First Impressions board getting back on track |

First Impressions board getting back on track

Gary E. Salazar

— This week First Impressions of Routt County will regroup after two ballot referendums meant to improve child care in the county were defeated decisively earlier in the month.

The 28-member board will have its first formal meeting at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Routt County Board of Commissioners’ hearing room since the Nov. 6 election.

“We are disappointed,” said Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, who co-chairs the board. “We knew we faced a huge challenge.

“Everyone was realistic that this was our first try. We will continue to find ways to gain support from the community to improve the quality of early childhood education.”

Voters overwhelmingly rejected a countywide property-tax increase and a half-cent sales-tax increase in Steamboat Springs.

The county issue failed by a 5-to-1 margin, and the city question failed by a 4-to-1 margin.

The election also had an impact on the board itself. City Councilman Ken Brenner was defeated in the election by Paul “Loui” Antonucci.

For the past two years, Brenner has been the Steamboat Springs City Council representative on First Impressions.

The City Council has yet to replace Brenner. The council is expected to appoint a new representative during its Dec. 4 meeting.

“We will honor Ken on Wednesday,” Stahoviak said of her fellow co-chairman. “We will encourage Ken to stay on the board as a parent.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, the board will also try to nail down a date in January for a retreat, which will be important for the group.

“We have to decide where we will go and determine what we focus on,” Stahoviak said.

Because of the election results, Stahoviak said First Impressions needs to work with residents who opposed the ballot issues and reach out to businesses.

“We need to create a strong partnership with businesses,” she said. “We need concrete information about how business is related to childhood education.”

Although the initiatives were defeated, the county organization is satisfied its effort brought out childhood education as an issue for the public.

“We have solved all the easy problems in Routt County,” Stahoviak said. “We now have to deal with the hard issue. This issue is one of the hard ones we need to continue to work on.”

The board is interested in going on a one-day retreat because in years past the gatherings have been successful.

“Everyone is able to get away and really concentrate,” Stahoviak said.

“Last time, we hired a facilitator. I expect we will hire a facilitator again to help us determine which direction we want to go.”

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