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Peterson: Tuesday night fever

The thought of getting up and dancing in front of 700 people in the middle of an airplane hangar would make most people want to run in the opposite direction. 

But Patrick Scanlan isn’t most people. P-Dawg, as he was known during his days booting field goals for the Battle Mountain Huskies, was born to boogie. 

Maybe you wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Scanlan says he’s always been a natural performer at heart. Which is why, when he was approached by reps from the Vail Valley Foundation’s YouthPower365 to be a participant in Tuesday night’s Star Dancing Gala at the Eagle Valley Jet Center, Scanlan couldn’t have said yes quicker. 

“It’s a great organization that I believe a lot in, especially growing up in this valley,” said Scanlan, who did Teach for America after college and now mentors local youth at Berry Creek Middle School through YouthPower365. “Financially, no buildings are getting named after me, but giving time and some sweat, that’s the best way to give back.”

And, man, was Scanlan willing to give some sweat. He admits to maybe sending the most enthusiastic email in the history of the gala to Colin Meiring of the Vail Valley Dance Academy, who has coordinated the performances for the fundraiser since its inception. 

“I went over to my neighbor’s house, Michael Holton, and told him I was doing it,” Scanlan said. “And we were just talking in the yard and he’s like, you know what, just looking at you, you’re not an amazing Flamenco dancer. You don’t know East Coast swing or anything like that. So you’ve really gotta do something fun … like fall off the stage into a table or do like a tribute to ‘Top Gun.’ I was like, OK. It kind of evolved from that.”

Meiring’s response to the “20,000-word email” that Scanlan said he sent? Dude, you only have three minutes. 

“I was imagining an hour-and-a-half show with me up there with a 15-minute intermission. But that wasn’t the case.”

Patrick Scanlan does an interpretive dance of the movie “Top Gun” with professional dancer Danielle Barry at the YouthPower365 Star Dancing Gala, raising funds for education.
Rex Keep | Courtesy Vail Valley Foundation

What gala attendees did see was a 3-minute dancing homage to “Top Gun” that would have made Iceman want to be Scanlan’s wingman.

Not that Scanlan was the only star Tuesday night. Hardly. 

This Star Dancing Gala, now in its 11th year, more than lives up to its name. It has become the Vail Valley’s biggest party of the summer and raises planeloads of donations to power extended learning opportunities throughout Eagle County for kids of all ages and their families.

It’s one of those things that makes you realize just how special this place is, and how many talented, dedicated people call this valley home. 

The stars of this dance party? An interior designer, a veterinarian, a dermatologist, a yoga instructor, a CEO of a lifestyle brand, a professional hockey player — and, well, Chris Lindley, who has enough degrees and jobs for maybe three people.

Lindley, the executive director of the newly-formed nonprofit, Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, just left his job as director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment. He’s also the founder of two successful fitness companies with 10 different locations, including Endorphin in Eagle Ranch; a former professional firefighter; and the former prevention services director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Oh, yeah, he’s also a former unit commander for the US Army Medical Reserves who has received a presidential commendation and the Bronze Star Medal for saving multiple lives during a suicide bomber attack in Iraq. 

And he’s got three — yes, three — masters degrees. When this guy sleeps, nobody knows.

But of all the things Lindley has done in his life, nothing compared to getting up on that stage.

“I’d like to consider myself somewhat athletic, but, man, dancing is a whole different skill set,” Lindley said.

Often, in the months leading up to the event, Lindley was certain that he was going to be “just awful.”

“Like, I would forget something, I would drop her, and I would be the ass of the entire show,” he said. “I couldn’t remember the steps, I couldn’t move my hips.”

Victoria Jones, the interior designer, said she had similar thoughts — and she trained as a dancer growing up and placed the winning bid at last year’s gala to secure a spot on stage this year. 

“I was like, I can do that,” said Jones, who in her younger dancing days once performed a routine on stage at Red Rocks. “But when you’re practicing, you don’t know what everyone else is doing. I thought it would be like riding a bike, but after 10 years, it didn’t come back as quickly.”

Jean Urquhart, the dermatologist, said she lost two toenails during the more than 20 hours of rehearsing she did with her partner in the months leading up to the event. 

Liz Logan Sterett, the CEO of her own lifestyle brand, BeSOUL, said her initial reaction when asked if she’d perform was: “Are you crazy?  The only time I dance is with tequila and girlfriends.”

But it’s the kids, and the cause, that won out — and helped make all the grueling hours of practice worth it. 

“Every year I tell myself I’m going to do one thing that pushes my limits, tests my strength and I can honestly say this was humbling,” Logan Sterett said. “But when I think about the impact my dancing shoes made, along with all my fellow dancers, I realize we are all here to do our part in making our community thrive.”

“I was reminded how fun it is to get out of my comfort zone,” said Rachel Nelson, the yoga instructor. 

