his girlfriend’s life at the Colorado movie shooting was remembered for his selfless sacrifice Saturday, while an aspiring sportscaster was praised for her boundless energy and an Air Force reservist as a good friend. The girlfriend who Matt McQuinn saved by taking three bullets aimed at her wept as pastors spoke of the senselessness of the shooting spree at the suburban Denver theater where 12 people were killed just more than a week ago. Mourners packed a church in this western Ohio town where McQuinn came from, while family and friends gathered in San Antonio on the same day to remember Jessica Ghawi and a private funeral service was held at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora for Staff Sgt. Jesse Childress. More funerals are set for next week. When gunfire broke out in the Aurora theater, McQuinn, 27, dove in front of his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, and was shot three times. Yowler, who was shot in the knee and survived, arrived at McQuinn’s funeral on crutches Saturday and wept quietly with his parents and other family during the funeral. Neither she nor his parents addressed mourners at the Maiden Lane Church of God. Pastor Herb Shaffer, who is also McQuinn’s uncle, said his nephew had been a gift to his family since he was born, and that his actions in Colorado were just one example of his selflessness. McQuinn called his mother three times the day before she had surgery because he was upset that he couldn’t be there in person, Shaffer said. When he was just 7, he put his arm around his younger cousin because he was worried she wasn’t having a good day, he said.
PALLBEARERS CARRY MATT MCQUINN, killed in the Aurora movie theater shooting, from the church after his funeral Saturday in Springfield, Ohio.
Then he talked about McQuinn’s greatest sacrifice of all, saving Yowler, whom Shaffer described as the love of his nephew’s life. “In moments of crisis, true character comes out,” he said. “His immediate response was to protect the woman he loved.” “Matt’s death is a sudden loss, one that has produced many questions in your minds,” Pastor Dan Fiorini said. “I know you’re asking in your heart of hearts, why? Why was Matt there? Why was a gunman allowed to enter that theater? Why was he able to purchase guns and ammunition so easily? Why didn’t God do something?” Fiorini said he couldn’t answer any of those questions. “We can wrestle with the whys of this tragedy for eternity and never come up with an answer,” he said. Shaffer told mourners that the shooting forever changed them. “Our lives will never be the same,” he said. “The words Aurora, Cinema 16 shooting, Batman, will never mean the same thing, and we’ll be reminded of Matt every time we hear them.” Mourners at Ghawi’s funeral also touched briefly on the massacre. “If this coward could have done this with this much
hate, imagine what we can do with this much love,” her brother, Jordan Ghawi, said at the Community Bible Church in San Antonio. But most of the service focused on the life and energy of the aspiring 24-year-old sports journalist. “What we will not do today is focus on how she left us,” said Peter Burns, a friend from Colorado, reading a statement from Ghawi’s mother, Sandy. “Jess was a force to be reckoned with. She was a jolt of lightning. A whirlwind. A Labrador puppy running clumsily with innocent joy.” Ghawi’s boyfriend, Jay Meloff, note that others described her as “a tough, redheaded spitfire,” and she was, but that he also saw “a beautiful, warm-hearted and passionate woman with a capacity for love. ... She was as mushy as they come.” Following the funeral for Childress, 29, about 200 people attended a private burial service at Fort Logan National Cemetery southwest of Denver, Veterans Affairs spokesman Paul Sherbo said. Friends and colleagues have described the Air Force cyber-systems operator as a good friend, experienced and knowledgeable. Childress was from Thornton and worked at Buckley Air Force Base.
Linda was blacking out.
It was her heart.
Watch Linda’s heart story at pvhs.org/lindafisher-trib
Linda is why we do what we do. “Shocks went through my body; then I started to black-out. The next thing I knew, I was at the Medical Center of the Rockies’ emergency room. A Heart Center of the Rockies’ doctor put in a pacemaker. The heart team was wonderful. Now, the shocks are gone and I have the energy to run again.” - Linda Fisher, director, Loveland, Colo.
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THE ROAD AHEAD: PART 16, DAY TWO | A TRIBUNE SPECIAL PROJECT
THE RIGHT PATH Success against gangs is measured one kid at a time
Student finds a better life in the U.S
hen Katherine Sanchez Castejon’s family left Venezuela a decade ago, it was for a better life. “That may sound like a cheesy cliché,” Castejon said. “But the situation in Venezuela is not pretty. There is a lot of violence and not many opportuSherrie nities. We were PEIF trying to find an The Tribune educational opportunity for my brother and I.” In the 10 years since first moving to Arizona as a 13-yearold, Castejon has made good on that plan. A Ph.D. candidate at the University of Northern Colorado in psychology, the 23-year-old has been active helping families and teachers in Guatemala and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico address trauma and grief. She is a graduate assistant at the Center for Honors, Scholars and Leadership, where she is a coordinator for engagement and supervises projects for AmeriCorps. She recently received one of three $2,400 national scholarships from the Melanie Foundation in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., for
CONTINUED A9: Better life
PHOTOS BY ROBERT R. DENTON/For The Tribune
DAVID ESPINOSA, 14, OF Greeley, center, discusses the answer to a Smart Date Jeopardy question with teammates
at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Weld County Jerry Pawl Clubhouse on Thursday. Espinosa is one of about 150 kids who go to the southeast Greeley clubhouse each day, according to Clubhouse Chief Professional Officer Greg Kimbrough. The youth center has zero tolerance for gang activity on its grounds but welcomes everyone.
BY SHARON DUNN
avier Herrera got his first gang tattoo at 11. Through his freshman year of high school, he ran with this group, drinking, doing drugs, stealing and skipping school. Then he learned about a program at Greeley Central High School that paid students to go to school. He wanted in, if only for the money. But Herrera soon found out that he wanted to succeed for other reasons. By his sophomore year, he was done with Herrera the gangs. Last May, he graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average. “I’m embarrassed to say I was involved,” he said.
