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Letters to Editor


Dear Editor:

The governing board of the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association is considering changes to the neighborhood rules and regulations. One proposed addition concerns the use of firearms, pellet guns, bow and arrows, and “similar type devices.” Under General Prohibitions is proposed Complimentary Rule 7M.

“No activities shall be allowed or conducted on any Lot which are or might be unsafe or hazardous to any person or property. Such noxious activities include, but are not limited to hazardous use of fireworks, Hazardous Weapons, bow and arrows, explosives, air or pellet guns or any similar type device or act involving projectiles.”

I think all of us would agree that we should not engage in unsafe or hazardous pastimes, but some of us might also think we are perfectly capable of chasing skunks with a pellet gun or practicing with a bow and arrow against a dirt embankment backstop. There may even be some who are quite comfortable sighting their rifles in a safe area on larger parcels of property. Should these activities be banned or just required to be conducted in a safe manner? More information on proposed changes can be found on the website at

Bill Bechtold


Dear Editor:

On behalf of substance abuse prevention providers in southwest Colorado, I say “hip, hip, hooray!” to Representative J. Paul Brown for his diligent efforts in sponsoring and pushing through the legislation that makes it illegal to buy or sell the synthetic drug commonly referred to as “bath salts.”

Prior to this law, bath salts were easily and cheaply available on the retail market, labeled or referred to by various misleading terms. Unfortunately, bath salts are part of a constantly changing series of designer drugs. These drugs are created to avoid the provisions of existing drug laws, usually by preparing analogs or derivatives of existing drugs by modifying their chemical structure. Their safety is untested and little if any research has been done on the toxicology or pharmacology of most of these drugs.

Policy is an important part of substance abuse prevention, and when Gov. Hickenlooper signed the bill into law on June 7, he took an important step in limiting access to this particular synthetic drug. Policy is one of many prevention strategies, and an effective approach incorporates multiple strategies. We are fortunate to have dedicated community members working on a variety of prevention strategies, including community-based processes, prevention education, and alternative activities, as well as policy. For example, the Pagosa Springs Youth Center recently hosted an Underage Drinking Town Hall Meeting, and supports healthy alternative activities for youth on a daily basis. For more information, please visit

Cathy Cowles


Dear Editor:

In a representative government, county residents are represented by our county commissioners. They are elected to advocate for and represent the interests of county constituents in matters that impact them or are important to them. That is why we elect them: to advocate for us.

The Wal-Mart development slated for Aspen Village, is, technically-speaking in “Town” — just a narrow strip along U.S. 160 — which has been annexed by the town presumably to enhance town coffers with sales tax revenue. Wal-Mart promises to bring additional sales tax revenue to town, which they will then spend according to town priorities, since the mayor and town council rightly represent town residents as their duly elected officials. They are not required to represent county interests.

But the county will also be collecting half of that sales tax revenue as well as property tax revenue. So the county does have a vested interest in the outcome, even though to date they have remained silent on the Wal-Mart development.

Furthermore, most of the impacts of this Wal-Mart development will be experienced by county residents since there are very few town residents in immediate proximity.

These impacts to county residents include: increased noise, traffic, light pollution, pollution of Pinon Lake and the wetlands being taken over by Wal-Mart by parking lot and uncovered garden center runoff, reconfiguration of open space and corruptions in the view corridor and big reductions in property tax values. None of which have been addressed by our county commissioners as our elected representatives.

So when will our county commissioners step up and represent us, as county residents in negotiations with Wal-Mart?

Or does the town get to decide for all of us when the county commissioners duck the issues?

Tell your commissioners to stand up and represent us!

Muriel Eason


Dear Editor:

Because they can …

Once again, I’ve read the opinions of both Pagosa’s prolific letter writers. They obviously have access to computers and every hate filled e-mail that goes viral, yet they fail to do even the most basic fact checking.

Sadly, if they actually had a well-intended point to make, it gets lost in their thinly disguised race baiting and outright denial of easily confirmable facts. While that may be great for conspiracy nuts, drama queens and Taliban-like zealots out there, it subjects the rest of us to prejudice, ignorance and hate speech on a weekly basis.

Maybe we could have a discussion on the merits without fictionally enhanced quotes from “world renowned” doctors. Maybe we could stop using religion as a blunt force weapon to attack those we disagree with.

Maybe we just need a better reason to write in to the paper in the first place. Last week, some seemed to be motivated to write in simply because they can; emphasizing their point by talking about the licking of dog testicles? Really?

