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Letters to Editor


Dear Editor:

I’m sickened to read about the new Wal-Mart coming to beautiful Pagosa Springs. This, I’m afraid will be the downfall of your town thanks to the CDC and town council not caring what the people want and only looking out for their own interests. I’m sure going to miss the Ace hardware after “Mall-Wart” runs them out of town. Also, say good-bye to all the locally-owned sporting goods stores; no one can compete with the world’s largest retailer. I’m sure even City Market will be affected, as their corporate people have even said, “the town does not support two grocery stores.” It will be sad to see the new Old Town Market food store go also. No more Alco and possibly Family Dollar; I sure hope the Humane Society Thrift store can hang in there. So, what we’ll have is more boarded up, empty buildings, a huge loss of the town’s character and unique businesses and a big dose of corporate greed. Say hello to trash, bright fluorescent parking lot lights, ugly concrete pre-fab buildings and lots of “made in China” junk! If the CDC and Town Council are intent on bringing in the giant corporate greed-mongers and ruining the natural beauty of Reservoir Hill, why not put Wal-Mart right on top of the hill? You’ll kill two birds with one stone! Think of all the Wal-Mart shoppers you’ll attract with the bright glow of the sign visible from miles around. I’m sure going to miss the old unique, beautiful Pagosa.

Daniel Cooper

Phoenix, Ariz.


Dear Editor:

Here comes Wal-Mart and there goes our rural neighborhood, the night sky and the quiet nights. The beauty of seeing Orion, the Big Dipper and other constellations will be diminished by the harsh glow of bright parking lot lights (even if directed downward) once this atrocity is erected. The night sounds of coyotes and owls will be replaced with the sound of semi-trucks coming and going 24/7 to deliver the tons of cheap products to Wal-Mart.

As for Ross Aragon telling the local businesses that they won’t be affected by Wal-Mart, because all they have to do is lower their prices — Ross is overlooking (or chooses to be blind to) the negative impact on retail businesses in hundreds of small towns all across America. It will not take long before it happens here.

Many of us in this area thought the city planner’s plan to annex this far west of town was due to the development of Aspen Village and The Cottages. Many I have spoken to believed this commercial land would be made available to small businesses similar to The Dollar Store, Abba Eye Care and the Boulder Coffee shop, etc. located just east of Aspen Village Drive.

Now I wonder if it was always the plan of Ross Aragon and the city planners to do this land grab so they could bring in Wal-Mart? The hard work was already done by the developer, who obtained permission from the Colorado Department of Transportation to put in a traffic light, build Aspen Village drive, put in sidewalks, landscaping, street lights, and built the homes and condos. In short, they created a nice, quiet residential area.

Ross and the city council must be taking lessons from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid by forming their plans behind closed doors. They have displayed no concern for what Wal-Mart will do to the property values of these new homes nor all the other properties and homes within a close proximity to this atrocity.

There are many 10 and 20 acre lots on McCabe Street in the Alpha district located with a clear view of this Wal-Mart atrocity. I don’t expect to see new homes or small ranches being built on them for many years if ever.

How long before there is a Lowes, Home Depot or Target store in this end of town? You can’t let one in and keep the others out.

I’m guessing it will take less than three years before all of our quaint little stores are boarded up and Pagosa Springs will become a ghost town like so many small towns across America who have had the life sucked out of them by Wal-Mart.

I will boycott Wal-Mart and, hopefully, all who are equally as appalled by this betrayal by Ross Aragon and his city planners will do the same.

Sam Goulds


Dear Editor:

Job vacancies — attention town soothsayers, magi, astrologers and those who know it all. There will be an election to fill three at-large vacancies on the town council come April. In addition to the legal requirements, the following commitments are necessary: 1) giving 200-300 hours of your personal/family time each year for four-year term of office; 2) furnishing computer, office supplies, transportation, cell phone and monetary funds to use while in office; 3) a willingness to work for no pay; 4) a willingness to endure vilification, condemnation, innuendos and falsification; 5) a realization you will be wrong in the public’s eye most of the time; 6) a strong heart and stomach; and 7) good sleep habits. So, now you can quit complaining! Pick up a nomination application at Town Hall and run for office in hopes that you can put your superior knowledge and crystal ball to good use.

