D-51 employees have shared their views with AnneLandmanBlog anonymously, due to fears of retribution by the District.
This message was sent to AnneLandmanBlog by a School District-51 employee who asked that I paraphrase their message rather than quote them verbatim, to help keep them anonymous. The employee fears potential backlash by the District for weighing in publicly on the way Superintendent Brian Hill is proposing to close the Fruita 8/9 public school.
School District 51 is holding forums today and tomorrow (Wednesday, 11/15 and Thursday, 11/16) to discuss the state’s new social studies standards. The forums are today at Redlands Middle School and tomorrow at Orchard Mesa Middle School, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. each day.
In this excerpt from an interview with “Ruth” and “Lisa” (who do not provide their last names) posted on a YouTube account named “MesaCountyCompass” on October 8, 2023, “District 51 School Board candidate Barbara Evanson says she would ban “a ton of material” from school libraries that she feels is inappropriate.
Truth & Liberty Coalition fliers seek to influence the local school board election by focusing on right wing culture war issues. The fliers were placed at La Milpa Tortilleria on 30 Road.
High-quality, multi-colored, bilingual fliers created by the front range Christian dominionist group Truth & Liberty Coalition are showing up at businesses around town. The fliers use right wing culture war rhetoric targeting gay and transgender students in an attempt to influence the outcome of the November 7 District 51 School Board election. The fliers appear to endorse CynDee Skalla, Jessica Hearns and Barbara Evanson.
The fliers were found at La Milpa Tortilla Factory in Grand Junction and are bilingual in English and Spanish.
The former Rocky Mountain Gun Club building at 545 31 Road, where Ascent Classical Academy plans to open a new charter school eventually, after missing its initially-proposed September 5 date for occupancy. The gun club signs were still on the building as of early August.
Michael Kosnett, M.D., M.P.H., at CU Anschutz School of Public Health in Aurora, CO, an expert in medical toxicology, occupational and environmental health who specializes in occupational and environmental toxicology of heavy metals, including lead, weighed in about the type of post-remediation lead testing that should be used at the Ascent Classical Academy building (swipe or bulk testing), and what the residual lead levels are allowed to be in this situation.
Lead is a highly poisonous element that, according to UNICEF, is responsible for 1.5% of global deaths. Children are particularly susceptible to its effects.
How much lead exposure does it take to poison a child? This much.
AnneLandmanBlog received the following email from Bradley Turpin, Milk and Institutions Program Manager in CDPHE’s Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability saying the company that performed the post-remediation testing for lead at the new Ascent Classical Academy building (the old Rocky Mountain Gun Club at 545 31 Road) did in fact use a test that they are allowed to use in this instance. He apologized for the confusion caused by their former statement that bulk testing would be appropriate in this situation. The official did not comment on the current lead levels in the building, but CDPHE does appear to be involved in overseeing the remediation.
How lead is dispersed at shooting ranges (Georgia Dept. of Public Health/Seattle Times)
The Vertex Company LLC of Denver, which Ascent Classical Academy hired to test the old Rocky Mountain Gun Club building for lead contamination after the building was remediated, did the wrong kind of testing, says an specialist with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
Caren Johannes of CDPHE’s Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division Compliance Unit, who oversees closed shooting ranges, looked over online remediation report (pdf) that Ascent posted its website on August 11, 2023, and concluded that the Vertex Company did the wrong kind of testing for lead in the building, so their results will not be valid.
How much lead exposure does it take to poison a child? This much. And so far no one has guaranteed there isn’t this much lead remaining in the old Rocky Mountain Gun Club building, which is being repurposed to serve as Ascent Classical Academy’s new charter school in Grand Junction
Notice: Since this article was written, AnneLandmanBlog has found out from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)’s Hazardous Waste department expert in charge of dealing with closed firing ranges that Ascent contractor Vertex Companies of Denver utilized the wrong type of post-remediation testing technique for this facility, rendering the results in the report Ascent posted on August 11 invalid and essentially useless. Read more about it here.
