| PostIndependent.com

Youthentity column: Financial housekeeping is a benefit to the whole family

It certainly has been a summer for counting pennies. We’re making fewer unnecessary car trips, cutting back on the little luxuries (bye, HBO subscription!), and looking for deals on the grocery store shelves.

It’s true: More than ever, many of us have money on our minds. A crazy housing market amid inflation and rising interest rates have created a strange environment, unpredictable to even the so-called experts. It’s cause for concern not only for our own wallets but for the effects on the next generation. And while there is no way to predict the future, we can help prepare kids through financial literacy education.

In this world, financial literacy is a necessity, close in importance to food and shelter.

While it’s difficult to put a positive spin on an economic downturn, it can be a time to rebalance and reset our outlook on personal finances — and jumpstart our kids’ understanding of financial concepts — by considering our individual household budgets.  

Money is a mindset. Many of us worry about finances, looking through a lens of scarcity and fear. It is often a struggle to change that mindset. In Youthentity’s youth financial literacy classes, we aim to show elementary and middle school students that money isn’t something that happens to you but instead is a tool that can be used to create opportunities and freedom through expanded choices.

Over time — particularly a long stretch of decade-plus economic growth — many of us have accumulated unnecessary expenses. Also, too few of us regularly revisit our budgets. Budgetary housekeeping can be a good time to introduce and familiarize kids with personal finance concepts. Keeping it light and positive, talk to your kids about budgets and where you might reduce costs; for example:

  • Unused or rarely utilized subscriptions such as streaming services (Netflix or Spotify).
  • Look at home and auto insurance rates and compare coverage and pricing.
  • Phone plans: Many of us have been on the same plan for years out of comfort (and a dread of contacting the carrier); often a better plan exists for the data you and your family use.
  • Use digital or print coupons at the grocery store (most stores have an app for digital coupons).
  • Make a basic budget (download a template at Youthentity.com to get started) for a sense of what your family spends, keeping in mind that it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Don’t forget the power of hands-on learning: Give kids an opportunity to manage money with an allowance or a stipend for back-to-school spending on clothes and supplies.

Not only is keeping and tracking a personal budget one of the best ways to lessen the impact of inflation, but it is also a critical life skill best learned early. If you can create the space and time to include your child in simple budget strategy and decisions, the long-term payoff can be incredibly beneficial.

Bringing a daily consciousness to spending and saving is an invaluable habit, and incremental changes often lead to bigger mental shifts as comfort grows around personal money management.

Kirsten McDaniel is the executive director of Youthentity, a Carbondale-based youth development nonprofit that offers career exploration opportunities and personal financial literacy education to over 5,900 youth throughout Colorado.

Vidakovich column: Get ready for a pair of running adventures, both for good causes

Push It Up for Pyro

This coming Saturday, Aug. 13, the annual Pyro’s Push it Up Trail Run & Walk will be held on the West Elk Trail north of New Castle. The race is run each year at this time in honor of former New Castle resident and U.S. Air Force Capt. William “Pyro” DuBois, who passed away while defending our country when his F-16 crashed in the Middle East on Dec. 1, 2014.

There are three distances on the Pyro’s menu for runners and walkers to choose from. The easiest, and the most beginner friendly, is the 3.5- kilometer family event that takes place primarily on an undulating jeep road.

Next up is the more challenging 7.7K (roughly 5 miles), which features jeep roads and single track trails. Appealing to the more hard core mountain trail runners is the 13K (8 miles) “Double Down” on rugged and steep terrain that will challenge even the fittest of human mountain goats.

Will DuBois was born on Aug. 14, 1984, and the former senior class president of Rifle High School always enjoyed celebrating his birthday in the area of the Flat Tops where the races will take place. His mother, Donna DuBois, said there was no place her son preferred more than to be up in the beauty and serenity of the mountains with his family on his birthday, hence the reason for the location and the date of the trail races.

“Family held the highest priority in his life,” said Donna. “He made everyone around him better. I was a better person having him as my son.”

Capt. DuBois had a motto that he lived by, “Moderation is for Cowards.” His father, Ham DuBois, echoes those sentiments when he talks about his son.

“He was the best man I ever knew. He lived life to the fullest. He lost his life being a hero.”

Will graduated from the University of Colorado aerospace engineering program with honors. Proceeds from the Pyro’s Trail Races will go to help aspiring Air Force ROTC cadets fulfill their goal of becoming an aviator through the Pyro’s Wings Scholarship Fund.

The cost for any of the three races is $35, and you can register by visiting the website at pyroswings.com. You can also register on race morning. If you are not able to make it to the race in person on Saturday, you can run virtually from anywhere in the world by registering at the race website.

Ham Dubois will get all three races going with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. Please plan on staying for the big barbecue and awards that follow the conclusion of the races.

You won’t find a more beautiful spot to spend a morning getting some exercise and hanging out with friends from our communities.

Dog Days of August

The following Saturday, on Aug. 20, there is another race that is near and dear to my heart in Glenwood Springs at Two Rivers Park.

The annual Dog Day 5K will be run on an out and back course on the Rio Grande Trail, and all proceeds will go to help support the wonderful animals and people at Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE).

I have three cats, and two of them came from local shelters, with the third, “Houdini,” appearing and disappearing from my back door as a little kitten, until I finally got her inside and convinced her to stay. That was about 10 years ago.