“Walking out in front of 700 leaders and influencers in this community and kind of just showing them who you are and being completely vulnerable, I think, is a good thing for all of us,” Lindley said. “That ties into our behavioral health efforts. We’re all human, and we may not be as thin as we want to be, or as athletic as we want to be, or as funny, or whatever, but just being out, and having fun, and being human — the more we can all be out doing that as a community, it’s just going to help us along that path better.”

Couldn’t agree more. 

As for Scanlan, if you’re still interested in seeing his full hour-plus routine, just give him a call. He’s available to do weddings, birthdays and any other event this summer.

Email Vail Daily Editor Nate Peterson at npeterson@vaildaily.com

Wissot: No rocking chair for these old folks

I ran the Vail HillClimb over the July 4 weekend. It’s not the first time I’ve run it. Counting the number of race T-shirts in my closet, it looks like I have 13 times. That means I missed 30 other times, because the race celebrated its 43rd running this year.

The race begins by the Covered Bridge in Vail Village and takes the runners up mostly Forest Service roads for 7.7 miles to just below the gondola in Mid-Vail. The altitude gain is a little over 2,000 feet. I said mostly Forest Service roads for a reason. This year, because of the road construction taking place between Eagles Nest and Mid-Vail, the last half mile or so took place on singletrack.

I’m not much of a runner to begin with, and the singletrack is to me as Kryptonite was to Superman: my worst nemesis. I just need to look at a tree root and I’m guaranteed to trip over it.

But I digress. This column isn’t about me. It’s about the 14 other men and women in my age group (70 to Death) who joined me on the climb that day. These 12 septuagenarians and two octogenarians were there to prove that the young at heart don’t need to be confined to a comfy chair reading a nice book. Doing something physically hard is not only for the young of body.

Having said that, please let me make it clear that there is no beneficial health reason for a person over 70 to be running up a hill at altitude. Running does not increase your life expectancy. Some of the greatest marathoners in history did not make it out of their 60s and 70s. A brisk walk in a park or swimming laps in a pool done on a regular basis offers older people many of the cardio benefits needed to remain healthy.

I should note that not all 15 of us were running up the hill. Some of us definitely were and I’ll get to them in a bit. But the majority of us, including yours truly, chose other means of locomotion. Many ran the flatter portions of the course, of which there were precious few, and walked or hiked the hills. Others felt they had a better chance of getting to the top by dispensing with running altogether, and simply walked the entire distance.

Me? I opted for fast walking, though in my case using the word “fast” is debatable, and then when the climbs got steeper and steeper, switched to lumbering my way up. I was fortunate to be feeling good because when I’m not, lumbering can quickly turn into stumbling, or worse, bumbling aimlessly around like a man lost in the desert searching for a water hole. A very disturbing sight indeed.

I am happy to report that all fifteen of us made it to the finish line. Some much faster than others. A big shoutout, therefore, to Richard Katz and Frank Kunkel. Richard finished in a scintillating time of 1 hour, 19 minutes, 4 seconds, and Frank followed behind in 1:35:46. I’d rather not report how far behind them I was. Let’s just say that Richard and Frank had time for a quick shower and a light lunch before returning to watch me finish.

I don’t know either of these gentlemen. But I sure do admire their running talent and training ethic.

On the distaff side (I’m hoping that word has something to do with women because I sure liked using it), kudos to Peggy Nicholls and Gail Scoby, who finished first and second, as well as to the three other women in their age division who also made it to the top.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention three outstanding age-70-plus male runners — Tom Edwards of Gypsum, Jim Mykleby from Leadville and Marlin Smickley who lives in Edwards.

Tom and Jim are stalwart competitors, have run the course many more times than I have, and are usually standing at the finish line ready to greet me each year.

Marlin is no stranger to readers of this paper. He was written up a year ago at this time in the Vail Daily because he celebrated his 80th birthday on the day of last year’s race. He was back at it this year and for local runners is seen as an inspirational treasure.

In fact, I’d like to close this column by telling you that when people ask me if I’m going to run next year’s hill climb, I will answer in the affirmative. The way I see it is if Marlin can do it at 82, I sure as heck can muster the motivation to do it at 75.

It’s how us runners think.

Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at jayhwissot@mac.com.

Financial Focus: Estate plans can help bring certainty to your future

The word “estate” conjures images of great wealth, which may be one of the reasons so many people don’t develop estate plans — after all, they’re not rich, so why make the effort? 

In reality, though, if you have a family, you can probably benefit from estate planning, whatever your asset level. And you may well find that a comprehensive estate plan can help you answer some questions you may find unsettling – or even worrisome.

Here are a few of these questions:

• What will happen to my children? With luck, you (and your co-parent, if you have one) will be alive and well at least until your children reach the age of majority (either 18 or 21, depending on where you live). Nonetheless, you don’t want to take any chances, so, as part of your estate plans, you may want to name a guardian to take care of your children if you are not around. You also might want to name a conservator — sometimes called a “guardian of the estate” — to manage any assets your minor children might inherit.

