Taxes a hard sell in Dinosaur

Residents 90 miles from schools and hospital in Craig

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— When Moffat County voters head to the polls in November, they will be asked to increase taxes in exchange for improvements to Craig schools and a new hospital on the west side of town.

The ballot questions don't sit well with some voters in Dinosaur, who live 90 miles from Craig and likely will use neither of the facilities in question.

"I'm not paying for Craig schools when they wouldn't support our schools," B and B Restaurant owner Valerie Blakley said. "They fought us tooth and nail, and I don't think it's right."

Blakley and her husband, Richard, have four school-age children living in Dinosaur and taking online classes for their school.

Richard Blakley, Dinosaur school's chairman and founder, said Dinosaur is the county's "stepchild," when it comes to funding programs.

"We pay taxes and what do we see for our tax dollars from our county?" he asked. "They're closing the school, and we have to send our kids to Rangely whether we like it or not."

Moffat County School District and Dinosaur school parted ways in August 2006 after the county revoked the school's charter for non-compliance with state and federal laws.

The town of Dinosaur agreed to lease the building and teach the children through the Hope On-line program.

With Vernal, Utah, 33 miles across the state line, and Rangely a scant 18 miles to the southeast in Rio Blanco County, chances are good trips to the hospital for Dinosaur residents will involve one of those nearer facilities.

"It's so far away," Richard Blakley said about Craig's hospital. "If not for that:"

Blakley said he makes the drive to Craig about twice monthly to attend Moffat County Land Use Board meetings and Moffat County Tourism Association meetings, but he wishes the county would pay closer attention to Dinosaur residents.

"I wish they would promote us more in the western part of the county," he said. "We're fighting for freedom in Iraq, and we can't educate our kids the way we want to."

Dinosaur resident Josh Hinkle has less of a problem giving money to Craig schools and hospitals.

He said paying taxes is something all residents must live with.

"I'll help them out," he said. "We're always going to be taxed for something. It might as well be hospitals and schools."

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext.207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com

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