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Letters to Editor


Dear Editor:

No shortage locally of people with strong opinions. And they have new ones on nearly a weekly basis, and sooo eager to share them. Some of these eager folks fall into the trap of taking a stand on issues, but often have little in the way of facts or proof to back their positions. In all fairness, proof is a difficult thing to come by, with our judicial system and mathematicians laboring long and diligently to establish. Facts are a little easier to establish, so let us present a few for Mr. Bob Dungan of Arboles, who has become fascinated with the issue of global climate change.

He (Dungan) alludes to glacial and other records, “that go back a million years” (SUN, Letters section, April 26, 2012). Indeed, there is abundant evidence of widespread continental glaciation in North America during the last two million years; in fact, four separate and distinct ice advances (and retreats), with maximum stands as far south as Kansas and Missouri. But, guess what! These multiple glacial events represent or reflect very significant climatic changes, changes that were in no way related to activities of mankind. I was taught in the 50s and 60s that the climate during this two-million-year period of glacial activity was likely influenced by sunspots, solar flares, earth-sun perturbations (orbital/axial variations) and even earth crustal movement (uplift). Perhaps some of these things are influencing modern global climates, do ya think?

But here is another interesting point, fact if you will, that may have escaped Mr. Dungan’s attention. The CO2 (carbon dioxide) released to the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels was originally in our atmosphere. The myriad of plant life through the process of photosynthesis utilizes atmospheric CO2 during growth to form sugars, carbohydrates, etc. The fraction of this organic matter that does not decompose (oxidize) at the earth’s surface becomes trapped and entombed in the earth’s crust to eventually form fossil fuels; its a beautiful thing and so beneficial to man. I’ll bet that Mr. Dungan uses some form of fossil fuel every day of his life (if I were him, I’d get a smudge pot going under that early-blossoming apricot tree).

In any event, CO2 is not a pollutant (shame on the EPA). It is a naturally occurring gaseous compound essential to plant growth, without which there would be no animal life.

Orin J. Anderson


Dear Editor:

We’ve all read about the recent scandal facing Wal-Mart on alleged bribery and kickbacks in Mexico, and the cover-up in their corporate offices. The latest development in their unscrupulous behavior — the U.S Labor Department recently ordered Wal-Mart to pay $4.8 million in back wages and damages.

Is this the type of business that we want in our community? Do we want a company in our neighborhoods who has proven over and over again they exploit their employees?

Do we want to support such malicious behavior found in their corporate headquarters? Stop Wal-Mart now from bringing these evil errors to our town!

Instead, I think we should invest our energies in revitalizing the downtown core. Let’s work to build a large grocery co-op or other market center for our downtown neighbors and those to the south and east of town.

Susi Cochran


Dear Editor:

The long drive to Chromo the afternoon of Sunday, April 15, changed my life. I needed to find out why my best friend and husband had not come home midday as planned. He appeared to be sleeping, but he wasn’t. He had died very gently that morning.

I am forever grateful to the special people who made his passing much easier to accept and to appreciate. Our son, Justin, stunned at the reason for my tearful call, phoned the sheriff’s office. EMT Tom Bamrick arrived first and was so gentle in comforting me. Justin had also called a great friend; Art Bonn, who stayed at my side while three county professionals did their jobs respectfully, and in unusually challenging conditions: Coroner Carl Macht, Deputy Richie Valdez and Jacob Beach.

Jerry’s body was taken to White’s Family Funeral Home that night. Meeting with Josh Mylius there on Tuesday was a surprise, and a more comfortable experience than Justin and I could possibly have imagined. Josh has been dear to Jerry and me for several years, as a fine carpenter and finer fishing guide.

And as to the building that is now Marshall White’s, certain oldtimers remember that in the late ’70s it was Southwest Colorado Realty. Justin grinned and recalled some of the antics that were daily fodder for the real estate agents who “worked” there. We could just about hear Jerry’s laugh in the background.

