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Letters to Editor 3/4/10


Dear Editor:

This election year, I would love for all of us to talk a little more about a future worth living for. “Did you know that there is a gold mine underneath our feet?” I need to start saying that.

Pagosa Springs can have some of the best opportunities for education in the West. It can be the capitol of green sustainable living. Pagosa Springs can be the cutting edge of modern business nestled within a mostly undisturbed wilderness.

Is anyone opposed?

I am not talking about rampant, crazy development and sprawl. I am talking about taking the very best of what we have now, including our upcoming new Internet cable bandwidth.

I am talking about packaging and promoting what we already have here as a place of healing, play, sustainable green living, and investing heavily into both higher and lower education.

We can keep the heart and soul of our community intact and at the same time develop existing potential for attracting Internet-based businesses.

What is missing is our collective decision to make our community economically viable — “taking a stand.” What is missing is an absolute commitment to being “remarkable.”

Things are falling apart here.

But “breakdown” is the opportunity to speculate anew. “Breakdown” is not the end of possibility, but the beginning.

This election year, there are three things on my mind. Number one, we need to continue the process of the town and county coming together in a way that represents the single, unified community that we really are. Good progress has been made in the past 18 months.

Number two, the downtown core of Pagosa Springs needs a brand, a vision and a future worth living for. It is the heart and soul of the entire Archuleta County community. The downtown core is the economic engine upon which our entire community will prosper or continue to die.

Number three is that it is time to draw the line. If we expect young, energetic, Internet-savvy entrepreneurs to come to our little community, we are going to need a top-notch education system for their kids.

The ”problem” is that our school district is talking about cutting its budget in response to the state.

Our economic deterioration has now become an emergency. We are at the precipice. Either we make a course correction and demand a “remarkable” public school education for our kids or else more families are going to walk. And no entrepreneurs with families are going to move here. Our community will continue to get older and continue to die. No compelling future will be written.

Let me say it another way. If we don’t start investing more money in our community right now, there is going to be less and less money all the way around.

“Pretty good” is not a viable future. “Remarkable” ... now that is something we can work with.

It is time for us all to take a stand. Bold leadership is required. From me and from those of you who are able to lead.

We are going to have to find a way to provide local financial support for our public schools right now. We are going to have to find a way to begin building our “remarkable” future right now. We are going to have to inspire ourselves to build a remarkable future for ourselves.

Teddy Herzog


Dear Editor:

Grassroots democracy in Colorado begins Tuesday, March 16, with the holding of political party caucuses. The Colorado Secretary of State defines precinct caucuses as “… meetings organized by Colorado’s political parties to begin the process of selecting candidates and policy positions for the 2010 election.”

This election year promises to be exciting. As the Republican committeemen for Archuleta County Precinct 8, we would like to invite voters to participate by coming to our caucus meeting at Our Savior Lutheran Church school gym located on the east corner of Meadows Drive and U.S. 160. Registration will begin at 6:30 p.m., and we will begin the meeting as soon after 7 p.m. as possible.

The meeting is open to the public, but you need to be shown on the county clerk’s certified Republican voter list for Precinct 8 to participate in the meeting. If in doubt, call the Archuleta Republican Party Central Committee Secretary, Mojie Adler, at 731-4277, or e-mail her at Also, you can go to for more information, including the locations of the other seven precinct meeting places, and please feel free to call us.

Precinct 8 (regardless of party affiliation) is described as the area generally bounded by U.S. 160 on the north and the state line on the south. The west boundary is CR 700 Cat Creek Road to Juanita Road. The east boundary is CR 500 Trujillo Road to Montezuma Road to Coyote Park Road.

Jim Huffman (731-9257), Roy Vega (731-5865)

Search and Rescue

Dear Editor:

Over the last week or so I have jokingly stated to several friends and acquaintances, “You know it’s a slow news week in Pagosa when I can make the front page!”

I’ve received so many inquiries as to what my experience was like while I was waiting on the west side of Martinez Canyon for that very welcomed arrival of the Search and Rescue Team the night of Feb. 12. I thought it would be fitting to fill in the details for people who are still curious.

The most common question I’ve been asked is this: “Wasn’t that a terrifying experience for you?” The answer is unequivocally, “No.” I was never frightened. Not once. I know the reputation and capability of our local Search and Rescue team, and I never had any doubt that they would get to me. So, instead, I chose to put my focus on other things.

As I stood in that wide meadow and realized that it was a new moon night and the heavens would be even more impressive than usual, I watched the stars come out one by one until the sky seemed so cluttered with them that I honestly thought there was simply not room for God to fit one more up there. Then, almost spontaneously, I began singing praise songs. There was no one else around to hear, and I just sang out the words to a song by David Crowder called, “You Make Everything Glorious!” and then another simply titled “Hallelujah.” I recalled Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” At that moment, it seemed to me that there was no truer statement ever made. Then I noticed a brilliant falling star. Then another. And another, even brighter. “You’re doing this just for me, aren’t you?” I said aloud.

