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Letters to the Editor - page 2

Guidelines for Letters to the Editor submissions: We believe that our letters section is an important forum for open discussion of opinions from all walks of life. The views expressed in this forum are not necessarily the opinions of the newspaper. We strive to be an unbiased paper, with a diverse readership. Our letters section will reflect that. We accept letters that are up to 300 words in length. We reserve the right to edit letters to fit into that space if they are too long, though we will try to give you the option to edit your own first. We will occasionally, and at the editors’ discretion, agree to publish a letter in multiple parts over several weeks, but it is not a guarantee for any letter or letter writer. Personal attacks, libel, ax-grinding, muckraking, and profanity will not be published. No matter the issue, it is possible to convey an opinion in a civilized manner and we will accept nothing less. Self-serving advocacy pieces are not letters. This is especially true during political seasons- candidates and their families cannot write in to ask people to vote for them (or the family member). All letters should be exclusive to the World Journal. If your letter was also submitted to other papers, it decreases the chance of your letter making it into ours. Preference will be given to letters related to local issues. All letters must be signed first and last name, and include your street address and city. We will publish only your name and the city. Letters are due by Tuesday at noon the week you want it published. We reserve the right to not publish a letter at the editor’s discretion, for any reason, at any time. For reference, this set of guidelines is 300 words long.

Letters to the editor

Editor’s note: On October 14, 2019, TSD board member Pat Sandoval drafted a letter outlining concerns he has about the district and the way it handles certain situations.  Due to its length, we did not publish it at that time. However, community interest has surged and multiple letters have been written back and forth about the issue, so we have decided to publish Mr. Sandoval’s unedited letter on our website at https://huerfanoworldjournal.com/category/letters/ for background context for the following two letters.

Trinidad School District #1 Board response to Sandoval’s Opinion Letter to the Chronicle News:

We are saddened that our fellow Board Member, Patrick Sandoval would attempt single handedly to defeat a bond issue that our school district so desperately needs. It clearly disrespects the students and all citizens of School District No. 1. Mr. Sandoval’s opinions are laced with innuendo and false information intended to harm the students, staff, and citizens of Trinidad.

In the meantime, other individual Board of Education members will be working day and night, to gain voter approval of the bond issue Mr. Sandoval seeks to defeat. Passage of the bond issue will not involve a tax increase and will provide our community a grant of over 11 million dollars to completely remodel our outdated middle school and make significant improvements to our high school.

Loss of these funds will cause irreparable harm to the children of our community.

Respectfully,

~Paul Montera, president, Deb Hartman, vice president, Joe Terry, secretary, Dan Ruscetti,

board member

Trinidad, CO

 

Pat Sandoval responds to the TSD school board

I would like to respond to both Board of Education (BOE) responses to my opinion letter.

First I have never said that I was not in favor of the ballot issue. I supported it last year and do so this year. I have never told anyone not to vote for the ballot issue. The community is well informed of the importance it has on the school district and will vote I believe in support of the ballot issue.

What is interesting is the BOE lack of response to address any of the other issues I have mentioned.

Also interesting is that the responses by the BOE to my opinion were taken prior to my opinion being published in the Chronicle news.

When did the BOE meet to discuss what to put in the responses? Was there a proper notice of a public meeting as required by the sunshine law or was it done over the phone or by email which are still in violation of the open meetings law? Have they just admitted to having violated the open meetings law?

Earlier this year the Chronicle took exception to Governor Polis staff in trying to influence the Chronicle’s publishing of an article. It seems they, the Chronicle, may have done something similar in violation of journalism ethics by giving my letter to the BOE before my letter was published.

Also I take exception to the Chronicle changing my letter.

~Patrick Sandoval

Trinidad, CO

 

Proposition CC

To all Senior Citizens, families and friends:

Proposition CC will Eliminate the Senior Property Tax Exemption (which gives Senior citizens a tax break on their property Taxes). This exemption has helped senior citizens on fixed incomes for a number of years, us included. If you are not familiar with it, citizens 65 and over and have lived in their primary address for 10 years can apply for this exemption. It can actually save people 50% of their property taxes. Also Proposition CC if passed would also give complete ability and authority to the legislators to Raise your Taxes Without your approval. Under Tabor We The People have had the Right and privilege to Vote on all Tax Increases. I believe we have defeated at least 6 Tax Increases since Tabor has been in effect.

Proposition CC would Eliminate the Voice of We The People. I care about our Senior Citizens and the privilege we have had to receive the Senior Property Tax Exemption. I urge all of you help your family,friends and yourselves and VOTE NO on Proposition CC. Sincerely,

~William and Carol Belt

Walsenburg, CO

 

Shape up, Walsenburg

I have a question, several actually. First, does it seem strange to you that we are now building a new municipal bldg where suspected criminals will be tried, but the District Attorney is letting many of them go?