Kerry Dermody


Dear Editor:

We’ve all seen Chris downtown for the last 9-12 years. This letter is for those who chose to help him.

Please stop.

Many of the shop owners and locals agree. We have to deal with him daily. He is perfectly capable of working. Continuing to “babysit” him is not helping.

Now, before you bite my head off, let me tell you about Chris. When people say, “Hi, how are you?” he says, “I’m hungry.” So tourists and locals buy him food or give him money. Yesterday, someone bought him food from the Elkhorn. She gave it to him, he took the sandwich out of the container and threw the rest into the street. Unfortunately, she missed this or maybe she wouldn’t feed him again. Recently, tourists bought him a hamburger. He opened it, said, “I won’t eat this, I’m a vegetarian,” and threw it in the trash right in front of them.

Great advocate for our town, don’t you think?

He constantly sits in front of businesses smoking. It is illegal to smoke within 15 feet of an open business. Every cigarette butt and match gets thrown into the street. That’s littering. A gentleman gave him a ride uptown. Once there, he said, “I need money.” The man said he didn’t have any cash, and he responded, “I’m not getting out of your car till you give me money.” Unfortunately, the man didn’t call the police. Last weekend, our street person marched up and down the sidewalk on Main screaming the “F” word at every person he passed. Seriously.

We are all so concerned about making town presentable and enjoyable for tourists, but this is what they get to encounter every day. He is not nice. He is not pleasant. He is not harmless. He is rude and mean. He doesn’t like me, so when I walk past he tries to spit on me. Harmless? I made the sign you saw in the paper. It is legal and falls under “Freedom of Speech.” It has nothing to do with hate or intolerance. It has to do with loss of business and obeying the law.

We have all been very tolerant, but enough is enough. We lose customers because of him every day. He verbally intimidates people so they feel uncomfortable passing, which means they don’t shop. The police department can only ticket him when he breaks the law.

Please, if you witness him breaking the law, report it. Call dispatch at 731-2160. Let them know. If he is going to choose to break the law, then he should be held accountable. I am by no means saying you shouldn’t help people. Go to Loaves and Fishes and help a family that can’t pay rent … or their electric bill, or a parent who can’t afford diapers. Help someone who is doing their best but can’t seem to make ends meet — not someone who is perfectly capable of working, who has been offered jobs for $20/hour, but who chooses not to work because he says he makes more sitting downtown, who says “Pagosa owes him.” What do we owe him, and why?

Lori Fortney


Dear Editor:

On a very cool morning, 10 or 12 people turned out to pick up trash on the Aspen Springs mile on U.S. 160. I would like very much to thank Pastor Mark of the Amazing Grace Church, which is located in Aspen Springs, section 5. An entire family from this church came to help out. Isaac (age 10), Andrew, Debbie, Will and Mark McCoy and Pastor Mark. Then Clay and Laura, along with Kelly, came unexpectedly. John Vick, Ron Gustafson, Bill Aspin and Jessica Krebs, along with aforementioned group, made quick work of that mile (two miles with both sides of the highway).

Terrific work and thank you so much.

Cindy Gustafson


Dear Editor:

I had the pleasure of sitting in the auditorium during incoming freshmen orientation at the high school last Tuesday. The incoming freshmen, Class of 2016, were given the rundown for this week’s signing up for classes and electives and the how to prepare for college in the next four years. Mark Thompson was the first to speak to the kids about how to fill out their elective choices and what core classes were required.Those students looking to make sure they had the appropriate classes necessary to continue on to college need to look at additional classes required by the higher ed world.

The next set of speakers is what made me sit up and smile as a parent of a student of the Class of 2016. Members of the Class of 2012 entered the auditorium, wearing shirts to the colleges where they have been accepted and have chosen to attend next year. Meghan West, Katie Armbrecht, Re’hanna Ray, Jennie White, Samantha Hunts, Eli Velasquez, Max Miller, Riley Searle and Danny Shahan took the time to chat with the students. They immediately made the eighth-graders feel welcomed and part of what was going to be an exciting and a little scary freshmen year. Mr. Thompson gave the seniors the opportunity to share with the students their experiences and what advice they had for incoming freshmen.

