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Letters to Editor

LASSO

Dear Editor:

In the last year, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with LASSO, our local horse rescue group. It opened a whole new world of information for me that I want to share with the people of Pagosa. I have watched and personally experienced generosity and caring that goes beyond the norm. We are living in desperate times and LASSO has stretched their services to meet them for this community.

Last summer I helped with the Special Olympics held at the LASSO facility, a joint effort with LASSO and Parelli Natural Horsemanship. The experience was incredible. I learned that this was just one educational program of many that LASSO provides to our area. They also donate hay to struggling livestock owners, provide care to animals whose owners are struggling just to feed themselves and have taken in sick, suffering and starving animals found all over the county. And, in between feeding, cleaning and caring for the animals at their facility, they find time to deliver hay, move horses and help rehabilitate other people’s animals. The LASSO organization provides more services to this area than I ever imagined.

I write this because, like a lot of people in Pagosa, I didn’t know about all that is offered by the LASSO organization. I would like to pass on what I have learned. I encourage you to contact LASSO if you are struggling to feed or care for your animals, have any questions about the services or maybe just to give the volunteers a pat on the back. They more than deserve it.

Kathleen Conway

Observer corp

Dear Editor:

The League of Women Voters of Archuleta County is a key player in our county’s election process. Since the league’s inception in 1995, the voters have been able to count upon a league-sponsored forum, presenting all the candidates, prior to any local election where a choice was to be made. Since our local radio station has been present at most of these events, the audience is always much larger than those in attendance. This is a critical public service and aligns with our national mission statement:

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

According to the league national office, the function of this public service is to protect the citizen’s right to know. Our local league will implement this function in this county by establishing an “observer corps” to follow developments at the local government level by attending county government regular and special meetings.

The need for such oversight was highlighted recently by facts revealed at a special meeting called by the board of county commissioners on Jan. 25 to consider a league agreement that would lease five county-owned acres located on Hot Springs Boulevard to the Pavilion at Pagosa Springs, a music-oriented nonprofit, for $1 for 10 years. The lessee would be able to purchase the property after five years and have the first right of refusal on any offers received on the property. The lessee would initially use a tent to house the minimum one event per year with a required temporary structure to be in place by June 30.

A number of issues emerged as a result of that meeting: 1) apparent conflict of interest involving a past commissioner, 2) lack of public involvement in discussions prior to lease negotiations, 3) failure to use the request for proposal process to identify a lessee and 4) potential disregard for building codes.

These issues put into question the BoCC’s willingness to deal with public issues in a transparent manner and all of them underscore the need for an impartial “observer corps.” The League of Women Voters gives notice with this letter that it has assumed this responsibility.

The league also requests an opportunity to address the commissioners regarding how the two entities can cooperate in this endeavor, and congratulates the commissioners for postponing their decision pending the receipt of public comment.

Mary Beth McAuley

Corrections

Dear Editor:

I would like to make a few corrections to Jim McQuiggin’s article from last week concerning the Skaters Coalition for Concrete. He failed to mention our website which is: www.skaterscoalitionforconcrete.com. There is an updated list of sponsors that have helped make a skate park in Pagosa a reality, thanks to each and every one of you. Also, people can stay in the loop by signing up for our newsletter on the home page. There is more information about the “tile recognition program” on the donate page. And finally, the contact information was incorrect. Anybody interested in making a donation or contributing in any way can contact myself at mike@skaterscoalitionforconcrete.com or Jonathan King at pagosaking@gmail.com. There is excitement brewing about the park that will be built this summer, and we are encouraging everybody that wants to become a part of it to join the mailing list.

One last point concerning the warranty bond issue. After talking with one of the predominant builders in town that has done a number of public projects, I was told that we may still be able to utilize some of the in-kind donations that have been committed, even with a warranty bond in place.

Keep an eye out for the next fund-raising event this spring.

Later Skaters,

Mike Musgrove

Opportunity

Dear Editor:

They say the American people want to see Democrats and Republicans get along. And lo and behold, a new (Jan. 13-16) Washington Post-ABC News Poll happens to say the same thing — that the majority of Americans want “Obama and the Republicans in Congress” to “work together on important issues.”

Isn’t it amazing how everything the left wants or puts into an agenda shows up as a majority-supported item in a poll? But I have a question. If the American people wanted Republicans to get along with Democrats, then why this massive Democrat defeat in November? And not just in Washington, but throughout the country? Hmmm?

The voters have won the right to try governing according to conservative principle. Can we do better than $3.50 gallon gasoline? Yep. Can we do better than a 25-percent reduction in home values across the board? Absolutely, we can. Can we do better than the debasing of our currency? Our annual deficit’s over $1 trillion; can we do better than that? You know darn well we can do better — in every area. Can we do better in personal liberty and freedom? Hell, yes!

The liberals will claim it’s “hate speech” to argue that Obama is trampling on our liberties, strengthening the government and weakening the individual, and destroying the financial health of the nation. No, it’s not. There’s nothing hateful about it, particularly since it is true. That’s exactly why they’re trying to shut it up. This is how they’ve positioned the debate. Obama stands for civility, centrism and governing. We, on the other hand, are hateful, uncivil and violent. That’s the template.

Actually, the conservative view is very simple, and tireless. It’s Ronald Reagan’s view, via the Founders: “We the People are free.” It really isn’t complicated at all. Socialism doesn’t work — it can’t work — so why continue to follow such a disastrous path? Because Obama and his liberal cohorts insist on it? Because Sen. Charles “Chuck You” Schumer insists on it? Because the New York Times insists on it? Because certain Republicans want to be seen as “civil?” To quote Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe in 1944, when asked to surrender during the Battle of the Bulge: “Nuts!”

The American people have a great opportunity here. No thanks to the RNC or the GOP leadership. They all but surrendered after Obama won. There wasn’t a whisper of opposition. They were positioning themselves to get on the support train: “First black President; we don’t even dare be critical — no way.”

Had we left it to them, there would have been no upset election in November. But millions of Americans — you, me, the Tea Party — kept faith with American principles — the principles of the Founders; the principles of Ronald Reagan. And we very fearlessly advanced this freedom agenda, just as they did before us.

So … it’s very simple. We will not be controlled. We will not be silenced. We will be heard. This is a Republic, we are the people — and for our unalienable rights we thank our Creator.

Jim Sawicki

Alternative view

Dear Editor:

In most of the letters regarding the Pavilion and the lease of land on Hot Springs Boulevard, people are viewing the Pavilion as competition that must be stamped out and stopped. I’d like to propose an alternative way at looking at the Pavilion.

We can view things as either competitive or complementary. I see the Pavilion project as complementing both what is already in place and new ventures that are on the horizon. Just like I see the Pagosa Center for the Arts (PSCA) as complementary to the Pagosa Springs Arts Council (PSAC), I see the Pavilion as being complementary to these organizations as well. No organization is capable of providing everything, and the more opportunities we create to bring visitors to our town, the better it will be for all of us.

The Pavilion will offer different performances from those already being offered and from offerings in the wings by the PSCA and PSAC. These organizations do not need to operate as competitive entities; they can operate as complementary organizations.

We have a great opportunity for cooperation among these three arts organizations. If we rally together and work cooperatively, we can offer a wealth of opportunities for artists in this town and draw large numbers of tourists and visitors throughout the year through our arts offerings.

Most of what Pagosa Springs offers tourists is seasonal. The arts can draw people to our town year-round. It can be the constant — that which is not dependent upon the cooperation of Mother Nature to bring the snow and provide an abundance of fish and large game. We have an opportunity, with all three organizations — to compete with other nearby artist communities (and not each other) in what we have to offer in Pagosa Springs. Let’s switch our thinking away from a competitive model and embrace this opportunity to launch Pagosa Springs to new heights as a vibrant arts community. We will all benefit from building Pagosa Springs as an artist community.

If we solely focus on the negative competitive nature of growth, we will get nowhere. We’ll wallow in our misfortunes and witness even more restaurant and business closures. We need to bring people into Pagosa to fill our restaurants and hotels and to shop locally. Any and all ventures to do so should be supported. If we must view the Pavilion and other new ventures as competition, then let’s at least view the competition in a positive light. The capitalist model is based on healthy competition. Competition is what keeps businesses maturing and changing. It is what continually raises the bar and brings about positive growth. No one should have a monopoly on what Pagosa should and can offer. There is enough room in Pagosa for a variety of products and services. The Pavilion will only complement what is already being offered and may just provide some healthy competition to the other arts organization to keep them growing, vital and offering arts-related products and services that everyone can enjoy.

