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Road Show

Dear Editor:

Just a reminder that the next Road Show Meeting is at 6 p.m. tonight in Aspen Springs, in the Metro District Building, 216 Metro Drive.

I have not been privy to know in advance what the questions to the residents or commercial landowners in this area will be. The planning staffs have stated that in each area there will be different issues that they will be collecting input from residents, businesses and landowners. I have been politely asked in so many words by Mr. Rick Bellis, planning director, to not take up time speaking if I am not in my own area, to leave time for others to speak. I agree … so it is up to you that live in this area to speak out and ask questions, particularly about what is your current situation regarding land use with existing rules, the new code enforcement officer, and what you want for the future. Our group of concerned citizens will be handing out the recent amendments to the Land Use Regulations that almost were passed in November so that you may be educated on what the county staff was planning for all of us. Get educated or you could lose your land rights to the higher authority — the County Planning Department staff and commissioners.

I would like to take this time to put a possible rumor to rest. It is apparently out there that I am considering running for the county commissioner’s position available this November election. After 30 years of volunteering services to the county, from founding the Humane Society to serving on God only knows how many vision-beautification land planning committees … well, in all honesty, the thought crossed my mind; it would be nice to be paid. But, I realized that I could be of more help to my fellow Archuleta County citizens by not being tied politically to anyone. When you are a politician, you have to watch what you say; well, anyone that knows me knows that when I believe in something that is important, I will not be silenced by politics or by the head of the planning department. So, my volunteer work concerning the current planning departments Road Show is not politically motivated. But to anyone who has decided to run, I would hope you would take an interest in your county by attending these Road Shows.

Just a reminder: our group, the Concerned Citizens of Archuleta County, has an e-mail address, so if you have any questions regarding the Road Show or Current or Future Land Use issues, please direct them to this address: As I promised, I will be attending these meeting until they are complete. In some fashion, I will start reporting on these meetings after each one is completed. I will also pursue the planning department on what their intentions are after these meetings, in regards to more land use rules and regulations they may want to implement in our future.

See you there,

Debra Brown


Dear Editor:

While all the media hubbub over Tiger Woods’ infidelity may be amusing, it might be interesting to zero in at the same time on the fall of another titan: the USA.

Holier-than-thou voices have been raised condemning this sports hero and sponsors have withdrawn their $100,000,000-a-year support for his endorsements, alluding to their own moral superiority, but most likely fearing more a public backlash resulting in losses of sales.

I’m not defending the man or his actions. I believe we have an excellent opportunity to examine our own if we want.

The same media that devotes so much time to this titillating issue relegates lots of other rather juicy ones to mere sound bytes. For instance, this week survey results were announced that 60 percent of women in the work force have had or were in liaisons with men in their offices, businesses, etc., the younger women preferring handsome hunks while the older women chose more experienced, financially well-situated men. An earlier survey revealed that stay-at-home women tended to be even more promiscuous than those who go outside to work. The media simply reported these “facts” as one-liners, no comment, no follow-up, and tucked them between various other items of trivia.

For a nation which prides itself on high moral principles, focus on the family and consider that 49 percent of “until death do us part” marriages are dissolved within ten years, that one out of three birth announcements do not name a father, that 30 percent of all mothers are single parents and they raise 50 percent of our children. Divorce rates are highest among people who have achieved at most a high school education, possibly because they tend to leave home and marry earlier and, also, their incomes are both lower and uncertain. Percentages of those who identify with Bible-centered congregations are no different than the whole.

A week ago, I met a man who had taught in high schools in two very affluent Colorado communities. He said that after teaching in two foreign countries, Honduras and Dubai, that he’d never want to teach in the USA again. He earned far less there, but didn’t have to deal with pettiness, insubordination, violence, drug and alcohol abuse or an indifferent attitude toward learning or achieving. Never, he said, had a foreign teenager sought him for counseling to cope with an abusive home life or serious thoughts of suicide, unlike many American teenagers he knew who laughed though they were very troubled.

That same week, a student in Thornton was run down, then beaten to death by the three kids in the car. Does something like this shake us up? We still tolerate more homicides in less than a month on Manhattan Island compared to all of France in more than a year.

Tiger said he’ll return. The media will find others to point the finger at. We‘ll have forgotten. To accomplish that, aren’t we the greatest nation in the world!

Henry Buslepp


Dear Editor:

Just received my Feb. 4 issue of The SUN, my favorite newspaper.

After perusing Whaddaya Think?, “Should the U.S. government freeze discretionary spending?,” I just had to respond to Cindy Mitchell’s comment, “I agree with Obama. I think Obama is doing a great job.”

It must be wonderful to live a simplistic life in Obamaland, drinking the Kool-Aid and towing the party line.

Cindy appears to be a really nice lady. Unfortunately, like many of our fellow citizens, she is either very naive, uninformed or unwilling to question authority.

