Friday, March 28, 2008

Quod Me Nutrit, Me Destruit - The Sequel

Greetings from the 9th fastest growing metropolitan area in the country. Wow.

Although I'm pleased at the amount of opportunity and vitality that abounds around the Grand Junction area, you'll have to excuse me if I don't exactly pull a major muscle group celebrating.
There are things about this growth spurt that don't lend themselves to preserving the quality of life that even relative newcomers to the area such as myself feel may be eroding away.

I'm a city dweller; I come from a comparatively big city back east, one that lost population according to the same Census Bureau report that cited Grand Junction's boomtown status.
I enjoy quiet, out of the way places as a diversion, but I am most in my element when I'm around people and community.

From the first time I saw Downtown Grand Junction 13 years ago, the sense of community that exists in the city center, from live theater and music, a source of independent cinema, to the Farmers' Market in the summer, has to me been a positive example of how growth of the local community helps that community to renew and nourish itself.

I've also seen the flipside of this kind of growth, as manifested by increasing traffic problems (the Riverside Parkway cannot open soon enough) and the gradual replacement of open space with mostly bland, unimaginative housing. I also work in a profession that typically sees the negative aspects of increased population and growth before others do, such as intolerance, impatience, intoxication, ignorance, and recklessness.

In a previous post, I wrote about the nature in which the City of Grand Junction is choosing to grow, and the ramifications that some of that growth has affected and will continue to affect both routine
and critical service delivery by our various local governments and governmental entities. This includes many special districts that provide specific municipal services, such as sewer service, mosquito control, and Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

My career over the last 25 years began with and has always involved some level of interaction
with EMS agencies and hospitals. I've worked in both, at the same time, and can attest to the symbiotic relationship that exists between hospitals, which largely function within insular, credential-driven bureaucracies under constant review from the regulatory and reimbursement sectors (read government and insurance companies), and public sector EMS, which owes a dual allegiance to both this health care bureaucracy and the taxpayer, who depends upon and demands a quick and professional response when needed.

The further out from the urban core you get, the greater the probability that these critical services will be provided largely by volunteers. The benefits are limited, the risks considerable, and in a growing metropolitan area the expectations and workload are increasing. Several variants of the Mesa County Commissioners have recognized this dichotomy in a fairly
responsible and straightforward way. They passed and published their version of the Code Of The West, which states in part:
1.1 - You may find that emergency services response time is longer and their services may be more expensive. Sheriff departments are usually dispatched from a municipal central location, fire departments are most often staffed by volunteers, as are many ambulance services associated with them. Mesa County can boast some of the most up-to-date training and equipment in the state, but distance from dispatch and road conditions will always be a consideration. Rural Mesa County is a true extended community. Please remember that fewer tax dollars will require more in the way of volunteer effort; your volunteer time and monies are needed by your fire department, EMS and others. Plan on being asked and on serving.
They also passed an EMS Ordinance and related Rules and Regulations, which went a long way toward assuring that the entire county was covered by EMS services, that a paid medical director would oversee the health care side of their operations, and that all services would have to be licensed and meet minimum standards to operate.

No symbiotic relationship is without components that detract from that co-existence, and the relationship between Health Care and Public Safety that is the hallmark of any successful EMS system is often strained by unreasonable or unprofessional approaches from one or both sides.

While it was unfortunate that an example of such strain made its' way onto the pages of the Sentinel this week, it was probably a good thing that it happened. Public Safety agencies that know what they're doing take the scrutiny of the general public and the news media generally in stride; they operate in a professional manner, are proactive in their operational planning, and are mindful of their limitations and responsibilities.

I don't intend to imply that Health Care doesn't embrace these values, but the daunting nature of how hospitals operate does not at times lend itself to operational flexibility and public accountability. Information is truly a vital commodity to health care organizations; it sets the stage for accurate diagnosis and treatment, allows for the all-important coding of that diagnosis
and treatment so as to obtain the greatest available reimbursement for their services, and has largely made a profession all its' own out of medical records management and security, especially in the age of HIPAA, for which I will save my consternation about for another time.

