Email Letters: April 20, 2017

We can’t trust oil and gas industry to put environment over profits

Back in January the Republicans in the House of Representatives, including Congressman Scott Tipton, voted to eliminate an Obama administration rule often referred to as the “Methane Rule.” This rule was created to require gas production companies to take responsibility for stopping the release of gas into the atmosphere due to faulty equipment and gas “flare offs” that has made the Four Corners the methane hot spot of the country.

It seems the gas industry’s main concern is that any regulatory restrictions will lower profits. They say the rule is not needed because it is in the industry’s best interest to eliminate gas waste anyway. Makes sense right?

Then today I read an article by Durangoan Wayne Warmack (High Country News April 18) who worked in the industry for almost three decades claiming we can’t trust the oil and gas industry. Therefore we do need the Methane Rule. Maybe he knows something. To quote Mr. Warmak, “Wherever I worked, one thing remained constant: It was clear that voluntary measures to address problems were never enough. The oil and gas industry, driven by profit, needed firm but fair regulations to ensure a safer and cleaner environment.” I realize how important the oil and gas industry is to our economy. But am I ready to trust them to put the health of my environment over profits? No way.

CARL ELLISON
Durango

Forest Service not justified in closing Hanging Lake

The Daily Sentinel’s story, “Vandals ruin it for all” is not correct. It’s the Forest Service that is ruining it for everybody. The beautiful Hanging Lake area will be taken away from everybody, and everybody will be made to suffer. Not the vandals. No, the vandals won’t suffer anything; they won’t even be caught.

The rangers assigned to this area are paid a wage by the public, in the form of taxes, to take care of this area. That’s their job. No matter what that job might end up being (in this case, cleaning), that’s their job for that day.

Why does the area have to be closed off to the public while someone is cleaning it? We the public are capable enough; we can “walk around” the cleaners. The Forest Service’s first reaction to this incident, “closing it off to the public” is just not justified.

ANDY ANDERSON

Delta

Government spending of greater concern than Trump’s tax returns

In a Letter to the Editor on Wednesday Patricia Martin says that she is upset that The Daily Sentinel did not cover the 260 people that marched to protest President Trump not releasing his tax returns. On the same page, Bill Grant talks of legislation in Colorado that would require presidential candidates to provide five years of income tax returns.

I would say to Patricia that the Sentinel cannot cover every small gathering of citizens in Grand Junction. I believe there were 270 people at the Rockslide on Friday. I would also tell Patricia that 60,000 people in Grand Junction did not march in protest. I would tell Bill that, as he himself pointed out in his column, releasing tax returns has been a voluntary act by candidates. The Constitution only speaks to Citizenship and age requirements.

What I would say to both Bill and Patricia is they should be more concerned with the amount of taxes that they are paying. They should be more concerned with the complexity of the tax code that does not allow them to do their own taxes. They should be more concerned with our nearly $20 trillion dollar national debt and the fact that their portion of that debt is $165,000 and growing. That every one of their friends and family members owes $61,000.

What President Trumps tax returns reveal or do not reveal has little impact on the citizens of Grand Junction and their future or their children’s future with our out of control government spending.

ROBERT PAUL
Grand Junction

Let’s find a different source of revenue and build event center

Grand Junction voters voted “No” on Measure 2A, which would have raised the city sales tax a quarter percent in order to expand and renovate the Two Rivers Convention Center.

Maybe this should have been a county issue rather than just a Grand Junction issue. I have heard from thousands of people from all throughout Mesa County who would have voted “yes” had they been able. An expanded event center would benefit not just Grand Junction but the entire valley. No, make that the entire region.

It’s too bad that a few backward, risk-averse, selfish citizens of Grand Junction have the power to hurt the entire area. Let them have their rec center. The City of Grand Junction and Mesa County don’t need them to build this thing.

