Category: Weird Grand Junction Stuff

“Merry Christmas,” Wacky Grand Junction Style

The owner of the land at the top of the 5th Street hill has a holiday message for Grand Junctionites. The previous sign in this spot previously depicted Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as a dragon slayer battling Muslims and corporate media

The owner of the land at the top of the 5th Street hill has a big holiday message for Grand Junctionites. The previous sign in this spot depicted Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as a dragon slayer battling Muslims and corporate media. (Photo Credit: AP – which does not stand for Associated Press)

New Recreational Marijuana Shop Adds 20 Jobs in Parachute

Staff of The Green Joint

Staff of The Green Joint

The town of Parachute, Colorado, in Garfield County, is celebrating the opening of its first recreational pot shop today. Parachute has a population of about 1,000 people, and the new shop, called The Green Joint, has already created 20 new jobs in the town. Parachute is about a 45 minute drive east of Grand Junction on I-70. The Green Joint already has seven other stores in the greater Roaring Fork Valley, including in jGlenwood Springs and Rifle.

In June 2015, the Trustees of the Town of Parachute voted 4-2 to end their ban on recreational marijuana sales in the town, opening the town to the financial benefits of the state’s booming new legal marijuana economy.

It’s no wonder Parachute is celebrating the store’s opening, too. After suffering losses of tax revenue and jobs as a result of the latest downturn in the oil and gas industries, a new 3.5 percent tax on the Green Joint’s sales will go to support support the town’s schools, law enforcement, firefighting and other city services.

Mesa County and Grand Junction remain unable to take advantage of the booming new marijuana economy, since both jurisdictions have banned retail recreational marijuana within their borders, with the exception of incorporated towns within Mesa County, which can make their own rules regarding whether or not to allow marijuana sales.

Main source: New Recreational Marijuana Shop, KREX TV, December 17, 2015,

The Problems with Mixing Religion and Government in Mesa County & Grand Junction

“Sad, that their choice was taken away…. No one had to take a Bible if they didn’t want one. All through life you have to make life decisions. This would have been a good life training to stand up as an individual and say ‘no thank you.’ ”

The above was a comment left on a previous blog about the Gideon Bible giveaway that was to take place at the Colorado Mesa University’s nursing program pinning ceremony December 11. This commenter, and others who wrote in a similar vein, show there is a fundamental misunderstanding about U.S. government locally, and about the nature of the U.S. government and the benefits of keeping church and state separate.

churchstateMany people mistakenly claim the U.S.was “founded as a Christian nation,” and point to our country’s founding documents as proof.

They need to look more closely.

The U.S. Constitution contains no mention of “God,” “Lord,” “Jesus,” “Christ” or any other deity. The founders intentionally designed it as a completely secular document. The Declaration of Independence does mention a generic “Creator,” but the Declaration is not U.S. law. It was a letter addressed to the King of England. Many people confuse the two documents. The difference between them is huge. The only document that has the force of law behind it is the Constitution. It’s the only one that really matters.

The Bill of Rights is similarly secular, with no mention of a god or gods, lords or deities. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, contained in the Bill of Rights, provides for a separation between religion and government. This provision truly sets the United States apart from other countries.

On-Campus Bible Giveaway Still On; CMU Nursing Students Unhappy with School’s Response to Bible Protest

GJ_CMU_sign2-630x418The anonymous Colorado Mesa University nursing students who oppose administration plans to hand out Gideon Bibles at their December 11 pinning ceremony are livid at the school’s response to their protest, and have already contacted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) about their plight.

“We are serious about it,” one of the anonymous complainants said.

Some students opposing the bible handout aren’t Christians, and some of them have no religious bent at all.

Bible handouts at nurses’ pinning ceremonies are normally features of religious institutions of higher learning, like Baptist or Christian colleges. It’s rare for a publicly-funded college or university to highlight a specific religion at a graduation ceremony this way, or for their graduation ceremonies to have any religious component at all, because of federal laws governing the separation of church and state.

The students want to remain anonymous because they’ve already gotten harassment and ridicule for speaking out against CMU’s endorsement of Christianity. They do not want to be put in the position of having to refuse to accept a bible in front of other people because a Catholic hospital is the biggest medical employer in the area, and they feel refusing to take a bible (or failing to be seen picking one up off a table) could negatively impact their ability to get jobs locally. Some of them may continue to have to interact with the same instructors in graduate programs.

Beyond that, the bible handout is more than just unfair to the nursing program’s non-Christian, atheist and agnostic students. It’s most likely illegal, and by allowing bibles to be given out on campus at a school-sponsored function, CMU may be crossing a legal line.

Under U.S. law, publicly-funded schools cannot give the appearance of endorsing any religion.

