How Mediation Services Began in Jefferson County, Colorado

In 1993, Jefferson County’s population was growing, especially in the mountains. Suzanne Bierbrauer, then director of Jefferson County Animal Control, was noticing repeated calls from the same people about the same dogs. She had heard about Boulder’s mediation program, and asked, “Why not us?” Mark Loye had been the Aggregate Coordinator (instrumental in licensing mines and gravel pits) for Jeffco since 1987, and had done a lot of mediation and facilitation in that capacity. Brian Boatwright was a Deputy District Attorney who was interested in the idea of mediation in Jeffco, because he saw many cases going to court that could have been settled earlier. The County Commissioners appointed these three people as a committee to check out the possibilities, and Loye headed the committee. They began talking to people in other community mediation programs, such as Kon Damas in Boulder. The committee proposed to begin a mediation program, and to incorporate Mediation Services into Loye’s job, as one-quarter of his responsibilities. Enter a new administration, which didn’t see the need for the Aggregate Coordinator position, and de-funded the job. They offered Loye a contract at 40 hours per month to develop and coordinate a new community mediation program. This contract included office space and a phone. To buy a computer and fund training for 10 mediators, Loye spoke to D.A. Dave Thomas and Sheriff Ron Beckham, each of whom contributed $5,000. Loye also spoke to Tom Giacinti, then Director of Community Corrections, as that seemed the most logical department to include mediation, because it was working to keep people out of the formal justice/ incarceration system. Loye cut...

Snow Rage?

Here are a couple of things I try to keep in mind when there is a heavy snow: First, I take a deep breath, and try to relax. The weather is happening to everyone, and I’m not the only person who is having problems. When I can’t control a tough situation, I may want to take it out on other people. Getting steamed up might give me a warm feeling, but it’s a waste of energy unless I am running a sauna. I don’t need to get mad at the snow plow drivers – they had to dig out to get to work, too, and may have been up all night clearing roads. There are many miles of roads, and everyone wants the roads they use cleared promptly. The plow may have blocked my driveway just when I got it shoveled, but where else can the snow go except to the sides? When the plow drivers get home, they will have to shovel the piles across their own driveways, too. I take a deep breath, and try to relax. I may grumble, but I need to allow extra time for delays, so that I won’t get so upset by slow traffic. When there is heavy snow, it will take me a little longer to get dressed, longer to clear the snow off my car, and lots longer to get to work, to the grocery, or anywhere else. I take a deep breath, and calm down. I know I can help the situation by having my car ready for winter. A lot of delays are caused by people whose tires...