Letters 04-16-09

Health department

Dear Editor:

 As employees of San Juan Basin Health Department with many years of combined service to our community as public health providers, we are asking for your assistance.

 It is time to become involved and ask questions about the direction the La Plata County commissioners are taking your health department.

 Our concern is that the county commissioners with input from their staff appear to have determined that they can use Senate bill 194 to dissolve our current, independent board of health and appoint themselves as the board of health. We believe this violates the spirit and intent of Senate bill 194. There is no other county in Colorado that is dissolving an independent board of health so the commissioners can appoint themselves as the board. It seems that our commissioners are attempting to acquire for themselves, the powers that reside with the Board of Health. This would allow county commissioners to exert tremendous influence on public health policy, priorities, and personnel.

 The commissioners have also not made it clear if they support the reappointment of Lynn Westberg as the director of San Juan Basin Health Department. We understand that the majority of Colorado counties have reappointed their existing health department directors and boards of health. No individual has given more to the public health of our community than Lynn Westberg during her 35 years of service at San Juan Basin Health Dept. We support and believe in the philosophy of public health service that Lynn has promoted during her years as director. She has earned our respect for her steadfast commitment to protecting our environment and the health of our citizens, including the most underserved, disenfranchised and vulnerable members of our community.

 Facts: SJBHD operates on a current budget of 6.3 million dollars. In 2009 our county’s projected contribution is $440,000.00, or 7 percent of that total. In other words, city and county residents receive nearly $15 worth of public health services for each county tax dollar directed to public health. The remainder of the funding comes to the health department from grants, donations, contracts and fees for the services that many of you, your clients, or loved ones receive every day.

 We try very hard at SJBHD, in collaboration with our partners throughout Archuleta and La Plata counties, to conserve resources and to be good stewards of your tax dollars and all other funding. We invite you to come out to the health department and visit with us and explore each of the 70-plus programs we provide.  We welcome collaborative efforts to improve what we do.

 During the April 8 La Plata  county public hearing, the county staff heard testimony from the public, from health care professionals, from current and former board of health members, and from former county commissioners, imploring them not to go down this path. If the county commissioners ignore this feedback and unilaterally decide to become your local board of health they assume the authority to decide the future of your health department and the services it may or may not continue to deliver.

 We ask that the county commissioners refrain from appointing themselves as the board of health.  When public health policy is driven by politics we all lose.

 If you are concerned, as we are, about these proposed changes, let your voice be heard. Write letters!  Call the commissioners!  If the commissioners respond to the overwhelming public demand for additional hearings please plan on attending. For more info on Senate Bill 194 go to www.cdphe.state.co.us/opp/pubhealthact.html.


Susie Kleckner, Stacey Barker, Kim Putnam, Royce Kinnaman, Barb Walton, Lily Mondragon, E. Theresa Lucero, Nancy Lincoln, Lisa Montoya, Wendy Gardner, Inez Winter, Peggy Bergon

Truck rules

Dear Editor:

Without notice to the property owners the PLPOA Board of Directors voted at their April meeting to allow sewage trucks, wreckers, delivery trucks and other commercial type trucks built on one-ton truck chassis to be parked overnight and longer on residential lots in PLPOA.

Why the board decided to change the commercial type truck definition to allow these commercial style trucks is anyone’s guess. The Master Declarations say, “No commercial type truck shall be parked for storage over night or longer on any lot.” The Vista/Trails Declarations adds no trucks larger than a pickup class can be parked in the subdivision. We wonder why the board no longer feels that a wrecker, dump truck or other styles are no longer commercial type trucks. Perhaps they believe the resident uses a tow truck as a family vehicle, or as a recreational vehicle. They also must believe these trucks are smaller than a pickup.

Perhaps the answer can be found in the PLPOA bylaws. The preamble says that the purpose, goals and objectives of the association is to, “improve, protect and enhance the quality of life and environment and preserve property values at Pagosa Lakes.” Are we to believe that a 14,000-pound delivery truck driving in and out of a residential lot will improve our roads, or that a wrecker responding to a late- night call will enhance our quality of life? Perhaps a sewage truck parked next door will preserve our property values. I believe most property owners will not believe this change meets these association goals and objectives, so why the change?

The second part of the preamble says to, “promote the general welfare of the members of the Association and the inhabitants of the community.” Maybe this is what the board is thinking about; owners and operators of delivery businesses, towing services, construction companies will be able to park commercial trucks and work out of the residence saving the cost of having an office or storage place in a commercial area. The change may help commercial truck operators, but what does it do for the general welfare of PLPOA members?

