Payroll tax. It is just a mostly ignored line on your paycheck, but it is the key to funding Social Security for your grandparents, your parents, and hopefully, for you. When your annual contribution (tax) reaches $142,800, the deduction stops, but most employees will not reach that payroll tax cap in 2021.
If you are making a million dollars a year, you reached the cap in late February. Neither you nor your employer will pay anything more for the year. You will, however, be eligible for Social Security when you turn 62 (if it still exists).
Social Security continues to be in trouble and, though estimates vary, funding could run out by the end of this decade. Payments are estimated to decrease by 20% to 30%.
Approximately 20% of Routt County residents are eligible to receive Social Security or disability benefits. Most have worked 45 to 50 years and paid into the system with the assurance their investment will be there when they retire. The average monthly benefit for retired workers is now $1,516. The average monthly benefit for disabled workers is $1,259. That is not enough to rent even a tiny apartment and buy food in Routt County.
The current system favors high earners. It seems unfair to low earners and employers.
Congress continues to avoid dealing with this payroll tax. If our representatives would raise the cap to even $500,000, they could: 1. Greatly decrease the 6.2% for all workers, and 2. Raise the amount in the Social Security fund to protect us, our children and our grandchildren.
Please, contact our representatives and ask them to raise the payroll tax cap and save Social Security and disability benefits. Call or go to their individual online sites to write: Sen. Bennet, 202-224-5852; Sen. Hickenlooper, 202; 224-5941; and Rep. Boebert, 202)-225-4761.
PHOTO: Steamboat speech and debate team competes at state
Writers on the Range: Sometimes, poison is the only thing that works
Three percent of Earth’s land mass is comprised of islands, but 95% of all bird extinctions have occurred on them. Main cause: Mice and rats introduced by humans.
Only 10% of the world’s islands are rodent-free, but a rodenticide called brodifacoum is changing that. On hundreds of treated islands recovery of native plants and wildlife has been swift and spectacular.
Consider rugged, 1,450-square-mile South Georgia Island in the Subantarctic. Before mice and rats disembarked from whaling vessels it had been Earth’s richest seabird rookery. For three years it’s been rodent free thanks to a $13.5 million project in which brodifacoum was applied by helicopters. All 33 bird species are surging back. South Georgia pipits, for example, had been virtually eliminated; now their vocalizing drowns out the roaring of elephant seals.
On the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge of Palmyra in the South Pacific rats killed millions of seabirds representing 10 species, decapitated hatchling sea turtles, decimated 10 species of land crabs and consumed seeds of imperiled Pisonia trees, halting all reproduction. Today the entire ecosystem has recovered thanks to brodifacoum treatment in 2011.
In 2012 the estimated rat population on the Galápagos island of Pinzón was 18 million. All Pinzón giant tortoises hatched there were at least 150 years old because rats had eaten juveniles. In December of that year brodifacoum killed every rat. Within months hatchling Pinzón tortoises appeared for the first time in a century and a half — produced by animals raised and repatriated by the Santa Cruz Tortoise Center.
On the Farallon Islands National Refuge, 27 miles off San Francisco, mice introduced by sealers threaten to extirpate 4,000 ashy storm-petrels — half the planet’s population. In autumn the ground undulates with mice. Sit down, and they crawl all over you.
Before mice infested the refuge burrowing owls rested briefly on their fall migration. Now they linger into winter, gorging on mice. With seed shortage mice turn to cannibalism, then starve, so owls switch to ashy storm-petrels. Enough mice survive that their population explodes again when new seeds appear.
Meanwhile mice expose sea lions and seals to deadly pathogens, spread seeds of invasive plants, devour pollinators of native plants and consume two rare species found nowhere else — Farallon camel crickets and Farallon arboreal salamanders.
Since 2004, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has tried to restore ecological health to the Farallons, but it’s continuously intimidated by opponents of all poisons in all situations.
To restore island ecosystems brodifacoum applied by trained wildlife professionals is an absolute necessity. But brodifacoum abused by the public is an absolute disaster for mainland ecosystems. These are two thoughts opponents of island recovery can’t grasp simultaneously.
Animal-rights activist Maggie Sergio proves the old saw that one concerned citizen can make a difference. She proves also that this isn’t always a good thing.
Sergio has whipped the city of San Francisco, the California Coastal Commission and the public to a froth of fear and loathing. Her online petition against the project has 39,000 signatures.