• Will there be a fight over my assets? Without a solid estate plan in place, your assets could be subject to the time-consuming, expensive — and very public — probate process. During probate, your relatives and creditors can gain access to your records, and possibly even challenge your will. But with proper planning, you can maintain your privacy. As one possible element of an estate plan, a living trust allows your property to avoid probate and pass quickly to the beneficiaries you’ve named. 

• Who will oversee my finances and my living situation if I become incapacitated? You can build various forms of protection into your estate planning, such as a durable power of attorney, which allows you to designate someone to manage your financial affairs if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. You could also create a medical power of attorney, which allows someone to handle health care decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself.

• Will I shortchange my family if I leave significant assets to charities? Unless you have unlimited resources, you’ll have to make some choices about charitable gifts and money for your family. But as part of your estate plans, you do have some appealing options. For example, you could establish a charitable lead trust, which provides financial support to your chosen charities for a period of time, with the remaining assets eventually going to your family members. A charitable remainder trust, by contrast, can provide a stream of income for your family members for the term of the trust, before the remaining assets are transferred to one or more charitable organizations. 

As you can see, careful estate planning can help you answer many of the questions that may be worrying you. Be aware, though, that certain aspects of estate planning, especially those related to living trusts and charitable trusts, can be complex, so you should consult your estate-planning attorney or qualified tax advisor about your situation. But once you’ve got your plans in place, you should be able to face the future with greater clarity and confidence. 

This article was written for use by local Edward Jones financial advisors. Edward Jones and its associates and financial advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Chuck Smallwood, Kevin Brubeck, Tina DeWitt, Charlie Wick and Bret Hooper are financial advisors with Edward Jones Investments and can be reached in Edwards at 970-926-1728, in Eagle at 970-328-0361, 970-328-0639 or 970-328-4959 and in Avon at 970-688-5420.

Eagle Valley Community Foundation: The childcare gap in Eagle County

According to a study by Qualistar Colorado, the annual cost of sending your child to preschool in Eagle County is $11,100 a year. The same study found that the average annual cost for childcare for young children is $13,000 which is 53% higher than the median cost across U.S. school districts.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has stated that no more than 10 percent of a family’s income should be spent on childcare for it to be considered affordable. However, in reality, low-income families spend a much larger portion of their income on childcare.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, families above the federal poverty line spend an average of 8 percent of their income on childcare, whereas families below the federal poverty line spend an average of 30 percent.

Feeling the pinch locally

Pamela Ramos, a Gypsum resident and mother of three, said she recently had to quit her job and stay home to take care of her kids because she was spending so much of her income on childcare.

“When we first moved here, Santiago was 5,” she said. “For him to attend preschool, in Avon, it was $30 a day and then an extra $3 a day for his lunch. So I went to work and made $60, $70 a day at the restaurant then half of that is already gone.”

Ramos said these costs do not include the money she spent on transportation and additional childcare after Santiago got out of school for the day.

“All of the jobs that I was looking into, they start at 6 or 7 in the morning and then these preschools they start at 8 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.,” she said. “But if you don’t get out of work until 5 p.m. then you end up paying somebody else to go pick up your kid and watch them.”

‘It just feels … impossible’

Based on population and enrollment figures provided in the 2015 Eagle County Child Care Market Assessment, 4,300 children from birth to age 5 live in Eagle County. Approximately two-thirds have one or more parents employed, yielding 2,881 children who may need childcare. Infants and toddlers comprise roughly half of that number.

Currently, there are 1,500 children in licensed care, leaving 1,381 children whose families may need or want licensed care, but may not be getting it. Many of these families will choose license-exempt family, friend or neighbor care, while others may turn to unlicensed care, juggle work schedules, or sacrifice employment to have one parent stay home.

“You don’t know where to go to get services and you don’t know if the bus will get you there and you don’t know if you’ll be eligible,” Ramos said. “I don’t know, it just feels … impossible.”

Ramos said that she relies heavily on family members to take care of her two youngest children. Even now, she said that whenever she has to leave the house her oldest daughter Veronica (15) is often tasked with looking after Santiago (6) and Daniela (9 months).

“I have to basically rely 100% on my sister-in-law or Roni,” she said. “And if they’re not available like if my sister is gone and Roni is at school then I can’t do anything, I can’t go to work. I’ve thought about having Roni skip school for the day but then I know that’s not right.”

Ramos said that, ultimately, she had to weigh whether she should try to keep a job so that the family could save up to repair their car (which has been sitting in the driveway since breaking down a few weeks ago) or whether she should stay home so that her daughter can go to school and lead a normal, teenage life.

“I grew up taking care of all of my siblings so I know how hard it is to manage that with everything else going on in your life as a kid, as a teenager,” she said. “It’s really hard and then you don’t get to go out and be a kid yourself because you’re stuck at home being, like, a parent.”