As a parent, I have to say that these students did a fabulous job giving wonderful and sound advice to the incoming class. All the things that I wanted to say were said by the seniors. Having just less than three weeks to go in their high school careers, versus almost 40 years since I graduated, I know my child enjoyed the message from them over hearing it from me. During dinner that night, the things that stuck included, “try new things, be who you are, it’s good to be a nerd, stick together you are like a family, grades matter from the beginning, you don’t have to be the lead in a play to have fun, the block schedule is not that bad, ask for help and have fun.”

Good luck to the Class of 2012 as you graduate and best of luck to the Class of 2016 as we watch how fast the next four years will go for you both. Thanks for the advice, the memories and the opportunity to watch you all grow into adulthood. Pagosa Springs has some very special students and we are proud of you!

Joanne Irons

What’s wrong?

Dear Editor:

Pagosa, what is wrong with you? Chris is leaving no carbon footprint and he’s bothering no one. Shame, shame, shame on you, Pagosa; what would your mother say?

If you have a problem with him, come talk to me. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

Oh, by the way, I’m running for mayor, because no one else will. How about that?

Susan Jill Kay


Dear Editor:

I have been harassed by store cashiers at City Market about using purple gel ink on my checks. After doing so a few times, they told me that the store policy specifically stipulates that I cannot use purple ink on my checks, and that if I don’t comply with their request, they will not accept my check. As politely as I could, I simply let them know that they would have to void my $230 transaction and return all items to their shelves. City Market would not only lose one customer, they would lose an entire family of customers. It was obvious that City Market did not value me as a customer, and they certainly didn’t want my money. When I asked for a copy of the store policy, they said I could pick one up at customer service.

Attempting to secure a copy of the store’s policy, I learned that no such policy exists. I learned instead that City Market has chosen to create this issue, berate their customers for it and place blame on the banks — Wells Fargo in particular — stating that the bank asked them to tell any customer not using black or blue ink on their checks that they needed to comply with the store’s policy. I have been a Wells Fargo customer for 30 years, and my using purple gel ink has never been a concern. Surely had it been, they would have notified me. I was told to visit with the store manager, but the rules would not be changed for me. I adamantly declined to meet with the store manager on duty since I have had past, unpleasant customer experience with this particular manager.

After visiting and calling several banks, including a few in Durango (they all said the same thing Wells Fargo did), two Wells Fargo representatives informed me that there is no policy prohibiting the use of black or blue ink on checks. The policy they gave me states, “Check must be printed or handwritten in ink, preferably (the operative word) blue or black.” They did say that sometimes a check cannot be scanned at the main branch due to its being unreadable. If this happens (a rare thing), they call their customers. They assured me they would call City Market and talk with the mangers concerning this matter.

Angelic in honoring the store’s nonexistent “policy,” I am suddenly compelled to break out my soothing, purple gel ink pen at City Market. The dutiful cashiers can either accept my check or refuse it. The issue should not be about using black or blue ink on my checks; it should be about there being enough money in my checking account to cover my purchases.

Maria Martinez-Gallegos


Dear Editor:

Reference May 3 Pagosa SUN article, Business plan for Reservoir Hill

Reservoir Hill is an asset to town as it is. Folks that visit appreciate getting away from it all and can be in town with a sense of peace vs. where they may live. Amusement parks can be found in many cities. Pagosa Springs is a rural mountain town; do not harm the hill with rash, rides, etc.

The tubing from Pagosa Outside brings fun and tourists to town at a low cost, i.e., kids/folks can have leftover money to spend on treats in town.

Who is going to spend $89 on one feature, not locals and few visitors.

Town, try the three Ts. I ask you once again.

Think things through.

