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LOCALS Joe W i l s o n , N e i l M c C a n d l e s s a n d A l S h e p h e rd Lou Wyman Al Shepherd

Claus Hume



2 |December 23, 2016

Moffat County Locals

A Supplement To The Craig Daily Press

Thank you

to all of our community and amazing customers. We hope this Christmas and New Year finds you surrounded by those you love and those who love you!

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Thank you very much to all of our customers and vendors for your business and support during this year!

Have a Merry Christmas & Blessed New Year!

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Kevin Moser Cell: 970-756-8305 Craig Office: 970.824.8305 Steamboat Office: 970.871.4780 Meeker Office: 970.878.3487


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Noelle Leavitt Riley

Circulation Amy Fontenot

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Mackenzie Yelvington

Writers and photographers Noelle Leavitt Riley, Andy Bockelman, Lauren Blair, Sasha Nelson

Administrative assistant Christy Barnes


Cori Kroese, Danielle Elkins

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Locals: Community lifeline


t the heart of every great community are those who make it come to life. That’s why the Craig Daily Press compiles Locals each year — to highlight individuals who keep our passionate community thriving, year in and year out. When we begin to think about individuals to highlight each year, we take a hard look at those who aren’t always in the daily newspaper. We talk to Moffat County residents who do small things each day to make Craig brighter. We write about those who are new to the area and want to curate positive change. Locals is more than a special section. It’s a window into the heart of this community and into the lives of its many unsung heroes. I love that this section is printed the day before Christmas Eve, as it gives readers time to sit down with eggnog or hot chocolate in hand and read about those who bring meaning to our small community.


As you look around at your loved ones this holiday season, don’t forget to thank those who offer a helping hand at the grocery store. Remember to offer a friendly smile to someone you may not know. Give thanks for suggestions made by those who attend every meeting just for the sake of attendNoelle Leavit Riley ing. Show appreciation to those who are no longer with us but have a left a long-standing legacy. Cherish those who are fighting for life. Take a moment to reflect on what makes Moffat County such a phenomenal place to call home. It has everything to do with those who live here — our locals. Noelle Leavitt Riley is the editor of the Craig Daily Press and the Saturday Morning Press. Contact her at 970-875-1790 or nriley@ or follow her on Twitter @noelleleavitt.

4 |December 23, 2016

Moffat County Locals

A Supplement To The Craig Daily Press

Late Judge Claus Hume remembered One of Craig’s most distinguished citizens, the Honorable Judge Claus Hume, passed away last month in Westminster at the age of 81, but he left a lasting impression on the place where he launched his illustrious legal career and raised his family. Originally from Burlington, Colorado, Claus landed in Craig in 1965 after graduating from law school at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He worked as a general practice lawyer and assistant district attorney before being elected district attorney for the 14th Judicial District in 1972. He was then appointed a district judge and by 1978, was appointed chief judge of the 14th Judicial District, a role he filled for 10 years. “I started as an assistant DA in ’81… And I was in front of (Claus) every day for years before he went to the court of appeals,” said Randy Klauzer, now a private practice attorney in Steamboat Springs. “He was a very good judge, he was very insightful, very balanced. He wanted to start court at 8 a.m. Not 8:05, not 8:15. He was very task-oriented… He demanded excellence, he truly did.” Claus was also a dedicated family man. With his first wife, Jane Hume, he raised two children in Craig, Mikala and KC, now more publicly known as Moffat

Left: Claus Hume stands outside his family's home in Craig circa 1975. Middle: The Honorable Judge Claus Hume sits in his office circa early 1980s. Right: Hume served as district judge for the 14th Judicial District in Craig for 13 years before being appointed to the Colorado Court of Appeals in Denver, where he served as chief judge for 15 years. Hume passed away in November at the age of 81. (courtesy photos)

County Sheriff KC Hume. “He was a great father,” KC said. “I learned a lot from him: responsibility, commitment, the importance of family.” The family spent a lot of time adventuring throughout the state with close friends from Boulder, rafting on the Green River and fishing to attend-

ing Broncos games. Later in life, Claus applied his love for travel to more international destinations such as Spain and Australia, where he traveled with his second wife of 29 years, Julia. In 1988, the judge was appointed to the Colorado Court of Appeals in Denver, and within one month, was appointed

Chief Judge of that court. “I thought that was pretty special,” KC said. “To me that speaks volumes to his ability, skill set and dedication for that appointment to the chief justice position in only a month.” Klauzer, too, described Claus’ passion and skill for understanding the headier

Thank You! All the employees at Masterworks Mechanical would like to wish our friends and neighbors a Merry Christmas. We look forward to serving our community in the New Year. Thank you to our customers for your continued support of our company.

Warmest thoughts and best wishes this season to all of our wonderful Locals! May you have a healthy and prosperous 2017!

