Mesa County Missing Out On State’s Pot Bonanza

Mesa County's economy languishes while the rest of the state thrives (Photo credit: KKCO 11 News)

Mesa County’s economy languishes while the rest of the state booms (Photo credit: KKCO 11 News)

Recent news reports tell of the Mesa County Commissioners’ current struggle to deal with a $3 million budget deficit due to decreasing tax revenue. At the same time, Grand Junction City Councilors, citing a lack of tax revenue, turn down a chance to host the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, a potentially huge economic boon and an event that could draw favorable domestic and international media coverage for the city.

The economy remains bad and getting worse on other fronts in Mesa County, too. Last June, Mesa County saw its biggest jump in unemployment in 12 months, rising 6.6 percent in June alone. The lost jobs are attributed to low gas prices and continuing cutbacks in the oil and gas field, which has a long history locally of being an unreliable, employer locally.

At the same time that Mesa County’s economy is circling the drain, unemployment rates in the rest of the state are tumbling and, according to the Denver Post, have reached new lows not seen since the dot-com boom in the 1990s. Front range rents are high, vacancies are low and by all accounts other parts of the state are buzzing with new and growing economic activity.

So why is Mesa County languishing amid the state’s overall economic bonanza?

Things are bad here in large part because the Mesa County Commissioners and Grand Junction City Council are barring citizens in our area the ability to participate in the booming new marijuana economy.

Pro-Pot Jurisdictions Booming

TV networks show documentaries about the boon legal marijuana has been to Colorado's economy

TV networks show documentaries about the boon legal marijuana has been to Colorado’s economy

KKCO 11 News broadcast a story on June 1, 2015 that said from January 1 through April 30th, the tiny town of DeBeque, with its population of just 503, collected over $43,000 from taxes on recreational marijuana from just the two licensed recreational pot shops they have so far in their town, only one of which had been opened for business by that time. In addition, the Town of DeBeque has gotten almost $10,000 in donations from Kush Gardens, one of the town’s recreational pot shops.

Palisade is pocketing $60,000-80,000 annually from it’s one medicinal marijuana store. The funds are derived from a sales tax and a $5-per-transaction fee.

These Mesa County jurisdictions can benefit from the new marijuana economy because they are incorporated towns, and as such can make their own rules about what they will accept within their own boundaries, even if pot sales are banned on the unincorporated county land surrounding them.

Elsewhere in the state, jurisdictions that permit retail marijuana grow and sales operations are thriving.

Denver's economy has boomed from 2012-15, in the wake of legalized marijuana. Grand Valley citizens see none of it.

Denver’s economy has boomed from 2012-15, in the wake of legalized marijuana. Grand Valley citizens see none of it.

Front range hotels just had their best year in five years. Hoteliers attribute a significant part of their bonanza to pot tourism. In September, Denver-area hotels reported being almost completely full while charging their highest rates ever, around $130 per room, pumping higher revenues than ever into the pockets of hotel owners — almost a seven percent increase over this same time last year.

PR Newswire reported last April that since marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2012, Denver has seen a spike in popularity among tourists and is now the 14th most popular domestic destination for Americans, according to Other states that have legalized marijuana, like Washington and Oregon, are seeing similar spikes in tourism.

Stories about the boom states are seeing from legalized marijuana fill the media. TV networks like MSNBC are running documentaries with titles like “Pot Barons of Colorado.” They refer to legalized marijuana as the “21st century green rush.”

Colorado's state marijuana tax revenues by month for 2014

Colorado’s state marijuana tax revenues by month for 2014 (Credit: Washington Post)

In July, TIME Magazine published a “Guide to Marijuana Tourism in America” that focused on the two states, Colorado and Washington, that have legal, licensed dispensaries that sell recreational marijuana. You can’t buy advertising like that.

New and unique pot tourism-related businesses are springing up all across the front range, creating jobs and income. They include things like “cannabis concierges,” “Bud and Breakfast” lodging establishments, dispensary-and-grow operation bus tours and even full weekend pot tourism excursions that draw $1,000 a pop and include transportation to and from the airport, a cannabis cooking class with a professional chef, two nights at a fancy hotel and a loan of a dry herb vaporizer to allow guests to more safely enjoy cannabis, and be able to legally enjoy it in a hotel room.