Pam Morrow


Dear Editor:

As a member of the board of Music Boosters, a local nonprofit whose mission is to “Strengthen youth through the performing arts and adult volunteer mentoring,” I am proud to say that every single member of our board puts personal time and energy into our mission. Everyone who saw the high school presentation of “Grease” was thrilled to see the talents displayed by these young people. On Saturday night, following their final performance, the seniors were asked to come to the front of the stage to be recognized. The number of lead players among them was staggering. Many of them will go on to major in music, theater or both. Each of them, without exception, has been mentored along the way by adults involved with Music Boosters.

Our community is blessed by the commitment and talents of our public school music teachers. These teachers have dedicated themselves to enriching our children in the arts and give far beyond what they are paid to do in order to assure each child is afforded the opportunities provided by participation in the arts.

These teachers manage to instill in their students exuberance for the arts in spite of the incredible obstacles they face. One major obstacle is time. How much can one person realistically be expected to do? As an example, Dan Burch directs the high school concert and jazz bands, as well as the choir program, and assists with the middle school band program. As the high school music director, he also prepares individual band and choir students to audition for honor bands and choirs (Western Slope, Adams State, Fort Lewis, All State), prepares them to compete each year at Music in the Park in Denver (always bringing home awards), prepares students to perform concerts for the public, and instructs and directs musicians for the spring musical (both singers and pit orchestra). Much of the time spent is outside of the regular classroom schedule, involving many weekend trips and evening rehearsals.

The talents and resources of our teachers are used to excess and, in truth, these teachers cannot possibly do it alone. Music Boosters provides the volunteers who help with the sets, the costumes, the vocal and instrumental coaching, the choreography, the sound and lights, and the plethora of other projects that need to be done. Music Boosters are mentors. We are the volunteers who help keep our paid music instructors sane. The funding we offer helps provide equipment needed for our highly successful arts programs. Music Boosters also provides much-needed scholarships to assist college-bound arts students. We work with a lean budget, but we make it stretch and we make it count.

I encourage our community to give generously to this important organization. Give financial support, give your mentoring support, and continue to show up for performances. Pagosa Springs is an amazing place for the arts. We are successful because of our talented teachers, our abundance of community musicians and artists, and because of organizations like Music Boosters. To find out how to get involved, go to

Sally Neel


Dear Editor:

The letter entitled “Evidence” tells us of the evils of carbon dioxide.

It tells us that carbon dioxide is the result of burning fossil fuels (a fact). The author believes that there are sufficient new quantities of this gas to cause global warming, now called climate change.

Let’s look at the quantities: The atmosphere contains 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, 0.93 percent argon and 0.039 percent carbon dioxide. Since the 1880s, carbon dioxide has increased by 0.004 percent, rather minute to say the least.

A football crowd might better illustrate this. Several college stadiums hold about a hundred thousand. Our crowd is the atmosphere. So, 78,000 are wearing blue shirts with a big “N” for nitrogen; 21,000 are wearing red shirts with an “O,” the oxygen people; 930 are wearing green shirts with an “A” for argon; and there are 39 people with white shirts with a “C” for carbon dioxide. Let’s say that the “C” people can cheer twice as loud as the others, but with only 39 out of 100,000 spread at random, it would be hard to notice the shirts or the noise. Now we add four more “Cs.” Is it logical that those four could make a difference?

Recent science that I think is credible, indicates that the oceans are warming slightly with land and atmosphere much less. That would seem to indicate that the source of heat is the mantle under the thin ocean crust, rather than the atmosphere heating the oceans. So carbon dioxide would be off the hook. This will be a relief to the plants of the world that depend on that tiny amount of carbon dioxide and keep us nourished,

Dick Riethmiller


Dear Editor:

A confluence of creative synergy is swirling around Pagosa. One senses that we are in the unusual vantage point of living in an area where human intelligence is at a level whereby we can figure out how to live sensibly in our environment — with the earth and with each other.

