Gov. Ritter on Education, Natural Resources

    Gov. Bill Ritter made his fifth trip to Grand Junction since his inauguration and his second consecutive visit to the Club 20 fall meeting on Saturday to speak about his P-20 Education Council and his administration’s goals on natural resource development.

    More on Gov. Ritter’s address to Club 20 including video excerpts….Club 20 is an organization that represents the interests of counties, communities, business, individuals, tribes and associations in Western Colorado on issues such as economic development, water, energy development and transportation.

    In election years, the Club 20 fall candidate debates “officially” kick off the various campaigns. In off-election years, Club 20 highlights statewide issues that impact the Western Slope.  This year, over 200 participants attended Saturday’s meeting which predominately featured education issues.

    Ritter said his administration is setting out to cut the high school drop out rate by half in 10 years and prepare more students for trade schools and college. The goal of his P-20 Education Council (short for preschool to post-secondary degrees) is to improve Colorado’s education standards.

    “Although Sen. Josh Penry (R-Fruita) had a good idea about increasing graduation standards in high school, I don’t think we can make improvements piecemeal,” Ritter said. “We have to look at the whole education package.”

    From Ritter’s Club 20 presentation:

    Ritter said the P-20 Education Council will also study what the workforce needs will be in the future.

    “We’re not proposing everyone go to college. The trades, high tech and the arts are other important education elements that we must provide for our students.”

    “Part II” of Ritter’s talk to Club 20 members dealt with energy development on the Western Slope.

    Ritter noted that there were members of the audience that were probably not pleased with some of his administration’s stances, especially concerning the Roan Plateau in the Rifle area and Vermillion Basin near Craig.

    “I think we need to protect special places like the Roan Plateau so that our children do not experience a different Colorado than we do,” Ritter emphasized.

    Ritter was concerned about the impacts from developing 50,000 gas wells in northwest Colorado in the next 20 years. Currently, there are about 5,000 wells drilled. He said the extractive industry’s contribution to the state is very important and he understands that it thrives on development — but that development must be done responsibly.

    Ritter’s entire energy development segment below:

    A Ritter staff member said the governor’s program on renewable energy is getting national attention. Later on Saturday, Gov. Ritter was attending a ground-breaking ceremony of the San Juan Biodiesel plant in Dove Creek.