What’s up with football field at Longmont High?

Dear Johnnie: I was wondering some things about the Everly Montgomery Field at Longmont High.

First, who was Everly Montgomery and why was the field named after him?

Second, why do they not paint the name of the school in the end zone like they did last football season?

And lastly, why isn’t LHS allowed to lay claim to the field considering that it is on their campus, they practice on it every day, and Longmont technically has “seniority” over all the other high schools in the area because they have been in town the longest? — Curious About The Field

Dear Curious About The Field: The field is Everly-Montgomery, named after two Longmont High coaches of yesteryear. Gil Everly coached Longmont High’s football team for more than two decades before retiring in 1970. Everly compiled a 136-67-7 record, winning state titles in 1954 and ’55. He died in 2004. A.L. Montgomery was a teacher and coach for 43 years, leading Longmont High to six state championships in basketball, track and cross country. He also ran recreational programs for the city of Longmont each summer. He died in 1988. The field was named for both men in 1979.

Gil Everly coached Longmont High's football team for more than two decades before retiring in 1970. Everly compiled a 136-67-7 record, winning state titles in 1954 and '55. He died in 2004. (Times-Call file)

A reader once asked me why the field couldn’t honor someone “who served the whole district.” Well, it’s fair to say that these two men did, as theirs was an era before many of the district’s other high schools existed.

As to eliminating the end zone paint: That was done to save money, stadium manager Larry West told me. The initials of local schools were painted in the end zone during the playoffs only. That did not keep the Trojans from finding the end zone this year. You could say they lay claim to the field every time they played a home game this year.

I know that’s not what you mean by “lay claim,” but look at it this way: The other district schools need a place to play football, too. So, if Skyline and Niwot and Silver Creek are not allowed to play at Everly-Montgomery Field, the district needs to build several new stadiums. I doubt that taxpayers would be up for that.

And, remember, some people view this situation entirely differently, noting that Longmont High always has home-field advantage against crosstown rivals, who must always “visit” the stadium, even for “home” games.

I would ask that both you and those who disagree with you see Everly-Montgomery as a facility that exists to serve the entire district. We’ll have to get over our notions of fairness in regard to it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 28 Comments

Looking for the DMV fast lane? There isn’t one

Dear Johnnie: I am writing about an ongoing problem with the local office of the DMV, a problem I am sure you have received letters about in the past.

Recently, my wife and I went to the DMV office on South Main Street and waited over 31/2 hours to be helped. We were not alone. The waiting area was full of people doing what we needed to do: renew a driver’s license. At any one time, there had to have been at least 80 people waiting to be helped with a fairly simple yet important task. All of us waited and endured this situation because we had to. There is no alternative.

Some of the folks I talked to had been there since 9 a.m., and it was 12:30 when we arrived. But, if we wanted to renew the driver’s license, then we also had to wait and hope we would be helped before closing time. There is something very wrong with this picture. Some people had taken the day off from work to complete their business. There were young couples with toddlers and babies in arms; there were elderly people; there were teenagers wanting to take their driving test; there were people in between who came and went, got a number and waited. We all endured this situation patiently yet seething inside because we had no choice. The DMV employees worked diligently and almost robotically to serve all of us, but when one got his/her entitled lunch break, then there was one fewer person to help the waiting crowd.

The average wait period seemed to be over three hours. My wife, who has Parkinson’s and cannot sit for long periods, and I were “trapped” there for nearly four hours. I think this is outrageous. We also endured the same situation five years ago when she had to renew her license. Nothing has changed. Like so much about our society, our numbers seem to have outgrown the institutions’ ability to help us in an efficient and effective way. What can be done?

 

We all know of the current financial crisis the U.S. is experiencing and have heard of huge budget cuts at all levels in Colorado state services, but this is not just a current financial “cutting corners at all costs.” It is an ongoing problem that needs serious correcting. Thank goodness, as things stand, we only have to endure it once every five years. I only hope that by 2016 something will have changed to correct this very broken system. — JL

Dear JL: I’ve been there and done that. Even took a day off work.

I waited more than an hour to be helped, as did the other 60-some people there. Many, expecting the long wait, brought something to read. That we were all in it together seemed to bring out kindness in people, despite our frustration. I’ve seen people with worse attitudes in grocery store lines.

