Email letters, December 24, 2013

Airport board, Tippetts must bear responsibility

Regardless of the good that Rex Tippetts accomplished as director of aviation at Grand Junction Regional Airport, his legacy may well offset any gains made during his tenure. That legacy must be borne equally by him and by the previous Airport Authority Boards for failing to exercise their fiduciary oversight responsibilities. While the future impacts of Tippetts’ alleged malfeasances won’t be known until the investigations and/or lawsuits have run their courses, the current costs in terms of legal fees, manpower hours for both the employees and the current board, and the black cloud that hangs over the airport are far from insignificant.

Rather than cast the citizens who have repeated raised concerns about the actions of Tippetts and the previous board as “detractors,” perhaps the community would be better served if the Sentinel questioned why those concerns were effectively ignored by the previous boards, the Board of Commissioners and the Grand Junction City Council. Pleas to the Airport Board fell on deaf ears. When I made requests of former Commissioners Meis and Rowland, their response was that they only appoint three members and had no oversight responsibility. If not them, then who? I believe that most members of our current airport board have shown responsiblility to their constituency but that is no guarantee that future boards will. There appears to be a systemic problem that has yet been to be addressed.

As a CPA who has never had a client who wanted to pay more taxes, I’d like to comment on a couple of financial items. First, I found it interesting that the Sentinel article failed to comment on Commissioner Steve Wood’s statement at the last board meeting to the effect that the currently planned $6 million administration building is actually an office building for six people that has a garage in order to qualify as an Airport Fire and Rescue facility and therefore is eligible for FAA funding (other people’s money).

The next is to compare the statement by David Gordon, division director of the Colorado Division of Aeronautics that in 2008 general aviation visitors to Grand Junction spent about $20 million here whereas former airport commissioner Springer stated that of the annual airport budget, only $134,000 comes from general aviation. While these are apples and oranges, to quote that budget number as a reason to question, “Do we really need general aviation?” perhaps is indicative of the leadership of previous boards.

The subtitle of your lead article was “As private pilots cheer ouster of airport director Rex Tippetts, backers (presumably of Tippetts) wonder whether shake-up will ground future gains.” It seems to imply that private pilots are responsible for the loss of future gains. Nothing could be further than the truth. Tippetts and his boards are the ones that should be held accountable. The private pilots are merely the whistleblowers and often have a greater vested interest in the success of the airport than the community in general. To suggest otherwise, is nonsensical.

I pray that any investigations or lawsuits will be directed at those responsible and that no taint will be attached to our airport.

DREW ARMSTRONG
Palisade

Bridge replacement crew earns landowner’s praise

The Montrose County Road and Bridge Department directed by County Engineer Dean Cooper is finishing up the project of replacing the bridge at the C Canal on 57.00 Road in lower Coal Creek. I own adjoining land with irrigation systems on three sides of the project.

Well before any equipment was on site, Cooper was coordinating the plans for relocating and resetting my irrigation lines. His approach was to double the width of the bridge for public and traffic safety. One of my main lines would now be under the new box culvert.

The Olathe area bridge replacement crew with crew leaders Jeff Springer and Joe Allen Blowers began digging Dec. 2. Fifteen days later, seven 28-ton box sections were set right on schedule.

This is a letter to say thanks to the department. Thanks to Cooper for a project well planned. Thanks to Springer, Blowers and their crew for excellent workmanship. It is a pleasure to work with a good crew.

Thanks to the coordinated effort, traffic and farmers on 57.00 Road will now enjoy a new doublewide bridge. My irrigation water will flow better. Thanks for a job well done.

DAVID SEYMOUR

Olathe

Is the airport’s main runway truly out of FAA compliance?

I would like to commend the Sentinel for increased coverage of our airport. It is indeed an important part of our local economy; we must all pay attention to what goes on there to ensure its continued success.

“Turbulent Times” fromdcc Monday’s paper paints a fairly rosy glow over recent events, wherein former director Rex Tippets and a few hardy souls dragged our sleepy little backwater airport kicking and screaming into the 21st century and along the way delivered huge economic benefits. An apologia is not as appropriate as balanced reportage might have been.

Several of the airport board members appointed during the past year had no involvement with decisions made prior to their tenure nor with the lawsuit’s allegations. They seem to be thoughtful and genuinely concerned with governing the airport appropriately and should be able to handle the upcoming challenges.

I urge the Sentinel to keep close watch on the cost overruns already occurring on the new administration building. I attended an airport board meeting approximately a year ago at which the architectural firm and Tippets presented the cost to the board at approximately $4 million. The current estimate is $7.7 million, with construction still in the early stages. This alone would appear to put into question Gregg Palmer’s assertion that Tippets “ran a tight ship financially.”

I would be interested in seeing the documentation regarding the “out of FAA compliance runway” quoted in the story. As a pilot, I can attest to the excellent quality of the main runway and question the necessity of a complete reconstruction. It appears that many of the expansion and reconstruction plans are based on economic projections formulated before the current economic downturn. Most of us are interested in responsible use of taxpayers’ money, and I urge the current board to revisit those plans in some detail.

I am a member of the Grand Junction Airport Users and Tenants Association, but these are solely my opinions.

GUY PARKER
Palisade

Address problem of smoking to make our city healthier

Every year in the U.S. more than 392,000 people die of tobacco-caused diseases. Smoking affects not only smokers, but also the people around them.

One reason we need regulation of public smoking is because it puts those with asthma at risk. When cigarettes and other tobacco products are used, the smoke inhaled irritates the lining of the airways. The lining keeps dirt and bacteria from getting to the lungs, but when it’s irritated, it releases mucus, preventing air from getting to the lungs. Also it can cause it to start filtering out the dust, causing an asthma attack.

Secondhand smoke is even more harmful than regular smoking because it’s from the end of the cigarette that contains carbon monoxide, tar, nicotine and much more. These toxins are why smoke harms others. According to the Lung Association of America, secondhand smoke causes nearly 50,000 deaths each year.

The second reason smoking should be controlled is how badly it can affect children. Children with asthma are at an increased risk of an attack around secondhand smoke. This could cause hospitalization or even death. When children are exposed to tobacco smoke, their lungs become irritated and produce more mucus. Since children’s airways are smaller, smoke affects them faster. Breathing secondhand smoke could also lead to a risk of cancer and emphysema later in life.

Last but not least, people shouldn’t smoke because their habit affects both others and themselves. Cigarettes have approximately 600 ingredients. When burned, they turn out about 4,000 harmful chemicals, which can cause lung cancer, throat cancer, emphysema, asthma and much more. I am sure most people don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night wheezing and unable to breathe.

We need to find a way to handle the big problem of smoking. I hope you can help make Grand Junction a healthy, happy place.

LAILA WATCHMAN
Grand Junction

Steady contributors to system deserve right to health care

People who have worked most of their life and are now enjoying the benefits of Medicare have also paid premiums since its inception in 1965. An entitlement by definition is “the fact of having the right to something.”

People who paid into the system with every paycheck for 35 years before deriving any benefit certainly have earned the right for health care in return. In fact, my wife and I, for the year 2013, have paid Medicare more than $7,000 and will pay more in 2014.

Meanwhile, our doctors are going to receive less next year in reimbursement than they have in years past. Isn’t this a wonderful government-run entitlement program?

DON TEETS
Grand Junction



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