On Aug. 5, I celebrated the 12th anniversary of going down to the Rifle Animal Shelter to pick up my three-legged cat Charlotte. We have been the best of friends since day one, and I can’t imagine life without her.

I have always had a soft spot for animals, so this race has been one that I mark on my calendar each year. Hopefully the folks from CARE will welcome a big crowd on Aug. 20 to help their efforts in providing homes for so many animals in the valley.

You can register by visiting the CARE website or on race morning beginning at 8 a.m. The race will start at 9 a.m. near the gazebo at Two Rivers Park.

Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer, teacher and youth sports coach. His column appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at PostIndependent.com.

Writers on the Range: Hard choices for the Colorado River

The seven Colorado River states — Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming — face a daunting mid-August deadline. The federal government has asked them to come up with a plan to reduce their combined water usage from the Colorado River by up to 4 million acre-feet in 2023.

That is a massive reduction for a river system that currently produces about 12.4 million acre-feet. The Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the Colorado River, warned that it will “act unilaterally to protect the system” if the states cannot come up with an adequate plan on their own.

The seven states have worked cooperatively over the past two decades to identify solutions to a shrinking river. But their response now, much like the global response to climate change, seems far from adequate to the enormous challenge.

In a recent letter to the Bureau of Reclamation, the Upper Colorado River Commission, speaking for the four Upper Basin states, proposed a plan that adopts a business-as-usual, “drought-reduction” approach. They argue that their options are limited because “previous drought response actions are depleting upstream storage by 661,000 feet.”

The commission complains that water users “already suffer chronic shortages under current conditions resulting in uncompensated priority administration, which includes cuts to numerous present perfected rights in each of our states.”

This leads the commission to conclude that any future reductions must come largely from Mexico and the Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada, because they use most of the water. 

But the Lower Basin states have already taken a significant hit to their “present perfected rights,” and if the Bureau of Reclamation makes good on its promise to act unilaterally, they will face another big reduction. The cooperative relationship among the Basin states will not endure if the Upper Basin refuses to share the burden by reducing its consumption. 

A good place to start might lie with two Colorado projects to divert water from the Colorado River basin to the Front Range. Both began construction this summer. The Gross Reservoir Expansion Project will triple the size of one of Denver Water’s major storage units. Denver Water’s original justification for this project — to serve Denver’s growing urban population — seems odd given that water demand in their service area over the past two decades has shrunk, even as its population rose by nearly 300,000. 

Similar questions have been raised with the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s Windy Gap Firming Project, which plans to store Colorado River water to support population growth in Front Range cities.

These two projects suggest that Colorado is prepared to exacerbate the current crisis when the opposite response is so desperately needed.

Abandoning these two projects would signal that Colorado is serious about giving the Colorado River a fighting chance at survival. It might also jump-start good-faith negotiations over how Mexico, the states and tribes might work to achieve a long-term solution to this crisis.

The homestead laws of the 19th century attracted a resilient group of farmers to the West who cleverly designed water laws to secure their water rights against all future water users. “First in time, first in right” became the governing mantra of water allocation, because, except for Tribal Nations, the farmers were first.

That system worked well for many years. As communities grew, cities and water districts built reservoirs to store the spring runoff, ensuring that water was available throughout the irrigation season. 

Climate change and mega-droughts have upended that system. Nowhere have the consequences been as dire as in the Colorado River Basin.  America’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead — key components of the Colorado River’s water storage system — have not filled for more than two decades. They now sit well below 30% of their capacity. 

Hotter temperatures, less mountain snowpack, and dry soils that soak up runoff like a sponge have brought us to this seven-state crisis. All seven states must now share the pain of addressing this crisis. 

The Upper Basin Commission’s anemic response to the Bureau of Reclamation’s plea is not a serious plan. We can do better, and we must.

Mark Squillace and Quinn Harper are contributors to Writers on the Range, writersontherange.org, an independent nonprofit dedicated to spurring lively conversation about the West. Mark Squillace is the Raphael J. Moses professor of natural resources law at the University of Colorado Law School. Quinn Harper is a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in natural resource policy at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Chacos column: What is Forced Family Fun?

I can’t take credit for the term, Forced Family Fun, but I do understand the fundamental principles like I wrote the manual. It’s what another dad I know declares as, “So help me sweet Jesus, we’re having non-negotiable time with the family if it’s the last thing we do.” 

Recently, the subject came up when I bumped into a friend who has teenagers like me.

Conversation started casually, like a back-and-forth game of tennis playing in your favorite pair of pajama pants. How’s work? How’s the summer? Read any good books lately? It’s the run of the mill stuff from busy folks whose conversations could use some real flavor, if you ask me.

Our light talk took a turn for the better when she posed the next question.

How are the kids?

I settled in for what would become a meaty conversation as to why our kids were nowhere in sight and why they didn’t want to be around us anymore.

My friend and I first went down memory lane and reminisced about those epic family adventures from when the children were little. I remember throwing them all in the car without protest to go pretty much anywhere. Sometimes the travel was a few miles to the nearest McDonald’s Playland. Dazed and tired, I’d sip a McCafé while my children built healthy immune systems in the ball pit. I’d play a movie for the car ride home, hand out Happy Meals, and pray they would nap at home instead of falling asleep en route. I was the family’s most popular event planner and a genius at spinning the most mundane task into full-blown experiences.

