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Letters to Editor


Dear Editor:

It’s no wonder the post office is losing money.

We paid extra premium to have our first class mail forwarded to us out of state, once a week. Last envelope contained flyers (junk mail), a few first class and a notice to pick up a tub of mail. Seems to me if we are out of town, how can we pick up the tub? Duh! Where are our bank statements, utility bills, income tax info and “things” that are time relevant.

No wonder the mess with the post office.

Barbara Brashar


Dear Editor:

Democracy doesn’t just happen — it requires people, lots of people standing up and demanding that they be heard and represented. It has also been said that maintaining freedom and democracy requires eternal vigilance.

Thomas Jefferson warned the nation at the very beginning that the major threats to a working democracy included the unleashing of the power of large money interests — they can buy our politicians. I presume that this rings a bell for everyone.

There is a group of your neighbors working together, and with other groups, to try to address the current situation. Locally, we call our selves MOP for Money Out of Politics.

Our website is new. Please check it out at

Also, if you wish to get on our e-mail list, please e-mail to

We will be holding our monthly meeting this Saturday, March 17, at 4:30 p.m. at No.15 Greenbrier Plaza. We will be discussing various actions that we are working on, including resolutions for the people and politicians to sign on to.

We hope you can attend.

Ron Chacey


Dear Editor:

Where Wal-Mart goes, poverty grows. All across our country, counties with Wal-Marts have higher poverty rates than counties without Wal-Marts. Build a Wal-Mart in a county without one and the poverty rate increases. Add another Wal-Mart to that county and the poverty rate grows again. The statistical evidence is overwhelming, and we will undoubtedly suffer the same fate despite lower prices and increased sales tax revenue.

In 2004, the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development at Pennsylvania State University published a study for which the authors collected data from 3,004 US counties and correlated Wal-Mart presence and poverty rates in these counties over a 12-year period (1987-1998). “We find,” they wrote, “after controlling for other factors determining changes in the poverty rate over time, that both counties with more initial (1987) Wal-Mart stores and with more additions of stores between 1987 and 1998 experienced greater increases (or smaller decreases) in family poverty rates during the 1990s economic boom period.”

Wal-Mart can’t integrate itself into a local economy such as Pagosa Springs. It can do what it does — sell everything for less — only because it buys everything for less in a global economy where it’s the biggest and most demanding retail player. Its mere presence here would force our local businesses to compete directly in that same global marketplace. Expecting them to survive is rather like expecting our Pagosa Pirates to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a run for their money. It couldn’t happen, no matter how fairly the game was called or how much heart and spirit our kids put into it.

Nor can Wal-Mart become part of the local community the way our local businesses are. Whatever profit a Wal-Mart makes goes right back to its headquarters in Arkansas. Most, if not all, of what a local business makes is spent and reinvested right here. The owners participate directly in our charities, churches, schools and community boards. When Wal-Mart pushes out a local store, it takes away not just local jobs, but local business and community leadership, too. Our social capital disappears, along with our financial capital, leaving us poorer now and without the means to recover tomorrow.

In the short view, it’s clear that Wal-Mart can recapture some of the sales tax dollars that are leaching out of Pagosa Springs to Durango, Alamosa and Farmington. But, start looking at the broader picture, at the inevitable losses in local business and local leadership, in community spirit and vitality, and it looks more like dead-end dependency on a smiley-face corporation that has no real commitment to Pagosa Springs. That could easily walk away, leaving a 93,000-square-foot box lying by the side of the road.

Real freedom comes from informed self determination, not from playing follow-the-leader. Real economic development comes from learning to do more for ourselves and, as much as is possible, by ourselves. What we don’t need is more exploitation by a global corporation.

Richard Compton


Dear Editor:

How do you thank someone for saving your life?

Several months ago, during a regular screening, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. The diagnostics, surgery and follow-up exams were performed right here in Pagosa Springs, at the Pagosa Mountain Hospital.

The courtesy, expertise and compassion shown to me by the staff and personnel were unsurpassed. How fortunate we are to have access to such a first-class facility. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the people who were instrumental in getting the hospital here in the first place. This hospital has saved my life and will continue to save other people’s lives in time. From the bottom of my heart, my family and I are grateful. May God bless you.

Peter Jim Garcia

Reservoir Hill

Dear Editor:

I would like to clarify two misrepresentations made by two members of the Town Tourism Committee (TTC) Reservoir Hill Task Force during their public presentation of the proposed amusement park on Reservoir Hill, held Feb. 9 at the Community Center.

