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Letters to Editor

No Big Box

Dear Editor:

First of all, I would like you to know how much we appreciate Pagosa Springs, and we spend as much time as we can at our home in San Juan River Village. We love the small-town, small-business lifestyle the community provides and welcome the opportunity to support your local merchants. I have been following, with interest, the issue of big box businesses coming to Pagosa Springs. If there were a big box store in Pagosa Springs, we would not patronize it as we have many big boxes in our area and we don’t shop them.

In Arizona, our largest hometown grocer has filed bankruptcy for reorganization. It has been made public that the main cause of their loss of business is due to the many WalMart stores which have saturated our state. Our hometown chain has contributed millions of dollars to the state since its opening, in 1932. In addition, they have regularly contributed to many of our nonprofit organizations and currently maintain programs for assistance to families in need. Since word of their bankruptcy hit the papers, many individuals and other businesses have come forth with testimonies of what this local chain has quietly done for them.

Research has shown that of the sales of the big box national chains, only 15 percent of their revenue remains at the local level; whereas, 75 percent of the sales revenue from local businesses remains in the community. Because of what they contribute financially and personally, the extra few cents one pays at a local business is well worth the investment.

While arguments in behalf of the big boxes predict additional jobs, how many jobs will be lost due to your local merchants, who are your neighbors and friends, being put out of business? The big box merchants don’t target just one merchant. Because of their multiple businesses within their business, they will be responsible for the demise of a variety of small businesses. What would Pagosa Springs be like without Moonlight Books, Edelweiss, Goodman’s, Happy Trails, Jackisch Drugs, Made in Colorado, Howlin’ Wolf, and so many others? Will you be able to face each of these business owners and justify your vote to put them out of business?

Where is our commitment and allegiance to those merchants who have supplied the needs of Pagosa Springs since long before big boxes were interested in us?

I know this is a weighty subject and the decisions you make will have long lasting consequences — either positive or negative. Please consider, is it right to take the livelihood of many business persons – whose names and faces we know — away from them and give it to a mega competitor, who will remain forever faceless, who has no history with the town and to whom Pagosa Springs is just another Cash Cow?

Leanna Bendure, the Bendure and Birt families

Mesa, Ariz.

Medical help

Dear Editor:

July 9 my husband, Ed, and I drove to our condo from Santa Fe for the purpose of attending a condo board meeting, and especially to launch a newly-purchased pedal boat.

Unfortunately, while entering the deck steps, my husband fell and hit his head, causing blunt trauma injury.

EMTs were called via 911, arrived on the scene, provided necessary treatment and took him to the Pagosa Hospital. The doctors and staff performed in an outstanding manner to stabilize my husband. The doctors determined that the head injury was severe, and my husband should be medi-vac’d to San Juan Hospital neurosurgery unit in Farmington, N.M.

Upon my arrival in Farmington, I was met by the neuro team. This staff was also extremely competent and performed in an excellent manner. Unfortunately, my husband passed that evening from the severe injury.

Both Pagosa and Farmington hospitals are to be highly commended for their special courtesies and medical expertise.

Pagosa is fortunate to have such a wonderful medical facility within the city limits and another nearby hospital in Farmington with a fully equipped emergency staff.

Besides both hospitals, I wish to thank the Pagosa EMTs for their quick action, on-site witnesses who were of tremendous assistance to me, including Mary Jane Knight, Mr. and Mrs. Bruder and daughter, Barbara Palmer, Dianne Millan and another gentleman (identity unknown).

My heartfelt thanks to all.

Karleen Boggio-Montgomery

Santa Fe, N.M.

Undue applause

Dear Editor:

Happily, I’ve been a volunteer for Music in the Mountains since its inception in Pagosa Springs. An observation: at the first concert this summer, a trio, the violinist introduced the first selection and added, “There are three movements, please hold your applause until the end of all three movements and the piece is actually completed.” And they did! Without that reminder, later audiences have shown their appreciation by clapping after each movement. Unfortunately, this can end up being an interruption and distraction for the musicians and a break in the mood of the whole musical piece. It’s best to “sit on your hands” until the very end.

Here’s to more wonderful music in Pagosa! And many thanks to the Browns and all the volunteers that make such things possible.

Phyl Daleske


Dear Editor:

This Arboles antediluvian has witnessed three revolutions and is still around to see the start of the fourth. My roots date back to the 19th century. My dad was born in 1891. He was still farming with horses the day he died. I was privileged to go to school with the WW II vets who were there, thanks to the GI Bill. Thanks to these guys, farmers now plow with 500 HP tractors and can combine an acre of wheat in minutes. Thanks to the electric power grid and all the goodies that go along with it, a couch potato can flip on the TV without ever getting off his behind. During the decades after WW II, America enjoyed an unprecedented growth in material wealth, which we spent like a drunken sailor. Nobody was paying attention to the costs, the loss of moral fabric and the loss of manufacturing jobs.

