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Letters to Editor

History

Dear Editor:

Your article on the “Old Fort Lewis Cemetery” brought back many memories, as we used to play in it, as children. We often discussed the names on the headstones with my grandmother and she would tell us stories about the deceased. Some colorful characters.

Back in the 1940s, a local Realtor tried to sell the property, and Urban Chambers (the father of Tom, Percy and Bay) interceded with the deed information as provided in your article. I don’t know if Urban was the son or grandson of Thomas (Grandfather Chambers), and he lived on a ranch on the lower Blanco. The Chambers family were instrumental in the development of the town and county, and served in many capacities of leadership. There are still decedents of some of those early settlers — Vorhies, Chambers and a few others in Colorado.

I personally believe that it is the responsibility of the town to take care of the cemetery and preserve our history.

Franklin Anderson

Dear Mitt

Dear Editor:

Dear Mitt:

I know you’re busy but I thought to pass on three thoughts: First, one can ‘t have a free market without a healthy sovereign state; second, freedom is only possible when dissent is strongly supported; and, third, the more we understand something the more it seems pointless — mankind thinks politically with emotion, not rational thought.

It doesn’t seem like you know that Adam Smith did not advocate a laissez-faire market; rather, he strongly supported preventing the rich from controlling the government to shield their investments. I recommend that you actually read Smith’s two volumes: “Theory of Moral Sentiments” and “Wealth of Nations.” His real concern was the “hereditary plutocrats.” Sorry Mitt, that smells like you.

Mitt, in case you missed the point, let’s take it one step further: you’re a successful entrepreneur who wants to ship his goods. No problem — you only need roads, bridges, air transport systems and (drat it) regulations protecting all businesses.

Mitt, here are the real points: only people are citizens, government budgets are balanced in a shared burden. The financial industry caused this economic recession and has more than its share of thieves and anarchists (latest self-regulated scam is falsely lowering LIBOR), and in line with that thought these three vices have destroyed most organizations and governments: greed, ego and desire for power. Or, to say it another way, a successful society seeks empowerment with limits and values, and protects all its citizens.

Dave Blake

Mendacity

Dear Editor:

It appears that Paul Nobles has been sucker punched by the artful videographers at the Romney campaign, aided and abetted by those at Fox News (Letters, July 26, 2012). Paul expresses the view that Obama, “flagrantly disrespected” small business owners by, “explaining to them that government built their businesses.” Problem is, Obama said no such thing. What he said is that businesses didn’t build the roads and bridges they rely upon. The larger context of his remarks is that people are successful not solely by virtue of their own talents and work ethic, having derived support from parents, teachers, community investment in infrastructure, and other resources, including those provided by local, state and federal goverments.

These are rather unremarkable and self-evident sentiments, similarly expressed by Mitt Romney during the course of this campaign and in an address to the participants in the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. What is remarkable, however, is the mendacity of a presidential candidate and campaign that would edit Obama’s remarks so as to make it appear that Obama said precisely what Paul believes he said. If Olympic medals were handed out based upon a candidate’s ability to regurgitate serial falsehoods, Romney and his campaign trolls would be cosseted in gold.

Sincerely,

Ben Douglas

CBA

Dear Editor:

The PSCDC has recently been revitalized with a new board of directors. The government leadership of the past has been replaced with leaders from the business community who have a desire to see the greater Pagosa area and surrounding county become more vital, in an economic sense, as well as in other important aspects of “community.” We truly believe that our primary role will be to help our local businesses grow, and thereby, create jobs and increase tax revenue and generally improve income per capita and other measures of economic wellbeing.

At the Wal-Mart Design Review on July 10, PSCDC board member Mark Weiler addressed the town planning commission and said, “I’d like to encourage the planning commission to encourage Wal-Mart to enter into an open, honest, full-range Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation.”

Although Wal-Mart is potentially the biggest economic development on the horizon for our small community, the PSCDC has not officially taken a position on it, but suddenly found itself a participant in the process — not to advocate for or against Wal-Mart, but to negotiate protections and benefits for our community.

This is a role we gladly embrace as a process for the community, Wal-Mart and local officials to create an overall win-win-win scenario. Since the main purpose of economic development is to bring measurable, permanent improvements to the community and the lives of affected residents, the CBA ensures that these benefits accrue to the community, while mitigating the impacts of development to those affected. The role of the PSCDC is primarily to advocate for our small business community and Wal-Mart will impact that community greatly, so we belong in the process.