 In 2008 the board thought it necessary to more than double the number of Neighborhood Rules and Regulations and “protect” us against such offensive activity as loud talking and whistling heard from another lot. They made it an offense to store or dispose of hazardous or radioactive materials on property in the South Village Lake subdivision, but no place else. They prohibited the overnight parking of recreational vehicles in Mallard Point but not in North Village Lake. Why would the board go to these lengths to protect us with such rules in 2008 and yet find it okay in 2009 to allow commercial type trucks to park overnight and longer on residential properties?

A reasonable person would believe this definition change is not consistent with the purpose of the Declaration of Restriction prohibiting any overnight parking of a commercial type truck on residential lots. I find no law that gives the board authority to change the meaning and intent of Declaration of Restriction without a vote of the property owners, yet they did it.

Let the board know how you feel about these and other topics that affect your quality of life and property values. Let the board know that you feel it’s only right that your opinion be solicited before they make changes that impact you. Better yet, step up to the plate and run for one of the four open board positions or apply for one of the committees.

A final suggestion: It only takes 75 property owners’ signatures to place a bylaw amendment on the ballot to restrict how the board and/or the Environmental Control Committee operate. Perhaps now is the time to make them more responsive to our needs by stipulating that members should be surveyed and property owner meetings held before Neighborhood Rules or the Building Permit Process are approved or changed.


Rich Beaudry

On target

Dear Editor:

President Obama has inherited the biggest financial problems since President Roosevelt in 1933. I do see hope for our country and for the Obama administration because the President is looking at the big and long term picture. His priorities of health care, energy and education are right on target.

As the son of a U.S. Navy career man and having served on active duty myself I know the benefits of military/national medicine. In my professional career I was always able to have employer provided family health insurance, 12 years of civilian Federal service showed me the economic advantage of “nationalized” private insurance. The majority of those who argue against universal health care have private health care. Every American deserves and should have affordable public or private health care.

Alternative energy and energy conservation needs to be a priority. We need a National Defense Energy Policy. We do not need the Army and Marines to guard the well head for Exxon Mobile or BP. The Arabs and the Russians cannot eat or drink their oil; they must sell it. When we develop more alternative energy we will be smarter, safer and stronger.

Education, Obama’s third priority is understandable to all. An educated, healthy, productive nation can compete globally.

There is much talk of war on terror, drugs, etc. If this is war, look to WWII where all Americans had to sacrifice. Rationed gasoline, victory gardens, recycled everything, higher taxes. It is time that we got behind the President, bought US savings bonds, grew a victory garden, reduced our driving and even encouraged the Congress to raise taxes by one percentage point. We do not want to pass this on to our kids or grandkids, so let’s get serious, support the President and his proposed budget.

Raymond P. Finney

Sincere respect

Dear Editor:

I was recently a patient in distress in the emergency room of the Pagosa Mountain Hospital and wish to commend everyone who had a part in the planning, design and development of this superb, state-of-the-art facility. Furthermore, I have sincere respect for the caregivers with whom I came in contact. Without exception, they were polite, caring, very knowledgeable and competent. We in this community are extremely blessed to have such a hospital with above average caregivers.

My feelings in this matter are akin to the old cowboy standing by his horse, patting him on the neck and saying, “He ain’t got no holes in him.”


Robert A. Horstman, M.D.

A new take

Dear Editor:

This letter is in response to an article in the March 12, 2009 issue titled “District Considers New Substance Abuse Prevention Sexual Health Curriculum.” I think that what the school board and Mrs. Royer are doing is something much needed in the community. A new take on the old methods sounds like it is going to be very positive and bring awareness to what is happening in today’s society, with teenage pregnancy and many adolescents engaging in sex. I also think that adding the substance abuse prevention is much needed especially since the use of methamphetamines and other drugs are on the rise.

Reading through the article I was shocked at the survey results mentioned; the numbers are alarmingly high. What are 13 and 14 year olds doing having sex? I think that the media geared towards teenagers has a lot to do with it. Sex comes across as something very casual.

For example popular music with titles such as “Want It Need It” and “Cuddy Buddy.”

And a popular TV show “Degrassi.” It’s full of teens that have engaged in sex and taken part in drinking alcohol. It’s no wonder kids get the impression that sex is casual and drinking is fun.