In a June 19, 2000 Supreme Court, ruling (pdf) in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Jane Doe, the Court wrote:

“[S]chool sponsorship of a religious message is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are nonadherents ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community and accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.’”

Giving away Christian bibles at an on-campus, school-sponsored event like a pinning ceremony — even if the bibles are simply set on a table for pickup — would give the distinct appearance that the school endorses that religion.

“Outing” the Protesters

Some school staff have claimed that the 31 students of the graduating class had already voted on the matter some time ago, but that’s not the case.  A memo nursing students got from staff earlier in the fall listed pinning ceremony requirements and indicated quite clearly that the bible giveaway was a non-negotiable part of the program. Also, the Director of CMU’s nursing program, Debra Bailey, sent out an email only yesterday, November 12, asking all of the students to vote by email on whether the bible giveaway should be part of the ceremony. The problem with this, aside from this vote being taken very late in the game and only under pressure, is that Ms. Bailey made the vote mandatory and ordered all of the students to submit their votes by email, which would of course allow her to “out” all of the protesters.

Is a vote like that fair? “No, of course not,” say the complaining students, who sought an anonymous vote on the matter. This vote seems more like a trap than anything else.

Screen shot 2015-11-13 at 4.41.51 PM

An Easy Fix

There is really no reason for all the hand-wringing, finger-pointing and agonizing that’s going on over this event, by students or staff. There is a very easy way to defuse the whole problem, stop cold any potential threat of litigation against CMU and its instructors and satisfy the upset nursing students 100% percent without inconveniencing anyone or costing anything: Move the Gideon Bible giveaway off campus entirely.

The Gideon volunteer could sit at the Christian coffee bar across 12th Street from CMU with the bibles, and nursing grads can be instructed to go to the coffee bar after the pinning ceremony to get one if they want it. Rather than putting unwilling people in the uncomfortable position of having to refuse a bible or be seen not taking one at the pinning ceremony, just make the books available to all the people who want them at an easily-accessible, comfortable location nearby off campus.

Voila’! Problem solved.

How Far Will CMU Staff Push the Matter?

All that remains to be seen is how far CMU Nursing Program staff are willing to push their luck with this issue, in the face of clear and fairly recent case law on the subject. Staff can insist on keeping the bible giveaway on campus and take their chances with a group of upset students contacting the ACLU and the FFRF, or they can solve the entire problem, placate the students and save CMU and themselves from any legal threat and just move it off campus.

It’s so easy to fix this problem and make everyone happy, but will they?

Given how issues of separation of church and state have played out in Grand Junction in the past, where elected officials have tried to prove a religious point by avoiding the easy, sensible solution and instead choosing expensive, convoluted solutions that cost taxpayers a lot of money, this issue could go either way. If this issue goes the wrong way, though, it could put CMU out on a limb.

Let’s hope that’s not the case with this issue at CMU. Let’s hope that the school administrators choose the simple, sensible solution, and move the bible giveaway off campus. Then they can avoid this thorny problem into the future by learning from it, honoring and respecting the diversity that exists on campus, and steadfastly avoiding any activity that resembles an endorsement of religion on campus from here on out.

 

 

 

 

CMU to Force Christian Bibles on RN/BSN Grads; Nursing Students Fight it

A box of Bibles from Gideons International

A box of Bibles from Gideons International

Students about to graduate from Colorado Mesa University’s RN/BSN nursing program are fighting a school-sponsored plan to hand out Gideon Bibles to nursing graduates after they step down from the dais at their pinning ceremony. The December 11 pinning ceremony is a symbolic welcoming of newly-graduated nurses into the nursing profession, and is the nursing students’ official, school-sponsored graduation ceremony.

Students Given No Choice

RN/BSN Nursing program administrators let students vote on many details of their own graduation ceremony, like the location and photographer, but made it clear to students that the Bible give-away was a non-negotiable part of the ceremony.

The Bibles are to be distributed by a local volunteer for Gideons International, a Christian evangelical organization that works to convert people to Christianity. According to their website, Gideons International is “dedicated to telling people about Jesus through sharing personally and by providing Bibles and New Testaments.” The Gideons are primarily known for putting Bibles in hotel and motel night stands, but they also distribute Bibles to elementary schools starting in the 5th grade, and to colleges, prisons, jails, hospitals and medical offices.

CMU nursing students who aren’t Christian and some who aren’t religious were appalled that they would be forced to either accept or reject a Christian Bible in front of the entire audience at their graduation ceremony. The students protested the Bible give-away to CMU president Tim Foster, but nursing program faculty attempted to ridicule the complaint and told students it is simply “what we do,” and they should just accept the Bible as a gift.

christianNurseThe disaffected students then contacted Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF), a group that advocates for the separation of church and state. WCAF wrote a letter (pdf) to CMU President Foster and Diana Bailey, the head of CMU’s RN/BSN program, on the students’ behalf explaining that many students in CMU’s 2015 nursing class who aren’t Christians find the Bible give-away offensive and improper.  Under the law, WCAF said, the Gideons can give away Bibles, but only if they stand on city-owned sidewalk, well off school property, while they do it.