Sometimes we went on bigger outings to malls and museums and occasionally took plane rides to sandy beaches. I learned the secret to my success was because they needed me for their emotional and physical well-being, and because they were little, I could bully them around a bit. Those were the easy years, family following like lemmings into activities simply because I said so.

My friend and I transitioned our conversation to how we reacted to our children getting older. We both felt their teenagers’ discomfort when we were all together. My friend said she had to plan her family’s time with one another more deliberately, and I went as far as paying my middle son 50 bucks to spend a Friday night with us.

I explained that anarchy ensued during a coercive camping trip I had planned one weekend. I asked the family to travel only 5 miles from home, where I wanted to nostalgically read ghost stories around the campfire and take them on a blissful hike the next morning. “It will be fun,” I said to no one in particular, hoping the words would become a serum of truth.

My oldest, an opinionated teen with a driver’s license, wanted no part of contrived family time. She wore me down and negotiated a reason to go home after dinner citing her bed was more comfortable than the hard dirt. She generously offered to drive up to the campsite the following morning if I really wanted to be around her moodiness, or if I preferred, she could catch up on that overdue homework assignment instead. Any way you slice it, she had me cornered.

I came to realize that time together wasn’t what my daughter wanted, and she craved time without the family. More specifically, she needed time without me. My kids were getting older, and part of their growth was learning to navigate space alone. Wiping my wounds, I let her leave. At this point, my husband and I were so fed up with our complaining offspring we made them all leave before the sun had even set. We ended up having a great night without them and even had a great hike the next morning. 

I’ve had to come up with some new guidelines at home. I have activated a non-negotiable, thrilling morning of yard work, knowing there will be a potent backlash to this forced family time. As a reward, I’ll only mandate one dinner a week at the table with no friends, no phones and no double-bookings. As a reward for tolerating the requirements of being young adults, I’ll let them grow up with dignity and independence, even though I want to secretly tag along on all the epic adventures they’re now having without me.

Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale, balancing work and happily raising three children with her husband. She strives to dodge curveballs life likes to throw with a bit of passion, humor and some flair.

Allen Best: Nuclear energy has obstacles, too

A nuclear reactor might be a nice addition to the economy of Craig, the community in northwestern Colorado. But can Colorado afford nuclear power?

Three coal-burning units at Craig will be closed between 2025 and 2030. Those plants and associated mining provide the Moffat County School District with roughly 20% of its property tax base and many jobs that pay uncommonly well for rural Colorado.

A nuclear power plant rising like a phoenix from the ruins of coal could use existing high-voltage transmission and deliver at least some of the lost jobs.

Too, a new-generation nuclear power plant could supplement Colorado’s abundant wind and solar generation. Utilities say they have figured out how to achieve 85%, possibly even 90% emissions-free electricity from renewables without risking reliability and raising rates extravagantly. Nobody yet has the answer for that last 10% to 15%. Nuclear could help.

The Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, a five-county planning agency based in Rifle, has emerged as a fulcrum for this conversation. As first reported by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, members met in June with state Sen. Bob Rankin, a Republican from Garfield County, to talk about the potential.

Rankin in the last legislative session tried to get fellow legislators to appropriate $500,000 (amended to $250,000) to study the potential for nuclear. “If we really believe that climate change is an existential threat, then how can we not look at every option,” Rankin said in introducing his bill.

Some who testified at the committee meeting cited environmental concern. A couple of self-identified environmentalists testified in support because, they said, nuclear does provide emissions-free energy. More than 19% of all U.S. emissions-free electricity comes from nuclear.

Conspicuously absent was support from the administration of Gov. Jared Polis. The bill failed 3-2 on a party-line vote.

Nuclear has a nagging problem, though. It’s expensive. Advocates rarely mention this. Costs of Georgia’s Plant Vogtle, the only U.S. nuclear power plant under construction, have ballooned from $14 billion to now $30 billion-plus. In South Carolina, investors pulled the plug on a nuclear power plant after spending $9 billion. It has become among the very costliest of energy sources, only slightly less than rooftop solar, according to Lazard, the financial analyst.

Modular nuclear reactors have been promoted as a way to shave costs. Specific projects have been conceived in both Idaho and Wyoming. Bill Gates is an investor in the latter. Maybe they will overcome this cost problem. We won’t really know for another 10, maybe 15 years.

State Sen. Chris Hansen remains skeptical. He has expertise unsurpassed among legislators. He set out to become a nuclear engineer after first laying eyes on a reactor when a high school junior from the farm country of Kansas. He got his degree but had already turned his attention to economics. He went on to earn degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, from Oxford, a Ph.D. in resource economics.

Nuclear, he told a county commissioner from Sterling in 2019, when I first heard him answer this question, simply does not compete in cost. Last week, when we talked, he offered more detail.

“I think those technologies will have to prove themselves,” he said of modular nuclear reactors. “Right now, in the best-case scenario it looks like they will deliver electricity at $60 to $70 per megawatt-hour. Wind and solar are coming in at less than $20.”

The sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow, and we have very little long-term storage.

