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Letters to Editor


Dear Editor:

Bob Formwalt has earned my vote for re-election as LPEA director for District 1. He has served our community capably and with integrity for the past 12 years as our LPEA representative. He always votes to maintain the lowest reasonable cost of electric service to LPEA customers. He realizes the importance of capital investment to maintain and improve LPEA’s transmission equipment so that our electric reliability is an outstanding 99-plus percent.

Bob is a fiscally conservative director who carefully considers both short-term and long-term costs before approving capital investment in new projects. He supports alternative energy projects after he has satisfied himself that they are proven technology that will provide long-term and reliable energy. He avoids schemes that are heavily subsidized, untried and uneconomical, as they are unlikely to deliver economical electricity over their expected service life.

Bob was raised in southwest Colorado and understands our needs. He received his degree in business administration from Fort Lewis College and worked in the banking industry for many years. He has served as Archuleta County Commissioner for 12 years and on numerous other area boards, including water resources and soil conservation. As a local rancher, he knows the economics of our area and he cares about the environment. He knows how to balance both our environmental and economic interests.

Please join me in voting for Bob Formwalt for LPEA director.

Michelle Bauer


Dear Editor:

On April 20, ballots will be mailed for the election of directors to the LPEA Board. Kirsten Skeehan is one of the candidates for the District One board seat.

Kirsten is co-owner of Pagosa Baking Company, a business anchored in downtown Pagosa Springs for over 11 years. She is a graduate of the Naval Academy, has worked as an information technology specialist, and has served as a community volunteer in various capacities.

As such, Kirsten is well qualified to address issues of electrical service and rates, matters of concern to households and small businesses alike. From determining the appropriate mix of traditional as well as renewable energy sources of electric power as they impact the cost of power generation and the environment, to the effect of that mix on rates, LPEA board members make decisions that impact our community’s economy and future.

By reason of her background and experience, Kirsten would bring mature, considered judgment to the task of LPEA governance, and she would serve with intelligence, independence and diligence as a member of its board. Please give her candidacy serious consideration.

Ben Douglas


Dear Editor:

I want to thank the hardy participants who attended the Earth Day 2012 celebration last Saturday at Town Park, until the unfortunate closing of the event around 2:30. Living in Pagosa, we all know that the weather forecasts are often incorrect or delayed. I decided to wait until 8 a.m. on the morning of the event to decide whether to hold this event inside or outside. When Saturday dawned without the three inches of snow on the ground as forecast, and with the temperature in the 30s rather than the 20s, I made the executive decision to hold this Earth Day event outside.

Joanne Irons had graciously offered the use of the Youth Center as the back-up location in case of inclement weather and I send my sincere thank you to her and Soledad for being so generous with their time. However, my desire to have this Earth Day 2012 event be outside was huge. The 33-plus vendors and nonprofits, five food/drink vendors and musicians would have been crammed into the Youth Center and my desire to be standing on the Earth for this Earth Day 2012 event won out over logic.

I am sending a sincere thank you to Smoke’n Blue BBQ, Old Town Market, Boulder Coffee Cafe, Sweets-n-Such and, of course, the Pagosa Mountain Morning Rotary Club serving Pagosa Brewing Beer who all purchased and created products to sell to the estimated 300 attendees, who were unable to attend. The snow began falling around 12:30 and the event was officially cancelled by 2:30 due to the cold and snowy weather.

Thank you as well to Mary Jo Coulehan and Patricia Shoffner and everyone at the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce and all the nonprofits who worked so hard for three-plus months creating the “Recycle Your Talents: Volunteer!” portion of this event.

Mary Jo met us at the park on Saturday and provided the necessary fencing needed to surround the park in order to meet the state’s requirements to serve beer and wine. Jim Miller was also there (on his day off) to lend his help and give guidance.

I would like to extend my sincere apologizes to the Aikido of the San Juans owners, parents and children who had been practicing and planning for the demonstration that had to be cancelled. Also my apologizes to the musicians who had been practicing and planning their sets and could not play as well. Thank you to Marcus Rivas who provided the sound system and added music and comments during the brief festivities.

I am well aware of the days, weeks and months of planning that many of us gave to this wonderful venture and how disappointed many of us feel. I was greatly touched by the understanding and loving comments shared by many of the participants. I must admit that I loved being outside, touching the Earth and being surrounded by the loving and generous energy of the wonderful Pagosa Springs participants. Thank you again.

I am planning to facilitate a similar event next year — so let’s all visualize sunshine and warmth for Earth Day 2013 next April in Town Park.

