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Letters to Editor


Dear Editor:

I recently wrote a letter to James Dickhoff, town planning commission, and hopefully they will be addressing this issue in the near future. However, I want the good folks in Pagosa Springs to also have the understanding that our town code is vague regarding livestock kept inside the town limits.

I have a business and home on North 5th Street. I am 1/2 block from Lewis Street and 3/4 of a block from San Juan Street.

During the past three summers, my nextdoor neighbors have had livestock in their backyard for their daughters’ 4 H projects. The first year were rabbits: not too much impact; the second year were sheep: noisy, smelly and fly attracting; the third year (2010) were cows. Trust me, cows as neighbors made a serious impact on my life. The smell was atrocious and even though the neighbor tried to keep the manure under control, the smell of urine was overwhelming. Additionally, the flies were horrible. The result was that I was unable to use my backyard for most of the summer. No barbeques, no picnics, no outdoor entertaining! It was also personally painful for me to see these cows contained in a very small space, where I would be reluctant to fence two dogs, let alone two full-grown steers.

Now this past month, the neighbor has brought in two full grown horses (certainly not a 4H project). If they are to be here throughout the spring and summer, the enjoyment of my outdoor property will again be negatively impacted. These horses are also being kept in a tiny space which I regard as inhumane and cruel.

I believe we need a clear and concise code that establishes what animals can be maintained in town, how many of what kind and in general prohibit large animals. Downtown is not the place for large animals. We live close together and livestock are very impacting.

Barbara Blackburn

Please, don’t

Dear Editor:

Less government! Less restrictions! No regulations!

Except for people. There is recent legislation that calls for defining what rape is in order to make it harder for low income individuals to receive an abortion. I thought less government was for everybody, not just businesses.

It calls for proof. Proof that a rape was a rape by means of bruises and broken bones. Bruises. Bruises and broken bones. It means, “You have to prove it to me.” Prove to me that your life has been harmed. Make me believe you.

Because, your word is not enough.

What proves that you have been raped? I can tell you from experience, the bruises heal. Broken bones mend. But for a life that has been mangled by molestation or rape, the real trauma begins after the body shows no signs. It is when you wake up with fits of terror in the middle of the night because you are unable to breathe. It is when you find yourself hiding behind a cardboard sign in the grocery store paralyzed with fear. It is the shame that becomes an inability to create close relationships for years. It is the realization that you will never again be a woman, man or child that goes back into the part of society that has not been abused. You are marked.

And by the way, congratulations to those who have not been molested or raped! You must have done something right. You with your abilities must know what course of action we underlings should take.

But you do not. You do not have a right to tell others how to piece their lives back together.

If you want to stop people from having abortions, I implore you, do it through talking, not by abusing women and children who have already been abused by making them prove that they have been hurt. For Christ’s sake, please don’t.

Christa Laos

Long gone

Dear Editor:

The article on the Village at Wolf Creek in the most recent edition of The SUN perpetuates the discussion about this proposed development which has been in the news since 2004, if not before. The economic impact of this proposal is usually kicked under the rug. In fact, the Environmental Impact Statement prepared a few years ago by the developer scrupulously avoided this subject. Perhaps the developer did not have satisfactory answers to questions such as these:

Where will the most economic benefits occur? The developer has substantial real estate holdings in the South Fork vicinity which is much more accessible than Pagosa Springs. He has a feel for where they might be.

Where will the low-paid service workers employed at the proposed resort live? They will have families and will need public services such as schools and law enforcement. They likely will be renters who do not pay property taxes which support such services.

What is the likelihood that the project will fail and leave a partially completed situation on the site while the developer takes the money and runs? Red McCombs was involved in a ski area project in southeast Colorado which failed.

Why is it that none of the seven ski areas in Colorado with a base at or above 10,000 feet in elevation has significant lodging? Years ago, Arapahoe Basin had a lodge at over 10,000 which burned down and was not replaced with lodging. Most folks, especially from sea level, don’t sleep well or function effectively living at this altitude.