Sergio’s screeds in the Huffington Post and elsewhere include such fiction as: “1.3 metric tons of brodifacoum” will be dropped by helicopter. There isn’t enough brodifacoum in the world to drop 1.3 metric tons; 1.54 ounces would be dropped, this to be mixed with 1.3 metric tons of grain. And: “The pesticide label for ‘Brodifacoum 25’ indicates that up to 24 pounds per acre will be applied.” No, “Brodifacoum 25” contains 25 parts brodifacoum per million parts grain.
These and other untruths are recycled by the media, the Coastal Commission, the city, WildCare and the Ocean Foundation. One might suppose that the foundation would defend ocean mammals and rare ocean birds. Instead it frets about imagined cruelty to mice and possible by-kill of super-abundant western gulls.
The Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t need permission from state bureaucrats to manage wildlife belonging to all Americans. But scolded by the Coastal Commission, it’s re-revising plans it has revised and re-revised for 17 years.
Zach Warnow of Point Blue Conservation Science retains hope: “I don’t think we’ll win over opponents; but we’ll get this message to the undecideds: We’re in a time when people are doubting scientists, and we need to get back to trusting the scientific process that’s been so well represented in this project.”
The Service will again plead its case to the Coastal Commission at a hearing tentatively scheduled for May. Comments should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ted Williams is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a nonprofit dedicated to spurring lively conversation about the West. He writes about wildlife for national publications.
Outdoor education: In North Routt, ice fishing is part of the curriculum
CLARK — Eighth-grade students at North Routt Community Charter School in Clark traded in four walls and desks for snowsuits and ice fishing poles Friday as part of the school’s curriculum prioritizing outdoor appreciation.
On Steamboat Lake a little before noon, students were set up with holes in the roughly 2-foot-thick ice, bouncing their baits about a foot off the mucky bottom, hoping for a trout to come by and discover their bait to be appetizing.
Brandon LaChance, the school’s executive director, said on better weather days — it was overcast with some wind and the occasional snow shower — the lake would be pretty crowded, but on Friday, the students had it mostly to themselves. The trip is labeled as an outdoor education and wellness trip and aimed at promoting physical activity as well as learning to appreciate the environment.
“Every Friday we are out,” said Dan Kohler, eighth-grade teacher at the school. “We’re skiing a lot, cross-country skiing, that is kind of a go-to, so this is kind of a novelty.”
The trips allow students to spend a longer amount of time doing an activity they are learning about in physical education classes during the week. Other grades in the school were also out Friday, with some cross-country skiing on some of the local North Routt County ranches and others learning about snow science.
“By the time they are eighth-graders, we try to break it up, because they have cross-country skied for nine years now, so we try to really push them to do different things,” LaChance said.
In addition to fishing, students fly kites and play with a soccer ball, and one even tried to do a little kite boarding with a sail normally used to surf in Mexico. LaChance said by the time they are in eighth grade, he wants students to be pursuing activities they are interested in on these outings.
In the fall, the class did a three-day backpacking trip through the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area, and they prepared for that trip through lessons in physical education classes.
“The big thing is the food prep and how they are going to handle their food and then how to pack their backpacks,” Kohler said. “During the week, for their hour, they will do that prep.”
Before going on the full trip, the class embarks on several practice hikes up to Hahns Peak, Gold Creek Lake and part of the Zirkel Circle trail on Fridays, Kohler said.
Throughout the winter, students will cross-country ski during the week and typically go for a longer trip on Fridays, often exploring many of the trails in the mountains around Clark. This month, the students will also take a trip to Bluebird Backcountry for a backcountry skiing experience.
In May, students go on a rafting trip from Yampa Canyon into the Green River. In previous years, they have traveled farther to places like Great Sand Dunes National Park or to Moab, Utah, but the pandemic has required them to stay closer to home.
The ice fishing started with staff bringing their own equipment and getting as many students out as they can. This year, a donor approached LaChance about wanting to help the school buy poles, a collapsible ice house, an auger and other basics needed for ice fishing. In future years, LaChance said the school will be able to add to the equipment they already have and be able to get more students out at a time.
Several students caught trout Friday, with Jake Muhlbauer describing the strategy of his first catch as simply, “I reeled it in.” He said he would be bringing the fish home to have for dinner. Jake’s twin brother Justin also caught a fish but had a bigger one spit out his lure right as it got close to the surface.
Others were not so lucky, with Mia MacIntyre going the full day without a strike. LaChance drilled another hole in the ice in the ice house in the hopes a different spot would spur a hit, but ultimately, it did not.
LaChance said the bait wasn’t the problem. He said his unique choice to lure in fish has been successful in the past, including younger students catching several large trout a few weeks earlier. As for what the bait is, he isn’t saying.
