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Letters to Editor

Big Box

Dear Editor:

Members of the former Big Box Task Force, and other interested town residents and business owners, met recently with Town Manager David Mitchem to discuss the Town Council agenda item, IV.2 , scheduled for the July 23 town council meeting. ?Mr. Mitchem supports and will make the recommendation that Section 2.4.5 of the Town’s Land Use and Development Code, pertaining to regulating the size and mitigating impacts of Large Retail Development, be repealed.

As members of the town-appointed big box task force, we encourage the town council to retain the provisions of Land Use Development Code pertaining to large scale retail development. It is our belief that the work and regulations that comprise the large retail development code were and continue to be sound recommendations and in the best interest of the town in regards to capturing a portion of the sales leakage to regional communities, mitigating potential negative impacts to the community, and preserving quality of life and community character.?

We feel that it is our responsibility as citizens to assist our elected representatives in creating the future of our beloved Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County, and do our best to preserve and highlight the intrinsic characteristics that make our home so unique and special. We also understand and appreciate the pressures brought upon these representatives in a time of economic adversity. We believe that thorough analysis and public input are essential when considering the repeal of an entire section of the Land Use Code. If the council does choose to make changes to section 2.4.5, we ask and expect the Council, as stewards of this community, to require appropriate size, scale and architecture of any proposed large format retailer and be vigilant in identifying and requiring mitigation of the potential negative impacts that such development may have.

We invite all interested citizens to attend the Town Council Special Meeting on Thursday, July 23, in the Town Hall Council Chambers, at noon.

Kathy Keyes, Ann Bubb, Angie Dahm, Kirsten Skeehan, Cappy White, Karen Hoch, Tamra Allen, Jerry Venn, Cookie Venn, Bruce Hoch, Michael Whiting and Lori Unger

Where were we?

Dear Editor:

The front page articles in last week’s SUN were both informing and troubling. Kudos to reporters McGuire and McQuiggin for their thorough coverage of PAWSD, town and school board meetings. I learned that, despite the common mythology, construction is not the largest economic driver in the county. Region 9 data for jobs and earnings in 2007 reveal that services accounted for 40 percent of jobs and 30 percent of earnings; wholesale and retail trade for 15 percent and 17 percent; government (includes the school district) for 11 percent and 18 percent; and finance, insurance and real estate for 11 percent and 16 percent. Compare those figures to 15 percent and 15 percent for construction and it is clear that we have a more diversified economy than I had thought.

Despite this diversity, and here is one troubling part, it would appear that our elected officials have for some reason decided that it is construction (and development) that deserves our (the taxpayers’) financial help. The county has decided (and the town is in process) to eliminate impact fees and offer rebates on sales taxes to save the construction industry. These same officials also tried to influence (strong-arm?) PAWSD to do the same and failed. Is it possible that construction (and development) exerts too much influence in the decision making of our county and town, to the detriment of other business areas and the taxpayer? This situation smells a little like what is happening on the national level with respect to the financial segment of our economy!

Other troubling parts — loose ends and failure to communicate to other governing entities. It seems that about a year ago a Community Economic Roundtable was formed which included town, county, PAWSD, SJ Water Conservancy District, fire, school and health service districts. This group was to work on ways to lessen the economic downturn. A study was proposed, entity fees collected to pay for it and then, nothing. In its place we have the unilateral decisions by town and county regarding impact fees and sales tax rebates. We also learn that the other governing entities (fire, school, emergency services) that depend on the town and county for collections of fees, have been left wondering what’s going on.

And it’s our fault, you know. The building and development communities were apparently well represented at all these meeting. Where were we — the taxpayers?

Pauline Benetti


Dear Editor:

