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Former Commissioner Appointed to Fill Stevenson Seat


A former, two-term county commissioner was sworn in this week to serve until the general election in November; the Sheriff's Department is accepting applications for a $1,000 scholarship award, and the school district wants to the public to weigh in on how to use $10 million in COVID Relief funds. This story is brought to you by Keesee Motors and the law firm of Downs, McDonough, Cowan and Foley


A vacant seat on the Montezuma County board of commissioners has been filled. Applications for $1000 scholarship are now online. And how should the Montezuma-Cortez School District spend nearly 10 million in COVID relief funds? You're watching the Local News Round Up brought to you by Keesee Motors and the law firm of Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, I'm Wendy Graham Settle. Gerald Koppenhafer, a former two-term Montezuma County commissioner was sworn into office on February 1st to fill the commissioner's seat that was vacated when incumbent Joel Stevenson died on January 18th from COVID-related illness. Because Stevenson was Republican, the Montezuma County Republican Party was responsible for appointing his successor. Koppenhafer is a veterinarian and also serves as president of the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company. He will serve until the November, 2022 general election. Whoever wins the election will finish the last two years of Stevenson's term, when the seat will come up for election again in 2024. For more information, visit the Montezuma County Republican Party's website at The Montezuma-Cortez School District expects to receive nearly $10 million in federal funding as part of the third round of Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief federal Stimulus Program, and it seeks community feedback to guide how the money should be spent. The district has launched an online survey for district residents to weigh in on the issue. The survey closes at midnight on February 13th. At least 20% of the federal stimulus funds must be used to address the learning shortfalls that students experienced as a result of the pandemic. The funds may be used to develop COVID mitigation strategies and for programs that address the social and emotional impacts that the pandemic has had on students, particularly students from underserved communities. Find a link to the survey at Applications are now being accepted for a $1,000 scholarship from the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office. The office established the scholarship program four years ago as a meaningful expression of the Sheriff's confidence in and respect for education and training. Applicants must reside in and attend a Montezuma County high school and must use the scholarship award next Summer or Fall to enroll in a Colorado Vocational Training Program or an in-state postsecondary institution. Full and part-time students are eligible. A recipient will be selected in mid-March. An application form and criteria are due by February 28th, visit for an application and more information. The Montezuma-Cortez School Board announced on January 29th that superintendent, Risha VanderWey, submitted her resignation effective January 21st. In a terse letter published on the district website, the board said that in the face of philosophical differences of short and long term goals between the board and VanderWey, VanderWey chose to resign. Most notably, the board and VanderWey disagreed over masking policies and when to shift instruction online. VanderWey had asked the board to give her the authority to decide when to close schools if COVID outbreaks created severe staff shortages or impacted student health. The board declined the request. The board said it will appoint a leadership team to carry out the superintendent's duties until it can hire a new superintendent. VanderWey started her new up on July 1st, last Summer. Before serving at superintendent in Cortez, VanderWey most recently served as superintendent for the Navajo, Tuba City Unified School District in Northern Arizona. To follow developments, visit Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Round Up, I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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