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Letters to Editor

Skate park

Dear Editor:

We have been following the developments of the possibility of locating the skateboard park in our downtown Town Park. While we support the idea of the Skateboard Park, we were surprised to hear the recent possible idea of its relocation to Town Park and it concerns us.

Carol and I and our related companies would like to go on record as being opposed to this use in the NE portion of Town Park. The location of the project in this area will, in our view, interrupt the peace and tranquility of others enjoying the beauty of the river and lush vegetation. The size of the park is already too small for our current population, let alone for future generations. Adding a Skate Park would severely limit the various other civic organizations use of Town Park as their venue.

While we understand the need to use the “GOCO” funds, in this case, the end does not justify the means. We continue to believe that the town should rely on the professional planners’ expertise in making such decisions. In fact, we need to preserve more open space in town for a more broad use of recreations. Why not request funds and grants to expand our park systems and create unique one-of-a-kind river trail and parks system?

We understand the need for the youth in Pagosa Springs to share in the skateboarding experience. We simply believe this is not the location best suited for this use when considering all the citizens and prospective visitors of this beautiful town.


David and Carol Brown


Dear Editor:

Congratulations to the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership for attracting the attention of Senator Bennet. I know it to be sincere due to Governor Ritter’s focus on creating a New Energy Economy and reading about the various projects and entrepreneurs in America that are offering a new vision for our economy. I feel this is very important in this time, as we “re-tool” for an economy based in our democratic principles and the potential of the American spirit to be creative.

As a retired professor, I can see that creativity and good will are needed to augment all the degradation we have endured in the financial meltdown of banking and borrowing. Our current challenges need a new way of thinking that is not based on past pictures of what was. Trying to recapture the “bubbles” of our last decade that were not based on tangible goods and services is folly. As communities, we can support sanity by becoming more self-sufficient and sustainable.

It is wonderful to think that a group of volunteers with the mayor has the foresight to join in the movement for Urban Food Renewal that is sweeping our country and others. Their plans for this community venture may end up feeding Pagosa. We are lucky to have innovative, creative people who are aware of the need to sponsor new ventures, new attitudes and new destinations for our town.


M’Lou Dixon

Middle way

Dear Editor:

PAWSD argues that either new growth or increased user fees must pay for Dry Gulch I don’t believe that it has to be an either/or scenario. PAWSD has been charging the Capital Investment Fee (CIF) and Water Resource Fee (WRF) to all new building, including those properties that have been in the District, some since the 1970s. There are still 3,631 vacant properties in the District that paid an ”available to tap fee” many years ago and have been paying monthly “availability fees” for as many as 35 years as well as taxes to the District. Many of the more valuable vacant properties actually pay more in taxes than most of us do on our homes. These owners paid these fees and taxes based on the belief that they would be able to actually tap in and use the water (and sewer) lines with no additional fees other than a modest meter and connection fee. They should not have to pay the some impact fees that new inclusions pay, not after they have been subsidizing the District all these years, (paying half as much for not using any as we are for using.) Another 3,000 equivalent units (EUs) could be built on other District properties paying taxes (21 percent) but not availability fees.

Raising the Stevens Lake dam and encasing the Dutton Ditch ($12 million total) gave us the storage capacity for serving the remaining properties within the District. Dry Gulch will not be needed unless PAWSD lifts the moratorium on inclusions and allows more properties in the District. Dry Gulch envisions a county population of 100,000 to 150,000. Who wants that? La Plata County has a population of 45,000 or so. If we allowed no more inclusions into the District, we still are obligated to serve an additional 6,800 or so EUs, allowing for more growth than most of us would ever like to see, but probably not more than 25,000 to 30,000. If growth returns, an average of 200 new EUs built per year — would still allow for 34 years of major growth. (PAWSD now serves 7288 EUs.)

Dry Gulch Dam, which would bankrupt this county, would no longer be needed (the District would still have the property). For emergencies — the $5 million San Juan Pumping Plant, at $500 per hour to pump would be cheap compared to the interest on $357,000,000 (even at 3.5 percent is $32,232 per day or $1,426 per hour — 24/7). Building might be encouraged again without the need for exorbitant impact fees and user fees would not escalate out of control. Plus we place proactive limits on the amount of growth we can handle over the next 30 years (or more), rather than let total unrestrained growth just go crazy. We will have all the traffic, schools, social and infrastructure problems we can handle with a population of 25,000, even with 30 years to plan.


Jerry Driesens

Land use

Dear Editor:

(A letter to the county commissioners.)

We are property owners in Aspen Springs, specifically, Lots 17 and 18, Aspen Springs 3.