“I always tell Roni, you know, you have to focus on school. But then it doesn’t make sense for me to say that and then, at the same time, ask her to focus on taking care of the kids too,” she added.

For this reason, Ramos said she quit her job to be more present for her kids, which has made things very tight financially. Ramos worked in education for a while when she was still living in Mexico and said that she understands how important it is for children to have access to a good education, especially in the early years of their lives.

“To me, education is very important and at that age they should be exploring, learning, getting to know things and using all of their senses to learn,” she said.

Critical for success

According to Ounce of Prevention, a Chicago-based organization which develops early childhood education solutions for low-income communities, “Nearly 5 million children under the age of 5 live in poverty in the U.S. and the majority don’t have access to high-quality early childhood programs that could dramatically improve their future. The first five years of a child’s life are critical for setting the foundations for lifelong health, learning and success.”

Ramos said that many low-income families in Eagle County understand this, but are simply unable to afford the rates at local childcare centers and, thus, have to turn to cheaper alternatives.

“If you can’t afford daycare, then you end up just trying to find a babysitter and with that, you never know how qualified they are,” Ramos said. “I have no idea like if they know CPR, if they are good with kids, if they’re going to engage with the kids. There are a lot of babysitters who just sit the kids in front of the TV all day or who are taking care of 6 or 7 or 8 kids at once.”

While statements like these outline the need for childcare providers to be properly certified and trained in how to support young children in the most important years of their development, trained childcare providers are still paid very poorly and often do not receive the support they need.

Trying to fill the gap

Eagle Valley Community Foundation is working with Colorado Mountain College to try to close the childcare gap in Eagle County by empowering and supporting the next generation of early childhood education professionals.

By providing professional development scholarships to students currently studying or interested in pursuing a career in early childhood education, ECVF is not only increasing the quality of care given by individuals currently in the field, but also incentivizing others to enter the field. So far, EVCF has provided scholarships to 60 students studying early childhood education at CMC over a period of 10 semesters. The organization also works with CMC to provide childcare for students while they are in class.

“I’m really grateful for the ECE scholarship because it has allowed me to attend classes and still make my rent and have food to eat,” one student, Jill Romanek, said. “Without the scholarship I would be taking one class at a time and struggling to pay rent.”

Another scholarship recipient, Maria Cage, said, “In my two years returning to the Vail Valley, I am both alarmed by the level of need in the ECE field and likewise heartened by philanthropic efforts to move our professionals and environments closer to meeting standards of developmentally and culturally appropriate practice to better support young children and their families.”

Director of Community Impact for EVCF, Susie Davis, said that the early childhood education scholarship program is very near and dear to her heart.

“Early childhood professionals are a special breed, their open hearts, their endless patience and thoughtful approach with children helps to grow good humans,” Davis said. “We are lucky that 60 people in our community care enough to expand their education to keep offering what’s best for our community’s kids.”

Davis said that while the response to the scholarship program fills her with hope for the future of access to childcare in Eagle County, she knows there is still much work to be done in order to truly close the gap.

Kelli Duncan is a marketing and volunteer coordinator with The Community Market, a project of Eagle Valley Community Foundation.

Romer: Employee retention key to success

Richard Branson is credited with saying “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

I think he’s right. We need to take care of our people in order to build a healthy business. I’ll take it one step further — business owners need to take care of their employees in order to build and maintain a strong community.

Plenty of data and research support investing in employee engagement to improve your business. Engaged employees can help companies outperform competitors by more than 200% according to research from Glassdoor, an employer review and hiring site.

Organizational cultural keys all had a massive impact on employer choice according to Deloitte’s 2015 millennial survey, including items such as work-life balance, personal development and advancement, flexible schedules and sense of meaning from work

When asked “What element of a work environment is most important to you?” in the Business Journal study of more than 1,800 respondents, the top answers were:

  • Flexibility and technology that allows for work from home — 46%.
  • Having individual offices/private workspaces — 32%.
  • Amenities including free coffee, snacks, athletic facilities and daycare services — 9%.
  • Smaller, collaborative workspaces for impromptu meetings — 7%.
  • Open office plans to maximize interaction with colleagues — 6%.

Quantum Workplace, in its 2018 employee engagement trends report, shows the best workplaces are fun, challenging, friendly, engaging, and rewarding.

The research clearly shows that investing in the employee experience and taking care of your employees can help with employee retention and satisfaction. But of course, it’s never just that easy; businesses across the industry sector are short-staffed, creating numerous pressures on employees that manifest in service delivery and retention. Add the high cost of living in mountain communities and other societal pressures that cannot be controlled by businesses, and the pressure increases.

Thus, the importance of taking care of employees in order to help build, grow, and maintain a successful community. We need business leaders and elected officials who are committed to the community — after all, quality of life begins with a good job and our employees are the foundation for a successful business.

To simplify things, leaders can be equated to basic math equations. Leaders can add to an organization, or they can subtract from it. Leaders can divide, or they can multiply. Successful leaders — through vision, motivation, and inspiration and/or through empathy, service, and improving — need to focus on addition and multiplication, not on subtraction or division.  

