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Letters to Editor 03-25-10

Rude drivers

Dear Editor:

This is the first letter to the editor I’ve ever written, but I am so angry right now that the only satisfaction I will get is putting it down on paper. It will not be a popular letter because I know New Mexico visitors are important to the economic well being of Pagosa Springs, but I feel it must be said.

I have lived in Chromo for six years. I’m sick and tired of taking my life into my hands every time I decide to drive into town, especially during ski season. For some reason, if you have a New Mexico license plate, you have the right to travel a minimum of 80 miles per hour on U.S. 84, many even doing 90 to 100 mph. Today, returning from a friend’s home about 10 miles north on U.S. 84, I had a New Mexico driver pass me on the diminishing radius curve at the bottom of Confer Hill at 70 mph in a 40 mph zone, deservedly so, as this is a very dangerous curve. The three New Mexico drivers behind him had the smarts to wait for the 55 mph stretch immediately following, where they all passed me doing 80 and were out of sight in the blink of an eye. Another New Mexico driver passed me on the blind curve, a solid yellow, approaching Spiler Canyon, where he could have met another vehicle head on coming south out of the canyon. That would have put me in the middle of a fatal accident.

What is wrong with these people? Does a death wish come along with a New Mexico driver’s license? I’ve seen the police ticket a few over the years, but U.S. 84 in the Chromo area is a long way from town and we certainly don’t have the personnel to watch out for speeders. If we did, Pagosa would no longer have a budget shortfall. Ticket these drivers and we would be back in the black in one ski season. They are a danger to themselves and anyone else who happens to be sharing the road with them. Are they as rude and dangerous on the slopes as they are on the roads?

Respectfully submitted,

Edith Blake


Dear Editor:

In response to Jim McQuiggin’s article, “Cuts proposed for area schools,” I object to the part that misleads the public by stating that, “regarding deeper salary cuts, several teachers in attendance blanched.” I was one of those teachers, and although I may have “blanched,” I also spoke to the fact that teachers are part of the community here and that a five-percent pay cut in addition to perhaps reduced insurance benefits, as well as salary cuts via furlough days, a freeze in pay, and the pay to play fees and the transportation fees, the gate fees, the sales tax increase and the mill levy would all affect me. They would affect me and any other teacher who is a homeowner and a parent of students in this district, and there are many.

I also state that we, the teachers, are a group within this community. That if times get tough, and we are “all in this together,” that a four-day school week may become necessary so we can feed our families, live in our homes and pay the taxes and fees. I don’t think we need to lead teachers through a sacrificial “first hit” slaughterhouse to get the attention of the public. In fact, as mentioned in the third-to-last paragraph, as soon as the four-day school week and the closure of the intermediate school were off the table, for at least this year, no one other than teachers, staff and media came to witness which other “details” may be next. If a five-percent cut is made in the woods and no one is present to hear it, does anyone notice?

I would respectfully submit that if any taxpayers who are not here full time, such as second homeowners, need any proof of the value of a mill levy to protect their investment here in Pagosa Springs, they need only look at the real estate market and the homes that are rapidly becoming vacant around their properties. A mill levy helps the town. Families move to towns where education is supported and valued. Teachers realize that the times are tough and that fiscal exigency is a reality. Please note that what I am saying is also every bit as real and true, and somewhat different than simply blanching.


Heather Hunts Callahan

No lie

Dear Editor:

I have little desire to debate Mr. Witkowski regarding global warming. I question his numbers, for example, “0.0071 degrees Fahrenheit change in the earth’s temperature, a change in ocean level of 0.04 centimeter (0.015 inch)” in his first letter and even 1.26 inches of 200 feet in his second letter for the change in ocean level. The claims that the change in ocean level can be calculated or measured to a few thousands of an inch or the temperature of the earth can be measured to a few thousands of a degree is ludicrous. I consider predictions of 1.26 inches or 200 feet equally incredulous. His sources are essentially political, although I am sure there are reputable scientists who have legitimate concerns. Data from NOAA indicate a slowing in the rate of global warming over the past few years. There is debate in the scientific community about what’s going on. Sunspots, actually the lack thereof, stratospheric water vapor, etc., are all suspect. My advice is: turn off the TV, quit reading books by politicians, go out and sit on a stump and observe Mother Nature. She will not lie to you.

I suggest that Mr. Witkowski’s interest in global warming is political, not scientific. The foes of evolution now have global warming in their sights. In state after state, legislation is being introduced to link evolution and global warming mainly to discredit mainstream science. The goal of the far right wing of the Republican party is to destroy our public school system.

Recently, Marine General James Cartwright, Vice Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff, gave a colloquium on 21st century security challenges. He noted that it takes 219 security analysts to keep one predator on station for one week. He also stated that the next generation could require as many as 1,900 analysts. Obviously, General Cartwright was not just paying social calls to the national labs. Virtually every military man in the world knows the country with the superior technology wins. And China is out to win.

The chief technology officer of Applied Materials just moved, with his family, to Xian, China, where Applied Materials built their largest research lab. Applied Materials is the world’s largest supplier of equipment to make semiconductors, solar panels and flat-panel displays. Across town sits the Thermal Power Research Institute, China’s world leading laboratory on cleaner coal. An American company is paying China $100 million for equipment for gasification of coal before burning. The equipment will be shipped to Pennsylvania along with Chinese engineers to teach Americans. Xian, known for its 2,200-year-old terra cotta warriors is a city with 47 universities and technical schools where engineers with a master’s degree can be hired for $730 per month.