Yesterday, when we were preparing to install a fence, we made a very disheartening discovery. After we had our property surveyed to ensure that we were installing our fence in the proper location, we called the County Building Department and spoke with Sherry Vick. She told us that in 2006 you passed new zoning and land use regulations for the county. While we were aware that changes were being contemplated, we were unaware of this particular one. It appears that the residents of our county may not erect a structure within 25 feet of our property line. That, in and of itself, might not be too onerous, although some people with small lots might disagree with us, the fact that a fence is to be considered a structure does. If a person were to put up a fence 25 feet within their property line, this could ultimately lead to their losing 25 feet of their property under the adverse possession laws of the State of Colorado and thus to the undue taking of property from the landowner. This, to us, does not seem to be good law.

Residents of your county could desire to install fencing for any of multiple reasons, among them, the desire to keep people on horseback, snowmobiles, four wheelers or foot off of their property, or the desire to keep horses, or their horses, pets or others animals from getting off of their property. Another reason for installing fencing is to prevent encroachment onto their property by adjoining property owners. Some of our neighbors are now unable to install a fence at all, because a fence would end up going right through the middle of their home.

While we are sure that the intentions of you, the Commissioners, was for the good of the county residents, and we are sure that this result was unintentional, we find this provision to be onerous and appalling, and ask that you revisit this section of the land use code.

Sincerely yours,

James F. and Nancy N. Duhamel

Soaring costs

Dear Editor:

Recently, I wrote a letter outlining a few of the changes I have seen over the past 80 years. I will start this letter with another. At an early age, I had my appendix removed. Most of the nurses were Catholic nuns, dressed in immaculate white uniforms. In those days, they cut you from head to toe and kept you in the hospital for a week. The hospital bill was about a hundred dollars, which my dad borrowed from the only person in town with any money — the local bootlegger. Fast forward to 2009. I had a problem with my hand, and the office call was $265. My mom used to pay the doctor with a couple of apple pies.

I suspect most of the people in Pagosa are happy with their health care insurance and don’t want it changed. But it will change no matter what. I just received a letter from the corporation were I worked and who carries my supplemental health insurance. The current corporate cost is 100 million dollars per year, and the projected cost will increase to 250 million in the next few years. As stated in this letter, this cost increase is unsustainable. My health insurance is going to change. If your health insurance is with a private insurance company, you better ask them for a cost projection of their premiums for the next 10 years. In 2009, Medicare and Veterans plus private insurance costs will total roughly three trillion dollars or almost $10,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.

For the past 80 years, health care costs have been skyrocketing at two to three times the inflation rate, and no doubt this trend will continue, even accelerate, for the following reasons. There will be ever more people on Medicare, the baby boomers are coming, and the average lifespan is increasing as a result of better and far more expensive treatments and drugs. Open heart surgery (1.7 million procedures in 2006), joint replacements and extended cancer treatments are now common, and we all know the costs associated with these procedures. Furthermore, new microbiological treatments will be coming on line, and they will be expensive and in great demand after they prove successful. (Veterinarians are already treating animals with stem cells with promising results.) No doubt, health care costs and our insurance premiums will double in the next few years. And the politicians and protestors cannot change this fact. Like the old nursery rhyme says, Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, and all the king’s men could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Perhaps the Chinese can after they buy up the health insurance companies.

Bob Dungan


American style

Dear Editor:

What I love about health care, American style:

Like most Americans I know with health insurance, the best deal I could find was an 80/20 plan with a $10,000 deductible that I carry only in case I am stricken by a catastrophic health problem. I pay for medical exams, prescriptions, and treatment for “minor” conditions. Fortunately, I am healthy. In fact, I am afraid to go to a doctor because I don’t want a “pre-existing condition” on my record that will be used in future to deny coverage. Getting sick is not a criminal act, but that is how the insurance companies treat us in this country.

I had health insurance through my employer last year, but lost that coverage when I was laid off, and was denied coverage by some carriers because I had been treated for a sinus infection.

Most people I know here do not have health insurance. They likely have more sense than I do, as they are not paying the salaries of insurance companies’ CEOs, nor are they funding the billions of dollars in advertising these companies are spending in a drastic effort to ensure their own obscene profits at the expense of me and all my fellow Americans.

I have lived in this country for ten years, and in all that time have not met one person who is happy with his/her health insurance, including during the four years I worked for insurance agencies! I have to wonder where all the people who turn up screaming at our President’s town hall meetings are coming from, and why they so vehemently defend their right to be exploited. Of course, tyrants strategically put spin on their regime to where the oppressed wind up defending the oppressor.

I was born in Canada and lived there until 10 years ago. The horror stories I hear from people who have never lived in a civilized country that cares for its citizens can only be based in fear of change. In Canada, we heard horror stories when the country converted to the metric system. We converted anyway, and survived quite well. I never lived in terror due to health care in Canada.