“Absolutely there is extra value for a power plant that you can operate at the flip of a switch, but keep in mind those (coal-burning) units have high rates of unreliability because of maintenance needs and breakdowns, and some nuclear plants have had the exact same problems,” he said. 

Hansen suggests that reliability may more economically be provided by less expensive alternatives. For example, he has pushed transmission and passed legislation to create organized markets that will allow electricity to be moved across broader geographic areas in response to consumer demands. Colorado is currently an island with limited bridges to other areas.

Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest utility, also has a wait-and-see attitude. In June, I asked Alice Jackson, who now directs planning for Xcel Energy across its eight-state service territory, what her company must see. “Cost-effective investment in construction of the new versions,” she said. Xcel, she added, will be paying attention.

Will the new generation of nuclear become cost-effective? Perhaps. We don’t have all the answers to 100% emissions-free electricity even as we expand its use into buildings and transportation. Nuclear could be an answer. But it does come at a high cost. Any serious conversation must acknowledge that.

Allen Best writes about the energy and other transitions underway in Colorado at BigPivots.com.

Friday letters: YRC closing, Pagni, economics, politics

Recovery Center needed

I find it most ironic that an advertisement popped up today for Youth Recovery Center help, especially after the recent news that one of the most “prolifically financially fit” West Slope hospitals (also a 501c3, which merely means they don’t need to pay most taxes on their high wealth) is behind the decision.

With the amount of funds and the high salary of the CEO that VVH has, how can they think about closing this deeply needed resource? We continue to lose ever more mental health resources (or find they’ve been either deficient or actually dangerous) while near every page in our small papers are pushing alcohol sales and online gaming vids. 

I was one of many, many volunteers handling phone lines, sitting with the kiddos, reading, listening and more. My service was in the ’80s, while I was a SPED/PA at GSMS, seventh and eighth grade. Many of my own students rotated through there. I learned later, through their personal thank-yous, seeing one of their own teachers in there gave them confidence to try to move forward. It’s far past time we reach out to the dear, talented, intelligent but lost youth among us. All of the families need help, as well. Gratefully, there are now groups that do in-home re-direction and “family skills” training, to de-escalate what is an ever-more prolific problem. 

The youth of today are the future of us all. “Teach Your Children Well” — if only we could do that with even a modicum of modeling. 

Hopefully, YRC advertisement is an attempt to have “boots-on-ground” for whence some sanity returns and we wake up to this ever growing need.

P. Welch, Glenwood Springs

Empathy for Pagni

As the child of an alcoholic, I saw firsthand the devastation that alcoholism can have on a family, on a career, on personal relationships with friends, and on the health and well-being of not only the alcoholic, but every person who cares about him or her. Now we are all witness to this devastation as the consequences of alcoholism on a public servant, now former police chief of the town of New Castle, play out in our local media. 

No doubt Mr. Pagni has lost much recently because of the abuse of a substance that is legal and readily available, and perhaps was a source of comfort and detachment for someone with such a high stress job. 

Although I do not know Mr. Pagni personally, my heart aches for him and even more for all those that have been affected by this public display and its consequences. I experienced my father’s own share of very public displays of drunkenness and the behaviors that would have never occurred without the loss of judgment and kindness that alcohol takes from a normally rational and caring individual. 

The grips of alcohol addiction are as real as any other addiction or chronic disease, and affect so many more people than just the addict. And now in this case, the consequences have affected an entire community in a very public way. 

Most importantly, I would like to publicly thank the local law enforcement for handling this case properly and without prejudice towards the drunken actions of a local police chief that could have ended another person’s life. Mr. Pagni should also be thankful for this opportunity to overcome this dark chapter without these dire life-ending consequences. 

This does not have to be Mr. Pagni’s legacy, but instead the chance for a new beginning to face his addiction and create a new legacy. I sincerely hope he takes it. And if his story can create this opportunity for someone else out there experiencing alcoholism, please take it and get the help you need before your own dark chapter occurs. 

For help you can go to https://findrecovery.com/aa_meetings/co/garfield/.

Toni Barrett, Rifle

Economics lesson

Thanks Bryan Whiting for your column in Wednesday’s edition (8/3/22) of the Glenwood Post Independent. I sure hope a lot of folks take the time to read it and understand it. 

I’m quite afraid that a lot of folks didn’t get the opportunity to have your classes at Glenwood High School. Those lucky ones who did get to attend your classes do understand economics. 

It is apparent that many politicians and the folks that vote for “free stuff” do not understand, or do not care.

Ray Schmahl, Glenwood Springs

Fighting for America

Biden gave the order to kill Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the right-hand man of Osama Bin Laden, with just a drone strike and no one else injured. Al-Zawahiri was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. Justice has been delivered! Biden was criticized for withdrawing the troops from Afghanistan, but as he has stated “You don’t need troops on the ground to rid the world of evil!” 

The Republicans stalled the “burn pit” bill, which is health care for our veterans, sickened by toxins while serving our country. I am thankful that the bill has passed with help from people like Jon Stewart and the folks who camped out overnight at the capitol building. The other bills that Biden is trying to get through Congress is climate change, voting rights for everyone, legalizing abortion and healthcare for women, restrictions on the assault rifles being sold to the public, in order to save our children from being massacred.

Biden is also fighting for Social Security benefits and Medicare and Medicaid and lowering prescription drugs. The Republicans are trying to take away our rights and benefits, while Biden and the Democrats are fighting for our country for democracy to survive in the 21st century. 