Second, when are the sidewalks and bridge going to be completed on Walsen and 7th? They are way behind, and the area around the bridge is a safety hazard, actually the entire area is a safety hazard. Did you know that there is not a pedestrian walk way? What happens when someone is hurt or killed? Get it done!

Third, who is painting the mural on 7th and Main? Thank you for no longer disrespecting it. I do not believe a pumpkin head on a Native American is funny. I am insulted by this!

Fourth, I have spoken to City Council several times about the bridge on Main St and 12th. A friend of mine recently crossed over the bridge in his wheelchair. There is a part where the boards sag at the end and he hit it and his foot fell off the rest. I believe he is going to lose his toe. It is a very dangerous bridge, when is this bridge or at least the walk area going to be fixed? It is also a danger to everyone who crosses it!

And finally, did you vote yet? If not, please do so. We need some new blood in City Council. We need someone who will be there for the people. Good luck Brian LaLander for mayor.

~Carmen J. Lara

Walsenburg, CO

BALLOT ISSUE 6a Huerfano Fire Mill Levy

Regarding the recent ballot issue for the Mill Levy 6A that the Huerfano County Fire Protection District is seeking, I feel that after having spent nearly a decade calling Huerfano County my home, I would like to give some first person insight for those that will be considering the issue.

This Mill Levy increase is NOT the agency requesting additional funds for salaries, perks or similar. It is simply to operate the agency in the year 2020 with what has been funded with the equivalent of dollar value from the 1970’s. The equipment that is necessary to provide even the most basic of services for fire protection is extremely costly and MUST be maintained and as time progresses, and eventually replaced. The cost is actually estimated to be $35/YEAR per $100,000 value.

These volunteers respond 24 hours a day and EVERY day of the year, no matter what, because they are committed, dedicated and hardworking people. The salary for a firefighter in Pueblo is $4,324-$5,706 (freedom of information public data) for WORKING A MERE 10 days a month (Captains and higher ranks even MORE)…. these volunteer responders do not receive a salary. They do it to contribute to the community from the goodness that is within EACH and EVERY one of them. They personally sacrifice on a daily basis to provide the community with emergency services for a FRACTION of an operating budget that other similar agencies have to work with. I would sincerely hope that the voters of Huerfano County realize just how good they have it with the Huerfano County Fire Protection District providing their protection and pass this Mill Levy to keep the agency funded and operating as well as possible… It is not a matter of whether or not each resident will need assistance, but WHEN they will need it.

Voters must face the facts, while the labor and the personal risk of injury and extremely high risk of associated cancers and other diseases that is taken by each of these responders is “free,” the overhead costs of running the agency are not. Are you REALLY willing to jeopardize your fire protection when it literally costs just cents per day more under the proposed mill levy increase ? Please, I implore you, provide these people with equipment that functions when it is needed most. THEY are the ones putting their lives on the line for yours and ask nothing more than the tools and resources to perform these functions.

~Fred Partee Pueblo, CO

Letters to the editor & Card of Thanks

Don’t go speechless

If you don’t speak up you can’t be heard.

As a Huerfano County resident, I am bewildered by the magnitude of conflict that exists in our county. There are lots of posts on Facebook, but where is everyone when the budget for the year is reviewed by the BOCC and there is a time for public input? Where is everyone then?

Show up, speak up, be heard.

A post on Facebook or any other social media does not change anything. Showing up takes time at boring meeting, sitting in uncomfortable chairs BUT that is the way to change. If you want a voice, you must participate.

All meetings are posted on the bulletin board in the court house. I am not sure where else the meetings are posted. I am sure if the residents contacted the county or city a list would be provided as per state statute. The bottom line is resident participation. Isn’t it our responsibility as residents and citizens of our county and country to partake in our democracy?

Speak up where it can make a difference. Take effective action for the vision you have for our county. If you don’t speak up you can’t be heard.

~ Dale Lyons,

Gardner, CO

 

Slow down!

To all the people who travel the roads of Colorado, whether you’re a local citizen, visitor, or just passing through this fine state. PLEASE SLOW DOWN!

I have, unfortuantely, witnessed several close calls with emergency personnal and/or their vehicles when on the scene of an accident or traffic stop.

These people, whether paid or volunteer, are here to help and should not have to worry about becoming a victim of inattentive drivers.

Their safety is just as important as yours!

Please take the time to be aware of emergency vehicles and give them the space and the respect to do what they train so hard for.

Sooner or later in life we will all need an EMT, paramedic, firefighter, law enforcement officer, tow truck driver, etc. and when that time comes, we will all want 100% of their attention.

So when you see an emergency vehicle, PLEASE move over, slow down and treat the scene as if they were helping a loved one of yours.

There is NO time schedule that is more important than someone’s safety.  If first responders always have to worry about their safety and your inattentive driving, it is taking away from the care of your loved ones.

