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Letters to Editor


Dear Editor:

The Colorado Rural Development Council is proud to be hosting the Fourth Annual Colorado Entrepreneurship MarketPlace in your beautiful town on Oct. 7-8. The MarketPlace is a one-stop shop for individuals who want to start their own business or existing small businesses that are ready to take their business to the next level. We strongly encourage the small businesses in your town to participate in this important event!

With over 70 sessions in Marketing, Financing, Technology, Business Development and Community Development, participants are exposed to resources that are so helpful and important in assisting small business success. Each session is presented by some of the best professionals in their field. Each day also starts with a keynote speaker. Friday, Greg Lopez, the state director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, begins the day and on Saturday, Mikal Belicove, columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine and author of the “Idiots Guide to FaceBook,” will kick us in gear.

The cost is only $30 for one day and $50 for both days. This includes all sessions, lunch, business tours and receptions at the end of each day. For easy registration, those interested may go to the MarketPlace Page at

See you in Pagosa,

Michelle D. Alcott

Colorado Rural Development Council


Dear Editor:

In your Sept. 8 editorial, “Saying ‘yes’ to the future,” you made a thorough and hard-hitting case for the voters to vote “yes” on the proposal of School District 50 Jt. to issue bonds totaling $49 million to build new K-8 facilities in the vicinity of the high school. You repeatedly and unequivocally showed that the alternative to the proposal cannot be to do nothing; and that whatever the alternative would be, it would cost something.

As good as your argument is, and it is excellent, I would like to have seen a realistic estimate of the cost of that alternative. From all the publicity on this issue, it seems reasonable and fair to believe that those involved in the decision to build new facilities considered what it would cost to do the minimum acceptable amount of renovation. I have only seen general statements such as, “it would cost a lot of money.”

In my opinion, the best selling point for passing this proposal is to make a realistic comparison of the renovation cost and the $49 million for the new build. And such a comparison should contain enough renovation details to show the public what we would have after we spent our money that way.

In his letter of Aug. 25, “Support,” Dale Johnson wrote, “After attending a session last week at the junior high concerning the bond issue of building a new school campus in Pagosa, I walked away well informed and aware … I learned that there would be a bond issue regardless of renovation or a new build.” Again, no dollar amount of the cost of that bond issue. My guess is that he was not given one.

In her excellent letter of Sept. 22, “Bond-aid,” Cheryl Bowdridge wrote, “The school district considered a fix and repair solution, too — one that included making repairs to fix unsafe, inefficient buildings and having yet another very expensive Band-aid that won’t last as long as a new building …” Again, no dollar figures for the cost of that “Band-aid.” If that figure doesn’t exist, it should be created; and it is hard to believe that it doesn’t exist. In any event, it should be given to the public so the eligible electors can make an intelligent decision on how to vote, insofar as the cost-effectiveness of each solution is important to them.

There are only five or six more weeks to sell this proposal to the voting public of School District 50 Jt. I think The SUN should do all it can to promote passing this proposal. One point that has not received enough attention is the integrity and honesty of the school district’s personnel and its supporters, including all of the people who worked with the district to reach the decision to put this proposal on the ballot as the best way to solve the problem of inadequate facilities for the educating of our children. After all, they will replace us when we are no longer able to support them; so why wouldn’t we want them to have the best education we can give them?

Earle A. Beasley

Fine job

Dear Editor:

I read a lot of letters to the editor complaining about the Road and Bridge Dept. It appears it’s the same people who always have a complaint about something. People complain about the guys not working, not paving “their roads,” just sitting around doing nothing. These guys are hard workers and they do work both in the summer and the winter. During the winter, they are on call from 2 a.m. when a snowstorm hits to make sure your roads are plowed so you can get to work. They work out in the sun during the summer with the machines and hot tar. Yes, folks, they are working.

A good example is Trujillo Road. I just drove down it this week to the Transfer Station and I was amazed. It was paved — smooth and great! Granted the whole road wasn’t completely paved, but it hasn’t looked that good in years!

Thank you, Road and Bridge, for doing a fine job, and we do appreciate all the hard work you do.

Sharon Book


Dear Editor:

It’s very unfortunate that the roughest 200 yards of paved road in Archuleta County are the two hundred yards from U.S. 160 on South Pagosa Blvd. to the entrances of our medical facilities. That’s not a good way to finish your trip to the hospital or the clinic, especially while riding in an ambulance. These 200 yards have been ineffectively patched for years. Who’s responsible for that stretch, the town or the county? Inquiring minds would like to know and when is it to be fixed? If it’s the town’s responsibility, how can the north end of Lewis Street possibly have priority over the most important 200-yard stretch of street in the county?