Our freedoms and rights are being challenged every day by the extreme right-wing Republicans. Please get educated, people. This election in November may determine whether we are going to continue as a democracy or an autocracy.  

Linda Carr, Eagle

Writers on the Range: Will salmon finally win this year?

For the last 35 years, I’ve been covering what we call the “salmon wars” in the Pacific Northwest, writing so many stories about salmon heading toward extinction that I’ve lost count.

The decline occurred year by year while we spent $18 billion on what’s politely called “mitigation.” That meant building fish passages around dams without fish ladders or snatching fish from warming rivers and trucking them around dams before they died. Nothing has ever worked.

The truth is that some dams must be removed if salmon are to have a prayer of leaving the ocean and swimming up rivers to spawn.

Now, finally, there is a sign of hope for the fish even as Snake River salmon in the states of Idaho, Oregon and Washington remain close to extinction.

There’s hope because the Biden administration has been in settlement talks with legal plaintiffs the state of Oregon, the Nez Perce tribe, and sporting, fishing and environmental groups. They have sued the federal government five times over its failed attempts to save salmon under the Endangered Species Act, and each time the government has lost.

Meanwhile, spring chinook, sockeye and steelhead trended toward extinction in the Snake River watershed, which includes their best remaining habitat in the lower 48 states.

In 1997, my newspaper, the Idaho Statesman, wrote a series of editorials calling for breaching the four lower Snake dams in Washington to restore salmon abundance. The editorials urged paying for the impacts on dam removal on power supply, grain transportation and irrigation as a more effective and cheaper fix than continuing failed policies. The federal government chose to spend $18 billion on those failed policies.

But now, the Biden administration and others recognize that restoring our rivers is an issue of tribal justice as well as the only real solution. For far too long, say biologists Rick Williams of Idaho and Jim Lichatowich of Oregon, we have treated salmon as an industrial commodity. Our reliance on hatcheries while we continue to fragment and destroy habitat has been at the root of the fish’s struggles.

But if we remove the chief obstacles that block the fish from their cool, high elevation-habitat, the biologists say, these wild, adaptable fish will recover themselves. “Because of our long reliance on substitute nature, we’ve almost lost faith in salmon to reproduce itself in quality habitat,” Williams says.

It has taken decades, but much of the public has come to understand the folly of our industrial fixes for salmon. In the May Republican primary, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson won reelection by a landslide after introducing a plan to breach the four dams to save salmon and make impacted communities whole. His losing opponent opposed breaching the dams.

More significant, Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who has long resisted any salmon recovery plan that included removing the four dams, joined with Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee in endorsing a study of how to replace the services provided by the dams. 

The study showed that breaching the four dams was the most promising approach to salmon recovery, though it would require spending from $10.3 billion to $27.2 billion to replace the electricity from the dams’ hydropower, plus grain shipping and irrigation.

Murray is the most powerful Northwestern senator in Congress. But she will need the rest of the Democratic delegation to join her if she is going to turn the tide.

Most of all, Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio will need to join Murray, Simpson, Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer, and outgoing Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, if legislation is going to pass this year.

The resilience of the wild Snake salmon and the quality of the high-elevation spawning habitat has led biologists to predict the fish will reverse the 40-year extinction trend if the four dams are removed. This might just be the year that rivers and salmon are set free, ending the salmon wars. Here’s hoping.

Rocky Barker is a contributor to Writers on the Range, writersontherange.org, a nonprofit dedicated to spurring lively conversation about the West. He is a retired reporter who lives in Idaho and is the author of “Saving All the Parts: Reconciling Economics and the Endangered Species Act.

Wednesday letters: Market farewell, counterpoints, senior thanks, slow down

Downtown Market thanks

The Glenwood Springs Downtown Market has permanently closed after 17 years. This was a very difficult and personal decision after weeks of uncertainty. In 2005 we were a group of women — Jan Harr, Erin Lee, Rona Chorman, Nancy Page, Sue Kuhn, Sharill Hawkins, Sue Sharpe and of course Julia Larson — who set out to bring people downtown to shop local and feel a sense of community. I think we accomplished that. 

In 2005 it only rained (heavily) for 12 of our 17-week season — we believe that was a test from above. From the beginning we were supported by so many businesses in the community — Valley View Hospital, Alpine Bank, Bank of Colorado, and Al Laurette from the city’s Parks and Cemetery Department. Al, you always had our back. Thank you, we could not have done it without any of you. 

Vid Weatherwax: Vid began volunteering to recruit our musicians and did a great job bringing not only some of the top local/valley musicians but from as far away as Chicago. Thanks, Vid — see him at the Vaudeville every week.  

We hosted several very fun events including pie and soup contests as well as mac and cheese contests; and of course, Oktoberfest, which brought out the “witchiness” in us. We made some great and very unique witchy hats that went out all over the state and beyond. John Patakay and his band, Alpine Echo, made Oktoberfest the best it could be. Along the way we began hosting the Grand Holiday with Santa and his reindeer. The county immediately jumped in and sponsored this event in its entirety — thank you.  

Many of our vendors had been with us since the very beginning or close to — Will Kogler’s bakery; we love his bread, pastries and those quiche, delicious. 