CBA protections should include promises Wal-Mart has already made. It might also include a provision to make sure that the store doesn’t get left “dark” if Wal-Mart builds a bigger store in another location or closes its Pagosa Springs store. We all know how difficult it has been to resolve the vacant 18,000 square-foot former City Market location in downtown Pagosa Springs. Just think of a 93,000 square-foot facility in one of the most scenic view corridors in uptown, empty, dark and decaying. In the CBA process, we can discuss in advance how best to handle that situation and get Wal-Mart’s agreement. We’ve learned this lesson from painful experience.

CBA benefits might include, for example, hiring a guaranteed percentage of local subcontractors (local jobs), contributions to the Town-to-Lakes Trail system and enhanced architecture and landscaping on the exterior of the store given its proposed location in a scenic rural setting surrounded by an upscale rural subdivision.

You will find that the new PSCDC will be a much more community-minded, transparent and inclusive organization. So, you are cordially invited to meet the new PSCDC board at a reception after the public meeting Monday, Aug. 6, at 5 p.m. at the Quality Inn (Pagosa Lodge). We value your presence and participation

Muriel Eason

Protection

Dear Editor:

On July 13, we received a reverse 911 call regarding an armed fugitive possibly in the vicinity of Chromo, Edith or the U.S. 84 corridor. As I went to bed that evening, I set our home alarm system. Subsequently, being half asleep around 3 a.m., I got up and opened the back door in order to feed our cat, and set off the alarm. I contacted our security service and advised them of our false alarm, and they said they would notify the sheriff’s department to recall the deputies who had been dispatched.

Shortly thereafter, we received a phone call from the sheriff’s department watch commander who asked if he could have the two deputies continue to our residence in view of the circumstances and we agreed.

In just a few minutes, the two deputies arrived at our residence to make sure we were all right. The deputies were very courteous, and they were also very thorough in ensuring that we were safe and secure in our residence. We apologized for the inconvenience that we caused them, and they insisted that it was not a problem for them. They stated that if we had any concerns through the rest of the night, we should call them directly.

After they left, my wife and I discussed how their visit had comforted us and made us feel safe and secure. We felt that the actions of the sheriff’s department demonstrated the highest traditions of law enforcement; that is, “to protect and serve” the people of Archuleta County.

Those readers of yours old enough to remember the television series called Dragnet will remember the statement of Sgt. Joe Friday, that law enforcement is an “endless, glamourless, thankless job that’s got to be done.” We believe that all of us should thank these law enforcement officers every day for the job they do, day after day and night after night to uphold the tradition, “to protect and serve.”

We thank the sheriff, the undersheriff, the watch commanders and the supervisory deputies for their leadership in the department, and we especially thank the deputies who are dispatched on the calls. We offer them our praise and our admiration for all that they do to keep us safe.

Jerry and Joyce Hines

Slanted

Dear Editor:

I thought the Random Shuffle article, “Now is the Time for Discussion,” was a weakly thought out and condescending article that is beneath the journalistic standards of any credible newspaper. The article is anything but a discussion. The article is slanted with vivid, emotional and imaginary descriptions of “vacuous blowhards” incapable of “critical analysis,” these imaginary people being one of three imaginary types of NRA members. I’m unclear as to Jim’s point of the article, gun control or banning 30 round magazines?

My heartfelt condolences go to the Aurora victims and survivors along with their families and friends. The whole nation is hurting over this atrocity, but I’m not convinced that banning 30 round magazines would have somehow limited the carnage that took place that night. If you’ve seen technically proficient shooters use speed loaders (revolvers) or change clips in semi-autos you’d realize the size of the magazine is not significant when victims are unable to return fire. Also, high capacity magazines are relatively easy to manufacture not to mention numerous in existing supply. Outlawing them will only keep them out of the hands of law abiding Americans.

Jim mentioned 30,000 gun deaths annually, and 300,000 annual gun-related assaults. Jim should have revealed that according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), in 2005 there were 30,694 gun related deaths, but the majority were due to suicide, at 16,000. 12,252 were murder/homicide. The rest were accidental/unclear, suicide or homicide/murder. Eighty percent of the murder/homicides were committed by felons/career criminals/gang members. Not mentioned are the over 2 1/2 million crimes prevented annually with a firearm. Makes me think of the recent senior citizen in Florida that stopped a crime in progress with his semi-auto pistol. Had he not been there, what would the body count have been? Let the reader come to their own conclusions regarding the facts, but let’s be honest if we’re going to start quoting numbers.