There was, of course, the very practical matter of trying to stay warm while I waited. I moved as much as I could, but I’d become very tired and knew it would be a bad idea to sit down. At one point I looked overhead and prayed, “God, I’m getting pretty cold. If you could just wrap your arms around me and keep me warm, that would be so great.” I confess that I was waiting for one of those miracles — something akin to feeling as though I was really on the beach in Florida soaking up the heat. Well, that didn’t happen, but the reality was just as good. After being out in 10-degree weather for close to four hours in a turtleneck, a medium-gauge sweater and powder pants, I had no hypothermia or frostbite. Amazing! God was ever-so-good to answer my prayer in that way.

I am now the proud owner of a very reasonably-priced device called a BackTrack which my husband purchased from Mike Haynes on the following Monday. For all those with not-so-great senses for direction, I recommend it. It even works to find your car in the shopping center parking lot!

I owe such gratitude to Pagosa’s Search and Rescue team for their diligent pursuit of me; Mike and Warren’s encouraging cell phone calls, and the willingness on the part of Betsy, Teresa and Terry to be available 24/7 when I was in need. Thanks to Sid, Cletus and especially my friend Steve for coming with snowmobiles when my legs could barely move anymore. None of that adventure took God by surprise, and I’m so glad for the ending He had planned! Apparently, He has more things for me to accomplish.

For all the time I’ve lived here, Pagosans have had the reputation of donating generously to worthwhile causes. Please, in your giving, think of the Search and Rescue organization here. They may be saving the life of your loved one sometime!

Very gratefully,

Kate Kelley


Dear Editor:

Over the past two weeks, our country has witnessed a triumph at this year’s Winter Olympics. Certainly our athletes have exhibited extraordinary skills and deserve our praise. The Olympic games also point to the fact that these young adults did not arrive at this pinnacle moment in their lives on their own steam. They had the backing of coaches, mentors, parents, communities, friends and sponsors. I dare say that most of them would agree that their journey was a group effort, beginning at a young age.

This brings me to question our Pagosa city leaders’ choice to consider putting off building the promised skate board park yet one more time. I admit that skate boarding looks to be a very dangerous sport, but then so does strapping two boards on one’s feet and sliding down a mountain! I have to admire these kids’ stamina, their creativity, their courage and amazing coordination. Perfecting their skills is an ongoing effort and I believe they should be given the same support and safe facilities we offer to youth in other sports.

These young people have worked hard to make their voices heard. They have raised money, they have followed the guidelines, and have worked to garner community support. So why do we continually put them on hold?

It is time to step up and honor our promises to these young athletes. Who knows, maybe they are future Olympians!


Sally Neel

Another tall tale

Dear Editor:

In last week’s SUN, our local right wing ideologue, Eugene Witkowski claims that according to a Wall Street Journal news release on January 31, “President Obama signed an executive order to loan two billion taxpayer dollars to Petrobras.” He claims that this was also covered by Glenn Beck and Fox News, but not by other media. Supposedly, this was done by the president to help his supporter, George Soros.

Only one problem — like so many of Mr. Witkowski’s claims, it isn’t true.

Executive Orders are, by law, public record. No such Executive Order was ever issued. A thorough check of the Web sites of Glenn Beck, the WSJ, and Fox News shows no such stories in the last two months, or ever! Makes one wonder where Mr. Witkowski gets his “news.” A few weeks ago, he claimed that only 8 percent of the president’s cabinet has private sector experience. I challenged this clearly false assertion and he never responded.

My Web search did uncover a few interesting facts. In April of 2009, the U.S. Export-Import Bank did tentatively approve a loan to Petrobras for the purchase of American goods and services in development of a huge offshore oil reserve. This loan was later unanimously approved by the board. At the time of the original loan approval, the bipartisan Ex-Im Bank Board consisted solely of holdovers appointed by George W. Bush. The loan was reported extensively at the time. Even Fox News had this to say on August 20, 2009, “In fact, the Export-Import bank receives no appropriations from Congress and thus does not rely on American taxpayer dollars and is also not ‘sending’ $2 billion to the Brazilian company but offering lines of credit to U.S. firms so they can compete to land contracts as part of Petrobras’ drilling operations.” This was in response to a Facebook rant against the president by Sarah Palin, which once again showed her total ignorance of how the government operates. Only American-made goods and services qualify for Ex-Im Bank support, so we are not exporting jobs overseas. In fact, the American taxpayers have actually made billions in dollars of profits, as well as reaped jobs, from Ex-Im Bank loans. The Chinese have also provided loan guarantees to Petrobras, but do not have exclusive rights to Brazilian oil, as Mr. Witkowski claims.

So, Mr. Witkowski, where did you see these supposed new stories? Can you direct me to these, so I can check them out, as I would love to see them? Or, is this another case of throwing out a specious charge against the president in hopes that readers will say, “how terrible of him,” without checking the facts. By the way, the remainder of Mr. Witkowski’s tirade dealt with global warming. I won’t attempt to challenge his assertions, however questionable they may be. However, I just read an article about Mr. Witkowski’s idol, Glenn Beck, in which Mr. Beck confirms that he accepts global warming as true. So, one of you is wrong, Mr. Witkowski!

John W. Porco