Email letters, May 1, 2014

Garfield County must keep emissions under control

The Sentinel reported on April 22 that Garfield County officials are declaring their air to be cleaner than ever and decrying the notion that the oil and gas industry should have to curtail dangerous emissions.

While clean air should be celebrated, Garfield County’s claims that we should now forget about air pollution from drilling and fracking are not only misplaced, they’re dangerous.

True, Garfield County may not currently be violating air quality standards. That’s a relief. But simply because an area is not violating doesn’t mean it can’t or never will.

Take Rio Blanco County to the north. For years, air quality there remained in compliance with health limits. Yet after a spat of high ozone in 2013, Colorado health officials have now acknowledged: Rio Blanco County is violating.

Ozone is the key ingredient of smog, the same pollution that plagues Los Angeles. Yet, while Rio Blanco County may not be big in population, it’s big in oil and gas.

In fact, oil and gas operations are the largest source of smog-forming pollution in Rio Blanco County, annually releasing more than 25,000 tons of these contaminants, according to state of Colorado inventories.

Garfield County is also big in oil and gas. It’s responsible for 35,000 tons of smog-forming emissions every year, far more than in Rio Blanco County.

New rules adopted by the Colorado Air Commission give hope that this pollution will be kept in check. However, this doesn’t mean we abandon vigilance. As we’ve seen in Rio Blanco, clean air can turn unhealthy without precaution.

Drilling and fracking is intensely polluting. For public health, Garfield County shouldn’t turn its back on precaution, it should embrace efforts to ensure that at all times the oil and gas industry is doing everything it can to keep harmful emissions under control.



Steve King’s record makes him best choice for county sheriff

Pennington booster Richard Mack went to Nevada to help defend Cliven Bundy. I now know where Mack stands.

You see, he advocated placing women and children on the front lines, a human shield between armed militia members and armed federal agents during a dangerous confrontation. This strategy must come right out of the terrorist handbook.

Mack is the man who assured us that he would be more than willing to support and guide Pennington if and when he becomes our sheriff. So, will Pennington be deploying his deputies and volunteer armed militia to conflicts all over the country? Will the rules of engagement be the same — innocent women and children sent into the kill zone ahead of the men?

I want a man guided by relevant experience, common sense and a track record favorable to safety concerns for our citizens to be our next sheriff. That man is Steve King.
I know where he stands. Do we know where Pennington stands?


Commissioners hope many businesses apply for job-boosting incentive

Thank you and Emily Shockley for publishing the April 29 “Reynolds-Polymer gets tax incentive from Mesa County,” and for the correction published on April 30 in the “Getting it right’”section.

Mesa County is pleased that Reynolds Polymer applied for the local government business personal property tax incentive introduced 18 months ago. Mesa County adopted this policy, based on state legislation, to promote economic development and create a collaborative environment for business to grow. The commissioners and local economic development professionals are hopeful that many other businesses apply for this incentive. Doing so will generate employment opportunities for Mesa County residents.  

The actual tax incentive calculation will vary for each applicant, based on computations such as mil levy and purchase price of equipment. The reported story contained an incorrect value – actual incentive for the Reynolds Polymer applicant is $6,249.00 for the first year incentive (2016) and will be reduced for the years following, due to depreciation.


Mesa County Commissioners
Grand Junction

Article on PERA appreciated, as plan does help taxpayers

I was pleased to see the article about PERA in Wednesday’s Daily Sentinel. As a PERA retiree, I spend my income and pay taxes right here in Grand Junction. Now that I have some free time, I try to help my community by volunteering.

I agree with Walker Stapleton who said it is “great for taxpayers” because the public does not have to pay for my retirement.

I put money into PERA when I was working, as did my employer.  PERA then invested that money wisely, so I can now have an income to live on in my senior years.

Grand Junction

PERA a boon for public retirees and not a burden on taxpayers

As a retiree of the Colorado college and university system and a PERA beneficiary, I can attest to importance of the economic impact these funds have on Mesa County. According to your article on April 30, “Good News for Public Retirees Fund,” Mesa County PERA beneficiaries collected $109.2 million in 2012. This represents about 10 percent of Mesa County’s payroll.The impact statewide for PERA beneficiaries is even greater: $3.7 billion in 2012 and $3.4 billion in 2013. On average, each Colorado PERA beneficiary receives about $36,000 annually.

With nearly 5,000 PERA beneficiaries in western Colorado and more than 90,000 statewide, the economic impact for our county and the region is substantial. Beneficiaries, like myself, are able to pay down our mortgages, buy groceries, dry goods, appliances and even cars from local businesses. We use local services provided by physicians, dentists, accountants and a host of other professionals. And we generate millions of dollars in state and local tax revenue. Without those PERA dollars, we simply couldn’t afford the lifestyle we deserve having served for decades the residents of our state – often at salaries far below the private-sector level.

It’s also good to keep in mind that no taxpayer funds are used to support these retirement benefits. Every distributed dollar comes from contributions made by current and former state employees and their employers and from investments.

PERA is a benefit system that works for the people of Colorado. We have every reason to be proud that we have a retirement program that supports the needs of its beneficiaries and contributes to Colorado’s economy.