I took your question straight to the DMV office in Denver. After my second transfer, I was put on hold for the person who could answer my question. The wait was 25 minutes.

Elaine answered the phone and wasted no time when I asked: Is something being done to correct this problem

“The answer is no. We don’t have enough money to hire more people,” she said. “The state’s broke. I don’t know what else to do.”

To complicate matters, each renewal takes time. “Colorado is one of the toughest states to get a license in because we are so picky,” Elaine said. “That has something to do with legal residency. Your middle name, date of birth, Social Security. All of that has to match.”

So, JL, the best I can offer is ways to keep the wait as short as possible, or to avoid it altogether.

According to the DMV website, the best time to avoid long lines is between 8 and 9:30 a.m. The slowest days of the week are Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Or, skip the office visit and renew online. You can do this every other renewal, if you are from age 21 through age 65.

A reminder to all: Before going to the DMV office for renewal, even at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, be sure to bring all of the documentation you’ll need.

Posted in Gripes | Tagged | 31 Comments

What’s proper when the flag passes in parade?

Dear Johnnie: I noticed at the Veteran’s Day parade that an astounding number of spectators did not remove their headgear or in any way acknowledge colors when they passed by. Apparently many people are unaware of or are ignoring parade protocol for showing respect for our country.

Will you provide information on the proper way to salute our flag as it passes during a parade? Thank you. — A Proud U.S. Marine Veteran

Dear Proud Veteran: According to United States Code Title 4 Chapter 1, Section 9, “When the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of other countries present should stand at attention. All such conduct toward the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.”

Members of Longmont's John Howard Buckley American Legion Post 32 march in the Veterans Day Parade in Longmont on Friday, Nov. 11, 2011. (Richard M. Hackett/Times-Call)

There were dozens of flags at the Veterans Day parade, but I can think of only two that were being carried in a way that would make this rule applicable — one at the head of the parade, being carried by a veteran; the other being carried by the Longmont Police Department Honor Guard.

Proud Vet, I have to confess that when the first flag came by, I was applauding your fellow veterans so vigorously that I forgot to put my hand over my heart.

Dear Readers: I was reminded late last week that the Kids’ Holiday Bicycle Program still needs bicycles. You may drop off unneeded, used bicycles through Dec. 5 at Longmont fire stations, but don’t wait until then. The refurbished bikes will be distributed to families in need on Dec. 9.

For more information, call Buzz Feldman at 303-709-6991, or go to bicyclelongmont.org or longmontymca.org .

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Johnnie St. Vrain: House, barn have become Longmont landmarks

   Hi Johnnie St. Vrain: We moved to town just over a year ago and have noticed the two houses (or house/barn?) that seem to be frozen in time in the process of moving all this time. They seem to be advertising their moving company (poorly!) with signs on the structures as well. Did the mover go out of business? Did the truck get stuck in the mud? When will they be removed/torn down? What is the story? — Confused by the Move

Hi Confused: And welcome to Longmont. Our motto: “Once you stop, you’ll stay!” And that doesn’t just go for buildings on trailers.

Cattle graze near the house and barn at the center of a dispute over rental fees. (Johnie St. Vrain, Longmont Times-Call)

Seriously, the house and barn you see north of the Walmart Supercenter are the result of a disagreement between the original owner of the buildings and the owner of Powell Structure Moving.
The Times-Call last reported on this situation in July 2010, possibly before you moved to town.  The saga began in 2005, when the house and barn, owned by the Erfert family, were lifted from their foundations on the northeast corner of Colo. Highway 66 and U.S. Highway 287 and put on the girders to make way for the construction of the Supercenter.
The Erferts planned to move the structures to new foundations west of Longmont off Colo. Highway 66. However, Ivan Erfert and Mark Powell were not able to agree on charges for equipment rental. As reported back in 2010, Powell said Erfert owed him years’ worth of rent on the equipment; Erfert said he would owe Powell money if Powell finished the job.
So, claiming a right to sell the house and barn because of his lien position, Powell put for-sale signs on the structures last year. I called Powell this week to see if the situation has changed. “I’m going to sell them,” Powell said. When asked if the buildings are on the market, he replied: “Only with the signage that’s on them. I get a call every couple of weeks on them.”
I could not reach Mr. Erfert, who last year challenged Powell’s right to sell the buildings. At the time, Erfert said he had contacted a demolition company but that the company would not touch the structures so long as they were on Powell’s trailers.
When reached for the Times-Call’s last story on this situation, Wal-Mart officials said the company legally owns the buildings because they sit on Wal-Mart’s property, but that they hoped Powell and Erfert could resolve the dispute.
So, Confused, your answers are: 1) The mover is still in business; 2) the truck is not stuck in the mud, as far as we know; 3) I don’t know when and if the buildings will be moved or torn down; and 4) now you know the story.