Sherman with your gyros, and “crepe guy” Jim Souza, we still miss you, Z’s Orchard and Skip Doty with Orchard Valley — you took a chance on us, and we will always be thankful for that. Mo’s Molicious Mustard, Roaring Fork Spice and Aspen Donuts — you started out with us; it was a great leap of faith for you that panned out.  

As the years evolved and we got older and had less and less fully functioning body parts, and we had worn out our husbands, we put out a call for help to set up and take down our tents. Feed My Sheep stepped up. There were many different men who helped us out, but a couple in particular stand out: Gray and Stuart, you saved us, and I believe we helped save you. You are forever in my heart.  

In 2010, our friend and fellow board member passed away. She left the market a bit of money, and with that, under the direction of Nathan Stowe, we built the Rona Garden in Centennial Park. It continues to flourish. 

I made many friends over the years and look forward to still seeing you out and about, and thank you for your kind words during this difficult time of closing the market. 

Cindy Svatos, Glenwood Springs 

Trio counterpoint

Monday (Aug. 1) in the Post Independent letters to the editor it was the Trump A-Team: Fred Stewart, Bruno Kirchenwitz and Pedro Navaja.

Everyone has an opinion and the right to express it here, where I frequently see all three of these fellows saying the same things over and over again; nothing new, nothing original, bland.

From the top, the U.S. is 24th in the world for polluting the air and water. That is an undeniable fact.

Former President Trump did not have the best economy in 50 years. That claim was debunked by the Brookings Institution, and when it appeared on Facebook it was flagged and taken down for being false.

Best economy in U.S. history was between 1992 to 2000. And former president Obama presided over one of the best economies. Trump? Had some bright spots. And billionaires got richer than ever before, didn’t they? Putin was much happier then, too.

Drill baby drill! An old slogan from the 1980s. George Bush in 2007 said something he was not supposed to say and it made some oil companies very upset. He said the U.S. has enough oil reserves to last us another 65 years. True story. Not a nice tourist destination, but Texas City down by Houston has millions of gallons of oil just sitting there in massive tanks.  

Donald Trump? Can anyone ever forget he sacrificed so many human lives to try to save the economy when COVID-19 hit us in early 2020? History will not be kind to him. Remember when Lauren Boebert said COVID-19 was a hoax? And the vaccines were poisonous? I sure do.  

In November, the U.S. House will probably swing to the GOP. But the U.S. Senate is currently holding fast for the Democrats. The new trend the GOP is trying to hide now is the new and improved White Christian Nationalist Church they are so excited about. Can you say white supremacy? Trump is done. DeSantis is FoxNew’s newest darling. Arizona politicians are tripping over themselves trying to be just like Trump. And so it goes in America.

Steven Gluckman, Glenwood Springs

Rifle Senior Center thanks

As a senior citizen living in Rifle for the last 25 years, I would like to thank the Rifle City Council and the Garfield County commissioners for the support that they give the Senior Center. 

Tami Sours and the staff do a tremendous job offering appetizing, nourishing and very delicious meals in a friendly atmosphere.

The center also has activities that the seniors may participate in and a pinochle tournament twice a month on Friday evenings, which are open to the public. We are fortunate to be residing in a caring community.

Kathryn S. Snyder, Rifle

Slow down, save money

“Take A Minute, Slow Down in Town” — every resident and business that has posted this sign wants the same thing that we all want, a safe existence and safe passage. 

Silver lining? If we slow down, coast more, brake less, drive with the flow, we’ll get higher gas mileage (more cash in our pockets). We’ll arrive at our destination less stressed. Give it a go, try to drive with and maximize on the “green” time of the 39 lights on Highway 82 as you head south. 

Driving more safely saves insurance dollars and perhaps collision repairs. We’ve got everything to gain as we drive to preserve all that we love about these valleys.

Diane Reynolds, Member Take A Minute/
Slow Down in Town committee, Glenwood Springs

Whiting column: Traditional strategies won’t curb today’s inflation

This isn’t your father’s inflation. Consequently, we can’t end today’s inflation with yesterday’s strategies.

Traditionally, the tools were raising interest rates, decreasing government spending or increasing taxes. Historically, inflation slowed after five years, accompanied by recession. Today, these strategies are long term and counterproductive.

Inflation in 1964 was 1%. By 1980 it was 14%. The increase was caused by the Vietnam War effort, which decreased unemployment and increased government spending. Interest rates rose to 14%; personal income tax rates increased to a maximum of 70%. Inflation ended because 10.8% unemployment and recession reduced consumer spending, and government reduced spending due to decreased income tax receipts.

Today’s inflation is a result of: 1. an increase in money supply; 2. a decrease in product supply, and; 3. increased product cost structure.

Consequently, this inflation can be curbed only by dealing with today’s causes, not traditional strategies.

Whenever new money is introduced into an economy that isn’t a result of an increase in productivity, inflation will result. In 2020 and 2021, six different stimulus bills infused $5.8 trillion into the economy. The resultant spending was not only the inflationary spark but put several logs on the fire. A significant portion of stimulus checks went into savings and/or reducing debt, which will continue to accentuate spending and prolong the inflationary period. The money and productivity disparity were accentuated when people were, in effect, being paid not to work.  