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Standing strong all along

The Honorable Judge Claus Hume, seated front and center, is photographed with the judges of the Colorado Court of Appeals. Hume served as chief judge of the court for 15 years . (courtesy photo)

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side of the law and the demands of the chief justice position. “It takes a very special intellect to dedicate yourself to that level of intellectual scrutiny,” Klauzer said. “It takes not only that, but an ability to manage. It’s a very rarified skillset.” Claus held the position of chief judge for 15 years until he retired in 2003, at which time he was honored by then U.S. Representative Scott McInnis on the floor of the House of Representatives. “He had a little of that cowboy flavor, that common sense,” McInnis recalled, who now serves as a Mesa County commissioner. “He was really honorable and very well-respected, so I was privileged to give a few words on the House floor.” Through his work in law enforcement,

KC has occasionally encountered the true extent of the impact his father’s work left not just locally, but throughout the state. He’s had lawyers tell him of opinions they just read that were authored by Claus, and has even heard a past attorney general of the state of Colorado proclaim his deep respect for Claus. “I believe that my father had a positive impact not only here in our community in Northwest Colorado, here in Moffat County, but a much more far-reaching impact across the state of Colorado,” KC said. “It’s humbling to still be a part of this community. It’s my home all these years later even after my father left and… this has always been my home and will always be my home.” — Lauren Blair

Amanda Wooten stands strong after her leg was amputated earlier this year, ending chronic physical pain, persistent infections and regular surgeries that she has had for the last 17 years. She is taking a series of before and after photos in front of the angel wings painted on the Kali's Boutique building in Steamboat Springs. "I wanted a way to remind myself that I am blessed." It will take about a year for Wooten to receive her permanent leg. Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help Wooten with medical and related travel costs. To contribute visit (courtesy photo)

he Craig Da us a t t il y f o l Pre l n i t r S P h op A & The ss

THANK YOU for a great 2016! We look forward to serving you in 2017!

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us Patrick Christy

Brett Cori Sheli Sasha Renee Noelle Andy Amy Lauren Danielle Janette Steven


The Craig Daily Press & The Print Shop will be closed on Monday, December 26th to allow our employees to spend the holiday with their families.

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6 |December 23, 2016

Moffat County Locals

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Family faith sees them through difficult times multiple body systems,” Yarmer said. “This history along with her physical exam made me concerned for a possible genetic disorder, such as a connective tissue disorder. I felt that a geneticist could be helpful in finding a diagnosis so that appropriate treatment decisions could be made.” Dr. Yarmer’s instincts would prove correct as tests at Children’s Hospital in Denver reveled that Aveahna has both a genetic disorder called Chiari malformation and the connective tissue disease Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Chiari malformations are structural defects in the cerebellum that most often occur during fetal development pushing the brain into the spinal canal and brain surgery is one of the treatments, according to the website of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, often referred to as “EDS” is a collection of heritable

The Klein family has adopted a warrior's attitude in the fight against the chronic diseases their children battle. Krissy stands behind 6-year-old Zavrick, beside them is 9-year-old Haleigh and 10-year-old Aaron, while Zach holds 7-year-old Aveahna. (Sasha Nelson)

In 2014, Zach’s work as a radiologist brought the family to Craig and The Memorial Hospital. By then they had been struggling for five years to find answers to Aveahna’s poor health. They believe the move to Craig was the best thing to happen to the family as it brought them under the care of pediatrician Dr. Kristie Yarmer and she brought them hope.

“We saw many doctors, she’s the only one who gave us any hope,” said Krissy. “She told us that something wasn’t right and that she couldn’t help, but she would find someone who could.” Yarmer works at The Memorial Hospital at Craig. “When I met Aveahna for the first time she had a fairly complex medical history. She came to clinic with a variety of symptoms which involved

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connective tissue disorders, according to the website of the Ehlers-Danlos Society. Both conditions create chronic pain, difficulty swallowing and central sleep apnea. “Many fall asleep and never wake up,” Krissy said. “I can’t imagine being 7 and hurting chronically all the time.” Aveahna has already had one brain surgery, but she seems a perfect princess with only a purple bedazzled neck brace hinting at her health problems. “You see a beautiful blueeyed girl. They don’t realize that the night before she’s been up all night screaming because her bones hurt,” Zach said. Both conditions are genetic and this year Aveahna’s older brother and sister both tested positive for Chiari. In late December, the youngest member of the family 6 year old Zavrick, will be tested. Family time has taken on a new level of importance for the Kleins.

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The beautiful blondehaired, blue-eyed baby girl looked like a tiny perfect princess, but she was battling a monster hidden under her skin and encoded in her DNA. She was only 18 months old when Craig girl Aveahna Klein started the fight of her life. And her parents confronted the greatest fear of every parent — a sick infant and a long line of doctors that were unable to provide answers about the cause. By age 4, the toddler had broken both of her legs, she had dropped off the growth chart, was malnourished, her liver was struggling and she seemed to have frequent headaches, said mother Krissy Klein. Krissy and her husband, Zach Klein, both grew up on the Western Slope. They met in Grand Junction, married and then started a family. They have four children: Aaron, age 10; Haleigh, age 9; Aveahna now age 7 and Zavrick age 6.

