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Letters to Editor


Dear Editor:

Back around the fall of 2004, I had the misfortune of having my Dad’s .358 Savage lever action model 99 rifle (that I’d inherited) stolen from my friend’s barn up past the cemetery.

I thought I knew who did it, but I was leaving for work in the Caribbean and never reported it stolen or pursued it. It has a gouge/scratch on the rear of the stock that I put on it during my first deer hunt with my father in the white mountains of NH. I cherished that gun as I shot my first buck with it in Oregon and called my Dad immediately. He was so proud of me. 

I used to be allowed to polish it as a child and dreamed of the day when I grew up. It had an old scope with old hinge mounts so if your scope ever fogged you could flip it out of the way and use the iron sights.

This old gun is not all that accurate nor is it very valuable — except to me.

Dad’s failing these days and I caretake him here in RI.  I’ve never had the heart to tell him what happened. He waited until I was well grown to give it to me. I’d sure love to show it to him again and share its memories and see him smile. 

Somewhere around Pagosa, some old cowboy or mechanic probably bought it or traded for it, not knowing any of this. It’s such a rare caliber that if you know someone with a Savage .358, there’s a pretty good chance it’s the gun.

I give my word as a gentleman there’d be no questions asked. I’ll buy it from you — hopefully at a reasonable price, maybe what you paid for it. I just want it back. I’d even buy you another used deer/bear rifle that would probably shoot better, anyway.

I believe whoever has this gun is innocent of any wrongdoing. If you know where it is or can remember one that got sold or traded, please have a heart and track it down for me. Hopefully, any of you that shoots, hunts or inherited Dad’s gun will cut this letter out and post it somewhere as I’ll probably keep my e-mail address as long as I can. Please spread the word. Maybe someday someone will locate it for me. I will be passing through the end of this September or the first day or so of October and would certainly drive up to pick it up and pay you. No law enforcement — I promise.


Jeal Breckenridge

Watch Hill, RI


Dear Editor:

Another long evening at the planning commission, but amazing progress was made. Yeah! The “accessory structure issue” being able to place an accessory structure(s) on vacant land before building the main residence, such as detached garages, outdoor storage, greenhouses, has been voted on and passed by the planning commission. It states it is okay to place accessory structures on a vacant lot/parcel before main residence is built, by a percentage basis (if allowed by homeowners association). Not a done deal until it is taken to the Board of County Commissioners for final vote. In addition, the planning commission dealt with the subject of being able to split a 35-acre parcel (one time) to a family member. This, too, was voted on and passed; it will also be before the BoCC to vote on.

One setback of the evening was; “camping time allowance” on one’s personal vacant property. The state of Colorado has a law that states that if a person stays on his land “camping” for more than a 120 days they are considered a full time resident and will be required to have a permitted septic system issued by SJBH. The commissioners got hung up on when to allow people to come here to use their property. The draft was being proposed that people could only come from May 1 to Dec. 1 (remember, only 120 days during that time). The public input that came forward that evening questioned limiting the time to just warm months. It was brought to the commissioners’ attention that if someone has an RV that can take the cold, and they pay for the drive to be plowed, why can’t they come in the winter months to ski? No matter if the planning commission limits the time from May to December or allows it year-round, this will have to be self-regulated (in any case) by the property owner. We do not have the manpower to enforce either regulation. All of “Pagosa Springs Merchants” should also have a say in this regulation. Are we now regulating when people can come and spend their money? In my humble opinion, let’s not limit the time; let people choose when they plan to visit and spend money here. The next planning commission meeting that will deal with this “camping” subject will be on Thursday Sept. 23, 6 p.m., County Commissioners’ Meeting Room downtown. It will be a workshop and a regular planning commission meeting where decisions could be finalized.

At the Sept. 9 meeting we were assured that our other issues — large ranching, alternative housing, etc. — will be put on a future agenda. Please check the website, Developmental Services/Planning department for agendas and more information and language regarding these proposed regulations. All and all, we are making progress in a positive fashion. See you at the 23rd meeting.