In this context it really doesn't surprise me much that Mesa County's EMS Medical Director would throw down a gauntlet to the various EMS agencies in the county to provide complete and accurate electronic documentation of patient care rendered while on the scene and on the way to the hospital.

That there may have been a perceived threat to those agencies' ability to legally operate was surprising. That the majority of the agencies would adopt a united front, openly challenge the order, and perhaps make the debate public is even more surprising, but also appears to have been highly effective.

I waited to write about this until after the Fire Chiefs' Association meeting last night, where a
reported compromise was reached between the Medical Director and those Fire Departments that provide EMS services under his license and authority. Not having been there, the compromise sounds more like D├ętente than an agreement in principle, but I have the following observations nonetheless:
  • ER Docs: You're right in your push for electronic documentation that can be effectively distributed and managed across the varying layers of the Health Care bureaucracy. You need to recognize the limitations that many EMS providers have as far as the ability to deliver patient care information in an electronic format, and meet their responsibilities to the citizens of their respective districts. Sounds like you've done that.
You can help these agencies, and yourselves, by working together to leverage the power and flexibility of today's Internet and data infrastructure to develop solutions for the timely delivery of the electronic information from the provider's station, or even on the way back from the hospital using existing commercial or private mobile data systems. You represent those with the biggest stake in the timely availability of this information, and coincidentally may have the deepest pockets as well. Be prepared to help some more, with funds, equipment, and/or expertise.
  • EMS Providers - You're right that you need to get back into your service area and maintain operational readiness. Working with the Medical Director to get his ERs the information they need, in a format they can effectively use, is a good thing. It's been recommended that you move toward economies of scale in supply procurement and other things.
I honestly don't know how far along you are, but the formal development of more cohesive relationships between providers to assist in the location of available funding, the procurement of equipment (how about one laptop per ambulance?), and the development of a patient data management system that transcends not only the health care bureaucracy but the walls of the hospital itself can be the beginning of an information delivery system that facilitates much more than just writing the trip sheet.

You're getting busier all the time, and don't think that no one is noticing. As the call volume of EMS agencies around Grand Junction increases, so may the interest of private ambulance companies who may have access to additional investment capital to do what you may not be able to do unless you work together more closely.

You know as I do that a profit motive doesn't necessarily translate well into the essential mission of Public Safety; there are at least two private companies that may still be licking their wounds from the battle to cover the Grand Junction District, and from all accounts the good guys won. Work together to get the information needs and the service delivery issues resolved for the benefit of all concerned. Don't tempt that wounded animal.
  • We The People: Growth is a troublesome thing if not managed effectively. There are a lot of your friends and neighbors who donate a lot of mental and physical capital toward making sure that the existing public safety infrastructure remains viable and responsive to increasing community needs.
If you live in an outlying area, heed the Code of The West and get involved. If you are a city dweller like me, support those who toil to keep us safe and prepared for the unavoidable emergency situations that can and will befall a growing area like ours.

And Oh Yeah, be nice to your Dispatchers. They tell these people where to go. :-)


In keeping with the theme of growth and its' potential pitfalls, I have been recently enjoying the motivational parody site They feature humorous take-offs on those motivational posters and plaques sold by companies like Successories and others.

One of the most impressive features of this site is the ability to design your own poster using this basic format, and even have it printed professionally, etc.

I was thinking about growth and its' less pleasant effects when I caught my first glimpse of this site. Here is the result:


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Thoughts at Easter 2008

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16

I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.

- Voltaire

Happy Easter. This holy day will always carry some additional meaning for me, no matter what date it falls on.

It's been an interesting week for those in search of meaning, redemption, and forgiveness.

I'm trying to collect my thoughts about the whole Obama's Pastor non-controversy, followed by the candidate's very eloquent speech in response to the near-rabid frenzy that the cable news channels worked themselves into. It was quite refreshing to see Chris Wallace criticize his colleagues at "Fox & Friends" (as if we need enemies with these shrill people in the morning) over this and other comments. In the interest of being "fair and balanced", I also watched Keith Olbermann commit what is normally a very interesting hour to the "breaking story", repeated ad nauseum, about the misuse of Sen. Obama's passport information.