I ran into Warren Grams on the golf course the other day. (You remember Warren; he was our fire chief for years. Has done a ton of stuff for the community. Continues to do a ton of stuff for the community.) I congratulated him on the letter that he had written to your paper, praising the local aviators who performed the great flyover during our Fourth of July parade. He said thanks for the congrats, but there was one thing that was kind of bothering him. He had signed his letter, “Warren Grams, Chief Petty Officer USN Ret.” It seems that only the Warren Grams part got onto our printed page. When he asked why that was, he was told by The SUN that, “We don’t do that kind of thing.” By “that kind of thing,” I assume that you mean that you do not acknowledge a patriot’s 20 years plus service to his country … Now, I would have let this slide until I read the “Letters” section in your paper of the 16th of July. It seems that you have no problem with crediting the Reverend Mister Counsell (Ret) for his past life (in the signature block of his letter, you gave him full honors as a retired clergyman), nor do I suspect that you would slight any Dr. so-and-so who chooses to write into your publication. I guess that the only people that you really don’t want to acknowledge are those individuals who have honorably served the cause of freedom. Well, it ticks me off, but I guess I should be used to it. People don’t serve in the military for the public adulation. They do it because they think they’re doing the right thing. Patriotic citizens will continue to serve their country and they can only expect to be ignored and minimized by our noble press.

Bob Bledsoe

Editor’s note:

1) Your quote is inaccurate.

2) Notes regarding employment or career service are usually deleted from letters when they have no clear relation to the topic. Mr. Grams’ letter concerned comments overheard concerning aircraft noise.

3) Mr. Grams has been a valued friend for more than 20 years; his accomplishments and contributions in both of his careers and his civic life have been noted and have been deeply admired. Our respect and affection for Warren Grams are unquestionable.

4) The SUN covers every veteran event and issue in the community, including (a rarity among newspapers) providing a weekly column dealing with veteran issues and services. We will continue to do so.


Dear Editor:

I am sorry to say it has taken more than ten days for me to be able to sit down and write a legible letter of complaint of the aberration I and fellow rodeo fans were confronted with on July 4 — our country’s Independence Day. I now know what post-traumatic stress must feel like. Did those in authority not take into consideration the hearts of all those Americans and their families that are serving and have served our country so the United States can maintain its independence? Did any discussion go on concerning how this scripted and practiced skit would affect those having lived the tumultuous years of achieving civil rights?

I waited all July 5 and 6 for a public apology to be announced during the local radio news. Never happened! Perhaps there would be a letter of apology in the July 8 SUN. Nope!

The Western Heritage Board must be having a field day over having been able to thrust their political agenda at the unsuspecting public covering all ages. I found this vile presentation hurtful and will no longer attend a Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo. I also will not be taking my guests from out of the area to the Friday night rodeo during the Archuleta County Fair. (I give you three guesses on what organization is running the show Friday night).

Semper Fi Pagosa Springs.

Frances L. Brown

Editor’s note: The Friday rodeo at the Archuleta County Fair is not produced by the Western Heritage Board. It is backed by the board for insurance purposes. Neither are the regular Thursday night rodeos at the arena.


Dear Editor:

Jim Sawicki’s declared “The country is going to hell on roller skates …” I looked for some objective substance, but Jim offered only a series of seven juxtaposed phrases that provided no insights beyond “Me good -you bad” or “Me smart-you stupid.”

I picked one of his seven phrases to illustrate a fundamental difference between Jim’s and my view of our Republic. “Individual rights versus group grievances.” Jim didn’t say what he meant by that phrase; so, I’ll infer he believes that protecting “individual rights” is always preferred and favoring “group grievances” is roller skating to Republic hell.

The Founding Fathers established a Republic in which citizens could choose to surrender individual freedoms for the common good. During both Republican and Democratic administrations we have chosen, through our elected representatives, to restrict individual freedoms to manufacture defective goods, smoke anywhere we choose, drive impaired, discharge firearms in the city, racially segregate our citizens, and refuse military service in time of war. It’s naïve to castigate people simply because they give favorable consideration to “group grievances” on occasion.

Jim and I agree on one point! The First Amendment prohibits laws “abridging the freedom of speech.” Both Jim and I are free to express opinions, no matter how offensive, without fear of government retribution.

Jim is unschooled however when he claims that citizens have a “constitutional right to speak freely without repercussion.” Try screaming “Fire” in a crowded theater, committing perjury, defaming someone (slander or libel), or inciting people to imminent unlawful conduct. Each will bring criminal, civil or social liabilities resulting in repercussions. We witnessed social repercussion after the repugnant attempts at humor during the July 4 rodeo.

Jim regularly exercises his Constitutional right to express doomsday scenarios, defame groups who believe differently, and foment division and fear within our community. But, there are repercussions. While Jim is free to spew divisive and subversive rhetoric, he must expect to take the heat of having someone in his literal face challenging his unfounded proclamations and his self image of standing superior on some moral high ground disdaining all who dare to disagree.

