A newspaper’s head-editorial space is usually reserved for criticism, but as a change of pace this month, we’d like to offer some kudos instead. We do it warily, because inevitably when you praise something, other people are bound to say, “Well, why didn’t you mention (fill in the blank with any worthwhile project)?” So we want to make it clear that our list is in no way a comprehensive compilation of everything that is good in Montezuma County or the Four Corners area. If we tried to write something like that, we’d never be able to finish it. This is just a commentary on a few things that have struck us recently as praiseworthy.
- The Montezuma County commissioners’ efforts toward transparency. We have criticized the commissioners over a number of issues, but they merit overdue thanks for their decision to televise their meetings. A number of local entities offer audio recordings of their meetings, but these are generally not live-streamed and have the drawback of listeners not always being able to tell who’s speaking. The commissioners, in broadcasting their meetings, have gone to a fair amount of trouble to make it possible for citizens to see governmental sausage-making in all its tedious glory. (It has to be noted that the Cortez City Council began televising its meetings years ago and does so now as well, with both live-streaming and archived video recordings available on their website.) Yes, we know this means the commissioners now conduct a fair amount of business via email, but they still deserve credit for going on air with their discussions and decisions. This is particularly notable when some local governments in the area still don’t put their agendas and minutes on their website.
- This year’s fireworks display in Cortez’s Centennial Park. Bang, bang, ooh, ahh – fireworks displays start to seem all the same after you’ve seen, oh, 20 or more of them. But this year’s show stood out. Sponsored by the Cortez Retail Enhancement Association and a plethora of local businesses, it offered a truly amazing variety of cascading, wriggling, exploding lights. A number of other locales had to cancel their shows because of fire danger, so Cortez’s was enjoyed by many visitors from around the region.
- Two appearances in Cortez by a New York Times-bestselling author. Jonathan Evison was here in July for a showing at the Sunflower Theatre of the film, “The Fundamentals of Caregiving,” based on one of his novels, as well as for a talk at the Cortez Public Library. The Sunflower event was sponsored by the Cortez Retail Enhancement Association and by First National Bank of Cortez as one in a series of occasional “TEZ Talks.” That series has brought a variety of notable speakers to Cortez, including former Denver Bronco Mark Jackson and Mike McGrath, who does a gardening show on NPR. Meanwhile, the Cortez library has for years been offering talks with phenomenal authors, including mystery writer Anne Hillerman (daughter of Tony), Kevin Fedarko (author of The Emerald Mile, about an epic raft ride through the Grand Canyon), a collection of female Navajo poets, and Beau L’Amour, son of famed Western novelist Louis L’Amour. Even among that stellar lineup, however, getting Evison here was a real coup. It takes a lot of work to put on events such as these and the Cortez library director and staff deserve tremendous credit for doing so. It also ought to be noted that all three libraries in Montezuma County – Cortez, Mancos, and Dolores – have really been hustling to provide a plethora of programs (musical, educational, crafts-oriented and more) to engage with children and adults and keep local libraries as hubs of information and learning for the communities they serve. So thanks to everyone involved in the aforementioned events and developments (as well as the many others left unrecognized). They are helping to make this a good place to live.