PLEASE, PLEASE, SLOW DOWN!  You might be saving someone’s life, maybe yours!

~James Wilson,

Cuchara CO

 

Cards of Thanks

Spanish Peaks Harp Retreat thanks

A resonating note of eternal gratitude and appreciation to all who shared in this year’s 2019 Spanish Peaks Harp Retreat. From the teachers, to harper attendees who traveled from near and far, to business owners who graciously lent their support, sponsorship, and friendship (including hanging flyers and spreading information by word of mouth); to the Fox Theater; to local residents who shared their town and beautiful area with us; and to the many volunteers who lent their talent and time to the big and little details; all pieces of the whole that made this special retreat happen. Thank you one and all. Wishing you each a peaceful and joyful year. May you be moved by music and dance into your days ahead. Thank you!

~Spanish Peaks

International

Celtic Harp Retreat

 

Oktoberfest ceremony

La Veta was once again blessed with a beautiful day and many, many fine folks who came to town to help us celebrate our 33rd Oktoberfest. As always it takes a village to make the magic happen and there are many people to which we owe a huge debt of gratitude! First of all, greatly appreciate the vendors who came from near and far to sell their wares and our local friends and merchants who purchased our banners and donated prizes for the auction. We are very grateful to San Isabel Electric for hanging our banners, donating items to be thrown out to the crowd and especially for a very generous $1000 to help us with our advertising costs! Speaking of advertising we would like to thank the Huerfano Journal for covering our event and for the wonderful job they did and also hats off to Russell and Annalee Hickey for donating their Bachman’s advertising space to us. Marshall Harold Wilburn and Deputy Chamberlain were on hand to make sure that everyone was behaving and the Town of LaVeta provided our power and granted us use of their former Marshall’s office for our headquarters. The LaVeta Library also came to our rescue in the power department. Lonnie and Phyllis Bolin allowed us to use their trailer for the band and the Old, Fat and Ugly Club donated their time to act as our bouncers. We were proud to have our own Peggy Arnold Hoobler give a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem after the Colorado Guards presented the flags in a moving ceremony. This year as a special treat, the El Fandango dancers wowed the crowd with their lovely traditional dances. Budweiser was our beer distributer this year and provided us with the tasty brews for the beer garden. We must also thank David and Sandra Molyneux for providing our meeting space and putting up with us, and our great crew of volunteers (you know who you are!) who worked in the raffle booth, beer garden and helped us to set up and take down. We do not have the man-power to do it without you! We would especially like to thank our County Commissioners for their support and hard work in the beer garden. The wonderful music was provided by the Alan Polivka Band in the morning and Slopeside all afternoon long. This year we were delighted to present Marilyn Russell as our Queen for all of her hard work on the LaVeta Trails and organizing the flood mitigation. Bruce Johnson who is the President of the Theater Board and who had donated countless hours to the theater, the Cuchara Rec Program and the school, was our deserving King. We also wish to honor our special veterans Brian Chitquette and Steve Eldridge and we thank them for their service our country. Once again Leonard and the Two Peaks Rodders presented a first rate car show. It was a wonderful day and we feel so fortunate to be able to continue this long-standing tradition that enables us to generate enough money to help others all year long.

~Mitzi Keairns

La Veta, CO

 

Mining Days booth thanks to donors

Dear Readers of the World Journal,

We really appreciated you stopping by our information/fundraising table at the recent Mountain Mining Day celebration in Walsenburg.

Thank you for generously donating to our most recent local projects:

Doggie Heaven Camp, the Spanish Peaks Library Children’s programs, Sangre de Cristo Center for Youth and the John Mall High School Band.

Some of you chose to give your dollars of support to our International projects; Operation Smile, Shot@Life and the March of Dimes.

These organizations benefit our local and worldwide children in areas of health and wellness or arts and education. As well, our local cat and dog rescue and rehabilitation groups appreciate your donations. Thank you to all of those involved with planning and participating in this annual event in town. It was a great opportunity for our community to support Downtown Revitalization efforts while having LOTS of fun!

~Suellen Levy, President,

GFWC Walsenburg Woman’s Club

 

Spanish Peaks Hospital Foundation thanks sponsors

To the Editor,

The Spanish Peaks Hospital Foundation would like to thank all of the sponsors who supported our 8th Annual Golf Tournament. The revenues will be used for scholarships for students pursuing a medical career and to purchase needed equipment for the Hospital.

The generosity of these great sponsors helped to make this year’s tournament a success. Chae International; Professional Finance Company; Pueblo Bank & Trust; Dr. Kevin Weber; Banner & Bower PC; Alys’ Restaurant & Catering; 1st National Bank in Trinidad-Huerfano Branch; Parkview Medical Center, Mt. San Rafael Hospital; UC Health; Bene-fit Solutions; Quorum Health Resources; Carol Newman; RMMI Digital Document Solutions; Aspirion Health; 1st Choice Market; Rita Kasper; Alys Romer; Prim Ivan of Hollydot Golf Course; and Round Table Sports Grill.