Herrera, now 18, is just one success story, but police, educators and others know the harsh reality all too well: Gangs are « FOR MORE here to stay, and GO TO PAGE Community for every Her- A5: leaders weigh rera there’s an- in on gangs in other kid ready Greeley to replace him. A5: The cost of Communities graffiti removal from California adds up to New York grapple with gang problems, and no one seems to have figured out solutions that Greeley could copy. Greeley authorities have used several tools, mostly punitive, to
make a dent in the problem in the past several years. But the answer clearly lies beyond the cops and courts. “This is one of those community issues that really takes all of us holding hands to make a meaningful difference,” said Assistant City Manager Becky Safarik. For now, they’ll take their small victories, like Herrera, one kid at time.
Greeley residents consistently list gangs among their top issues, from property crime to vandal-
By Eric Brown firstname.lastname@example.org
A GRAFFITI TECHNICIAN SPRAYS Taginator on a brick wall of an apartment complex in south Greeley on Thursday. After allowing the chemical to work for about 15 minutes, he then pressure-washed the bricks, leaving no trace of the paint and no visible harm to the structure.
» About the series This is the 16th installment in The Road Ahead, a series of stories that explores the power of plans to shape Greeley. To see previous stories in the series — covering Greeley’s past, immigration, the Stampede, U.S. 85, education, agriculture and “the smell of money” — go to www.greeleytribune.com/ roadahead.
« WHAT’S COMING
FIRE AFTERMATH Western wildfires devastate Colorado livestock. Tuesday’s Raised in Weld.
Widows of long-time fair supporters recognized
ism to personal safety. “When you ask a member of the public in Greeley, one of the first things they’ll tell you they’re concerned about is gangs,” Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner said. “That’s what we have to address, and that’s why we have the resources we have in gangs. It’s a lot of resources for a city our size, but again, it’s acknowledgement of a gang issue.
« WHAT’S NEWS TODAY A few scattered showers and thunderstorms
High 93 Low 60 WEATHER, XX
CONTINUED A4: Road Ahead
A few scattered showers High 93 Low 60
B4-B11: A10: B10: A2: A9: A11:
The Weld County Fair has long served as an annual source of excitement, laughter and catching up with old friends for Roberta Smith and Sharon Inloes. But this year, it was something « FOR MORE a little different GO TO PAGE For adfor the two, hav- A2: ditional covering each lost hus- age of Weld bands this past County Fair year who were events. longtime supporters of Weld County 4-H and the fair. Put simply, it was a little emotional for both, as the two widows were honored separately Sunday. Roberta — wife of Jack Smith, an agriculture education teacher at Platte Valley High School in Kersey for 30 years, who, among other duties, served for decades as the Weld County Fair’s superintendant of agriculture mechanics and was also a fair board member — was the grand marshal of the Weld County Fair’s parade that morning. That afternoon, Sharon was CONTINUED A9: Fair
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«The Road Ahead
MONDAY, JULY 30, 2012 » THE TRIBUNE
Police: 80% of city crime is due to gangs « ROAD AHEAD From A1 “We’ve got our gang situation in far better control than five to six years ago.” According to the FBI, there are 1.4 million gang members in and out of prison across the country, a 40 percent increase since 2009. Greeley’s membership is not even a blip on that radar, but it dwarfs a 145-man police department, including a sixman gang unit, which has grown from two detectives a decade ago to six today. Police believe 80 percent of Greeley’s crime is at the hands of gangs. Police and prosecutors can send them to prison, but when they return, most pick up where they left off, on a kind of criminal carousel that never stops spinning. In recent years, police have focused on putting as many gang members behind bars for longer periods of time. Shootings aren’t simply charged as aggravated assaults, or attempted assaults; today, they’re attempted murder. A gang fight can be charged as an organized duel, a felony punishable by up to six years in prison. “Investigation has evolved and far more resources are dumped into those investigations for good reason. We’re getting good results, and we’re getting multiple defendants arrested,” Greeley gang detective Mike Prill said. “We’re not just targeting the person who shot the gun, but the one who cleaned up the evidence, or the person who drove him to (the scene of the crime). We’re making everyone accountable for their actions and building cases that are resulting in major punishments. Just look at the number of lengthy sentences handed out over last year.” Nehemiah Chavez, as an example, recently was sentenced to 128 years in prison for a drive-by shooting in March 2011, 75 percent of which he’ll have to serve since it was a crime of violence. His girlfriend, who drove the car, was sentenced to six years in community corrections. Sometimes, police will have gang members charged in federal
Instances of graffiti have been ebbing after hitting a high of 1,800 in 2008. By the end of 2011, there were 1,047 instances of reported graffiti in Greeley. As with the gang activity, graffiti removal expenses won’t go away, officials recognize painfully. “To me, it’s like taking $60,000 and throwing it out the window,” said Jerry Pickett, streets superintendent for Greeley. “We could use that on all kinds of stuff in the city.”
Prevention and intervention
ROBERT R. DENTON/For The Tribune
TWELVE-YEAR-OLD MAKAYLA GALVEN, FRONT right, practices a dance with the
rest of the Cool Crew for a talent show the following day on Thursday at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Weld County Jerry Pawl Clubhouse. The two Boys & Girls Clubs in Greeley have seen the highest number of attendees in four years, Greg Kimbrough said.
» Prosecutions Gang prosecutions have slowly gone down in Weld County, some say because police are putting more gang members away for longer periods of time. May 2-Dec. 31, 2008 238 2009 225 2010 295 2011 184 Through July 25, 2012 70 Source: Weld District Attorney
courts. In federal custody, their actions are more heavily scrutinized, with strengthened monitoring of phone calls and mail. That makes it much harder for them to orches-
trate more crimes or tamper with witnesses from jail. Gangs are making their own changes, Prill said, constantly finding ways to thwart investigations and getting more sophisticated. The recent organized crime cases against the 18th Street Gang showed just how organized gangs can become, from enacting strict bylaws to paying dues to help gang members in jail. Police concede that containment is about the best they can hope for when it comes to gangs. They’re not equipped or funded to prevent crime. “We can investigate crimes and catch them. But we get there too late,” Garner said. “At the front end, with little kids growing up at home, that’s where you need to start the influence. We’re not raising them, we’re babysitting them.”