Let us join forces and find a different source of revenue. If this event center is a sure moneymaker, and I think it will be, then take out some bonds or some other loan and have it paid off in 10 years. There are some issues that need to be worked out, like parking downtown. There just isn’t any, but a couple of new parking structures would fix that. We can still do this. All the citizens of Mesa County, including Grand Junction, call your local officials, your mayor, your city manger, your country commissioners, and your city council people. Let’s do this for all of Mesa County. No, for the entire region.

JEREMIAH HABECKER
Clifton

Park Service provides positive educational outing for young students

I recently had the opportunity to attend a field trip for the second grade class from Dual Immersion Academy to the Colorado Monument in Grand Junction. I wanted to take a moment and tell the Park Service and the volunteer members of the Mesa County Search and Rescue team what an awesome experience they provided for our students and especially to say thank you. I was extremely impressed with the organization of the trip, the facilities and professionalism of all the presenters.

The Park Service had put together five different 20-minute sessions. Each session was jam packed with information and presented in a way that was enjoyable to learn about. It is no easy task to keep seven and eight-year-olds entertained, but all students (and adults) were engaged and participating. The presentations varied from information about plant-life and biodiversity to what to do if you were ever lost. The students were able to see awesome visual aids and even act out real life rescues. It was very fun, and educational as well.

After doing the presentations, the students were than taken on a hike. They were in small groups and a park ranger led each group. The rangers were so good to our students. They were patient, kind and, most of all happy to be there. The students were so engaged and excited to learn about what they were seeing. One student even commented about how, “I wish I had a park ranger to take me on every hike!” It was awesome.

As a parent, I know it is hard to be upbeat and kind when young kids are around and I can’t express how nice it was to watch the way the rangers engaged with our students. It was outstanding. To all who were involved, thank you. It was a delightful experience in a beautiful setting. Thank you for being so welcoming and for providing an educational experience to our students that will not be forgotten.

JANEY WILDING
Grand Junction

Proper planning will guarantee a vibrant and efficient community

Mike Kelley’s letter “City should do more than just repair roads” and the headline the same day of needing another fire station have a common theme – poor “planning.”

“Tin horning” the grocery store at 12th and Patterson added congestion to a dangerous intersection that voters had previously deemed unacceptable – design hasn’t altered that. The map of fire stations with the landing view is shared how? Boxed in needing to navigate Horizon Drive and five roundabouts with confused tourists?

Commercial developers and business thrive on congestion/customers – the mall, Rim Rock, downtown, and “the new geographical center of the city” proclaimed by a past city mayor. He beat it to a more appealing environment – see the pattern?

The Riverside Parkway planned at 29 Road interchange at I-70 touted congestion relief within the city core; reduced response times were expected from the current Fire Station #2, too. There was talk of an interchange at 24 Road and Highway 6&50.

My point is that there aren’t any designs Mike suggests for a small space that will make congested roads palatable for safety or comfort. Some suggestions: finalize the 29 Road interchange to I-70; sell Fire Station #2 and relocate at I-70 and 29 Road; create access to the airport there and improve response times in all directions. Finish the Avalon Theatre, redesign an event center with parking garage(s), finish out the river front of invasive trees, eliminating camping for the homeless, and the 24 Road/Riverside Parkway interchange. While we’re at it, do something at Unaweep and 29 Road.

Urban sprawl is so last century. Proper planning, revitalizing the city core for habitation and employment, will guarantee a vibrant and efficient community. We need to develop a 21st century plan for the future not based on previous goals based on expanding sprawl.

PAUL MULDOWNEY
Grand Junction

Remind public and policymakers about health and economic benefits of scientific progress

Re: Science, not Silence, April 16. Dr. Minnick is not alone in her concerns over proposed steep cuts to the National Institutes of Health budget. Scientists and those who recognize the value of science are trying to understand why the federal science and health agencies would be targets for dramatic funding cuts, given the innovative research currently underway at Colorado institutions and across the country funded by these agencies.