As with so many other presidential campaigns, histrionics and minutiae over less-than-meaningful rhetoric has taken priority over a meaningful discussion of the issues at hand, and what the candidates plan to do to offer leadership, not solutions, in this regard.

As it happens with some things, the most meaningful coverage of this issue came from the local media. Mike Wiggins' story in the March 18 Daily Sentinel offered insight not only into the concepts of faith and forgiveness, but also of the approach of the local African-American community to the situation. Pastor Harry Butler of the Handy Chapel put it very well when he said:
“You can’t fault a man for what another person says,” said Butler, a member of the School District 51 Board of Education. He likened the situation to a teacher using controversial words in imparting a lesson to students. “You can’t connect that pupil to what that teacher said. Sometimes (students) they grab ahold of the good and they leave alone the bad.”
Senator Obama also brought forth one of many excellent points in his speech last Tuesday:
"The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow."
The bottom line for me with all this is much ado about nothing. The indignation that arises from the conservative side of mass media is rooted in political theories for which none have the proof until the votes have been counted.

Conservatives are attacking Obama now because they fear him more in a general election against McCain. They tolerate McCain because they believe they have some measure of control over him, not because they embrace him as a true believer.

The same goes for those within the Democratic party who continue to engage in short-term divisive rhetoric at the expense of their seeming long-term goal, that being control of the White House and Congress in January 2009.

I believe that there are many, many political moderates who will not vote for Hillary under any circumstances.

It's Easter, right? We should be focusing on Peace, Forgiveness, and the love of Christ renewed with his resurrection.

In a supposedly Christian nation, these concepts are a hard sell in the arena of politics and government. The concept of forgiveness and understanding is something not really existent in our justice system, and that's not to say that it should be.

There are, however, cases before the local judiciary where a measure of consideration for the circumstances of the accused could have resulted in more compassionate and/or efficient handling. The cases of Ralph Ridenour, Christy Buescher and others could be examples of this.

The actions of Bishop Arthur Tafoya of the Catholic Diocese of Pueblo (which includes Grand Junction), in response to senselessness and insensitivity on the part of some who should know better, are a notable example of this.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Patrick Strawmatt and Logan Lage deserved to have the book thrown at them. Questionable actions by judges may have helped to create the circumstances of one crime, and in the latest instance has fomented a significant public outcry, and may make Mesa County and Colorado the focal point of yet another legislative and media firestorm over when a fetus becomes a human being.

To be fair, being a judge or a prosecutor is an extremely difficult job, one that I could probably not do even if I was a lawyer. Monday's Sentinel carries the story of a 15-year-old boy currently housed in the Mesa County Jail. A difficult call for our chief prosecutor, but as citizens who elect him and the judges who oversee our court system we need to remain informed about the job they are doing, and I mean informed, not titillated, sensationalized, or prejudiced.

On a concluding note, a reader left an excellent comment about my post of March 20 about the homeless in Whitman Park. Jim Davis (unknown if the same of radio and 'lederhosen' fame) very accurately made mention of the number of transients in our area that are mentally ill, and in need of treatment services that have been difficult to provide with any level of consistency.
Thanks again for your comments and insight, Jim.

I'll try to end as positively as I can on what was a beautiful Easter day. I attended a wonderful service at the Vineyard that began with a message of the Church's mission and core beliefs that was very inspiring and humbling all at once.

That's kind of what church is supposed to do, right? I've uploaded this so as to try and spread that good news. Enjoy:

Have a blessed week ahead.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Catching Up

Evan and I got back into Grand Junction on Monday afternoon. Between Boston and our return here we were in Pittsburgh for two days. Saw my mother, who recently went back after spending nearly a year with us here. I also got to see Leslie and her family, which was a welcome respite as well.

Unfortunately, one of those days with Leslie was spent at Children's Hospital. Her daughter Michaela became ill on Saturday, and was in need of platelets and red blood cells as a result of her recent chemotherapy. She also had some minor surgery on Monday to replace a portacath. Michaela is now back home and feeling a little better. I'll have some more about her progress as Leslie provides updates to myself and others online through a private CarePage.

There were a few things happening locally that I needed to catch up on and think out loud about, so I think I'll get right to it.