Cover up It may be impossible to eliminate the gangs in Greeley, but the city is making an effort to erase gang signs. In 2002, the city began its graffiti removal program, which has grown every year. The city has budgeted nearly $63,000 for the program this year (which includes money to buy a new van), and already half has been spent on removing graffiti from more than 500 locations. The city tries to remove graffiti within 24 hours of it being reported, at no cost to residents. “It’s the broken windows theory,” Safarik said. “When you leave vandalism in place, especially graffiti, it tends to beget more of the same, especially in the case of gangs marking territories. The sooner we get it removed, the better not only for the property owner but the sense that we take that away as a message board.”
Experts say a community cannot challenge its gang demons without trying to address crime before it happens, before kids join gangs or before it’s too late for them. The city of Greeley, nonprofit agencies and schools are trying to do just that. “One of the ways of killing a gang is by cutting off recruitment,” said the Rev. Leon Kelly, executive director of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives, the oldest anti-gang program in Denver. “If we can educate the younger ones, it’s easier to mold or build a kid than repair an adult.” The Boys & Girls Clubs of Weld County have about 280 kids enrolled in their after-school programs, an increase from about 100 four years ago. Officials there, who have a zerotolerance policy for anything that could even look like gangs, hope to offer more sports for older students this fall. Greeley-Evans School District 6 has several programs, but they’re not specifically centered on gang prevention. “We try to keep kids engaged in a lot of ways, but we don’t put a label on it that says it’s gang prevention,” said Ranelle Lang, District 6 schools superintendent. “It’s educational attainment, success in school, skill building and future building, dream building. … Schooling alone is gang prevention.”
CONTINUED A5: Road Ahead
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«The Road Ahead
« THE TRIBUNE « MONDAY, JULY 30, 2012
Community tries to keep kids engaged
» IN THEIR WORDS:
« ROAD AHEAD From A4
It seems like every time something happens, we react instead of being proactive.” Art Terrazas, chairman of the Greeley Youth Gang Intervention program, who has worked with gang members for years
The Student Recovery Program, which helped Herrera turn away from gangs, was begun by civic leader Bob Tointon four years ago at Greeley Central High School to help Latino boys graduate. The program takes 20 failing Latino boys a year, and puts them in intensive summer sessions after their freshman and sophomore years, plus tracks their progress in school to help them — and pay them — to attend and move up. So far, 47 boys have gone through the program, and 41 have made it through; about 10 percent have gotten their GEDs instead of graduating. The program costs $120,000 a year, or $6,000 per year per student. There’s already talk about finding ways to expand the program at Northridge and West high schools, Tointon said. “To expand it, we’d have to get more sponsors that are willing to step up and fund it, because it does take money,” he said. But prevention is one of the last things addressed publicly, said Tracy Durant, an ex-gang member who now teaches at the University of Denver. She runs Step by Step Youth Services, working with gang members through the Division of Youth Corrections in Denver. “One thing I think what we do wrong in Colorado is not put money and time and effort into prevention,” Durant said. “We don’t want to admit a 9-year-old needs gang treatment because that means the elementary school has a gang problem, and parents won’t send their kids there. If kids don’t learn all these things, we’re not equipping them with the (refusal) skills when they do get approached by those guys.”
Gangs are like cancer. It goes into remission, but eventually it’s going to come back. So when it goes into remission, we think we solved it, but it never gets solved and rears its ugly head like it did in Greeley. It never goes away.” Bryan Wright, former principal at Greeley West High School
A man stands alone. If someone is willing to involve you in criminal activity or beat you up to prove their love to you, that’s not real love.” Ontika Porter, mother of Christopher Hale, who is serving eight years in prison for a series of gang-related robberies he was involved in June 2008
I’d hope the city fathers and administrators of the police department always remain cognizant that gangs will be there. I think the gang issue, not the gang problem, has remained on the front burners for so long, it will be a long time before residents here forget that lesson (of denying it). Nobody will be able to control the next upswing in gang violence.” Mike Prill, Greeley gang detective
The gangs mean more to them than their families. I could say anything about mom or dad, and they may get upset, but If I said something bad about their gang, they’d attack me. That’s how serious it is.” Larry Botnick, clinical social worker, professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, who has worked with youths in gangs for 26 years
Faith involvement Many involved in gang prevention instinctively know that gang members need something positive to believe in if there will ever be a change. Their plight is championed by several in the faith community. Three times a week, members of New Hope Christian Fellowship disperse into the lowerincome neighborhoods in north Greeley, spreading the word. “I think Greeley needs all the churches to take a stand,” said Amos Olivarez, executive pastor at New Hope. “No one church can facilitate what needs to happen.” For 17 years, the church has been ministering to keep kids out of gangs and away from other bad influences. In the past eight years of Olivarez’s service, the church has buried five gang members who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, most recently Fabian Flores, shot in a drive-by shooting July 1. New Hope’s mission is a constant battle, especially in light of the multi-generational aspect of Greeley’s gangs. “My 30-minute conversation with one kid will only be remembered for a few hours, and they are exposed to this other life for the rest of the time,” Olivarez said. “That’s really all they ever see. It’s so tough.” Olivarez knows the stakes are high. “They’re the future,” Olivarez said. “Twenty years from today, all government officials, and workers, and everyone will need a replacement, and it will probably be by some kid growing up here in Greeley. I want kids in Greeley today to be the reason why it’s a successful and safe environment in the future.” Greg Ehlert, associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Greeley, is trying to drum up support for a more drastic approach to convert gang members. He wants to create a men’s ministry that puts gang members to work, similar to a program in Fresno, Calif., called Hope Now For Youth. It has gotten more than 1,800 gang members off the streets since 1993, he said. “They got off the streets, married their girlfriends, became fathers to their kids, their lives are absolutely transformed,” Ehlert said. “I’d love to see something like that happen here.” The program would have to be run cooperatively with area employers, as it is predicated on gang members being employed, even with a criminal record. “These guys have to have the opportunity for genuine employment and that’s a challenge, particularly in Greeley,” Ehlert said. “One of the biggest dynamics is, are there employers in town who would have the vision to give these guys a chance? If so, then it’s totally possible.”
