Email Letters: March 17, 2017

Mesa County shows significant under-investment in education

Regarding $200 million needed for new schools:

My wife and I would like to comment on the article regarding the need for funding for new schools in the Sentinel on March 8. We moved here about three years ago from Johnson County, Kansas, a Kansas suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. There are multiple school districts within Johnson County and most of them have excellent reputations, outstanding facilities and diverse educational paths for the students. It is admittedly a more affluent area than Grand Junction, with much higher taxes, especially property taxes. However, economic growth, new building starts and housing values there all reflect the desire of the residents to live where there are quality schools and education. While Kansas City (which is adjacent to Johnson County) has struggled with their school system and slowing growth, suburbs making the right investments have flourished.

As we observe conditions here in Mesa County, it seems to us that there is significant under-investment in one of the most important aspects of a growing and vibrant community – education. While we recognize that this area lags behind in the economic growth of other urban areas, the failure to invest in education and the related infrastructure is a negative factor when it comes to improving economic growth, maintaining and improving housing values and attracting employers and younger people to the area. There needs to be a coordinated and managed campaign to convince people on the necessity of making this investment and securing their supporting vote.

It seems to us that Mesa County, Grand Junction and the area surrounding the cities need to work together to prioritize improvements and capital investments in order to maximize the value to the entire community. Our schools should be an overarching focus.

LEONARD AND PHYLLIS LITTLE
Grand Junction

Urge Sen. Gardner to vote against repeal of BLM Methane Rule

Your story “BLM’s methane rule awaits Senate verdict, key vote by Gardner” recognizes our state’s key role in the national fight to clean up leaks of methane and other toxic air pollutants. But those national rules are now at risk – and that threatens us in Colorado, too.

Last year the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that their survey found 75 percent fewer wells had methane leaks compared to similar surveys before these changes.

In Colorado, leaks from the natural gas extraction industry include not only methane, but also volatile organic compounds that help form ozone pollution. Both Denver and Fort Collins have levels of ozone that are currently recognized as unhealthy.

Even with Colorado’s regulations in place, air pollution doesn’t stop at state borders. We need a larger federal rule to cut the nation’s methane waste and pollution to improve air quality, and the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane and Waste Prevention Rule does just that.

Congress is considering a repeal of this rule, which would put our health at risk. Methane is a powerful greenhouse that contributes to climate change, which is a major threat to public health, while VOCs can cause cancer, nervous system damage, birth defects and more. Cutting methane and VOCs leaks will remove these harmful toxins from our air and help keep Coloradoans healthier.

This is the air we breathe, and we must protect it. I urge Sen. Cory Gardner to join Sen. Michael Bennet in voting against the repeal to save our air and our lungs.

STACY OHLSSON
Denver

Mesa County should capitalize on its natural beauty and opportunities

What’s wrong in Mesa County?

Look at the results for the state of Colorado: the lowest unemployment in decades, with much of the growth in recreational related activities. So what’s with Mesa County and specifically the self-proclaimed, as it should be, “hub” of Grand Junction? Both continue to report lower and or declining revenues and employment while we apparently wait for something to happen. Another extraction boom maybe? Remember, “Winners make it happen; losers let it happen.”

This county has available to it an abundance of natural beauty and opportunities that could be capitalized on with minimal (relative) expense to attract the younger outdoor enthusiast, and across the board visitors and residents.

Imagine something as using the Redlands Canal Inspection road as an already-built major part of our trail system, with miles of riding without ever leaving this immediate valley area. What a concept/example. Think of the potential spinoff of positive exposure and revenue. I’m not a bicyclist, and I do understand property rights, so this is not a self-serving or new idea, but is simply an example of doing something without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Desperate times require thinking responsibly outside the box a bit – not desperate thinking.

The elected county commissioners and city councilors are those we elected to hopefully implement items designed to sustain and to grow a healthy financial and personal wellbeing environment.

Now is the time to seriously examine our area and ask, after years of electing these “ultra-conservative officials”(cynically using quotes similar to Pres. Trump) and seriously ask yourself “How’s that working for us?”

ROBERT WEIFFENBACH
Grand Junction

Ski Safety Act may not apply to collisions between dogs and cross county skiers

A letter in the Sentinel on March 15 indicated that a cross country skier skiing on the Grand Mesa Nordic Council trails on the Grand Mesa would be responsible for his or her own injuries if the skier had a collision with a dog that was on the trails with its owner.