John Etten


Dear Editor

On June 21, 2012, at 6 p.m. at the PLPOA clubhouse, 230 Port Ave., the PLPOA will consider new regulations to the Standards, Specifications, Rules and Procedures of the Environmental Control Committee.

These proposed rule changes will affect all property owners in a significant manner.

If you are interested in how these new regulations will affect you, please attend the meeting. There should be further discussion regarding some of these changes before they become law.

Cecilia Haviland


Dear Editor:

Increased and very subjective transfer station dump fees.

On the positive side, the new attendant is very courteous and professional. But, the greatly increased dump fees are going to have negative effects for our community:

1. People will start dumping at the end of dead end roads or other remote areas.

2. They will start using burn barrels in violation of burn bans.

3. They will dump into commercial dumpsters.

This has been proven to be the case in other areas where legal dumping became difficult or excessively expensive.

Gil Johnson

Social Security

Dear Editor:

I guess when you hear something repeated enough, you just assume it must be true.

Take for instance the claim that “the Congress has been raiding the Social Security fund for years.”

Here’s the problem with that. First off, the Social Security Administration does not collect your dollars and stash them away for when you retire. The system is, and has always been, a pay as it goes plan. People who work support the system through payroll taxes and people who are retired, or disabled, collect benefits. There is nothing to “raid” because only the surplus is invested in long term government bonds and if U.S. savings bonds are “worthless IOUs” as some has claimed, then this country has bigger problems than its Social Security System.

But here’s the big thing. The Social Security system brings in more than it pays out every single year, and with a slight modification of the tax cap, the income subject to payroll taxes, will continue to do so until our childen’s children retire.

So when you hear a politician claiming that the system is broke, that it has been “raided” or that it contributes to the debt, think twice about his or her motives. The only reason our politicians want to “fix” a system that isn’t broken, is to get their hands on the cash.

F John Lozen


Dear Editor:

It has come to my attention that the county is now considering a master plan for the 95 acre property along U.S. 84 that was purchased with Conservation Trust Funds. As a former resident of Pagosa for 15 years and a volunteer wildflower hike leader for the Forest Service, I am especially familiar with the Pagosa Skyrocket that grows on this property and the adjacent Western Heritage property.

I would like to take this opportunity to urge the community and the county officials to preserve and protect this important endemic species since it grows nowhere else in the world than in Archuleta County. Some small sites that were extant when I moved there in 1993 have since disappeared, so it is imperative that the large concentration of these plants that exist on these two properties be preserved if this endemic species is going to continue survive and to thrive in an ever changing world. I find it rather ironic that Conservation Trust Funds are being used to finance a master plan that includes ball fields and other amenities that would replace the ideal habitat for this special species. Please consider altering the master plan and use of this property so that future generations will have an opportunity to see and enjoy this beautiful plant.

I presently live in a state (Ohio) that has no endemic species of plants. The Pagosa area is most fortunate to have four species that grow nowhere else in the world. In addition to the Pagosa Skyrocket, one can find Frosty Bladderpod, Pagosa Phlox, and Aztec Milkvetch growing near this community. Pagosans should be proud of what they have and should seek to preserve and protect all of these special species.

Dick Moseley


Dear Editor:

As a property and business owner in Aspen Village, I offer the following concerns.

Aspen Village was approved by the town as a mixed use, business and residential community. The developer’s original intent, and ultimately the way the town approved the plan, was as a (“pedestrian friendly”) neighborhood. When I bought into the development, it was clear to me that our area in the “plaza” and the properties directly north along U.S. 160 would be the largest commercial use concentration. Behind us had been platted for a residential area. And to the west, there was a larger residential area (Cottages, Enclave), and adjacent to those developments some commercial potential closer to U.S.160. The complete concept boasted of pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly mobility, parks, open spaces, etc. A neighborhood.

In order to accommodate Wal-Mart, the town is planning to “vacation” one cul-de-sac, Aspen Park Circle. The idea of a local bookstore, restaurant or any other specialty shops locating on those few lots disappears. The vision of a bustling neighborhood with the pedestrian-friendly attitude once anticipated by the developer, and the town, through their approval, vanishes. All of the Cottage and Enclave homesites were to have been the community that would be scurrying about the small commercial center across the street from them. But now all of those homesites will be looking at the backside of Wal-Mart. Currently there are only a small number of Cottage and Enclave homes built, and lo and behold, the owner of record of all of the other 60-plus available sites is Wal-Mart. They received ownership in May 2009. They still don’t own the site on which they plan to build, but they effectively locked down all the other residential sites adjacent in 2009 and forever changed the once charming vision for the subdivision. You can be sure that nobody will be eager to buy those lots now (almost all existing homes are on the market), and we can also say goodbye to any property tax revenue from those seemingly condemned residential areas. As the heavy traffic passes by, thoughts of pedestrian and bike friendly neighborhoods will be long gone.