Gary Cheadle


Dear Editor:

I have always considered myself reasonably proficient in basic math, yet I have been having some trouble with simple multiplication. When I multiply $284.3 million by .010, I come up with $2.843 million. My trouble is the number I am looking for is $3.93 million.

Let me explain my dilemma: $284.3 million represents the current assessed valuation of real property within the boundaries of the Archuleta School District 50 JT as determined by the Archuleta County Assessor. By Colorado statute, all real property is reassessed on a two-year cycle.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a “mill” as “a monetary unit used in calculations.” The decimal multiplier .010 in “my problem” represents a 10 mill tax levy. The advocates for Ballot Issue 3B (school bond issue) have stated the additional property tax increase required to service the annual debt repayment on a new bond issuance of approximately $49 million will be another 10 mills. The current tax levy for School District 50 JT is 23.476 mills.

The ballot language for Ballot Issue 3B, prepared by Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. and Sherman and Howard, bond advisors to the School District, begins as follows:


Here’s my problem: The school district’s bond advisors calculate additional taxes “UP TO $3,930,000 ANNUALLY” would be required to service the repayment costs associated with an additional $49 million bond debt. Proponents claim this debt can be paid with a 10 mill tax increase. An additional 10 mill increase in the District’s tax levy will only produce $2.84 million, far short of $3.93 million. The shortfall is $1.09 million.

I know algebra can be a difficult subject; nevertheless, I calculate slightly less than 14 mills (13.8) in additional School District tax levy would be needed to generate $3.93 million in annual tax revenue needed for repayment on the issuance of $49 million of new bond debt. The 13.8 mill levy represents an increase of 38 percent above the 10 mills stated by advocates for Ballot Issue 3B.

An important point of interest is the School District’s tax mill levy required to produce the property tax revenue to service the general obligation bond debt floats inversely to the District’s assessed valuation determined by the county assessor. In other words, if real property values continue on a downward trend and assessed values decline into the next assessment cycle which started January 1, 2011, the school bond tax mill levy would be raised to a level sufficient to produce the required property tax revenue to repay bond holders. In fact, the mill levy on the District’s existing high school bond debt of approximately $8 million will rise.

I decided it would be prudent for me to personally calculate the tax impact of Ballot Issue 3B on my property taxes — something to think about while polishing one’s multiplication skills at the same time.

Bob Clinkenbeard

Full service

Dear Editor:

The Arboles troglodyte and zillionaire can’t resist putting his two cents in regarding the school bond issue. The Republican Party had the good sense to keep quiet regarding the issue, which is more than I can say for the Democrats. No one, including the local Democratic Party, speaks for the Arboles Troglodyte.

From the outset, the Archuleta school board has suggested a fifty million dollar price tag. I believe a realistic figure to be about half that. I Googled many architectural websites and found that a cost of $200 per square foot is a generous figure for schools built throughout the United States. A 100,000 square foot building should cost about twenty million. That is for a building a thousand feet long by a hundred feet wide or a square building as long as a football field on a side; A building covering over two acres of land.

Fifty million dollars is a lot of money; I have been told the Ute Indian Culture Center cost about thirty five million. The Ute Cultural Center serves as inspiration for this letter.

A big box with small rooms, closed most of the time and serving only few people, will unlikely pass muster with the Archuleta County voters. What is needed is a multicultural center that serves the whole community year around and pays a good share of its expenses; a place for the ladies to hold their concerts in the mountains and the kids to hold their jungle music concerts; a facility suitable for sporting events ranging from roller derbies to wrestling matches. The kitchen facilities should be in constant use serving cafeteria style meals during the day and serving an upscale restaurant in the evening, under private management, of course. The new facility should showcase geothermal energy. The facility should exhibit Archuleta County history, ranching, logging railroads. Slots for the old folks and a weight room for the fitness freaks might be considered. Plans should be included for moving the county courthouse.

I wish the teachers well in their effort to build a new school, but I believe their only chance is with a multicultural facility that pays most of its expenses. If I were as rich as Mr. Sawicki believes, I would gladly finance the project.

If you build it, they will come.

Bob Dungan

Repair costs

Dear Editor:

The school district still has not provided the public any repair/maintenance plan for the elementary, middle and junior high schools with reasonable cost figures rather than the bloated $39 million for repairs cited in their arguments for new construction.

Let’s look at the repair figures for the middle and junior high schools from the Blythe Group Facilities Master Plan in 2008 and the CDE School Assessment Reports conducted in FY 2009. The Facilities Master Plan identified $70,985 in repairs for the middle school and $75,091 for the junior high school (a total of $146,076) that needed to be done immediately; $745,017 in repairs for the middle school and $2,844,321 for the junior high school (a total of $3,589,338) that needed to be done within five years; and $238,857 in repairs for the middle school and $1,545,714 for the junior high school (a total of $1,784,571) that need to be done in greater than five years. Total Master Plan repairs required for these two schools was $5,519,985. The CDE, for the same two schools a year later, identified $0 in repairs for the middle school and $212,566 for the junior high school (a total of $212,566) that needed to be done immediately; $0 in repairs for the middle school and $24,404 for the junior high school (a total of $24,404) that needed to be done within one year; and $2,938,790 in repairs for the middle school and $15,161,727 for the junior high school — a total of $18,100,517 in repairs for these schools that were “Necessary within 2-5 years” when the CDE study was done three years ago. Total CDE repairs required for these two schools was $18,337,487. Too bad that the economy in Pagosa is not growing as fast as the repairs needed for our K-8 school buildings — over a 300 percent increase in two years.

The main descriptive statement of system condition remained the same as for the elementary school: “The system age is either beyond expected life or does not meet its intended performance under the Guidelines ...” again followed by a declaration usually identifying that the system’s service life has expired, and that it needs to be replaced — but maybe not right now. The systems are old according to the guidelines — so we are to assume that something must be wrong with them. One of the reports contained an interesting comment — “No ventilation is provided to the building which must rely on infiltration from existing glazings for fresh air.” I think this translates into common English as — they have to open the windows to get fresh air. Curiously, that’s the way it works in my house that was built in 2003. If fact, my windows were designed that way, we have no air conditioning.

The school buildings downtown for the middle school and the junior high school are all identified as needing new or repaired Terminal & Package Units (Air Conditioning Systems) for a total cost estimate of $4,323,937. If we just disregard the air conditioning installation, the landscaping ($345,203), and the site lighting ($169,107) we can knock $4,838,247 off the total $18,100,517 repairs needed within two-five years category. Look at the reports — what would you have kept in repair as it needed it if it were your home?

Jim Huffman

Heat bill

Dear Editor:

The other day we were comparing our electric bills with one another. Our monthly bills average around $115. They only fluctuate a few dollars one way or the other all year long. I asked our friend, “How much is your bill?” and she said, “It’s around one hundred-thirty dollars a month during the summer and a hundred dollars more during the winter.”

We asked, “Do you have any idea why it is so much higher during the winter months?” At first she had that puzzled look and then remembered that they use quite a bit of heat tape under their trailer and in their pumphouse to keep pipes from freezing. We said, “Heat tape is a glutton for electricity when there is not enough insulation.” With a sigh she responded, “I have tried to get my husband to insulate better, but there are always other things that have a higher priority.”

We did a little bit of math. At $600 a year for extra electricity and the number of years they had lived in their trailer home, the extra and maybe unnecessary expense for electricity was nearly $10,000. Maybe this number is a wake-up call for others? And by the way, folks who have to have heat tape on their roofs to keep ice bridges from forming will probably also see a hefty spike in their electric bills during the winter. We are still voting for pro panel for roofs in Pagosa Springs. We used to have cedar shingles on our roof. During the 1978 winter, our garage roof collapsed and the walls in the house still wear the scars of all that snow that would not slide off.

Peter and Rebekah Laue

Fair share

Dear Editor:

What is a fair share? If the the top bracket pays 30 percent and the next pays 15 percent and the next 6 percent, and 46 million don’t pay anything ... where is the fairness?

I think all those who don’t pay anything should be made to pay even just a couple of bucks. After all, there are more than 46 million of them and they all get some low income payments from the government. They are the same people who voted in the big spenders into Congress, so it’s only fitting that they now pay up. But now, with the president’s contention the high earners should now pay more, he does not include in the discusion that these payers are already paying for more than the tax rate. In their earning level, the government doubles their premiums for Medicare. It costs them $700 more a year than others for the same program. In addition, their Social Security pay is taxed and their itemized deductions are reduced, so they are taxed even more. This is not fair. In addition, people who have saved to create an IRA account now have to take money out of that account under the law.

This money is treated as earned income even if it was taxed before, when earned. The result is they are put in a higher tax bracket by this forced increased taxable income. None of this treatment, especially of the elderly, is fair. Somebody should yank the president’s chain to wake him up.

Edward Mergens


Dear Editor:

It’s back from the dead, the Village at Wolf Creek, Red McCombs’ proposal for a huge development at the ski area. A large crowd of concerned citizens toured the area at Wolf Creek Sept. 20, to see both the original swapped land and the proposed reswap for McCombs’ new improved proposal.

