In 2005, my wife and I moved to this valley because we felt that Carbondale and the surrounding area provided a strong community in which to raise our children. Our schools are critical, nurturing all of our children.Unfortunately, our state does not nurture our schools. According to the Tax Foundation, our tax burden is 8.6 percent of income (2009), 39th nationally. My cousins in New Hampshire and Vermont will tell you that our property taxes are a pittance. This leads to a state budget that is woefully inadequate to educate future generations. Colorado spends $1,781 less per pupil (2008-2009) than the national average and is ranked 40th as a result. After $5.1 million in cuts, our school district is left with few reasonable choices. The district has cut 15 teachers, 60 non-teaching positions, eliminated spending to update textbooks, drastically reduced spending on materials, and delayed maintenance and upkeep projects on infrastructure that we only a few years ago elected to build. In addition, teachers have taken furlough days and have not seen their salaries increase.In a down economy we all need to do more with less but this logic means our children suffer. They lose critical years of education as teachers are faced with ever larger classes, equipment fails, and materials are unavailable or outdated. Perhaps most damaging is the potential exodus of our most critical asset as teachers are forced to consider jobs in other nearby districts whose voters have made additional financial commitments to their districts allowing for increases to teacher pay and benefits. Vote for Our Kids asks our community to pay $36 per $100,000 in home value at a time when dramatic property devaluations mean property taxes will still be less than what we would otherwise have paid last year. Voting for Our Kids means keeping schools open, seeing football on Friday nights, and maintaining a top-notch teaching staff. My wife and I care deeply about this community and recognize that schools are integral to its appeal. We are Voting for Our Kids. Yes on 3E!Matt and Jen HamiltonCarbondale
If our local economy and jobs are something you think about these days, then consider that great schools are a major component in attracting and retaining businesses and employees. In order to be perceived as a healthy community with solid schools to support our business base, we need outstanding and adequate numbers of teachers, updated technology and learning materials, and maintained facilities that are top notch, as we have always had in the past. Investing in education is absolutely and inherently part of supporting community and keeping business strong. That’s why I am voting yes on 3E this fall and hope others will, too.For more specific information about the ballot question, go to voteforourkids.org. Jacque Carpenter WhitsittBasalt
Solving the financial crisis facing the U.S. Postal Service is quite simple. Just implement these changes:1. Raise the price of first class mail to 50 cents.2. Double or triple the price for bulk mail, except for charities.3. Double the cost for mailing catalogs and magazines.4. End service on Saturdays.Dick Prosence Meeker
Randy Udall’s My Side column of Sept. 12 on oil shale was sadly inaccurate.It’s true that after decades of research many still say oil shale is “10 years away.” However, the “why” behind this time line is based on inconsistent policies of our elected officials. The development of oil shale, in addition to other domestic energy fuel sources, could lead to energy independence for the United States. But the current regulatory uncertainty in the U.S. is systematically dismantling the progress made by the oil shale industry and has further delayed or halted future projects. Don’t believe it? Twenty research and development leases were issued in the first round of applications and only three companies even applied in the recent second round of applications. Many in the industry cite inconsistencies in policies between administrations and the very political nature of these exercises for discouraging the development of oil shale production in the U.S.If industry is given no indication as to when clear policies will be provided and maintained in a stable regulatory environment, it makes development nearly impossible.Many brilliant scientists and engineers have been working to make oil shale a commercially viable liquid fuel, not to burn in home furnaces as is already done in China, Estonia and Russia, but for our cars, trucks and jets.Many nations (Israel, Australia, China and more) welcome oil shale research and development to solve their nations’ own economic, energy and security concerns.The U.S. contains the largest, richest reserves of this invaluable resource and has excellent laws to protect our safety and environment. America can be the world leader in oil shale, but industry will not invest in environmentally responsible technologies without consistent regulations and stable oversight from the federal government.It’s imperative for our economic and energy security to have a stable, environmentally sustainable domestic energy supply to power our nation. The ingredients for solving America’s energy needs depend on the reliable, consistent and efficient development of all our energy resources: natural gas, oil, coal, wind, solar, nuclear and, sorry Mr. Udall, oil shale. Brad McCloudEnvironmentally Conscious Consumers for Oil ShaleGrand Junction
