Last Wednesday’s BoCC meeting regarding the plan for development of Square Top Ranch was my first close experience into the lifestyle sometimes described as the Other America.
The developer’s opening remarks were straightforward. What they envisioned was a community composed primarily of part-time residents drawn from the top 1 percent of the nation’s population, i.e., those with annual incomes over $1,000,000 who bask in a privileged tax status. I trust The SUN will detail this project as it continues to evolve, but I was struck from the very beginning by its elitist nature.
Almost comically, the description of proposed clustered cottages brought to mind Marie Antoinette, her “little cottage” attached to Versailles where she fantasized, pretending to live like a peasant, raising potatoes because she adored their delicate blossoms.
A world detached from reality, their concept offered nothing to us except the possibility that multimillionaires would flood us with money, yet with hardly a mention of the amenities they’d expect from us. The more they talked, the stronger I felt that years ago these individuals would have been comfortable using the N- word. Today, though, they weren’t applying it only to people with dark skin.
At the end of the meeting a man rose and, choked, emotionally stated, “I can’t believe this is happening!”
But it is, and not only here.
You’re out, and you think you saw something. You’re not sure; maybe it was nothing. So, you do nothing and just keep walking. The next day you hear the news. Someone needed your help, but you didn’t know what to do.
It’s time to get involved. You, as an engaged bystander, have the opportunity to act and change the outcome — to prevent violence by stepping in when you see something that doesn’t seem right. Maybe you witnessed someone trying to take advantage of a friend. Maybe you see someone that seems uncomfortable in a situation.
Studies have shown that the occurrence of sexual assault is far more extensive than reported in official statistics, and the large majority of offenders are never apprehended.
In a society that promotes a “mind your own business” message, speaking up might seem difficult. But it doesn’t have to be. Try to approach the situation as if it involved someone you cared about. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. If you think someone is in trouble, ask if they are OK. Be honest and direct in explaining your concerns and reasons for intervening. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching a situation on your own, ask — a friend, a coworker, anyone — for help.
You aren’t ruining someone’s fun or being a jerk just because you care. You are watching out for someone’s brother, sister, child, neighbor or friend. Next time, it could be your loved one that needs help. Wouldn’t you hope someone would get involved?
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It’s time to get involved and do what is right.
I would like to sincerely thank Trustee Pierce on the Town Council for keeping the concrete skate park in Yamaguchi Park on her list of things to accomplish. In January when Shari Pierce went to her fellow trustees to ask for $30,000 for the skate park in collaboration with the PROST $50,000 that was already committed to the park, I knew she was determined to get something down on the ground for the skaters.
The Pagosa Springs Youth Center has been an alternative winter location for the skaters with ramps, decks and rails but a concrete park has been their goal and mission for a long time. Fund-raisers and donors have added to the mix to hopefully add features for all skaters to use. Sometimes it takes someone from the sidelines, and in this case a non-skating council woman, to seal the deal.
Thank you Shari, for your perseverance and commitment in seeing this project through to the end. We appreciate you! And to the rest of the council, thanks for supporting the passion of a fellow trustee and we look forward to seeing everyone out at the ribbon cutting event at the end of the summer.
I wish to express my sincere thanks for your editorial in the March 31 issue regarding support for the arts in the public schools. As a professional musician and the mother of a senior who plans to major in theater arts, I can attest to the significance and importance of public school arts education. At our own Pagosa Springs High School, I have witnessed the astronomic growth of our band and choir programs, as well as our theater program, thanks to Dan and Venita Burch, Dale Morris, and the support of parents and administrators. These programs continue to grow and flourish, bringing recognition to the students and faculty, as well as to the community.
Sadly, our public education system is in crisis. For the second year in a row, our school board has had to wrestle with drastic budget cuts. I am grateful that our school board consists of supporters of arts in the schools, but they can’t support it alone. We as a community must step up to the plate to offer our financial and physical support to these important programs. There are several ways to do this.
Currently, the high school theater department is working on a monumental production of “Les Miserables.” This production is a stretch for any musician or actor, much less one in high school. However, I have witnessed first hand the commitment and hard work that our students are putting into this effort and I know it will stand as a testimony of their talent and the extraordinary training they have received. I hope that our community will come out in huge numbers to support them in this performance.
Music Boosters is a non-profit group that produces excellent musicals twice a year. Money they make on these plays goes toward helping our public school arts programs and to scholarships for students who plan to major in music, dance or theater. Your support of Music Boosters will assist our public school arts programs. This can be done by attending the plays, buying ads in their production programs or through extra donations.
The Pagosa Community Choir also donates money to the arts programs in our schools. This group consists of volunteer singers from across the community who rehearse once a week to perform wonderful choral programs free of charge to the public. Donations to this group are designated to support public school arts programs.
Currently, there is a big debate in Congress about funding arts in our nation. Regardless of your opinion of whether or not our government should support the arts, it is time for individuals to pitch in! If we want to see our country continue to flourish, we as a nation must insist that the arts are funded and supported, either individually, locally, nationally, or “all of the above.” We live in a richly artistic community. We can and must help make a difference for our children!
Sally L. Neel
This letter is being drafted between my workout at the gym this morning and my walk/jog later this afternoon. On Feb. 2, 2011, there was more than ample cause to doubt either of these two — or any other — activities would be a part of my routine again. As Jim McQuiggin so accurately and comprehensively detailed in the article “The name’s Gene, but you can call him Lucky,” (March 17, 2011, SUN) I am alive to write this letter of thanks to the outstanding efforts put forth on my behalf by the volunteers and paramedics he featured in his most well-written coverage.
The residents of Pagosa Springs, along with visitors, are fortunate, indeed, to have citizens such as these living and working among them. In addition, my wife Sandra and I trust “the locals” appreciate what extraordinary medical facilities are available in the region. Dr. Catherine Winchester, Dr. Stephen Lipnik, and Dr. Richard Brown truly worked wonders as they took over from the paramedics and performed lifesaving surgery that less capable and aggressive physicians might not have attempted. How one properly credits these professionals is beyond my ability to conceive. My recovery also was aided by the superior ICU and TCU nursing staff who were skilled and caring; the talented and dedicated cardiac rehabilitation staff then took over and prepared me for our return to our beloved Gulf Coast of Florida.
If it appears this letter oozes with compliments, I hope so! These folks all played a role in saving my life, and Sandra and I think of them — and thank them in our hearts — daily. Is there a way ever to say sufficient “thanks” to people who made it possible for one to have a second round of life?
Probably the local tourist industry would not support advertising that reads “Have your next heart attack here!” — but perhaps they should. Even coming from an area with noted healthcare facilities, we “thank our lucky stars” that we were in your area when mine occurred.
For the past few years, we have spent several weeks in Pagosa Springs at the Wyndham Resort, whose staff was extremely understanding and helpful throughout this event. We originally came for the superior skiing at Wolf Creek, but now we will be returning because of the size of the heart of the community. Pagosa, you are awesome!
Eugene Pettis (aka Lucky)