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Your Letters

Habitat for Humanity is looking for four families that are interested in owning their own home in Silt.

Please help spread the word. Surprisingly, we don’t receive very many applications.

It’s really rather simple. We need people who, due to various circumstances, cannot obtain conventional financing for a home, such as a low income, poor credit, no credit, etc.

We are looking for families who are living and working in our valley, have steady income of between $25,000-60,000 (from employment, disability, etc.), don’t own their own home, are legal residents, and are willing to work with Habitat for Humanity to build alongside volunteers.

Habitat for Humanity has been building homes between Basalt and Rifle for the last 10 years. These four new homes will be extremely energy efficient and located near the soccer fields in Silt, which is a great place to raise a family.

We have our homeowners contribute at least 250 hours (100 of which can be donated by family or friends) building on their home, what’s called “sweat equity.” From the start of construction, our homeowners have a sense of ownership. They are there when the walls go up, when the roof goes on, right down to the very last coat of paint.

Once construction is completed, our families own their homes, signing a 0 percent interest mortgage and making monthly payments of about $650 (including insurance and taxes). We are the banker. If another opportunity arises and our partner families need to move, we can repurchase the home and select another deserving family.

Can we help your family? Do you know of someone else who could use a hand up, some stability for their family, or simply a simple decent place to call home? If so, please call me at 309-8179. We want to include you in this round of selection. We aren’t looking for the most compelling story, we are looking for ordinary families that need a little help getting to the next step.

Kristen Wilmes

executive director, Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork Valley

Glenwood Springs

I have admired that Glenwood Springs was started by families dreaming big while living in tents and caves. That was their affordable housing.

I live in an affordable housing area that was enclaved by the city in January 1983. It is on the bank of the Roaring Fork River. In the past few years, it has had clashes with City Hall and the City Council over Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issues.

Yet I look over the fence and see the boat dock at Veltus Park on the Roaring Fork River that a previous City Hall and City Council had to work through FEMA to get built.

I was beginning to lose hope that my friends, my neighbors, and I would not be represented at the City Council until I met Ted Edmonds. He has met with residents of River Meadows and listened to their concerns and their requests to find solutions to keep their affordable housing by working through FEMA. It will take time to do this, but Ted wants to represent these citizens of Glenwood Springs.

I’m voting for Ted. Will you?

Karen Price

Glenwood Springs

In light of of the recent events unfolding in the Re-1 school district, I am compelled to write on Sonya Hemmen’s behalf.

It is reprehensible that the superintendent has seemingly brought about this personal vendetta against Principal Sonya Hemmen. I have known Sonya Hemmen for 11 years. We are neighbors.

I have seen her act during her career in administration in the Re-1 school district as a conscientious, caring professional who undoubtedly puts the students of this district above all else.

There is nothing that Sonya Hemmen wouldn’t do to support her students in earning the best education available. She has proven that time and time again.

Note her recent award of the Title 1 Improvement Grant totaling $150,000 for her school as one of her most recent accomplishments in bettering the quality of education at Glenwood Springs Elementary.

If you aren’t outraged, you should be. This community needs more educators and education administrators like principal Sonya Hemmen.

Ms. Haptonstall’s actions show clear lack of reason, leadership, and regard for our community and our education system. If allowed to carry out this action against Principal Hemmen it will be of great cost to GSES, the Re-1 school district, and the community of Glenwood Springs as a whole.

Jo Bershenyi

Glenwood Springs

I am writing this in regards to Sonya Hemmen. I have worked with Sonya for six years at Glenwood Springs Elementary School. Sonya has always worked hard for our school, including the staff, the students and the teachers.

She believes wholeheartedly in our school and its potential. Sonya makes it a point to know the students and their families on a personal level.

I do not know all of the circumstances to this situation, but I know that our school did not need this turmoil. Sonya would never intentionally do any harm to this school. In my opinion, this will only have a negative effect on GSES, which we do not want or need.

Cathy Spence

Glenwood Springs

I was distressed to read about principal Sonya Hemmen’s paid suspension in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. I have known Principal Hemmen for many years as a colleague and friend. She has always demonstrated leadership by example and takes a personal interest in the students of her school.

I had the opportunity to work with Sonya last year through the Service Learning students from Glenwood Springs High School, and was impressed with the way she communicated well with so many different age groups. She is popular with parents and students because of her warmth and her caring attitude.

Principal Hemmen expects the best from her colleagues and students, and expects the best from herself also. She is willing to put the needs of others first.

I encourage the Re-1 school district to reinstate Principal Hemmen as soon as possible. She is very important to Glenwood Springs Elementary School.

Katherine Woodyard

Glenwood Springs

I certainly hope that Judy Haptonstall’s recent suspension of Glenwood Springs Elementary School principal Sonya Hemmen is not the caprice of an administrator looking to find convenient budget cuts. I don’t believe Re-1 would be well served with that kind of cut.

The district’s secrecy on the reason for Hemmen’s suspension is particularly troubling in light of the fact that Hemmen has waived her right to confidentiality and has requested that the reason for her suspension be made public.

Her suspension was swift and extreme, suggesting gross misconduct. Parents and students are left only to wonder and speculate. Has she embezzled money or abused a child?

Hemmen’s professional reputation and personal stake in our community are at risk here. If Hemmen is willing to make the reason for her suspension public, let it be so. Will Re-1 handle this very public and yet very personal issue with the transparency Hemmen is asking for, and which the public deserves?

