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Your Letters

As students at Glenwood Springs Elementary, a group of us were chosen to “interview” and get to know prospective candidates to succeed Principal James Phillips. Sonya Hemmen was one of these candidates. Even as children, we knew what Ms. Haptonstall and her peers clearly do not: she was, and continues to be, perfect for the job.

Admittedly, I did not attend GSES while she presided over it, but our community is small enough that one cannot help but hear about how things are going in our local schools. During her time at GSES, Sonya went above and beyond. She made a habit of getting to know the students and showing them that an administrative official can care.

The board has stated that they did not agree with her administrative style and that was the reason for her sudden suspension and subsequent termination. That is simply nonsensical. Administrative technique is something that can be easily improved upon if deemed necessary. This, coupled with the fact that the details have not been released to the public, makes it clear that something is not quite right.

Having attended GSES, GSMS, and GSHS, it honestly worries and sickens me that the schools that I have such fond memories of are being directed by a group of people who refuse to listen to those that they are supposed to represent. I hope that this gross injustice will be kept in mind come time to elect new board members in order to avoid future incidents such as this.

Being the principal of an elementary school is a difficult position, but Ms. Hemmen always handled things to the best of her ability and, judging by the support she has received, her actions did not go unnoticed. Unless a compelling argument with new details is made soon by the board, it seems as though their actions will be correctly deemed unjustified. So, school board, please just release the facts. We eagerly await to hear the real cause for a beloved principal’s dismissal.

Abril Loya

Princeton, N.J.

This could be my last letter to the editor. So I just wanted to say goodbye. I am sure that will make many of you very happy.

But why, you may ask? Let me explain.

I was watching TV on Friday, April 8, as the possible shutdown of the government was being discussed because the Democrats (who controlled the House, Senate and the White House last year) failed or refused to pass a budget for fiscal 2011 knowing full well that if they went into last year’s election with the voters knowing they would be spending another $1 trillion more of their money they could potentially lose the election. Of course they did lose the election in the House anyway, while narrowly retaining control of the Senate.

But I digress. As I was saying, while watching those discussions, Congress person Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) stated, “If the government is shutdown, senior citizens will be dying.”

Wow! That got my attention. And since I am way into that senior citizen part of my life, I figured I better start getting my ducks in a row and prepare for the worst.

Then to make matters worse, Congress person Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said millions of seniors will not get food anymore and will starve if the GOP gets its way in a spending bill they proposed. (See Washington Post Fact Checker.)

Therefore I say goodbye. But first a couple of points. The federal government on Thursday began preparing the 800,000 nonessential government workers for a possible layoff. What I wonder is, if we have that many nonessential federal workers, why the heck don’t they just lay them off permanently. If they are nonessential, presto, the budget problem is solved.

Another point. The Republican proposed budget cuts amount to 2.4 cents out of every dollar the feds spend. If they can’t even cut that amount, we are all in serious trouble, not just seniors.

George Washington said, “No pecuniary consideration is more urgent than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt.”


Bob Anderson

Glenwood Springs

Florindo’s Italian Cuisine is the favorite dinner destination for my wife and me, (as well as any friends who accompany us there). Florent takes tremendous pride in preparing dishes with the finest ingredients, fresh picked herbs, and genuine Italian pride.

Everyone who has dined there, knows of the quality and the top-notch service there at the base of the Grand Avenue Bridge.

The mean-spirited comments made by an ex-employee should not harm the reputation of the family that has delighted us for more than 20 years. Please do yourselves a favor and get to know the finest of restaurants, and some fine people, as well.

Frank and Kim Breslin

New Castle

I am writing as a taxpaying citizen of Garfield County who is concerned about the proposed solid waste transfer station and recycling center at the Mid-Continent site near Carbondale.

My concerns are focused on the process of how this facility has come to the Garfield County commissioners with the lack of public information or the chance to fully comprehend the facts of the impact the facility may have on our community.

I am very much opposed to the county providing the owners with a “use by right” approval without following the proper procedures already in place for such a facility. I feel the attempt to obtain a “use by right” via a “text amendment” removes the public from the process, and yet we will be the most impacted.

The potential impacts that concern me relate to increased traffic levels of large semi trash hauling tractors into the town limits of Carbondale on a daily and hourly basis. The town of Carbondale and the back road Highway 100 are not designed to handle this volume of industrial traffic.

I am also concerned about the environmental impacts of noise, odor and potential impacts to our valuable, precious and quality water supply from harmful contaminants that are part of a solid waste facility.

Without the proper impact studies and community comment, we could unknowingly end up with a facility that changes the beauty and quality of life that attracted so many to this part of the valley.

I do not want to be known as living next to the downvalley trash dump of Carbondale (since trash will be hauled from each nearby city) without knowing we have certain controls of how we will be impacted long term. The “use by right” application under consideration would allow the facility to operate without the protections that citizens need, considering the nature of this business.

I and a significant number of other concerned citizens will attend the Garfield County commissioners meeting on April 18 before this critical decision is made.

Ron Speaker


I am proud to be a GSES parent and one of the huge crowd who packed the board room in support of our principal, Sonya Hemmen, at the emergency meeting on April 6. As a parent and taxpayer, I can’t begin to express my outrage and profound disappointment for how the school board has handled the entire situation. Their ultimate decision to remove Hemmen – a wildly successful, respected and admired principal – from our school was a poor decision.

It was not made in the best interest of those the board is supposed to serve – our students, our children. It was not made in the interest of the hundreds of parents, teachers, administrators and taxpayers, who showed up in droves and expressed their dismay and support through hundreds of emails, letters and conversations.

In the mindset of one of the many students who spoke on Hemmen’s behalf April 6, what more does the board need to show that this was wrong?

The board that night verified that there was nothing illegal or immoral that caused the suspension. Odd, since one would think that would be what it takes to remove a principal in the middle of the week, middle of the year, and middle of CSAPs.

Hemmen’s continued requests for transparency prove she’s got nothing to hide.

Our superintendent, Judy Haptonstall, and the board’s continued denial seems to suggest that they do. What are they hiding that they don’t want us to see?

This is a blatant abuse of power. It’s alarming to see how much power a single person has over our children’s futures. The shameless disrespect and disregard for the wishes of those Hemmen serves is appalling.

The wrong district leader was removed April 6.

I implore our community to call for the reconsideration of the board’s decision and the removal of Haptonstall. I beg the board to actually act in the best interests of our children and community – those they are supposed to be serving – instead of the political game play that seems to be so popular.

Jessica Stott

Glenwood Springs

All the hoopla over the Sonya Hemmen suspension and termination reminds me of a Crime Stoppers episode, where a caller remains anonymous while ratting out a friend or neighbor. With Crime Stoppers though, the accused is publicly charged with a crime.

If Sonya’s “crime” is serious enough to warrant such draconian measures, then the crime as well as the accuser should stand public scrutiny. An outraged public is being kept in the dark by its own public servants! Why?

Judge Judy Haptonstall and her school board jury shouldn’t keep us guessing. Crime Stoppers only hides the rat. Why is the school board hiding the crime?

Bruno Kirchenwitz


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