Sewer argument smells funny

To the editor:

The arguments for keeping the sewer plant at Santa Rita Park, and in favor of Question 2B, range from the easily refuted to the completely absurd.

Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit. I mention these not because they are worthy of debate, but because they show how proponents are grasping at the thinnest of straws. Can anyone think of a new place to dump snow, or a place for “possibly an expanded future bicycle park?” Great. Let’s move on.

The cost of the upcoming project is a huge concern for city residents and leaders alike. Unfortunately City staff has given inaccurate cost estimates to City Council and voters; their estimates are based on a far larger plant than what will be built, and staff have declined to provide numbers based on the actual plans. While voters are being asked to go $68 million in debt, we have only the vaguest idea of the cost of moving the plant vs. keeping it in place.

Another justification from City Council is the reported threat of a lawsuit from future neighbors of a relocated wastewater plant. It’s true that anyone can sue anyone for anything, but that doesn’t mean they have a case. If City staff had been diligent in exploring options, they would have approached those residents and offered ways to mitigate impacts. For reasons unknown, there is no indication that they did that.

If 2B fails, it will be a great opportunity for City Council to show leadership and responsiveness and demand a fair assessment of alternative sites for the sewer plant. If 2B is passed, and the sewer plant stays at Santa Rita, we will have decades to wonder why. Vote “no” on 2B.

– Jon Broholm, Durango

Setting record straight at AHS

To the editor,

With the recent front-page stories highlighting drug and alcohol use among student-athletes in Durango, I would like to address what I believe are misperceptions about Animas High School (AHS) and how the school has handled the issue with student-athletes who were involved. 

Our head of school and assistant head of school met with those AHS students and families involved in the DHS athletic team incidents and determined appropriate, significant disciplinary consequences for our students that are consistent with AHS school policies. They have not turned a blind eye to the issue in any way.  

Beyond the legal and safety issues of their behavior, AHS administration also addressed the fact that these AHS students were representing AHS and how their actions were damaging to AHS’ reputation, our school community, the students’ teams, DHS and their families.  

As a board member and parent of two AHS students, I believe one of the best things about AHS is that teachers and staff take a holistic view of working with children;  they recognize that their work with students goes beyond academics. The physical, social and emotional well-being of each student is important to them, and they work hard to have authentic relationships that support honest communication and growth; this is true in general, and also in their approach to substance use.

Young people in Durango are experimenting with drugs, alcohol and tobacco. This is true for students at AHS as well. The perception that substance use by students is tolerated or accepted among staff or administration at AHS is simply unfounded. Administration has addressed the issue and emphasized AHS substance-use policies and how students who break these rules will be disciplined and supported –there are clear expectations and consequences for those who don’t live up to these expectations.

Also, a Substance Awareness Committee (SAC) was started at AHS last spring. Throughout the school year, and with student, staff and parent involvement and input, SAC will find multiple ways to share conversations, guest speakers and resources that will help students learn more about the impact of drug, alcohol and tobacco use.

It’s unfortunate that this error in judgment was made so public. I hope the publicity, consequences and discipline these students receive help them learn from their mistake, grow as individuals and move on to have a great and productive school year.

– Linda Fitts-Liberman, Durango

Sheldon, the difference we need

To the editor,

Matt Sheldon is one of the best public servants I know. I first met Matt when I was a senior at DHS, volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club. Matt worked there at the time, and once a week I got to learn from him by watching the way he interacted with the children. He was a great role model for them, and for me, and I ended up working there for two summers because of his example.

Over the next few years, Matt worked on several campaigns, and I committed to helping him when I could. He was an inspiring leader, so full of passion for the Durango community, and so full of ideas on how to help the people in it. He worked long days for low pay to make sure we elected people who would fight for us. Matt is continuing that much-needed fight today. 

Our community is facing a challenge now, one where our education system lacks the resources it both needs and deserves. This could mean fewer teachers, bigger class sizes, fewer after-school and vocational courses for our students, and other cuts to the real programs helping children succeed. We need a school board that understands this system and the people it serves.

Matt, like myself, is the son of a teacher. We both saw our parents take work home every night, grading tests and making lesson plans. We know that a teacher’s work gets even harder when administrators introduce policies not grounded in classroom realities. Matt’s personal experience with both the children of this community and their educators make him the ideal candidate.

Matt’s passion for Durango’s students and teachers is why we need him. It’s why I am inspired by him, and why I’m voting for him. Matt understands the challenges children and educators are facing today and will bring everyone together to do what is best for Durango’s children. I hope you will join me in putting this bright, energetic man where he can truly make the difference we need.

– Ben Grazda, Durango

Be part of the co-op movement

To the editor,

For many businesses, maximizing profit is the bottom line. Resources are extracted from the earth, human labor transforms those resources into products and services, and the resulting profit is funneled into the hands of a very few. Oxfam recently released a report, “Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More,” which found that, as of 2014, the 80 richest individuals in the world are wealthier than the bottom 50 percent of the world’s population. This bears repeating: The 80 wealthiest people, a group that could fit on a bus, control more wealth than 3.5 billion people.