Community leaders weigh in on gangs in community
PHOTOS BY ROBERT R. DENTON/For The Tribune
KIANA GARCIA, 7, OF Greeley reads a book at the Jerry Pawl Clubhouse on Thursday.
The Greeley Boys & Girls Clubs offers activities for children ages 6 to 18, and half of the staff at Jerry Pawl participated at that clubhouse as children, director Sam Ruiz said.
A GREELEY GRAFFITI TECHNICIAN in north Greeley paints over gang tags. He said that six years ago Greeley cleaned up about 1,800 locations a year and only about 1,200 last year. Of those locations, 96 percent of reported graffiti was removed within 24 hours.
» Graffiti expense City of Greeley Public Works took over the graffiti removal program in 2007 from Leisure Services. The Rodarte Center started the official program in 1994 directed by the Greeley City Council. Last year, one full-time employee spent 1,554, hours removing graffiti. Graffiti has been removed from 514 locations through June; 96 percent of the graffiti reported was removed within 24 hours. Year Expenditures 2002 $17,350 2003 $2,922 2004 $4,869 2005 $4,655 2006 $3,292 2007 $46,839 2008 $49,489 2009 $48,126 2010 $51,745 2011 $53,427 2012 budget $62,939 2012 YTD actual $33,289 Source: City of Greeley
All together now Officials say the key to discouraging gang membership is keeping kids busy, and under adult supervision at all times. For many, it comes down to parenting, being there and giving kids something positive to do.
Larry Botnick, a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver who has worked with gangs for 26 years, said most of the kids he’s worked with have parents who had them as teenagers, who had very little support of their own. “We could talk ‘til we’re blue in the face,” Botnick said. “If parents aren’t involved, we lose.” That doesn’t necessarily mean all parents of gang kids are bad. It may just be indicative of busy homes and idle hands. When Botnick talks to parent groups of 50-100 people, he asks one question: How many of you eat dinner with your kids? “About half raise their hands,” Botnick said. “Then I ask, how many do you go in (to that dinner), with no TV, no radio, no one doing homework or reading? How many do you sit down and actually talk? I’d end up with five to six people raising their hands. If parents aren’t talking to them, how are they are going to talk” about what’s going on in their lives with a responsible adult? Ontika Porter, whose son is in prison for a gang-related robbery in 2008, said she didn’t let him run wild, but she wanted to give him a little freedom. She said she was clueless because her son never showed outward signs of gang membership. He didn’t wear gang colors or get into fights. She now says a parent education class — any extra information about gangs in schools or in Greeley — would have helped. She said she also would like to see more things for kids to do in Greeley. “Something needs to be done because we’re losing our children to this,” Porter said. “I tried to keep my son as far from stuff like that
as possible, but he seems to have found a way to find it. I think they found him.” For many kids, the gang life is simply hard to resist, so an alternative may just have to produce the same feelings they get on the streets. “There is a seduction in gangs. It seduces them. It’s sexy,” Durant said. “Everything in gangs comes down to power, pride and respect. When you have those three things all together, people are seduced. Not just in gangs, but on Wall Street. It just happens. This is what’s available to these kids.” The gang lifestyle brings on a strong adrenaline rush that’s addictive, Durant said. A key is to replace it with an equal rush, such as rock climbing or snowboarding or even boxing. It could take parents who are ex-gang members to reach some of these kids, said Greg Kimbrough, chief operations officer with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Weld County. “I was talking to a 13-year-old two weeks ago, and he mentioned that his dad told him to stay out of gangs. I said, ‘Your dad is smart,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, he’ll get out of prison in two years.’ He said his dad was in a gang, he tried to get out, and he moved out of town. When he came back they found him and beat him up and pulled him back in and he’s in jail now.” “He’s already been influenced by it,” Kimbrough said of the teen learning from his dad’s mistakes.
One kid at a time Herrera, whose parents worked, said the constant pressure to attend school through the Student Recovery Program made the difference for him. If he didn’t want to wake up to go to school, his teacher was at his door knocking. If he complained of having no breakfast, she’d buy it for him. “I kind of felt like someone cared about my education when she would pick me up,” Herrera said. “It was nice.” The community can work together on the gang problem, hitting kids with a united anti-gang front. Each kid will make his or her own decision, Herrera said. “I think that it has a lot to do with individual choice,” Herrera said. “The program provided the help, the motive, and the teachers. But it is someone’s choice to take that. Many people don’t take it because they think they’re too cool. I took that help, and now I’m glad I did.” Herrera starts at the University of Northern Colorado this fall as a first-generation college student.
