Printed letters, May 26, 2011

Gary Harmon went far afield to find information about demographic changes in the Western Slope of Colorado in his May 21 story on Hispanic numbers.

According to Harmon, services are being duplicated due to language barriers (ballots, dispatchers, bilingual programs, etc.) because Latino immigrants are fleeing conditions in their countries for western Colorado.

I prefer to view Mexico in a more positive light, as the U.S.‘s third-largest trading partner, with exports of $45.8 billion in goods and services to the United States, imports of $62.2 billion from the United States, and a total in overall commerce of $108 billion or 12.6 percent of U.S. trade in 2011 so far.

Good or bad, whole sectors of our economy are almost completely reliant upon foreign labor: agriculture, construction, hospitality, etc.

In agriculture alone, according to 2007 USDA Agricultural Census stats, the market value of agricultural products in Mesa County was $61 million. According to the Colorado Department of Agriculture this sector generates economic activity to the U.S. in the range of $20 billion annually, with as many as 100,000 jobs. How many people in such an important sector are actually Americans?

Regarding the gas industry, several acquaintances of mine are engineers working in that industry. These gentlemen hold advanced degrees, speak English, Spanish and in at least one case Russian. They are Peruvian, Bolivian and Ecuadorian. Their professions are hardly those of menial laborers.

Mesa County Valley School District 51, with pressure from community parents, has responded to the realities of our changing society by establishing the Dual Immersion Academy, which educates young people both in Spanish and English. This carefully designed and administered program is celebrating the first graduating eighth-grade class of bilingual Anglo and Hispanic students.

The challenge we have in our antiquated educational system is providing an appropriate environment for these bilingual students to continue their exemplary development.

I look forward to the day when we are as integrated socially as we are economically with our friends to the south.


Grand Junction

We’ve been inconsistent on language requirements

Waiting in line behind two American Indian women who appeared to be Navajo from their dress, I listened as they conversed in their native tongue. Then they spoke English as they checked out and paid for their merchandise.

It suddenly occurred to me that once American Indians were forced to learn English by the federal government, and now we post Spanish and various other languages, and also hire people to interpret for those who do not speak English.

Do we not, at the very least, owe American Indians an apology?

When I was a young boy, an old family friend who came from Sweden said he was told to learn English. He said when he became a citizen he was informed that he now had an allegiance to the United States and the flag of the United States. If he didn’t wish to honor that allegiance, he should return to Sweden.

We certainly have become a nation of dual standards and that is not a good thing, in my opinion.



Knitted work added with artists’ permission

Regarding the comments in the May 22 “You Said It” column: As one of the contributors to Knit on the Corner, I wanted to clarify how Knit on the Corner works.

Every piece of knitting we made was created with the blessing and permission of the artist. In fact, many of this year’s new artists were excited that we may be knitting for their pieces next year.

Knit on the Corner is designed to be a temporary installation bringing a bit of whimsey and fun to Art and Jazz, and it serves to highlight some of the older pieces of artwork that may have been overlooked over the years.


Grand Junction


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