Mount Sopris has snow on it now, and the dust of controversy has settled down. Yet the coming of October brings memories of John Denver fully to mind. For many of us, John was a friend and a very real part of our hearts, reaching us with the beauty of his being and his song. His music is beyond controversy. It is well written, inspiring and down right enjoyable to listen to.Every year, as dependable as the snow, fall brings a series of John Denver concerts and tributes. I knew John, and I know his music very well. I don’t attend most of the tribute concerts, well intended as they are, because they mostly miss the mark, styled as covers rather than real performances of the music as it was intended to be sung.There is one concert, keeping in mind all the brouhaha over the naming a peak after John, that really is a genuine experience and honoring of the man and his music.A man originally from Holland, and now Colorado, presents not just a tribute concert, but a legacy concert, keeping the music alive. From the “Bells of Rhymney” to “Darcy Farrow” and “Rocky Mountain High,” his voice is true, the lyrics are intact and the style and heart of the music remain as John Denver intended.I firmly believe that the best way to honor John is through his music.The John Adams Concert is at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 16. Come give a listen, it’s a wonderful show. Tell me you came because of this letter and I’ll give you an Earthbeat Choir CD, featuring the kids, John Adams, Jim Connor and Ellen Stapenhorst, singing John Denver’s music, in his memory. He loved the choir and sang with the kids back in the day.Karen D’AttiloSnowmass
Recently an official from the Western Slope ATV Association hypocritically blamed hunters for most of the damage being done to public lands by ATVs, saying: “If hunters think they can get away with it, they do it.”Well, that’s the pot calling the kettle black. Being a hunter and ATV user, I can say that the most egregious damage to public lands I’ve encountered (and read about) was perpetrated by nonhunters, which only makes sense. Why? First, the number of hunters (unfortunately) is decreasing. For example, the number of people hunting in Colorado decreased 24 percent from 1991 to 2006. That’s more than the 10 percent decrease nationwide.In contrast, there were 5 million off-road vehicles (ORVs) in use in the United States 30 years ago. Today, there are over 36 million ORVs in use – a 700 percent increase. In 1991, there were 11,700 registered off-road vehicles in Colorado. By 2005, it was 100,785, and as of June 2009, it had reached 132,166.We always hear “it’s a small minority of people that do this damage.” However, according to a survey performed for a coalition of ORV advocacy groups, over two-thirds of Colorado’s adult ORV users ride off-trail at least occasionally, while from 15 to 20 percent frequently ride off-trail illegally.In order to hunt safely, comfortably, with dignity and success, we don’t need an $8,000 ATV perched on a $3,000 trailer pulled by a $40,000 SUV. Although it may be convenient for those leading pro ORV groups to point fingers at hunters when making excuses for the unsustainable and widespread damage they’re doing to our public lands, they’d be wise to look in the mirror while they’re doing it.David A. LienColorado Backcountry Hunters & AnglersColorado Springs
On Nov. 1, we all have an opportunity to determine the immediate future of our fire protection and our ambulance service provided by the Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District. That is election day, and proposition 4A is on the ballot. That mill levy override will provide the funding necessary to keep the fire district operating at the high level that we have come to expect. The returns in community safety and lower insurance premiums will partially offset the small increase in taxes. Fourteen dollars per $100,000 of valuation seems to me to be a real value. We are so fortunate to have these dedicated men and women on call to care for our lives and property. Let’s see that they have the funding necessary for them to do their jobs. Skip BellRedstone
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Hundreds attended this weekends The Whole Shebang, which was put on by the city of Glenwood Springs and delivered the facts concerning Rocky Mountain Resources’ proposal for the nearby Transfer Trail Limestone Quarry.