PERA money helps local businesses

Thank you for the accurate article on the Public Employees Retirement Association. When I was choosing a career, I knew I wanted to work with young people, and the existence of PERA certainly made the choice for public education easy. The public was interested in attracting good graduates to education, and, even though PERA had been in existence since 1931, it was a deciding factor.

From my first paycheck, part of it went to PERA, along with an employer contribution that was put to work earning money. My salary was lower than other jobs, but the money that went to PERA was deferred earnings that would be used in retirement. Members of the community trusted me with their children while I trusted them with my retirement.

Now in retirement I know that what I get from PERA each month is primarily a result of years of investing my money by PERA professionals while I concentrated on my job in education. It is a source of pride to know that statewide PERA adds over $2 billion to Colorado’s gross domestic product. When I spend my PERA money locally, I know that it helps local businesses, even in times of temporary downturns.


Grand Junction

Medical specialties are indeed available in Mesa County, which has earned kudos for health care

I read with interest “Science fiction now science fact with help of iRobot” in your Monday edition announcing the affiliation of Community Hospital with University of Utah Health Care. The university specialists will be able to consult at Community Hospital via telemedicine robot. Patients can also be referred to the university for care in Salt Lake City. I applaud the efforts of Community Hospital to upgrade patient care. However, I want to clarify an inference in the article.

The chief medical officer of Community Hospital said that some specialties, including neonatology, cancer care, advanced cardiovascular care, neuroscience, and trauma, will now be available. He further stated that these specialties “are frequently unavailable in communities such as Grand Junction.” Fortunately, in Grand Junction, these specialties are available – at St. Mary’s Hospital. The specialists there can care for patients in person, not via robot, and patients do not have to leave Grand Junction. 

St. Mary’s has a level IIIb neonatal intensive care unit staffed by 3 neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners and nurses. A pediatric surgeon, pediatric cardiologist, and pediatric ophthalmologist are also available. Babies born with congenital anomalies, as young as 24 weeks’ gestational age, and as small as 1 pound are cared for well.

St. Mary’s has a comprehensive cancer center accredited by the American College of Surgeons. Cancer patients are treated by a team of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons and radiologists.

St. Mary’s has six cardiologists and three cardiovascular surgeons who treat heart and vascular disease with catheter and operative techniques. There are dedicated cardiac intensive care and telemetry units for patients with cardiovascular disease.

St. Mary’s has five neurologists and three neurosurgeons to treat brain, spine, and peripheral nerve problems. In addition, St. Mary’s is designated as a level II trauma center by the American College of Surgeons and Colorado Department of Health. It is as busy as and has as complex patients as level I trauma centers on the Front Range. Trauma surgeons are available to care for severely injured adults and children. Patients can be admitted to intensive care, neurotrauma, surgical or pediatric units.

Indeed, there are some specialties, such as transplantation, unavailable here. Patients needing such services are referred to Denver or Salt Lake City.

Patients get excellent care for most medical problems locally at St. Mary’s, Community, Family Health West and VA hospitals. In fact, Mesa County has been lauded nationally as one of the best counties in the U.S. to receive good, low-cost, medical care. Hopefully, our local hospitals can work together to facilitate such care.


Claims that communists have taken over Colorado cannot be taken seriously

Anyone who claims that “communists” have taken over Colorado’ “statehouses and the governor’s office,” as Richard Bright’s latest letter (“Pot fests on Easter Sunday prompt health-care questions”) suggests, cannot be taken seriously.
Thus, to baldly assert that “ObamaCare” was “rammed down our throats” conveniently ignores the decades of preceding policy debates, the Heritage Foundation’s 1989 plan (“Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans”) for a “conservative” market-driven approach (with an “individual mandate”, competitive insurance exchanges, and premium subsidies), the successful implementation of “RomneyCare” in 2006 in Massachusetts, its endorsement by Club 20 and Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission in 2008, President Obama’s embrace (announced in Grand Junction on August 15, 2009) of that approach (rather than the “public option” preferred by “communists”), the legislative process that enacted it, and the Supreme Court decision that ruled it constitutional.
Bright’s disdain for that “conservative,” non-communist approach is obviously not shared by millions of Americans – who fear financially devastating medical expenses more than a communist takeover.  Thus, as of April 30, at least 7.5 million have obtained qualifying coverage on state and federal exchanges, at least 5 million through expansion of Medicaid/CHIP eligibility, some 1.5 million “under26ers” remain covered on parents’ policies, and 8+ million have obtained qualifying coverage directly from insurers or through brokers.  As a result, the number of uninsureds has already fallen by 10 million.

Grand Junction



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Dear Buffaloed Bill, they serve pot with Starbucks, you love to quote statistics, how may lost their healthcare that had it and were perfectly happy with it prior to you and yours forcing a private product onto millions? Where do you make up your “?facts?” from? How many insurance companies have been paid and actually provide the benefits contracted for? I have friends in the insurance business that tell me it is a nightmare? $648 million for a website that still doesn’t work as advertised, lied to the public. YOU can keep your plan, of course you can, you have vets insurance. I only have disdain for obliviots like yourself. You have to comment on everything with your hate. You really have no life. Mr. Bright

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