The anti science Republicans may get their wish, a state religion; unfortunately, it may be that of Karl Marx.

Bob Dungan


Wake up

Dear Editor:

The residents of Aspen Springs have been told that their liberties do not matter. The county has decided it will tell you how to behave on your own property.

The county has decided you may not have a tool shed. Are you kidding me? The county has decided you may not have a greenhouse. You will accept this? The county has decided you may not build a barn. Are these people crazy? The county has decided no carports or garages can be built until they decide. You will put up with this?

If the county demands on telling property owners how to live on their private property, then property owners should demand the county pay for a share of the cost of the property. Otherwise, the county should find another way to occupy its time instead of dreaming up ways to steal our liberties.

Wake up people, the county exists to service the property owners. It’s not the other way around. They depend on you acting like sheep.

Barry and DeEtte England

Santa Clara, Calif.

Lay off

Dear Editor:

County commissioners, stop harassing the PAWSD board (our water board).

Have any of you ever volunteered for this position?

Thank you,

Pam Morrow

No weekly rodeo

Dear Editor:

It’s my understanding that the Pagosa weekly rodeo isn’t going to happen under the expertise of Shelly and Cody Fahrion. How sad for all the young riders, from mutton busters to open bulls. These young people need the rodeo series; some look forward to it all winter long. They all have a gear bag full of very expensive equipment that they have worked hard to earn. I can attest to the expense because my grandson has at least $1,000 worth of necessary equipment. Everyone is saying tourism will be our saving grace here in Pagosa; tourists as well as locals fill the grandstands every week, doesn’t that count for something? Every parent of a rider struggles to keep their child or children in a sport they love. It keeps them off the street and out of trouble. I really pray that someone will pick up this series at least for this season. Pagosa needs its weekly summer rodeo series.

Patricia Sheppard

Health fair

Dear Editor:

How ya doin’?

Oh, you’re not sure, huh? Then get an easy answer — plan to attend the 9Health Fair on April 3 at the high school. Yes, it’s called a fair and most things are free, such as blood pressure, memory evaluation, spinal evaluation, bone density, body mass index (BMI), oxygen saturation, and more.

Now you don’t have to do this, but for a mere $30, you can also receive blood results that see if things like your kidneys, liver, thyroid, etc., are performing as they should — about 30 different tests from that one little vial of blood you give. It is suggested that you fast for 12 hours prior to the blood draw, but do take your meds. Following your blood draw, you will be provided a light snack to sustain you while you visit all the other stations to complete your evaluations — so be sure to continue.

The results will be mailed to you within three weeks, along with a folder that explains the meaning of every test — what a deal!

See ya there!

Patty Tillerson

Core values

Dear Editor:

The Southwest Land Alliance (SLA) has been quietly talking with the Laverty Family about a possible conservation easement on some or all of their ranch since November of 2001. In 2008, the water districts approached the Lavertys with their intention to buy their ranch for the new Dry Gulch Reservoir project. At that time, the Lavertys told the districts they did not want to sell any of their property. Shortly thereafter, the districts presented the Lavertys with an appraisal they had commissioned to determine the value of a “taking” of 138 acres of the Laverty Ranch. Imminent domain is a blunt instrument-of-last-resort at best in which there are rarely winners.

In March of 2009, I proposed an agreement that will satisfy the needs of both parties. Good agreements always seem to come from clarity on “Core Values,” since true “needs” are a reflection of “Core Values,” whereas “desires” are not. The district boards are largely well-intentioned volunteers, whose core values are to serve the community by storing water for the future. The Lavertys are a wonderful local family whose core values include honoring their love for their land.

What the districts actually value (“need”) is the right to store water on part of the ranch, which the Lavertys need to allow them to flood (up to roughly 96 acres). And although some may think it “desirable,” the districts do not “need” to own any Laverty land to build their reservoir.

The Lavertys can donate a conservation easement (of about 131 acres) to SLA that reserves the necessary rights for the Districts to fill their reservoir. This is slightly less than the 138 acres the Districts’ earlier “desire” to own would require them to “take” from the Lavertys. The Lavertys, in turn, would exchange their “desire” for unlimited use of 131 acres of their property for their “need” to work with the districts and retain full ownership, which they value very much.

In exchange for the right to flood the property, the districts can agree to fund an “easement purchase,” which is always far less costly than a “fee purchase,” especially one resulting from imminent domain. SLA will (and must by law) defend the terms of the conservation easement forever, which will protect the actual needs of both parties.

This is a “win-win” in which the Lavertys retain full ownership of their ranch, and the districts secure the right to inundate part of the ranch should they acquire adequate water rights and project funding.

And, no one gets sued, no one gets forced off of their multi-generation family ranch, and water ratepayers save hundreds of thousands of dollars compared to a fee purchase or forced sale of the ranch.

When both parties saw their own values served, they were able to soften their positions and agree in writing to work in good faith to come to an agreement. After nearly a year of patient effort from both the water districts’ boards and the Laverty Family, we are nearing an excellent agreement.

Michaal Whiting