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Change a child's life

Dear Editors,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you first hand for the article in last week's Telegraph that brought to light an issue that is very close to my heart, and yet not common knowledge around the community, and this is La Plata County's lack of foster homes. This has always been the case in the past, but it is especially crucial now that, as you mentioned, several group facilities in the area have been closed.

I was first removed from my home in 1982 here in Durango. Over the next six years, I was in a total of five different "permanent" placements and a few "emergency" homes. At the ripe old age of 14, I was placed in what was then called La Plata County Youth Home and later referred to as Riverbend Youth Center, where I stayed off and on for another 3`BD years. I was placed there because there were no foster homes for children more than 14 years of age at the time. I was not a bad kid, had never been in trouble with the law, and yet I felt that I was being punished for having what the state considered an "unsafe" living environment.

I like to think that I am an example of what can come from loving care in foster situations. I could have very well ended up being a statistic. I was often referred to as a case number or "the minor." But, and here's where I'm fortunate, every family that took me into their home tried to give me peace, stability and, most of all, love. Even the Honorable Judge Childress took a decided interest in me and always referred to me by name, and not by my case, and he would not allow anyone else to in his courtroom. I was truly blessed in the people that decided to be a part of my life. At the Youth Home, my house parents were some of the most remarkable human beings I have yet to encounter in my life. I was not just a job to them. I was an extended member of their family. Some kids could not be reached. A lot of those in my peer group are in prison, or sadly have passed on. I am lucky. I thank God every day for the Albertsons, for the Simmonds, for Bobbi Fortin, Rod Gant, Ivan Mensch and Gail Ruffian. These people were called on to take a child, an often angry child, and love and guide her into adulthood. And if I do say so myself, they did a great job.

So, please, if you think you have something to offer a child, if you have a loving home, open it to those who need you most. You could be instrumental in changing a child's life. Remember, they may be small today, but these young people are the adults of tomorrow. Give them the tools they need be happy, healthy and productive.

Angie Bailey


Make growth serve the people

Dear Editors,

Again The Durango Telegraph delivers when it seems most of Southwest Colorado's Fourth Estate are out to lunch or, heaven forbid, have sold out for so long to the big real estate dollars that they view the future only through the eyes of land speculators and boom boosters.

Your article on the Friends of the Animas Valley grasps a point some of us, including myself, a fifth-generation Durangoan, have tried to raise for 30 years: When it comes to growth, is the dog wagging the tail or is the tail wagging the dog? I suggest the latter.

FOAV has a great ambition: returning representative democracy to planning in Durango and La Plata County. Remember it? "Government by and for the people," or carried a step further, growth that serves the people, rather than the people serving growth, clearly the case in an area where growth, in contrast to what other areas are doing, could not be any more out of control.

When I moved to Los Alamos in the early 1990s, a proposal was pending to cut a high-voltage transmission line through a pristine area of the Jemez Mountains. Los Alamos officials endorsed the idea, but residents then went to the joint city-county government and said, "By endorsing this, you pit local government against its own citizens. You need to move the city-county government to neutral ground." Knowing that they would face the wrath of voters if they did not, the county council did exactly that, including forbidding employees to speak for or against the project, which was ultimately killed by the state Public Utilities Commission.

In stark contrast, a Durango official, in reference to the new hospital at Grandview, recently said, "I don't want to be party to letting $79 million slip through our fingers," in my view an outrageous statement for an elected official to make. (1.) It is highly unlikely that the $79 million would just go away. (2.) That $79 million will require huge public outlays in return. (3.) Elected officials owe ALL their constituents assurances that they are scrutinizing a proposal carefully and objectively, rather than advocate for it. Residents should demand no less.

Whether it is a development of a few dozen homes at one time a big development by Southwest Colorado standards or a proposal that could double the community's size and open the doors to massive sprawl, citizens, not just developers, deserve to know they are being REPRESENTED by elected officials, and indeed, the media. Citizens also deserve not to be depicted as outsiders, naysayers, NIMBYs or an inconvenience within the political processes.

I wish Renee Parsons and her group god's speed in applying, perhaps for the first time, representative democracy and a level playing field to Durango and La Plata County's planning process. Public officials who are charting a course to inflate Durango's population to 40,000 owe citizens the courtesy of asking if that is what they want, just as they need to assure that citizens get input during the conception stages of any development, such as that at Grandview, which will change the very nature of the community.

Kathleene Parker

Los Alamos, N.M.

Getting under the breezers


I grew up playing hockey in upstate New York (Rome, to be exact) and find the Adult Hockey League at Chapman Hill to be wonderfully fun and exciting. However, when I read your "From the Editor" column describing your experiences with the hockey league, it was only through inference based on context that I was able to deduce what "breezers" were. We northeasterners have always used the descriptive yet colorless term "hockey pants." Like the very colorful term "whippin' shitties" (a.k.a. doing doughnuts), the term "breezers" seems to have its roots in the upper Midwest, and may possibly be specific to Minnesota.

I have done an informal poll which seems to confirm this, but maybe your linguistic pal who brought the whole "whippin' shitties" question to the attention of Telegraph readers (or one of his overly academic peers) would be interested in researching the regional usage of "breezers" vs. "hockey pants." I am also beginning to form a hypothesis that the upper Midwest is actually a rogue Canadian state trying to infiltrate the great U.S. of A. perhaps even responsible for sending the Hartford Whalers to Colorado to pose as an American hockey team.

Scott "Griz" Kelley,


P.S. As a goalie, I find nothing "breezy" about my hockey pants.





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