(Editor's note: Ok, so we're pretty sure "The Lone Duranger" is not this writer's real name, and we have a no-anonymous letters policy here at the Telegraph, where we make even our own mothers sign their full, legal names. In blood. But this one was too good to pass up.)

A not so clever ruse

Dear Telegraph.

Bravo on your cleverly written article from Nov. 5, giving a little jab at the new dgo. The new dgo is nothing more than a practice in self-gratification, founded on the fact that nobody at the Herald could come up with an original idea. So, instead, the Herald thought, “Hey, let’s just copy what someone else is doing and pretend like we are better and write more quirky and edgy articles.” Dgo comes off more like a badly run and written college rag than a clever tabloid for Durango, like the Telegraph.

Keep up the good work.

– The Lone Duranger

The community-trail connection

To the editor,

In the spirit of gratitude this holiday season, Trails 2000 would like to take a moment to thank the many folks who give so much back to our trails each season.    

I want to start with a recent example that embodied a true community effort. On Nov. 15, we held our last trailwork day of the season to replace a bridge in Overend Mountain Park. Not only did the entire team of crew leaders and volunteers come out on a Sunday afternoon to complete the big project, but the tremendous support from the community was astounding. Special thanks to: Goff Engineering, which volunteered time to design the bridge; Mountain Middle School sixth-graders who incorporated the bridge design into their curriculum and made a site visit in September; La Plata Search and Rescue for donating its “litter” to help transport wood to the site; Sarah Humphrey and Ron Moore from the City of Durango, who hauled in all materials; our crew leaders; and again, the volunteer crew for weaving it all together.

It is efforts like this that make us grateful for our community – volunteers, partnerships, members and more who make our success possible. This year, Trails 2000 celebrated its 25th anniversary, and what an incredible season! With the dedication of some 900 volunteers providing more than 4,000 hours of work, we were able to make significant contributions to our trails. This included planning and building of the Divinity Flow Trail, Sugar Trail, Medicine Trail, and Chapman Flow Trail as well as maintenance in Horse Gulch, Overend, Dalla, on the Colorado Trail, Missionary Ridge and more.

None of this would be possible without our important partnerships with the Forest Service, BLM, La Plata County, City of Durango and landowners, as well as groups and other area organizations. Most notably, this season we hosted the Durango Land Symposium where local, state and national representatives joined together to celebrate our 25-year trail history and discuss the future of outdoor recreation, economic impact and trail trends. We also partnered with more than 30 volunteer groups on trailwork, including Fort Lewis College, Durango DEVO, Durango Running Club, Senior Outdoors and more.

At Trails 2000, we believe trails connect us and are one reason for a high quality of life in Southwest Colorado, for both locals and visitors. Our volunteers help make this possible. Great communities build great trails, and great trails build great communities. Durango is indeed a great community. On behalf of myself, the Trails 2000 Board of Directors, and all of us who love this community, thanks to each and every one of our many volunteers, members, partners and all who support us for helping make Durango a better place to live. Happy trails!

– Mary Monroe Brown, executive director, Trails 2000

The unfounded fear of refugees

To the editor,

Once again our country overreacts to terrorism with exaggerated fear. How quickly we go overboard when an act of “terrorism” happens while we continue to ignore the gun-wielding crazies walking openly in our streets. There have been few if any terrorism related deaths in the United States since 2001, however more than 100,000 have been killed with guns by our own citizens. Now that is cause for fear, not the unfounded fear of the relatively few refugees expected in this country. 

I ask each of you to look at your own history and ask “how did my family get here?” I would venture a guess that a majority of them came fleeing from something. Mine came in the 1630s, fleeing religious persecution. Others may have been fleeing economic strife, famine, political upheaval, etc., etc. This country was founded by those fleeing their home lands. In the late ’50s, Castro overthrew Batista in Cuba and thousands fled Cuba for the United States. People feared these refugees and now we have two descendants of that influx running for president.

Take time folks to review U.S. history and look at the number of times in our short span that we have had thousands come ashore. And surprise, they for the most part, assimilated into the mainstream and have become productive American citizens. 

So many of our citizens say we were founded on Christian principles. Are we now living by those principles? I don’t think so. Remember, Jesus was born to parents fleeing persecution.

– Frank Klein, via email

The free-enterprise solution

To the editor,

Lots of things have happened regarding health care in Colorado that have me worried. First, let me say I am thankful for those who have health-care insurance coverage. However, my fear is that this coverage is becoming more cost prohibitive and less sustainable. Almost daily, I have folks complaining about the huge increases in their premiums and deductibles. One small businessman told me his premium for a family of three went from $456 a month to more than $1,300 a month with a deductible of $10,000. Another self-employed husband and father of two complained that his premium of almost $500 had doubled with a deductible in the $5,000 range. He told me he was thinking about just paying the $695 per year fine and not having any health coverage. The latest figures indicate health-care insurance costs have increased by 25.8 percent on the Western Slope. We were promised that this would not happen under the Affordable Care Act.  

The Colorado Health Insurance Coop was recently shut down by the Division of Insurance because it did not meet legally required capital and surplus levels. There are 82,000 Coloradoans covered by the co-op who will have to find new insurance. Colorado HealthOP had been promised a subsidy by the federal government that did not happen.

It looks like the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, now known as Connect for Health Colorado, may be in trouble. 2015 was the first year Connect for Health was not subsidized by the federal government. Budget projections for 2016 show that the exchange could have a $13.3 million deficit. That means consumers will have to pay more to sustain the exchange. Additionally, a limited performance audit of Connect for Health Colorado in 2014 found the organization to be lacking in several areas. SB 019 passed by the Legislature in 2015 requires a full performance audit of the health exchange.

As if we didn’t have enough problems, Coloradoans will vote in 2016 whether to approve yet another government-run health-care scheme, which will raise taxes by $25 billion, called ColoradoCare. The total Colorado state budget is barely $25 billion and the general fund budget is under $10 billion, and now we are asked to raise taxes by $25 billion? Have we lost our minds?

I thought Obamacare was supposed to be the solution for our health-care needs.

More government is not the answer to health-care costs. We need to get back to a free enterprise system. We must encourage increased competition and eliminate unneeded regulation. Those who misuse the system must be stopped. It will not be easy, but for the sake of our children, we must be steadfast in finding the right solution.

– Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio