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Dear Editor:

We are beating Wal-Mart to death, when the people you should be getting after are the BoCC and the town council. Wal-Mart will benefit the community. However, the proposed location is wrong. The best location that would benefit everybody and not intrude on housing and wetlands is the Old Corrigan Dairy/San Juan Lumber site out by the Y (the junction of 160/84). The location is ideal, would be close to town, and not interfere with citizen views, and some citizens would not have to deal with Put Hill in the winter. It would be a win-win situation for all.

Put your thinking caps on.

Another subject is the dump/recycle situation. I took my normal trash along with a 3’X3” cardboard box to the dump. I was charged $l for recycling the box. I would surmise that they do not really want to recycle items if they are going to charge for recycling. I will in the future just put it in with the regular trash and pay less.

This November is election time and I think it’s about time to clean house from top to bottom.

Franklin Anderson

Success

Dear Editor:

Culture, race or politics. What is the true driver for a successful nation? Or put another way: Is culture and religion the excuse for our base motivations?

Beginning with Weber (ancient sociologist) forward, all those who claimed culture was the driver have been proven wrong. So, why do conservatives persist in siding on culture when politics have enabled nations to succeed through capitalism where culture enslaves?

Strange but true, when you think of capitalistic democratic countries you think of the U.S. and Israel. Reality check: Israel forces millions of Arabs (citizen or not) to live under marshal/military law, against their constitutional guarantees. The U.S. has enacted the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which enables our federal government to kill/imprison any U.S. citizen even suspected of “terrorism” association. Let’s see, Paine, Washington, Jefferson, etc. — all easily labeled terrorists. Habeus corpus, day in court? Forget it.

From Paul to Christians and then to Protestants forward, capitalism was a global empowerment tool that changed politics and enhanced diversity and secularism. Lately religion is synonymous with conservatism, restricting open social economic empowerment of all individuals. Is this trend because our political beliefs are not rational but designed to impress those around us, and/or are they just a reflection of righteous tribalism?

Why this cultural and religious turn toward dictatorship? A primary driver is the power shifts coming about due to racial differences. The U.S. and Israel are becoming nations where minorities are the new majorities. Israel is going to be forced into a two-state solution or will abandon democracy due to basic demography. Arabs are just having more babies.

So, clearly, when capitalism is introduced by politics a nation succeeds. When racial fear threatens a power base, religion and culture become the means to suppress/channel/control the threatening new majority. So, who speaks for capitalistic democracy now?

Dave Blake

God and country

Dear Editor:

Eugene Witkowski continues opining that the United States is, or should be, a Christian nation and I thank him for citing his references of David Barton and Thomas Jefferson. I refute his assertions.

The 1872 Congress did not allocate funds for printing and distribution of Bibles. David Barton has twisted the Congressional resolution that affirmed its Chaplains had reviewed the biblical translations of Robert Aiken and authorized Aiken to include that affirmation in his Bible. Congress refused Aiken’s request to “be published under the Authority of Congress” and refused his request for Congress to purchase his Bibles and distribute them to the states.

Thomas Jefferson did not authorize the use of the Congressional Rotunda for church services, neither did he order the Marine Band to provide church music. Congress allowed the rotunda to be used for religious services when Congressional business was not being conducted in recognition of the absence of church buildings. Mr. Jefferson did attend services, as did others including members of the Marine Band who played both secular and religious music during those ecumenical, not Christian, services.

President Jefferson may well have authorized funds for building churches on Indian reservations; however, that effort was part of Jefferson’s desire to extinguish the Native American culture by having native peoples assimilate into white society by adopting western European culture, religion and agriculture.

The examples cited of President Garfield preaching and baptizing is another example of David Barton’s attempts to revise history. The letter Barton cites is dated 1858, but that was well before Garfield was elected to his first term in Congress (1862) much less when he was elected president in 1880.

I object to Witkowski and Barton attempting to, I believe, establish Christianity at some superior status within our government institutions and laws. Instead of Witkowski and Barton, I’ll look to Jesus Christ and Thomas Jefferson for guidance.