My family in Canada does not believe me when I tell them stories like my friend in Arizona who has a $700,000 debt she will never pay off for treatments she received 10 years ago, while she thought she had health insurance but was actually “between plans.” Her illness was never properly diagnosed and her treatment likely caused the life-threatening illness she came down with seven years later.

Another friend in Washington state, a teacher with “good” health insurance, has been waiting several months to see a neurosurgeon for a congenital condition affecting his spinal nerve. He experiences numbness in his arms and frequent migraines.

Health care is not something we should qualify as “good” or “bad.” I can make those choices if I am buying a T-shirt or a package of cookies. I should not even have those choices when I pay for things like electricity, highway construction, or health care. Health care is not something we should be “eligible” or “ineligible” for. Public health care through a system that is not set up to profit an industry that controls one-sixth of our nation’s economy and wields tremendous political clout is the only way to provide something that should be a basic right.

Lisa Jensen

Double speak

Dear Editor:

Is Big Box a dirty word? Or is it just phrased that way to make it sound dirty and disdainful? Seems to me that there is a lot of double speak in this town.

We want those tourist dollars to keep what’s left of our economy going. Then, when I drive though the “downtown” area on a Sunday, I see those tourists with fat billfolds peering into the windows of closed stores and restaurants. Money to spend, but no where to go.

The Big Box controversy. The last time I looked at Ace Hardware, City Market and Alco, they looked a lot like big box chain stores to me. Who ever said they had to be ugly? I have seen chain stores (including McDonald’s) conform to the spirit of a town, with log entry ways, hitching posts and carved wooden signs.

Who can say we don’t want a convenient chain store offering up goods from the outside world? Obviously we do, as we gas up our cars and burn up the highway between here and Durango.

The fear of putting the little stores out of business is not going to happen. When we desire inexpensive products or a massive selection, we drive to Durango. When we want something homespun, high end, or unique, we still shop at our wonderful friendly and adorable local stores.

How many businesses need to close, how many employees laid off, how many people packing up and selling their homes, or worse, losing them to foreclosure, before we set out sights towards projects that will bring in income and jobs to our community. Maybe a little bit of job competition is good for the current employers of Pagosa, show them how to treat, and pay, their employees a little better.

In the cities, new business is highly sought after, there are boards and commissions prepared to sweeten the pot to entice these companies to come in. You could say that they “roll out the red carpet.” In relation to the fees that PAWSD charges for new businesses ... talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Haven’t you ever wondered why the cell phone companies offer you a free phone to sign up with them? Because they know that month after month you will be a customer of theirs and they will make back the cost of that cell phone ten-fold.

Somebody has to cut the ties that bind us to the past. The world is moving forward, and if we don’t, we shall be left behind. If we can still afford to stay here.

PJ Larson


Dear Editor:

Looking for work in Pagosa? No work available? I have brought a massive hotel project to every bank in Pagosa Springs and every bank has denied it. This is a no brainer sba (sic) backed loan, which means fifty percent of the loan is guarenteed (sic) to the bank. We have tons of equity and own the land outright. Where is Obama’s bail-out plan? Two of these banks were Wells Fargo and Bank of America. As a result the town has lost twenty plus construction jobs and twenty permanent posistions (sic). This would have been a fabulous botique (sic) hotel project with private hot springs around the old spanish (sic) mission on hot springs blvd. (sic). I ask the citizens of Pagosa Springs to think about where they bank because these two bail-out banks have recieved (sic) 32 billion each to supposedly stimulate the economy. In addition, Pagosa’s outrageous tax increases and hook up and impact fees as well as the supposed fee waver program that has so many strings attached. For example, the program came out in August but your building has to be finished by the end of 2009. This is a two year project and it is impossible to build in five months. In closing, Pagosa will slowly implode from the banks and goverments (sic) actions. Rage against the machine we are losing our country to the lack of bank loans and twisted government policies.

Dying to build my famalies (sic) dreams,

Sean Patrick McMullen

St. Augustine, Fla.

Editor’s note: There is no Bank of America branch in Pagosa Springs.


Dear Editor:

Government run health care is a monster that will destroy everything in its path, especially America’s economy. For those fools who think it would be the greatest thing since sliced bread, we should give them a one-way ticket to Cuba.

Just imagine being treated by a doctor who got his or her education and degrees as a result of Affirmative Action. Believe me, it could and will happen.

Today, politicians, primarily liberal Democrats, but not exclusively them, crate more and more “social programs” to address often made-up problems. Government is much bigger today, unfortunately, and with a smooth-talker like Barry Hussein, a man who never worked a day in his life, who had and still has numerous associations with true radicals, whose father in Kenya was a communist, our outlook is very grim.