Posted in Curiosities, Longmont history | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

The latest on Martin Stree crossing: PUC judge has approved plan

   Dear readers: I spoke Wednesday morning with Colorado Public Utilities spokesman Terry Bote. He told me that a PUC administrative law judge issued a decision on Nov. 7, approving the plan for the Martin Street railroad crossing.
   I asked about the delay in getting this approved, and he said it is his understanding that the city had to amend its application several times to address safety issues that the PUC identified. One of those regarded widening the road. “When the city came through with applications to install signals, it had not constructed the widening as it had been approved (by the PUC),” Bote said.
   After the ruling, the PUC allows a 20-day period “where parties can file exceptions to the recommended decision,” he said. So, if everything looks good to the city and to Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the approval becomes final on Nov.  28, because Nov. 27 is a Sunday.
   Work on the crossing can begin at that point.
Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Motorists track progress of Martin Street crossing

Dear Johnnie: When are they going to do something with the railroad tracks that cross Martin Street just north of First Avenue? There have been crossing signals lying on the side of the street for months. There are stop signs and cones there now, but this has been a dangerous situation for several months. — Concerned

Dear Johnnie: Who is responsible for the installation of the railroad crossing signals and guard gates on the Martin Street extension and when will they be installed? The current setup for the stop sign is somewhat dangerous because some drivers don’t stop or just roll through. Others stop too far beyond the white strip on the road. — Concerned Driver

Dear Concerned Ones: Burlington Northern Santa Fe is responsible for installing the railroad crossing signals and guard gates on the Martin Street extension.

Crossing-guard lights lie on BNSF property near the Martin Street crossing. Used equipment left near the railroad crossing has caused some people to question whether that equipment will be used for the new crossing. A BNSF spokesman said only new equipment will be used. (Johnnie St. Vrain photo)

That’s the word from Tom Street, engineering administrator for Longmont’s Public Works & Natural Resources Department. Street said that the city will be responsible for installing the raised concrete medians on each side of the tracks.

“Before the city can do their part and the railroad can do gates and signals, it requires Colorado PUC approval,” Street said. “We expected to have that approval by now.”

Street said the city and the railroad are on track to get that Public Utilities Commission approval on the project by the end of the month.

The city is planning to begin its work Nov. 28. That will take about a week, after which BNSF will do its work.

Why the holdup? Street said the project has gone “through a stringent review process — really, just answering all of the questions raised by the PUC.”

I checked with BNSF, and spokesman Andy Williams replied that as of Tuesday afternoon, PUC approval had not been granted. I called the commission on Tuesday but did not hear back from them. Street said that once approval comes and the city is finished with the medians, he believes it could take another three weeks to finish the project, depending upon the weather. Williams would say only that BNSF “will coordinate our work schedule with the city in a timely manner.”

Until lights and crossing arms are installed, motorists must stop at the railroad crossing on South Martin Street. (Johnnie St. Vrain photo)

As far as the crossing signals lying on the side of the tracks, they appear to me to be used equipment. I double-checked with Williams, who said that BNSF will use new equipment at the crossing.

Dear Readers: A situation came to my attention recently about a local man and his wife who are seeking an affordable place to live. James E. Johnston Sr., a retired Postal Service employee and former volunteer with the Longmont Police Department and Longmont United Hospital, has fallen a number of times and needs a place without stairs. You might have read about him in Sunday’s Times-Call.

Anyone who knows of an affordable home or apartment for this couple to live can call Georgetta at 303-776-0019.