Jesus Christ was clear about separation of church and state when he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God.” (Matt; 22:21, CEB)

Thomas Jefferson was clear when he wrote the Danbury Baptists Association in 1802 saying, “… religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God” and the 1st Amendment built a “wall of separation between Church and State.” (ref. Library of Congress)

Our country was founded, in part, on reverence to deity and freedom to practice one’s own religion without fear of persecution or disadvantage under the law. That freedom is worth defending. I certainly support reverence and thanksgiving to God, but I don’t want any religion establishing our civil and criminal law.

Jay Davison

CBA

Dear Editor:

On Aug. 6, the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (PSCDC) hosted a public meeting, where a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) was discussed and lots of public input gathered. People in the room clearly represented those who had both pro- and anti-Wal-Mart positions. But when those in the room were refocused on the task of sharing what they would like to see in a CBA, lots of great ideas were submitted.

We truly came together as a community to share our views.

The PSCDC as a board agreed to remain neutral and try to advocate on behalf of the community to have a dialogue with Wal-Mart about a reasonable solution for our community.

What we on the PSCDC would like to see is a legally enforceable agreement between the town and Wal-Mart, linked to the renewal of business license.

So many great ideas were shared and here are some of them, split into categories:

Document commitments already made:

1. Numbers of jobs.

2. Store through-put.

3. Parking lot runoff cleanup.

4. Landscaping.

5. Screening.

6. Gingerbread.

Follow the rules:

1. Meet CDOT and U.S. Army Corps of Engineering restrictions.

2. Meet Aspen Village HOA/CCIOA restrictions and agreements.

3. Acquire Alpha Drive and reconfigure open space legally.

4. Require Wal-Mart to agree to follow the LUDC, lights off at 11 p.m., noise ordinances etc.

Community protections:

1. Protect the community from a 93,000 sf dark, closed store. Lease it back to the community, deed it over or other remedy TBD.

2. Make Wal-Mart pay its own way, including improvements needed to roads, utilities, etc. (level playing field with other businesses already here).

3. Agree not to sue town for relief on sales or property taxes

4. Limited storage container usage.

Community benefits:

1. Create local jobs by hiring 50 percent local subcontractors. Extra local contractors should also be required to hire 50 percent of their workers locally.

2. Jobs: 85 percent of hires should be local, including store management. Set up local employment and training office.

3. Complete Town to Lakes Trail from downtown to Wal-Mart.

4. PSCDC contribution and/or a revolving loan fund to help local small businesses capitalize business adjustments due to the arrival of Wal-Mart.

5. Pre-agreement to waive the state sales tax collection “service fee” if Archuleta County begins to collect sales taxes locally and thereby creates a funding mechanism for community improvement programs.

6. Contribute to added costs of public services.

7. Contribute a few small lots near store that they already own each year to Habitat for Humanity for affordable housing.

8. Require Wal-Mart to install bike racks and encourage workers to bike to work in the summer

9. Require a monitoring and disputes resolution committee with local clergy, Chamber, Pagosa First and PSCDC member, county rep and town rep along with a local Wal-Mart representative.

The next step is for the PSCDC to meet with Wal-Mart to have a dialogue about these ideas.

Muriel Eason

Implore

Dear Editor:

Open letter to the Pagosa Springs Town Council:

It is rumored that you are still considering the full development of Reservoir Hill as presented by the TTC Reservoir Hill Subcommittee (Bob Hart, Jennie Green, Thad McKain, Larry Fisher), and that you will be making a decision this Thursday, August 23, at noon.

I implore you to turn down this plan once and for all. The amusement park plan these four TTC members have put forward will forever destroy what is now Pagosa’s gem — a wilderness park right in the middle of town. Reservoir Hill is just that — a hill — with only a small portion suitable for development. That small portion is currently developed with pleasant hiking trails that will forever be destroyed by the commercial aspects of an alpine coaster and a chair lift. Reservoir Hill is not Breckenridge’s Peak 8. It’s a small hill in a small town valued by its residents “as-is” — or with certain passive improvements such as an amphitheater.