Meanwhile, Mesa County Continues to Miss Out

In the mean time, Mesa County’s economy languishes, and people here can only watch the rest of the state thrive as they lose out on the biggest new economic bonanza to hit the state in decades. Thousands of Mesa County residents continue to struggle with economic ills like homelessness, lack of adequate food and extremely low and stagnant wages. KKCO broadcast a special report November 15 on homelessness in the Grand Valley which cited homelessness even among hard-working employed people who aren’t paid anywhere near a living wage. Night after night, local western slope TV news shows are filled with reports of charity groups struggling to feed, clothe and house area families and individuals who remain locked in poverty, struggling to make ends meet — and who are often losing the battle.

Mesa County's suicide rate is three times the national average, and some reports attribute this in part to the area's poor economy and low wages

Mesa County’s suicide rate is almost three times the national average; health department analysts attribute this in part to the area’s overall poor economy, low wages and unemployment (Chart credit: Robert Garcia, The Daily Sentinel)

When will the Mesa County Commissioners and Grand Junction City Councilors realize they can’t hold back the reality of marijuana legalization forever? When will they see the tremendous opportunity it has placed right at our feet, and approach it with creativity and optimistic, forward-thinking planning instead of abject fear?

Maybe never, unless local voters FINALLY choose to elect new, less fearful, more open-minded and progressive public officials. The same old mindset of the people we’ve elected to office for so long here have gotten the Grand Valley’s economy absolutely nowhere, and have even gotten our area in deeper trouble with problems like massive deficits, a county commissioner’s junket to Hawaii, airport investigations and huge severance payouts to failed and fired public employees.

Time for a change?

We certainly think so.

Local Woman, Dr. April Goggans, Opens First Solo Concierge Medical Practice in Grand Junction

Dr. April Goggans is the first solo-practitioner to open a concierge medical practice in the Grand Valley

Dr. April Goggans, the first solo medical practitioner to open a concierge practice in the Grand Valley

Doctors in Grand Junction who have gotten frustrated with the modern bureaucracies of health care are adopting an entirely new, less complicated and more satisfying business model that cuts out insurance companies completely and lets them spend generous amounts of time with patients.

It’s called “concierge medicine,” and in this business model, patients pay a single yearly fee to a doctor. In exchange, they get fast access directly to the doctor via phone, secure email, text, 24/7 video chat or in person. At office visits, which can be gotten on short notice, concierge doctors give their patients highly personalized care and spend as much time as necessary to answer every last question their patients may have about their condition. And if later on after the appointment you think of something you forgot to ask, just call, text, or email your doctor and get an answer right away.

This kind of personal, patient-centered care hasn’t existed for a long time. It makes us think of kindly, mild-mannered old-time T.V. doctors like Marcus Welby, M.D., who treated people like they were important individuals, and spent plenty of time with each of their patient in an age of increasingly factory-like, impersonal medicine.

Well, this isn’t yesteryear, and not a TV fantasy, either. It is now really happening right here in Grand Junction.

A Pioneering Local Doctor

The first solo practitioner to adopt the concierge medicine business model in Grand Junction is April Goggans, D.O., a Grand Junction native. You may have known her when she was growing up locally as the daughter of fiery, red-headed long-time Orchard Mesa beauty salon owner Frankie Goggans and dentist James Goggans.

April Goggans attended high school and college right here in the Grand Valley before being accepted to the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her training as an Osteopathic Family Physician in Corpus Christi, Texas, and has now returned to give Grand Valley residents the high quality medical attention she feels they deserve, and try and revolutionize the practice of medicine in a way that takes the misery out of it and gives doctors the luxury of more quality time to spend with their patients, like in the olden days.

Doctor-Symbol-copyDr. Goggans, a primary care physician, is skilled in treating conditions like diabetes (both insulin and oral treatment), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, kidney disease, neuropathy, atrial fibrillation, migraine, tension, and cluster headaches, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, anemia, and many more. As an osteopath, Dr. Goggans can also treat conditions like back or neck pain, sciatica, chronic sinus problems and hip, knee or foot pain. For more information about Dr. Goggans and osteopathic medicine, click here.

Putting Cost in Perspective

If you smoke a pack of Marlboros a day, you’re spending over $2,000 a year on cigarettes. If you buy a frappuccino a day, you’re paying almost as much. You could also easily spend that much per year on tires and maintenance for your car. But what about maintenance of your own health?