Carol Schneider

Walking safely

Dear Editor:

I am deeply concerned about those who choose to walk/jog on the wrong side of the road. I am not sure if they understand why you need to walk/jog on the left side of the road facing into traffic. It is my understanding that we walk/jog toward oncoming traffic to give us the opportunity to dive out of the way of a distracted, drunk, or dozing driver. I also worry that a WSRW/J may feel anger toward me for walking on what they consider is the wrong side of the road. As far as I know there are no laws against walking on the wrong side of the road and this is a free country. I guess I do feel a little bit of sympathy for a youthful driver who simply got distracted and ended up hitting a WSRW/J by accident. NOTE: Bike riders must abide by the Rules of the Road and ride on the right side.

Michael Schneider

Editor’s note: According to Colorado Statute 42-4-805, pedestrians walking along and on highways where sidewalks are not provided shall walk on a road shoulder as far as practical from the edge of the roadway. Where neither a sidewalk nor road shoulder is available, shall walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway. In the case of a two-way roadway, shall walk only on the left side of the roadway facing traffic that may approach from the opposite direction.

Working together

Dear Editor:

We would like to strongly support granting a one year’s lease the Moomaw’s Pavilion project, to allow the Songwriter’s program and Music in the Mountains to be held here as planned. In the meanwhile, they need to co-operate and work out some kind of an agreement with the town, the county and the Appenzellers that put on our wonderful Folk Fest and June event to get a permanent structure up in the meadow at Reservoir Hill.

I know that it costs a fortune to rent that tent twice a year, why not purchase or long-term lease one that could remain all summer for all types of events? There isn’t a better spot around and it does not make sense to have two tents. All would benefit and provide encouragement for other events — which would draw more visitors here and improve our local economy.

Right now there is much more interest in working together, including the new merchant’s association, the lodging association, the TTC and chamber of commerce. Even Wyndham is planning to include a visitor’s facility that would be open to all visitors, not just time share folks. Pagosa Lodge has planned events there for various community events and at long last we have owners interested in being a part of our local scene. A huge crowd attended and had great ideas about increasing our trails in the area for biking, hiking and general recreation. Keep the ball rolling. So, commissioners, please get on the bandwagon and make an agreement for a one-year lease and a provision that Moomaws work something out with all concerned for the good of the whole community. Even remember years ago when “Ride the Rockies” first came here, at Michael Martin Murphy’s concert at the football field — he promised to do a concert to benefit a performance arena — so let’s get it going.

Thank you,

Harold and Joan Slavinski

Alzheimer’s

Dear Editor:

Feb. 6 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Ronald Reagan. President Reagan was an early advocate for Alzheimer’s disease, helping to raise public awareness with the first proclamation of National Alzheimer’s Disease Month in November 1983. Eleven years later, he publicly announced his own diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in a poignant letter to the American people. To date, he is the most public figure to disclose an Alzheimer diagnosis. Reagan’s diagnosis shows no one is immune to this disease — not even the man who once held the most powerful office in the land. His well-documented deterioration and ultimate death from Alzheimer’s shines a bright light on the devastating human toll of this disease for the Americans who live with it and those who care for them.

Despite these efforts — and those of powerful advocates like David Hyde Pierce, Maria Shriver, Sandra Day O’Connor and Colorado resident CBS correspondent Barry Petersen — a grave stigma still surrounds Alzheimer’s disease. Stigma is fear. Stigma is prejudice. And stigma is contagious. Stigma about Alzheimer’s disease causes unnecessary additional suffering. It is an obstacle to receiving an early and accurate diagnosis and good quality care afterwards. It prevents families from enjoying special moments before Alzheimer’s steals them away. Stigma keeps us from realizing the true impact of the disease and its burgeoning effects in the future. Alzheimer’s is the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. This devastating, heartbreaking and costly disease ultimately kills more Americans than diabetes, and more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Alzheimer’s is the only one of the top 10 causes of death where we have no method to prevent it, cure it or show its progression. Federal Alzheimer research is woefully under funded, inhibiting us from making the progress that has been achieved against other major diseases. In fact, death rates from Alzheimer’s are skyrocketing, while death rates from other diseases such as heart disease, HIV/AIDS and certain cancers are plummeting. And, unlike these other diseases, there are no survivors. But, we do have champions. Today, thousands of people diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s are using their amazingly powerful voices to break down the stigma and pave a better path for those who will follow.

It’s time to speak up. Talk to your friends and family about Alzheimer’s disease. Talk to your doctor as soon as you have concerns. Talk to your legislators about increasing federal funding for Alzheimer care and research. Talk to people you know with Alzheimer’s and the people who are caring for them. Use your voice to change the course of Alzheimer’s disease. To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and how you can make a difference, visit alz.org/co. Together, we can still win one for the Gipper.

Elaine Stumpo