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Wednesday letters: Thanks for compassionate care, differences of opinion on vaccines, protect the eagles, Glenwood needs smart growth, two sides to mask debate, and history on side of vaccines

Physician thanks

We would like to thank Dr. Daria Stakiw, doctor of audiology in Glenwood Springs, for her compassionate care of our elderly friend. 

Ruth has suffered with hearing difficulties for years, but now, with Dr. Stakiw’s empathy, understanding and professionalism, she can hear the birds again. 

Indeed, Dr. Daria Stakiw has gone above and beyond as an audiologist in our community.

Don and Diane DeFord

Glenwood Springs

Different schools of thought

Sitting at the board meeting for Garfield Re-2 on Sept. 22, I couldn’t help but think to myself that the ideology that was pervasive throughout the entire elected school board is only one side can be accepted in the paradigm, and that ideology is the one they believe personally. There is no other viable ideology. 

There are two schools of thought, and neither side has yet been proven right or wrong. The medical profession is as split as the general public. My choice for my very old body is to keep myself healthy with nutrition and exercise and build my immune system to be strong and fit to protect me and others around me. 

At 71, I haven’t masked or inoculated. If I have woken up one day where I don’t feel well, I stay home and take care of my body so that I can get back into the world. When I got sick in January 2020, it was before this virus became the boogey man of our nightmares. 

Yes, I was sick for 10 days. All the symptoms. And the medical professionals told me what to do and what to look for. After 10 days I felt like I had fought a battle for my very life, which I had, but I got back into the swing of living. I am of the age of polio and the Salk vaccine. 

The most vivid, long-lasting memory I have of it was we became the generation of hand washing and continue to this day. There was no knee-jerk reaction, no masking, no isolation of healthy people, for a disease that was many times more deadly than this virus ever has been, and the most important aspect? It had been developed over years, not weeks into a few months.

Years of testing. That’s the science I trust. That’s why, even as an old woman, I don’t do inoculations, and especially this experimental serum. Why? Because I believe in my immune system.

The truth is the truth: Both sides have an equal chance of being right or wrong. 

It’s time we meld together our beliefs for our children and our communities. Respect the differences as we respect our allies. 

Robyn McMillen

New Castle

Protect the eagles

Development and greed have long gone hand in hand in Colorado, and in the United States at large. Since the very first colonizers came to American shores, land and resource grabs have been the driving force for the removal and consequent suffering of indigenous peoples and indigenous wildlife. What the Aspen Glen golf course wants to do in relation to the bald eagle couple is no different. 

When will enough be enough? Do we really need to put an ugly house on every bit of beautiful land? Anybody that’s been in a plane has witnessed what a neighborhood looks like from above. Our developments are brown, ugly crusts that look like a disease on the green Earth. We are a blight because we do not pay respect to the animals and plants with which we coexist. Humans do not need every inch of this Earth. 

People move to Colorado because of its wildlands, but building houses everywhere is going to ruin them.

Shame on you, Aspen Glen. Shame on you, willful retired couple who says they’re from Alaska, like that makes them more environmentally friendly than someone who isn’t. Get your greed under control, and leave the eagles what little they have left. They have nowhere to go. 

Eagles are highly territorial, and the rest of the suitable habitats in the area are already settled by other mating pairs. To kick them out of where they are now would most likely be their death sentence. 

It is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism. Put the profits down and look around, say thank you for being allowed to live in such a beautiful place as Colorado, and ask yourself what makes it so beautiful. How do we keep it thus?

Nikoma Henkels


Take the right action

I am not anti-growth, but pro smart-growth. The 480 Donegan project, by R2 Developers, is definitely not the pro smart-growth we need in Glenwood Springs.

Housing issues in this valley — availability and affordability — have existed for a very long time. These same issues existed over 40 years ago when I moved here. The town built more housing, we became more crowded, safety and crime became an issue, traffic became an issue — and all the while housing is still an issue. Given our geographical restrictions and that we live in a resort town, it always will be an issue.

I’m sure you remember the Field Of Dreams movie that states “If you build it, they will come.” Yes, they will, and with their arrival we’ll have even more housing, safety, crime and traffic issues. And R2 Developers, though they say they “are the solution to the existing problem” will actually be part of the existing problem.