I implore you to quit looking at Pagosa as investment property that needs to have every inch of it developed in the pursuit of imagined increased tax dollars. This proposed project is a big loser. The development of Reservoir Hill into an amusement park will not only cut down trees, but also cut out the heart of Pagosa.

Many Pagosans are disturbed by what appears to be a massive conflict of interest for those who put forth ideas to increase tax revenue and then directly benefit from those projects. TTC chair Bob Hart has spearheaded the TTC effort to develop Reservoir Hill — and he is the only person thus far to benefit monetarily from the hasty purchase of an old ill-suited chairlift. And will Hart Construction be a major contractor for the project? Many recognize this as a conflict of interest.

I implore you to do what is best for Pagosa: reject this plan, once and for all, and let go of the chairlift that started this whole unfortunate process.

Cynda Green

Veterans

Dear Editor:

I recently was invited to attend a meeting of the Veterans for Veterans of Archuleta County, and since attending that first meeting and becoming a member, I have attended several other meetings. This is an awesome group, with a great purpose, helping veterans! If you are a veteran like myself who wasn’t aware of this local organization, please attend one of their meetings and hear about all the great things they are doing for other veterans. In fact, if you attend the meeting on the first Tuesday of the month, you will be treated to a free breakfast and since the meetings are held at the Buffalo Inn, you know how special that is. Also, the Veterans for Veterans will be having a parking lot sale this Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Buffalo Inn between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. There will be loads of items on sale, so come on out and support our local veterans!

Mike Hayward

Why

Dear Editor:

If Wal-Mart must come to Pagosa Springs, why would the powers that be choose to locate it in Aspen Village in a planned community across highway 160 from Pinon Lake in view of the beautiful ninth greens of both Meadows and Pinon golf courses? Are we not a community priding ourselves in having some of the most spectacular natural beauty and views in Colorado, if not the world? Isn’t this one reason why tourists come? Why would anyone mar that beauty with a large 93,000-square-foot big box structure?

If you’d like to see what I mean, I suggest you take a drive. Drive across Pinon Causeway and stop when situated between Meadows’ ninth green and Pinon Lake, where geese and swans complete the bucolic picture. As you sit admiring the exquisite view, squint your eyes over in the direction of the Parelli building with wetlands below. Now imagine an immense 93,000-square-foot big box structure laid out in the meadow with its large asphalt parking lot suffocating the land. Now imagine, heaven forbid, that after a few years Wal-Mart abandons their building. Who else would come to rescue the town and fill this cavernous space? There are many Wal-Marts lying empty across America; some say the number is 160; some say the number is as high as 460. Our Comprehensive Plan establishes the town’s commitment to protect our scenic environment and beauty. Why is this issue so casually dismissed?

Aspen Village was conceived as a professional, live-work-play development, a place where people could enjoy getting out of their cars and walking from place to place. Some day, the dream is for a scenic trail connecting uptown with downtown. Imagine being able to walk or bike along such a trail. Even the original developer thinks Wal-Mart is not a good fit for Aspen Village. That should tell us something! So, again I ask, why does our town choose to scar this landscape, where tourists can currently feast their eyes on natural beauty?

Even the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers questions the appropriateness of this location, especially when there are numerous alternative sites/parcels available, which they themselves have identified.

Another big why is the question of the empty grocery store downtown? What a sorry blight on the core of our town. How long has it been empty? The Pagosa Springs Comprehensive Plan requires major retail and commercial developments to be located away from uptown in order to keep commerce healthy in the downtown core area and prevent “sprawl” in rural county areas. A second major grocery outlet uptown would preclude any other major grocery store ever locating in the core downtown. A second major grocery story uptown violates the spirit of the Comprehensive Plan. Why would town leaders do this to their own constituents? Deprive them of a place to purchase groceries locally, without the hassle of driving quite a distance. So many whys.