Focusing on employee engagement and team development adds to your employee retention, creating an environment where people can thrive and provide higher levels of service to your customers. Leaders create an environment which focuses on the addition of service, resulting in the multiplication of effort and higher satisfaction scores. Leaders who do not focus on the employee experience and who do not invest in professional development and growth opportunities instead focus on subtraction and division — creating an environment that is detrimental to the customer experience and likely the bottom line.

Consider how your business values employees because employee retention can be a strategic initiative that leads directly to your business growth, with the added benefit of building a stronger community.

Town and county leaders should take note as well. Housing access and availability continues to resonate as our largest community challenge and we need to find ways for the public sector and private sector to address the retention issue together.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at www.vailvalleypartnership.com.

Eagle River Watershed Council: Reject Trump’s Dirty Water Rule

What in the world is WOTUS? Simply put, it stands for Waters of the United States. Currently, the determination of what is a water of the U.S. is being questioned and could have damaging effects to the environment and people of this country.

In 2015, the Obama administration passed the Clean Water Rule (part of the Clean Water Act) to clarify rules for the management of our nation’s waterways — and pollution thereof. In 2017, President Trump signed an executive order for the review of the 2015 rule with the ultimate goal of rescinding or revising it. The revisions are now referred to as the Dirty Water Rule, which includes these changes:

  • Eliminating protections from interstate waters, such as streams that flow through more than one state.
  • Excluding from protection isolated water bodies that are not connected with downstream waterways, wetlands and prior converted agricultural lands and ephemeral watercourses (streams that flow only briefly during and following rainfall).
  • Inviting comments on any and all other issues. This could create a slew of possible negative environmental factors. Policy experts speculate that this single change could lead to the elimination of water quality standards and regulation of oil spills, sewage dumping and more.

This would eliminate federal punishments for the dumping of pollutants into these waterways.

In a recent seminar, representatives from the National Resource Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation noted that this repeal would affect 70% of waters in the United States if passed. There has been no analysis by the Trump Administration of the effect these rule changes would have on public health and safety, environment and ecological systems, and the economy — a stark contrast to the countless hours the scientific community spent researching the 2015 Clean Water Rule prior to its implementation.

We can consider ourselves lucky here in Colorado. Our state officials have created stringent laws to protect our waterways. But our state would not go unaffected if this change were to be implemented.

Tribal nations (such as the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute nations in Colorado) are not subject to state law. This federal law would directly impact these communities that already struggle with clean water access in the arid desert.

Furthermore, we are an interconnected country. Any degradations upstream could flow right through our state. Not to mention that, like many of you, I have friends and family all over the country that would be hard hit by the Dirty Water Rule.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fires in Ohio, which was caused by the unregulated dumping of industrial waste into the water. We cannot return to such conditions.

The public comment period is now closed, but a resounding 525,000 comments were received in the two months that public comment was open, showing the clear public concern for this issue.

So what can you do now? Even though the public comment period is closed, you can contact your political leaders and government agency representatives and ask them to oppose the Dirty Water Rule. Do it soon, however, as it is set to take effect at the end of this year.

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers will ultimately decide the fate of this proposal. Write letters or send emails to them and your state officials to demand accountability from the deciding entities.

You can find your representatives at house.gov or senate.gov or by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Tweet using @EPA, #ProtectCleanWater, and #DirtyWaterRule to call attention to the issue. And most importantly, educate yourself and stay in tune with how this rulemaking is progressing by visiting epa.gov/wotus-rule or protectcleanwater.org for more information.

Kate Isaacson is the Projects & Events Coordinator for Eagle River Watershed Council. The Watershed Council has a mission to advocate for the health and conservation of the Upper Colorado and Eagle River basins through research, education, and projects. Contact the Watershed Council at (970) 827-5406 or visit www.erwc.org.

Van Beek: Sexual abuse and children

Imagine this …

You’re in bed and it’s almost morning. You begin thinking about the day.  You’ll be meeting new people and you’re excited about all the many things that will be happening today. What will you wear? It will be an amazing day!

Then the door creeps open. Your heart sinks. You decide to pretend to be asleep. Then the covers are lifted and an all-too-familiar, heavy weight is upon you. Hands are everywhere. Underwear is pulled down and there is heavy thrusting. You’ve learned to think about other things; it helps to take your mind off of the regular visits. You know to just keep quiet and soon it will be over.

A few minutes later, the door closes. You’ve been warned not to say anything, or things will get really bad. You get up and clean off, trying to get your mind back on this great day ahead. You put on your best clothes and run out the door, so as not to be late. You arrive, just in time to hear … “Welcome, class, to third grade.”

It’s never easy to discuss child sexual abuse. With the Jeffrey Epstein case dominating the news, I wanted to cover this very sensitive element of abuse that is often overlooked. There is no such thing as sex with underaged women or underaged men … it’s sex with children and no one is immune to the dangers. With online predators, or worse, vulnerabilities with a trusted adult, the situation is a silent threat across all communities. 