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“We want our kids to live long happy lives,” Zach said. But, they know their children will now have to fight like warriors. Aveahna is credited with the family motto — “God is big and he’ll take care of it." Between frequent doctor visits and trips to Denver in their aging vehicle for treatments and tests at Children’s Hospital, the children go to school at Calvary Baptist School where Krissy works as a paraprofessional. “It is important to remember that kids are kids regardless of any medical diagnosis they may have,” Yarmer said. “Finding ways to allow children to participate in activities to the degree they are safely able to is important not just for physical health but mental health as well.” Krissy has taken to Facebook to share their story to raise awareness and to connect with others. “I’ve been taught that you can deal with situations either privately or by impacting others with your struggles. I know there must be other people out there with kids that have issues and you don’t know what it is,” she said. “I never want our story to be a sob story. I want our story to be one of hope.” The Craig community and the virtual community have responded to the family’s fight with an outpouring

Moffat County Locals of support. “I don’t think we would have gotten this much help anywhere else but Craig,” Krissy said. The family never thought that they would need help. “We always wanted to pay it forward. We wish we could give as much as people have given to us," Krissy said. The family is facing the possibility of a second brain surgery for Aveahna and a first for Haleigh. They will have to travel next year to New York to consult with a Chiari expert and brain surgeon. Zach worries that he won’t have enough vacation to be with his family and that without help they won’t make it. “We do struggle. We’ve been humbled and had to accept help we never thought that we would have to accept,” Krissy said. As those fears creep up on the family Aveahna is there to remind them — “God is big, Mom. He’ll take care of it.” They have a long list of people to thank, but as Krissy says, “we thank God the most.” Anyone wishing to help the Klein family may donate using their GoFundMe page at: — Sasha Nelson

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

December 23, 2016|

Steward of land, history

Jamie Skidmore, an avid hunter who grew up in Hayden and has worked for the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Snake Field Office, recently accepted a position at the John Jarvie historic ranch. The ranch is located about 100 miles northwest of Craig on Highway 318. She now takes care of the historic site, two nearby camp grounds and oversees the area recreation program for BLM’s Vernal field office. Skidmore and her family have deep ties to the region. (Sasha Nelson)


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8 |December 23, 2016

Moffat County Locals

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The Anson family offers fun horse-drawn carriage rides at a number of events throughout the year in Craig. Here, they're pictured at last year's Festival of Trees outside the Moffat County Courthouse, giving kids rides. The Craig Daily Press would like to recognize the Ansons as a local family that goes above and beyond for our community. (file photo)

Merry Christmas from our Family to yours!

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New MCTA director hopes to row in tourism Tom eventually bought Adventure Bound River Expedition in 1984, launching a 30-year career of guiding river rafting trips in Moffat County. “I absolutely adored and loved being here,” he said. It’s no wonder Moffat County Tourism Association Board hired him as their new executive director — his passion for the area is evident. Not only that, his resume fits the bill. He was the president of the Utah Guides and Outfitters Association, chairman of the Colorado River Outfitters Association and chairman of Club 20’s tourism committee. Tom also was on the Colorado Tourism Board of Directors. “He has awesome connections through the work he’s done with Club 20 and the Colorado Tourism Office,” said Cindy Looper, who sits on the MCTA board. “We can capitalize on those connections and the experience he has to bring people up to Moffat County.” Cindy highlighted also Tom’s enthusiasm for Northwest Colorado and his familiarity with its tourism treasures.

can capitalize on “ We those connections and the experience he has to bring people up to Moffat County.


“Moffat County is where I fell in love with river rafting,” he said. “It’s a very special place. It’s where I find solace.” Tom considers Echo Park the center of the universe. “I think we were very lucky to be looking (for a new director) the same time he was looking for a change,” Cindy said. Tom now has others running his rafting company so he can focus on MCTA. The organization’s office is in the process of moving out of Centennial Mall and into the former RE/MAX building at 11 E. Victory Way. The office will open in the beginning of January. Currently, Tom’s wife, Denise, lives in their home in Grand Junction, teaching English as a Second Lan-

Noelle Leavit Riley

River rafting runs through Tom Kleinschnitz’s blood. The first rafting trip he went on was along the Yampa River in Moffat County in 1971 at the wee age of 14. “I worked and saved money all winter to go on a four-day trip in Moffat County along the Yampa River,” Tom said. He was attending junior high school in Jefferson County at the time. “I endured a 10-hour bus ride and arrived at Deer Lodge Park,” he said. Tom paid Adventure Bound River Expedition to take him on the trip — a company he ended up working for after he accidentally cut himself on a kipper snack can he was trying to open. “The can sliced my hand open,” Tom said, noting he was in Echo Park when the incident happened. “I was evacuated off the river trip and went back to Craig.” He missed the rest of the trip, so the river rafters felt compelled to bring him on as swamper that summer so he could help expedite other adventures. He was hooked and never looked back.

Tom Kleinschnitz stands in front of the new location of Moffat County Tourism Association at 11 E. Victory Way in Craig. (Noelle Leavittt Riley)

guage classes to grade school kids. The couple hopes to fully relocate to Craig in the near future. For now, Tom is renting a home in Craig and visiting his wife every chance he can. “We’re absolutely in love,” Tom said. “She is an amazing woman.” —Noelle Leavitt Riley

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10 |December 23, 2016

Moffat County Locals

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Paul Cruz teaches ‘certain victory’ from within December is an important time of year for Paul Cruz. Yes, it’s his birthday, having just celebrated his 40th, but the month marks a different anniversary as well, one which he considers crucial to who he is a person. It was Dec. 12, 1988 when Cruz was first introduced to the martial arts, and it marked the first step of a journey ongoing for 28 years for the man who recently obtained a fifthdegree black belt in taekwondo. Taekwondo traces its roots to 1940s Korea during occupation by Imperial Japan when the natives began to develop their own offshoot of the karate discipline. Cruz has been an instructor in Craig for about seven years, the head of Northwest Colorado Tae Kwon Do/Hapkido, the latter of which focuses on self-defense. “Just to be a first-degree black belt in hapkido, you have to learn 236 moves,” he said, adding that he only teaches adults the more intense version. Punching and kicking is an integral part of the physical activity, though what Cruz emphasizes for all students — particularly kids — are the tenets that apply to daily life.