Thanks, everyone.

Posted in Streets, traffic signs, signals, Trains, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 33 Comments

Food for thought regarding expiration dates

Dear Johnnie: Years ago my wife worked at a RiteAid. Several times a year, a state agency would inspect for expired food items. At King Soopers, Safeway, Super Target and Walmart stores, we find items well out of date. When we tell customer service about it we get the same non-caring response. A few weeks later, those items are still on the shelf. These are not best if used by dates but actual expiration dates. — DZ

Dear DZ: You have left me with more questions than you asked, which wasn’t hard to do.

You don’t say if your wife worked at a store in Colorado, how long ago she did, and what kind of food items you are speaking of — canned food, dry food, frozen food, meat or something else.

I took a guess that as to your question: What are the rules regarding expiration dates on food items?

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s website, with the exception of baby formula, “product dating is not required by Federal regulations.” FDA rules, however, do dictate that when used, the dates include month and day of the month, and phrasing such as “sell by” or “use before.”

Then, I called Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment. Retail food program manager Therese Pilonetti said, “The state does not require expiration dates for food.

“Expiration dates are determined by manufacturers based on food quality rather than food safety, (food spoilage, rather than food pathogens that can cause illness). There is one exception. The US Food and Drug Administration requires expiration dates on infant formula. This is due to the decrease in essential nutrients that can occur over time.”

The state’s health department does not regulate how long foods may stay on store shelves.

Pilonetti noted one other rule: “Even though expiration dates are not required on foods other than baby formula, manufactures and retail stores cannot alter expiration dates on labels to extend shelf life, (as) this would be considered a misbranded food and would be subjunctive to voluntary condemnation and/or embargo.”

So, DZ, it appears that the dates you see on foods are for you, not for the retailers. I’m sure that this doesn’t cure your frustration, but I hope it explains things.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

Cheery fire hydrant information to brighten your day

Dear Johnnie: I have been noticing that many of the fire hydrants in town have been freshly painted. These are mostly along the main roads. The bright red-and-white hydrants are cheery to see. Is the city planning to paint the rest of them soon?

Another issue I have been wondering about is the parking along Main Street between First and Sixth avenues. Downtown Main Street is narrow with a lot of distractions and obstacles for motorists. Should the people parking along that stretch of Main Street be opening their doors into traffic? Isn’t there a law that they should be waiting for the traffic to clear first? Some folks do wait for a break in traffic to open their doors but they stand between their car and the moving traffic, which seems dangerous. — Curious

Dear Curious: You probably have noticed those freshly painted fire hydrants in the central part of town, roughly from Third to Ninth avenues, and Collyer to Gay streets, because those have been painted in the past year and a half.

This brightly colored fire hydrant brings cheer to an Old Town Longmont neighborhood. The large white nozzle on the front is the "pumper nozzle," to which fire trucks connect to get the most water. The valve control is at top. Why the other nozzles? If firefighters need less water, for a smaller fire, "it's easier to drag a 2.5-inch hose than a 5-inch hose," a fire department employee told Johnnie. Having two of the smaller nozzles is a remnant of the days when two 2.5-inch hoses might be needed. (Johnnie St. Vrain/Times-Call)

Chris Kampmann, distribution and collection supervisor for Public Works & Natural Resources, is overseeing the effort. He told me that painting the rest of the city’s fire hydrants is the city’s long-term goal.

And what is “long-term”?

“That’s yet to be seen,” he said. “There are almost 3,400 hydrants in the city. We’ve got limited funds, so we can’t go too crazy with it. We’ve identified multiple neighborhoods that need it. When the weather and the budget work together, we get it done.”

The new color scheme is a red body with a white top and caps. That’s similar to the old color scheme, but with white caps and a brighter red. Some hydrants have blue tops; those are designated sites for maintenance and for use by contractors to fill up water trucks. Yes, that water is metered.

Finally, while cheery fire hydrants make people happy, Kampmann reminded me that maintenance is more important.