“I don’t want to tell,” LaChance said. “Don’t say it because than everybody is going to bring them up here.”
Obituary: Scott Eugene Olson
November 15, 1955 – February 22, 2021
Scott Eugene Olson, son of Harold (Bud) Olson and Ima Olson, was born on November 15, 1955. He passed away on February 22, 2021 at the UC Health Highlands Ranch Hospital in Denver, Colorado at the age of 65.
Scott grew up in Madelia, Minnesota, where he was baptized and confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church. Scott graduated from Madelia High School in 1974.
At the age of 19, Scott and his friend, Jeff Olson, traveled to Steamboat Springs, Colorado and decided to stay. He made Steamboat his home for the past 46 years. Scott was a carpenter and builder and loved to ski the Colorado mountains.
Scott was blessed with one son, Tucker (Olson) Graham, of Steamboat Springs.
Survivors include his son Tucker, siblings: Steven (Sally) Olson of Le Sueur, MN, their children Sara Olson and Stephanie Henry; Lance Olson (Gary Johnson) of Edina, MN; Bruce (Betty) Olson of Le Sueur, MN, their children Erin Feeney and Nathan Olson; Kathy (Larry) Nelson of Ramsey, MN; and ImaJeanne (Les) Todnem of St. James, MN., their children Kari Wendroth, Natalie Utsch and Kayla Todnem; and 12 grandnieces/grandnephews.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Ima Olson, his father, Bud Olson, and his grandparents. A memorial service will be held at a later date in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
The family wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Barb Novotny of Steamboat Springs, the wonderful staff at Casey’s Pond and UC Health Highlands Ranch. God bless the memory of Scott Olson.
Stolen license plate: The Record for Sunday, Feb. 28
Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021
12:07 a.m. Steamboat Springs Police Department officers received a call about a neighbor being noisy and hearing several loud bangs in an apartment near the 600 block of Anglers Drive. When officers arrived, the apartment was dark and quiet.
12:58 p.m. Officers received a call from someone who returned to their vehicle and noticed damage they believed had occurred in a parking lot near the 2000 block of Walton Creek Road. Officers took a report of the damage.
1:04 p.m. Officers were called to a business near the 1400 block of Pine Grove Road because a customer was refusing to wear a mask, and they were refusing to leave the business. The anti-mask patron left before officers arrived.
4:21 p.m. Officers got a call from a driver who had their license plate stolen off of their vehicle near the 400 block of Eighth Street in Steamboat Springs. The plate had not just fallen off, as it had been replaced with another license plate that was traced back to a stolen vehicle.
6:05 p.m. Officers responded to a report from transit officials about an intoxicated person at the bus stop near Gondola Square. The person was brought to a friend who was not intoxicated.
11:49 p.m. Officers received a call reporting that someone had stolen a bottle of wine from a business near the 2300 block of Mount Werner Circle. The person was issued a summons for the theft.
Total incidents: 33
• Steamboat officers responded to 20 cases including calls for service and officer initiated incidents such as traffic stops.
• Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to six cases including calls for service and officer initiated incidents such as traffic stops.
• Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters responded to four calls for service.
• West Routt Fire Protection District firefighters responded to two calls for service.
• Yampa Valley Regional Airport firefighters responded to one call for service.
The Record offers a glimpse of police activity and is not a comprehensive report of all police activity. Calls such as domestic violence, sexual assaults and juvenile situations typically do not appear in The Record.
2 Steamboat 5th graders win big in ‘stock market’
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With $100,000 to invest, Tyla Emerson started researching what companies were involved in manufacturing one of the various COVID-19 vaccines.
“I started investing in companies like Johnson and Johnson and a couple others,” Tyla said. “They made me really decrease at first, but when the vaccine started coming out, I started doing extremely well.”
Fellow investor Jordan Neeley took a different approach, focusing on companies that made products she likes. She invested in Kroger and Kellogg’s because she likes cereal and made an opportunistic purchase of Disney World stocks when they were priced pretty low.
Tyla and Jordan are not with a new firm looking to take over the stock market from a mountain town in Colorado. Instead, they are fifth-graders at Strawberry Park Elementary School, and while the money they invested isn’t real enough to pay for college, it did win them top prizes with Tyla and Jordan placing first and second respectively in the region.
Robin Alt, a teacher at the school who works with a pullout group of advanced students in math, decided to try out The Stock Market Game with her students for the first time this fall. The game is free and gives students their own account with a virtual portfolio and virtual capital to invest.
From the game’s online platform, students make their own decisions about which stocks to buy or sell and their profits or losses are tied to the daily triumphs and woes of the real stock market.