So, Jim, I reject your call from an obscure Australian city councilor to embrace an illegal practice (torture) to be imposed on suspects. I still prefer that Americans choose their own morality and code of conduct. Our nation rejected your invectives during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. I believe we will continue rejecting your advocacy to transform our country and our people into the same brutal, immoral force we seek to defend against.

It would be unconscionable to send our young people to fight a war against terror to defend our American values while at home we voluntarily surrender those values behind their backs out of ignorance and fear. As long as Jim seeks to sell out our nation’s values there will be repercussions.

Jay Davison

No surprise

Dear Editor:

I have read the letters, “Dismayed” and “Appalled.” Is it any surprise that a clown in a small town would act out his version of humor? Not to me! Knowing CBS and NBC pay their clowns (dummies) millions of dollars to serve their own version of humor, consisting of worldwide insulting, crass, vulgar remarks.

Political figures seem to be appealing targets (including innocent children). A purported upscale newsperson, Barbara Walters, with her most seductive and promiscuous tone, said to the candidate for president of the United States, “We think you’re hot!” (speaking for “The View”). Tacky and no class!

While civility in society is on the decline in some areas, it is nice to know we have our own small haven where good manners and grace still reign.

I recently attended the Eddie Oldham Memorial Scholarship fund-raiser barbecue. I took my mother, Sylvia Pargin (90 years young). All present treated her with friendly, kind respect and dignity. It was a joy.

Dolly Dillinger

Editor’s note: We remind readers again that the rodeo performer at the Fourth of July event is not to be confused with the performers at other rodeos in the community.

PLPOA meeting

Dear Editor:

If you are a member of PLPOA and are unhappy that you weren’t given an opportunity to question the eight candidates for the board at a candidates’ meeting because the board refused to hold one; and

If you are offended that the board had one employee count our votes rather than follow the bylaws, “Roberts Rules of Order” and Colorado Revised Statutes which all require multiple counters; and

If you are disturbed that the board put an issue on the ballot that made no sense and followed no acceptable requirements for stating amendment changes; and

If you are horrified that the board spent $127,000 on a pathway when the bylaws only permitted the total expense of $100,000; or

If you have other complaints, it is time for you to come to the annual meeting on Saturday, July 25. The coffee hour begins at 9 a.m., the meeting begins at 10. All ballots must be in before 10 a.m.

This meeting is the members meeting. It belongs to us and not the board. It’s time to stop complaining to your neighbors and your spouses. Complain and speak out to the board. If none of the above problems bother you, come anyway and hear what your neighbors really think.

Judith S. Esterly

Great work

Dear Editor:

I want to mention the wonderful work done by three men at the Aspen Springs Metro. In this huge area, they concentrate on the roads, and our roads in Unit 5 are great. Thank you so much!

I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed the fountain in Pinon Lake (and the swans and their baby) until it was absent for a short time. Thanks for getting that problem solved.

And last, but not least, I just loved the Renaissance Festival in Kansas City each year (in October), but in July especially when it is unusually hot — I didn’t think it would work, but lo and behold, there it was in Town Park, camels and all! What fun to drench a wench, and the belly dancers from 11 or so on up — fascinating. The wonderful vendors, local and from as far away as Sacramento, Calif. Then there were “The Gypsy Players,” courtesy of Becca Stephens and company, playing their hearts out, fully costumed in the stunningly hot sun. So much fun, and all I can say is thank you, and I can’t wait until next time!

Cindy Gustafson


Dear Editor:

It is rare that governments take over banks. It is even more rare that banks take over governments. At present, the United States government is not being run by congress and the president. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase are running the country. It is truly incredible how much power they have over our lives. No president gets elected without their consent.

Once elected, politicians become vassals that lick the boots of their feudal masters. It was so interesting to see the enormous profits the two above banks made in the last quarter — billions of dollars (of your money). It is a massive delusion of the political right that we are heading toward socialism; we are in fact in the grips of feudalism. Now that the wealth of the middle class has been eviscerated, the banking oligarchs are still not satisfied. Like any parasite, they will kill their host, before they perish. The people running the above institutions need to be sharing a cell with Bernie Madoff (perhaps they will fall in love), rather than running the country. It is also time that brown paper bags full of $100 bills are not the medium of exchange for getting legislation put through congress.