Paul Cruz demonstrates the Rising Sun pose in his martial arts studio on Yampa Avenue. Cruz is an instructor and black belt in the discipline of taekwondo, which he has studied for 28 years. (Andy Bockelman)

“We teach courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit,” he said. “Students learn how to be responsible people through the martial arts. We want to be humble, be good people of the community.” Cindy McKey drives her children, Lila and Nolan, regularly to Craig from Savery, Wyoming, to attend Cruz’s classes because of the lessons he imparts.


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“The whole sport has such a huge emphasis on something that’s kind of lost on today’s society: manners,” she said. “I love how that’s valued here, and Master Cruz models that all the time, shows respect with kids, and when he speaks to parents it radiates from him. It’s as simple as a bow or a handshake, those symbolic gestures.” Shasta Hyer is a senior red belt — one

level below black belt — who is both a student and assistant under Cruz. “He’s so patient, he can really break things down and anyone can learn from him,” she said. Unlike the sadistic sensei of the Cobra Kai Dojo in “The Karate Kid,” Cruz discourages using martial arts for the wrong reasons or with the wrong attitude. “We have a philosophy, ‘pil sung,’ that means ‘certain victory,’” he said. “It doesn’t mean you go out, beat up people, win everything you try. You try to be the best you can be, one mind that controls all of you. After that, you should be able to accomplish any goal you set.” After utilizing several locations in town, Cruz’s current goal is making his newest space a permanent one at 535 Yampa Ave., which his school will share with the local Zumba classes. Teaching within the community where he grew up is an honor he doesn’t take lightly, aiding kids in developing physical and social skills and continuing to grow as people, using an analogy for the progression of learning. “Once one cup is full, put it in a bigger bucket, and wait for it to fill up again with that knowledge,” he said. — Andy Bockelman

Thank You for Making 2016 So Successful! We Look Forward to Serving You in 2017!

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MOFFAT COUNTY LOCALS Teri Mansfield volunteers for a number of groups across town, including Love INC. She's pictured with coats that are given away for free each year at the Love INC coat drive. (Noelle Leavitt Riley)

December 23, 2016|


Loving her community Teri Mansfield always has loved the western flair of Northwest Colorado. “I wanted to live in Steamboat since I was 12,” she said. “The folks came up here often. I liked the western flavor of Steamboat Springs.” Little did she know that she’d end up in Craig and love it more than she dreamed. In 1990, Teri got a job at the Steamboat hospital after spending 15 years working at Aurora Hospital. She was laid off from her job in Steamboat, which then brought her to Craig to work as an x-ray tech at The Memorial Hospital, where she worked for the next 19 years. In 2008, she left TMH to get her degree in massage therapy, a profession she doesn’t do much of now but used to love. She volunteers for a handful of organizations, including Freedom

Hooves and Love INC, and she’s spent the past couple weeks helping distribute free coats to those in need through Love INC. Freedom Hooves is a therapeutic horse nonprofit where people can receive equine therapy by riding horses. Teri enjoys the organization due to her love for horses. “My dad has three brothers, and two had farms,” she said, noting that on those farms is where her love for horses began. Although she doesn’t own any horses, she does live on 35 acres in Moffat County — near Cedar Mountain — with her long-time partner Neil Folks, who is better known in the community as the Wandering Elder. Teri is also a member of St. Mark’s Church of Grace in Craig, and she spends much time helping the church in various roles. — Noelle Leavitt Riley

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12 |December 23, 2016

Moffat County Locals

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John Knoche

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22 Years of Service

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who have served you for the past 8 plus years look forward to serving you in the new year.

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No matter what business you’re in, you need to provide a good value and serious attention to customer care if you’re going to succeed. As an automobile dealer in our home territory, we know that very well. We’ve been doing business here successfully for over 50 years. Joe Bird 12 Years of Service

We value every single customer we have. If we lose you as a customer, we try our hardest to win you back. In addition to providing world class products, we must sell at a fair price and provide the very best, most convenient service and warranty work after the sale. It is part of the deal! We stand behind our products and the work we do every day.

Steve Dunklin 21 Years of Service

After more than 50 years here, we feel like you know us, and we know you. You know our values, our morals, and our business ethics. You know our products and our people. You know what we provide to the Yampa Valley in terms of jobs and tax revenues, and you know our part in the local economy. David Wren 8 Years of Service

Thank you for 55 years of business. Thank you for buying locally!