The wealthy are not only accumulating more wealth, but they are accumulating it faster. Between 2009-14, Oxfam reports, the wealth of those 80 richest people in the world doubled. This, while the rest of the world was mired in the Great Recession, with rampant unemployment and people’s life savings wiped out. If current trends continue, Oxfam notes, by 2016, the richest 1 percent of the world’s population will control more wealth than the bottom 99 percent.

What are we as individuals to do about this enormous momentum to extract our economic “energy – money – for the benefit of the few?

Cooperatively owned businesses are one way to maintain control of and stay invested in our economic lives. Cooperatives come in many forms and have been, and continue to be, an antidote to monopoly capitalism across the globe.

With credit unions, utilities, health-care and food co-ops, to name just a few, more than 130 million people in America are members of some sort of consumer cooperative organization. Our region is home to a number of co-ops that provide essential services to its owner/members and the public at large, such as La Plata Electric Association, Basin Co-op, Southwest Colorado Federal Credit Union and Durango Natural Foods Co-op.

A bit of history: food co-ops emerged in the 1880s in England by weavers who found themselves vulnerable as servile labor within a new industrial system. These people wanted to be in control of the mechanism by which they were fed, so they could be self-reliant and not need charity.

Today, food co-ops stay true to this original ideal, offering open membership and democratic control while providing locally produced, fresh, quality foods that are less processed and healthier for the individual and the environment.

Durango Natural Foods Co-op is community owned and mission driven – not profit driven. DNF Co-op began in 1974 as a food-buying club and over the last 40 years, has grown to be owned by more than 1,300 community members. The co-op buys local foods and products from more than 40 Colorado and regional businesses, keeping our money close to home and supporting regional and local farmers and producers.

Part of DNF Co-op’s mission is to educate the public about cooperatives and to this end, the feature-length documentary film, “Food for Change,” will be shown on Tues., Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Animas City Theatre in Durango. Cooperatively priced at $3 per ticket, we invite you to join us to learn more about the important role of food cooperatives in America.

– Cooperatively Yours, Brian Gaddy, general manager, and Jules Masterjohn, board member,  Durango Natural Foods Co-op


(Editor’s note: The following was sent to us by Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser in reference to the joint Durango-Telluride choral societies concerts on Oct. 9 and 11. The letter first appeared in the Telluride Daily Planet.)

‘Requiem’makes musical memory

To the editor,

Last Sunday was one of those lovely autumn days for which Telluride is known: blue skies, gold leaves and warm temperatures.  Those of us who walked into the Palm Theatre that afternoon, away from the sublime scenes and lovely light, made a very wise decision. We experienced one of Telluride’s golden musical performances.  The Durango Choral Society and the Telluride Choral Society blended their voices with the pure notes of a 20-piece orchestra to sing and play “Requiem for Eagles” by David Lingle, adapted and orchestrated by Dalen Stevens. This magnificent combination of talented singers and instrumentalists was directed by Linda Mack Berven. Although the rehearsals of the two choral groups were done separately, the total effect last Sunday was a perfectly prepared performance of a remarkable piece of music.

The effort was initiated and hosted by the Telluride Choral Society, but it would not have had the immense impact on the audience without the number of singers Durango Choral Society enjoys. Telluride Choral Society is an excellent ensemble, but the number of vocalists (ours included), as well as the high skill level of the orchestra members, were needed for this world premiere. It was marvelous!

We extend our highest compliments to Dalen Stevens for taking a rough draft and turning it into a finished product of great value as well as our deepest thanks to David Lingle for bringing outstanding music to Telluride while he was still with us and again yesterday at the Palm Theatre.

Our thanks are extended to Rhonda Muckerman and the Telluride Choral Society for this opportunity to hear beautiful music in our small town from an original score. Without the skill and talent of Dalen Stevens and the commitment of the Telluride Choral Society, “Requiem for Eagles” would never be completed and ready for other choral societies to perform. Thanks to all who made it an afternoon of a wonderful musical memory.

– Ann M. Brady, Telluride

Fear, partisanship and slander

To the editor,

I was out of town last week, so I’m not sure what the “progressives” that Dennis Pierces’ letter to the editor references actually wrote about. But what I gleaned from Mr. Pierce’s letter in the Oct. 15 Telegraph, is that he’s a firm believer in polarizing a debate by virtue of his labeling others with divergent views and slandering them. Also, that he looks at gun control piece-meal vs. the big picture, meaning why do we need automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines as citizens? If it’s the ol’ 2nd Amendment argument, well, I suggest you have a laugh like I did at Jim Jefferies’ stand-up comedy response to those arguments:

Some levity when dealing with people like Mr. Pierce who use fear (of the impending government take-over of our civil rights?) and partisanship/slandering to obscure the big picture, is helpful to deal with the pain of knowing innocents are again being killed with automatic weapons with high capacity magazines.

– Tim Thomas, Durango