“We’re always looking for opportunities for students to do something new, understanding that they may fail, just to develop that perseverance,” Alt said.
Alt said students learned about the difference between a brand, a product and a company, what stocks actually are, how to read quotes and ticker symbols as well as why investing is important. But the game was also something that could extend a lesson beyond the classroom when students are in the hybrid model.
“Being in the hybrid model, I was looking for something that would possibly be engaging for them on their at-home days,” Alt said.
Both students said not only was the game something they could do easily at home, but it also made them pay attention to current events, trying to understand how the news could affect potential companies they were investing in.
“It not only taught us more about stocks and how we should manage them, but it also helped us pay more attention to what was going on in the world right now, so that we knew what was potentially going to do well or what was doing well,” Tyla said.
For Jordan, the game and work required to understand what investments she wanted to make also showed her what potential careers may be available in her future.
“I definitely learned how valuable money is, and mainly, I have been thinking about my future when I go through and research things, and I’ll see what each company is doing, and it kind of opens my eyes to what is out there,” Jordan said.
Alt said the game was such a hit with students, she plans to do it again this spring.
“The big thing is just looking outside our little community and thinking what is happening on a national level and how that affects the greater population and even us here in Steamboat,” Alt said.
The game, according to Alt, also has spurred discussions at home with parents, talking about the day’s news and the students’ investments.
Tyla said there is a lot more pressure this time around, since she did so well last time. She is not doing great so far, but she hopes things will rebound when the fallout from winter storms in Texas calm down.
Jordan hopes she will be able to capitalize on issues in Texas, buying stocks when they are down in the hopes they will increase when the state “thaws out.” But for each of them, they know they need to do their research.
“The stock market world is always, always, always changing, so it is kind of to anticipate what you think is going to do well and hope, because it is kind of a gamble,” Tyla said. “Don’t expect something, anticipate it.
Steamboat firefighters save dog from the frigid waters of the Yampa River
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It was a happy, tail-wagging ending Monday afternoon as members of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue were able to reunite a dog that had fallen through the ice of the Yampa River with its owner.
Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli said the incident is a good reminder that it’s best to call his department for help if a canine friend gets trapped in icy water this time of year.
“It’s exactly the right thing to do,” Cerasoli said. “We’re well equipped to go out on ice and be in the water. If we don’t stay on the ice and we end up in the water ourselves, those Mustang suits that we have are ice rescue suits.”
The Steamboat Springs Police Department was the first to respond Monday and advised bystanders not to venture out onto the ice to try to rescue the dog.
“We got there pretty quickly and could see that it was something that the fire department would need to handle,” Sgt. Evan Noble said. “So we stuck around with the emergency equipment that if we needed to make an emergent rescue, we could. We also wanted to make sure no one ran out on the ice.”
Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue was on another call when the first page came in at 12:18 p.m., but firefighter Dave Hesselton said crews responded with the proper gear as soon as possible.
“We got the page about a dog trapped out on the ice just west of the James Brown Bridge,” Hesselton said. “When we got on scene, there was a dog approximately 15 feet offshore holding onto the ice. … Steamboat police and some bystanders were attempting to break the ice out to the dog from shore or get it with a rope, and they were unable to do either just because he was a little too far out.”
Firefighters Devin Borvansky and Julie Wernig quickly put on suits designed for cold water rescue operations. Borvansky was able to reach the dog by venturing out onto the ice and then into the river and then carried the dog to shore where the owner was waiting.
“It’s not very common, but it’s very dangerous,” Hesselton said of rescuing a dog from water. “Not so much for us because we are equipped, but because civilians may attempt to rescue the dog themselves, and then we have a person in the water, which is a lot more serious and a lot more dangerous.”
Monday Medical: Common hip issues
Editor’s Note: This is part 1 of a 2-part series. Part 2 outlines non-surgical and surgical treatment options for hip injuries.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The hip is the strongest joint in the body. But because it takes a lot of weight and pressure every day, it can be susceptible to a range of issues.
Dr. Bobby Howarth, an orthopedic surgeon in Steamboat Springs specializing in total hip replacement and a member of the medical staff at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, describes common hip injuries below.
Hip joint basics
The ball of the hip joint is the top of the femur, also called the thighbone, while the socket is the inside of the pelvis. This powerful joint supports your body weight, is inherently stable and allows for significant range of motion.
The hip plays an important role in various movements, from walking and sitting to skiing and biking. When something goes wrong, the impact is often far-reaching.