Mt. Garfield Truck Stop

This one just makes me almost shake my head and give up, to just say "Go ahead, build the thing".

But then I thought that this might just send the right message to ourselves as a community; a visual representation of the inherent symbiosis of developing the land in proximity to some of God's most awesome handiwork. A memorial to a vanishing vista and a way of life slowly slipping through our fingers, much as the Cadillac Ranch adorns what is left of Route 66 near Amarillo.

COGCC Appointees

Congratulations to Rich Alward on his appointment to the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Despite all of the histrionics from Josh Penry and other GOP lawmakers in lockstep with the energy lobby, the will of the people has been put forth.

As trite and disingenuous as this sounds in today's world, it looks as though we will have fair and balanced representation on the commission. For me, that's a good thing.
Anyone with doubts about that, look above at yet another example of a literal impact to our rural environment and way of life. This is from Monday, south of DeBeque. This is not the first time this has happened (not by a long shot) and considering the nature of the rural roads these trucks drive on every day, it won't be the last. With these kinds of things happening, I'm glad to have Rich Alward casting a wary and watchful eye on the energy industry, both locally and across the state.

The Free Press today printed excellent columns by Jim Spehar and Tim Pollard side by side, illustrating the very reason why the COGCC needs to have diverse representation such as Mr. Alward will help to provide. Thanks for serving us, Rich, and best of luck to you.

Whitman Park

City Council's awarding of an additional contract to the Public Safety Building architect to study ways to integrate the park into the building design is a good idea, even if it may come up with ideas that are unwieldy, considering the fixed obstacles that are present and likely cannot be dealt with inexpensively.

Gregg Palmer was right on two counts; that the four lanes of Fifth Street may prove to be a daunting and costly challenge to this conceptual integration, and that design alone may not resolve the 'problems' associated with Whitman Park.

When I think about a building reaching out over a major roadway, I think of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. This view is the north side of the building, part of which cantilevers over Fort Duquesne Boulevard below.

While this is on an obviously grander scale, the same concept could be an illustration of an option on how to aesthetically 'connect' the building over the street to the park.

A lot of this conceptualization is designed to try and correct what is perceived by many in our community as a takeover of Whitman Park by Grand Junction's transient community.

If the Sentinel's article is any indication, a good portion of these transients are camping along the river, and walking into town during the day. They can take a shower, have a cup of coffee, read the paper, do their laundry, and even check their mail at the Outreach Day Center. A hot meal is available just down the street at the Soup Kitchen. Other meals and a bed are available at the Rescue Mission. The proximity of the Greyhound Bus station to the park also adds to its' population, especially during the day.

Whitman Park is a hub of green space for this segment of our society, and the various services they utilize. Our hospitable climate makes it an attractive way station for the homeless in our area. These services and the park are proximal to locations favored by transients for camping.

The initiative to gradually move shelter, treatment, and employment services to the North Avenue corridor served only to create a transient community in two locations instead of just one, and brought the spectre of panhandlers, Chronic Public Inebriates, and other problems to the main commercial corridor as well as the city center. This all served to provide another 'proof' of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

One commenter on the Sentinel's site listed a very good reason why the park is currently unattractive for family use. This may change somewhat once the Riverside Parkway is open, and a lot of that traffic headed south will no longer need to go through the heart of the city. We'll see how long it takes for population growth and downtown redevelopment to bring with them another example of the above law in action.

I think I'm caught up for now. Have a good rest of your week.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mindless Escapism 2

Boston - I have done this redeye thing a couple of times in the past, but this time it feels a bit more surreal than before. I think I know what Bill Murray's character felt like in Lost In Translation.

I asked Evan where he would like to go for Spring Break, and this is what he said. Tuesday at 6 PM we pulled out of GJ and arrived at DIA at about 10. Straight to the check-in counter, and 90 minutes later on a flight mostly packed with Junior Olympians headed back home from Aspen.

Got about an hour's sleep before arriving in Boston. Evan and I ate breakfast and spent the rest of the day in recovery mode. Went out to have dinner, then went to see Blue Man Group. Very interesting and entertaining. If you can get to see them somewhere it's well worth it.