In the near term, we are a long way from answering these questions. Right now, there is a requested land exchange to move the site from the foot of the ski area and obtain highway access. The U.S. Forest Service is anticipating an analysis which would show whether an EIS is justified for this exchange. Once the site location is determined, if ever, it will be time to seek answers to questions like the ones offered above. Our economic development folks here in Pagosa will likely be long gone by the time this project is consequential.

Jim Lincoln


Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to Jamie Scholl’s letter regarding the ski lift on Reservoir Hill. I thought the whole idea of the ski lift was cooked up to attract tourists. Now, Jamie, you seem to want to make it about the “children and families.” It’s interesting that when you fondly speak of Steamboat Springs as having all the activities in one area, you must be forgetting that the skate pond and proposed skate park are not on Reservoir Hill.

When and If Reservoir Hill is all developed and cut down, you cannot reverse it or bring it back to beauty. You say in your letter, “Pagosa is a very unique community and reminds me of Winter Park/Grand County or Summit County 30 years ago.” Why would Pagosa Springs want to be just like every other Colorado town? Town Council, please consider keeping Pagosa Springs the unique, beautiful town that’s it’s always been.

Francine Morris


Dear Editor:

So Mr. Steve Vassallo, a very recent arrival in our community, feels that the majority of people opposing the Village at Wolf Creek are “from out of the county.” Well, Mr. Vassallo, my wife and I have been full time residents of the county for 10 years and property owners here for nearly ten more. We vehemently oppose the Village in any form, and I know we are far from alone. Mr. Vassallo also appears to think that all of us hicks in this rural community are too stupid to understand the project.

Quoting him, “I think there’s a lot of people who don’t understand Red’s intent.” No, Mr. Vassallo, we fully understand your new BFF Red’s intent — to ravage the environment of one of Colorado’s most beautiful mountain areas so that he can add to his billions. Just because he has scaled back his destructive proposal doesn’t change that simple fact.

Some of us poor, simple hayseeds just feel that some things are more important than a billionaire making another buck or two at the expense of nature and beauty. And the supposed positive economic impact of the Village on our county has been the subject of much debate for many years. So, Mr. Vassallo, we will continue to fight the Pillage at Wolf Creek with all of our hearts. If other Archuleta County residents feel the same way, I would urge them to flood the BoCC, Town Council, and the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation Board with letters expressing their views. Otherwise, Mr. Vassallo may have the last word,“not if, but when.” And Mr. Vassallo, since you have been here only a few months, perhaps you might want to talk to a few more of your neighbors before making such a public judgment.

While we are talking about Mr. Vassallo and the PSCDC, I am curious why the organization hired Bone Marketing, a small Louisiana firm, to design their website, when we have well qualified local firms. I thought that the PSEDC was supposed to promote economic development in the county and commerce for county businesses. I notice that one of PSCDC’s 10 top objectives for 2011 is “Expansion of local firms that will create new jobs and opportunities.” Hiring an out of state firm to do work that local firms can easily do doesn’t seem to fit that objective!

John Porco

Something wrong?

Dear Editor:

After reading last week’s SUN article quoting our own Community Development Corporation (CDC) executive director Steve Vassallo as he professed his unbridled support for Red McCombs’ Village at Wolf Creek, I can only shake my head and wonder, who does this guy think he is?

Mr. Vassallo was hired to run a nonprofit organization here, funded at taxpayer expense, to presumably help bring economic development to our community. But his repeated extolling of the virtues of his Texas buddy, Red McCombs, and his Village at Wolf Creek plans, illustrates just one more example of the personal agendas that the CDC seems to have really been created to fulfill — again, at our expense.

First, we’ve got County Commissioner John Ranson voting in favor of the county’s appropriating $59,000 to help fund the CDC. Then, we have Commissioner Ranson’s daughter being put on the CDC payroll fulltime, with, presumably, health benefits that the vast majority of the rest of the county’s residents could never afford without leaving Archuleta County. Mr. Ranson, who also sits on the CDC board, stated at the BoCC’s hearing on Feb. 8 that he, “is here (on the board) working for my grandchildren.” Was this the kind of work he was referring to then?