Winners of the tournament were:

1st Place – Pueblo Bank & Trust (56);

2nd Place – 1st National Bank in Trinidad – Huerfano Branch (61);

3rd Place – UC Health (63). Congratulations!

~Spanish Peaks Healthcare Foundation

Walsenburg, CO

Reply to Open Letter by Huerfano Deputy Sheriffs, and Huerfano Commissioner Garcia

LETTER TO THE EDITOR – District Attorney Henry Solano

My letter to Huerfano Residents was to notify every one of the consequence of the Huerfano County Commissioners not funding the necessary expenses of the DA’s Office. In his letter Chairman Garcia asserts that the Huerfano County Commissioners are funding the necessary expenses to handle prosecution of the actual cases in Huerfano. He also asserts that their actions are appropriate since in advocating for better public safety I have been adversarial and they have not. Chairman Garcia uses incorrect/misleading statements to make both false claims. The basic question is how can there be a doubling of felony cases with no increase in prosecutors and support staff to handle that increase? It’s easy to make conclusory false and misleading statements. Responding with accurate information therefore takes more time.

Actual Facts Regarding Crime Rate and Related Funding

My letter was not a criticism of the Huerfano County Sheriff Deputies. I have always had a good relationship with law enforcement starting as a line prosecutor, as the Colorado US Attorney, including hosting and supporting law enforcement and the victims during the Oklahoma Bombing trial in Denver, Solicitor of the US Department of Labor and now as District Attorney. This is confirmed by the Las Animas County Sheriff and the Trinidad Police Chief and their staff. The Deputies’ open letter confirms what I have publicly said: because of their efforts there is a large increase in cases being filed. I and my office appreciate their effort, supporting their efforts by being available 24/7 to them. They were told not to change their efforts because of insufficient funding of my office and the need to dismiss cases to appropriately and ethically handle the work. The Deputies point out that the increase in cases is due to their efforts and also because the Huerfano Commissioners funded an increase from 9 patrol deputies to 20; over double. So there is a doubling of both deputies and a doubling of felony cases but no increase in prosecutors and staff by the Commissioners to handle the resulting prosecutions.

That defies simple math, logic and common sense.

Chairman Garcia claims the Huerfano County Commissioners are funding the necessary expenses in Huerfano because they fund at a level equal to the per capita averaged for counties of its size. Relying on data from Colorado Counties Inc. they go on to say the percent of funding compared to all DA funding and percent of arrests compared to all arrests are equal, further justification for their inaction. That is what that chart says; but the supporting data it lists is wrong. The chart says that the total arrests for Huerfano County were 63. However, from the Colorado Judicial records, the number of felony cases (arrests), were 163 and 284 in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The felony rate of crime (arrests/population) relied on by Chairman Garcia is 0.94%. Using the actual 2017 felony figure, the crime rate was 2.46% or over 2 1⁄2 times more than the rate relied on by Chairman Garcia. For 2018 it was 4.35% or 4.6 times greater. As of September 6th of this year, there were 232 felony cases in Huerfano and the felony arrests (cases) will hit between 320-340 cases at the end of 2019. Using 320 for 2019, the felony crime rate will be 4.8% or over 5 times the rate relied on by Chairman Garcia. Another comparison of the felony crime rate is to look at the 2 counties we represent.

The felony per capita rate for Las Animas in 2018 was 2.2%. In other words, the “felony crime rate” in Huerfano, with half the population, was double that of Las Animas. This trend will continue for 2019 since the felony cases for Las Animas as of September was 214; 18 less than Huerfano.

The clearest example of the error in the Commissioners’ position is spending the same amount as the average counties to take care of snow removal is acceptable even though your county had more snow than the average. It is hard to believe that the residents who don’t get snow removal on days above the average should find that acceptable and quietly accept it. When using the actual facts it is clear that the Commissioners have not and are not meeting the necessary expenses for prosecuting cases in Huerfano County. The public deserves to hear about it.

Actual Facts Regarding Interactions with Commissioners-adversarial conduct

Because there was a vacancy in the only funded Deputy District Attorney position in Huerfano before I took office and there had been chronic turnover, I asked and the Commissioners funded an increase to hire a felony qualified prosecutor in Huerfano County. That increase allowed the experienced prosecutor to be sworn in with me on January 7, 2017. In early December 2017, I presented the first budget as DA. It reflected the actual costs and staff needed to meet the necessary expenses of the DA’s Office. After the December 11, 2017 combined commissioner budget hearing two things happened. First the then Las Animas County Commissioners misappropriated without explanation $80,000 of voter approved 1A tax money dedicated to the DA’s office. A District Court Judge recently ruled that action illegal. The Huerfano County Commissioners without prior notice or explanation on December 20, 2017 cut the budget by $60,000 (32%). Because I could not pay the experienced prosecutor his salary (a necessary expense) he notified me he was leaving January 8, 2018 to go to another DA’s office.