Boston is an extremely accessible city; we're relying
strictly on foot power and public transportation to get around, and we'll cover a fair amount of the city tomorrow if all goes well.

Going to try to reset ourselves for tomorrow, and try to make the best of the remaining day here before continuing on to Pittsburgh on Friday. Michaela has just finished her first week of chemotherapy last week, and seems to be tolerating it well so far. It will be nice to see her and Leslie, and spend some good time together. In the meantime, there's some history to see, scenery to admire, and fresh seafood to eat.

Have a good rest of the week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mindless (?) Escapism

Last night, rather than be bombarded with Spitzer-gate from all angles of the 24-hour news cycle, I decided to take in a movie that I had heard good word of mouth about, and knew something about already because I've followed the director's films over the last several years. And hey, Oprah raved about it. That means it's got to be good, right?

Across The Universe was rather good. A little thin in plot, but made up for by the acting, the production values, and most of all by the music. A sure sell for boomers who grew up with the Beatles, but this may also help to introduce them to one or two generations. Evan enjoyed it, and if a movie musical with 40-year-old songs can hold the attention of a teenager of the new millennium, that's saying something. He only sent about three or four text messages in those two hours, which is an achievement to be sure.

There are numerous touching and beautiful scenes throughout the film. The most poignant for me were the funeral scenes scored to Let It Be. Jan was a big Beatles fan. This was tough to watch, but worth it.

Julie Taymor has been a visionary throughout her film and stage career. The Lion King on Broadway was just the start. Reading her bio, I found that she and Jan were born 9 days apart. If you want some excellent examples of her touch on film, rent Titus and Frida, but not before you spend some time with Across the Universe. If you have a teenager, make sure they're home on movie night for this one.

A year ago today I was at St. Mary's, after Jan was admitted following the stroke that began the end of her struggle, and perhaps marked only the beginning of mine. She had yet to fully regain consciousness, and I remember sitting next to her, speaking with the various specialists who came to take a look and level an opinion.

I wondered how long God would have her be like this, to what end it achieve. As it turned out, she woke up the next day and was reaching for me when I walked into the hospital room the next morning. We had a few weeks left, and while she could no longer speak she let me know how she felt.

This will be an interesting month.

Evan and I are hitting the road tonight for Spring Break. Luckily, the Geek Squad came through with my repaired laptop in time for the trip. Maybe there will be an opportunity for some travelogue. We'll see.

Take care. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The View From Downtown

The Daily Sentinel employs an interesting strategy on how their lead stories appear on their website, and how they leverage their considerable web expertise to add value and context to those lead stories.

Go to the home page, and you won't see anything today about the
paper's Page One, above-and-below-the-fold top story, about the development of high-end loft condominiums and other housing in Downtown Grand Junction. The link to this story is printed below the fold of Page One, presumably to make it available primarily to those who receive the paper at home or pick it up at a newsstand, and open it up to read.

I understand that the Sentinel is in the business of selling newspapers, but this is mildly annoying nonetheless. Luckily for me, I pick up the Sunday paper after church, and didn't miss the somewhat enlightening overview of one component of Downtown
redevelopment that will be upon us sooner rather than later.

I've taken an active interest in this because I currently live and work Downtown. I attended one of two workshops held at St. Joseph's Church late last month. The event was co-sponsored by the City Planning Department and the Downtown Development Authority, and was a rather comprehensive overview of what currently exists in what is known as the "original square mile", or the original City Limits from Grand Junction's inception in 1882. This is from 1st Street to 12th Street, and from South Avenue to North Avenue.

The planning consultants retained by these two groups first displayed what types of development and housing were present across this area. They identified several "hotspots" where certain types of commercial and residential development were occurring that might need to be addressed in any future planning process for this area. Two such hotspots were along North Avenue, at 7th Street and at 12th Street. Another was in the 400 block of Grand Avenue, which is an area that I've written about in the past.