The writer of the letter, Jeffery Fleming, stated his position based on the Colorado Ski Safety Act, which Fleming quoted. However, a cursory review of the Colorado Ski Safety Act indicates that the Act does not in any way deal with cross-country skiing, such as is done at the GMNC trails on the Grand Mesa. The Act appears to deal only with downhill ski areas with ski lifts.

Even if the Act did apply to cross country ski areas, Fleming neglected to state that the Act explicitly excludes collisions between skiers. A common sense view might then indicate that a collision between a skier and a dog whose owner was present (and apparently not in control of his or her dog) would also be excluded from the Act. In any event, the Act does not appear to apply.

I do applaud Mr. Fleming for his position on dog excrement, which continues to be a significant problem, especially at the County Line trails.

PHILIP COEBERGH
Grand Junction

Those paying attention understood complexity of healthcare coverage

Who knew that that health care could be so complicated that not even Dave Kearsley understands it? (“Many don’t understand complexity of healthcare”)

Progressives and conservatives alike “made fun of” so-called President Trump’s ignorant comment on February 27, that “[n]obody knew that health care could be so complicated” – when everyone who was paying any attention at all (including our own Club 20, Colorado’s former Republican Governor Bill Owens, the conservative Heritage Foundation, and Mitt Romney, not to mention Hillary Clinton’s failed efforts in the 1993) knew full well how complicated it was. Apparently, Kearsley wasn’t.

While Dave is correct that “66 percent of full-time workers . . . get their insurance through their employer,” he apparently doesn’t realize that group policies are also subject to the ACA’s “Minimum Essential Coverage” requirements. See, e.g.: http://www.ncsl.org/documents/health/aca_requirements_for_employers.pdf. That’s why the Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby sued over contraceptive/abortion coverage in their group plans.

Thus, while “only about 10 percent of the population” acquires health insurance through the state and federal exchanges, the ACA actually impacts” 100 percent of the population with any form of commercial health insurance – whether a group plan or an individual policy.

As a result, annual and lifetime coverage caps have been eliminated; it is now illegal for insurers to screen and deny claims for “pre-existing conditions”; the gender bias against women is gone; the oldest applicant can’t be charged more than three times the premium of the youngest; and young adults can be covered under their parents’ plans until age 26.

Likewise contrary to Kearsley’s baseless intimation, employers have not abandoned their group plans as feared (and as the CBO over-estimated) – because group health insurance remains a tax-deductible business investment in attracting and retaining loyal employees.

Therefore, when disingenuous Republicans (like Kearsley, Scott Tipton, and Paul Ryan) attempt to minimize the devastating impacts of repealing and “replacing” the ACA with fairy dust, they should be dismissed as having no more credibility than Trump’s tweets.

BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction

Now is the time to outlaw open burning everywhere in Mesa County

Yep, we’re in the “burning season.” Yesterday it was quite ”hazy” outside and the air smelled like smoke. That’s because that’s what it was. When are we going to wake up? Yes, we have agriculture here but our area is no longer primarily agricultural. We are an official metropolitan area and the people, not farm fields, should be the overwhelming concern.

Nationally, we have environmental criminals trying to run things, but we don’t have to bend to their will. This is an area that, above all, should remain as pristine as possible. We pride ourselves as being proactive with economic development and one of our biggest selling points is our natural setting and the fact that we are an outdoor activity wonderland. Anybody shopping for a place to establish a new venture would have been turned off by the air quality here yesterday.

In most of the rest of the civilized country burning fields has been curbed. Somehow the farmers have managed to live with rationality and the need for clean air. The recent ban on some kinds of burning within the city limits is very welcome but we are an urban metro area and the air we breathe encompasses the entire valley, not just Grand Junction.

Now is the time to outlaw open burning everywhere. We don’t have to be part of the anti-environment criminal conspiracy that has fallen over the land. People live here and people should be able to breathe clean air, of all places, in this outdoor wonderland.

JOHN BORGEN
Grand Junction

Sentinel should report on potential downsides if event center projections are not met

Presently the voters in Grand Junction are being asked to approve 2A, which will increase taxes by $4.6 million per year for the next 30 years. The Daily Sentinel and its editorial staff, which strongly favors 2A, continues with its editorials for and lots of articles from advocacy groups, politicians, and business owners that agree with them. But they seem reluctant to provide us with the other side of the issue, other than a few letters to the editor.