Debra Brown


Dear Editor:

Mike Hayward questioned the integrity of Bob Hart because a Hart campaign sign was placed on town property prior to the town’s official start date. In my opinion, Mike’s pointing out the error is valid; however, his questioning Bob’s integrity is disingenuous at best.

First, let’s make two disclosures. Mike is the spouse of Michael Whiting’s campaign manager, and I wish— in the interest of integrity ­­ ­— that Mike had included that disclosure in his letter. Second, I am treasurer for Bob Hart’s campaign; so, one might sprinkle some salt on my words as well.

Integrity is a firm adherence to a code and implies trustworthiness and incorruptibility. I want integrity in my public officials so we might have an honest government with officials who hold themselves accountable when mistakes are made. Bob’s actions have consistently demonstrated just that kind of integrity.

Bob’s campaign staff placed several signs along Put Hill each with the owner’s permission. As one goes up Put Hill, the jurisdiction changes frequently between town and county, and one of the signs was placed on town property missing the county boundary by a few feet. That placement was improper — no question about that — as signs are not to be placed inside Pagosa Springs until September 17.

As a citizen, I wish Mike had called Bob telling him of the error. My history with Bob is that he moves quickly to correct problems whenever he, or someone in his organization, makes a mistake. If Mike was truly concerned about the impropriety of those signs, he could have sought a much quicker resolution than waiting to publish a public admonishment.

Bob accepted full responsibility immediately upon learning of the error and removed the sign himself. Integrity does not mean never making a mistake; rather, it means living to a code by striving to make a contribution, accepting responsibility for mistakes, and setting right any damages that might have resulted. Bob did all those things, and thus demonstrated his integrity.

As a lifelong Democrat, I tired of promises for “hope and change.” I’m ready for the business experience and accomplishment that Bob has given this community for years.

Jay Davison


Dear Editor:

Others have described the many educational alternatives offered by the Education Center. What matters the most is that they offer alternatives. Our public school system does a good job with mainstream students, but the students who need a different environment or special help for whatever reason, fortunately, can get tutoring and even a GED at the Education Center at their own pace. Many parents are grateful that their children have somewhere else to turn when they encounter social or learning problems in the public schools.

Some students recognize that a college degree is not the only choice to provide the training and skills they want for their chosen career or to change jobs. Again, fortunately, the Education Center offers a wide variety of on-site and Internet-based training to prepare them for certification in jobs in the building, computer and defense industries, to name only a few.

For too long, education in the United State has mostly been delivered one way — through public schools. As international competition for jobs and technology has increased, the need for alternative paths to acquire knowledge and increased skills has also increased. The Education Center must continue to upgrade their offerings to keep up with these challenges.

Funding for the Education Center primarily comes from private and government grants. As we well know at Seeds of Learning, because it is also a non-profit organization, the amounts of these grants fluctuate and are not reliable to sustain income at a level to ensure all costs can be met. Now, especially, when the Education Center is preparing to expand education and training services with a video and teleconferencing classroom and a computer lab, we need to step up and vote for the small tax increase needed to create and sustain the proposed comprehensive enterprise campus.

How small would your tax increase be? If your property is valued at $250,000, your tax increase would be only $2.49 per month. Surely all property owners can afford this tiny increase considering how much the Education Center benefits our entire community.

Please vote for Measure 1B Nov. 2.

Lyn Dryburgh


Dear Editor:

Robbie Schwartz, executive director of the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs, has announced her retirement.

Robbie has been with the Society since starting as a volunteer in 1996 and will now come full circle to become a volunteer once again. She has agreed to remain as Executive Director until she can train the new person in the position.

During her tenure the Thrift Store has become an increasingly important source of revenue for the Society, and under her tutelage moved to its present location on Pagosa Street in 2000.

Additionally, a successful capital campaign led to the animal shelter being moved to a new campus in a new, larger facility.  The society now sponsors a number of successful fund raising efforts including the Capital Campaign, Auction for the Animals, Chocolate Auction and the Fashion Show.  These efforts, along with the Thrift Store, help to support sheltering of lost and abandoned animals in Archuleta County

The Board of Directors would like to express its deep appreciation to Ms. Schwartz for serving as Thrift Store manager, shelter manager and finally as Executive director since 2001.