And Ascent did not test the air inside the facility.
Derek Shuler, CEO of Ascent Classical Academies, in 2018 (Photo: YouTube)
The post-remediation testing was performed by the Vertex Company, which included a disclaimer in the report that essentially says it wasn’t feasible to test all areas of the building, so there may still be areas where lead dust levels exceed HUD limits.
UPDATE as of 8/11/2023, 4:00 p.m. – Ascent Classical Academy updated it’s blog today with a link to a report (pdf) provided by remediation project manager, the Vertex Company. The actual remediation was performed by Hudspeth Environmental Remediation Company based in Centennial, whose website says they specialize in asbestos and lead paint removal. According to the chart provided in the report, many areas remain 5 to 23 times above HUD’s recommended lead clearance cleanup standard of <10 µ/sq.ft. (less than 10 micrograms per square foot). Among these are the men’s bathroom on the first floor, which had 71 µ/sq.ft, the floor of the first floor “men’s restroom in the tactical area,” with 83 µ/sq.ft., the former “Handgun range – floor in NE corner” at 68 µ/sq.ft., “Handgun range – floor in middle by west wall” at 57 µ/sq.ft., the “Handgun range – center of floor in room south of handgun range,” which had 130 µ/sq.ft., the “Handgun range – floor in SE corner” at 98 µ/sq.ft. and “Handgun range – floor in room south of range” with 230 µ/sq.ft.
The “Discussion” part of the report states,
“As it is not feasible to sample all areas of all surfaces, the wipe sampling strategy utilized by VERTEX does not provide for, nor ensure that all surfaces within a subject property undergo wipe sampling; thus, the possibility exists that lead-in-dust concentrations on surface locations not sampled during an assessment may be in excess of HUD and/or CDPHE Regulation 19 cleanup standards.”
Translation:” It’s not feasible to test the whole property, so there may be lead concentrations in places we didn’t check that may be in excess of HUD and CDPHE’s cleanup standards.”
Ascent does not yet have a Certificate of Occupancy for the building.
The Ascent Classical Academy charter school is planning to move into the old Rocky Mountain Gun Club building at 545 31 Road, which formerly served as an indoor shooting range for 7 years. The inside of the building is currently being rebuilt and their website says the first day of school will be Tuesday, September 5, 2023, but to date, Ascent still hasn’t provided the public with documentation from a government health authority that their building poses no threat of lead poisoning to occupants, and they appear to be withholding information on the remediation status of the building. [See above update.]
A post on Janet Rowland’s “VoteJanetRowland” Facebook page promoting the child care center at the county’s new Clifton Campus community building. Jeff Kuhr was key to making the child care center in Clifton possible, but Rowland never mentioned his contributions. (Janet is the blonde in the hard had in the photos.)
Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland wasted no time in taking credit for the contributions towards improving childcare in Mesa County made by former Public Health Director Jeff Kuhr, whom Rowland recently pushed out through an expensive and vicious months-long campaign over a personnel disagreement.
On July 29, Rowland showed off the new Clifton Community Campus at 3270 D 1/2 Road to Governor Jared Polis, crowing that it was “designed to be a community hub featuring an early childhood education center…” without ever mentioning that Public Health Director Kuhr was the one who initiated the big push to expand child care in the county (pdf) and helped the County get funding to make the childcare center possible.
Advocates for Moms Demand Action, a gun violence prevention group, handed Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-CO) a pin on July 18 honoring 10-year old Maite Rodriguez, one of 19 children massacred in the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022.
Some people are expressing concern about the president of Grand Mesa Little League after finding out about an arrest in his background that involved sexually-tinged abuse of younger kids, and seeing worrisome comments about his behavior on social media.
