Email Letters: March 20, 2017

Commissioners need to take a hard look at open burning

I believe that the Mesa County commissioners are at a crossroads now with regard to open burning. The city of Grand Junction has taken meaningful and reasonable steps to reduce open burning. If the commissioners are truly interested in growth in the valley, they must address the burn seasons we experience.

As it has been out pointed out, there are three times more burn permits issued here than in Larimer County (with a much larger population there). I have lived in both counties and never saw the level of smoke we saw here this spring. Those opposed to burn restrictions comment, “If you don’t like it leave.” I know of many who have. And they inform others that there are issues with the air quality in the Grand Valley. I know of no other activity that regularly forces people inside their homes or to leave the area.

The burning we see might have been acceptable when there were fewer people in the valley. But as the local population grows, so does the incidence of health and welfare issues related to open burning. And it does not help that the Grand Valley is a classic “inversion basin.”

Therefore, if we desire growth, it is truly time to sit down and take a hard look at open burning. There are alternatives! And to those who say: “That’s what we’ve always done,” remember, we used to think smoking cigarettes was safe too.

So let’s work together and find a way to make our valley an even better place to live. The health of all our residents should be a primary consideration. And the issues that many see when it’s burn season are not just uncomfortable, they can truly be life threatening. We can do it if we work together.

And on a related note; in my opinion, anyone who loses control of their burns should be fined or at the very least be restrained from being allowed to obtain a burn permit for five or 10 years. Their actions need to have consequences. We have seen too many of these fires this year. That’s just plain dangerous.

Grand Junction

We shouldn’t stop protecting our important public lands

Bears Ears National Monument is not just a landscape that we have all seen in cartoons – you know the Coyote and Road Runner! This place is real.

I am Tyson Younger, a manager of a climbing facility in Grand Junction. I am responsible for an indoor business where most of my customers are interested in learning how to get outside. Without protected places such as Yosemite National Park, Zion National Park, and now Bears Ears National Monument, there would not be the excitement that I have experienced in the climbing industry today. All the political correctness is diluting the issues at hand. This is an area that needs protecting from…well, us.

With the world’s resources diminishing and the world’s population increasing, we are going to constantly need more. This is not a circumstance; this is a fact. While we are in a place where we can argue about when we can extract these resources, it is the time to protect and enjoy the land, rather than allow corporations with a capitalist agenda destroy it for temporary wealth. I suppose there would be many beautiful granite floors and countertops if we were to quarry Yosemite.

I don’t want to utilize the land; I just want it to be there. I want the land to be there for me and you, and everyone to enjoy. I’m just a manager of a building that inhabits the dreams of hundreds. Without these “wondrous” places those dreams cannot become reality. Please, all of you who “know” how important these magical places are don’t stop trying to protect what we hold dear.

General Manager, Grand Valley Climbing
Grand Junction

Farming and energy production should coexist in western Colorado

Energy exploration and production has not only occurred in the North Fork Valley for a century, but energy production, including natural gas, has always been a critical part of the area’s economy. And as Delta County remains Colorado’s most economically distressed community, it’s interesting that media coverage continues to focus on activist driven narratives of the few who oppose energy development. What about considering the majority of Delta County residents who understand it doesn’t have to be either or?

Farming and energy have historically occurred in tandem and are necessary for one another. Media’s myopic fixation on the voices of a few ignore the economic needs of Delta County’s remaining 30,000 residents who live in the rational world and who want both farming and energy to coexist – like they have for a century in western Colorado.

Grand Junction

Legislators must take action to protect ongoing viability of rural hospitals

I am a Director on the Board of the Delta County Memorial Hospital and I am, again, attempting to communicate with legislators and persuade them to take action protecting the ongoing viability of rural hospitals and ensure that the people you represent in your elected capacity continue to have the level of medical services available for them in the future.

Please don’t assume that people in need of medical services in Delta County, Montrose County, Gunnison County or even in Mesa County have the financial ability and/or the physical ability to travel many miles, like to Denver or even Grand Junction in some cases, for medical services. The rural hospitals in Colorado provide an essential service to those living, recreating or merely passing through the areas served by such hospitals. Rural hospitals also provide specialized services, provided specialized doctors are willing and interested in practicing in rural areas. You can be sure that those doctors are not going to be interested if the State of Colorado is not willing to support the rural hospitals, financially, so that the hospitals can afford the necessary specialized equipment and facilities needed by those doctors. Rural hospitals are much more than mere emergency rooms to pass the patients on to some far away hospital, at the patient’s risk. Rural hospitals in Colorado are also major employers in the areas served, often the major employer within the county.