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‘Fun uncle’ keeps it fresh Merry Christmas & Happy New Year Marcus Johnson, deli clerk at City Market and worship minister at Calvary Baptist Church, is a people person who can't help but brighten everyone’s days with a friendly word. (Lauren Blair)

phibious Brigade before returning stateside to take up work doing power plant maintenance. Married with five kids and 11 grandchildren, Marcus also serves as a worship minister at Calvary Baptist Church. “I’m an extrovert, I have to be around people. I feed off of it, get strength from it,” he said. “I just try to let God’s light shine through me every day.” His co-workers appreciate his good cheer as well. “I’ve only been here a couple months and he made me feel welcome,” said AJ Johnson, who works at Starbucks in City Market. “He really is like everyone’s fun uncle… He wants to put a smile on everyone’s face.” —Lauren Blair

from Auto Radiator Services: Dean & Lisa Dimick Thank you for your business and support in 2016. We look forward to serving you in 2017!


Marcus Johnson lobs a friendly greeting to customer Lou Wyman from behind the deli counter at City Market as Wyman passes down the bread aisle. Whether he’s celebrating the latest Dallas Cowboys victory or asking about someone’s kids, Johnson’s enthusiasm for connecting with people is evident. “He’s always in a good mood. I’ve never seen him grouchy,” Wyman said, who added that as a veteran of the Marine Corps, Marcus is always encouraging Wyman to get an old tank in his possession up and running. A Craig resident of 20 years and self-professed extrovert, Marcus uses his position as deli clerk at City Market as a way to help people. “This place is a really good avenue to encourage people and serve people,” he said. “You gotta make them feel important, make them feel like they’re worth something.” He’s fond of the little ones, too, always smiling at babies peering up from their mom’s baskets and handing out pieces of cheese to kids who’ve learned to come ask him for one. “That’s kind of how I like to do things,” he said. “Just be nice.” Marcus served in the military from 1983 to 1994, traveling the world at least twice around in the Marine Am-

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MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM ALL OF US AT CRAIG POWERSPORTS Kevin - Jeff - Frank - Curtis - Rebecca - Seth - John - Jerry - Kyle

Paul Bush is a recovering heroin addict who wants to help people overcome addiction. (Noelle Leavitt Riley)

Paul Bush perseveres

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If you see Paul Bush walking down the street, take a moment to congratulate him for being almost two years sober. While living in Northern California, heroin and opioid addiction tugged him away from friends, family and his wife. After his wife left him, he went to live with his sister, only to find

himself kicked out of her house after she found his drugs. “It took hitting complete rock bottom to get help,� Paul said. His sister decided to help him find a rehab center where he stayed for two months, working to clean up his life and overcome addiction. After Paul got out of rehab, he

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays We would like to thank everyone in Rangely, Craig, and all our service area communities for your continued support. We are proud to be a part of these communities and look forward to working with you in 2017.

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decided to relocate to Craig where family friends live. “It seemed like a good place for a fresh start,” he said, noting that he works hard to avoid becoming those in the Craig community who have addiction problems. He does, however, try to help addicts who are willing to listen. He’s a firm believer that after someone goes through the rehab process, they need to move far away from their old stomping grounds to avoid relapse. Paul’s addiction happened after he hurt his back working as an executive sous chef at a restaurant in California. The doctor that helped him manage his pain overprescribed opioids. He later tapped into heroin. He feels that opioid abuse is a nationwide problem, and he wants to help decrease the epidemic. In January, he’s going to take online classes, training him how to work with chemical dependency issues so he can “help people recover,” he said. “I had a friend die in May who was waiting to get into a treatment center,” Paul said, noting that such centers often are full, making it difficult for addicts to address the problem.


December 23, 2016|


come a long “ He’s way. We weren’t sure if we were going to give him a shot. He’s a good chef.





Paul now works as a cook at Carelli’s, and he’s grateful that Stephanie and Brett Etzler gave him a chance. “I had a big gap in my employment because of my back injuries, and they gave me a shot,” Paul said. “He’s come a long way,” Brett said. “We weren’t sure if we were going to give him a shot. He’s a good chef.” Brett added that he’s happy they gave him a chance. Paul mountain bikes and reads on his off time. He and his buddy are planning a 1,500-mile “super loop” mountain bike trip across Colorado next summer. For now, he’ll keep busy working at Carelli’s and prepping for his upcoming online education. — Noelle Leavitt Riley

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Al Shepherd shares nostalgia, memories of Craig Few men have the privilege of sitting down for coffee every morning with their best friend of 80 years, but for 85-year-old Al Shepherd, it’s a daily reality. Born in Craig in 1931, Shepherd is one of the self-described “old bunch” that meets at the Cool Water Grille weekday mornings, alongside best bud Lou Wyman and at least a half dozen other Craig old-timers. Shepherd and Wyman grew up caddy-corner from each other at Sixth and Taylor, and were inseparable by age 5. “We were constantly together. I was with him more than my own brothers,” Shepherd said, who was the youngest of four boys. There were the usual youthful antics, such as the time Shepherd froze his tongue to the merry-go-round, the time they rang a neighbor’s doorbell as a prank and Shepherd was chased in such close pursuit that he had to lap his house twice before he could get in the door, or the time he jumped from a tree to grab a rope swing that hung over an irrigation ditch on Taylor Street and another boy pushed the rope out of reach.