Christopher Riley, who was formerly known as Christopher David Rasmussen, was arrested November 21, 2001, on charges of third degree assault and false imprisonment after he tied up a 14 year old boy at Grand Junction High School who had resisted Rasmussen’s attempts to videotape him nude. Rasmussen was also accused of filming additional students nude at the school earlier that month. Rasmussen’s name was made public in the Daily Sentinel at the time because he was 18 years old at the time of the incident.
Board of Mesa County Commissioners. (L-R: Bobbie Daniel, Cody Davis and Janet Rowland). Photo: Mesa County
District Attorney Dan Rubinstein announced he’s closed the investigation into the Mesa County Commissioners’ allegations of financial wrongdoing by Mesa County Public Health Director Dr. Jeff Kuhr, saying,
“We lack sufficient evidence of anything criminal…” and “…[We] lack sufficient evidence that Mr. Kuhr was personally involved in, or personally directed, any level of reporting that would make him criminally culpable for material misstatements.”
Drinking Liberally is a non-partisan social group that holds get-togethers in town at food and drink establishments while hosting guest speakers. The event focuses on protection of our civil liberties, like freedom from government and corporate overreach (for example denying workers the right to organize, denying women the right to access abortions and preventing transgender people access to medical care). On Tuesday, May 23, the event was held at Edgewater Brewery at 905 Struthers, by the Colorado River.
The packed crowd included notable conservatives like Tom Keenan and Cindy Ficklin, members of the far right wing group, Stand for the Constitution. The event featured two Speakers: newly-elected Mesa County Clerk Bobbie Gross and Darren Cook, former longtime D-51 teacher who is running for D-51 School Board.
Ascent Classical Academy’s auction. There is no notification that these items were taken out of a lead-contaminated building
A classified ad in today’s Daily Sentinel gives notice that an auction is being held online to benefit the new Ascent Classical Academy charter school. All of the fixtures that were in the old Rocky Mountain Gun Club building, the building to be used to house the school, are being auctioned off to raise money for the school.
Since lead contamination is a well-known hazard at former shooting ranges due to the very fine lead dust thrown off by bullets when they are fired, the building is undergoing remediation for lead. All of the fixtures previously inside the building, including the HVAC system, cabinets, furniture, artwork, lumber and other items were also contaminated with lead.
Lead poisoning caused by exposure to lead can cause serious health problems, especially in young children.
Click the image to go to the new website for the Andrea Haitz recall effort
The public can now keep track of the effort to recall School District 51’s Board President Andrea Haitz by going to SignForKids.com, where people can find out where to sign petitions, get trained in how to gather signatures, donate to the effort or volunteer to help. The organizers need to gather 15,000 valid signatures of registered voters within the next two months.
The website states the public’s grievances against Haitz:
Andrea Haitz was elected to the District 51 Board in 2021, promising transparency.
Instead, Haitz has turned local control of school dollars over to extremist organizations, turned fundamental parts of her job over to expensive lawyers, denied student pleas for mental health services, and used her office for family political gain.
The biggest decisions at District 51 are now being turned over to outside interests and fringe extremists who don’t represent Mesa County families.
Before Andrea Haitz was on the District 51 School Board, she was on the Juniper Ridge charter school board.
In January of 2018, while on Juniper Ridge’s board, the school was found to be educating kindergarteners in a 10×20 foot windowless tent that was heated by a wood stove and had a single rented porta-potty next it for a bathroom, alongside a bright red wood chipper.
On November 8, 2022, Colorado passed Proposition FF, a ballot measure to provide free meals to all public school students. The measure, called the Healthy School Meals for All Program, was referred to the ballot by the state Legislature and passed by a healthy margin of 57-43%. The measure generates funds by limiting state tax deductions for people earning over $300,000/year, and is set to raise more than $100 million/year. The program will reimburse participating school districts to provide free meals to all students and will provide grants for Districts to purchase local food. According to the Healthy School Meals for All FAQ guide, there is also an option for participating districts to provide wage increases or stipends to front-line staff who assist with the program.