Gun raffle not such a killer idea

To the editor,

Despite the recent shootings of club-goers, officers and legal concealed-permit holders in this country, the Bayfield Lions Club is having a “His and Hers Gun Raffle.” Even with the presumption of legal background checks, is giving guns as prizes to the highest bidder off the street a good idea? Plus it certainly seems insensitive to all of those people who have had their lives altered or lost loved ones due to increasing gun violence.

While I respect people’s rights to protect themselves, are instruments of death really something members of a community should celebrate, fetishize and give as prizes? It seems like there are so many safer and better choices as items for a raffle. Personally, I will never join or patronize a “civic organization” that acts in such poor taste that it potentially endangers the citizens of the community it purports to serve.

– Suzie Null, between Durango and Bayfield

Keep water on the West Slope

To the editor,

The sheep are in the mountains, and we are very thankful for a good lamb crop. We will move each camp in the high country every week with horses and mules and will return to the low country for the Bayfield sheep trailing days Sept. 24. Our sons, Luke and Levi, will have the main responsibility of moving the camps, but I also will take some turns. I love the high country!

There are many issues facing Colorado for which4

I am seeking solutions. There are several organizations that I participate in and lean on for advice. One is CLUB 20, which is an organization of businesses, counties and individuals who represent the West Slope of Colorado. I will participate as a CLUB 20 member in its policy meetings regarding issues that are near and dear to my heart and which should be at the top of the list of priorities, not only on the Western Slope, but throughout Colorado. Those issues are water storage, highways, K-12 education, higher education, health-care quality and cost, the environment, energy, agriculture, and public lands.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board is feverishly working to assemble the information required by my South Platte River water storage bill, HB 1256. Related to water storage, Gov. Hickenlooper has endorsed Denver Water’s expansion of Gross Reservoir. This is a very important project for Denver and surrounding municipalities to guarantee future water needs. The problem with the project is that it depends on West Slope water – already very limited. The storage reservoirs on the Colorado River, Lakes Powell and Mead, are at a record-low volume. The Gross Reservoir project will use another 100,000 acre feet of West Slope water annually in addition to the 500,000 acre feet already being diverted across the Continental Divide each year.

Right now, Denver has no alternative. However, they have been very supportive of my South Platte water storage bill. It is absolutely imperative that we capture and store the water that is wasting out of Colorado on the South Platte River.

Highway maintenance and construction and the funding needed for projects is another very important issue facing Coloradoans. It is estimated that more than 52 percent of Colorado’s highways are at the poor standard. Colorado Department of Transportation estimates it will need an extra billion dollars each year to keep up with the needs. In 2009, the Legislature replaced Senate Bill 97-1 with SB 228. Since then, there has not been one dollar transferred from the general fund to highways. This year the 228 trigger was reached, but the Legislature figured out a way to get around the requirement. I ran HB 1138 which would have required a general fund transfer to highways of $200 million per year for five years. Unfortunately 1138 was killed. I will see to it that highway funding is a top priority in Colorado.

It is an honor to serve the people of Southwest Colorado.

– Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio

Become a Durango-Cuba pen pal

To the editor,

When I went to elementary school, about 50 years ago, kids in school were much better behaved than adults. In my opinion, if fifth-graders all over the world became pen-pals, now emailers, a lovely mindset could easily blossom to create a war-less culture, something different than centuries of fighting.

I decided before the school year ended this year, to talk to someone about creating a pen-pal/email pilot program in Durango. By fate, someone inspired me to run with a program of fifth-graders here to communicate with fifth-graders in Cuba this fall. A dedicated special education teacher in Ignacio would like her class to participate in this pilot program, and hopefully other 9-R schools will join in, too. School is going to start before you know it, and if any of you, including educators, are interested in participating, please call or email me: (970) 382-8086 or

P. S.  That magical “someone” who encouraged me is the executive director of the Colorado Department of Education in Denver, Patrick B. Chapman. One of his associates suggested looking up IEARN, a worldwide educational network. Of the 100-plus countries registered with IEARN, Cuba is not listed. This is a great time to get a relationship going with the youth in Cuba, starving for friendship, instead of isolation, and I am confident Durango has the warmth and capacity to pull it off.

– Sally Florence, Durango

Support end-of-life options

To the editor,

We voters are about to get the chance to have our say. The Colorado End of Life Options Act is very close to having the nearly 99,000 signatures we need to get it on the ballot this November. That means the voters will finally get their chance to decide whether Colorado citizens who are terminally ill and facing death within six months will be able to legally obtain life-ending medication. To me, this law is about personal choice and freedom from the tyranny of a painful, protracted ending.

Please sign the petition to assure that this important issue gets on the ballot. It only takes a minute.  We have dozens of petition circulators around town. Look for us this Sat., July 23, at the Farmers Market in the morning, and finally Mon., July 25, at the Durango Public Library 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Thanks very much to the thousands of SW Coloradoans who have already signed. We’re almost there!

– Patrick Lyon, Durango