We are stuck with a man who detests private enterprise and profit, who thinks only “smart people” in government can centrally plan our country and its economy. We won’t have economic recovery until we have economic growth. And we won’t have economic growth until we have a president and federal government that steps back and allows people and businesses to grow and make a profit.

Redistribution is what Barry Soetoro is all about. He’s an academic “know it all” with Marxist and Islamic pretensions — we’re cooked!

We have resisted the encroachment of government on our freedoms for decades. Maybe it’s time to make a stand, it wouldn’t surprise me to see states breaking away from the federal government and America descending into a banana republic, which, obviously, is Obama’s real goal based on his admiration of Chavez and Castro.

Our freedoms are threatened more now, not by states from beyond our borders but by homegrown fanatics who believe in reparations and the leveling of society so we all are equally poor and destitute. There comes a time when Americans must stand up and say, “No mas!”

Maybe it’s this time, this century, this administration.


Jim Sawicki

Get it right

Dear Editor:

Every Pagosan should let their congressman know how they feel about the various options for health care reform. Please write our U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and U.S. Representative: John T. Salazar. Below is my letter.

Dear Congressman:

The upcoming vote on health care reform is one of the most important votes you will ever cast — a vote that will have a significant impact on the quality and length of life of every American. We have to get it right.

I am a medical oncologist who has treated cancer patients for over 30 years (22 years in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the last six years in Colorado — (Colorado Springs, Durango, and Grand Junction). My home of record is Pagosa Springs. I am proud to say that during 22 years of my own private practice, I treated everyone that walked into my office, money or no money and so did many of my colleagues. The poor did have access to medical care in many instances. I agree that we need health care reform, but the entire system is not broken. I ask that: 1) any public option (government sponsored) in no way endangers the private insurers we now have and 2) that it is deficit neutral.

Another question I have is why changes in tort laws (malpractice) are not being discussed. If we really want to reign in medical costs, then our litigation mentality must change. Doctors make mistakes and patients who are injured need compensation. But the compensation needs to be reasonable and large lawyer payments eliminated. Doctors order way too many and use way too little clinical judgment. If the threat of malpractice were reduced, I feel there could be a change in physician diagnostic habits. Defensive medicine adds $120 billion a year to the cost of health care according to the American Medical Association. I ordered tests for my patients with two concepts in mind: 1) as if I were spending my own money and 2) as if I were the patient needing the tests. Sound medical judgment and economic consciousness can result in good medical care. I never had any litigation against me in over 30 years of practice.

Finally, I feel that access to good health care should be no different for U.S. congressmen than for every American. If the private insurers are forced out of business and medical care must come from a government health system, then elected officials should be included in the same health system. Until we, the public, feel that we will have the same chance for quality health care as our elected officials, I and others remain skeptical.

Richard A. Shildt


Dear Editor:

On Aug. 12, there was a forest fire very close to the Blue Mountain Ranch subdivision off of the Blanco Basin Road (County Road 326). We are writing to thank the many authorities and agencies that came to fight the fire. We believe we speak on behalf of all the residents of Blue Mountain Ranches when we say that we are most grateful for their prompt response and the impressive resources that were applied to stop the fire, which ended up covering about three acres.

The first ones on the scene came from Archuleta County, quickly followed by the Pagosa Fire District and then the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Agriculture, etc. The helicopter that came must have made 100 water dumps over the fire. All the personnel were friendly and informative; some even spent the night and finished up the next day to make sure there were no hot spots remaining.

It was an impressive display and we are grateful.


Karen and Delbert Schafer

Small town

Dear Editor:

I would like to applaud Mr. Peck for writing his letter “Our Pagosa.”

I am a new resident of Pagosa Springs. One of the many reasons for relocating here was because of the small town atmosphere and the lack of “big box” businesses. Small mom and pop shops are suffering across the country, though, and not just in Pagosa. As an artist, I rely heavily on small independently owned shops for my supplies, and I want to stop their disappearance. We may not be able to stop the influx of superstores into our community, but we can stop our favorite businesses from packing up and closing down.

The 3/50 Project is a grassroots effort to “breathe life back into our communities,” says Cindy Baxter, the founder of the project. The project asks that each of us select three area businesses we don’t want to see disappear and spend just a total of $50 a week in those shops. Just doing this will help area businesses survive. For more information, check out the project’s Web site at and pass the word along. Our country was founded on the entrepreneurial efforts of our ancestors and the voices of the people. We don’t have to allow the superstores to stamp out the businesses that make our town unique. Through our voices and actions, we can keep our Pagosa’s entrepreneurial spirit strong and alive and breathe life into our own community.

Carol Schneider