Our founding fathers had a belief that all humans have certain inalienable rights that coincidentally are spelled out/enumerated in our Constitution. In other words, these rights are God-given, and our system of government simply reaffirms those rights. The bare essence of the 2nd amendment is the right to self-preservation. Reading the Federalist Papers reveals that our founding fathers had real and valid concerns about enemies, foreign and domestic, and some of their discussion reveals awareness that an armed populace is a deterrent to the formation of a tyrannical government, as well as ability to self-defend. We supposedly live in a Constitutional Republic, which is another way of saying we are a nation of laws. If we applied the law, and applied the law equally to all without prejudice, the world would be a much better place. When there is no rule of law or it’s not applied equally to all, history teaches us that anarchy is the result. Banning 30-round magazines is an argument without merit. We need to preserve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, not attack and destroy it, whether it be by legislation, executive order or UN treaty!

Andrew Holbert

Not safe

Dear Editor:

Regarding our smelly water and the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District’s (PAWSD) recent news release stating “the water is safe to drink,” it is likely not.

PAWSD blames the moldy smell and taste on blue-green “algae that grows in Lake Hatcher.” A 2010 study by the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), of water samples in other U.S. lakes where blue-green algae grows discovered that when a musty odor was present, so were toxins. “While taste-and-odor compounds are not toxic, these pungent compounds were always found with cyanotoxins,” Dr. Jennifer Graham, USGS lead scientist on the study, said in a news release.

“Exposure to these toxins has caused a range of symptoms including skin rashes, severe stomach upset, seizures, or even death,” said Dr. Keith Loftin, USGS research chemist and environmental engineer. “Pets and livestock are most susceptible to direct exposure, but people can also be affected during recreation, by eating contaminated foods, or by drinking contaminated water.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), algal toxins can cause skin irritation, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, headache, muscle and joint pain, blisters of the mouth and liver damage. WHO warns that bathing in algal-contaminated water may result in allergic reactions such as asthma, eye irritation and rashes. Chronic exposure to algal toxins, called cyanotoxins, has been linked to neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s Disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s) and Parkinson’s.

Cyanotoxins are on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking-water contaminant candidate list, and some states include cyanotoxins in their drinking-water monitoring programs. In a July 27 phone conversation I had with Gene Tautges, PAWSD operations manager, he could not confirm whether PAWSD monitors for cyanotoxins. PAWSD’s treatment method of copper sulphate may be making an already dangerous situation worse: “chemicals (such as copper sulphate) or any other treatment method that causes the cells to break down and release their toxins should not be used,” (Health Canada).

Unlike PAWSD, another Colorado water district in Grand County does not insist that their water is safe when it smells bad. Instead, the county has a proactive algal toxin response plan. In 2007, toxin levels were just above that which the WHO says is safe, so Grand County issued advisories. In 2008, Grand County began weekly monitoring for cyanotoxins during summer months. It recommends installing a home treatment system or using only bottled water in the event of an advisory. Other alternatives such as boiling or UV filters are not recommended.

Although PAWSD insists that the water is safe, trust your nose. If your water smells musty or earthy, do not drink it, and do not cook with it; boiling the water will not destroy these toxins. And, take one further step and join me in urging PAWSD to develop effective treatments to keep our water safe. Insist that PAWSD take proactive measures by developing an algal toxin response plan with weekly monitoring for cyanotoxins during the summer months, and immediate public advisories made in the event of water toxicity.

For the health of our community, we must insist that our drinking water is safe, and that we be notified immediately when it is not.

Lisa Kelly

Illusions

Dear Editor:

Stephen Hawking once said that the greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge. And never was there a better example than Mr. Sawicki’s weekly rant against his vision of a liberal agenda that hasn’t existed since the ’60s. As is typical of most Teapublicans, Mr. Sawicki swallows hook line and sinker what his right wing barkers tell him, but is too lazy, or too disinterested to follow what they actually do.

In this month alone, these so-called conservative republicans have successfully filibustered both the Disclose Act, that would have required greater disclosure of political donations, and S. 3664, that would have ended tax breaks for companies moving jobs overseas. They have rejected a proposal to continue tax cuts for the middle class (unless the rich can get even larger cuts), passed a trillion dollar farm bill that supports a government regulated, dare we say socialist, food policy, and passed a 606 billion dollar defense spending bill that reneges on their agreement to automatic reductions in the budget … and they managed to do all of this by working only one week in three.

If Mr. Sawicki paid attention to the actual policies of the current Republican Party, he’d notice that they don’t support fiscally responsible “small government” at all … they simply support moving all that government cash into someone else’s pocket. And if he had any sense of history, he would have noticed what happens to the economy when the wealthy elite are given free reign to pillage at will.