When the Huerfano Commissioners agreed to meet, Commissioners Cisneros and Garcia raised two cases as the justification for the cut. In both instances they were misinformed concerning the facts and were given the actual facts. In agreeing to reconsider the cut, Chairman Garcia said the cut was to get my attention i.e. to send me a message. I asked that the restored money not carry a statement that the restored amount was only for 1 year as this would make it hard to recruit an experienced prosecutor given what the Commissioners had just done and a signaling that the restored money again may not be available in the second year for any new hire’s salary. The restored money was limited to 1 year. Because of the Commissioner’s actions, the office was needlessly, inappropriately and illegally thrown into crisis. First, as non-lawyers commissioners are not permitted to supervise the DA’s office or the legal decisions made. Second, the Huerfano County Commissioners have not cut any elected county official’s operating budget to get that person’s attention or to send that elected official a message.

Third, in the approved budget for funding for ongoing operations for any county department or county elected official’s expense, they have not in writing expressly limited such appropriation to 1 year.

The next interaction with the Huerfano Commissioners relates to my suit against the former Las Animas Commissioners regarding the diversion of 1A funds and refusal to appropriate additional collected 1A revenues to meet the necessary expenses in Las Animas County.

Although not involved with Las Animas 1A revenues, the Huerfano County Commissioners in a very vague written complaint entered into the lawsuit. When asked, the Huerfano County Attorney advised in writing that the Huerfano Commissioners’ position was that 1A was illegally adopted since it did not pass in both counties. I publically criticized that position as an attempt by Huerfano County to take away the right of Las Animas voters. At the hearing, the Huerfano County Attorney did not raise that outrageous argument but took the position that the law including 1A permitted the Las Animas Commissioners to do whatever they wished with 1A revenues: it was not a dedicated revenue stream to properly fund the DA’s Office. The Judge rejected that argument and found that my interpretation of 1A was correct. Apparently the Huerfano Commissioners don’t consider their unnecessary and improper actions adversarial.

Although backing away from denying the Las Animas voters their right to vote to properly fund the DA’s office, they are comfortable in denying the Huerfano voters that right now. The arguments Chairman Garcia advances are a repeat of those of the former Las Animas Commissioners to support their unlawful action.

Chairman Garcia says one reason for not proposing a future tax initiative is because I have not submitted a line item budget. I have always summited a line item budget, but they want a different format. So in order to get the budget cut restored during the operating crisis they created, I reformatted my 2018 budget. The substance was exactly the same. In resolution 18-09 adopted January 23, 2018 in restoring the budget cut, Chairman Garcia and Commissioners Cisneros and Vezanni affirmed that “the District Attorney has submitted a line item budget consistent with those provided by other offices and departments funded by Huerfano County.” Thus the statement in his letter is false.

It took time to stabilize the office and I had to take emergency action to handle all Huerfano felony cases myself. That took time and I was able to finally find an experienced prosecutor to join me in Huerfano.

Again as justification for not giving the voters the right to decide on more money to fund prosecutions, Chairman Garcia to further support inaction asks where is the money from the supplemental increase until the filling of the vacancy of a new experienced attorney caused by them? Had the Commissioners notified me of the meeting where they rejected putting the initiative on the ballot (another adversarial act) and asked at that time instead of insinuating misconduct, they would have learned that it has not been spent. Since that appropriation was limited to 1 year that unspent amount is held by me in a restricted account, even though it is needed for necessary expenses related to the increased cases.

Next Chairman Garcia justifies the Commissioner’s actions because I have not submitted an audited financial statement. Both sets of commissioners in a joint meeting were told last year that the State Auditor by statute determines the obligations related to audits. I asked for an exemption from a full audit as permitted by statute and regulation. I submitted the exemption request because the amounts funded by both sets of Commissioners was not enough to perform the essential necessary functions of the office due to increased prosecution costs in both counties and to also pay the $7000 for the audit.

The State Auditor approved that exemption. The commissioners don’t sufficiently fund the office and then criticize (putting the innuendo in the most favorable light) my saving money where I lawfully can to do my primary job. Again there is no substance to the innuendo which was first asserted by the former Las Animas Commissioners and repeated by the Chairman Garcia.

The last item Chairman Garcia raises is the lack of quarterly, joint meetings with both sets of commissioners. I said I would participate in the joint meetings if the Las Animas Commissioners would agree to meet with me separately to answer where the diverted $80,000 from 1A went and to consider my request for a supplemental given the excess 1A revenues being collected. They delayed over 9 months before publicly explaining what they had specifically done with the diverted 1A funds Even though committing to answer my questions and to consider my request for increased funding, that September meeting was full of innuendo and false statements (some repeated now by Chairman Garcia). One Las Animas Commissioner even asked for my resignation, despite the high number of felony convictions including the 30 year sentence, the first such non homicide sentence in 25 years.