Every gangster has a soul. God looks beyond the sinful activity and sees a broken spirit. The answer for Greeley’s growing gang problem is Jesus. No man can fix the problem, but God will use men and women to communicate and demonstrate His love for them. ... The answer is not to run from it, or accept it as a total loss. The answer is to ask the Lord how we as Christians, and as a community, can serve them and share with them a new hope.” Amos Olivarez, executive pastor, New Hope Christian Fellowship, Greeley
Some of these guys want to be loved. One person told me one time, ‘I don’t know you, but the way you talk to these guys, I never had that. I wanted my mom to scold me, watch over me and say don’t do that. Come back home. I never got that.’ Some of the guys never had that.” Sister Margo Preciado, a Weld County Jail chaplain who runs a Bible study with jail inmates
I want to have this idealistic mentality that we can save every child who walks through our doors. You know along the way you’re going to lose some, but you look at examples who have made it through. For us, probably two-thirds of our part-time staff were club members in these clubs and broke out of neighborhoods and are all now students at UNC. … At end of the day, it’s the kid’s choice. Do I choose to in some ways go against the grain when the neighborhood is riddled with gangs, or do I just follow, because that’s what they think is the easier path?” Greg Kimbrough, chief professional officer with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Weld County
Every one of these kids is the responsibility of this community. Until everybody feels this same deep mission to make a difference for every student, no matter what parents or the house looks like, that we will do whatever it takes to make it happen, (things won’t change). It can’t just be about the schools needing to do more. We only have them 7 percent of the time.” Ranelle Lang, Greeley-Evans School District 6 superintendent
Sometimes where people go wrong is when they treat gangs like it’s a disease or therapeutic issue. It’s not, it’s a symptom. Our approach is always trying to uncover some of the things that happen in (a) young person’s life prior to gang involvement. How do we re-instill some of those values that were there before they got into gangs?” Tracy Durant, owner of Step By Step Youth Services, University of Denver adjunct professor and ex-gang member
An after-school program is one way, not the way. It’s one way. Those parents who are still in the work force who have to work until 5-6-7 at night, the hours of void that kids have, that’s an impressionable time and they need to be in some form of structure.” Rev. Leon Kelly, founder and executive director of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives, the oldest anti-gang program in Denver
We have some gang members who come from very good twoparent households where the parents bend over backward, and junior just chooses gangs. We’ve always had a core of gang members who are generational, with dad, mothers and brothers (involved), and we’ve also had them coming from families of working parents.” Sgt. Roy Smith Compiled by The Tribune staff
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gage during the University of Northern Colorado’s move-in day Thursday morning in Greeley. With class starting, UNC’s campus has been flooded with thousands of new and returning students moving in. There are more than 13,000 students currently at UNC. On top of that, parents and students who are contemplating decades of debt to pay off student loans are asking tough questions: Is college worth the money? “We need a new business model, that is, a new operational model,” said UNC President Kay Norton. “The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Waiting around for the state of Colorado or the federal government to save us and restore things to the way they were is futile.” Harvard, MIT and other universities with deep wallets, extensive history and unparalleled reputations for quality will continue to function much as they always have, but higher education across the country — elements of which would be recognizable to educators of the 18th century — will change in the coming years. The growth of online learning will alter the definition of education, and demographic and economic trends will redefine what it means to be a student. Universities that manage the change well and successfully remake themselves can play key roles in meeting the growing demand of the knowledge economy. Those that don’t could wither or die.
BY NATE A. MILLER
ven though it had been about 30 years since she graduated from college, when Katy King first saw the University of Northern Colorado’s angular red brick campus buildings, she got a familiar feeling. It wasn’t quite freedom, she said. It was that youthful excitement of her college years. The Denver resident grew up in Michigan and graduated from the University of Dayton in Ohio. The campus there, she said, was more urban and didn’t have the lush greenery UNC offers, but the experience brought back plenty of memories, anyway. She was there with her husband, Jim King, to accompany their son at a new-student orientation in early August. Cameron King will start his first classes at UNC on Monday. “It’s so different because of all the technology and everything that’s available to the kids, and yet so many things are the same,” his mother said.
HUNDREDS OF NEW UNC freshmen fill the Long
Peaks Ballroom at the University Center during new student orientation earlier this month.
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Beyond the familiar columns and brick facade, major changes and challenges confront the university, which is among Greeley’s largest employers and most important institutions. Along with other universities around the country, it faces tighter state
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Despite rising costs and challenges, many emphasize education « ROAD AHEAD From A1
»»Education pays Unemployment rate in 2011
‘An army of workers’
‘It expands your horizons’ Peña understands all too well the cost of college. She ran up about $23,000 in student loans. She had no scholarships and paid her own way through her graduation with a bachelor’s in human services. Additionally, it took her about two years to get a
$1,551 $1,665 $1,263
Associate degree Some college, no degree
High school diploma Less than high school diploma
Average: $797 Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
»»Jobs lost and gained during recession and recovery Workers 18 years old and older with a high school diploma or less bore the brunt of the recession’s job losses. Job gains in the recovery are confined to those with education beyond high school. 3 2 1
PHOTOS BY JIM RYDBOMemail@example.com
A WELCOME SIGN GREETS new and returning students at the University Center on the University of Northern Colorado campus. Classes begin Monday. A»WELCOME»SIGN»GREETS»
CONSTRUCTION»OF»NEW»RESIDENCE» CONSTRUCTION OF NEW RESIDENCE halls back in 2008 shows the ever-expanding campus at UNC. The average cost per year for an instate freshman is more than $16,000.
» UNC revenue and budget Year 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Undergrad* $8,051 $8,511 $8,990 $9,324 $10,249 $10,782 $11,655 $12,464 $13,821 $14,917 $16,374 $16,880
Graduate* $2,512 $2,634 $2,897 $3,040 $4,307 $4,445 $4,633 $5,035 $5,782 $6,653 $7,486 $8,806
Operating budget $105.17 million $107.66 million $106.23 million $112.36 million $121.97 million $133.40 million $145.53 million $153.99 million $171.89 million $181.72 million $192.41 million $199.62 million
State support (% of budget) $42.35 million (40 percent) $36.97 million (34 percent) $33.59 million (32 percent) $33.59 million (30 percent) $34.17 million (28 percent) $37.98 million (28 percent) $41.16 million (28 percent) $44.09 million (29 percent) $44.09 million (26 percent) $40.62 million (22 percent) $32.81 million (17 percent) $31.86 million (16 percent)
State aid $5.42 million $5.59 million $4.68 million $4.53 million $4.37 million $4.60 million $5.40 million $5.90 million $5.29 million $4.66 million $4.02 million $4.28 million
*Undergrad and graduate totals represent totals for residents. Undergrad tuition is based on 30 credit hours per academic year. Graduate tuition based on 18 credit hours per academic year. full-time job in her field. She was unemployed for about three months and took jobs where she could find them, including as a medical assistant and a position at Youth and Family Connections as a case manager. As she struggled to find a job that worked, she lived with her parents and drew down a modest savings. She didn’t even begin to address her student loans. “I’m barely now getting a handle on them,” she said. “It took time just because I first started out in something that didn’t pay well, and then I ended up being unemployed. It kind of snowballed there, and I remember having to call them to see if I could get some type of arrangement or forbearance. Now that I just started this job in March, I’m able to make enough money that I can set money aside to do my loans
and pay that back.” At the other end of the spectrum, even in an era of record-high unemployment, many jobs — especially in fields like high-tech manufacturing — are going unfilled because employers can’t find qualified workers. American University economics professor Robert Lerman, who is a fellow at the Washington-based Urban Institute, where he researches labor and social policy, said for many there’s a disconnect between school and work. “Right now the work world is, except for real youth jobs, sort of divorced from the schools for a lot of people,” he said. “It’s not all that functional for a big chunk of our young people.” More college education probably isn’t the solution to this problem, either, he said. He pointed out that countries like Switzerland and Germany that
have robust apprenticeship programs for many careers have much lower youth unemployment rates than those without. The apprenticeship programs aren’t dead-ends, he said. Many CEOs in the central European countries began as apprentices and worked their way up to the top of the company. In other cases, there are architects, for example, who worked in carpentry apprenticeships earlier in their career. Lerman said he doesn’t expect large-scale apprenticeship programs to launch anytime soon in the U.S., but he said rising costs of higher education will push colleges and universities to incorporate more hands-on experience and link their programs with employers. Aims Community College is doing just that, Aims President Marsi Lidell said. “From the community college
standpoint, we train people to put them out in the workforce,” she said. “I think you’ll see Aims, at least, looking to industry saying, ‘What do you need? How fast do you need it? How can we best help you?’ ” Aims is set to launch two new programs — one in oil and gas and the other in agribusiness. “I think we’ll see even more flexibility in community colleges to reach out and provide training opportunities to go straight into a career,” she said. Despite the challenges, Peña said when she has kids, they will go to college. “That’s going to be a priority. There’s no doubt about it,” she said. “It’s really important. It’s almost kind of like a minimum now. It gives you life experience. It expands your horizons. It gives you more experience of life and it challenges you.”