I was around for the birth of the second revolution, the computer revolution, but never saw it coming. The computer at the University of Illinois took up the whole first floor of the Electrical Engineering building, used all the power from Hoover Dam, and if it didn’t blow a tube, might be able to work through a mundane arithmetic problem. We had a transistor, an object about the size of your little finger with three wires dangling from it in our EE lab. In 2006, Intel packed 1.7 billion transistors on their high-end processor.

The third revolution is the Internet. I never dreamed that every one of these computers would be connected to every other computer in the world. Thanks to the Geeks of the world, we can now outsource our service jobs to anyone anywhere. No doubt there is an Indian teenager answering your tech service call, and Italian doctor reading your MRI, a sermon, an architect in Timbuktu designing your patio.

The fourth revolution, just beginning, is microbiology. In my crystal ball, I see cures for cancer and genetic diseases, the ability to grow new livers and limbs. But will Americans have to go to Korea for these treatments and procedures and will they be able to afford the rocket fare?

Will our local politicians spend our money on a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem? With the exception of Wal-Mart, which led the charge into the 21st century or perhaps a specialty retailer, such as Cabela’s, which draws customers from a large radius, Big Boxes are losers. Of course, they will come in on our nickel and take the profits while we will take the losses. I wonder if our chiefs have heard of online shopping. A Troglodyte can sit in his cave and order virtually everything he needs or wants by merely punching a few keys.

Bob Dungan


Economic plan

Dear Editor:

In my opinion three key factors have contributed to the rise of development in Pagosa Springs over the last ten years. These include:

1. The availability of easy low interest credit to finance the construction and purchase of homes;

2. The increase in the value of and equity in existing homes; and

3. The increase in the value of personal and retirement investments held by individuals.

Each of these factors contributed to the enhancement of wealth to many people outside our community. This new wealth allowed them (and many people here) to purchase new homes in Archuleta County. It also led many people in Pagosa Springs (including myself) to believe that growth based on development would go on indefinitely.

With the near collapse of our world financial markets and the bursting of the real estate bubble last year, it has become apparent to me that\ all of these factors no longer exist to push our local economy.

The scariest fact is that the collapse and resurrection of these factors are out of our local control. In essence mismanagement of our national economy is what has contributed to the collapse of our local real estate and construction market. If what I have read recently is valid (we can expect historic federal deficits along with soon to be high inflation and interest rates resulting from this deficit) we will probably not see the return of historically high building permits any time soon. I believe lowering impact fees will have a positive effect, but it will not get us to where I am sure anyone wants us to be.

I believe the only way for Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County to get out of the current economic abyss we are in, is to develop a long term economic plan that focuses on attracting knowledge-based firms that produce goods and services that can be marketed to the outside world. Our community is in a unique position to appeal to such businesses. We are a beautiful mountain town. We have the beginnings of a modern wired infrastructure. We also have a well educated and highly skilled workforce. In addition we are only hours away from Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, which are two of the greatest research institutions in the world. If anyone doubts this can be done, all one has to do is look at Parelli Natural Horsemanship. They are a perfect example of how this type of business can work here.

The existence and proper management of a local knowledge based economy would likely lead to growth which our county has never experienced. It would be growth based on local businesses focused upon the future. In the end such businesses are less effected by economic downturn and will provide high incomes that will enhance the economic well being of people in our community and attract new people here. Oh, and yes these people will purchase and build homes.

In the end I believe (like you ) that tourism is currently our most important industry. It will not by itself create or promote long term economic sustainability or stability for our community. It should be only one facet involved in a diverse economic development plan for Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County.

Steve Giesen

Too much

Dear Editor:

When I have to pay $10 for a small plastic sink stopper from a local store, maybe we should reconsider a “big box” for our beautiful little town. This isn’t the first time we have paid too much for too little, locally.

Brenda McCooey


Dear Editor:

It’s so great to see so many visitors in Pagosa! When our population doubles, it brings new opportunities as well as challenges.

A few reminders for visitors and locals alike, to keep us all safer:

1. Those blinky lights at the two downtown crosswalks mean some brave soul is trying to cross the street. Please watch for these and stop! It might be your family in the street.

2. It is not safe, wise, or legal to make a U turn in the middle of U.S. 160 in front of oncoming traffic, especially downtown.

3. Finally, that little stick on the side of your steering wheel is a turn signal. If you use that before you stop dead in the road, we will try not to run into you. Locals: yes we recognize your vehicle and probably know where you’re going, but this means you, too.

We have wonderful folks in public safety and emergency medical care, but we’d rather you didn’t meet them professionally.

Glad you’re here!

Nancy Strait

Western Heritage

Dear Editor:


Time is what it takes to gather the facts, convene the necessary parties and have thoughtful discussion. This was done after we read the Letters to the Editor regarding the rodeo clown performance. Several letters were from individuals who were not at the rodeo and other than the initial contact during a rodeo from one of the individuals writing the first letter, only one person has contacted our organization personally.