First, TTC chair Bob Hart stated that the Reservoir Hill Task Force made a presentation to the Noon Rotary, and the Noon Rotary supported — actually I recall “enthusiastically supported” — the proposed improvements. His statement clearly left the impression with the audience that the Noon Rotary backed the proposed $4.3 million Reservoir Hill Development — a chairlift, alpine coaster, zip line, tethered balloon, observation tower, amphitheater, 250-300 parking spaces, plus $1 million for Reservoir Hill road improvements.

I remember being surprised by Mr. Hart’s comment, but did not question its veracity. I did, however, immediately wonder what exactly the Noon Rotary did to show their support for the proposed project.

About a month later, I inadvertently learned that Rotary does not endorse projects such as the controversial Reservoir Hill development project. I spoke to several other people who were at the Feb. 9 meeting, and they, too, due to Mr. Hart’s comment, had the impression that the Noon Rotary supported the Reservoir Hill project.

I informed Bob Hart of what I and others heard him say, and asked what exactly the Noon Rotary did to show their support for the project. I received the following statement from Mr. Hart:

“I don’t believe I said that the Rotary ‘fully supported’ or ‘enthusiastically supported’ the Reservoir Hill Project. If I did say those words or something similar, they were not what I meant.

“What I believe I said was: Thad McKain (presenting for the Reservoir Hill Task Force) made a presentation to the Noon Rotary with approximately 80 in attendance, and we did not receive one negative comment and no one expressed a negative concern about the presentation.

“Although I would take that as an acceptance in general of what the Task Force was presenting and working on, in no way do I take that as an endorsement of the project by the Rotary or that they ‘fully supported’ or ‘enthusiastically supported’ the project.”

So, Rotary does not endorse or support the project — enthusiastically or otherwise.

The second misrepresentation was made by Thad McKain during a protracted exposition of why he knows what is best for our community. Mr. McKain stated that — and I quote from an audio recording — “Our community is the second poorest in Colorado.”

Not true. I researched Colorado 2010 Census QuickFacts, and found that Archuleta County rates 25th of 64 counties (64 being poorest) based on median household income, per capita income, and percent below poverty level. That’s a far cry from Mr. McKain’s “second poorest community” claim.

Straying from the truth in these and other instances does not lend credibility to the Reservoir Hill Task Force presentations and their tax-funded push for an amusement park on Reservoir Hill.

Cynda Green

Level field

Dear Editor:

A friend of mine contacted me to see if I would be interested in attending a meeting of concerned citizens looking at the Citizens United case decided on Jan. 21, 2010. Coincidentally, the meeting was to be held on the anniversary. Because the case had intrigued me, I attended, and was taken by the cross-section of people who were also gathered for that auspicious occasion.

Since then, local Republicans have passed a resolution opposing Citizens United, and the local Democrats are working on a similar resolution also in opposition to the findings, conclusions and ramifications stemming from this decision. There are some in both the liberal and conservative camps that applaud the decision, but as election year 2012 gears up, it is apparent to me the U.S. Supreme Court has opened a Pandora’s box of money with which irresponsible and reprehensible actions are being taken with abandon.

Much has been made of the decision, asserting that it declared corporations to be people. Actually, a line of cases has been trending toward this determination for quite some time. Rather, the thing that caught me most off guard was the determination through this case that the First Amendment to the Constitution, which established free speech extended beyond the speaker, and mandated the listener was mandated to hear speech from a corporation ... thus we get super PACs.

Secondarily, even though a natural person, a voter, is restricted in the amount given to a campaign and must disclose certain things about him or herself, super PACs are not held to those restrictions. As we are learning through the Republican nomination process, once money can be spent anonymously, truth in advertising is no longer a guiding factor. In this case, the guy with the most super-PAC money can just pummel the opponent, never have to take ownership or accept responsibility for what is being said, and the real instigators behind the super-PAC are never disclosed, never have to account for their actions, never be the accuser that has to face the accused.

If you believe like I do that democracy works best when the playing field is level, when those who accuse must be accountable for their actions, and that the need for individuals to espouse their democratic has never been greater, then you need to join us to get money out of politics. Our next meeting is March 17 at 4:30 p.m. at No. 15 Greenbrier Plaza.

Rodney B. Proffitt

Don’t shop

Dear Editor:

Apparently, there was a threshold in some database that caused Wal-Mart to become interested in our community. Was it population, growth, sales, the numbers of Archuleta County citizens patronizing the Durango Wal-Mart, or a combination of factors?