According to Crimes Against Children Research Center, one in five girls and one in 20 boys are sexually abused by age 18. While it is a difficult topic to discuss, we must be reminded that our communities are safe, but only because we are aware, and make a conscious effort to protect one another. 

Sexual abuse is not just the stuff of headlines, and it can happen to both girls and boys. The Epstein case simply highlights that those who appear reputable can be sexually abusive, and yes, even to children. Sadly, many of these cases cannot be prosecuted because the victims are too scared to testify, and often, they worry that they won’t be believed, or worse yet, that they somehow deserve it.

Looks can be deceiving

We often stereotype an abuser, which almost gives a free pass to those that don’t fit the expectation. These behaviors cross all barriers — economic, cultural, age, gender, professions. It can happen anywhere, even in Happy Valley. The most tragic is discovering that it is within a family, perhaps from someone you trust implicitly, which becomes their ticket to do as they please with little inhibition.

Online predators are the hardest to spot, especially with children. They engage their victims through games and chatrooms, usually disguised as another child. Parents assume it is an innocent interaction, not realizing they just let a child predator indirectly into their home. It usually begins with fun chats about the game, then moves into more personal information about school, friends, and family. 

Predators exploit vulnerabilities the child expresses, causing the child to question the love and loyalty of those around them, redirecting it toward their new best friend, “the only one who truly cares.” They become the child’s secret confidant and ultimately the in-person invitation is extended.  It is always a secret meeting with specific instructions. Sadly, it is often the last time the child is seen. 

Warning signs

How do we recognize sexual child abuse? 

According to the organization, Child Molestation Victims, many of us are not aware of the warning signs of sexual child abuse. We sometimes discount certain behaviors as simply exposure to inappropriate movies or video games from an older sibling, but that misconception is what the abuser counts on to provide them cover. 

The three main types of sexual abuse in children are, touching, non-touching, and exploitation. Touching is obvious and will sometimes be disguised as a game. Non-touching can include viewing pornography, live or on film, or exposing private areas. Exploitation may involve taking pornographic images or videos or at the extreme, soliciting a child for prostitution. 

Some signs of abuse may include physical signs, but also, unusual fear, excessive crying, eating disorders, sleep disorders — too much or too little, behavior regression, being overly clingy or dependent, anxiety, bedwetting, nightmares, social withdrawal including family, friends, or favorite activities, aggression towards others, depression, academic decline, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and other uncharacteristic behaviors. 

Of course, sexual abuse is not limited to children, and in Eagle County alone, we have had over 500 sexual abuse cases since 2009, from inappropriate fondling to rape, from young children to adults. In pornography cases, it is often difficult to identify the perpetrators, making prosecution difficult. This is why being aware and not staying silent is so critical. You may be saving a life. 

Finding help

If you are concerned, contact anyone in law enforcement, they will get you help; if urgent, 911 will get an officer out immediately. We have trained specialists who will work to bring victims to safety, regardless of age or gender or circumstance. 

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

Prevent Child Abuse America: 1-800-CHILDREN (1-800-244-5373)

James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. You can reach him at james.vanbeek@eaglecounty.us.

Tipton: A busy first half of 2019

Half of the year has gone by, and it’s been an especially busy start to the legislative year in Washington. As the representative of Colorado’s largest congressional district, there are no shortages of issues facing our communities, and here are a few that I have been focused on thus far.

First and foremost, I have continued to work on behalf of the more than 50,000 veterans living in Colorado’s Third Congressional District. It’s critical to ensure that those who served receive the care they deserve. I have introduced several bills to help veterans to including the Veterans Reimbursement for Emergency Ambulance Services Act, the Dental Care for Low-Income Veterans Act, and the Private Cemeteries Honoring Veterans of Next of Kin Act.

I also reintroduced a resolution expressing the importance of the USS Pueblo, a U.S. Naval ship which has been moored in a North Korean river and used as a propaganda tool for over 50 years. It’s incredibly important to honor the crew who were held captive for 11 months and to return the Pueblo back home. I hope the North Koreans view this as a unique opportunity to show a measure of goodwill as the U.S. and North Korea continue to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

In line with serving veterans is the need to ensure our military readiness remains high so that we may continue to enjoy the many blessings this country has to offer. This year, I joined with the Colorado delegation in asking that the Department of Defense re-establish Colorado as the headquarters for the U.S. Space Command.

Colorado has been a longtime leader in the aerospace and military industries and moving the headquarters to Colorado will ensure that the state continues that role. I have also introduced legislation that protects the Department of Defense’s sole High-Altitude Aviation Training Site  in Gypsum and was glad to have an amendment included into this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that had broad bipartisan support. This site offers world-class training for rotor-wing aviators before they go to combat zones, and it is critical to protect the facility and training to ensure military readiness. 