Laurel Epps


Dear Editor:

I urge electricity users in Archuleta, Hinsdale and Mineral Counties (District 1) to vote for Kirsten Skeehan for the board of our Cooperative. LPEA ballots will be mailed to cooperative members on April 20.

Kirsten Skeehan is a 1982 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. In only six years after graduation, she had achieved the rank of lieutenant with our nation’s highest security clearance. When she left active duty and became a reservist, she became a lieutenant commander. After her military service, Kirsten worked as a corporate executive in technical communications.

Today Kirsten is a successful small business owner and promoter of community development in Pagosa Springs. Kirsten understands energy production and the complicated issues that face our LPEA, including consumers’ concerns with affordability and mandates to include renewables in our Cooperative’s portfolio. She will manage the cost of our electricity and our electricity portfolio carefully and responsibly.

Kirsten was modest in her recent letter to the editor. She possesses the intellect, education and people skills that will move our LPEA into the 21st century. Her letter mentioned Admiral R. James Woolsey, former undersecretary of the Navy, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, advisor to presidents, and co-founder of the United States Energy Security Council. Admiral Woolsey strongly supports distributed generation of electricity to ensure our national security. This means producing clean electricity at the local level. This means ending our dependence on fossil fuels. This is not radical thinking; it is necessary and forward thinking. It is responsible for LPEA to consider all of our options.

It is not true that renewable energy will raise your electricity bill in the future. In fact, we can’t afford not to develop our abundant resources now in southwest Colorado. Archuleta County is a prime location for biomass, geothermal and solar electricity production. Those potential economic development drivers are being studied in depth and should be supported by consumers.

Kirsten will act responsibly to keep our electric rates stable and continue the reliable service and supply that we expect from our cooperative. You and I can act responsibly by returning our LPEA ballots with a vote for Kirsten Skeehan.

Sally High


To the Editor: brings corporate contributions “Into the Light.” This third report looks at Representative J. Paul Brown’s campaign contributions. Highlights will focus on general data and not-so-easily found sources of contributions. Full details at?

1. At the end of the last filing period (1/25/2012), there were cumulative contributions of $18,308, adding $6,840 from the last period: 62 percent from individuals and 33 percent from PACs. Of the individual contributions, 47 percent was from registered lobbyists and 29 percent was from executives of Excel Energy, a utility supplier of electric energy and natural gas. All contributions were to the Committee to Elect J. Paul Brown.

2. PAC contributors included: American Family Insurance Colorado Political Action Committee, Associated General Contractors (Agc), Colorado Construction Action Committee, Co Association Of Mechanical And Plumbing Contractors Pac, Colorado Medical Pac (Compac), Colorado Petroleum Marketers Association Pac, Colorado Private School Association Political Committee (Cpsa), Mining For Colorado’s Future Political Committee, LLC, Xcel Energy Western Political Action Committee Of Colorado, United Health Group Incorporated Pac (United For Health), Colo Comm Of Automotive Retail: Political Action Committee, Trucking Industry Political Action Committee (Tipac), Mednax, Inc. Federal Political Action Committee

Next week: Michael McLachlan.

MOP (Money Out of Politics) is a group of citizens in Pagosa Springs committed to creating awareness on all political levels of the perverse influence of big money in electoral campaigns. We meet every third Saturday from 4:30-6 p.m. All meetings are open to the public and all are welcome. The next meeting is April 21. Visit us on the Web (, Facebook (MoneyOutofPolitics), or e-mail us at

Terry Pickett


Dear Editor:

The LPEA board election is underway. LPEA customers will receive ballots in the mail. This election will affect our community’s growth and the monthly bills we pay for years to come. Our representative on the board is an important choice.

Kirsten Skeehan was one of the first women admitted to the Naval Academy. She served with distinction as an officer in the fleet and overseas. She fulfilled her service obtaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander before entering the private sector. Her education and her service involved communications and infrastructure development. As an executive in a large corporation, she managed communications and infrastructure technology projects of a national scale, while also earning an MBA from Georgetown. Obviously, Kirsten is a woman with talent, courage, confidence and patriotism. She is a professional capable of handling the complexities of Colorado energy policy at any level. But there is much more that qualifies Kirsten.

Kirsten has spent 12 years building a local business. The Pagosa Baking Company has grown steadily. Each month, she writes paychecks to her local employees and provides a popular product to local customers. She is affected by LPEA rates as a county homeowner and a Pagosa Springs business owner. Each month, she pays the same bills we do and ponders the future of Pagosa as we do. Her employees, her customers and her neighbors provide a connection that joins her to us all.