We also have the CDC as a rent paying tenant of Mr. Ranson’s. While that arrangement might beg the question of how that rent compares to market office rents in the community, the real questions are only: was there a competitive bidding process, and how much rent goes each month from the CDC into Commissioner Ranson’s pocket?

Now, let’s take a look at Mr. Vassallo, whose most recent lobbying efforts focused on getting former Commissioner Moomaw’s wife’s nonprofit Pavilions group the dollar-a-year-for-ten-years lease of five acres of prime county-owned property. Had that deal gone through, Mr. Vassallo’s primary activity as head of the CDC would have quickly evolved into that of chief fund-raiser for the Pavilions’ activities, jetting around the country, again, at taxpayer’s expense. Nice work if you can get it. Thankfully, Ms. Moomaw withdrew the lease proposal.

Mr. Vassallo evidently doesn’t recognize a conflict of interest any more than Commissioner Ranson does. Mr. Vassallo took it upon himself to hire a firm outside Archuleta County to produce the CDC’s website, without requesting bids from the several excellent website designers in our local community. Instead, he selected a company down in Louisiana for the job. Could the fact that his wife works for that company have anything to do with his selection?

And now, we learn, thanks to The SUN, that Mr. Vassallo is actively lobbying for the Village at Wolf Creek, despite the fact that our community is sharply divided on that issue. Does anyone else see something wrong here?

Nan Rowe


Dear Editor:

So, with all the kindness I can muster, I give this one piece of advice to the next pop star who is asked to sing the national anthem at a sporting event: Save the vocal gymnastics and the physical gyrations for your concerts. Just sing this song the way you were taught to sing it in kindergarten — straight up, no styling.

Sing it with the constant awareness that there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines watching you from bases and outposts all over the world. Don’t make them cringe with your self-centered ego gratification.

Sing it as if you are standing before a row of 86-year-old WWII vets wearing their Purple Hearts, Silver Stars and flag pins on their cardigans and you want them to be proud of you for honoring them and the country they love — not because you want them to think you are a superstar musician. They could see that from the costumes, the makeup and the entourages.

Sing “The Star Spangled Banner” with the courtesy and humility that tells the audience that it is about America, not you.

Jim Sawicki


Dear Editor:

As a visitor/tourist to Pagosa Springs, I have to add my voice to those discussing the possible installation of a ski lift on Reservoir Hill.

During my visits, one of the things I enjoy most is the ability to walk around the town, not having to rely on public or private transportation to get from one place to another. Coming from a city environment, it’s a restorative thing to be able to travel to a place that is less congested, and closer to nature, quieter and offering more of that sort of experience than what cities and “progress” offer us, often to our detriment.

I hate to think of the views of Reservoir Hill being blocked by, (both looking at, and looking from), lines and metallic jumbles. Not to mention the noise factor, not to mention how many trees would have to be cut down to accommodate such a thing?

How many thousands of dollars will it take to make all that happen? I thought money was tight, and surely there are more deserving projects awaiting attention than to add noise, pollution from motors, and a general raking of the land for something not needed at all. Since the country seems to be plagued by obesity and lack of exercise, isn’t it a better opportunity to be able to take a nice hike from the perimeters of town, and be able to see a splendid view and enjoy some peace and quiet and lack of — stuff?

Sometimes such progress blinds us to what we have, already, and indeed are losing as we forget what the stars look like because of too much light at night. And the “other stuff” like the sound of wind in the pine needles, now potentially drowned out by motors and metallic clankings. Isn’t nature enough anymore? Even the character of what’s left of the historical buildings is already gone, fallen to commercial development.

Please consider preserving what you have, and what I and others enjoy, instead of bowing to “progress” and more spending. I’m sure there are ski lifts within reasonable distance if someone really wants to have that experience. I just want to walk up the hill and see into what’s left of a “pristine” vista, and listen to the wind. And maybe see animals and birds, which will surely flee the area. Pretty high price, on all counts, if you ask me.

Thanks for listening.

Alexa Walker

Spicewood, Texas

(One of your Texas visitors, bringing my little clumps of cash into what has been one of my favorite destinations.)

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