The planners identified five different types of residential and commercial development that currently exist downtown, and would likely be included in future redevelopment that occurs downtown. They then asked the participants to look at these types of development and recommend where it could go in the downtown area, and for what purpose. These are:
  • Single Family Urban Cottage - Where I am now. I would hope that future development of this type would follow along the lines of New Urbanism, much like what is currently on display in Denver at Stapleton. Affordability and stability are the keys to success here.
  • Adaptive Reuse - Lots of examples of this already downtown. Existing construction (usually residential) is converted into updated residential or commercial use, or both.
An example of Adaptive Reuse is Studio 119 Photography, in the 600 block of Grand Avenue. Adjacent to this building to the east are the Crawford House and Doc Shore House, two historic Victorian homes converted into office suites.

Redevelopment of these kinds of buildings into these kinds of uses remains a way to encourage alternative uses for attractive older construction, and also offer a transitional buffer to more dense residential or commercial development, such as the hotspots mentioned earlier.

  • Live/Work with Retail - Daily Sentinel Photo

The converted Reed Building, the centerpiece
of the Sentinel story, is a classic example of this type of development.

Wonderful living spaces, as the article and web extras proved, but may not lend itself to affordability. The Reed Building hasn't found many solid, stable retail anchors, either. I miss

the Cafe Biltmore, but 13 Photography and the Nepal appear to be doing well. Maybe this will catch on after the remodel of Colorado Avenue. This certainly has its' place, but will not sustain Downtown in and of itself.
  • Mixed-Use Multi-Family - This was presented to our group at the workshop as something as tall as 8 stories, with underground parking and lots of apartments. In short, "The Behemoth". Unfortunately, according to the Sentinel article, we may be closer to this than we think. 700 Main Street is an ambitious undertaking, and without a rendition of it I really can't comment about it specifically. All I can do is offer an alternative and a reminder:
Below is West River Commons, in the Lake Street neighborhood of Minneapolis. There are 53 apartments, three townhomes, and several retail outlets. It covers an acre and is only four stories. Quoting from the blog that covered this, these features:

"..are designed in such a way to provide a transition from the activity and traffic on Lake Street to the more quiet residential feel just a block away. The focal point of the project is a small park which provides an outdoor setting for the restaurants and serves as an informal community gathering point."

Sounds good to me. There's something much more important that is worth preserving here.

The last type of development, Mixed Use Office over Retail, is also visible over nearly the entire length of Main Street, and like the Live/Work over retail, is probably best suited for the urban core areas.

I took these pictures from the intersection of Seventh Street and Rood Avenue.
What do you see?

What I see are the natural features that make the urban core of Grand Junction feel the way it does. Even when looking west is somewhat disrupted by taller-than-normal trees and the Alpine Bank Building, the view of the Monument is what defines this urban vista. This effect is compounded even more to the east, as Grand Mesa looms over the entire area.

Regardless of what types of development come to the Downtown area and where they are placed, careful consideration must be given to those God-given features that make Grand Junction and its' surroundings so unique and special. You can't duplicate this kind of setting in an urban area anywhere else. Why hide it?

Aside from the above, I feel that the biggest threat to our Downtown quality of living is continued encroachment upon some of our northernmost residential areas by growth that is associated with the growth of Mesa State, or expanding commercial development along the entire North Avenue corridor.

I'm looking forward to the assessment of what will be presented to city administrators, city council members, and citizens based upon the results of the discussions that several of my fellow citizens had over what is needed and where. Given the development that has already happened and is literally on the drawing board, it will be interesting to see how the Downtown of the future will be shaped.

Have a good week ahead.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Quod Me Nutrit, Me Destruit

Literally translated from the Latin, "What nourishes me also destroys me".

While popularized in a more provocative forum, the quotation has particular significance to me today, and also when I dwell on what is happening in the wake of the expansion of energy development across Western Colorado, and the resulting growth in urban centers such as Grand Junction.

The Sentinel's
February 1 editorial (no longer online) on the polarizing effects of this growth, and the manner in which it has been managed, eloquently summarized the plight of many who see the growth of the City of Grand Junction occurring not from careful consideration of the pros and cons by city officials, but in a random, haphazard manner driven by the dynamics of the real estate market and the desire of developers to gain the highest possible return on their land investment. This is a direct result of the Persigo agreement between the City and County in 1998.

As others have pointed out in the past, the resulting patchwork quilt that comprises the city limits, especially to the east, has caused confusion and consternation among residents, service providers, merchants, and public safety responders.