As for opening doors into traffic on Main Street, I found the following in the city’s Model Traffic Code:

“No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic; nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”

Posted in Curiosities, Parking | Tagged , | 38 Comments

Recycling tin-can lids? It can be done

Dear Johnnie: We have been serious recyclers for many years in another community. We were allowed to include tin-can lids, which I always placed inside the empty can for recycling. What is different about the process here in Boulder County that requires the public to throw the lids away? — Judy

Dear Judy: I didn’t know that tin-can lids were barred from the recycling bin, so I gave Eco-Cycle a call.

I discovered that yes, you may recycle tin-can lids, but only if you secure them inside the cans. To do that, drop the lid into the can, then crimp the can.

Otherwise, the sharp edge of the lid is exposed, presenting a danger to those people who work with recycled materials.

Dear Johnnie: When traveling south on South Fordham Street to the intersection of Clover Basin Drive, I almost ran the stop sign because there are no markings on the pavement indicating that I was approaching a major intersection or a stop sign. The other day, I was traveling north on South Fordham and noticed that I could see cross traffic at Nelson Road in the distance, and no markings on the pavement indicating I was about to cross Clover Basin Drive.

Is there any reason the city has not painted the word “STOP” or at least a painted line across the lane to warn drivers to stop? It’s not like Clover Basin is just a small side road. I’m surprised there have not been accidents at this crossing. — Concerned

Dear Concerned: I drove over and took a look for myself. Yes, if you don’t notice the stop sign, it looks like the street might go on and on past Nelson. For the width of the street, the sign appears to be small, and it’s possible the big power pole might affect the sign’s visibility to some northbound drivers — just maybe.

I checked with transportation engineer Bob Ball.

“I don’t recall receiving a complaint about stop sign visibility or the need for a stop bar at this intersection,” he replied. “While we sometimes install stop bar markings, we do not apply ‘stop’ markings at stop signs.

“Next year we are planning to evaluate stop sign controlled intersections such as this to identify locations where crashes frequently occur due to drivers failing to stop,” he wrote. “At these locations we plan to evaluate and install improvements such as stop bars or oversized stop signs, as well as ensure that there is good visibility.”

Posted in Recycling, Streets, traffic signs, signals | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Fossils may apply for city of Longmont jobs

Hello Johnnie: Over several years, I have applied for jobs advertised by the city of Longmont. On the job application there is a statement like this, “List below your complete work history starting with your present position and working backwards through your experience.”

As an older worker, that requirement has discouraged me because I cannot think of any good reason to require inclusion of work history back to the 1960s, like mine. Any job skills used 40 years ago and not since probably are not too well-honed anymore, so there is no functional reason to ask for that much history, except that it does allow HR to cull out anyone who is too old to be considered.

Most employers require about 10 years of work history, which in my case would be a very short list that includes the relevant experience for the types of jobs I now seek. The functional question is, “What can I do now?”

Would you please ask the city of Longmont’s HR why they find “complete” job history useful? — Agile Fossil

Dear Agile Fossil: Because the city wants to be thorough.

I checked with Longmont’s human resources department. Janice Kyner, human resources partner, replied with this:

“The HR staff finds a complete job history relevant because it is consistent with our background screening process. It also allows us to compare an applicant’s job history with the requirements of the job, including matching the number of years of relevant experience to the requirements of the position.

“The city of Longmont considers applicants for all positions without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, age, veteran’s status, disability or any other legally protected status. The city of Longmont is an equal opportunity employer.”

Having checked with Loveland and Westminster to find out what their requirements are (last three jobs in Loveland, and no requirement in Westminster), I decided to follow up. How does this help the city’s background screening process?

Kyner replied: “The city wishes to retain the confidence of the public in the quality and integrity of our workforce. Therefore, it is our practice to verify job history, educational credentials, professional licenses or technical certificates and perform a criminal history check for final candidates who have completed testing and interviews. The third-party service we use to check an applicant’s criminal history is tied to a geographic location where an applicant has lived and worked.”

So, I read into this that knowing where you have worked helps the city know where you have lived, which aids them in their background check.

If you have any other questions about a selection process, you are welcome to contact the Human Resources Division directly at 303-651-8609.

You know, Fossil, I recently read a article on age in the workplace in which the columnist noted that it’s not the age on a piece of paper that matters, it’s the agility of your mind. Keep pushing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 13 Comments