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MONDAY
January 29 2007

MONTROSE

VOL 99, NO. 258 50 cents MONTROSE, CO 81401 www.montrosepress.com

Published for the Uncompahgre Valley and Kathy Walker of Montrose

OUTSIDE ▲
Tuesday: Mostly Cloudy High 39, Low 21

CSP: Woman endangered troopers while trying to flee
STAFF REPORT

In Vitro

INSIDE ▲

Sports:
Regional Roundup Page A8-9

Nation/World:
Senate GOP leaders skeptical Iraq resolution will pass; Iraq officials say 200 militants killed in battle Page A5

OUT & ABOUT ▲
The Daily Press is looking for your pictures. We’ll take photos you’ve taken from various events, happenings in the community, your travels, animals or just people on the street for our “Our Community” page. To submit, send the photos electronically to: editor@montrosepress.com.

MONTROSE — Two Colorado State Patrol troopers had to flee from a suspect in order to avoid being run over. Thursday state patrol aircraft op, erations spotted 20-year-old Tricia Paul allegedly following another vehicle too closely on south Highway 550 and alerted ground crews. "Initially she stopped," Cpt. Clark , Bates said. "She (allegedly) gave a fictitious name. When the computer check did not clear her, the troopers went up to the vehicle in an attempt to question her more." At that point, Bates said, Paul put her Toyota into gear and speeded away nearly hitting the troopers. , "They had to jump out of the way when she ran off," Bates said. "One trooper was in front, another, by the door, and they had to get out of the way to keep from being injured." Paul allegedly led officers on a mile-long pursuit, during which speeds exceeded 90 mph. She lost control when she attempted to turn left onto a frontage road, and drove into a ditch where her car became stuck. Paul then allegedly fled on foot, bursting through the door of a residence/business office for a local storage lot. "She got to the front counter and that's when she was taken into custody Bates said. ," No one at the business knew her, Bates said, and he didn't know why she fled. "We know she did not have a driver's license. I have no idea why she chose to run." Paul was booked into the Montrose County Jail on suspicion of vehicular eluding, menacing, resisting arrest, false reporting, reckless endangerment and following too closely . She was set for advisement Thursday morning.

WILLIAM WOODY / DAILY PRESS

Jazz vocalist Roseanna Vitro performs “Lonely Avenue,” a ballad by the late Ray Charles during the 49th annual Benefit for Hospice and KVNF Saturday evening at the Montrose Pavilion. Vitro and her quintet performed two sets for the foot-tapping Montrose crowd. Local guitarist Glenda Fletchall, right, performs her set at the benefit.

ONLINE VIDEO
For video clips, visit our Web site at: www.montrosepress.com

INDEX ▲
LOCAL A2-3 STATE A3 HEALTH & FITNESS A4 NATION/WORLD A5 OPINION A6 FOR THE RECORD A7 SPORTS A8-9 CLASSIFIEDS A10-13 COMICS A14 WEATHER A15 OBITUARIES A15 CALENDAR A16

Yeager’s business initiative leads to organic Kenyan co-op
ERICA LEWIS KENNEDY DAILY PRESS WRITER

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MONTROSE DAILY PRESS 3684 N. TOWNSEND MONTROSE, CO. 81401 HOURS 7:30 A.M.-5 P.M. MONDAY-FRIDAY TEL: 970-249-3444 FAX: 970-249-3331
JOEL BLOCKER / DAILY PRESS

Bill Yeager, a 27-year-old entrepreneur, recently set up an organic produce co-op with 1,200 organic farmers based in Kenya. Yeager, who lived in Kenya as a boy, is also part owner of a global support computer software company based out of Montrose.

MONTROSE — Business as usual is not a phrase in Bill Yeager’s vocabulary . The 27-year-old entrepreneur recently cleared the final hurdle to set up an organic produce co-op based in Kenya where he lived as a child. Running the business operations from Montrose, he has teamed up with a family friend in Kenya to establish Yeager Kenya Group, a co-op of 1,200 organic farmers in Kenya. They plan to sell the produce to buyers throughout the United States and eventually Europe. Yeager’s parents were missionaries, and as a child he lived all over the United States, in Singapore and Kenya. His family moved to Kenya when he was 7 years old and he instantly fell in love with the people and the culture. “I was a little boy living in Kenya,” Yeager said. “I learned how to shoot bows and arrows. I threw spears. I saw lions and tigers and giraffes. I simply fell in love. I felt at home with the people and it’s a feeling in my heart that never died.” Yeager, a self-proclaimed nerd, along

with his business partner, Steven Lahm, also of Montrose, owns a global support computer software company . He and his wife Codi have a 3-year-old son Jonah and are expecting the birth of their daughter any day He relocated to . the area after his parents raved about it. His wife grew up in Florida and the couple met in Montrose. “I was out in Phoenix doing the programmer thing,” he says. “I just ended up here. I have always worked in computers.” SEE NEIGHBORS, PAGE A2