A majority of Americans (63 percent) say basic scientific research should be supported by the federal government, and more than half (52 percent) are willing to pay $1 per week more in taxes if certain that the money would be spent on additional research, according to a survey commissioned by Research!America.

Severe cuts to the NIH budget would not only run counter to the expectations of Americans, it would impact economic growth in Colorado where nearly 7,000 jobs are supported by the NIH. That’s why many Coloradans, including scientists, are speaking up. The March for Science on April 22 is a good opportunity to remind the public and policymakers about the health and economic benefits of scientific progress.

SUZANNE FFOLKES
Vice President of Communications
Research!America
Arlington, Va.

Republicans have a recruiting tool in the Democrat Party leaders

The Republicans have the best recruiting tools ever – the Democrat Party leaders. They have Maxine Waters screaming she will spend all her time trying to get the president impeached instead of doing her job. Wild-eyed hand-waving Nancy Pelosi making inane and sometimes incoherent statements. Schumer making claims even he doesn’t believe. The leader of the DNC using gutter language so bad it has to be bleeped. The top left leaning talking heads and network anchors claiming because their candidates are losing by less than expected it is a victory.
With recruiters like that the best thing the Republicans can do is just keep quiet!

MS. J.C. SMITH
Grand Junction

Calling all military veterans

Gary Harmon’s March 31, 2017 article (“VA appoints director of GJ medical center”) – in addition to announcing Michael Kilmer’s appointment as the new director of our local VA Medical Center (“VAMC”) – offered some troubling statistical information.

While Grand Junction’s VAMC serves 17 counties in western Colorado, eastern Utah, and the southwest corner of Wyoming and “about 42,000 veterans live in its service area,” only “about 15,000 veterans [are] enrolled for services.” Therefore, it would seem that thousands of veterans potentially eligible for medical care here are not enrolled.

Because eligibility requirements have repeatedly changed over the years (most recently in 2015), it is estimated that about half of the 42,000 vets living in our VAMC’s service area are not eligible for medical services – either because of when/where/how long they served, or because their discharge was “less-than-Honorable.” That would still leave about 6,000 veterans residing in our VAMC’s service area who are eligible for medical care there but not enrolled.

However, the actual number may be much greater. Officially (as of June 29, 2016), a total of 31,952 U.S. service members were wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but multiple studies of returning soldiers estimate that the actual total may be closer to 500,000 – considering all those “who returned from their deployments with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, depression, hearing loss, breathing disorders, diseases, and other long-term health problems.”

On Monday, a federal class action suit was filed on behalf of Army veterans who were denied VA eligibility due to bad conduct discharges – the Army’s reasons for which (typically, AWOL) were arguably attributable to unreported and/or undiagnosed PTSD.

Systematic “outreach” to potentially eligible veterans became more difficult after the military branches stopped notifying the VA as their soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen were discharged – due to “privacy concerns” (presumably surmountable by a “consent” check-box on out-processing paperwork). The next nationwide “outreach” opportunity may be the decennial Census in 2020 – which would require the cooperation of the Census Bureau.

While bureaucrats in Washington seem reluctant to further increase demands on the VA’s already challenged medical system by expanding eligibility, and while conservative politicians seem unwilling to increase the VA’s budget to treat thousands-more potentially eligible vets, funding for our local VAMC remains partially contingent on the number of its enrollees.

Thus, it behooves individual veterans, their families, and our community to identify potentially eligible but not-yet-enrolled veterans and to encourage them to enroll for the medical benefits to which they are entitled by virtue of their service to our Country. If you know any such veterans, they can call Paul Sweeney, the Grand Junction VAMC’s Chief of Customer Relations Services, at 970-263-2800x1-2407 or determine their eligibility and even enroll on-line at https://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply/veterans.asp.

BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction


COMMENTS

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I wonder how Mr. Habecker knows that an event center will be a sure money maker.  I have not seen thing other then a sure money loser to go along with the Avalon Theater and the downtown Two Rivers Complex.  The people voted against the event center for a very good reason.  It did not make financal sense.

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