Stan Holt


Dear Editor:

Everyone is saying how much we need jobs in the U.S.

So would someone tell me why Obama has turned down the Keystone pipeline project? Why has a contract to build fighter aircraft gone to Brazil instead of Beechcraft? The Keystone pipeline is said to create about 20,000 jobs, plus lower our dependence on foreign oil. China is waiting in the wings to buy this oil from Canada. The fighter aircraft would keep 1,200 jobs in the U.S. Obama keeps criticizing companies for sending jobs overseas, but yet our own government does it!

The Fisher car company has received a $529 million loan guarantee as part of the Obama stimulus to build green cars. This company has now announced it will be making the cars in Finland!

I hope America wakes up and votes this hypocrite out of office!

John Meyer


Dear Editor:

I have lived in Pagosa Springs all of my life, being raised by a single mom/grandma for several years. Her reason for staying in Pagosa to raise me was so I would know my family and roots of the Hispanic descent.

Many people in our community have touched my life through encouragement, teaching and awesome support for my mom and me. It is my honor to be able to give back this year on my birthday by hosting a birthday party/fund-raiser, which will include music by Un Amor (One Love) and DJ Marcus at Dorothy’s Restaurant on Feb. 11, 4 p.m.-till we get done!

The fund-raiser will support the Nurturing Center and the RAD fund. The Nurturing Center is a nonprofit organization housing nurturing people who wish to empower and share with all types of families and individuals, the values of integrity and nonviolence. The RAD fund is a fund created in the honor of the late Ryan Lister, Austin York and Dylan Burksmith with the purpose of providing safety and housing for displaced youth in our community. Yes, we do have homeless and hungry youth in our town.

I invite all my friends, of course, and also all those family members and adults who have been and still are around while I am growing into adulthood, because as my mom says, “It takes a village.” I thank you all and hope to see you at Dorothy’s on Feb 11. There is a suggested donation of $5; no one will be turned away. Or, you could bring a can of food for our food pantry. See ya there!

Mariah Montoya

A start

Dear Editor:

How do we get corporate money (domestic and foreign) out of our elections? Here’s a start.

1. Candidates for office should disavow any effort by 527s, PACs (super or otherwise), state and national parties to pour money into ads, mailers, telephone calls that do not have the explicit “I am (candidate’s name) and I approved this message.” This is similar to what Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Brown in Massachusetts have done for 2012. How about it, J. Paul, Patrick, Scott, Sal, Clifford, Steve?

2. The chairs of the county Democratic and Republican parties (Becky Herman and Jim Huffman, respectively) should issue a joint statement to the same effect. How about it Becky and Jim?

3. Local media should monitor mailings, ads and calls and submit the most grievous claims to rigorous analysis and fact checking (,,, and can help here). How about it Karl, Bill and Will?

4. I will take the same grievous offenders and follow the money trail to find out who is trying to buy our elections (with assist by

5. The voters should let their parties and candidates know that they disapprove of these ads, mailers and calls. Let any media outlet that airs such stuff know that you expect more from them. How about it John and Jane Q. Public?

Maybe together we can have our elections about issues, facts and policies that are conducted with respect and rigor. How about it?

Terry Pickett


Dear Editor:

Here are some of my thoughts as a long time citizen and businessman of Pagosa Springs. I intend to submit these questions to the Town Council.

1. The 2005 Economic Planning Systems study claimed that 47 percent of potential sales tax revenues are lost though “leakage.” In the 12/21/11 and the 12/29/11 issues of The Pagosa SUN reporter Jim McQuiggin assumes that a large-format retailer would capture 75 percent of that leakage. Does Wal-Mart agree that this is a reasonable estimate?