If the town stands behind their own Land Use Development Codes (LUDC), then Wal-Mart will have to comply with the building siting regulations. Wal-Mart all but ignored these regulations during the planning commission review on May 22. Of major note is that the LUDC dictates that buildings will face into the development, and not to U.S. 160. The code also prohibits any store from orienting the back of their building to a residential area. Rotating the Wal-Mart 180 degrees could solve both problems. At least current Cottage and Enclave homeowners would be saved from looking at the back of Walmart. There are too many concessions (subsidies), being demanded by Wal-Mart in their first draft for approval, so it should be easy enough for the town to require these alterations among other significant changes.

Dan Park


Dear Editor: brings corporate contributions “Into the Light.” This report looks at House Minority Leader Sal Pace’s campaign contributions since the first of the year. Highlights will focus on general data and not-so-easily found sources of contributions.

Total contributions received for the 2012 election cycle: $767,291 (an increase of $290,000-plus as of 3/31/2012): 24 percent from Non-Party organizations (e.g., PACs) and 73 percent from individuals.1

1.Corporate contributors include: SPS Studios, Aerus, Henry Crown and Company.

2. Union contributors include: IBEW, United Steel Workers, Teamsters, Carpenters and Joiners, International Association of Firefighters, Plumbers and Pipefitters, Service Employee International, Machinists, United Food and Commercial Workers.

3.PAC contributors: AmericPac-The Fund for a Greater America -receiving funding from Credit Suisse Group headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, BAE Systems, and HBSC headquartered in London, England, BASF headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany, along with 200-plus corporations and associations. This PAC is affiliated with Rep. Steny Hoyer.

Next week, Rep. J. Paul Brown.

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

Terry Pickett


Dear Editor:

Clarification/correction. Something must’ve gotten scrambled. Despite being told in two town council meetings there would be no drinking (potable) water lines in the same ditch as the new sewer line, on 4/5/12 I and others heard Allan Bunch state in a public meeting that while there was an open trench, they’d be putting in pipe to run treated future water to the town. The plan, “is to stick it in the same trench as the sewer line.” Mr. Bunch also stated the town is footing the bill for all of it, and that the town pays to get to the first lift station, then reimburses PAWSD for the rest. It was then-candidate Mike Church who stated that PAWSD can raise the rates on the town is something if the project was overlooked or missed. Glenn Walsh’s comments that he believes the IGA has huge loopholes and there’s a lot of room for PAWSD to make a better deal, perhaps re-visiting the overbuild costs once the project is built out, and requesting the town now kick in 10 percent of the overbuild costs. He also stated we are experiencing a 40 percent water loss; the industry standard is 10 percent.

I believe we have all lost for a completely tainted process and lack of direct and honest responses. The IGA appears so vague and ambiguous, townsfolk could experience a nasty rate surprise. The lack of performance assurances (bond) leaves current PAWSD customers with a huge potential liability should there be any default in terms/performance.

Most egregious to me is that the public was denied opportunity to timely review the IGA and request protections due to a claim of attorney-client privilege. It’s unconscionable that regarding a nearly $5.5 million project, two entities would allow the same attorney (Bob Cole) to “represent” both sides of the same agreement. That’s not attorney-client privilege; that’s unethical and a violation of the rules of (attorney) professional conduct.

We need more people willing to fight for transparency on these issues that so severely impact us. No secret deals.

Vivian Rader


Dear Editor:

The latest data released by the Met Office (Meteorological Office), based on readings from 30,000 measuring stations, confirms there has been no global warming for 15 years … making us victims of perhaps the most expensive fraud in history. Over the past 20 years, across the Western world, billions of pounds, dollars and euros have been squandered by governments on hair-brained schemes to “combat climate change.”

Taxes have been raised, regulations increased, flights made more expensive, incandescent light bulbs banned, landscapes despoiled by ugly, bird-chomping wind farms, economic growth curtailed — all to deal with what now turns out to have been a nonexistent problem: manmade CO2.

For years Al Gore and his leftist global warming nuts have been screaming about mythical climate change eroding glaciers and polar ice. But the science journal, “Nature,” has just concluded that, contrary to hysterical pronouncements by the UN’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the Himalayas have barely melted at all in the past decade. Which is basically an admission that global warming is a crock.