Linda Lawrie


Dear Editor:

I’m quite dismayed by last week’s editorial.

Not that I disagree with any of it. Oh, no. To the contrary, I wholeheartedly agree with it. What surprises me is that it seems to be in complete contradiction to the paper itself. As I turned the pages, I find an entire section devoted to high school sports — 3 full pages. Three out of 20 or nearly a sixth. No “Government” section. No “Education” section. And a “Business” section, in these tough economic times, which is half that size. Too, a smaller “Outdoors” section is included, which could be a focal point of this amazing recreational community.

The only education-related item this week took up but a few column inches and wasn’t even written by a staff member.

With a majority of residents here without kids in the school system, yet paying property taxes for it, I believe it’s fair to say that we would like to be better informed of what’s happening in it.

Please walk the talk. Thank you.

Chalyn Fitzgerald

Editor’s note: News from the local education community tends to flow with the school year. Now that classes in the local district have resumed after the summer break, the amount of education news will increase, as it always does (witness this week’s issue). We extend our sympathies to those readers who cannot recognize the plentiful government, business and economic news without benefit of a section heading.


Dear Editor:

The Sept. 9 submittal to the editor traducing the integrity of Mr. Bob Hart closed with a rhetorical question trailed by a question mark. Since rhetorical questions require neither question marks nor responses, I’d like to state that the letter struck me as a puerile attempt at cavilingly shrinking the scope of Pagosans who can decide for themselves.

Every year on July 3, one can catch the performance of the same, frenetic go-getters who park their vehicles on the 200 block of Pagosa Street stammering surely in anticipation of what is locally defined as an Independence Day parade. This summer, though, I observed someone who could have but did not flout the wait-till-midnight rule: Mr. Hart, who drove his signature-red pickup out of his personal driveway at precisely 12 o’clock a.m. July 4.

Arlene Marcus


Dear Editor:

After working for the past year at the Pagosa Springs Youth Center (the sign still says Power House) as an AmeriCorps member, I want to acknowledge the young people I met and ask the community to support them.

It only took weeks, with no advertising and little support from the schools, for dozens of Pagosa teens to start coming to the Center … to skateboard, roller skate, shoot baskets (sometimes while on boards or skates), play pool and eat. Before school ended, we often had 40 kids on site.

Free food was always available … unfortunately, mostly sweet “stuff,” but that is all that was being donated. When there were bagels, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas — and rarely fruit … those healthier things went first. For many students, the food was a godsend … often a meal.

The volunteer director of the center, who is also the major donor, is a gift to this community, especially the young people, but she can’t do it alone. The center needs adult volunteers, healthy food, money for repairs and improvements, books and equipment for games.

Please visit the center one afternoon after school … see the tremendous facility we have and find out how you can help. Our kids need you.

Carol Otis

High stakes

Dear Editor:

As a mom, and youth violence prevention educator, I am deeply concerned about teen dating violence and the impact it has on our daughters and sons. Teen dating violence is alarmingly prevalent in teen relationships; approximately one in five girls in high school report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

Violent relationships in adolescence can seriously impact victims; many girls will continue to be abused in adult relationships and are at increased risk of substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behaviors, pregnancy and suicide. Yet, a majority of parents admit they have not talked to their tween or teen about dating violence.

Parents, the stakes are high. Please talk to your child about dating violence and let them know, “I’m there for you.”


Liz Parker


Dear Editor:

Following the unbelievably stupid decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ( that corporations were persons and entitled to First Amendment guarantees, specifically that they can spend unlimited amounts of money in election campaigns, and without having to identify themselves, the Roberts activist Supreme Court recently decided in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project ( that the First Amendment permits Congress to imprison human rights activists for advising militant organizations on ways to reject violence and pursue their disputes in lawful ways. As David Cole summarized, “In the Roberts Court’s world, corporations’ freedom to spend money apparently deserves substantially greater protection that the freedom of human rights activists to speak” (

At issue was a federal law that banned “material support” to “foreign terrorist organizations” even when the “support” consists of speech advocating peace and human rights.  The Obama administration appealed lower courts finding that the prohibition on said speech was unconstitutional, resulting in the decision in point.  So much for the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. 