What is to be said for the new swap of National Forest land is that it swaps a lot of undevelopable wetlands and fens for a larger parcel with less of them. Unfortunately, the new proposal does nothing to solve the basic problems raised by the original proposal. There are, of course, all the impacts on the animals, plants and watershed at high elevation where two major mountain ranges meet. Others have spoken and will speak again more knowledgeably on these topics.

I think, however, that the crucial issue is whether to enable a project that will surely fail. When it fails, there will be a derelict, partially built development at the top of the Rio Grande watershed. When it fails, it will be an environmental and aesthetic disaster, and then the public will have to deal with it, since the developers will have escaped through bankruptcy.

How do we know the Village will fail? The Village’s destiny follows from its geography and from human physiology. In short, the Village is to be a destination resort, and there is no successful destination resort in the entire world that starts so high. If there were such resorts, we could easily find them, since it is their business to be easily found (note to Red: find one, please). In Colorado, there is the shining example of Leadville, a beautifully situated town that has been in the doldrums since its mining boom ended long ago. Leadville’s central district, though above ten thousand feet, is a few hundred feet lower than the lowest part of the proposed Village.

There are five ski areas in Colorado that start above ten thousand feet. None has lodging, and there is a reason. Skiing at higher elevations is a lot easier when you can sleep at lower elevations. Ask your pulmonologist.

Jim Milstein


Dear Editor:

I’m writing to respond to Ms. Goebel’s letter criticizing the Democrats’ resolution and repeatedly (I believe no fewer than four times) calling it ill informed and based on less than factual information. Yet, not once did she offer any refutation of any specific point made in the resolution. I believe that is because she knows its contents are accurate; she simply disagrees with the conclusion.

The Democrats’ overriding concern throughout the rushed school bond process has been that it was the antithesis of the democratic process. It was always quite clear that neither the school district nor its advisory committee even wanted to hear any public input on the matter, as evidenced by the fact that the first of the two public forums in August was dominated by a couple of the advisory committee members repeatedly arguing, challenging and debating those members of the community who had the temerity to speak. Each public speaker was initially granted two minutes to speak (later increased to three); yet, the committee members were free to monopolize as much of the evening as they wished, eventually running down the clock on the public’s time to speak.

The Democrats did not take a position until after all possible opportunity to shape the question was gone. Of the little public dialogue that finally occured at the end, none was engaged when it still may have made any difference in the outcome. I, too, would have liked for our resolution language to have been out there longer for more consideration by party members. But the reality is that the school board’s timeline squeezed us up to almost the last minute, and the Central Committee and Executive Committee are the party’s entities that are charged under the bylaws with adopting policy positions. And I’m grateful that that authority has now been exercised.

Ms. Goebel’s suggestion that the Democrats schedule school bond speakers for our Chili Supper Oct. 7, with the ballots due to be sent out three days later, is ridiculous. We had lined up our featured speaker for that evening, House Minority Leader and 3rd Congressional District candidate Sal Pace, literally months ago. The mailing of the ballots is even now imminent, and the purpose of the resolution was not merely to adopt a posture, but, rather, to get the community thinking and talking about whether this is the way by which our citizens want local public policy shaped.

Despite Ms. Goebel’s vague contentions, and those presented in the previous issue of The Pagosa SUN, there’s a world of difference between facts and opinions, no matter who tries to blur that line. With respect to the rush to get the bond question on our ballot, in large part by not engaging those who’ll be paying for it in the process, once again, the end simply doesn’t justify the means. Someone had to say it, and that’s what the Democrats did.

Nan Rowe


Dear Editor:

Although I have recently become one of the retired members of this community who is living on a “fixed” income and has no children attending public schools, I believe I have many reasons to vote “Yes” on ballot issue 3B.

My overall feeling is that to vote otherwise would be selfish and short-sighted on my part. Just because my children have already graduated from PSHS doesn’t mean I have no investment in the school district. I have several former students in the schools who will be the future leaders in our community, state and country. My “Yes” on 3B is a vote for bringing our school buildings up to a standard our students and staff desperately need and of which we can all be proud. It’s also a vote against a poverty mentality that could lead us down the path to becoming a ghost town.