By the way, Pagosa … It won’t be long before the little bunny rabbit comes hopping along and feeds carrots to the unicorn.

Tom Griffin

Suwanee, Ga.

Museum help

Dear Editor:

For over 35 years the San Juan Historical Society has operated the museum at the corner of First and Pagosa streets. We now come to the community asking for their assistance.

Our active membership is now quite small and we are seeking people in the community who would be interested in joining the Society, coming to meetings and assisting with the tasks and decisions required to keep operating our great little museum.

The Society currently meets once per month. We have a cleanup one time in the spring prior to opening, as well as one day to set up the special exhibits for the season, several days throughout the season to spiff up the yard and trim weeds. We have some painting and other maintenance that needs to be done. Plans are in the works to improve the landscaping this season, with a volunteer in place to head up this project.

It is imperative that we increase our active membership to ensure the future of the museum. If you are interested in being a part of our Society, thank you! Our next meeting will be held at the Chamber of Commerce on Sunday, March 7 at 1 p.m. You are invited to join us to help us with the preparations for the upcoming season.

If you can’t make the meeting, but are willing to help, please call Shari Pierce at 264-4862, evenings are better.

Thank you,

Shari Pierce


Dear Editor:

Tonight, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m., the Planning and Building (Department of Development Services) is holding a public meeting at the Metro Building in Aspen Springs. It is essential for the residents of Aspen Springs, as well as all interested persons, to attend.

In November 2009, Rick Bellis, director of County Development, attempted to have a proposed amendment to the Land Use Code approved at a Nov. 23 Archuleta County Commissioners’ meeting. Prior to the meeting, a few concerned citizens were alerted concerning this Land Use Code. Several people met with Rick Bellis and later with individual commissioners, resulting in the Land Use Code being pulled from the meeting.

Subsequently, the Planning and Building Department decided to hold meetings in several county locations in order to get citizens’ input. This was probably at the behest of a couple of concerned commissioners.

We as Archuleta County citizens must be aware of a Planning and Building Department (County Development Services) that has plans that affect a large number of persons adversely. Copies of the amendment to the Land Use Code will be available at the meeting, as well as other pertinent information.

Economic conditions in our county are in a sad state. Many of us are out of work, wages are low (that is if you have a job), property taxes have gone up; we have all tightened our belts. We who have businesses have cut our costs to the bone in order to survive this economic turndown. I’m sure this is the same with most families. Rick Bellis’ department is operating at full staff. Last year (2009), his department spent $442,800; $415,700 was for wages and benefits, including dental services. All this money for what? Building is practically nil. Why this high overhead? What does a bureaucracy do when the economy is slow? Well, you could cut your costs. But, there is another way. You find ways to increase your responsibility. Viola! An additional amendment to the Land Use Code. A new set of regulations that place a burden on the taxpayers. A list of no-no’s that will allow this department to issue threats, fines, liens and, yes, monies coming into the county.

An efficient head of a department keeps costs down. Apparently Rick Bellis believes that an overloaded staff is a sign of good management. Perhaps he feels he must be ready for a prosperous economy some years in the future. This certainly is not aiding our commissioners in the tasks they have before them. Rick Bellis is an experienced bureaucrat. Something we do not need. Greg Schulte, our county manager, should scrutinize Rick’s department for cost-cutting measures.

It’s up to us. Do we want more regulations, more loss of freedoms, or do we want to be left alone so we can concentrate on surviving our own economic situations? Attend the meeting. Let our concerned commissioners know that we have confidence that they will support the will of the citizens.

Gerald Rayburn

Big box

Dear Editor:

In his recent article on the upcoming council election, Jim McQuiggin noted that voters will soon be deciding whether or not to repeal Section 2.4.5 of the Town’s Land Use And Development Code, the so-called “big-box regulations.” He described the regulations as ones that “limit” large retail development in Pagosa Springs.

After many conversations with local residents about this matter, I know there is a common misconception that the big-box regulations outright ban the construction of large retail stores like Walmart and Home Depot in our town. As we enter into the election season, I fear Mr. McQuiggin’s innocent choice of words might reinforce this errant belief. No matter how the voters ultimately resolve the proposed repeal of the big-box regulations, I’m confident everyone would prefer it to be a result based upon fact, not folklore. Ergo, this bit of clarification.

The big-box regulations are building codes that manage, rather than prohibit, the construction of retail stores exceeding 40,000 square feet in size. As stated in the official text, the regulations simply seek “to ensure compatibility with surrounding land uses and harmonious development.” Had I been at the drafting table, I would have shorthanded the phrase and just identified the purpose as “smart growth.” But why quibble now.