Susan Junta

Indifference

Dear Editor:

The attack ads in this election are becoming more brutal by the day; probably because the rhetoric of neither party has matched their agenda in years; if they are not going to debate facts and actual policies, all that’s left is a battle of who can throw the biggest clumps of mud. There is also the dynamic that huge sums of money are being put into political ads that (technically) cannot support an individual candidate. What occurs is that a particular candidate’s virtues, by law, have to be ignored, which only leaves attack ads against the opposition. The sheer amount of money flooding the system in the form of super-pacs, has set the agenda and tone of this and future races ... slinging mud is allowed (so long as you are slinging from a “neutral” base), supporting a positive campaign regarding a candidate’s actual agenda ... not so much.

And here’s the thing, none of this would be happening with an engaged electorate who actually followed the issues. In the 2010 elections, only 41.5 percent of eligible Americans voted; in the primaries, less than 20 percent participate.

Much can be made of the fact that actual legislation, voting records, or factual analysis receive practically zero reporting from the established press, but the bottom line has to be the indifference of the American people to their own governance.

It would be far less easy to exploit lies and misinformation, to create this dialogue that bares as much resemblance to reality as a Tolkien novel, if there was at least as much interest in our political system as there is in which Hollywood star has been arrested for what tantalizing infraction of the law.

Is it any wonder we have a congressional approval rate in the single digits, but a re-election rate of better than 90 percent?

We live in a republic only so long as our representatives are held accountable to the electorate, and without an educated, engaged electorate, we’ll just keep getting more of this manufactured dialog, and eventually, this little experiment in democracy will soon be a thing of the past.

F John Lozen

Taxes

Dear Editor:

Recent ads by Obama point out Romney’s tax rate was 14 percent. Since most of the income was from dividends and capital gains are taxed at a lower rate, that’s to be expected. What doesn’t get said is his tax amounted to a payment to the Treasury of $2.8 million. It’ll take a lot of ordinary taxpayers to match that total. Think about it.

Also taking away funding from family planning was a bi-partisan vote because most of their spending was for breast screening, not family planning

Ed Mergens

Neutral

Dear Editor:

Town Council and the Town Tourism Committee (TTC) will request an up or down vote on the Reservoir Hill Project, will the full package of amenities.

The Reservoir Hill Business Plan that is published on the town’s website has a statement on Page 2 which requires clarification from the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (PSCDC) as it can be easily misinterpreted:

“Received support in development of Plan from Region 9, Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation and many local business owners”

Rich Lindblad was working with the Fort Lewis College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as a business advisor at the time and he helped the TTC align financials to the multiple build-out scenarios. Rich was not affiliated with the PSCDC at that time.

Neither the PSCDC nor Rich Lindblad has ever taken a position one way or another regarding the merits of the full build out of Reservoir Hill. In fact, the PSCDC has not ever even been asked to take a position on the Reservoir Hill proposal. As far as we know, Region 9 and the SBDC have not taken positions either.

Morgan Murri

Half-truths

Dear Editor:

I recently received two mailings from Congressman Scott Tipton. Both were about Medicare. Both contained this factual error: “Medicare Trustees ... predict that Medicare will be bankrupt by 2024.”

Not true!

The report actually says, citing from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3532]) “that Medicare’s Hospital Insurance (Part A) trust fund will remain solvent — that is, able to pay 100 percent of the costs of the hospital insurance coverage that Medicare provides — through 2024; at that point, the payroll taxes and other revenue deposited in the trust fund will still be sufficient to pay 87 percent of Medicare hospital insurance costs. Over the next 75 years, revenue will cover an average of 74 percent of Medicare’s hospital insurance costs. This shortfall will need to be closed through the provision of additional revenues, program changes that slow the growth in costs, or most likely both. But the Medicare hospital insurance will not run out of all financial resources and cease to operate after 2024, as the “bankruptcy” term may suggest. The 2024 date does not apply to Medicare coverage for physician and outpatient costs (Part B) or to the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Part D); these parts of Medicare do not face insolvency and cannot run short of funds.” Want more facts? Read the Trustees’ Report for yourself (http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/ReportsTrustFunds/index.html?redirect=/ReportsTrustFunds/).

We have to have a serious discussion about improving the affordability of Medicare. Half-truths do not help at all.