‘How do we compete?’ The American system of higher education was once the envy of the world. As recently as roughly 30 years ago, more people in the United States held college degrees than any other country in the world. Students from around the globe came here to attend school. That success didn’t happen by accident. The country invested in higher education. A major part of that effort came in the 1800s with the creation of the land-grant institutions — Colorado State University is the land-grant institution in the state — and the normal school movement, which created the teachers college that later became UNC. In Greeley, residents petitioned for the establishment of the college, raised the money for the land and a portion of the money needed for the first
» Students: UNC’s final fall 2011 enrollment was 13,038 students — 10,414 undergrads and 2,624 grads. Initial numbers for fall 2012 will be available Monday. » Student loans: Average debt of students at graduation is $17,652. » Financial aid: As tuition has risen, UNC also has increased the amount of financial aid it offers. In 2012-13 it will provide $22.6 million in institutional scholarships and tuition waivers. Less than 10 years ago, UNC provided $6 million. » Employees: 1,305 full-time employees, 263 part-time employees and 348 graduate assistants. » Economic impact: The university’s expenditures and spending from staff, faculty and students results in $131 million in direct and indirect impacts in Weld County, which supports 1,441 non-university jobs in Weld. » Events: From spring commencement ceremonies to the UNC Jazz Festival, university events contribute about $4 million to the Weld economy annually. » Schools: UNC teacher candidates contribute more than 400,000 hours of work time to area schools each year. » Charity: University employees who live in Weld County donate about 99,400 hours and $1.46 million in cash every year to nonprofit agencies and organizations.
Employment change (millions)
When Elizabeth Peña, 24, graduated from UNC two years ago, she became the first in her family to get a college degree. “It was a proud moment, and at times, frustrating because I was the first one to go through all of it. My parents didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what to expect.” Few doubt the worth of a good college education. In addition to qualityof-life benefits, such as learning to think critically, the economic rewards of a college degree are clear. A report from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University said that by 2018, 67 percent of jobs in Colorado will require some form of post-secondary education, and most of those jobs will require a bachelor’s degree. Another report detailed the degree to which college graduates fared better during the recent economic downturn than those without a degree. College graduates make, on average, $1.3 million more during their lifetime than those who didn’t graduate from college. The Kings, like other parents of UNC freshmen, will pay nearly $17,000 a year in tuition, fees, and room and board for their son’s education, but they were ready and willing to spend the money. “For me, I was the first person in my family who went to college and completed it,” said Jim King, taking a break from his son’s orientation. “It’s a day and night thing in terms of your ability to experience and enjoy and prosper in life, and I’m not talking just about money.” In recent years, Colorado has seen significant growth in the number of students attending college. About 70 percent of Colorado students who graduate high school seek some form of college education within six months of graduation. Much of the growth has come from students who haven’t traditionally attended college. In Colorado, that principally means Latinos, said Matt Gianneschi, the deputy executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Additionally, one of the fastest-growing segments is older students, beyond the traditional 18- to 22-year-old students who once defined the undergraduate experience. All that growth is good, Gianneschi said, but it also puts pressure on the system. Those students are more likely to feel the impact of rising tuition. They are less likely to travel long distances to college, and they’re likely to need more financial aid and support services. That will force colleges to innovate and find new ways to serve them, he said. Her college experience, and the degree that came with it, made a big difference for Peña, who works for the Weld County Department of Human Services. It’s the very kind of job she wanted when she graduated. “I don’t think they would have hired me if I didn’t have my degree. The pay is pretty good. I’d say if I’d go anywhere else, I’d probably have to take a pay cut. I have also the potential to move up.” College doesn’t work out that way for everyone. Richard K. Vedder is an economics professor at Ohio University who studies higher education financing and is the director of the Washington-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity. He contends too many people go to college, despite the well-worn memes about the value of education. To support this view, he points to oddities in the labor market: 115,520 janitors in the United States have at least a bachelor’s degree and 323,000 waiters have four-year degrees. “We have an army of workers out there, who have college degrees who are doing jobs — driving taxis, tending bar, etc. — that have historically been done by people with less education.” Of course, more and more jobs require a college degree. For Vedder, that’s a function of supply creating its own demand. With so many college graduates seeking work, it’s easy for employers to tack a degree requirement onto a job as a means of narrowing the field. Vedder said he’s not opposed to college. The education and the degree that goes with it do a lot of good for a lot of people. The problem comes, however, for students who go to college and don’t graduate or who graduate and fill menial jobs that don’t pay well. Student loan debt in the U.S. has risen to about $1 trillion dollars and roughly 40 million people are working to pay off the debts, some of whom are in their 40s, he said. That debt burden can make it difficult for some people to start their life and for others to save for retirement. “They’re paying for their 20s rather than worrying about when they’re in their 60s,” he said.