In discussing the Wal-Mart question, if one takes a look at the latest 2010 Census data and compares Pagosa to four communities with similar markets that have a Wal-Mart (Gunnison, Cortez, Salida and Alamosa), Pagosa/Archuleta ranks as follows:

City population-5, county population-5 (3,000 persons less than the next county), percent population growth since 2000-1, persons per square mile-4, persons >16 years of age-5, county area in square miles-3, colleges- (only market without a college in the area), retail sales-5, food/accommodations sales-4, median income-1, poverty level-5 (lowest percentage).

Regarding market range, Pagosa/Archuleta ranks fifth with a maximum two-county range. Unlike most other comparable cities and counties, the market draw is limited because of geography and existing nearby population centers, Durango and Farmington to the west and the mountains and Alamosa to the east. Only about half of Rio Arriba County to the south could be considered a potential market draw as Espanola also has a Wal-Mart. I can’t help but wonder what the threshold was for Wal-Mart to decide to move into a community such as ours.

This means that Wal-Mart is going to have to rely on the existing population base and market range of Archuleta County to sustain a store here, which is the lowest among comparative markets. It could even be suggested that Wal-Mart expects to capture a greater percentage of the existing competitive retail business more than their other stores do, to the point of dominating the local retail market. I also find the proposal of a Super Wal-Mart here of interest considering Gunnison’s Wal-Mart is reputed to be one of the smallest in the country, is not a Super Wal-Mart and is not open 24 hours.

It is a fact that a lot of people love Wal-Mart. There are also those who do not shop at Wal-Mart and those who say they are anti-Wal-Mart, yet shop there anyway. In the end, what matters most are your votes and your dollars. Costs come in various forms and everyone has a choice. Want to make a difference in your community? Then choose not to shop there.

Mark Roper


Dear Editor:

It is sad we are the only area in southwest Colorado that is host to the Abert squirrels.

However, I see many Abert squirrels hit on the road just before coming into town on North Pagosa Boulevard.

If you are willing to slow as you enter town, you can avoid hitting these rare squirrels. The fire at Bandelier wiped out a lot of these squirrels. So, please slow down and try to avoid hitting these squirrels so we can continue to enjoy these great little animals.

Michael Schneider

Let’s rock!

Dear Editor:

Yes, it’s time for the Health Fair again.

If there are any EMTs (present or former), retired nurses, etc., who would like to join in the fun, please give me a call. I am in charge of the blood pressure station and, boy, do we have fun and get to meet so many good folks — many who have not had their blood pressure checked since last year.

So, if you are free Saturday, April 7, and want to “rock” with us, give me a call at 731-5160.

This is a valuable community service.

Patty Tillerson


Dear Editor:

Thank you, Mayor Aragon, for your decades of invaluable service to the community. You and your family are distinguished citizens and the foundation for this community. Your hard work and devotion will never be forgotten, and it can never be minimized the positive effect you have had in the evolution of our town.

Pagosa has entered a new time with rapidly evolving needs. To adapt and excel in this new era, we need a progressive vision for our town. I believe we need leadership that is fresh and inspired. Pagosa is ready for a renaissance, and that can only happen with a modern mentality that incorporates wise decision making, a transparent, effective public process, and new ideas and efforts to replace the antiquated and ineffective avenues of yesterday.

I believe we need to continue the polishing and tasteful development of the downtown. The investment in making our community even more vibrant and beautiful benefits our neighborhoods and our economy exponentially. The river and parks improvements have been wildly successful and should be a model for efforts in the future. We should continue to improve them in a tasteful way that is palatable to both visitors and to our permanent residents who value them so much.

We are so fortunate to have an incredible geothermal resource that I believe is underutilized. We should retain complete control as a town over our geothermal rights and improve and develop them to the benefit of citizens and visitors. I believe that downtown has great potential as an attraction to visitors, but right now, the empty storefronts and four lane highway detract from its beauty. Let’s make the downtown more attractive to private investment and tourists alike by making it more pedestrian friendly, and pleasing to the eye. The traffic can be slowed down, parking improved, and the highway beautified with medians and planters. It would encourage people to stop and stay awhile.

The outpouring of emotions and ideas over recent developments in our town’s progression is a brilliant and inspiring change. I believe that there are many motivated people and clever ideas erupting from the citizens and business owners. We as a community need to make sure that the voices of both citizens and otherwise unrepresented business owners are heard, and that they are considered and implemented by our leaders. The leadership needs to redefine their roles, and start acting not as representatives to make the decisions they feel are right, but as public servants who listen and carefully identify the needs and desires of the people, and then implement them. From Interim Town Manager to Mayor, our elected officials must evolve, or be replaced.

Daniel Witting

Editor’s note: The current town manager is not here on an “interim” basis, nor is he elected.

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