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Pages of the Past: Valley faces fiery summer, RFHS turning around

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From the archives of the Roaring Fork Valley Journal, compiled by Lynn Burton

June 16, 1977

Following the “no-snow winter of 1976-1977,” Roaring Fork Valley firefighters, government officials and residents were concerned about the upcoming wildfire season. The final winter and spring tally put moisture accumulation at less than 40 percent of normal. Altogether for the past week, members of the Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District had been called out virtually every day, and sometimes more than once a day. “ … and each conflagration seems to be worse than its processor. One couple up the Crystal fought off a small wildfire with garden hoses until two firefighter units could arrive. One unit responded after putting down a wildfire at the nearby Avalanche Creek campground.

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June 18, 1987

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George Hart, who was retiring as a pharmacist in Glenwood Springs, reflected on where his career started in 1938 as a freshman at Carbondale Union High School, working at the Carbondale Drug Store on Main Street (now the Pour House). Carbondale’s population was only about 400, but Hart told the Valley Journal, “There was always something like a dance happening on Saturday night. We’d have a big run on liquor. Later at about midnight, we’d have a run at the soda fountain … we had four booths … we’d stay open until 1 or 2 (a.m.).” Carbondale being a small town, teenage small town pranks were not unheard of. One year, some kids slung a rope around a cow’s neck and walked it over from across to the post office. They tied a stick to the end of the rope, dropped it into the night mail box and left the cow standing there. “The post office was a pretty big mess the next morning. Pour Mr. Payne (the postmaster).”

 

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June 19, 1997

The Carbondale Board of Trustees voted to hire the town’s first police dog, but not before voicing its own concerns and grilling new Police Chief Gene Schilling on all facets of the dog’s job description. “I have a bias against police dogs in general,” said one trustee, who said he had to explain their use when he was a Peace Corps member during the U.S. civil rights era. Some trustees were concerned that the dog, Raven, would be used to sniff the halls for drugs at Roaring Fork High School.

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Schilling assured the trustees that such would not be the case. He also said that under policies set out in a new six-page K9 manual, the dog also would not be used to apprehend any suspect, or as “a level of force.” The trustees authorized Raven’s hiring, after a police officer who already owned the dog said he’d let the police department use it.

June 14, 2007

In an editorial about the situation at Roaring Fork High School, the Valley Journal noted, “ … a positive turn of direction … “ as “ … a committed and energetic group of parents, teachers and students have stepped forward to help blaze a new course toward better accountability.” Problems had included “lagging” teacher morale and questions about “academic rigors.” Among the school’s accomplishments in that year, the Ram Jam Band won its division the valley-wide Battle of the Bands, drama students (under the direction of Ralph Young) “pulled off an amazing production of ‘Godspell’”, Cathleen McCourt and Jacinda O’Neils’ art students put on “an amazing end of year exhibit. The editorial concluded in part, “ … but that doesn’t mean we (the Valley Journal) should turn a blind eye when legitimate issues and concerns are being raised.”   

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