‘I don’t know, one day I would like to be financially well off enough that I could go to Harvard to study quantum physics ... That is the nerd side of me talking; the heart side loves what I am doing right now.’
Bill Yeager
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MONDAY, JANUARY 29, 2007

LOCAL
▲ FROM PAGE 1 However, he found that even though his professional career was going well, it lacked the awe he so deeply desired. “I started to think about how I could further my business career,” Yeager recalls. “A couple of years ago I was lying in bed and I just kept thinking how computers and IT weren’t doing it for me. So then I had the typical American thoughts about import and export from Asia. Then God spoke to me. This thought entered the back of my head. I would take business practices to Kenya. I thought to myself, ‘What the heck, they don’t have computer networks in Kenya.’ But this idea just sat there like a ton of bricks. I wanted to provide jobs, education and medical benefits where there are no jobs. I wanted to literally change people’s lives.” Sitting in his home office adorned with African relics, Yeager gets a gleam in his eye as he explains how the whole situation transpired. A large wooden giraffe sits next to his computer desk. A photo of a Kenyan farmer dressed in a bright pink shirt beams at the camera. A stack of 20-year-old family photos sits on a table depicting the Yeager adventures when the family lived in Kenya. Kenya is located on the eastern coast of Africa. When he was a child, Yeager and his parents lived in the village of Cheptais, near Mt. Elgon, the fourth highest mountain on the continent. The mountain is a dormant volcano, which straddles the border of Kenya and Uganda. The land in this area is quite lush and has many hills and waterfalls. Unlike the arid plains that Africa is known for, this region is very fertile, Yeager adds. The capital city of Nairobi is a 16hour car drive away . Yeager, inspired by his recurring ideas, called Jane Wachara, a family friend and a Kenyan national who still lived in the village where his parents had served as missionaries. The two discussed Yeager’s ideas and began brainstorming a business plan. Yeager then took an exploratory trip to Kenya to see what they could make work. The official languages of Kenya are agriculture, financial planning and international business. “Every time we thought we were about to hit a brick wall on this project, something came through,” Yeager says. “We are very fortunate. I am very lucky to have such a supportive wife who understands why this project means so much to me. I am young. I have a lot to learn. I have been very fortunate to work with some very bright men.” Part of the arduous process involved in obtaining USDA certified organic status included the composition and implementation of a 90-page internal control system document. They had to outline their practices for ensuring crops would not come in contact with any trash, chemicals or other pollutants. Then they had to educate the first round of farmers. Extensive training involving all aspects of organic growing and practices were imparted. Yeager had to hire an independent inspection team from Germany to certify the operation. Surprise inspections were completed on many farms, soil samples were taken, produce was tested and farmers were tested on their knowledge. “Let me tell you, the process — it hurts,” Yeager now says with a laugh. “But I tell you the inspectors do not joke around. Any American who buys products with the USDA organic seal should know they are getting a good product. The have very high expectations.” He tells of one very major trial they had to overcome. “The village is surrounded by hills and that is where many of the farms are,” he says. “The hills are very steep and the farms are miles from the packing center. We had to explain how we were going to get the produce from the farms into the village. We are using donkeys with burlap sacks to carry the vegetables. The inspectors said there was no way this was going to work. They said the donkey fur could get on the produce and this was not concurrent with organic practices. So, we had to purchase locking, leather bags for each donkey to carry the produce. We had to ensure there would be no contamination. Also, in organic operations, animals must be treated ethically so the bags had to be constructed so that a limited amount of weight could be mounted on each donkey .” Yeager said he could not be happier with how their business operates. He has in his filing cabinet his USDA permit allowing him to import the organic produce. He explains that the farms are certified organic in whole, so anything they produce can be shipped