My concern is that the leakage will not come from additional sales, but rather displaced sales from existing retailers. Can Wal-Mart address this concern? If so, can they commit to significantly increasing net sales for the retail sector, more than offsetting the revenue loss that existing businesses will absorb?

2.Wal-Mart claims they will create between 175 and 200 new jobs. At what cost? What is the aggregate number of existing retail jobs in Pagosa Springs and how many of those will be lost after Wal-Mart moves in?

Corporate representative Josh Phair claimed the average Wal-Mart full-time employee makes $13 per hour in Colorado. Does this include well-paid and salaried managerial staff, or strictly hourly employees? How many upper-level positions will Wal-Mart fill locally versus corporate transplants?

3. The downtown City Market is still empty and numerous storefronts sit vacant. In addition, Morgan Murri has claimed it is Alco policy to leave town when Wal-Mart sets up shop, creating yet another failed business front. Why not offer incentives to refurbish and occupy existing buildings rather than creating additional development?

4. Why has Wal-Mart agreed not to build an automotive center? Did local lobbying from automotive businessmen ensure this concession from the Town Council? If so, can pharmacists and optometrists ensure similar concessions? Should outfitters and ski shops unite against Wal-Mart undercutting their market share as well? Ponderosa Lumber and Terry’s Ace Hardware will most certainly be impacted by Wal-Mart’s presence. City Market is the only monopoly in town, perhaps Wal-Mart should be restricted to groceries in order to cultivate healthy competition in Pagosa.

5. Phair proclaimed that Pagosa’s Wal-Mart will be a magnet store for surrounding communities. As such, have nearby town leaders been asked to comment on the proposed development? If the people of Chama, Dulce and Ignacio are being courted as a new source of tax revenue for Pagosa Springs they should have a say in the discussion.

With a Wal-Mart already in Alamosa and Durango, where will Pagosa’s store draw from? I assume people who live in between stores would chose the larger city for additional amenities that Pagosa does not offer (i.e. medical specialists).

6. Because the town council annexed highway businesses that extend past the city limits, town council decisions affect citizens that cannot participate in its democratic processes. In a matter this contentious, is this correct? The big box vote was not countywide, but will most certainly have countywide impacts. Football fields of parking lights will affect the night sky for many of the voiceless citizens throughout Archuleta County.

Davey Pitcher

(Editor’s note: Jim McQuiggin did not “assume” the 75-percent figure noted in the letter —the figure was included in the consultant’s report.)


Dear Editor:

This past week’s school board meeting was called to enlist input from citizens in the community on how best to proceed to deal with local school building issues. In the course of the evening, comments were made regarding why the last vote failed so dramatically. A comment was then made that the local senior citizens were the ones who defeated the school bond, that they no longer have children in school so have no interest in paying higher taxes. Some members of the Board and the audience picked up on this mantra.

There frequently seems to be a need to place blame without looking at the facts. If you look at the percentage of the population, by age in Archuleta County based on the 2010 Census, you will find that only 12.4 percent are over 65. With the bond issue having been defeated by a 74-26 margin, it isn’t likely it was defeated solely by the vote of the seniors. There are 62.4 percent of voters between the ages of 20 and 64.

The fact that a number of the attendees at local school board meetings, both before and after the election, are seniors is interesting. One would think parents and others in the community might also have an interest and attend. However, you usually see almost the same group present. And, isn’t it telling that the same people being blamed for the loss of the election are the same ones sitting in the audience last week wanting to help find solutions to the school problems!

There were a number of reasons the school bond issue failed. Voters were not convinced of the need for new school buildings at this time. States and cities all over the country are in trouble because elected officials vote in expensive programs, then leave office and the community is left to deal with the consequences. It is questionable at this time whether Archuleta County has the financial strength to support a large bond issue. Voters of all ages knew that. The economic future is uncertain at this time. Impact on businesses could be devastating. Those seniors who did vote no in November know this because they have lived long enough to experience it. They also know that the future of this country rests with the young people, want what is best for them and are willing to help pay for sensible solutions just as adults paid for schools when they were growing up. New buildings do not an education make.