Eighty-five-year-old Al Shepherd, a Craig native, sits with friends around a table in Cool Water Grille on a December morning, where the selfdescribed "Old Bunch" gathers for coffee every weekday. Also pictured are Doug Wellman, Bill Rippy and Neil Folks. (Lauren Blair)

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“He went right down under the water and came up and his glasses were down there stuck in the mud,” Wyman recalled with a laugh. “We had to get a rake to get them out.” Shepherd would regularly accompany Wyman to his family’s sheep ranch for two or three weeks every summer, and when Shepherd took to sleeping on his family’s screened-in front porch even during the bittercold winter nights, Wyman would sometimes join him. The boys grew up in a Craig long since disappeared, one characterized by soda fountains, dirt roads, 40-below-zero nights and lots of pickup baseball games. “Craig was a sleepy little town of probably three or four thousand. On Saturday nights, you’d go down to Main Street (Yampa Avenue and Victory Way). We had three drug stores with soda fountains,” Shepherd said. “There wouldn’t be any parking at all because everybody was there. You’d go down there, park, and walk up and down. There were no TVs so you’d go out and socialize.” In seventh grade, Wyman was sent to military school, but after graduating — Shepherd a member of Moffat County High School Class of 1950 — the boys reunited. In 1951, they enrolled at Colorado State College of Agriculture and

December 23, 2016|

Left: Joe Wilson, Neil McCandless and Al Shepherd stand outside a front yard in Craig in the 1950s. Right: Craig local Al Shepherd as a young man in the 1950s. (courtesy photos)

Mechanic Arts, or Colorado A&M for short (present day Colorado State University), together with four other Craig boys: Neil McCandless, Joe Wilson, Carl Conway and John Allen Klein. Shepherd enlisted in the military and it was during his service that, after nearly colliding with his limousine, he found himself sitting next to President Dwight Eisenhower in church. He introduced himself and shook his hand and became known as the young man in the robin’s-egg-blue car. He would meet Eisenhower a second time after the president’s heart attack in Denver, in his hospital room at Fitzsimons Army Hospital where

Shepherd was stationed. Returning to Craig in 1956, Shepherd took up work in the family business, Shepherd & Sons, Inc., founded by his father in 1924. Having been once married with one son, Mark, he remarried in 1959 to his wife, Zan, and had two more children, Shawn and Kristi. Fifty-five years of marriage and 57 years of fixing, heating and cooling the buildings of Craig, Shepherd is now retired. His wife passed away in 2015, and he sold the family business in 2013. He continues to volunteer, a habit he learned early on through his parents’ involvement in the American Legion. After years spent with the Boy

Scouts, the Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce) and the Kiwanis Club, Shepherd joined the Lions Club and has now been a member for nearly 50 years. He received Volunteer of the Year from Moffat County United Way in 2015 for his years of service to the community. And for someone who has seen so many generations of change sweep through his beloved hometown, Shepherd still loves it and believes in its future. “I think I’ve seen four booms in my lifetime and it’ll boom again,” Shepherd said. “They’re worried about it right now, but it’ll boom again.” — Lauren Blair

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18 |December 23, 2016

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Ken Wergin spends retirement bettering Craig Many words could be used to describe Craig man Ken Wergin, but retired is not one of them. Sitting still, even for an interview, isn’t Wergin’s style. “I don’t sit in one spot,” he said. Spend a little time with Wergin and you might end up in his small navy blue pickup truck, with a big slobbery pound puppy in the back seat, touring the community to see places that he’s spruced up. Or, you might bump into him at one of the many meetings he regularly attends. He is a volunteer for the Human Society of Moffat County, and he spends countless hours mowing and weeding to help keep Craig looking sharp. “He does so much good work around the community," said Craig City Councilman John Ponikvar. "He does a lot of work downtown with the bulletin board, shoveling the sidewalks, maintaining the flags and all the Welcome to Craig signs. He’s taken his mower out to clean around those to keep them looking great." In November the City Council acknowledged Wergin’s hard work. “Every day, I see Ken out there doing something else. He has this volunteer and community spirit,”

Ponikvar said. New efforts to improve the community make Wergin happy, but he thinks that more people can do more. “A lot of people have opinions and ideas, but they always want the city to do it,” Wergin said. “We don’t have tax money, but we have a lot of people who can get off their butt and stop complaining.” Wergin’s spirit of can-do service started early in his life. As a young man he served his country during the Vietnam War as a medic at Shepard Air Force Base. Next, he worked his way through school to become a respiratory therapist. Then he spent 35 years serving Fort Collins where he helped to establish the first intensive care unit at Poudre Valley Hospital and then on to Craig were he worked at The Memorial Hospital. After so many years of service, it would be natural to expect a retiree to retire, to rest and relax, but Wergin found he wasn’t able to sit still in his golden years. “It’s because I know, after many years, that I am hyperactive. I don’t like sitting around doing nothing,” he said.