Months before that the former Las Animas County Administrator said my request to meet and discuss the agenda items I raised would be honored on a given date. I showed up and the then Las Animas Commissioners controlled the agenda, asking their questions with the Chairman then ruling my items were not on the agenda and refusing to take them up. The Huerfano Commissioners and County Administrator were copied on my response and conditions to meet with the Las Animas Commissioners before jointly meeting with all commissioners. The reason the joint meetings were not held is because of the conduct of the former Las Animas County Commissioners. This led me to sue them and the Court ruled in my favor regarding all 1A issues including the improper diversion of $80,000.

Instead of trying to supervise my office or that of the State Auditor, the Huerfano Commissioners ought to address the actual prosecution needs of the county. This will allow for the hard work of the Deputies to be prosecuted and public safety for residents to be enhanced. Since the Huerfano County Commissioners have entered into the lawsuit and taken an active role, I am adding my formal complaint and taking the Huerfano Commissioners’ actions before the Court, just as I did with the former Las Animas Commissioners. The Judge is able to sort out facts from rhetoric and misleading or false statements.

Paid for with private funds by Henry Solano

Letters to the editor

WE NEED MORE LIKE HIM

Walsenburg lost John Carlson last week and he will be hard to replace. John lived here only about 15 years. He didn’t wait to be asked to join community groups…he volunteered. He just wanted to be where people needed him and was willing to give of his time and effort to make Walsenburg and Huerfano County a better place.

John served on the Walsenburg Planning Commission. He worked with the Mining Museum. He was a supporter of the Huerfano County Historical Society and collected food and money for the less fortunate. John served on the Friends of the Library board and helped the Museum of Friends. He provided his sound system for community events, setting it up, tearing it down and making sure that important meetings and celebrations went smoothly.

John Carlson was a giver. He had a hard time accepting help not wanting to be a burden. Several friends, including myself, visited John when he was in the hospital. He would be close to tears seeing that others actually took an interest in his well-being. We had the chance to tell him how important he was to our community. John didn’t have family nearby although his sister and brother were with him in his final weeks of need.

At 75, when many people have decided to take it easy, John was out there helping others. He didn’t seek fanfare or ask for anything from anyone.

John just wanted to be a good citizen and he succeeded in doing that. John would be embarrassed by this writing wondering why anyone would care.

But we did care about you John and we would be remiss in not expressing how important you were to Walsenburg and Huerfano County. Thank you and RIP.

~ Larry Patrick

Walsenburg, Colo.

Letters to the editor – August 29, 2019

LAC Republican rebuttal to LAC Democrat letter

Dear Editor,

I write this letter in response to LAC Democrat Chairwoman’s attack on the LAC Republicans, the Polis Recall effort, and our Labor Day BBQ.

The first claim states that the recall effort of Governor Polis is not bipartisan. Though the group that filed for the petition may not be bipartisan, many Democrats locally and around the state have signed the petition and pledged money in the effort to remove Governor Polis from office. So yes Ms. Ozzello, the Recall is a bipartisan effort.

Her second claim is an attack on us for having a BBQ involving politics during a long standing local event. If it serves my memory correct, no one ever wrote a letter to the editor when LAC Democratic Party had a meet and greet, with a campaign stop by then candidate Polis, on Main Street, during the Blues Fest Pre-Party last year. This is our second year having an event at the LAC Fair Grounds on Labor Day. Last year we had a brisket fundraiser where we fed locals on both sides of the aisle. This year our event is a free barbecue in support of the Constitution and our God-given rights. The Constitution should be the most bipartisan issue of all. What is more American than eating a hamburger with friends and celebrating the constitution on Labor Day? But times have changed. It seems that one group in this country wants to preserve the wisdom of our founders while another group would like to dismantle it in an agenda driven, political feeding frenzy. We will not apologize for our event and we look forward to celebrating Labor Day and our freedoms along with this great community. The LAC Republicans will always be “Involved” in our community and help out when we can.

Respectfully,

~Ty Winter LACRCC Chairman

Trinidad, CO

 

La Veta Fire Protection District clarification

Editor, Regarding your August 15, 2019 article, “New LVFPD Auxiliary officers announced”; while I appreciate the kind thank you about my service to the La Veta Fire Auxiliary, I must correct a mistake in the article. Whoever on “staff” wrote the article should have asked me why I resigned. What was in the article was not true.

I am experiencing health issues; however, the ONLY reason for my resignation was the verbal accusations and inappropriate treatment by Fire Board chair Littlefield at the June Auxiliary meeting. Issues the chairman was critical of were Fire Board issues, such as requests for survey results and letters to the editor- not Auxiliary issues. I was berated, criticized, and scapegoated for things that happened while I was out of state and the Auxiliary did not meet.