Paul Roberts


Dear Editor:

Did you know Colorado has the largest elk herd in the world? Did you know Colorado is the only state where you can buy an over-the-counter bull elk license? Are you aware of the economic impact of big game hunting on Archuleta County and the town of Pagosa Springs?

In the past few years, there has been a strong push by a few individuals to drastically limit the number of licenses available to local and out-of-state hunters on both public and private land, particularly in the first rifle season. These are not anti-hunting interests; they are mostly self-serving interests. There has also been a move to make this part of Colorado completely draw — no more over-the-counter tags.

An elk management meeting will be held tonight, May 10, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Archuleta County Extension Building. Colorado Parks and Wildlife will discuss elk herd management in southwest Colorado, in particular our game management units 75, 77, 78, 751 and 771. The CPW will explain current and future plans for the elk in these units.

Everyone, from hunters to local business people to outfitters to the public, should come and have their say. We should not allow the voices of a few dictate the future of hunting here.

Dennis Schutz


Dear Editor:

Gee, I had no idea until just recently that Barack Obama must be double-jointed. This became apparent the other day when his campaign team decided to celebrate the first anniversary of the elimination of Osama bin Laden from this world. In doing this, they told us all about the way Obama managed this spectacular feat. Our resolute leader made a unilateral decision to kill or capture bin Laden, having met many, many times with his national security advisors, and finally directed the mission single handed. He really didn’t need advice from the military and to hear him tell it, he didn’t even require the assistance of Navy Seal Team 6. He could have captured bin Laden between trips to the golf course, so why shouldn’t he give credit to anyone else involved in this operation? Clearly then, if Obama isn’t double jointed, his arms would surely have been broken with all of his patting himself on the back. But, stay tuned, we’ll hear more details before the campaign is over, just like a blatantly exaggerated TV commercial message that plays over and over.

It was reported that Joe Biden was against the bin Laden operation. His objections were quickly rejected, probably because he and Obama realized that if it went bad, all they had to do was blame it on Bush. Since the operation was successful, however, Obama said something along the lines of. “Hey, now we can spike the ball!” And spike it they have, although cooler (and more intelligent) heads have begun to caution that maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.

It is rumored that Obama recently saw the movie, “The Avengers” and he has directed the Secret Service to change his secret code name from whatever it is currently to “the Avenger.” Obama and his campaign chief, David Axelrod, apparently think this sexier code name (once they leak it) might gain him a few more votes in the election. However, given the mess surrounding Obama’s recent trip to Colombia, the Secret Service does not seem to want to even think about anything having to do with sex.

Gary Stansbury

Cut bait

Dear Editor:

Six Flags Over Pagosa?

First, I want to make a point abundantly clear. When community debates over questions such as we have in the Reservoir Hill project produce demeaning and questionable comments about the parties involved, it is sad. I do not believe anyone involved on either side is doing anything for their own personal gain. I sat on the committee from the beginning and know that everyone involved is doing what they consider to be their absolute best for Pagosa Springs. It comes down to a difference of opinion.

I will also make it clear that I have walked in the shoes of the TTC’s committee leaders. During the 1980s, I was part of a committee wanting to build a hot spring facility in Town Park. This became a very hotly-contested debate, leading to a petition for an election that stopped the project. I learned a few things about Pagosa Springs from that experience.

That hot springs project epic should have been precedent setting. The people of Pagosa Springs firmly stated, “We do not want large commercial and permanent construction in our town parks.” With the dynamic population increase and sociological upheaval we have seen, community memory is short.

People also see the current question as precedent setting. What’s the next step? Once the pattern is set, it is much easier to do it again.

I think we can now realize that the majority of the people see some lower key improvements on Reservoir Hill as a good thing, but do not want a mechanical amusement park facility.

People come to the west and mountains with visions from books, magazines, websites, TV, movies, etc., of what this area should be. They are looking for those images and desire the adventures involved. There is a reason why horseback rides are universal across the west. No one comes to Pagosa looking for amusement rides.