Almost all the information we voters have received thus far concerning 2A is contained in the notice sent out by the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder, which shows a multitude of opinions why we should not approve and only one small opinion paragraph for the measure, something ignored by the Sentinel.

For an issue so important and costly, you would think the Sentinel would assign at least one full time reporter to get the facts and opinions for the other side of the argument and present the findings to their readers.

The benefits being touted for 2A are based on a whole bunch of “ifs and maybes” but the advocates thus far have not told the voters what the downside will be if those projections are not met. What will happen if we don’t get people from outside of the area to flock here to spend their money? What if we do not get the attendance at all the sporting and special events or don’t get the outside events that are projected? Where are the guarantees that these sports teams will come here and stay for 30 years? What will be the ongoing costs to maintain the facility if the projections are not met? These are just a few of many unanswered questions.

I realize I am only one vote, but until at least some of these questions are answered and furnished to the readers by the only newspaper we have, I for one will vote against 2A.

L.W. HUNLEY
Grand Junction

Council candidate shares background, promises to make a difference

The last few days we have seen the Sentinel endorse for the most part the status quo. What we need in Grand Junction are people who question the status quo and look to move our city forward. Incumbents know the political talk and walk. Newbies must learn, but not be denigrated for being new.

I was disappointed in their endorsement of my opponent and ask that our community make their own decision and elect C Lincoln Pierce for city council.

It appears that the Sentinel staff based their selections on one short interview without any follow-up references or follow up questions. So, Mr. Taggart, without any verification, is a former chief executive officer in the corporate world. Is that true? Was he successful? Only he knows as the Sentinel only passed on what he said. The grandiose buildup for Rick, nice man, may or may not be true, but was not checked.

They provided my background as a man who ran school lunch programs. That is true; I am blessed to have provided needed services to many students, but they left out a lot. We all have our feelings around school lunch, which sometimes sets a negative tone. I have heard them all. (Sounds a lot like how city council is viewed.) What they failed to note is that I ran very successful school lunch programs. Ours was the only department that received no direct funding from District 51. When I left District 51, our enterprise fund was $1.8 million to the black. That is part of why District 51 also made me the purchasing director. I am an experienced executive, both as a corporate general manager and a district administrator for school districts, who has never failed. Check with Steve Schultz, or any past superintendent. Managing school district programs is difficult and requires business expertise. Not much different from running a city and its departments or perhaps a newspaper.

I supervised over 180 employees, interacted with employees, building staff, principles, district administrators, maintenance staff, students, parents, sales personnel and foodservice distributors. I am an expert in federal and state regulations, both in purchasing and USDA child nutrition programs. I have bid difficult contracts; verified terms were met, worked on plans for new school buildings and run successful businesses and programs. I know how public institutions work.

I have made wrong decisions, but I make decisions based on my best estimation of the results. What Grand Junction needs are new voices with perhaps different opinions. I have based my working life on trying to be positive, creative, consistent, and proactive, and to always tell the truth, regardless of the consequences. I know how to support and give guidance to the employees and staff who provide city services. I want to make Grand Junction better.

I ask the voters of Grand Junction to elect C Lincoln Pierce for the City Council at Large position. I promise I will make a difference.

C LINCOLN PIERCE
Grand Junction


COMMENTS

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Mr. Borgen,  Are you going to outlaw wildfires too?  The majority of the smoke that’s trapped here currently undoubtedly came from the 2 fires that burned in the area yesterday.  The Whitewater fire was an illegal burn so doubt “your law” would have prevented it.  I don’t know about the fire by Fruita.

Meyers, your info on the two fires proves what? I would hope the instigator of the Whitewater fire would face serious legal penalties. You obviously have too much time on your hands.

Goodness, Mr. Borgen, I see you got up on the wrong side of bed again today.  Since you are already on a roll I’ll give you something to whine about. 
You write a letter to the Sentinel at least once a year informing us that this is now a metro-area and blah blah blah.
Today you wish to ban agricultural burning, so I’m thinking it would be a good idea for you to volunteer with one of the irrigation ditch companies to clear a mile or 2 of ditch without burning it and then get back to us. 
This may come as a surprise to you but agriculture in this area contributes not only directly financially but also by attracting people to the wineries and peaches and their respective festivals.  How do plan to replace their direct positive input financially and as a tourist draw to your metro area?

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