Another issue that must continue to be addressed, specifically for rural communities, is better planning and building out of high-speed internet infrastructure. Broadband isn’t just a luxury in the 21st Century, it is a necessity. Unfortunately, many families, students and businesses in rural areas still don’t have the same access to high-speed internet as their urban counterparts.

A recent study by the FCC showed that in Colorado, Denver County is the only county where residents have 100 percent access to high-speed broadband. For residents in other areas, there is a huge disparity. In Conejos County, for instance, less than 10 percent of residents in rural areas have access.

To address this, I have introduced the RURAL Broadband Act. This bill would help ensure federal funds supporting broadband build-out are going to areas where there is currently no broadband access. In some cases, we have seen duplicative investments in rural broadband infrastructure, which limits the reach of federal resources. It is important to make sure bureaucracy doesn’t stand in the way of bringing the internet to the communities that need it most. 

Anyone who lives in or has visited Colorado knows the value of our public lands. As a lifelong resident of Colorado, I share this sentiment and was especially proud to vote in support of the Natural Resources Management Act, which was signed into law earlier this year. This bill permanently reauthorized of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has greatly improved access public lands in Colorado, like the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The bill also included bills I introduced, the Fowler and Boskoff Peaks Designation Act, which renamed two mountains after Charlie Fowler and Christine Boskoff, two extraordinary mountaineers, and the Every Kid Outdoors Act, which will extend free access to public lands to 4th-grade students across the country.

Lastly, there is still a strikingly high number of lives that continue to be taken because of prescription and illegal drug overdose. I recently held a town hall meeting in Custer County to hear from the residents there on how the federal government can better help law enforcement and community health care facilities. From curbing drug flows at the southern border to ensuring our medical professionals have adequate resources, there are plenty of opportunities for Congress to continue working on behalf of the victims of opioid overdose and I will continue to ensure the best solutions are put forward.

Looking past the political noise in Washington is never easy, but I continue to focus on behalf of Colorado’s Third Congressional District. I look forward to visiting with communities across the district in the August district work period and bringing their concerns back to Washington as we look forward to the second half of 2019. As always, I value input on the many issues facing our country. For the latest updates and to give your input, please visit my website at Tipton.House.gov.

U.S. Rep Scott R. Tipton represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. His Washington, D.C., office can be reached at 202-225-4761.

Robbins: Gideon vs Wainwright was a seminal case in American law

A seminal American legal case has come to be known by the name of the book and made-for-TV movie that popularized it as “Gideon’s Trumpet.” 

The first Gideon, he of biblical fame, was a military leader, judge, and prophet whose calling and victory over the Midianites are recounted in chapters 6 through 8 of the Book of Judges. As a leader of the Israelites, he won a decisive victory over a Midianite army despite a vast numerical disadvantage.

His “trumpet,” as it were, derives from Judges 7:20, which holds that, “The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”

As the true-life protagonist in the case of Gideon v. Wainright shared the same name as the biblical hero, by a clever literary device, Anthony Lewis, the author of the 1964 book which memorialized the case, conscripted the military leader’s trumpet, arguably making the second “Gideon” — Clarence Earl Gideon — more famous than the first.

Such, I suppose, are the vagaries of religion, literature, and history.

Who, then, was the second Gideon?

He was an inmate.

In June of 1961, Clarence Earl Gideon was arrested in Panama Bay, Florida and charged with the crime of breaking and entering. When he appeared in court without a lawyer (he was too poor to afford one), Gideon requested that the court appoint one for him.

According to Florida law at the time, however, an attorney could only be appointed on behalf of an indigent defendant in capital cases (that is, a murder case). Accordingly, the court refused to appoint one. With no other option, Gideon represented himself at trial.

Despite what was purely circumstantial evidence, Gideon was convicted and sentenced to five years in the state penitentiary. 

Facing long odds

Gideon, however, was not done. Like his biblical namesake, despite overwhelming odds, Clarence Earl Gideon took on the state of Florida and, ultimately, the U.S. Constitution. 

With only an eighth grade education, and from his prison cell, working on his own and scratching out his argument in pencil, Gideon appealed his conviction, first to the state of Florida. Louie L. Wainright was the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections.

What Gideon filed with the Florida Supreme Court was a “habeas corpus” petition (Latin for “that you have the body”) which is employed to have the court determine if a state’s detention of a prisoner is valid. 

When the Florida Supreme Court refused him, Gideon next appealed to the United States Supreme Court. 

The nexus of his argument was that he had been denied counsel and, accordingly, his Sixth Amendment rights, as applied by the 14th Amendment, had been violated. The Sixth Amendment sets forth rights related to criminal prosecution. The 14th Amendment applies those rights to the states through the due process clause.

The court assigned Gideon prominent Washington D.C. attorney, Abe Fortas (later Supreme Court Justice Fortas) to represent him in his appeal.

The decision was announced in March, 1963.