Delta County Memorial Hospital, like all other rural hospitals, serves patients much different than those of the metro area. Approximately 75 percent of the patient clientele of Delta County Memorial Hospital are Medicaid or Medicare patients and the Hospital receives payment of only about 30 percent of the charges for the services it provides to such patients. The Hospital Provider Fee is a source of payment to rural hospitals that increases Medicaid income and helps to overcome the financial burden of providing medical services to Medicaid patients. Without that infusion of funds from the Hospital Provider Fee at the level historically experienced, rural hospitals will have to reduce services they provide. Some rural hospitals will not be able to continue to operate if they do not receive the additional payment from the Hospital Provider Fee that is based on the services provided to Medicaid patients. Metro area hospitals have the benefit of a much larger group of patients and a much larger income from those patients, making the relative percentage of medical services provided by metro area hospitals to Medicaid and Medicare patients much lower than rural hospital and, thus, the reduction or loss of income from the Hospital Provider Fee less of a problem for metro area hospitals.

If a rural hospital has to reduce medical services it provides because of the loss of historic income, it becomes less attractive to doctors who might otherwise consider moving and working there. The reduction in services most likely results in a similar reduction in the numbers of employees, people who live in the area and depend on the hospital for their livelihood. It is difficult to find employment in rural Colorado, as is shown by the respective rates of unemployment in rural Colorado Counties. When more people in rural Colorado become unemployed it is reflected in the economy of the whole County, less purchases and more applications for assistance. What I envision is a downward spiral of the economy in rural Colorado that is precipitated by foolishly placing over half of the burden of satisfying the TABOR limitation on the Hospital Provider Fee.

My information is that TABOR is causing the Legislature to have to reduce the current Long Bill, SB17-254, by around $500 million and that the Hospital Provider Fee is being cut by $264 million, over half the total budget reduction. It is unconscionable to place such a heavy cut on that one fund, a fund that assists rural hospitals in their provision of medical services to Medicaid patients, maintaining a reasonable level of medical services outside the Metro area. The Hospital Provider Fee has been paid into by rural hospitals, which continue to attempt to deliver the best and necessary medical services to their citizens, whether Medicaid patients, Medicare patients, private insurance patients or even non-pay patients, and the fund should continue to support rural hospitals. I hope the Legislature will provide a similar level of protection and representation to their constituents by making sure the Hospital Provider Fee continues to contribute payments to rural hospitals at the same financial level it has historically provided.


Letter regarding Supreme Court nominations should be read carefully

In response to a writer’s claim of hypocrisy by Democrats concerning Supreme Court nominations, I would recommend reading his words carefully. The writer claims that Delaware Democrat Mr. Biden, in June 1992 warned if Mr. Bush (the current president) did nominate a Supreme Court justice before election day, should (this is a possibility, it didn’t happen) a vacancy occur, he would probably (again didn’t happen) delay hearing until after election. So the writer’s claim reminds me of the old saying if “ifs and buts were candies and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas.” Mr. Biden used the words “should” and “probably” to point out a possibility that never occurred. The Democrats didn’t block Mr. Bush’s nomination; the Republicans did block President Obama’s. Is it hypocrisy if the Democrats didn’t do it?

By the way, Ronald Reagan did get a Supreme Court justice confirmed in his last year: Justice Kennedy. Confirmed February 1988. Bush was elected November 1988.


Media should investigate police presence at V.A. clinics

I just learned from a veteran friend that both the Pueblo and Colorado Springs V.A. clinics now have a heavy police presence. If a veteran asks reasonable but tough questions, those police move in to within a couple feet of him or her in an intimidating manner. He theorizes that he staff can summon them from their computer terminals on their own initiative. Is this what we’ve come to? Given the ongoing dysfunction of the V.A. system, are veterans now out of line in asking pertinent questions?

More to the point, are you in the media going to look into this? Or is this just one more issue you will ignore as not falling within the parameters of what you consider news? Your buddy politicians that have brought us to this, skate, while it’s OK for veterans to wait their turn. That turn is determined by a hostile staff tired of being asked questions they can’t answer because politicians are only good at diverting responsibility from a system they no longer have a handle on.

Colorado Springs

Letter indicates how strong is the influence of conservative media sources

A letter printed this morning in the Sentinel indicates just how strong is the influence of conservative media sources. Mike Lowenstein regurgitates a current story circulating in conservative circles lately meant to justify Senate Majority Leader’s Mitch McConnell’s refusal to allow Obama’s choice for a Supreme Court justice to even get a hearing.

Joe Biden is quoted as suggesting the same technique in 1992 relative to a Bush nomination for a justice. How many utterances by a politician, some extreme, have you ever heard that were never carried out? Like, maybe, lock up Hillary Clinton? Lowenstein leaves out a critical point. Bush nominated a person for justice and the nomination was dutifully handled without delay.

Lowenstein has passed on what conservatives consider justification for an act carried out based on a politician’s suggestion that never happened. Is there a difference here? In other words, you have just seen the effect of the conservative media reach into our lives and that of the social media for spreading it. A biased conservative willingly passed on what seems to be a factual historical occurrence but the critical part is left out. A Democrat made a suggestion that was never acted on and a Republican uses the suggestion to actually follow through with an act. No, Mike, the Sentinel was not showing hypocrisy or deviousness, it was you.

So goes politics as usual and responses from a gullible, or willful, public.

Grand Junction


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