I wonder how many of us would seek out a home for our family to live in that was constructed in 1967, 1917 or 1954 due to the potential problems associated with outdated wiring and plumbing and the ongoing expense of upgrading and maintaining an older structure. Yet, approximately 1,000 of our students spend 7 hours/day, 9 months/year in schools that are inadequate for the type of wear and tear the school population places on these buildings. By all accounts, these schools have reached the end of their useful lives and do not meet the 21st century learning environment guidelines, which puts our schools in the lowest 13 percent of school facilities in Colorado. Seriously? Can we tolerate this low of a rating and still expect to attract new families or businesses to our town?

I tend to view and experience most everything in life from the perspective of my role as a mother and stepmother, and it seems that providing for children has always involved some sacrifices and rewards. We often didn’t know at the outset how we’d afford braces, basketball camps, teenage driver insurance and college expenses, but we dove in and did what we needed to do. The same holds true in my mind for the increase in our property taxes for the new school: where our kids are concerned, the rewards always outweigh the sacrifices.

As a former teacher and school counselor in the school district for 25 years, I have experienced the ongoing problems with the leaking roof at the elementary school and two unnerving lockdown situations at the intermediate school and I feel the time has come for us to find a permanent remedy for these problems. With the current lower costs of materials and construction, this is the smart time to build. Now is the only time we have to do the right thing, not 10 years ago and not 10 years from now.

Karyn Brughelli Smith

Air race

Dear Editor:

I write to thank the town of Pagosa Springs for the wonderfully warm welcome they gave all the racers at the recent Pagosa Springs Air Race.

As members of the Sport Air Racing League, we travel all over the country to attend races on the championship circuit. We may be in Colorado one weekend, Tennessee the next and Montana a couple of weeks after that.

Some places are totally oblivious to our events; we come, we race, we leave, and nary a wave from a passing motorist comes our way.

Not so, Pagosa Springs!

This was our third year to race at Pagosa, and the experience just keeps getting better and better.

The community involvement was a welcome sight, especially coming on the heels of the tragic Reno race the previous weekend. Many of us were there at Reno — several of our racers raced — and the gloom of that weekend and of last week was hard to shake … and then we arrived at Pagosa Springs!

Thankfully, the town seemed to understand that the form of Cross Country Air Racing we do is so completely different from the type of Pylon racing done at Reno, that the word “Race” is really the only thing the two events share.

From the great posters the kids did, to the generous hospitality of the Pagosa Lodge, to the enthusiastic crowds on the field on race day, I think the Pagosa Springs race rates at the very top of our favorite places to go and turn money into speed.

On behalf of the members of the Sport Air Racing League, please communicate our thanks and appreciation to your community, and assure them that we look forward to returning next year to enjoy your beautiful weather, wonderful scenery, enthusiastic welcome, and above all, great racing!

Mike Thompson


Dear Editor:

I’m glad to see Ms. Zaday’s appreciation of my “recent involvement after my five years here,” but evidently one may be confused on what exactly I have done. Ms. Zaday, thank you for your kind words, however, this isn’t the first thing in which I’ve been involved. I run two businesses in another state full time beginning at 7 a.m. and until the time I need to be working at my business here. My time is cut short on a daily basis. I have, however, managed to create fund-raisers for individuals throughout the community, children throughout the community, have events on a regular basis so that our locals have something to do on our end of town, traveled the forest area on quad and horse cleaning up trash that our intruders leave, clearing trails, etc. You are somewhat right, however; I have been a business owner in this area for only six years. I’ve lived here way longer and have been in the area for nearly 30 years, perhaps longer. I understand I wasn’t born and raised here, but I’m far from being “new” to the area, therefore, I believe I’ve earned the right to have an opinion on what’s going on in my neighborhood.

I agree with you on the water and roads: I believe they take priority over restroom facilities at a recreational site and I’m glad there are future plans for such facilities, as nothing was mentioned previously. In addition, I must say that we do have the best road maintenance in the area, which was one of my reasons for settling in Aspen Springs, as well as other issues mentioned. My thanks to the crews for making sure I can get to, and in and out of my driveway when snow is deep.

In reference to our Open Range status, I know there will be people with different views and that’s good. I’ve no intention on getting into a “p… match” with anyone on the views of our “uncontrolled” area of living, however, I do believe that if anything is to be changed, it should be what the people of the area want and not the wants of a picked few. I believe that all of the residents of Aspen Springs need to be aware of exactly what changes will mean in whole and long term.

There are many people I know that would like to be more active; however, with times as they are, many are working multiple jobs as I, don’t have the means to attend meetings, don’t have Internet access to view what’s going on in our community, or just don’t know how to go about it. Perhaps we should provide more local knowledge and opportunity so that everyone knows what’s going on and what they can do to make their voice heard and perhaps help out personally.

Once again, thank you for your compliment.

Pam Wallis

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