Hamilton Tharp

New Castle

The placement of Sonya Hemmen on administrative leave is affecting our community as a whole, but mainly our children, Mrs. Hemmen, and those who respect the principal and friend that she has been for the last eight years.

For this reason, I respectfully ask that she be reinstated to her duties immediately to prohibit any further harm to our community. I also ask that the school district divulge the information that prompted Superintendent Haptonstall to remove Mrs. Hemmen so swiftly from this position. That way, my family and I can decide for ourselves as to whether or not it is justified.

We reside in Sopris Elementary school area, but have made the choice to enroll our kindergartner at Glenwood Springs Elementary School this fall because our now 15-year-old son obtained his excellent elementary schooling there and we have always respected and admired all the administrators and staff at GSES.

This decision now hangs in the balance due to the inevitable loss of structure and morale that has and will result from these actions that have been without cause to date.

Melissa Denton

Glenwood Springs

This letter is in support for Principal Sonya Hemmen of Glenwood Springs Elementary School. Mrs. Hemmen was unceremoniously suspended last week by Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Judy Haptonstall. A reason for the suspension has not been given.

My children are currently in fifth grade at GSES and have attended GSES since kindergarten, so I have been aware and interested in the environment at the school for the past several years. My experience has been that Mrs. Hemmen has led the staff at GSES in creating an atmosphere conducive to learning and growth for the children, both as students and individual people.

This has been done while serving a very diverse student population at the oldest campus in the school district. I fully support and applaud Mrs. Hemmen and her efforts.

In this situation, there are several questions that come to mind. Did Mrs. Hemmen perform an egregious act that put the safety of students in jeopardy? If not, why the sudden suspension?

The timing is curious if the situation did not create an imminent threat, as the students are in the middle of CSAP testing and the suspension came three days before spring break. That does not contribute to a conducive environment for the kids.

What is behind the secrecy? Mrs. Hemmen has requested that this information be made public, but she can’t get Superintendent Haptonstall to divulge information to her or her attorney, much less the public.

What does the Roaring Fork school board know? Obviously there are many questions and few, if any, answers at this time, and the school district administration has shown little regard for due process.

As there is no information indicating otherwise, I urge the school board to immediately reinstate Sonya Hemmen as principal at GSES. I would also request a complete investigation as to how this issue was handled by the school district administration.

Robert L. Richardson Jr.

Glenwood Springs

My son is a student at Glenwood Springs Elementary School, and I have been regularly thrilled by the performance of the staff at this school. I have witnessed staff members going above and beyond their call of duty, and doing so with a kindness that resonates throughout our community.

The moral standards set forth at GSES are not only expected of the children but the adults as well. This is why I am so disturbed by the lack of respect for the civil rights of Sonya Hemmen when recently plucked from her position as principal by her “superiors.”

I have personally witnessed Ms. Hemmen taking the bus to help the children in our community when other principals would choose not to. Her positive energy is most obvious to those of us who are involved with the school. I have been so pleased with her and am just disgusted by the lack of moral conduct – not by her but by those behind her suspension.

No, I do not know what she is being accused of. But the bottom line is that all persons in this country, when accused of wrongdoing, deserve to be informed of their supposed wrongdoing. It would be considered wrong to suspend a student from school without a valid reason, so why is it permissible to do this to an adult?

We want to teach our children to be kind, empathetic and accepting of other’s shortcomings, but when it comes to our own conduct we often forget that we must follow these rules. We tell them, as mothers, to play with all the children on the playground, but are we leading by example?

The way this suspension of principal Sonya Hemmen has been handled has resulted in my not questioning the moral conduct of her as much as it has those in positions of authority. How much money are they making and how much of a cut in pay are they taking?

Janelle Renee Ortiz

Glenwood Springs

I am writing this letter with great disappointment at the suspension on Principal Sonya Hemmen. I am asking that Mrs. Hemmen’s suspension be dropped immediately.

Mrs. Hemmen is an incredible principal and mentor to the students and families at Glenwood Springs Elementary. I have three children who have attended or currently attend GSES, and Mrs. Hemmen knows each one of them. She has encouraged them, motivated them, read their poems, and given them goals to work towards.

She is a constant in our school. She can always be found, she can always be counted on to help wherever it is needed.

All three of my children have very different learning styles and levels. They are all excelling, and I believe this to be due to Mrs. Hemmen, the standards she holds and the environment she has created for students and teachers.

I do not feel this suspension has been handled fairly or correctly. Our school is currently in the middle of very important CSAP testing and kindergarten meetings. This was not the time to suspend a principal. Our teachers and students are now distracted and concerned.

If there is not a concrete reason for Mrs. Hemmen to be on suspension, she needs to be quickly put back into her place so our school can continue on with the school year. I hope that the education of our children is being put ahead of any personal conflict or dislike.

Christine Young

Glenwood Springs

This letter is to ask the Roaring Fork School Board to reverse Superintendent Judy Haptonstall’s decision concerning Principal Sonya Hemmen.

I’m a member of the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis and have worked with Sonya on the Terrific Kids program. Her leadership shown on this program has been outstanding. Each time she has the program all in order.

The respect and affection the students show her is amazing. The number of parents that come to this event is remarkable and acknowledges the respect they have for Sonya.

I also know her as a fine Christian.

Phil Anderson

Glenwood Springs

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