We need to start all over. Start by driving the moneylenders out of the temple. And remind the pathetic moral prostitutes running our government to read and adhere to the supreme law of our land, a forgotten document, called the Constitution, or face the wrath of their angry, well-armed constituents.

Marty Margulies

Nobody’s perfect

Dear Editor:

Two in a row!

The July 16 Red Ryder strip reinforces my thoughts on the previous strip. To recap, last week we saw that Red and the Beav have a relationship which emphatically excludes pretty young women. This week Red and Li’l Beaver are planning a “hunting trip.” The Duchess is scornful. We know this plot … we saw the movie!

OK, let’s talk about the touchy issue of racial stereotyping, keeping in mind that this issue was largely invisible when Red Ryder was drawn. The most obvious thing is that Little Beaver speaks in Pidgin English. In real life any little kid who’s spent a few years in an English speaking community (even Pagosa) would speak English fluently and without accent. So, at first I thought it was patronizing to show him talking this way. I’ve had to change my mind. Little Beaver is the brains of the outfit. He is the first to spot danger. When he advises a course of action, Red complies and doesn’t talk back.

However, in this week’s strip we see the lazy Chinese ranchhand Ching How. No excuses here. It’s pure racial bashing. Oh well, nobody’s perfect, not even Fred.

Jim Milstein

Mean business

Dear Editor:

Pusillanimous moralists.

I’ve been reading with interest the recent exchanges between Jim Sawicki and Jay Davison. Davison’s obsession with applying moral principles in our war against a brutal, unprincipled and immoral enemy who is determined to destroy anyone and anything identified with freedom and democracy is going to get us all killed.

Given what we have seen of Taliban and Al Qaeda tactics in Iraq and Afghanistan against our military, as well as their indiscriminate killing of men, women and children in bombings in Europe, Africa and, most recently, in India and Indonesia, these terrorists do not deserve to be treated humanely by us or any other government. Why should we be concerned with honoring the Geneva Convention when it has nothing to do with terrorists? Why should we be concerned with “due process” for radical Islamists who instill fear and spill the blood of anyone who does not accept their religion and the imposition of Sharia Law around the world? These terrorists don’t give a damn whether they are given a fair trail if they are captured. They prefer to use trials for propaganda purposes and to become martyrs. For us to agonize over fair treatment and to debate whether water boarding and aggressive interrogation tactics somehow tarnishes our constitution and image around the world is ludicrous and self-defeating. Furthermore, it allows the terrorists who believe that even if caught, our legal system and pusillanimous moralists will perhaps enable them to terrorize us another day.

It’s time for our government to stop telling terrorists and the leadership of Iran and North Korea that their behavior is “not acceptable” and that if they don’t change their ways, there will be “repercussions.” How many times have they heard this and to what effect? Too many times, obviously, and therefore with no effect. It is now time for the American government to cease worrying about its image in the face of repeated threats to our security and well-being. We should project an unmistakable image of an America which means business and is determined to rid the world of all the “rat finks” (to use Jim Sawicki’s appropriate term) who are bent on doing harm to us and the Western World. It also is time for us to convey this message to our chief apologist, President Obama.

Gary Stansbury

Move the gate

Dear Editor:

We are tourists from Texas who have been coming to Pagosa for 20 years. We missed coming for three years due to health problems, but we are back this year. One of our most looked-forward-to excursions while in Pagosa is a trip out the East Fork Road. We saw on the Internet last year where this road was closed and then it is still closed this year.

We were able to travel down this road this year, and we are having a hard time understanding why this road is closed. Where the avalanche was, has been repaired. The ranger told us if it rains again, there will be another avalance. If that is so, wouldn’t most of the forest roads be closed?

There are several miles of road that could be used if the gate?were moved to the first bridge. This would still protect where the avalanche occurred and give the visitors a good place to fish.

We have spent a great deal of money in Pagosa, but we are going elsewhere to spend the rest of the summer since our favorite place is off limits.

The Forest Service needs to reevaluate this road closure and maybe move the gate. This really makes me wonder if this is a political situation since we are aware of all the problems that have occured out this road.

This is a National Forest road and the gate should be moved where people can use what every taxpayer owns. Not everyone can bring four-wheelers to Pagosa, which is all that seems to be allowed on this road.

Sandra Truran

Ranger, Texas