The decisions made by LPEA will affect our future dramatically. They will shape and influence our ability to grow and prosper. Board members must analyze complex issues and then protect our pocketbooks, while providing the resources we need to protect our future. This isn’t a political job. It is a job that requires specialized training, intellect and vision. It requires a disciplined, creative and open mind. It requires understanding new technologies and emerging opportunities.

I know Kirsten well. Her character, intellect and devotion to our community are awesome. She is not influenced or beholding to anyone or any party. She studies, she thinks and then she acts professionally and productively. I admire her and trust her. She will serve us well. Please join me in voting for Kirsten Skeehan for LPEA director.

Jerome Smith


Dear Editor:

There is a saying that there are “lies,” “damned lies” and “statistics.” There is yet another category to this “science” of collecting and analyzing numerical data: It is “Obama Administration Statistics,” the most outlandish and flagrant distortion of data by a political machine in modern times. These distortions are designed to make it appear that we have a president who knows what he is doing and has accomplished anything meaningful during the past three years. For example, he claims to have created or saved at least two million jobs (despite a national unemployment rate which has hovered between 8 and 10 percent); that the size of government has gone down in the past three years (while, in fact, it has grown by about 25 percent); that by implementing “The Buffett Rule,” he will make a substantial reduction in the deficit (which, thanks to his administration’s spending and entitlement programs, will soon reach $16 billion); that his healthcare plan will reduce the cost of health care (when in reality Obamacare will cost trillions of dollars more to implement and administer than was first predicted). Incredibly, with the Supreme Court expected to rule on the constitutionality of Obamacare in June, he is arrogant enough to attempt to strong-arm the justices to rule in favor of it. As syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell wrote several months ago, “Obama’s arrogance is no substitute for experience. That is why the country is in the mess it is in now.”

As we move nearer the general election, it will become increasingly clear that Obama’s sycophants are willing to lie, cheat and steal if this is what it takes to win reelection. He is absolutely shameless and will stop at nothing to attain his ultimate goal, not just to be reelected, but to control every aspect of our lives. After over three years of out-of-control spending, unkept promises and even the rebirth of racism in our society, thanks to Obama and his inept and equally arrogant Attorney General, it’s time to be rid of this cabal in November.

Gary Stansbury


Dear Editor:

Happy spring, fellow trail users and outdoor enthusiasts! Even with all this beauty blooming around us, this can be a tough time of year. It’s mud season. Mud season can make a person very, very antsy. This antsiness can lead a person to do crazy things … like use a trail or dirt road before it is dry enough. This can cause nasty trail damage that sometimes takes years to correct or requires major repairs.

When recreating during mud season, here are some things to keep in mind to avoid becoming “that person.”

Do what you can to get a trail conditions report before heading out. Call the Forest Service, bikes shops and hiking stores, check the Trails2000 website, or ask around to your friends and neighbors.

If you don’t have a trail report and the trail looks good at the start, keep these things in mind.

• If there is water on the trail due to a malfunctioning drainage or water bar, clear the debris so the water can flow off the trail. This will only take a minute and will help the trail dry out faster.

• If you encounter a puddle or muddy section, go through the middle of it. Going around only makes the trail wider and causes erosion. Keep singletrack single.

• If the mud is too sloppy to go through, go way around. Cut through the bushes and meander on a non-obvious path.

• If there is still snow, stay on top of the snow.

• If the mud continues for a while, it probably won’t get any better. Turn around!

Another thing to consider is how much damage your mode of travel may cause. Heavier things sink in more, creating deeper ruts and holes. Tires do more damage than foot prints because the tires create a continuous rut for water to flow along which creates more erosion.

Mud season is not just muddy. You can find a perfectly dry route that is plagued by downfallen trees. The best thing to do with downfall is to move it off the trail (assuming the area regulations allow for this). If it can’t be moved, the least damaging way to deal with downfall is to go directly over or under it. Going around causes erosion, especially on a side hill. If you are on a bicycle or horse, it is best to dismount while dealing with the downfall.

Thanks for taking the time to read. Following these simple tips can make for a summer full of beautiful trails.

MK Thompson



Dear Editor:

Oh, my, all of this fuss about “women’s work.” One side addresses the fairness issues with working women, while the other side addresses the wonders of the stay-at-home mom. I have been both and do understand where they are coming from.