Why should you care?  Any administration can now identify any organization they want as a “foreign terrorist organization,” and criminalize any citizen’s free speech attempts to persuade, convince, or educate said organization toward peaceful and nonviolent methods.  Who is to say what organizations can be put on that list thereby cancelling your First Amendment guarantees to free speech?  Not me, not you, not a court, not a legislature — only the executive branch.  Be wary of such unfettered prerogatives.  Do not count on this Supreme Court to defend common citizens’ rights.

I grew up with bumper stickers saying “Impeach Earl Warren.”  I think John Roberts might be a more deserving focus.

Terry Pickett

Lend a hand

Dear Editor:

A recent incident involving a family member has highlighted a situation that all of us need to be aware of.

I have a physically disabled sister who lives in another state and, a week ago, she fell in her room at the residence where she lives. Because of the day of week, no one at the residence facility noticed she had not appeared for a meal. A relative who normally visits her missed his visit.

To make the story short, it was nearly five days before she was discovered, and then only after a bus driver who picks her up on a regular schedule was alarmed when she did not show up for her ride. She was severely dehydrated and very weak from lack of food. She had injured her arms attempting to free herself from the spot where she was wedged between pieces of furniture. She was hospitalized for several days in serious condition as a result of the incident.

Do you have a family member, friend or neighbor with limited physical mobility? An elderly neighbor who lives alone? Do you know people like this in the community?

If so, check in on them and try to make sure there are others who do the same. A fall or other type of medical emergency can put many of our friends and neighbors in a life-threatening situation. Do what you can, be aware, and lend a hand.

Jack Renner


Dear Editor:

Am I the only one that sees that Bob Hart running for commissioner is a conflict of interest?

Over the past years, Bob, as the officer of Hart Construction, was awarded many construction projects for PAWSD, town of Pagosa and Archuleta County. He tells the people that his son is the president of Hart Construction, but I was told that he cannot transfer the ownership to his son until his debt is paid. If his son is going to be the president, who really is managing Hart Construction? How can Bob Hart vote on county or any construction projects brought before the commissioners? If he sustains from voting, do we have a “lame duck commissioner?”

Mary M. Sealy

Big box

Dear Editor:

The change of the big box limitations is long overdue. I am concerned that a Wal-Mart would hurt local businesses, but, with the lack of retail stores in Pagosa Springs, this may be the only solution. A stoplight and traffic management are needed. A prune juice tax on Tuesdays is needed for Wal-Mart specials on that product.

In addition, maybe a Penney’s and car dealership can come to the area. The closing of the City Market in the downtown area could be corrected with aggressive tourist businesses and specialty shops. Opening of big stores in Durango did not hurt the downtown area of Durango at all. Grand Junction did this years ago when big shopping stores went in and so did Fort Collins. To be sure, these are much larger towns, but I feel with effective leadership (something that locally has been lacking both at the city and county level), a big store on 160 would be good. As usual, the Methodist Church has come forward with money for people to go out to big City Market by buses, but City Market should be taxed for this since they caused the problem. Also, parking in front of City Market is a major traffic issue. A fire marshal will be needed to restrict overcrowding at the only City Market, and campers, etc. should not be allowed in an already overcrowded parking lot. People with brats should be able to shop only two days a week or taxed for the problems they cause in the store.

The City Market situation is a complete example of need for government involvement in a basic consumer need.


J.B. Smith


Dear Editor:

This letter to Jake Wills, staff engineer at LPEA, is in response to future construction of a new Ponderosa Substation in Pagosa Springs.

We encourage you and your site evaluation staff to use the existing substation for the new Ponderosa Substation.

Our thoughts are: 1) the present substation site is owned by LPEA and accessible with minutes from the LPEA facility in Pagosa; 2) to construct an access road 2,100 feet to a new site, grading, excavation, purchasing the property, obtaining easements, etc. are expenses that LPEA members need not be burdened with now or in the future. The highway department plows right past the current substation. If the substation is relocated, it will require LPEA to contract for snow removal. More cost.

Staying with the present location is a win-win for Pagosa citizens and LPEA.

Robert and Thelma Smith