CMU Focuses Exclusively on Christianity

“It’s a blatant disregard of other peoples’ religion,” said one student, who wished to remain anonymous, to WCAF members. Another student wondered why just one religion would be represented at the ceremony. To be fair, the students said, CMU needs to distribute texts from other religions as well, like Books of Mormon, Korans and Talmuds.

The students have a point.

Public schools can’t do anything that gives the appearance of endorsing a single religion.

The Supreme Court, ruling (pdf) in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Jane Doe (June 19, 2000), explained that,

“[S]chool sponsorship of a religious message is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are nonadherents ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community and accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.’”

Publicly-funded institutions like CMU have to stay neutral in matters of religion, and cannot do anything a reasonable person might construe as an endorsement of a particular religion.

And that’s exactly how the nursing students see the Bible give-away: as an improper endorsement of one and only one religion: Christianity.

The nursing students have three main goals:

  1. They want to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution and the potential for compromising their future careers locally,
  2. They want their entire class to be able to vote on the Bible give-away, and if a majority of the class approves of it, the students want other religious texts, as well as information on atheism, to be included in the give-away.
  3. The want CMU to acknowledge that the Bible give-away violates the law, and they want to keep future nursing classes from having to grapple with this same issue over again in future years.
CMU President Tim Foster

CMU President Tim Foster

One thing that’s working in the nurses’ favor is Gideons’ own internal policy governing the distribution of Bibles in schools. Gideon International’s Form 115 policy on school scripture distribution (in Section 4-1, under “Reaching the Hearts of our Young People”) says,

“If any method of distribution [at a school] has the potential to create media publicity, the distribution must be cancelled or postponed.”

If CMU refuses to work with the nursing students to change or eliminate the Bible give-away, WCAF has vowed to contact the local media, protest at the pinning ceremony and, if necessary, contact the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) for legal help fighting it.

Mysterious Redlands Talking Hill: Still Communicating

The Mysterious Redlands Talking Hill speaks again. This time, it says "YETI." Why? No one knows.

The Mysterious Redlands Talking Hill now says “YETI.” Why? No one knows.

As previously noted here on AnneLandmanBlog., the Mysterious Redlands Talking Hill’s constantly-changing messages consist of single 3-4 letter words only. Over the past few years the Hill has said innumerable things, including “MOM,” “DAD,” “MOON,” TREK,” “USA,” and “XMAS.” Last week it said “YETI.”

Who repeatedly clambers up this crumbling hillside to scratch huge, short, engimatic messages into the hillside?

No one knows. But whoever it is, please keep it up. It sure keeps our interest!

You can see the Talking Hill from the intersection of Monument and South Camp Roads. Pull over in the general area of the intersection of the two roads, and look northwest towards the greenish, bentonite hill located between the two buttes with rocks on top, as seen in the picture.

Report to AnneLandmanBlog what is says when you see it!

 

 

 

Why Stop at Renaming North Ave.? Grand Junction Needs a Modern Moniker

Grand Junction is plagued by a host of bad nicknames

Grand Junction is plagued by a host of bad nicknames

Note – Owing to City Council’s now-official change of name of North Ave. to University Ave. in 2017, I am re-posting this blog from 2015.

In a March 24, 2015 editorial, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel argues that “North Avenue needs a modern moniker.” The article cites the town’s extensive modernization and expansion since it’s founding many years ago, and extensive capital improvements, like the airport and interstate highway, as reasons to rename North Avenue to University Avenue — the most frequently suggested new name for the street.

Changing the name of North Avenue is a fine idea, but it’s thinking small.

Re-Naming is On a Roll, But What Will Really Work to Remove Grand Junction’s Negative Baggage?

We need to take collective big deep breath, go a big step further and rename the entire city.

Lots of local features have been renamed in the past few years. We’ve re-named Walker Field Airport, Mesa State College and F Road, all with no ill effects. The new names have even proven to be marked improvements over the old names, eliminating confusion and better representing the amenities they point to.

But let’s face it, folks. Grand Junction has plenty of negative baggage. This is reflected in the slew of pejorative nicknames our area has earned: “Grand Junktown,” “Gland Function,” “Spun Junction,” “Meth Junction,” “Tweakerville,” to name a few. Moreover, our town has given rise to a disproportionate number of dysfunctional institutions, embarrassing political scandals and politicians.