Hamner is ‘very concerned about education’ | VailDaily.com

Hamner is ‘very concerned about education’

Sarah Mausolf
NWS Hamner KA 1-15-11

AVON – Millie Hamner’s big secret came out Saturday morning during a town meeting at Loaded Joe’s in Avon.

“She’s a fabulous singer,” former state representative Christine Scanlan revealed.

Hamner has been in the spotlight lately because of her appointment to the state House of Representatives. She recently took over for Scanlan as state representative for Eagle, Summit and Lake counties. And while she’s best known as former superintendent for the Summit School District, she apparently has some lesser known talents as well.

“There are at least three of you here who I either sang at your wedding or at your child’s wedding,” she told the crowd at Loaded Joe’s.

Hamner, who officially took state office Wednesday, saw many familiar faces in the crowd at the coffee house Saturday morning. That’s because she lived here in Eagle County for many years.

Her first job here was a far cry from the pomp and circumstance of a state office. When she moved to West Vail in 1978, she taught at the little elementary school in Red Cliff. Through the 1980s, Hamner taught at Red Sandstone Elementary in Vail. She also worked as a teacher and assistant principal at Minturn Middle School.

Give her 35-year career in schools, it’s no surprise education is one of her top priorities. One of the bills she hopes to introduce would address the backlog in processing teacher licenses.

She said two more bills are due on Tuesday, so she’s formulating ideas through town meetings.

“I’d like to say I can fix I-70,” she said, getting a laugh from the crowd. “So if you have any quick, short-term solutions, I would love to hear what those might be. I am also concerned about forest health, so if you have some suggestions there. Obviously, I’m very concerned about education.”

With regard to education, Hamner said she thinks the state should focus on finding more funding for the state’s schools rather than generating unfunded mandates. Pinpointing money will be a big challenge, though, as the state grapples with closing a $1 billion budget shortfall.

Edwards resident Herb Luhman said he would like to see Hamner do more work on the proposed zipper lane for Interstate 70. The moveable barrier would add an extra lane for skier traffic during peak times.

Luhman said he and his wife used to live in Denver 20 years ago and drive to Keystone to ski. He said the traffic on I-70 would get jammed in both directions on weekends. He said he went down there last weekend and the traffic looked exactly the same.

“The three-lane switch seems to me to be the lowest cost, simple solution,” he said. “We’ve gone 20 years without a solution. The condition is the same.”

Scanlan said the state is looking into using the shoulder for traffic when the zipper lane is in use, so the highway won’t narrow to a single lane on one side. She said the Colorado Department of Transportation plans another round of studies on the $24 million zipper lane to determine whether emergency vehicles could get through.

“The zipper is the only thing that provides a near term fix to that [skier traffic],” she said. “Even if it’s just a Band-Aid from here to there, that would be all right.”

After being re-elected to her state representative post in November, Scanlan was tapped by Governor John Hickenlooper to serve as his director of legislative affairs. She assumed the post Jan. 3.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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