City Council, you have the power and responsibility to put a stop to this building insanity and to take care of the constituents you currently have — your friends, family members and neighbors — who have a right to green space, low crime, traffic safety and a comprehensive evacuation plan.

Please do the right thing and put a moratorium on growth, including 480 Donegan, until our concerns are met.

Erin Wiencek

Glenwood Springs

Respect both sides

I am writing today to address the recent events that have taken place within our (Garfield Re-2) school district regarding the mask mandate, which started Monday. I am a teacher within this district, and I have struggled with how events have played out over the past two weeks. 

At the most recent school board meeting, there were many people who spoke both for and against the mask mandate. Some of these speakers were teachers who write letters supporting the district and the mandate. 

As educators, one of our biggest goals is to teach students how to think, not what to think. That is why a key part of our job is to remain an impartial party and present facts so students can reach their own conclusions. Many of us also hold the belief that if students know our opinions, we are not doing our best job to teach them how to be critical thinkers and decision makers. This is part of why this letter has been written using a pen name. 

The other part lies in that I am not in a position to lose my job. I have bills and a family to take care of. Speaking out against my employer and the decisions being made is a risk. However, I feel it is important to clarify that teachers who spoke at the most recent board meeting Sept. 22 did not represent all teachers within this district. Believe me, many of us were as surprised and upset by the announcement of the mask mandate as you were. There are teachers who stand with the parents against the mask mandate; however, we do not feel we can come forward or truthfully speak out because we do not want to risk our livelihood. 

All this being said, please do not put teachers in a compromising position seeing as how you may not (and should not) know what your child’s teacher is feeling about this situation. We love your kids. We love you as parents. We love this community. We love to teach. We even love this district, although we don’t agree with this choice. 

Please show teachers some love because we have the same goal as you — to love our kids and help them reach their full potential.

Esther Sims


Please get vaccinated

When I was born, there was a polio epidemic in the U.S. My brother and I were lucky; we didn’t get it, but we knew kids who did. When the Salk vaccine became available, it changed everything. Yearly cases were reduced to a fraction because of mass immunization. The Sabin vaccine, administered orally, meant near elimination of the disfiguring and deadly disease. The U.S. recorded its last cases of polio in 1979, among isolated Amish communities in several Midwestern states.

Can we learn nothing from history? The key to eliminating COVID-19 is mass immunization. A successful vaccination campaign requires near total participation. If only 50% choose to participate, we are not successful, as proven by the latest COVID-19 surge, where we once again are seeing more than 1,000 daily deaths, and now must return to mask wearing.

The risks of not being vaccinated are real. Despite fear-mongering and rampant internet misinformation, following the administration of millions of vaccine doses, we know the three vaccines in use are safe and effective.

It is unfortunate that key political figures, including our own county commissioners and U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, have chosen to politicize a public health issue. Boebert’s statements about “Needle Nazis” and “coercion by federal agents” show her complete ignorance of history and public health. Had she and her like-minded “patriots” been “representing” us in Congress 60 years ago, we’d still be suffering polio outbreaks.

Being part of a community means participating as a member of the community. While driving, we are expected to stop at stop signs and red lights. How would it work if only 50% of us chose to do that? 

The number of Americans who have died from COVID-19 far exceeds any other country in the world. This is an embarrassing and tragically unnecessary public health failure. We are all exhausted with the masking up/COVID-19 yoyo we are experiencing. Please be a part of the community. Please get vaccinated.

Annette Roberts-Gray


Joyce Hoffman: The need for increased oversight

Thank you, George Boardman, for revealing the problem the citizens of Grass Valley have with the lack of accountability from the city’s staff and attorney. Ever since the City Council hired Mr. Colantuono as our city attorney, we’ve had no voice in the decisions made in our own town.

My husband and I have been very disappointed and frustrated dealing with the current regime over things such as public parking, road maintenance and road safety. It seems that no matter what our concerns are, the city is unable or unwilling to help. Now it’s cyber security to question.

There is no transparency in the way they make decisions. I urge everyone to ask the city for copies of all the budget-making factors before they are made final. We need to watch closely.

Without our observance, the city is “of, by and for” the city staff and attorney rather than “we the people.”

The same goes for Sierra College’s reluctance to reveal their cyber security issue and the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office for not adequately explaining how they justified shooting two unarmed people. Must we develop our own oversight committees? Thanks, George for speaking out.

Joyce Hoffman

Grass Valley