Median weekly earnings in 2011
People with bachelor’s degrees or better gained 2 million jobs in recovery.
Those with a bachelor’s degree or better gained 187,000 jobs in the recession.
0 Dec. 07-Mar. 08 Oct. 08
Sept. 11 Feb. 12
-1 -2 Those with an associate degree or some college education lost 1.75 million jobs in the recession.
-3 -4 -5
Those with a high school diploma or less lost 5.6 million jobs altogether in the recession.
People with high school diplomas or less lost 230,000 jobs by February 2012 in recovery. High school or less Associate degree or some college
People with associate degrees or some college education gained 1.6 million jobs in recovery.
Bachelor’s degree or better
Recovery Source: The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
»»Percentage of jobs needing postsecondary education in 2018 Between 2008 and 2018, new jobs in Colorado requiring postsecondary education and training will grow by 411,000, while jobs for high school graduates and dropouts will grow by 217,000. Colorado ranks fifth in postsecondary education intensity for 2018 with 67 percent of jobs requiring a postsecondary education.
Source: University of Northern Colorado
building. When the state didn’t come through with the money it had promised for the building, the Greeley community raised the rest of the money. “The states, especially in the growing western part of the United States, really took on the role of fostering higher education. They saw it as being essential to the development of the West and the economic development of the West,” Norton said. After the World War II G.I. bill, the federal government joined the states in making massive investments in higher education. “The model was, low price for everybody with a generous state subsidy. The tuition was, in some cases like California zero, and in other cases quite low,” Norton said. “That model worked pretty darn well through most of the 20th century, but not all of it.” Since 2000, the percentage of all state budgets that’s spent on higher education fell from an average of about 20 percent of state revenue to about 10 percent. In Colorado the state funded 68 percent of the cost of higher education in 2001. This year, it will fund 32 percent. During that same time, state funding fell from 40 percent of UNC’s budget to 16 percent. In the 1994-95 fiscal year, UNC received $31.7 million of state funding, which made up an estimated 35 percent to 40 percent of the operating budget. This year, UNC will receive virtually the same amount, $31.9 million, which makes up 16 percent of the budget. “The state should be doing more,” said Katy King, who along with her husband will pay the lion’s share of the cost of her son’s education. “That’s very disappointing to us.” King said she doesn’t mind making the investment, but she worries about
More than 65 percent of jobs will require postsecondary education
60-64 percent of jobs will require postsecondary education
55-59 percent of jobs will require postsecondary education
Less than 54 percent of jobs will require postsecondary education
Source: The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
those who can’t. “How do we compete in the world marketplace when our children aren’t getting that kind of support?” she said. “If the parents who can afford it are doing it, what’s happening to the talent of the kids whose parents can’t?” Funding is a significant concern, said Gianneschi, the deputy executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Demographers expect the state’s population to grow by more than 1 million people during the next decade, and most will seek a college education, placing greater demands on the capacity of the state’s higher education system. Decision makers will face choices similar to ones their forerunners once made. “How did these institutions get founded across the state in the various locations in which they’re located?” he said. “Somebody, at one point, planned for that.” Legislators, too, are beginning to agree among themselves on the importance of maintaining the state’s higher education system. “I think we’re reaching consensus. Legislators, by and large, agree that higher education is of great value to the state,” Gianneschi said. “There’s a lot more consensus than there used to be concerning the desire to support higher education and find ways to ensure that the quality of our post-secondary
system is always maintained.” Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, and Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Eaton, acknowledged that funding for higher education often is an easy target because so many other budget items have mandates that require funding. They hope an improving economy and state budget picture will allow for more funding, but it’s hard to say how much. UNC president Norton has had her critics since taking the position in 2002. Some on campus expressed fears she would turn the university into a quasi-business with an overriding focus on the bottom line at the expense of education, particularly as she sought to push UNC to adapt to the emerging financial reality. Stephen Luttman, a former Faculty Senate chairman, said the university does face challenges that must be addressed. Norton hasn’t been perfect, he said, but she has positioned the university well to face an uncertain future. “If what you expected of Kay Norton is she was going to come in and, say, turn this place into Walmart, it didn’t happen, and she’s shown no interest in doing that,” he said. “She’s shown interest in creating efficiencies.” Norton said the money from the Legislature won’t return in any meaningful way, and the university must find ways to survive on its own. That means learning to do things that pri-
vate schools have done for years to bring in revenue and focusing on areas of strength. “We have to quit pining for restoration,” she said. “We have to focus on transformation. That is far easier said than done when you have a traditionfilled organization that was dependent on state government and used to have a lot of things regulated by the state.”
‘Those models are increasingly breaking’ Twenty years from now, higher education will be much more affordable, and many more people will have easier access to it, but that’s not necessarily good news for mid-major universities like UNC, said Michael B. Horn, who co-authored the book “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns” with Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen. “My gut feeling is that while it will be a great thing for the majority of students, for a lot of our institutions this could be a very difficult time because they have, obviously, very expensive cost structures with lots of infrastructure,” he said.
CONTINUED A6:»Road Ahead
SUNDAY, AUGUST 26, 2012 » THE TRIBUNE
UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN COLORADO students make their way around campus near the University Center.