For a flat fee of just $1,500 per year you will be able to contact Dr. Goggans any time of the day or night, and get a response from her directly by text, secure email, video chat or phone.  She will even come your house for a medical problem if you ask for a house call. To cover a spouse or partner is just $1,000 more per year. She will treat the children of patients on an emergency basis, but is not a pediatrician and does not accepts children as primary care patients. She also makes calls to hotels for guests who experience emergencies or unexpected illnesses.

This new kind of practice Dr. Goggans is pioneering in our area allows doctors to end the misery of having to deal with the headaches caused by health insurance companies, their 800 numbers, billing departments, mandatory pre-authorizations for procedures, limited reimbursements and time-consuming paperwork.

Dr. Goggans strongly recommends that people use concierge medicine in addition to having health insurance, however, since this kind of practice does not cover hospitalization for major illness or injury.

To find out more about this unique new medical practice now available in Grand Junction and more about Dr. Goggans, go to,


The Best Home Health Caregiver in Grand Junction is Available to Help

CaregiverDo you have an elderly parent who needs help around the house cooking, cleaning, shopping and taking medications? Are you struggling to keep a disabled friend in his or her own home? Are you an older person yourself in need of help around the house so you can stay out of a nursing home or institution?

If so, you’re in luck, because the best freelance home health provider in Grand Junction is now available to help.

Sharon Schultz is the freelance home health care giver I hired to take care of my elderly mom full time in 2012. She came highly recommended to me by a friend who employed her for three years to take care of her own mom. I was so lucky Sharon was available just at the time when my Mom started needing extra help. Sharon was Mom’s caregiver and companion for three years, until she died last June 10. Sharon is truly the best caregiver you could ever find, and we were endlessly impressed with her.

Sharon is a skilled and patient memory care specialist who worked for many years in institutional settings locally, but who wanted to provide better care to her charges than she was able to do in an institution. The best way she could do that, she found, was to work on a freelance basis, so that is what she does.

Exemplary Caregiver

Sharon does it all: in addition to her medical skills, she is a down-home country cook, a master gardener and a housekeeper with a detailed eye. She tended to my Mom like she was royalty. Here are some examples of some things she did for my mom:

She planted a vegetable garden in Mom’s back yard and raised tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and eggplant. She took Mom to the greenhouse so Mom could pick out the veggies she wanted to have herself.  Later in the summer, when the veggies were ready to pick, Sharon made Mom home-made dishes from the proceeds of the garden. Sharon would get recipe books from the library, let my mom pick out the dishes she’d like to try, and then make them for her — whatever she wanted. Under her watchful eye, Sharon managed to get my Mom’s diabetes under excellent control — no easy feat. (Sharon can administer medications and insulin.) She cleaned Mom’s house beautifully, did all the grocery shopping and kept Mom’s house neat as a pin and her lawn neatly mowed. My mom loved elephants, so Sharon took Mom on a trip to the Denver Zoo to see the elephants. Sharon would make delicious, multiple-course holiday meals and invite the whole family over to Mom’s house, so she could enjoy family get-togethers in her own home at times like the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. Sharon helped Mom do jigsaw puzzles and took her on rides to the fruit stands on Orchard Mesa in summer.

Sharon does it all, with love and caring. She is a true professional. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the skilled, incredibly attentive and detail-oriented care Sharon gave my Mom. Sharon truly made the last three years of my mom’s life her happiest ever.

If you are interesting in hiring this wonderful caregiver, either full or part time, for yourself or an elderly friend or relative who needs assistance, call her right away at 255-0028, before someone else snaps her up. Tell her Anne Landman sent you.


Statement from the CMU BSN Nursing Class of 2015

Colorado Mesa University’s 2015 Bachelor of Science in Nursing class graduating students have issued the following statement about today’s resolution of the Gideon Bible giveaway controversy that has taken place over the last several weeks:


November 18, 2015

To whom it may concern;

We, the Colorado Mesa University BSN class of December 2015, have collectively reached a resolution regarding the recent events surrounding our pinning ceremony. We respectfully request that any interested parties cease any further action and involvement. We ask that you allow us to celebrate our accomplishments amongst family and friends without controversy. Thank you.

Sincerely, BSN Class of December 2015

Congratulations to all the graduates on your wonderful accomplishments. You will no doubt do great things in the world!