A unanimous decision

In a unanimous decision, authored by Justice Hugo Black, the court held that it was wholly consistent with the constitution to require state courts to appoint counsel for defendants who could not afford to retain an attorney on their own. The court reasoned that the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of counsel is a fundamental and essential right. The Sixth guarantees the accused the right to assistance of counsel in all criminal prosecutions and requires courts to provide counsel for defendants unable to hire their own unless that right is knowingly, competently and intelligently waived.

The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is made obligatory upon the states by the 14th Amendment. 

Gideon changed things. As Robert F. Kennedy once observed, “If an obscure Florida convict named Clarence Earl Gideon had not sat down in his prison cell . . . to write a letter to the Supreme Court . . . the vast machinery of American law would have gone on functioning undisturbed. But Gideon did write that letter, the Court did look into his case . . . and the whole course of American legal history has been changed.” 

From Gideon forward, those accused in all criminal trials in all states of the union and before the federal courts were entitled to appointed counsel if they could not afford their own. The playing field was leveled.

Modernly, when one is “read their rights,” that recitation includes the admonition that “…You have the right to attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you….” 

This is part of what is known as the “Miranda Rights” and is sometimes called being “Mirandized.” Why Miranda? That is fodder for another column which will appear later in this series.

After his acquittal, Gideon resumed his previous life, married, and died of cancer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1972, age 61. His family buried him in an unmarked grave in Hannibal, Missouri. Later, the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union added a granite headstone, inscribed with a quote from a letter Gideon wrote to his attorney Abe Fortas, “Each era finds an improvement in law for the benefit of mankind.”

Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley with the law firm of Stevens, Littman, Biddison, Tharp & Weinberg LLC. His practice areas include business and commercial transactions, real estate and development, family law, custody and divorce and civil litigation. Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at his email address, robbins@slblaw.com.

Haims: Recalling memories and emotions with the help of music

Dementia, especially in its later stages, can put a wall between those who suffer from the ailment and the outside world. As cognitive abilities deteriorate, the sufferer usually becomes increasingly confused and agitated.

They may lose (or seem to lose) memories, become disoriented and lost, misidentify people, lash out or throw tantrums, or withdraw completely. In extreme cases, they may seem entirely shut off from the world.

One treatment for dementia that has gained more and more attention in recent years is music therapy. Increasingly popular with senior care and memory care experts, music therapy has proven effective at providing emotional engagement for cognitively-impaired patients where other treatments fail.

Music most often makes people smile — it’s visceral. It is something everyone can relate to. Music can help evoke memories, emotions, and enhance mental performance.

As the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America explains, music requires “little to no cognitive or mental processing.” Auditory and rhythmic responses are controlled by the motor center of the brain, which remains relatively unaffected by Alzheimer’s, even in later stages. Because of this, when a dementia sufferer hears music, they are not confused or disoriented, as they are with other forms of stimulation.

What makes music therapy especially valuable is the emotional responses it activates. Studies have shown that upbeat, uptempo music improves the mood of dementia patients. Slower, relaxing tunes often have a therapeutic effect, helping to reduce agitation and anger.

Since one of the biggest stumbling blocks to caring for seniors with dementia is signs of psychiatric distress and aberrant behavior, tools that assist in mitigating such behaviors are valuable.

Music therapy seems to work best with music that the sufferer already knows — in particular, songs the person learned before the age of 25. If the sufferer is in the early stages of dementia, it can be valuable to ask which songs from their childhood, teenage years, or early adulthood they most enjoy. If they have already reached the later stages of the disease, asking those who knew them in their youth or making an educated guess can also be effective.

Perhaps this is why the British Broadcasting Corporation has created the Music Memories website where caregivers who care for loved ones with dementia can develop music customized playlists.

Worldwide, studies are validating that music therapy assists in alleviating depression, anxiety, hallucinations and mobility problems in patients with cognitive disorders.

It is important when using music therapy to limit overstimulation. It is best to reduce other distractions and to play music that is commercial-free. Commercial interruptions can cause confusion and lead to increased agitation. It is also important not to play the music too loud and to watch carefully how the person reacts.

Some songs might prove soothing for one person and upsetting for another. This sometimes happens when a song is tied to an unpleasant emotion or memory, such as a failed relationship or a lost loved one. Read the person’s face for clues as to their mood and try another song if they seem to get distressed.

One of the biggest positives to music therapy is how it can help make in-home senior care more manageable. Combined with other treatment strategies, music therapy can help extend the time that care recipients spend in the comfort of their home — something extremely important for the emotional wellbeing of persons with brain disorders. As senior care providers, dementia care specialists, and partners of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, Visiting Angels has seen first-hand the difference such therapies can make.

Take the initiative to play music, sing, and shake your body with your loved ones. You may be quite surprised by the smile it evokes and the heartfelt emotions it conjures. Music is a brilliant way to reach beyond memory impairment and reach the person you love.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County.  He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is, www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526.