Teaching abstinence is great but with so many younger kids engaging in sex it’s a good idea that the school board is introducing contraception as an option. I think that this will help in the area of teenage pregnancy. I think that the girls who are having sex are unaware of all the varieties of birth control and are also scared to go and get it. I believe that with this new curriculum in place it will open the students’ eyes and help them see the consequences of having pre-marital sex and the dangers of using drugs and alcohol. I also think that in addition to the new curriculum that adding more extracurricular activities would be a good idea. I think that adolescents here in town are bored and if they have something better to occupy their time then they will have less time engage in bad behavior.


Trina Mestas

Lend a hand

Dear Editor:

The San Juan Historical Society will be hosting its annual clean up day on Saturday, May 2 in preparation for the museum’s opening on Tuesday, May 12 for the summer season.

Assistance is requested from the community on this day. The work involves dusting exhibits, oiling wooden furniture and vacuuming on the inside of the museum. Outside work will require raking and trash pickup. If you are able to spare 1-2 hours to assist us, it would be greatly appreciated.

We will begin the cleanup at 8:30 a.m. and anticipate that with a few extra hands to help, we should be done by 10:30 to 11 a.m.

If you are able to lend us a hand, please call Shari Pierce in the evening at 264-4862.

We thank you in advance for your help.

The museum will open for the season on May 12. For this summer, the board of directors has elected to waive all admission fees to encourage local residents to come and see all of the wonderful history exhibits we have. There will also be a special exhibit of quilts from the collection of nationally recognized quilter Cindy Vermillion-Hamilton.

Thank you,

San Juan Historical Society Board of Directors

Shari Pierce, secretary


Dear Editor:

Letter to the editor of The Jerusalem Herald, Easter Sunday, by a Roman guard:

As you very well remember, last Sunday, how this man named Jesus rode into our little town on a donkey. The people flogged out to meet Him with tree branches and shouting Hosanna. (I don’t know what that was all about.) They said something about a king; well we know there is only one king — Caesar. All week long this man named Jesus caused a lot of attention to himself. The people followed Him around and He talked to them for hours at a time, almost like “the pied piper.” But late Thursday, we had had enough; we caught up with him and his group. We said to him, “Look, we don’t know who you are, but you are disrupting our lifestyle. If you don’t leave on your own, we will have to get rid of you, and we have the authority to do so!” Because of who this man named Jesus claimed to be was blasphemy against our God. So the people decided to put Him to death by crucifixion. Friday morning, as you know, we lead Him to “The Skull” to be crucified, as a large crowd followed. Some were cheering and others were weeping (for what). I remember that a storm moved through and it was very dark for a few hours. Late Friday, this man named Jesus finally died and was placed in a borrowed grave, because it was time for Passover to begin. What peace to know that he was finally gone, and we could get back to a normal way of living. We got rid of Him once and for all. Saturday’s Passover was such peace to enjoy the festivities of the occasion.

But this morning, I heard that this man named Jesus was seen by some of His followers. I hope this is not true, but if it is true, what are we going to do with this man called Jesus? Oh no! What am I going to do with this man called Jesus?

Tory Rascoe

Up With People

Dear Editor:

I am so excited! I have been given the most glorious opportunity. In July of this year I will be traveling with a group called Up with People. Up with People first started in 1965, when the founder, along with several friends, committed to making a positive change in the world.

Up with People brings students from around the world together to travel the world, where a positive difference can be made. The students stay with host families and learn about the political, financial, economic, and cultural environment. Up with People works along side local charitable organizations to provide hundreds of hours of community service. At the end of our stay we perform a show with live music, singing and dance, to spread the messages of hope and goodwill across nations. One hundred percent of the proceeds generated from the show are given to local charitable organizations. For me this is a dream come true. To be able to help those in need while experiencing other cultures, languages, and lifestyles is such a blessing.

I have lived in Pagosa Springs most of my life. The magnificent mountains are my protection and my beautifully large family my comfort. To travel for six months I will need to raise $14,250. As I represent Pagosa, I humbly ask for your encouragement. I will be hosting many fund-raising events with an ambition to bring our community together.

This Saturday, April 18, at Chavolo’s bar and grill, located on Piedra Road, I will be having a fund-raiser dance. Red chili and sopapillas will be served at 7 p.m. Variety Express will start playing at 9 p.m. There will be an opportunity to buy my art work and/or baked goods in a silent auction.

This will be a beautifully fun night. Please join us to experience local food, music and art. Also keep a look out for upcoming events: a car wash, Friday Fry bread, a garage sale and a bake sale. To make donations, please contact Naquita Rivas at 903-9498. Thank you so much, hope to see you soon!

Many blessings, with love,

Naquita Rivas