Barbara Rawlings


Dear Editor:

San Juan Basin Health Department would like to extend a thank you to the participants in our community health assessment meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 10. We had over 35 participants representing many parts of the community, including Pagosa Springs Medical Center, Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs, Archuleta School District, law enforcement, faith based organizations and others. Hearing from a diverse group of community members enriches the health assessment process.

Together with Pagosa Springs Medical Center and Mercy Regional Medical Center, San Juan Basin Health is in the process of completing a community health and capacity assessment. This assessment entails listening to stakeholders in the community, as well as examining several hundred health indicators. Together this will help inform the assessment process and the community about what health care and public health needs exist. San Juan Basin Health will be using this information to develop our Public Health Improvement Plan later this year.

San Juan Basin Health continues to offer a wide spectrum of personal health and environmental health services at our Pagosa Springs office. We have served Archuleta County for over 60 years and look forward to working together in enhancing the health of this community into the future. If you would like to provide input into the health assessment, I can be reached at

Joe Theine


Dear Editor:

Absolutely nothing is going to change until the political roadblocks to job creation existing in the White House and the U.S. Senate are taken down. 2012 will be another lost year that only a national election can change starting in 2013. We need to jettison the liberal arguments and start eliminating all of the unnecessary and wasteful spending that is so rife in our federal budget.

When those positive results take place, this country will start to roll again and we may begin to clean up after the 60-plus-year legacy of liberal experiments originating from the New Deal and Great Society policies that have brought this country to where it is today.

It is all within our reach to get the right people in office. One man can definitely make a difference as exemplified by the elections in the states of Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. But it is up to you to visit the polls and jettison these liberals.

BTW, very few veterans would “rightfully re-elect” the Chi-Town “community organizer.” Is it possible that John Braklow is now running out of hopium? Common sense is, sadly, no longer common.

Jim Sawicki


Dear Editor:

I was disappointed to see that Pagosa Springs is now in favor of allowing Wal-Mart to come to town. Let me give some background on them that is known to only a few.

Years ago, Sam Walton was in the hardware business but had interest in obtaining a franchise from Gibson’s Discount Center. Citing Sam’s lack of experience in discounting, Mr. Gibson told him there was no way he could succeed and rejected the application.

Angered, Sam began researching the discount business, selecting the top business in the Gibson chain on which to base his research. That was the Streich Group in Wichita Falls, Texas. Sam took a notepad and went up and down the aisles of these stores making notes on everything. He made visit after visit, even planning bird hunting trips to the area so he could visit again. He and Cecil Streich, the principal owner, became good friends and it was Cecil that taught Sam much of what he learned about discounting.

Years later Sam showed his appreciation by building a store next to each of the Streich stores eventually forcing them out of business. Cecil’s son later revealed to me that Sam had told Cecil sorry, but he was going to have to put him out of business — which he did.

Without fanfare or publicity, the Streichs were always very generous in their support of many organizations; they had a profit sharing plan for their employees, and they helped many deserving individuals with start-up money for new businesses. Income derived from their business remained in the community.

Wal-Mart, on the other hand, has no real sense of community support. They are a goliath, responsible only their stockholders. Destroying local businesses means absolutely nothing. To avoid paying benefits, they hire employees who, for the most part, are part-time workers. Their donations to local charities and organizations, if any, are small, but they demand maximum publicity.

Local opinion appears to be that having them here will greatly reduce leakage and prevent more money from leaving Pagosa Springs. Tax revenue will increase and the town will be better off for it. Yes, there will be a better selection of products and more convenient shopping at a better price. This all is very enticing, but we must be careful what we wish for.

The only one benefitting from Wal-Mart’s presence will be Wal-Mart. Money that would have probably been spent at local businesses will leave our community before the end of the day each and every day. Instead of leakage to Durango, we will have leakage on a large scale to Bentonville, Arkansas. Money no longer in Pagosa can do us no good, nor can it generate any additional sales tax revenue. Local businesses forced to close because of Wal-Mart will certainly not be generating any profits, employing anyone, or collecting any sales tax revenue.