The purpose of the Western Heritage Event Center, Inc. is to provide an annual three-day Red Ryder Roundup® Rodeo as well as a year-round venue for education and training for youth and equestrian events for Archuleta County. The WHEC Board is dedicated to preserving the history and traditions of the American West.

The organization is run by a board of nine members, all volunteers, and the annual rodeo is organized by the same. This year we were proud to present the 60th annual event held over the Fourth of July weekend which is intended to be a traditional American rodeo and an opportunity for true cowboys and cowgirls to participate and continue in their chosen career and/or avocation and for spectators to enjoy their talents. The WHEC Board works hard every year to make it a smooth and entertaining event.

We hire a “stock contractor” who brings livestock and personnel to execute that portion of a rodeo performance. Part of the personnel is rodeo clowns who serve to distract aggressive livestock and provide entertainment during down time. We do not preapprove the clown performances.

The company we hired brought a new clown. That clown performed a skit and provided “their own version of humor” (Dolly Dillinger, Letter to Editor 7-23-09) which was offensive to others. Comedy always walks a fine line and one person’s comedy is not something that makes everyone laugh.

We are offering no excuses. We hired this organization and the personnel that came with it. As of last week, that particular clown has been released from the personnel of the stock contractor and will not be back on our rodeo grounds. Next year we will direct our stock contractor to provide entertainment that is conducive with the holiday it mirrors — celebrating our great country and its independence and freedom.

To clarify the various rodeo events, the WHEC: (1) leases the arena to another stock contractor who organizes the Thursday night rodeos, (2) donates the arena to a local group who organizes the monthly kids’ rodeos, and (3) donates the arena to the county for the County Fair and their respective rodeo events. Each of these events operates independently and all deserve support of the community. Additionally, one rodeo clown should not spoil the whole batch; most rodeo clowns perform their job with great ability and passion.

Finally, the WHEC arena and grounds are used constantly, much of it at no cost, to promote and continue the equestrian and western tradition. We would like to thank everyone in the community who supports the traditions of western heritage and the traditional American rodeo.

For further discussion or explanation of this issue or any other matters relating to the WHEC or the rodeo grounds, please attend our annual meeting on Thursday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. in the 4-H building adjacent to the rodeo grandstands.

Western Heritage Event Center Board and Red Ryder Roundup® Rodeo Committee: Chuck Betts, Jim Bramwell, Pennie DeClark, J.R. Ford, Wes Lewis, Tim McRee, Mike Ray, Alvin Schaaf, Lisa Scott

Ghost towns

Dear Editor:

Kudos to the Pagosa Town Council and Town Manager for making a bold decision to repeal the big box restrictions.

Several people with more time than common sense have written about the terrors of the big box. Hogwash! Since when does new development, construction, jobs and tax revenue result in catastrophic consequences for a community.

“It will make a big difference in the long term to our community. It will leave us with no protection whatsoever when and if it does become a viable choice to locate another big retailer here.”

I never knew that capitalism was something that we needed to protect against.

“A Big Box will not bring good jobs, and it will only destroy our town as it is.”

A job is better than no job. Do the small local businesses offer better salaries or benefits than a big box?

But you say, “We need another large retailer to provide competition and jobs.” Laudable objectives, but I don’t believe that we have the population numbers to entice another large retailer into the community. We forget that we already have one two-store supermarket and one mega-sized hardware store that sells everything from furniture to toilet paper.”

As regards not having the population to support a big box. If you build it they may decide not to leave. Pagosa had the population three years ago, but many property owners got tired of town and county officials who had an elitist NIMBY attitude, and looked down their collective noses at the big boxes. Hence a very large reason that there are so many properties for sale. People bought property or second homes in this area with the hope / anticipation that Pagosa would eventually join the 21st century. Also, we constantly see New Mexico license plates in Pagosa. They come to Pagosa for weekly grocery shopping (in stores owned by large corporations), but for the bigger items, they go to Farmington or Durango.

Additionally, what is wrong with having a little healthy competition? Just because one store offers toilet paper, that logic dictates that we don’t need another store offering the same product. Perhaps if Pagosa allowed competition into the area, you might see a rebound in the population growth and the economy. People looking for a good place to relocate all want the same things, access to work, medical care and a reasonable selection of retail conveniences. If a large corporation does not allow competition it is called a Monopoly and fined by the government for doing so. When a town doesn’t allow competition, it is called a Ghost Town.

The medical care is there now, but there were a lot of naysayers who did not want a hospital to be built either. Some of these same people who objected to it now use the hospital today when the need arises. Are they afraid that if a big box gets built that they might actually spend some money there? Is that why they are so adamantly against it ... because like alcoholics they can’t control themselves and might actually shop there?

Did anyone with half a brain bother to think that a majority of the real estate sales listings has to do with the lack of daily conveniences? Many people thought that continued growth in Pagosa would bring those amenities and a place they could relocate to.

To live in a small and vital community you need economic development. When you stop that progress, you become a footnote in a history book. Buggy whips didn’t last forever, and neither will a town with that attitude.

Bob and Diane Wendell