To take the air out of the inflationary balloon, we can’t add more logs through new government spending. The December 2021 proposal of another $3.5 trillion was derailed by Sen. Manchin, but a $1.75 trillion compromise has emerged. One can debate the need, but its passage will increase inflation, because it’s not a result of increased productivity. Any new increase in disposable income will increase inflation. For example, forgiveness of college debt will add fuel to the inflationary fire.

Whenever supply of a product goes down, price increases. The COVID business activity decline meant retailers and manufacturers did what was logical: reduce their inventory and production. Supply chain issues occurred because transportation companies laid off employees, mothballed aging semis, trains, planes and ships, anticipating fewer products to transport.

No businessperson understanding economics could anticipate the government dumping $5.8 trillion into everyone’s pocketbooks and geometrically increasing consumer spending. Price goes up when supply goes down and leaps when accompanied by increased demand.

Supply will increase as companies increase production. The biggest hurdle is finding employees to hire and train. Six months ago, the government did authorize additional man hours in the ports to unload waiting ships. This helps, but given the government receives weekly port status reports it’s a strategy that could have been implemented in 2020.

Wages, energy, raw materials, components, taxes and regulatory compliance all increased product cost structure. The two main culprits: wages and energy.

The number wanting, willing and needing to work decreased, requiring employers to significantly increase wages. We like increased wages, but they are always an inflationary factor, especially when unrelated to an increase in productivity. There is an economic argument that productivity decreases when employees know they have the power and don’t have to maximize their efforts, because they can easily find another job.

The only solution is for wage increases to occur from increased productivity and merit as opposed to seniority.

Energy has the largest effect, because it’s pervasive. Oil prices not only affect commuting to work and family activities but transportation of every product we purchase.

Because we choose to buy oil and natural gas from foreign countries instead of utilizing our own, we are subject to their pricing. When they have us over a “barrel,” they aren’t going to lower prices. It’s in their vested interests to keep raising price, receiving our money and taking it out of our country so we can’t utilize it economically.

The only strategy that will end this inflationary bulldozer is to return to energy independence; we have the energy resources. If economic hardship, as opposed to physical involvement, is the desired route to convince Putin to leave Ukraine, we must be prepared to supply Europe with oil and natural gas. Energy independence allows us to control the price of energy and hence inflation. Inflation prevents us from buying the electric vehicles that will someday reduce our demand for oil.

It’s important to remember our world is a closed environmental system; the negative aspects of energy production are the same whether they occur in our country or another.

The current inflation rate is 8.5%; however, the effective rate is much higher. The government doesn’t include food, energy and housing because it feels they are too volatile. The problem is these are the three main areas occupying our budget. Since 2020, the price of gas has risen nearly 100%, food 14.6% and rent 27%, meaning the budgetary effect is over 33%.

Inflation is not equitable. The people who can least afford higher prices are the most affected. They also tend to be the first to lose their job when the resultant recession occurs. The longer inflation is present, the harder it is to control. “Bandwagon” pricing occurs. Some companies may not be as affected but raise price anyway because it’s expected and acceptable. Consumer apathy occurs. We don’t shop around or negotiate as usual because we say, “What’s the use, everything is high.” 

In today’s economy, raising interest rates is counterproductive. It decreases the number of people who can buy a house, increasing demand for rentals and increasing rents. Competition lowers price, but higher interest adds to costs for current entrepreneurs and inhibits new startups.   

It’s our personal responsibility to make the hard decisions necessary to control inflation. Our fathers expect it.

Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to: bwpersonalresponsibility@gmail.com.

Monday letters: COVID, mental health, youth recovery, CD3 debates, politics

Time to take COVID-19 seriously again

People have become complacent about COVID-19 just when it should be taken very seriously again. The current strain of COVID-19, BA5, is the most contagious yet and is ripping through the population regardless of previous COVID-19 infections or vaccines. There are multiple reports of people getting COVID-19 more than once (including BA5 itself). 

While BA5 is thought to be less severe than previous strains, particularly if you are vaccinated, there is still a very significant risk of getting long-haul COVID-19, symptoms that last for months and can lead to diabetes, heart disease, brain fog, loss of smell or taste, post traumatic stress disorder and neuropathy, among other things. 

The best estimates about the rate of long-haul COVID-19 is around 25% (1 in 4). What many people fail to realize is that the more times you get infected, the greater the risk of getting long-haul COVID-19. Getting COVID-19 twice means your risk of long haul goes up to around 44%. Getting COVID-19 three times and your risk goes up to around 58%.

Current estimates for the availability of an effective vaccine against BA5 is the end of October at the earliest.

So it’s time to again take seriously the risks. You need to isolate yourself if you are sick and to quarantine for at least five days if you’ve been exposed to someone who is sick. You can be infected with COVID-19 but be asymptomatic, so even though you feel well after encountering someone with COVID-19, you can be in fact spreading the disease. 

And if you are sick, please notify people you were around for the five days before you were sick. Lastly, please practice social distancing and use masks when indoors.

The people you save from major consequences of COVID-19 could be you and yours.

Jerome Dayton, Carbondale

Include resource info

I understand from reading the local/regional news, we have an addiction problem in the Roaring Fork Valley. Therefore, I appreciated Henry Maxwell’s column on Wednesday, July 27. However, how do people with addiction problems contact Henry Maxwell or any other resource locally available to help? 