These feelings transcend the political spectrum, as evidenced by Rick Wagner's column of February 6 (please stay online for a while), which was one of the best summaries
that I've read regarding the issues at hand. Rick also touched upon the above paradox:
"Beyond the occasional fishing village, mountaintop retreat or overgrown souvenir shop masquerading as a small town, real progress cannot be made toward the improvement of an individual’s quality of life without some engine of economic opportunity.
Here in western Colorado, we are both the beneficiaries and the victims of such an existence. We also tend to believe we are the first to wrestle with these circumstances with the only choices being either a breakneck rush or wholesale stop."
Rick was writing about this in the context of the Grand Junction city council's decision of February 4 to disapprove a growth plan amendment for a proposed subdivision in the Redlands.
This same council, along with County Commissioners, also very wisely decided later in the month to decline to expand the Persigo sewer district into a behemoth nearly twice its' current size, a move which would have eventually turned Appleton and surrounding areas into the same patchwork quilt of jurisdictional jumbles that now defines much of Pear Park and Fruitvale.

As spring approaches, additional reporting and community discussions about growth have continued to bring home the title of this post in my mind. More people. More traffic. More roundabouts (bring 'em on, just keep 'em big). Monster dually pickups with Texas, Oklahoma, or Wyoming plates screaming up and down North and Patterson.

Other analogies pop up in my mind when I think about the energy industry's impact on our area. The actual work sites themselves are largely out of sight; it's their associated impacts that gradually erode our quality of life, much like the frog that will dart from a pot full of boiling water, but will sit in blissful ignorance and poach as the heat is slowly turned up.

I then read the Sentinel's front page on Wednesday, and stared in the face what will likely be for
many of us a source of enrichment and opportunity, but will also continue to erode the quality of life in the urban core as its' footprint expands.
Unfortunately, I'm speaking of Mesa State.

The approval of a $34 Million student housing and retail complex along North Avenue between 12th Street and Cannell Avenue is the latest salvo in the college's seemingly inexorable path westward through what were some pretty nice neighborhoods and buildings. I have to wonder out loud about the fate of the old St. Matthew's Church building, which is one of the finest looking buildings in town, secular or otherwise.

If we stand to lose this gem to just another housing / retail combination, teeming with jaywalking students, and packing more into less hospitable and confusing territory, I just can't buy the rhetoric being put forward by many that the college's growth will bring nothing but good things to our area.

To be continued..

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

KREX Rising

Congratulations to KREX on resuming their regular newscasts. According to my son Evan, who attends WCCC basically across the hall from the new location, it's a pretty interesting setup.
From one viewing it looks like they're getting the hang of the new equipment, and making the best of the limited space they have. The only glaring omission that I've noticed is the lack of closed captioning. Hopefully they'll get that resolved fairly quickly.

As I've said before, the KREX fire brought about some cooperation between members of the media, and may go a long way toward leveraging new media technologies in ways not before seen or perhaps even envisioned in Grand Junction. This evening there's going to be a discussion that could perhaps take this concept of new and alternative media a bit further down the road.

The quarterly membership meeting of Grand Valley Peace and Justice is tonight at 7:00 PM at the St. Joseph Church offices at 3rd and White, across the street from the church. The group's meeting announcement indicated a discussion on alternative media will be part of the agenda.

This will hopefully include the development of a working group with certain benchmarks to achieve, and one of those will hopefully be persuading the City of Grand Junction to request the activation of their PEG Access Channel on
the basic cable tier, which is part of the City's current franchise agreement with Bresnan.

The recent developments surrounding the partial resurrection of KREX, through cooperation between media outlets, the sharing of equipment and space, and the rapid deployment of alternative programming sources, displays very well the level of expertise and goal-oriented thinking present in our local media and educational institutions.

What's to stop the development of a coalition of these groups and outlets to provide for the space, equipment, organization, and administration of a community public access channel in Grand Junction? The answer to this and many other questions may make themselves better known starting this evening. Such a resource is long overdue in our community, as there are successfully-run examples of such stations in smaller cities and towns across the Western Slope.

Still looking for other examples of possibilities in the community? Hope to see you there.

Have a great month ahead.