Reservoir Hill should reflect these images with low key and natural construction that “fit” the environment. It is a town park, after all. Log and stone is the obvious choice. It can still be dramatic and impressive, but not concrete, steel or plastic.

I watched the original committee change from the first plan to the more aggressive amusement park concept. I was saddened and disappointed. In the beginning, the committee was full of enthusiastic and energetic citizens. It filled the smaller meeting venues to overflow and when the time came for manual labor, the turnout was spectacular. When the chair lift and amusement rides became the prime focus, the interest and numbers dwindled to just the few promoting the greater plan. The work in progress on the snowboard and sledding hills came to a stop and the rest is history. The fact that it has now come to a communitywide trauma with editor letters, petitions, anger in meetings, negative expert comments and obscene posters hung around town only adds the community’s disappointment. Isn’t it time for the TTC and Town Council to cut bait?

Norm Vance

Chimney Rock

Dear Editor:

Tomorrow, Friday, May 11, at 1 p.m., the public is invited to attend an informational meeting about the proposal for National Monument designation of the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area. It will be held by the U.S. Forest Service at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds.

There is strong, positive bipartisan support for the designation by the town mayor, the county commissioners, Senators Bennett and Udall, and Scott Tipton of the U.S. House of Representatives. Bills introduced through both the House and the Senate have not succeeded to date.

While the leadership of our Congressional delegation is appreciated, and legislative efforts continue to be supported, a local community dialogue is underway about using the Antiquities Act for a Presidential Proclamation to create a national monument for Chimney Rock, similar to that proposed in legislation.

The Antiquities Act has been used many times to designate national monuments and national parks, including the Grand Canyon. Designation of Chimney Rock as a National Monument will ensure the area’s protection for the future and help provide the resources necessary to care for this irreplaceable resource. It will also bring more tourists to the Pagosa Springs area and, I believe, will positively impact the economy.

Chimney Rock Interpretive Association encourages everyone to attend the meeting to show their support.

Joan Ward


Dear Editor:

The Constitution clearly delineates the separation of powers between the three branches of government — Legislative, Executive and Judicial. “The legislative power … shall be vested in a Congress … to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper” (Article I, Sections 1 and 8). The “executive power shall be vested in a President … who shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed” (Article II, Sections 1 and 3). “The Judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court” and “extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under the Constitution” (Article III, Sections 1 and 2).

President Obama, disregarding the separation of powers provisions, has exceeded his executive role to usurp legislative and judicial powers. We have seen how he forced passage of his health bill and on another bill demanded “pass this bill now.” Besides public statements that he will seek every possible means to circumvent Congress to have his way, he interrupted the agenda of a White House strategy meeting to declare that the administration needs to use more executive power to govern in the face of Congressional obstructionism. Although Congress has a meager 10 percent public approval rating, Obama exceeds his executive role when he says: “The inability of Congress to do anything … we have to scour everything and push the envelope in finding things we can do on our own.”

However, Obama’s greatest misuse of his limited authority is in his utter disregard and disrespect for the Supreme Court. During his State of the Union address, he publicly flogged the court over its ruling that the First Amendment grants the right to run political ads during the time of an election. Incredulously, and refusing to stand, the justices shook their heads and muttered, “That’s not true.” Obama has identified Chief Justice John Roberts as his number one enemy. Obama added injury to insult by calling the court “a bunch of unelected people.” Justice Kenney stated he has no intention of retiring until “Barack Hussein Obama is gone.”

Referring to Obamacare as the single most oppressive legislation in history, liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated, “The court’s decision lay between the wrecking operation and a salvage job.” Even Democrat Barney Frank during the 2010 elections, when he was defeated by a Republican (a defeat Obama called “a terrible shellacking”), admitted, “The Democratic Party made a mistake and paid a terrible price for the passage of Obamacare.”

Should we as an electorate reelect a president who arrogantly flaunts his disregard for the Constitution’s Separation of Powers? Obviously it is essential that we elect a president who will respect the Constitution and abide by its precepts.

Eugene Witkowski

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