However worded, the goal of the big-box regulations is to ensure large retailers build in a manner that complements our community rather than exploits it. To that end, the big-box regulations require developers to demonstrate that their project will have a positive financial impact on the community, that any negative impacts (economical, environmental, aesthetical, etc.) have been identified and mitigated, and that a plan exists by which to maximize the useful life of the building or remove it when it is no longer viable. If the big-boxes make the necessary showings, they are as welcome in our town as any other business. If they can’t, well, would you really want them here anyway?

Of course, the big-box regulations contain a lot more supporting detail than I can repeat in the limited space afforded this letter. But the requirements noted above are the critical ones, and clearly, none of them ban the construction of superstores in our town. In fact, the regulations are all premised upon the exact opposite circumstance, the responsible development of superstores in Pagosa Springs. I hope voters will separate this fact from fiction when punching their ballots on April 6.

If anyone shares my lawyerly interest in legalese, they can check out the specifics of the big-box regulations for themselves. The entire text is available on the Planning Department’s section of the Town’s Web site in the document entitled

“Land Use And Development Code.”

Thank you,

Matt Roane

New signs

Dear Editor:

A letter sent to Rick Routh PE, State of Colorado CDOT, Traffic Engineering Durango; State of Colorado CDOT, Safety and Traffic Denver; Archuleta County Supervisor, John Ranson; Public Works City of Pagosa Springs; Archuleta County Director of Public Works; Dave Williams, Archuleta County Roads and Bridges Task Force.

First and foremost, I sincerely thank all of you for the speed in which you responded to my April, July and October letters this past year. I commend you for taking time from your busy schedules to talk to me, a concerned citizen of Pagosa Springs, and special thanks for educating me with volumes of information and resources about highways and roads here in Pagosa Springs and throughout Colorado. Special thanks to Dave Williams, Roads and Bridges Task Force, John Ranson, Archuleta County Supervisor and Rick Routh, PE of the CDOT, Durango, for your valuable feedback.

The new signage that has recently been installed at the approach to Trails Blvd. in both east and west directions is very visible both day and night and improves safety. My main focus was and still is on safety with a great deal of consideration on economic (recovery) development here in our beautiful Pagosa Springs. Next I am in hope of getting Trails Blvd. partially paved like Vista and Meadows roads are. After doing much research myself, taking photos of that intersection, witnessing many accidents, I feel the new signage is positive progress and all who voted yes on installing these signs should be highly commended. I know other travelers at this Trails Blvd. intersection are very grateful that you listened to our plea for safety. I have renewed respect and empathy for your undertaking and confidence in your endeavors to maintain current roads and improve others. Kudos and thanks to all of you who made this happen in the name of safety for Pagosa Springs residents and travelers!

This entire process of bringing safety and better signage to our community instills in me that we do have proactive city, county and state officials who listen to the community. Coming to your meeting on April 24 helped me understand your Roads Task Force mission. I hope more Pagosans will be proactive in our road safety.

On behalf of the Pagosa Springs community, I want to thank you for your cooperation and taking your valuable time to read and act upon my concerns and suggestions for our roads.

With sincere appreciation and renewed respect,

Susan Santore


Dear Editor:

A Wall Street Journal article, according to a release Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010, 3:11 p.m., should be of the greatest concern to SUN readers and, indeed, all Americans. President Obama signed an executive order to loan two billion taxpayer dollars to Petrobas, a Brazilian Oil Company, the eighth largest in the world. China is under contract to purchase all of the oil from this field, hundreds of millions of oil to be drilled off the coast of Brazil. The U.S. will gain nothing.

George Soros (Obama’s biggest financial supporter) has been buying up large shares of stock and is the company’s largest stockholder. Glenn Beck and Fox News have also reported this, but none of the main news media has. No wonder the Obama administration is trying hard to destroy Fox. What right does Obama have to spend our money like this, especially with the financial condition of our country what it is.

Strong reader opposition should be brought to the attention of our president and all congressmen. This is all the more reason Obama and members of Congress should be voted out of office as soon as possible.

On another matter, Phil Jones, a leading climate scientist at U. of Anglia, reported to BBC News that he has thoroughly researched recent “scientific” data about global warming. The 2007 Nobel Prize winning report now admittedly contains many scientific errors and false reports as have been reported in the news since the disastrous Copenhagen conference.

Jones reports that there has been no warming since 1995, and after the panic warming warning of 1920 when Antarctica melting exposed rock formations, the area refroze. Citing cyclic warming, Jones also reports that there was more warming during the Medieval Ages than since, even though the industrial revolution had not yet begun which is falsely cited by modern “scientists” as the cause of “man-made” emissions causing warming. Yet our “wonderful” government, looking out for our “benefit,” wants to spend billions more of our dollars to reverse the non-existent warming.

We must all become strongly proactive in stopping our government from its irresponsible behavior and wasteful money spending. Isn’t it ironic that Obama, who has spent more money in the history of the presidency in his first year, has appointed another consulting commission to advise about reducing spending and controlling our budget?

Eugene Witkowski