Foster: Bible Giveaways Over at CMU


A victory for separation of church and state locally

In a clean win for common sense and the separation of church and state locally, Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster announced this morning that he is ending all on-campus bible giveaways at CMU.

In a note to people who had contacted him about the issue, Foster thanked those who had provided him feedback and potential solutions about what to do with the longstanding but now highly controversial tradition.

Foster wrote,

I have had additional discussions with Health Sciences faculty and nursing students. I have sought legal counsel and researched legal precedent. I have listened to the divergent viewpoints of others. Taking all that into consideration, the Bible give-away at the pinning ceremony will be discontinued.Though the presentation of Bibles to graduating nurses by the Gideons at the pinning ceremony is a long-standing, international tradition and the pinning ceremony itself does, in fact, have religious roots, it is important to remain focused upon and to celebrate the accomplishment achieved by all of our graduating students at the December 2015 Commencement.”

Foster’s decision protects the university from potential lawsuits, since it is against the law for any publicly-funded institution to endorse a single religion over others, or over non-religion.

Congratulations go to the extraordinary “Anonymous 5” nursing students who risked their careers and endured a tremendous amount of personal stress at a difficult time to address this thorny issue at CMU, and make the school fairer and friendlier to it’s increasingly diverse student body. They are a wonderful example of the quality of people who graduate from CMU’s nursing program, and a tremendous credit to the City of Grand Junction and the entire western slope.

Freedom From Religion Foundation Weighs in on CMU’s Graduation Bible Giveaway

GradBThe Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a letter to Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster urging him to end the practice of allowing Gideons International to hand out bibles to students at on-campus graduation ceremonies.

A group of students who are about to graduate from CMU’s nursing program have protested an administration plan to have Gideon Bibles offered to students at their December 11 pinning ceremony at Moss Auditorium. Program instructors indicated to the nursing students that the bible giveaway was a non-negotiable part of the ceremony. Later, under pressure, program staff held a mandatory vote on it by email only, a method that would allow them to identify the dissenting students.

The practice of handing out Gideon Bibles to nursing grads apparently dates back at least four decades at CMU, and has been unchallenged until now. CMU does not offer Gideon Bibles to graduates of any other degrees or programs, however, and just restricts the practice to the nursing program.

In his letter to CMU, FFRF staff attorney Andrew Seidel writes,

“Distributing bibles and scheduling religious invocations at university-sponsored events such as graduation ceremonies raise constitutional concerns. This is particularly true because of the proselytizing nature of bible distribution. It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that publicly-funded institutions cannot in any way promote, advance, or otherwise endorse religion…”

Seidel further writes,

“Thrusting bibles at students — who may be of varying faiths or not faith — at graduation is coercive, embarrassing, and beyond the scope of our public higher education system. Individuals are free to worship on their own time in their own way. Students and supporters in the audience should not be expected to show obeisance toward religious ritual or belief systems which are not their own. CMU ought not to lend its power and prestige to religion, amounting to a governmental endorsement of religion that excludes the 23% of Americans that identify as nonreligious.”

It’s Been Going on for Years, So Why Now?

CMU has been offering bibles to nursing grads for years, so why is the practice being challenged only now?

teacher-student-BibleProbably because a growing number of Americans, along with an especially large number of so-called “millenials” born after 1981, identify themselves as non-religious. About 35% of Americans born after 1981 consider themselves nonreligious. This is the same population that makes up most college and university student bodies. Many of these students are savvy and know that having bibles be distributed on the campus of a public school violates their rights. As Seidel of FFRF points out in his letter, the practice of distributing bibles “alienates non-Christian students, teachers and members of the public whose beliefs are inconsistent with the religious message being promoted by CMU.” Numerous court cases have found the practice violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prevents government from endorsing a religion.

The potential legal quagmire CMU could face by hosting this on-campus bible giveaway (and ones in the future, if there are more) could easily be defused by moving the giveaway off campus, to a nearby church or coffee bar. Graduating nursing students could then simply be informed that if they want a free bible, all they have to do is go to that establishment after the ceremony and show their pins. Students who don’t want to be put in the position of having to refuse a bible in front of everyone at graduation would be off the hook, and so would the school.

It’s an easy fix. What remains to be seen is how far CMU administration will go to try to hang onto what is quickly becoming an archaic practice, and which, as they now well know, could hold some legal liability for the school as well.