This incident led to me being transported to cardiac ICU in Castle Rock. Is it even appropriate for a local government special district chairperson to go to a non-profit organization meeting and disrupt the agenda and criticize the group’s leadership? We are two separate groups. Similar behavior by his wife at April, May and June meetings led to resignations of two other Auxiliary Board members.

The only issue between the Auxiliary and District has been the MOU which tells how the groups interact. The Auxiliary has never refused to support the District! The MOU says a list of needs is submitted annually and the Auxiliary funds as able. Mr. Littlefield wanted the MOU changed to remit all Auxiliary funds within the month following a fundraiser to the District with no input in how the funds were spent.

I thank all the volunteers for their service and the residents of La Veta/Cuchara for incredible support during my tenure with the Fire Auxiliary.

~ Paula Berg

Former Fire Auxiliary

President

La Veta, Colorado

Letters to the editor – August 22, 2019

Bi-partisan means both parties

I am writing this letter in light of recent letters to the editor that states the local efforts supporting the recall of our Colorado Governor Jared Polis is a bi-partisan support event.

To clarify this misinformation. This recall effort is NOT supported by the Las Animas Democratic Party and we encourage people NOT to sign the recall petition.

It is very wrong for the local Republican party members to continue the misinformation that the recall effort is bi-partisan.

Advertisement for the Labor Day BBQ hosted by the local Republican Party calls the event “Bipartisan”. They suggest that local Democratic Party officers or state Democrat elected officials will be included in the balanced conversation. No local Democratic Party officers will be speaking at this so-called bi-partisan event. You cannot have a bi-partisan event when only one party has the microphone.

I would hope in the future, when our community celebrates the annual events like Labor Day weekend we all come together as one community. It is one thing to showcase your party candidates in the parade and one to one greetings by the individual candidates to people attending the event, but let us leave out the stage activities pushing one’s party agenda no matter which party.

Let’s keep our community events, political agendas free and focus on enjoying the event.

Thank you.

~Paula Ozzello,

Chairwoman Las Animas County Democratic Party

 

Stonewall Century ride ommission and correction

After reading the article which appeared in the August 15th Huerfano World Journal regarding the Stonewall Century Ride, I noticed neither the Cokedale VFD nor the Trinidad Ambulance District were mentioned as agencies which provided support for the event.

Thank You for correcting this error.

~ Kathy Kumm,

Cokedale, CO

Letters to the editor & Card of Thanks – August 15, 2019

LVPFPD article

To The World Journal Editor,

In reference to your July 25, 2019 news article, “La Veta Fire Protection District strives for safety”, the tone and content of this article reads more as something written and submitted by the Fire District than it does as being compiled by reporter Manning. The article has no reference to any source of the information, including any interviews or noted as taken at a District meeting of any sort. I apologize if I have this wrong, but if I am correct then the article should have said “courtesy of La Veta Fire”, not by Brian Manning and shame on both La Veta Fire and the World Journal.

I would also like to make a short comment on diesel fumes and what the District has done, or not done, in regards to the mitigation of this serious health issue. The District has two fire stations, the new La Veta Station 1, and an older Cuchara Station 2. Both stations have diesel and gas powered engines under a single roof with a large volume of contained air. The newly installed system at Station 1 to remove engine exhaust fumes uses ceiling mounted air handlers with side building fresh air intakes. This is a very inefficient method to quickly remove these toxic exhaust fumes. There is no engine exhaust removal system at Station 2.

The solution to this health concern is not simple, but there are better systems the District could and should consider before they make the claims stated in the referenced news article.

~Jim Berg Cuchara, CO

Editor’s response: The article in question was written by our reporter Brian Manning, who is a retired New York City firefighter. Manning enjoys doing interviews and writing articles about local volunteer firefighters. It was not intended to be a hard-hitting expose piece on the district.

 

Open your homes and hearts

To my fellow citizens of La Veta!

In a few short weeks, five to be exact, our town will once again be filled with irresistible Irish and Scottish accents, faces, and music, as The Spanish Peaks International Celtic Fest is coming September 18-22! Every year these Celtic musicians stay in La Veta homes for the duration of the Fest. This is an integral and delightful part of the Festival experience.

I am the housing coordinator for the Fest and this year I am looking for more homes to house folks in. These can be guest homes, empty homes or guest rooms in your home! In particular this year I am looking for homes without cats, as many of the performers have cat allergies. The performers are generally kept pretty busy with events, classes, concerts, but they all need somewhere to rest up, relax, and recharge. I am looking for homes in town or pretty close by.

If you think you might be interested in hosting or know of someone who might, or want to find out more about this opportunity, please call me at 719-250-4826, and we can discuss it further. It is a great and fun way to support the Festival, and housing hosts receive a full concert pass for the Fest!

Thank you!