F. John Lozen

No need

Dear Editor:

After a walk up Reservoir Hill, I was delighted to view the new signage board. As well at the Chamber parking lot. It surely allows a viewer to see what Pagosa Springs has to offer, i.e., many activities.

Yes, as the sign states, “Refreshingly authentic.”

It is a pleasure to read in The SUN, July 19, “The Parks and Rec Commission will be in” on any Reservoir Hill decisions. Finally!

A peaceful walk on Reservoir Hill assured me there is no need for development on the hill.

Pam Morrow

Precious

Dear Editor:

The Pagosa Springs officials and town employees say they won’t trespass on cemetery plots to maintain a cemetery, but they will and did, according to them, trespass and move the front fence back into the Fort Lewis cemetery, setting it across graves or grave sites.

The family of Grandfather Thomas Chambers placed a wrought iron fence around his grave to protect it, not knowing that years later, due to the decisions and acts of town officials, his grave, and it is unknown how many others, would be damaged and exposed to possibly being damaged by road equipment and water erosion. Bay Chambers said the pioneers of Archuleta County were buried at this cemetery. There is no known record of the people buried here, or the exact location of their graves.

A deep bar ditch was then dug across these graves or gravesites then the same were paved over.

The fence of the Fort Lewis cemetery should be put back where it was as shown in John M. Motter’s picture of Thomas Chambers’ grave. All the damaged graves or gravesites should be filled in and grass planted to prevent further erosion and damage.

The Fort Lewis cemetery should be protected and preserved as a precious historical site. Let it be respected again as when the early settlers laid their loved ones to rest.

Ann Oldham

Good PR

Dear Editor:

I’ve been reading about the idea of raising the lodging tax in Pagosa Springs in order to amp up tourism advertising, fund events and help the community’s development projects in order to attract more upscale visitors. I visit Pagosa Springs for three months each year from the Florida Keys where we have a “bed tax” of 12.5 percent. I believe Pagosa’s is 4.9 percent. I understand the argument against raising the lodging tax was that visitors would go elsewhere and/or that the restaurants and retail establishments should pay a tax as well.

Our Tourist Development Council spends that 12.5 percent through committees that fund events depending upon the category: cultural, fishing and diving. Other uses are to generically advertise the destination and another portion is used to secure the services of a PR firm that gets our events and unique qualities in the national media. We also have a portion of the budget going towards capital projects (aka bricks and mortar) funding.

The terrific advantages of raising the lodging tax are that the visitors are paying for it while costing the residents nothing. If you tax the restaurant and retail establishments, then the local residents are also being taxed. Your goal sounds similar to the Florida Keys goal — to attract the upscale visitor. They can afford that extra 2-percent tax. Tourism is not a completely green business. The drain on the infrastructure of a destination is increased with more visitors. The visitor should pay for those additional costs and the only way that happens is to directly tax them exclusive of the local residents. Two percent may not be enough!

I urge your local lodging establishments to reconsider the benefits of the tax. If adding that 2 percent makes Pagosa the second highest rate in the state, that would be good PR.

Sherry Phillips

Big Pine Key, Fla.

Simple

Dear Editor:

KISS is an acronym for Keep It Simple, Stupid. To simplify the upcoming presidential elections, disregard all the rhetoric. Obama and Romney are merely the standard bearer for their parties. What they say or do has little to do with programs advocated by their parties.

This election as never before is a clear choice between two diametrically opposite political philosophies.

The democrats stand for: 1) more government in your life; 2) increased spending; 3) higher taxes; and 4) more individual reliance on governmental welfare.

The republicans stand for: 1) less government in your life; 2) reduced spending; 3) lower taxes; and 4) individual responsibility.

Take your pick.

James W. Porter

Shuffle

Dear Editor

Let me begin by thanking Jim McQuiggin for the job he has done for The Pagosa SUN and our community as a correspondent. He has brought light to subjects locally that would perhaps normally not be exposed and his “Random Shuffle” column has been fun to read even if I am not always in agreement with his taste in music. That said, I am especially grateful for his most recent “Shuffle.”

As once again our nation grieves yet another unimaginable tragedy, now is the time to reflect on our part in this national disgrace. As a society are we so afraid that we willingly allow weapons of mass destruction, for that is what a semi-automatic gun with extended clip is, to be easily accessible to anyone who wants one? Who and what are we so afraid of? Personally, I have never been that scared to be out in public that I felt any need to have a gun to protect me.