If I were an individual in need of help due to my addiction, I may not be able to readily find someone, i.e., ability to use Google search, call 911, have the use of a phone, etc.

So, please, in the future, include resource contact information. “BTW, I know I’m not alone,” said the addict.

Suzanne Stewart, Glenwood Springs

Damaging Dem policies

I think it was Larry Kudrow who recently said on FOX, that a country needs three things to prosper: food, water and energy. America has an overabundance of all three. 

We have the cleanest air and water of any industrialized nation. Our midwest is the breadbasket of the world. And we have enough oil, gas and coal to last us for over 200 years. 

Unfortunately Joe Biden has hamstrung our energy sector. From day one, Biden has reversed every Trump policy that had made us energy independent and given us the best economy in 50 years, pre-COVID-19. 

The U.S. uses the same amount of energy whether it’s domestic or imported. Importing oil puts money in Russia’s coffers when we could be producing more energy and putting more money in our pockets.

Imported energy is much dirtier than what we produce. Joe is cutting our economic throats while virtue signaling green BS that’s causing more pollution.

Joe and the Dems can point fingers of blame and make new excuses daily. But not Dems nor their liberal media lapdogs can hide the pain all Americans are feeling in their wallets. Americans will vote with their wallets in November.

Joe’s problem isn’t messaging. Joe’s crazy far-left policies that are sinking his ratings. Own it, Democrats — you swapped out mean tweets for a puppet.

Bruno Kirchenwitz, Rifle

Disheartened by YRC closing

Reading about the youth recovery center at Valley View Hospital closing down is saddening. Although we live in such a beautiful place, this valley is no stranger to devastating substance abuse and mental health problems. 

I find the reasoning of not receiving enough reimbursement from Medicaid patients a cop out. I am very well aware that businesses need money to function. As a valley resident for almost my whole life, I’ve been a patient at Valley View. Yes, it’s nice the hospital looks like a 5-star ski resort, but at what cost? I think shutting down this program instead of working vigilantly to keep it open will just hurt our young people who need help. 

There is a severe lack of services for substance abuse and mental health for adults in the area, and taking away such an amazing program for our youth will only hurt them. I know I am not educated in the workings of a hospital, but I would really encourage the hospital board to reconsider this action. 

With our nation facing such heightened overdoses and depression, now is the time our youth need this program available to them more than ever. They deserve better from us regardless of their insurance policy and ability to pay.

Caitlin Palm, Rifle

Afraid to debate?

Why would you vote for a candidate who will agree to only one debate? Boebert refuses to commit to multiple debates and won’t cite why. 

Shouldn’t we as voters have multiple opportunities to see where a candidate stands on multiple issues? With so many issues facing District 3, wouldn’t more information be better?

Aidan Wynn, Aspen

Freedom of speech

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Too often people on the left wing of the spectrum try to silence those not as far left, or “woke” as themselves. Too often people on the right wing of the spectrum cower from debate because they don’t want to be called names. At that point, we are all stuck with a very small but very loud minority controlling the conversation, simply because the counterpoint won’t engage. It’s a brilliant plan for the left, if everyone else is OK letting their 1st Amendment rights be bullied away by the Marxist tactics of that very small minority.

Today, woke, radical left voices shout down opposing viewpoints by calling anyone that disagrees with them a “racist,” “bigot,” “xenophobe,” “homophobe,” etc. They tell you that you can’t say certain things, as though they are the self-appointed speech police. 

The more they say we can’t say something, the more urgent it is to say it. It has nothing to do with what they are telling us we can’t say and everything to do with our rights and our freedoms to say it.

Whether you are on the right or the left, or in the middle like most of us, you need to stand up for everyone’s right to speak. How will these woke mobs ever have the chance to become self-aware about where they are in the real world if the rest of us don’t stand up and not be afraid of honest dialogue. We don’t have to agree, but we dang sure need equal time. 

When facts and truth stand up to feelings and propaganda, then the instruments of oppression and the megaphones of liberal Marxist talking points have to deal with reality. That reality might just be that they are only parroting the propaganda that is being fed to them. Speak up. Defend your 1st Amendment.

Pedro Navaja, Glenwood Springs

False panic

Two ways to control a population is to buy off players to instill fear or blackmail the compromised. It’s nothing new. Tojo, Hitler and Mussolini were masters. Ironically, Roosevelt’s greatest task in World War II was outmaneuvering domestic enemies.

In today’s world, exaggerated COVID-19 mask mandates and fossil fuel guzzling automobiles predominate. Cloth masks don’t filter viruses, and the largest contributor of CO2 is heating and air conditioning, not automobiles … wildfires, anyone? 

Geothermal and on-demand hot water could mitigate the use of fossil fuels. Guess what the real reason is for the push to all-electric cars. What happened to hybrids that recharge their own batteries? That would take a strain off the power grids and supply lines. 

Don’t buy into manufactured panic. It’s competition between the elites to divide us, that makes them rich and powerful and that make us dependent on them and an over-strained and vulnerable power grid. Where will the elites be when something goes wrong?

Fear and intimidation from ideologues work, something Roosevelt knew, and that Americans before him had “overcome.” We, too, can overcome these grifters with common sense and transition into a sustainable future.

Fred Stewart, Grand Junction