Schools look beyond traditional education model Horn has said he wouldn’t be surprised if in the next 20 years, half the higher education institutions in the country either close their doors or merge with others. Within the past year, a host of massive open online courses — called MOOCS — have launched, offering students around the world access to top professors at prestigious universities. Coursera, an effort that began with a Stanford professor, offers 119 courses from universities such as Duke, Princeton and Penn in 16 categories to more than 1 million students. Harvard launched its own initiative, EdX, working with Cal and others. These kinds of programs offer students a new way to learn. Some are for profit and charge small fees, others are nonprofit and offer free courses. They will continue to grow, evolve and offer as yet unimaginable possibilities to all kinds of students, Horn said. Whenever prices get too high, consumers seek — and find — low-cost competitors, University of Ohio economist Vedder said. In addition to the online disruption, other low-cost options have begun to emerge. High school students can earn college credit — and even associate degrees — while they’re still in high school through concurrent enrollment programs, At some point, as consumers seek low-cost options, they may skip college altogether. “We have something called the GED at the high school level, maybe we could get a college equivalency exam developed,” he said. The low-cost competitors will make it difficult for colleges and universities to continue to raise tuition and could ultimately force prices to fall, Vedder said. Colleges and universities will face more pressure to cut costs. At the core of all these changes, Horn said, is the fact that the traditional higher education business model is faltering. “I think that what we are seeing is that the economic models for a lot of universities are just not sustainable,” he said. “Even if the economy somehow rebounds, the reality is that with the pension obligations coming on the books, and the aging population and health care obligations, education funding from states is not going to return to pre-2008 levels anytime soon.” Norton said she’s optimistic about the future of the university she leads. Even in the uncertain future, it has a lot going for it. It’s large enough that it can benefit from economies of scale. It’s small enough that with the state support it does get, it can keep its tuition relatively low. It has academic strength in key areas, and it has a strong tradition and deep connections to Greeley. Still, there’s no doubt it must change and adapt to survive and thrive, she said. Once the key to success was growth. More students equaled more state money, which meant the university could do more and attract more students.
» Tuition versus state funding
» Cutting costs Richard K. Vedder, an economics professor at Ohio University, said at some point economic factors will force tuition to fall, prompting colleges and universities to seek new ways to cut costs. Those might include: » Year-round education: While schools like UNC already have begun to use their buildings more efficiently, there will likely be more pressure for professors to teach year-round and some schools could offer year-round degree programs, give students the opportunity to cut time off the program if they take classes 12 months a year. » Professors also will likely face pressure to teach more. » Universities could make further cuts to administrative positions, in places like public relations and other areas that don’t directly touch the classroom. » Tenure for faculty, which began about a century ago in the U.S., may go by the wayside. » Some schools could sell residence halls and dining facilities to private vendors, shedding anything not directly related to education. » Some mid-level universities may work with web-based providers to outsource some instruction to institutions similar to Coursera. “Colleges are slow to do these things. They’re not popular with anyone on campus, but they’re probably going to happen,” Vedder said. “The economic forces that are at work are going to force some kind of change.” “That relationship is broken,” she said. “In this more complex environment that we’re in, growth is not necessarily either good or bad.” What matters now is the kind of students in the kind of programs the university has, the students’ financial aid requirements and their preparedness for higher education. “I don’t foresee a large growth of our undergraduate, on-campus, traditional population,” she said. “There’s no reason to believe that there’s going to be a tremendous demand for that, anyway. It’s a relatively expensive model.” The university will have to focus on areas of prominence and potential such as performing and visual arts, business, education and health sciences, as it learns new ways to deliver education, she said. “We’re not transforming our mission,” Norton said. “In fact, we
60% Total: $9,960
7 2 3 3 5 4 6 9 8 01 10 -11 11-12 -0 2-1 910 0- 01-0 02-0 03-0 04-0 05-0 06-0 07-0 8 0 0 0 01 0 0 2 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 Resident student share (resident tuition)
Source: Department of Higher Education Note: All numbers adjusted for inflation in 2012 dollars.
State share (general fund)
» State funding for public institutions of higher education With help of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the state was able to supplement the amount of funding to higher education institutions in the years when the recession was at its worst. $706
$800 Total state and ARRA funding (millions)
« ROAD AHEAD From A5
talk a lot about how we build on the tradition.”
‘The highest value to the student’ Despite the dire predictions, the future for higher education may be more evolutionary than revolutionary. Colorado Department of Higher Education Deputy Executive Director Gianneschi said new technology may not supplant traditional universities, but rather help serve the large and growing demand for higher education as part of the traditional system. The state’s colleges and universities have begun to think about online learning in a new way, too, he said. One new model might be that students watch lectures at home online and then come into class to do what had been traditionally thought of as homework. “The highest value to the student is not sitting and listening,” he said. “The highest value to the student is actually applying that knowledge.” He said the system is open to embracing technological change and isn’t afraid of it, but there
2007-08 2008-09 Funding from ARRA
Source: Department of Higher Education
are some questions that must be answered. “It takes some time to think about, for example, what does an online lab look like for chemistry? There are certain safety questions you have to answer,” he said. “There are legitimate questions. Can a person go into the field of chemistry having never actually been in a chemistry lab?” Online learning comes with other problems, too. The technology isn’t cheap. There are real logistical hurdles when it comes to ensuring students can have access to the professor to actually learn the material. Technology can’t match the social experience that college offers, such as the opportunity to build networks of friends who help each other throughout their lives. The traditional environment also offers the opportunity for students to grow socially and learn about themselves. “People go to college for lots of reasons,” Horn said. “We have to acknowledge that the majority of Americans have actually never had that idyllic college experience. What we see whenever disruption emerges, people
say, ‘Oh, that’s not very good, it could never replace the four-year experience.’ What they miss is that it’s actually way better than the alternative for these students, which is literally nothing at all.” Technology will evolve to meet the need, he said. Traditional campuses may use their existing infrastructure less for instruction and more as a place for learners to congregate. “The disruptions typically and predictably improve faster than our lives change,” he said. “I think you’ll start to see social networks start to form around these online learning experiences that allow students to create different networks around what they need and to socialize with students and other peers.” No one knows for sure, of course, how technology, demographics and economics will shape higher education during the next three decades or more, but few doubt the power of a university to transform. “I believe it’s life changing. I think there’s a lot more to it than the education,” said Katy King. “It gives you a good, safe environment to define yourself.”
March 2012-August 2012 installments of The Greeley Tribune's Road Ahead series.