Now The UK Guardian reports that police in Chile have stopped cold a scheme to steal ice from the Jorge Montt glacier. A thief is in hot water after being caught trying to abscond with over 5 tons of ice he was planning to sell for use in designer cocktails in Santiago: “Police intercepted a refrigerated truck with over $6,000 worth of illicit ice allegedly bound for whiskies, rums, and cocktails.”

So, it’s not global warming, it’s theft. The “troglodyte” in Arboles, Bob Dungan, might want to put that in the drink he enjoys while soakin’ in his favorite lobster pot at the Hot Spring — and sip it!

Jim Sawicki


Dear Editor:

Recently, the Obama administration has been charged with releasing information of a highly classified nature in a blatant effort to gain positive media play, principally because there is so little of a beneficial nature on which to base his reelection campaign. Why would the president do something like this, releasing information harmful to our national security? The reason is very simple: He has failed miserably in all efforts to create jobs (despite his recent ridiculous claim that the private sector is doing fine), he can’t boast about running up a $16 billion deficit, and over three-and-a-half years into his first and hopefully last term, he and his fellow democrats in Congress haven’t even been able to pass a budget.

Therefore, Obama and his incompetent national security advisor, Tom Donilon, have decided to portray him as the “Anti-Terrorist President.” In doing so, and to make it appear he can accomplish something, even if it is harmful to our national security, Obama is resorting to the release of classified information. First, it was classified information regarding the Seal Team 6 operation against Osama bin Laden, then they blew the identity of an important double agent in Yemen, and now the administration is charged with releasing classified information on the joint cyber warfare operation run with the Israelis which is known as “Stuxnet.” Fearing what he might do next, even some democrats have suddenly started unloading on Obama for these sensitive but deliberate “leaks.” The director of the FBI has just announced he will open an investigation into them. (Don’t look for Attorney General Holder to do anything; he is too busy covering up the “Fast and Furious” mess.) The former secretary of defense, Robert Gates, before retiring from office, became so exasperated with the administration’s bragging over the killing of Osama bin Laden that he told Donilon to “Shut the f— up!”

Our allies, and especially the Israelis, must be shaking their heads over our inability to keep secrets. Our own intelligence and military people must also be reluctant to reveal classified information and identify sources to a government (and a president), which cannot be trusted. What we should do is rescind Obama’s security clearance and not share classified information with him. In reality, given his rather questionable background, relationships and the gaps in what we know about him, he probably should never have been given a security clearance in the first place …

Gary Stansbury


Dear Editor:

Before deciding for whom we will vote next November, it is important that we carefully consider a major example of President Obama’s narcissistic arrogance, which severely impedes his ability to function properly as our executive, especially as we celebrate this Flag Day.

Navy Seals had barely left the compound where they killed bin Laden on May 1, 2011, when President Obama rushed to a podium and gave a speech in which he took all the credit: “I directed Leon Panetta … to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority … even as I continued our broader effort … Then, after painstaking work by my intelligence community I was briefed … I met repeatedly with my national security team … Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear … And finally last week I determined that I had enough intelligence to take action …Today at my direction …”

“I” was used seven times and “my” three times just in this short excerpt. Neither the Navy Seals, who carried out the 40-minute dangerous mission, nor President Bush, who initiated the years of intelligence gathering and careful planning, were even monitored. Restore American Voice (P.O. Box 131808, Houston, TX 77219-1808) issued this report and called the speech “a sickening study in self-adulation.”

This contrasts dramatically with the way President Bush, in 2003, announced that American troops marched into Baghdad. On the USS Kitty Hawk, he told the troops, “Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment. Yet it is you, the members of the U.S. Military, who achieved it.” Notice that Bush did not use “I” or “my” and gave full credit to those who deserved it.

Restore reports that the truth is that Obama was, “hauled off the golf course and virtually forced to make a decision.” Even then, the president polled each cabinet member: “What do you recommend I should do?” so as not to, “shoulder responsibility alone.” After giving the go-ahead, Obama passed the buck: “The timing, operation and decision making are in Admiral William McRaven’s hands” (reported by Obama’s own CIA director).

Restore concludes, “That is what is known as a profile in cowardice” and asks us to “get the word out revealing the full story of Barack Obama’s shameless shirking of his duty” so that we may make an informed and intelligent decision when we vote next November.

Thanks to SUN readers who caught the error about the president removing the flag from Air Force One. The Snopes website acknowledges that, “the late 2011 claim was completely false.”

Also, scripture references were not an attempt to impose religious views on anyone, but an acknowledgement of God’s moral law given by Him through millennia for all people of all time. Morality is objective, not subjective.

Eugene Witkowski

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