Terry Pickett

Church/state

Dear Editor:

“Love and Compassion are the true religion (to me). To develop this, we do not need to believe in any religion.” — the Dalai Lama.

These words resonate. Our world is filled with excessive religious rhetoric from all directions. It’s everywhere and has long been a wedge that divides humanity. Clearly religion has too often been a prevailing wind behind much unrest over the centuries; we have not learned. Study of comparable religions suggests that most religions do in fact teach non-judgment, self study, inner peace, worship of God, love of one another, compassion for all the living, to name a smidgen. It is the interpretation of these often metaphoric teachings in the old texts that go awry.

The rising tendencies to criticize and/or judge, to treat others (including all living species) with harshness or disrespect, to justify alarming beliefs and behavior in the name of God (re: Westboro Baptist Church tweeting “God sent another shooter” or “God Hates Fags”) is unbelievable. Religion has for too long been a means to rationalize or elude questionable ideas and unacceptable actions.

To presume that this country is a “Christian Nation” is ludicrous. “God” is a generic word found in one form or another in all religions. Our nation was birthed under the premise of religious freedom of choice for all people. Many of our forefathers sought refuge in America from religious persecution. They would be disappointed knowing that their offspring generations are witness to its presence centuries later.

Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying, “Governments must be neutral between religions and non-religions. It cannot promote, endorse, or fund religion or religious institutions.” The term “Separation of Church and State” also came from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison is said to have used the term “great barrier” as a reference of the relationship between church and state. The First Amendment guarantees all citizens religious liberties clearly stating that it is an individual’s choice, protected by law.

True practice or faith, some call it Spirituality, is quite personal. It does not require words to express its nature; it just is. When one crosses paths with authentic spiritual individuals, volumes are silently heard. Their eyes dance, their skin glows and their heart exude love and compassion; the energy is highly contagious. There is no need to preach religious doctrine as the presence and glory of their spiritual walk is enormously evident. That is what ultimately draws the seeker in to explore further his substantive path in life.

Otherwise, all the chatter gets a bit exhausting after a while. And increasingly perplexing I might add as so often the messages are blatantly hypocritical. The endless sermonizing ultimately has a repelling quality.

What is often happening in the name of religion around the world is disheartening. We highly criticize other cultures for behaviors that we ourselves exemplify. We are so busy pointing fingers! It’s too bad and my sense is that truly no God would support such beliefs or behavior.

Nikki Taylor

Common sense

Dear Editor:

If, as the famous saying goes, a community should be judged on how it cares for its most vulnerable members, J. Paul Brown’s vote against protecting homeless youth surely demonstrates how he wants ours to be viewed. Rep. Brown was the only Colorado state representative, out of 65, to vote no on HB11-1079, a measure to reduce youth homelessness.

Young people are one of our country’s most vulnerable populations, as well as being one of our most vital. Recently, I was fortunate enough to work with the organization Colorado Counts to administer the Vulnerability Index survey to assess risk factors among Durango’s homeless population. The stark reality is that for the vast majority of young homeless people, their present situation is no fault of their own.

The need to fight homelessness, especially among our young population, is a rare issue that can unite everyone in a community. It is a common goal that united even our usually squabbling state legislature, 64-1. Rep. Brown, with his radical ideology, was the only representative who voted against this bill, which would have served the best interests of our community. Rep. Brown failed his constituency.

Throughout his political career, J. Paul Brown has not represented the interests of our district, our state, or our country. He has put his own beliefs and interests before those of the people he represents. I urge you to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected and vote to defeat J. Paul Brown this November to restore common sense to House District 59.

Ben Marvin-Vanderryn

Durango

Cost

Dear Editor:

It looks to me as if the whole Wal-Mart issue will end up in the courts. I wonder what that is going to cost.

I also wonder why the Town of Pagosa Springs didn’t just declare the old City Market site as blighted, as it certainly is, and use their vast powers to take that land and redevelop it. A somewhat smaller Wal-Mart might fit nicely, as would another grocery chain.

Bob Winners

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