MONTROSE DAILY PRESS

Lengthy chase lands man in jail
STAFF REPORT

NEIGHBORS: 1,200 organic farmers are part of Kenya co-op
in. The first crop they are working to market — red Creole onions. “The seeds are in the ground,” Yeager says. “Now we are going to start looking for distributors. We will send samples direct from Kenya. In May or June we should have our first container.” Yeager has also started researching the Fair-Trade certification requirements. Once profits are generated they also plan to help build a school for the farmers’ children and have started planning financial classes so the farmers can make quality decisions about their newfound incomes. “Jane has been negotiating with a Kenyan bank to bring a branch to the village as well,” Yeager says. “We don’t want them to have to hide their money .” For him, all the hard work has been more than worth it. In late November, Yeager was able to visit Kenya and meet the farmers. He explained he wanted to visit more often but with the average cost of $3,000 per trip, it was more important to put the money into the co-op. During his most recent visit he captured more than 1,200 photos and over four hours of video of the farmers, the people and the land. “We have trained 76 farmers already and we are working with the next 150,” Yeager says. “We have about 25 farms which are owned by women. We want to encourage this trend.” Future crops they have planned include sweet potatoes and green chiles and eventually coffee. Yeager says perhaps the most important lesson he has learned on this venture is how lucky he and his family are to have experienced so many positive things in life. He has never set foot inside a college but a degree is something he would like to one day obtain. “I don’t know, one day I would like to be financially well off enough that I could go to Harvard to study quantum physics,” he says. “I want my children to see the world and realize how important an education can be. That is the nerd side of me talking; the heart side loves what I am doing right now. I feel incredible sometimes. I am not being cocky But when . I sit there and think you know I am not really that smart, actually I am kind of simple and I have been able to get this off the ground. I am terribly amazed and excited for the future. We are on a venture that is encouraging the humane treatment of animals, supporting the traditions of Kenya and small farmers. What we are doing is good for the people and good for the earth. Really does it get much better than that?”

MONTROSE — A man accused of leading several officers on an out of control chase that also killed two deer appeared in county court last Thursday to waive his right to a preliminary hearing. Thomas Beck, 22, was arrested Jan. 10 after allegedly leading deputies on a high-speed chase on Marine Road. A Montrose County Sheriff ’s sergeant said in Beck’s arrest affidavit that he was trying to stop him for speeding, when instead Beck ignored his flashing lights and blew through a red light. The chase continued to 64.00 Road, where speeds charted out between 90 and 100 mph, and then progressed onto West Oak Grove Road, where an Ouray County Sheriff ’s deputy was traveling home from his shift. The Ouray deputy was in a marked patrol unit, and turned on his lights as Beck’s vehicle approached and drove by Beck allegedly flew past yet another marked . unit on Chipeta, and continued at a high rate of speed. With three officers in hot pursuit, Beck reportedly traveled west of Simms Mesa Road, where his car launched into the air several times on the four-wheel drive tracks. The affidavit also alleged he kept shutting off his headlights in order to hide. During these events, he missed a second deputy’s vehicle by scant feet, and eluded officers for a short time. A Colorado State Patrol unit later spotted the vehicle on 64.00 Road, where it hit two deer at high rates of speed. A Montrose Police Officer located Beck’s car at a Chipeta Road residence — the deer innards making it easy to spot. Beck’s stepfather was at the residence and said Beck had likely been driving the vehicle. However, Beck said he had been asleep the whole time and had no idea who was driving. The car reportedly contained a digital scale and police scanner, which the vehicle’s registered owner denied were hers. Also discovered was a backpack identified as Beck’s. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant, but continued to deny involvement in the chase, stating the deputy wouldn’t believe him because he was “a wanted person.” Beck has since been charged with vehicular eluding, reckless driving, speeding more than 40 mph over the limit, driving under restraint, failure to report an accident and possession of drug paraphernalia. He will next appear in court Feb. 26.

COURTESY PHOTO

Bill Yeager receives a gift from a boy in Kenya during a trip there in November 2006. Swahili and English — making communication easy for Yeager and the farmers. While visiting the village, Yeager noticed the farmers worked the land without the use of chemical or pesticides and he thought they could be converted to certified organic farms and sell the crops to international markets. “These farmers were using traditional farming methods,” Yeager says. “They could not afford the chemicals so often used today I thought we really . had something to work with.” Wachara set off to form a farmer co-op and Yeager worked on organic certification from the United States Department of Agriculture. The certification process alone took more than 18 months and a lot of hard work, he says. The average farmer in the area makes approximately $20 to $30 per month, Yeager says, but by the estimates of their business plans, the average farmer could expect to make $10,000 when he or she sells her crop to the co-op. Each farmer would sell about one crop per year. He first started the process with a $700 wire transfer. He and his wife were the sole financial backers of the project until about four months ago. They covered all the payroll, equipment and certification costs. They used an inheritance to get the co-op up and running. They found a private investor to help in recent months and at this time, are mostly set to start production, Yeager explains. He has formed a professional board of directors with experience in

Wet Crawl Space? Mold Inspection?
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