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"I think it's the height of patriotism to continue to exercise your right as a citizen and to hold your government to account. Isn't that what the very essence of democracy is about?"
– Valerie Plame  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 7 July 2019  

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Michelle Barrette

  By Michelle Barrette

   I welcome September because of golden aspen trees and somewhat cooler days and crisp evenings. I think with each seasonal change is a chance to reflect and re-energize. It’s a good time to start thinking about holiday plans and homecomings (like when my grandkids come home for Christmas).
   This month, I hope we’ve reflected and re-energized our readers with new articles and plenty of photos from the community — among them we have the Black Forest Festival, the Grace Community Church back-to-school event and the seniors antique car show.
   We have more on the marijuana crops and the effects on water usage, along with a sidebar on how illegal marijuana grows impact firefighters when they witness a fire caused by faulty wiring and improvised electrical systems, etc.
   We’ve also renewed our educational series, starting with an article on the shortage of substitute teachers, which appears to be a nationwide issue, alongside a shortage of teachers. Colorado is experiencing a sobering shortage, according to a May 2018 Washington Post article, which cited a 2018 Denver Post article. “As many as 3,000 new teachers are needed to fill existing slots in Colorado classrooms while the number of graduates from teacher-preparation programs in the state has declined by 24.4 percent over the past five years.” To add to the issue is the fact that “at least a third of the teachers in Colorado are 55 or older, and closing in on retirement.” Rural areas are in more trouble.
   The average salary for an elementary school teacher in Colorado is $50,330, and for secondary school teachers it is $52,650, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A May 16 USA Today article put Colorado at No. 34 in the highest paid teacher category. That article listed the median salary in Colorado as $50,284 — the median salary for all workers was $40,880 (11th highest in the nation). The cost of living was listed at 3.2 percent greater than the national average. Although that $40,000-plus number looked kind of weird to me, the national median annual salary is $60,996 across all workers with a bachelor’s degree, and nearly $15,000 below the median annual salary of $72,852 across workers with a master’s degree.
   Yet, Colorado does have a beautiful landscape, great weather year-round, a wide variety of outdoor opportunities and so on.
   Today, teachers say they need to get a master’s degree to make the most out of their careers. About 56 percent of teachers have a master’s degree, according to the USA Today article. My youngest daughter, an elementary teacher, is one who believes that a master’s degree is necessary, and she is now pursuing that degree through Colorado State University.
   We have an interesting article on the Peyton School District’s meeting addressing a possible measure to allow teachers to carry guns in schools. That is a debate I will pass on for now.
   Also this month, we’ve traded health care for finance; Jeremy Kniffen explains the new tax cuts. We’ve traded the book review for a restaurant review, which made me want to immediately dash out to R&R in Black Forest for any of their dishes.
   Of course, we have Part 7 of the problem intersection series, which outlines the same ole’ reasons for accidents at all of the intersections.
   So, that’s it for this issue. Next month, we are planning to revisit commercial leasing in Falcon. Has anything changed since we addressed this a few years ago? We’ll see.
   Have a wonderful September! Enjoy those golden colors and crisp air.
   See you in October.
   - Michelle
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