~Helen Hill

La Veta, CO

 

Look for the good

It was wonderful to witness our American Youth in Washington, D.C. performing at the Cherry Blossom Festival recently.  This is the way it should be. So… rather than war and unrest and poverty and ignorance it could be singing, dancing, performing, smiles, fun!

This younger generation has a message for all of us. There is always a better way to solve problems. Their way is easier, loving, hopeful and no pain-no dying-no displacement- no breakup of families -no hate. We are all of this planet earth with open hearts and open minds.

So let us listen to our young folks They have better ideas – aren’t dancing, singing and colorful parades a better message than uniforms, guns, tanks killing! Let us listen. They are smarter than we ever were.

I hope that the future will bring all of us some peace!

Sincerely,

~Dorothy Mihanovich

La Veta, CO

 

Card of Thanks

 

Thank you everyone

A big thank you to everyone for all the cards, calls, concerns, and food you sent my way while I underwent knee surgery. You really pulled me through!

~Betty Kreutzer

La Veta CO

 

From the family of Marilyn Omer

The family of Marilyn J. Omer would like to extend their heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all the family, friends, and neighbors for the many expressions of comfort and concern during the loss of our loved one. We would like to thank everyone for cards of sympathy and all who attended the services. Special thanks to Deacon John Luginbill, Sangre de Cristo Hospice Staff and Volunteers, Council of Governments and Staff, Care Takers -Jan Kelley, Lisa Ingoldby, and Christy Foster, Boies-Ortega Funeral Home, Dr. Michael Moll and Dr. Kevin McClintock.

~Gary and Lynette Omer and Family

Open Letter to Huerfano County from DA Henry Solano

Open Letter to Huerfano County from DA Henry Solano

To the Huerfano County Residents

After much thought and evaluating the growing number of cases, limited funding and related limited staffing, I must now start to dismiss cases. This is required under the ethical guidelines in order to appropriately handle cases based on an appropriate caseload per attorney and sufficient support staff to assist with the prosecutions. The current appropriation for Huerfano County only supports 1 prosecutor and 1 staff person and a portion of my time to directly prosecute Huerfano County cases. Since January 2018, I have handled the full felony District Court caseload in Huerfano County, working 70-80 hours per week. A Deputy District Attorney handled the County Court docket. Since 2017, my first year in office, the Huerfano County Court docket (misdemeanors and traffic) has remained around 880 cases per year, plus those that carry over from the prior year. In 2017 there were 163 Huerfano County felony District Court cases. In 2018, I handled 284 new Huerfano County felony District Court cases, plus those that carried over from 2017; at least 30-40 cases per year. That is a 175% increase of felony cases without any additional funding (no new staff). The number of cases for prosecution in 2019 has continued to grow. In fact, until 2 weeks ago, the felony cases filed in Huerfano County were ahead of Las Animas County, which has twice the population. That has never happened before. There is not only more cases, they are higher level and more complex than before. By the end of 2019, there will be between 320 and 340 new Huerfano County felony District Court cases. This will be double the number from 2017. The County Court misdemeanor and traffic cases will still be around 880 for 2019.

The appropriated funding and staffing in Huerfano County has remained the same as 2017, with that being below the amount necessary then. The actual necessary staffing level for this new level of felony cases requires at least an additional 2 prosecutors and 2 support staff people. Earlier this year, because of the increasing caseload, I asked the Huerfano County Commissioners to place the 1A ballot initiative on the November 2019 ballot to bring additional funding for the DA’s Office for Huerfano County prosecutions. That request was rejected. With no new funding apparently in sight and the expanded filings, I have no other choice but to dismiss prosecutable cases, citing the lack of funding in Huerfano County. That is the only way to appropriately, professionally and ethically handle the situation.

The simple analogy is like the rancher who only has enough feed for half of his herd. At some point, he has to sell off half in order to properly handle the rest. The first adjustment I will make is to only handle more serious County Court cases such as DUI, traffic accidents involving major injury or death, assaults and domestic violence. All others will be dismissed, citing insufficient funding. This will allow the office to focus on the felony cases in Huerfano County. However, even then, felony cases will need to be dismissed, at first limited to non-violent felonies. This will be necessary in order to stay within the appropriate caseload level, as required to properly handle cases under the ethical and professional rules applicable to licensed attorneys. Overall, there will be significant number of cases dismissed. This office will not be subject to Colorado Supreme Court disciplinary action, as has happened in the past.

The dismissals will not be because the limited people on staff don’t have the appropriate skills and talent to properly prosecute the County Court and District Court criminal matters. We have demonstrated that we have the skilled people to properly do the job. The dismissals will only be because we do not have adequate staffing based on insufficient funding. The number of prosecutions handled will be directly tied to the funding provided to the District Attorney’s Office in Huerfano County. Unfortunately cases over that level will be dismissed. That will diminish public safety but through no fault of the DA’s Office. The responsibility is with others.

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