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Eason, Parsons named to CDC board

On Thursday, June 7 the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation achieved 50 percent of a goal set last month — to fill seats on its board of directors.

Midway through the meeting, following the board’s approval of revised bylaws, two candidates stood before the board, stating their desire to serve while affirming their status as members in good standing with the PSCDC.

Following brief introductions and statements from the candidates, the board approved the two new members, inviting them to take their seats immediately following the unanimous vote.

The new members, Muriel Eason and Udgar Parsons, have a long history of attendance and participation at PSCDC meetings. Both have established a presence with their involvement in local businesses and politics.

Having filled two seats, the PSCDC has two more seats left to fill. As reported in the May 10 edition of The SUN, the PSCDC approved expanding its board from five members to seven.

At the June 7 meeting, PSCDC Executive Director Rich Lindblad said that the organization would continue to solicit for the two remaining seats during the next 30 days.

In accepting his invitation to join the board, Parsons said that, although he had lost interest in the organization during the tenure of former PSCDC Executive Director Steve Vassallo, his participation with the group and attendance at meetings waxed during the past year or so.

“I feel these are new times,” Parsons said. “I’m very excited.”

Commenting as she took her seat on the board Eason said, “I’m very optimistic that something is going to happen with the CDC ... I’m excited about the future.”

That future, especially as it applies to the PSCDC, could be interesting since both Eason and Parsons have been active and vociferous in their opposition to a Wal-Mart locating in Pagosa Springs. With another sitting board member (Morgan Murri) also having gone on record with strong opposition to the impending big box, Wal-Mart opponents hold a majority on the board at this time.

Board members Mark Weiler and Bill Kinsley have not stated a public position on Wal-Mart while serving with the PSCDC.

In January, Lindblad told members of Pagosa First (a group formed in response to Wal-Mart’s announcement that it would be building a store in town) that the PSCDC had no official stance regarding the big box issue.

In addition, both Eason and Parsons bring extensive business experience to the board.

With a degree in finance, Eason spent decades in the corporate world,’“Helping to create new business models as well as involved in marketing and business development,” Eason said last week.

After retiring from Intel in 2008, Eason stepped up to volunteer with local organizations, including the PSCDC. In 2011, Eason was selected by Lindblad and the PSCDC board to pursue training in “Economic Gardening” (a business development program aimed at assisting the growth of existing local small businesses).

Eason added that she is currently working to partner her “Economic Gardening” program with the Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado and the Small Business Development Center at Fort Lewis College.

Likewise, Parsons brings extensive experience to the PSCDC board. Beginning a career as a dentist and orthodontist in the UK during the 1960s, Parsons changed direction for a life of farming and self-sustainability on the northwest coast of Scotland. Later, he moved his family to participate in several alternative community experiments throughout the world, coming to the U.S. to help establish a sustainable eco-community in Oregon then moving to Aspen to participate in John Denver’s Windstar Foundation and the manufacturing of geodesic Biodomes.

Since 1989, Parsons and his wife, Puja, started Growing Spaces, a company dedicated to sustainable living, green manufacturing and providing affordable, environmentally friendly geodesic domes for gardening enthusiasts at all levels.

In 1995, the company relocated to Pagosa Springs.

Growing Spaces was named by the state as “One of the 2010 Top 50 Colorado Companies to Watch.”

Parsons was unapologetic in being identified with a group that began as a voice of opposition to Wal-Mart in Pagosa.

“Yes, I’m involved in Pagosa First,” Parsons said last week, “I’m involved in seeking a positive alternative. I want us to seek out ways to create new jobs, new businesses and generate sales tax revenues.”

“We need to find a better way to achieve the same benefits,” Parsons added. “I want us to be more involved in the positive rather than the negative.”

Eason said that both she and Parsons bring a new perspective to the PSCDC. “We have asked the CDC to schedule a work session, to see if we can get the board to focus. This needs to be a working board.”

Regarding her vision for the board, Eason said,”“Really, I’d like us to focus it more on community development. It should be more than economic development. We need to be working on solving the problem of hunger in the area, revitalizing downtown, keeping money in the community through the formation of a local savings and loan or community bank.”

Eason added, “The CDC is not a political organization. It had been, but I see it turning away from that. The long-term question is if the town and county will continue to support the CDC, through funding and other ways. I do see much more involvement from local businesses, though, and I think they’re stepping up to put their support behind the CDC.”

Parsons concurred, stating confidence that the new shape of the organization could broaden its scope.

“I feel there’s a very intelligent, creative energy on the board,” Parsons said. “More so than what has gone on with the CDC in the past.”

As Thursday’s meeting wrapped up, the PSCDC’s executive director seemed to share the optimism that Eason and Parsons had expressed.

“This organization has made a turn,” Lindblad said. “There is some positiveness in the air.”

jim@pagosasun.com

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