“The hip is a very mobile joint, but once you lose that range of motion, it affects the way we walk and results in multiple problems, such as an abnormal gait, a bad back and even poor posture,” Howarth said. “It reduces our ability to do activities, such as skiing and biking and walking.”
If you go
What: “Why does my hip hurt?” A virtual joint replacement seminar
When: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11
Presented by: Dr. Bobby Howarth, an orthopedic surgeon in Steamboat Springs specializing in total hip replacement and a member of the medical staff at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.
Registration: Online at uchealth.org/events/hippain.
For more info: Email Michelle.Bazile@uchealth.org
Osteoarthritis, or a gradual wear and tear of the joint, is one of the most common issues that affects the hip. As the cartilage cushioning the bones of the hip wears away, the bones rub together, causing pain.
Traumatic arthritis can result from damage due to an injury or fracture, while rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation in the lining of the joint, which can damage the cartilage and lead to pain and stiffness.
“Hip arthritis can present in many different ways,” Howarth said. “It can feel like knee pain or a groin sprain. And lack of motion in the hip over time causes back pain.”
One or both of the hip’s bursa, or fluid-filled sacs that cushion the hip joint, can become irritated and inflamed, a condition known as hip bursitis. This condition causes stiffness and pain around the hip joint.
Tendons and ligaments around the hip can get torn or become too tight, and bone spurs and tumors can form.
If an injury or tumor decreases blood flow, or vascularity, to the joint, a portion of the bone may die and the joint may begin to break down rapidly.
“Vascularity to hip is very tenuous and can be compromised easily,” Howarth said. “If you break the hip or femoral neck, the bone will die, and you’ll need a total hip replacement. It can become an emergent issue that could require immediate surgery.”
Signs of hip damage
Pain in the hip and back when walking or doing regular activities is one sign that something is wrong. Loss of motion is another: When cartilage wears away at the joint, your body may create extra bone in the socket, restricting motion and making it difficult to move the leg normally.
“You can tolerate a certain degree of arthritis in the hip, but when you get that extra bone, the motion decreases significantly,” Howarth said. “Oftentimes, a spouse or loved one will say, ‘You’re walking funny,’ or a patient realizes they can’t tie their shoes or walk normally. If the hip or groin hurts, or you’re not able to do things you once did, you should see a physician.”
Genetics, family history and participation in various sports, such as cycling, volleyball and skiing, can all make someone more prone to suffering from hip issues.
Keep in mind that hip issues are not always a result of advancing age.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are — if you have hip arthritis and can’t do activities you normally would, your quality of life is severely hampered,” Howarth said.
Letter: ‘Slavery is one of America’s original sins’
H.R. 40 establishes a commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans. The commission will examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies. They will identify the role of the federal and state governments in supporting the institution of slavery, forms of discrimination in the public and private sectors against freed slaves and their descendants, and lingering negative effects of slavery on present African-Americans and society.
We have a commission with funding for a Just Transition for our local coal miners, power plant employees and their communities as we move away from a fossil fuel economy. An H.R. 40 commission is very similar, except it proposes to redress 400 years of cruelty and injustice to African-Americans.
Slavery is one of America’s original sins, and our country has yet to atone for the atrocities placed upon generations of enslaved Africans and their descendants.
The designation of H.R. 40 is intended to address the promise made by Gen. William T. Sherman in the 1865 redistribution of 400,000 acres of formerly Confederate-owned coastal land in South Carolina and Florida, subdivided into 40-acre plots. In addition to the more well-known land redistribution, the order also established self-governance for the region and provided for protection by military authorities of the settlements.
Later, Southern sympathizer and former slaveholder President Andrew Johnson overturned the order and this plan. This represented the first systematic form of freed African Americans reparations, but it did not succeed.
From the time of enslavement, racial disparities in access to education, health care, housing, insurance, employment and other social goods are directly attributable to the damaging legacy of slavery and racial discrimination today.
The reparation movement does not focus on payments to individuals but to remedies that can be created in as many forms as necessary to equitably address the many kinds of injuries sustained from chattel slavery and its continuing impacts. A focus on payments is an empty gesture and betrays a lack of understanding of the depth of the unaddressed moral issues that continue to haunt this nation.
Experience shows that we have not escaped our history. Though the Civil Rights Movement was powerful, it was not followed by a commitment to truth and reconciliation. For that reason, the legacy of racial inequality has persisted.
Call, text or email Sen. Michael Bennet at 202-224-5852, Sen. John Hickenlooper at 202-224-5941 and Rep. Lauren Boebert at 202-225-4761 and urge them to support H.R. 40.