Let’s take a lesson from the Streich’s experience. Be very wary of Wal-Mart!

Lynn Shaw


Dear Editor:

I have to say I am extremely disappointed. In this day and age, I cannot believe that Hollywood still has to villainize wolves. Really? There are no other ways to take our $10 for a movie then reverting to archaic and inaccurate archetypes? Have we not become more enlightened and educated since the Dark Ages?

“The Grey,” a movie about wolves tracking down, hunting and picking off humans, is insulting and damaging. I encourage anyone who cares about animals to boycott the movie and ask everyone you know to also protest this digitally enhanced garbage.

We at WolfWood have been saving wolves and wolfdogs for almost 17 years, educating people across the southwest and presenting hundreds of interactive events. Some of our ambassador animals have spent their whole lives being petted by thousands of people and representing their kind to help eliminate myths and misinformation, fear and cruelty. In two hours, a highly visual and visible movie like The Grey can set back years of positive and hopeful work being done on the behalf of these beautiful animals.

Wolves are not malicious killers of human beings, magical shape shifters or cuddly Disney characters. They are amazing, intelligent apex predators that are necessary for the balance of nature and deserve our respect and need our protection.

I am putting my money where my mouth is, and more importantly, where my heart and intellect are. Please protest The Grey and its atrocities, by not paying to see it, encouraging others to not see it, and writing, tweeting, or perhaps even howling our frustration. Please be the voice for those who cannot speak.

Still hopeful that common sense will prevail,

Paula Watson


Dear Editor:

I heard through the grapevine that Dollar General has broken ground in the west end, right next to Ace Hardware. I don’t remember seeing anything about it in the paper, though I was out of town over the holidays and could have missed it.

I am wondering: Did Wal-Mart know about this before committing to Pagosa Springs, and did Dollar General know about the Wal-Mart decision before it committed to Pagosa?

Just one thought on Wal-Mart: Right across the street from Pinon Lake is just the wrong place to put that store. Wrong. Somewhere further west along 160 would be better.

Bob Winners


Dear Editor:

I am prompted to submit this to open the eyes of the people and promote a positive outlook regarding this big box manifestation; furthermore, to bring light to the mistaken belief that might makes right.

Assuredly, might does make right, as my little analogy shall portray. This big box company really does believe that whatsoever they say stands absolute; what the populace affected says has no bearing on this undertaking. Really?

Let’s take a viewpoint from a regular, average citizen. So, we are told it’s as sure as done. I will differ and raise their call, fighting this attitude about big corporations having their way and small businesses adapting, should they wish to survive. The reference presented to justify this: “After all, you do not stand in front of a freight train roaring down the tracks at maximum inertia.”

My belief here is this (and this is from experience): Stand in front of aforementioned behemoth and see what the outcome is. Assuredly, you don’t want to be the recipient of the impact; you won’t phase its momentum.

As you feel the vibrations and its approach, you stand or you step off the tracks. Initiating the latter, you may think, “Nothing can stop this monster when it is traveling with such brute force.”

An object of such size, coupled with massive inertia propelling it from behind, traveling forward, unstoppable, makes for an unpleasant scenario. But, all that is needed to entail its change of being is placing a minute object (e.g. wedge) in its track. Results: very unfavorable for the recipient.

Closer to home: Icy road; you’re in a hurry, once control is lost, what follows?

The subject matter is this: Open your eyes, look at yourself, what do you see? Someone who believes what they are told and accepts that what is said is absolute? Or do you see a being who will (not can) place those minute yet very potent objects on the tracks?

A little food for thought: David and Goliath; one stone, a minute object, against a massive weapons of war. Are we really helpless? Powerless? Hopeless?

Now that knowledge is shared, the hour to resolve this matter is at hand, and unto ourselves.

A cuspide corona,

Prospero Yanez II

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