Ken Wergin volunteers with the Moffat County Humane Society to help assess dogs before adoption through the Craig Animal Shelter at Bear Creek Animal Hospital. He stands here with a rambunctious dog called Blue. (Sasha Nelson)

So he decided to put his free time to good use by improving Craig and Moffat County — a community he proudly calls home. “It’s a small community with people that I like," he said. "I like that I can go right on the edges of town, and I have deer. I like the weather here. It’s great with the cool summers. I don’t like the winter, but I no


longer have to work out in it." He has become a one-man beautification committee, and working independently is just how he likes it. “When I retired I went through a thinking process of things that I didn’t want to do anymore. I have an active mind and I don’t like hav-

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Tanner Hampton home for holidays

Continued from 18 ing a boss," he said. He also feels that he does his best work when he works alone on projects of his choosing. Many of those projects help Wergin keep both his mind and body fit. “I used to wash windows and pick up trash in downtown. I was trying to get people to do it themselves. I might have to start again. I’ve mowed lawns in empty houses along Yampa Avenue, including trimming the curbs,” Wergin said. “It’s good for my good health. At my age, my brain is working better than it has in a lot of years.” Wergin knows that not everyone would do the work he’s done, nor do they always agree with his outspokenness, but he doesn’t let that slow him down. “I will stand up and be heard. My ideas are different and I’ve realized that. With age, experience and education, I don’t really have to do it the normal way,” Wergin said. He is happy to help, and helping has made him happy. “I love life. Life is so lovely. It’s so much fun,” Wergin said. — Sasha Nelson

The call to serve one’s nation can be a powerful one, and it’s that sense of duty that Tanner Hampton felt strongly as he approached the edge of adulthood. In November, Hampton completed basic training in the United States Army at Georgia’s Fort Benning. One of several graduates of Moffat County High School’s Class of 2016 who enlisted in the military, Hampton shipped out to boot camp starting in August. “First few weeks were pretty intense, takes a while to get used to a couple things,” he said. “Pretty physically demanding.” Beyond the running, sit-ups and push-ups that keep soldiers-intraining at their peak, some of the other requirements of basic training were tougher to adjust to than others. “I’ve been living in barracks with about 60 other guys,” he said. After several months on the other side of the country, Hampton will be experiencing a holiday homecoming as he returns to Craig for Christmas, for which his mother, Lisa Rossi, has been anxiously awaiting.

Tanner Hampton returns to Craig this Christmas following a stint in the United States Army basic training. Hampton is a 2016 graduate of Moffat County High School. (courtesy photo)

“We just want to make the best of that time and spend as much time as we can with him,” she said. His stepfather, Jimmy Rossi,

noted Hampton’s resolve to make enlistment happen, such as testing in the ASVAB — Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery — his junior year of high school and making an official commitment before his 18th birthday. “It’s a life-changing experience for him, teaches you skills like working as a team and gets you out of your comfort zone,” he said. After the holidays, Hampton will head back for additional training, and he’s looking forward to what comes next. “After February it’s wherever they send me,” he said. Still contemplating what he’d most like to do as a career, whether within or outside the military, or what kind of education he’d like to pursue, the young man from Craig said his eyes have been opened by the experience. Values, ideas and other things that were already important to him are even more so now. “It changes how you look at things, the symbols of our nation, the American flag, it really stands out more,” he said. — Andy Bockelman

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Shannon Samuelson ‘team player’ in education Even after seeing nearly three decades worth of students, Shannon Samuelson is still going strong when it comes to teaching within Moffat County School District. Shannon first began with MCSD 27 years ago and has since worked in many capacities in the institutions of learning. Her focus academically has been on the younger age groups, teaching every grade kindergarten through sixth-grade, as well as serving in roles such as literacy coordinator and guidance counselor. “I’ve had a lot of variety of jobs, and I love that because it keeps it fresh and exciting,” she said. “Change is just good for me with that.” Currently, she serves as the physical education teacher at Ridgeview Elementary School, a job that has suited her well for the past three years. “What I really love about PE is seeing all the kids every day,” she said. “When you’re in just one classroom, you don’t get to experience all the kids.” Though she has been on staff at multiple schools, the majority of her time has been at Ridgeview and has

Shannon Samuelson joins students from Ridgeview Elementary School in the swimming pool at Moffat County High School. Samuelson is the physical education teacher for Ridgeview and has served in many different classroom roles for the past 27 years. (Andy Bockelman)

built a rapport with fellow faculty. “Shannon is always on the lookout for ways we can help our students,” said Cyndee Owens, Ridgeview secretary. “She is so compassionate and caring for both the staff and our children here at Ridgeview.” Though his time at the school has been brief, Principal John Haddan noted Shannon’s willingness to always be a “team player,” while fellow teacher Candi Hellander stated she is “always willing to go the extra mile.” “She is an invaluable resource for

younger teachers such as myself,” said fellow staff member Mariah Doolin. “Very encouraging and helpful.” When she began her career in education, Shannon learned to be somewhat of a pinch hitter who could go where she was needed, initially as a substitute teacher in the district. Besides many years of instructing elementary-aged children, she also has a long history of supporting kids in sports, namely her own, though rarely did she cross paths with them during the school day. “I always felt it was important for

them to have their own school experience without their mom as a teacher, looking over them,” she said. As a parent to three daughters, one son and a stepdaughter, Shannon has been in the stands and otherwise for too many activities to count, including football, volleyball, basketball, track and field, hockey and more over the years. Youngest daughter Emma is in her senior year at Moffat County High School as a three-sport athlete. Daughter Alex was also a standout in MCHS sports, picking up Outstanding Female Athlete in 2015. Son Michael played football at Colorado Mesa University and daughter Lauren was a runner in cross country and track at Metropolitan State University. Stepdaughter Celsiee Jones is currently a teacher herself in Utah. Shannon and husband Mark are also heavily involved in Moffat County Booster Club to support all activities and sports in the place where they have brought up their family. “This is just an amazing community, and we’re blessed to have been a part of it for so many years,” she said. — Andy Bockelman