Since the Brady Bill was allowed by the republicans to expire in 2004, this type of insane carnage has become almost common place in our nation. Can anyone say that another massacre will not occur, perhaps soon? Again we will wring our hands and make lame excuses, but the fact is in all these massacres the common element is that some nut case was able to legally buy their WMDs from a local store. Is there any reason in a civilized culture that these killing machines are available to the public? I have never heard of any logical, reasonable argument for allowing them to be sold to the public. Perhaps there is someone out there who could explain this to me. Please use this forum. I would welcome the opportunity to be better informed.

On Jan. 8, 2011, our lives were changed forever. A friend and member of our church was badly wounded at the Safeway along with Gabby Giffords. Do you remember the photo of 10-year-old Christina, or 6-year-old Veronica, both gunned down by deranged madmen with legally bought WMDs?

Now is too late for those shattered lives, the families in Aurora and all over our nation mourning their losses, those wounded and suffering in the hospitals around Denver. Our prayers are with them, but more needs to be done. Call Representative Tipton and Senators Bennett and Udall and tell them that we the people say no to WMDs in our neighborhoods and communities.

Since the tragedy in Tucson, my wife and I have chosen to not shop at any stores that sell guns. There is power in the pocketbook; please join us in this effort. We can make changes if we work together. Please help make America safe again; say no to WMDs on our streets.

Donovan Porterfield

Voting

Dear Editor:

In regard to the commissioner’s race between Clifford Lucero and Mike Hayward, I was going to vote for Mike until I found out Muriel Eason is his better half. This is the lady who is so anti-Wal-Mart, and it’s her and every other opponent’s right to be. I would like to add that, just out of curiosity, I Googled their residence and found that their paved driveway is worth more than a low-paid employee at Wal-Mart or City Market is paid on an annual basis. Obviously they don’t need the money or a job for that matter, that’s why Mike states if elected he will give his salary to charity.

Now that she is a member of the PSCDC board (I believe that’s the proper name), I can’t help but to wonder if she or Mike don’t come armed with an agenda. For example, like Mike referring to his opponent as one of the “good ole boys.” That was an ignorant remark, along with saying county employees don’t deserve a raise. Actually, after research, I found the county administrator and human resources director have been given a raise and I can’t help but wonder what other employees have been given raises — certainly not the lower level employees. I do agree with him that our local government does practice a lot of back-room decisions.

Everybody says that Wal-Mart treats their employees like dirt, which I don’t doubt. There is some fact to that and I would like to add that City Market is known for those practices, not to mention the private sector in this town . Heck, let’s get rid of the whole bunch of them. Not possible. If Wal-Mart meets or exceeds the town’s requirements, they can come here, so to that I say build a bridge and get over it.

Going back to the commissioner’s race: I am not going to vote for Clifford. To me he is not true to his word. In 2008, he said he was going to address the over-abundance of supervision in the road and bridge. Huh? There are five supervisors (all very well paid and one more than in 2008) to supervise 15 employees tops. Heck, I think if you scale down to the appropriate number of supervisors, you can take the salary difference and hire two or three more operators and still have an adequate amount of supervision.

Now, if you go to the building department, there is no staff there to assist the public most of the time, but yet the lady who used to man the front desk had her hours reduced. I would like to add that this lady is there all the time and is knowledgeable and professional and always available, more than the R&B superintendent who is allowed to hang up on taxpaying citizens inquiring about road issues. What is wrong with this picture, Clifford?

Thomas Reid

Likeability

Dear Editor:

At this stage of the presidential campaign, there are many polls contrasting the various strengths and weaknesses of the candidates, most of which indicate it is going to be a very close race. Some of the polls focus on which candidate is the most qualified to create jobs, which one is most likely to improve the economy, which one is the most knowledgeable about foreign affairs, etc.

To my surprise, an increasing number of democrat political pundits are making the assertion that Obama has an edge based solely on his “likeability.” I find it absolutely mind-boggling that this is a criterion for choosing a president of our nation. However, when one considers that it was largely Obama’s so-called “charisma” and the fact he is an African American that contributed greatly to his winning the presidency three-and-a-half years ago, I guess these criteria mean more to a lot of people than something as mundane as “qualifications.”

But, when I reflect upon it, likeability, appearance and superficial Hollywood fluff wins elections in third-world counties, so why shouldn’t it work here? Under Obama, we’re already well on our way to becoming a European-style socialist state and with another four-year term, Obama can make us into a third-world country every radical Muslim and Marxist will be proud of.

Gary Stansbury

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