Regarding the stay-at-home mom — I do not believe there is one single working mom who does not feel a little grief in having to say goodbye to her little ones every morning as she leaves for work — to know that someone else is there to laugh and enjoy her little ones. Most working moms do so to either make a living or to supplement their husband’s income so the family can move to a better lifestyle and even save for the children’s’ educations — and they cherish their weekends off to enjoy their time with their children — there is no bridge club or golf in their schedule — it is all work and home, that’s it! And, of course, they must still “manage the home,” e.g., laundry, meals and clean the house unless they earn enough to pay for this. A real treat for most of them is a trip to McDonald’s perhaps on Saturday, after all the chores are done.

Then, there are the fortunate stay-at-home moms whose job is 100 percent kids and managing the home. These are few of us, but they are “out there””— and because they have the financial security provided by their husbands, many are able to hire someone to clean the house, do the laundry, etc., and even pay a babysitter on days the bridge club meets or on their “golf day.” They are offended when folks say they don’t work — that indeed they do; they take care of their kids and manage the home.

My husband and I struggled on one income so I could stay home until the children were all in school. Of course, in those days, I had no washer and dryer, everything had to be ironed, there was no dishwasher, no freezer, no fast-food meals — everything cooked from scratch. I was, indeed, a “working mom” even though I stayed at home. Today, the stay-at-home mom has it so nice, what with all the gadgets to make her day easy. After I was able to “go to work,” I still had no conveniences and with my children in school, I made time to serve as a den mother, a Girl Scout leader and advisor to the senior group in my church. The only time I got to sit down and watch TV was on Sunday night when everything had been taken care of. I would never change a thing. Today, I feel so very blessed and I believe that those early years shaped me into being the person I am.

I hope this letter will help folks better understand women.

Patty Patton Tillerson


Dear Editor:

I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to Kevin Khung at the Forrest Service and all the local fire agencies that put out the East Fork fire on Monday the 9th. Fires are a really scary proposition and to be this dry at the start of the season does not bode well for our community. But, having highly skilled responders like the men and women that contained this potentially catastrophic blaze, is a fantastic resource to our community.

You all are unsung heroes in my book and I hope as the season progresses that your skills and safety are recognized and that all fires end the way this one did. To our community: Be fire aware and don’t do stupid things like toss burning cigarettes out of vehicles or burn outside yard stuff unattended.

Ken Vickerstaff


Dear Editor:

Much of Jay Davison’s letter (SUN 4/12) I heartily agree with, especially his emphasis on the need for a personal life of love to inspire our population. By way of clarification of my letter, I did not advocate leading a personal exemplary life and letting the government shift for itself. Nor did I “opine” about integrating and promoting religion into laws and agencies, especially by selecting denominations to compete for government oversight.

My policy is never to opine, which is defined as “a statement less strong than positive knowledge.” That is, when there is an abundance of knowledge based on facts and truth, there is no allowance for opinion. My urging was for a proactive election of officials who will abide by the documents’ mandate for the government to lay its foundation on such principles.” A principle is defined as a “fundamental law or rule or code of conduct.” In other words, it was the founders’ intent that the government be religious and dependent on God who they acknowledged inspired the documents.

Unfortunately, the millions of loving, religious Americans have had no effect on our current administration by their example. It ignores our founding documents’ mandate that the responsibility of government is “to secure these rights” (e.g., religious liberty). Not advocating the adoption of “Christian emblems, phrases or theology,” I did believe that the display of the 10 Commandments (given by God to all people for all time) and the nativity scene (as the symbol of faith in Jesus Christ by 97 percent of the population) was constitutional because it is not the establishment of a religion by the state.

Furthermore, my reference to true American history underscored the compatibility and interdependence of state and religion intended by the documents and practiced for two centuries. This harmony ended abruptly in the mid 1930s when Hugo Black, the anti religion Ku Klux Klan member and associate Supreme Court justice, first used the phrase “separation of church and state.” Since then, many have used the phrase incorrectly as if it were in the Constitution to justify the complete removal of all religious principles, values and items from the state. This has culminated in Obama’s utopian, dictatorial destruction of the constitutionally required freedom of religion by legislating government control of all religious institutions providing healthcare services.

To repeat Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” What happens to the nation which removes God? Again, as William Penn said, “Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.” Is it our destiny to be ruled by tyrants if we do nothing to return to our founding principles and allow God to govern us?

Here is an aside Mr. Davison may enjoy pondering and interpreting: Republicans are labeled “the right” and democrats “the left.” God reveals in Ecclesiastes 10:2: “A wise man’s understanding inclines toward the right, but a fool’s understanding toward the left.” Does this mean republicans are wise and democrats are fools? See also Matt. 25:31-34.

Eugene Witkowski

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