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December 23, 2016|


Kathy Bassett thinks Moffat County rocks

Kathy Bassett has called Moffat County home since the late 1970s and finds inspiration for her art in the wildlife and history of the area. She started painting when she was a child and now Kathy Bassett is using her skills as an artist to paint rocks that she hides around the county for anyone to find. (Sasha Nelson)

Rattling across the last cattle guard before the entrance to Browns Park, Kathy Bassett sensed she had come home. It was the late 1970s and the young woman originally from Iowa had been warned by a family friend about Northwest Colorado. She was told, “You’re either going to like this place or you’re not, there is no in-between.” It wasn’t a matter of liking Moffat County. Bassett fell in love with Northwest Colorado and now lives in Maybell. It’s a love affair that outlasted many personal hardships, saw her through the trials of raising children in one of the most remote corners of the state and inspired her, in August, to organize Moffat County Rocks, a community-building project. Moffat County Rocks sprung from a simple idea — transform a plain rock into a work of art then hide it in plain sight for others to find. “It’s about helping people smile and feel good about themselves,” Bassett said. “There’s so much evil and sad stuff in the world, everyone needs a smile and a reason to not give up.” Grit and gumption, the will to never give up, runs strong in Bassett. She lives just outside of Maybell, providing care

for her mother, Catherine Shoenhair, who lives with her and has dementia. Last winter, while outside finishing her nightly chores, Bassett slipped on ice and fell, breaking her leg. Using a cordless phone she was eventually able to get her mother’s attention. Her mom, using a walker, managed to bring a second walker to Bassett. “I looked up at the walker. I knew it was going to hurt to get up, but I was already so cold and in shock. I had to do it, so I pulled up my big girl panties and took hold of the walker and pulled myself up and walked myself into the house,” she said. Bassett attributes her ability to meet life’s challenges with grace and grit to her sense of humor and her art. “I think that when you have a problem or are hurting, if you can get a joke going and laugh you’re pain isn’t as intense and you feel better,” she said. Her latest project, Moffat County Rocks, brings joy, laughter and sometimes tears to the lucky people who find the specially painted rocks. Tiffany Schulze posted her feelings about finding a rock to the Moffat County Rocks group Facebook page on Oct. 15 writing:

“I found this pretty little rock today in the Post Office while I was working… I needed this today so desperately, and it means more than words could even explain. To whoever left this rock for me to find, thank you for making these unbearable few days just a little bit easier.” Once a rock is found, the hope is that experience’s like Schulze’s are shared on Facebook. “Posting is important,” Bassett said. “It lets the artist know that their rock was found and appreciated. Put up a picture of the rock and the person with a big smile, and tell us how it made you feel.” The page has nearly 200 followers, and when it hits 500, Bassett plans to celebrate by hiding at least one special rock with a prize. People who find rocks may keep their rocks or re-hide them for someone else to discover. Everyone is encouraged to join in the fun. In October, students enrolled in Heather Fross’s art class and the Shared School painted more than 100 rocks. Bassett paints her rocks in the sunny, south-facing porch of her home. CONTINUED ON 22

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It’s a peaceful artist retreat filled with sunlight and houseplants, smelling of mint with music. In this studio, Bassett, who has been painting since she was a little girl, transforms plain rocks into miniature works of art. She also holds rock parties in the space, gathering friends together to paint more rocks. “You don’t have to be an artist to paint a rock,” she said. Bassett used to write a regular column for the Craig Daily Press. These days she produces the Maybell Gazette. The ongoing, online newsletter features news and stories about the town. It is another way for Bassett to tell her stories and show her love of the people and places in Moffat County. She’s planning a story or two to encourage folks to continue painting and hiding rocks throughout the winter. “There are so many places to hide rocks inside — the mall, some stores, window ledges and planters. There’s all kinds of places to hide them,” Bassett said. There are also a few places to avoid. “Don’t put them on or near ATM machines or right in entryways,” Bassett said. She’s planning to request permission to hide some of the rocks in area stores in the hope that rock-hunting would help to bring in some business. “People just zoom by and don’t see what’s out there. Rocks make people slow down and look,” Bassett said. — Sasha Nelson

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Craig’s holiday elf enlivens downtown

Brandon Calim, 14, on the right, stands with Santa’s helpers at Down Home Christmas Celebration on Dec. 3. Brandon has been instrumental in helping the Downtown Business Association with its holiday efforts. (courtesy photo)

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December 23, 2016|


Deck the halls with tinsel, ornaments

Above: Carefully decorated Christmas trees fill the courthouse foyer and the main halls of the second floor. Left: Craig Senior Citizens won first place for their 2016 Festival of Trees with the entry — Drink Me Tree. The tree was decorated with Old Fashion drink recipes, fruit garnish, ice cubes, mini bottles of rye and bourbon all toped with a bottle of Jim Beam and judges thought it best fit the theme of Old Fashioned Christmas. (Sasha Nelson)


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