Monday letters: School board message, 8th and Midland concerns, parting treasurer candidate thoughts

Open letter from the school board

Editor’s note: This letter was written on behalf of the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education as an open letter to the schools community and the community at large.  

As your Roaring Fork Schools Board of Education, we’re proud of the work we are doing to support students in and out of our classrooms. We work hard to align our systems to best practices so we can efficiently and effectively serve in this immeasurably important volunteer role. This role is one we respect and understand as being powerful and impactful in our community and for our students. We’re truly grateful for your trust in placing us here and hopeful that as a community, we can all lean on one another to do right for our kids.  

As a child, my mother always told me she wasn’t raising children, she was raising the adults who would enter and then lead our society. I’ve taken that sentiment to heart as a parent, but it also weighs heavily in my role as board president. Our community-driven district vision is clear, and it directs our superintendent to ensure that every student develops the enduring knowledge, skills and character to thrive in a changing world. I wholeheartedly agree with this mission, and I hope you do, too. We want success for our kids, but the path to achieving this vision in our unique community is not clear or direct, and we certainly have a way to go.   

Our leaders constantly make decisions about how best to achieve this aim. These decisions may not always garner 100% support from stakeholders, and that is OK. Decisions must be made to move us forward in the best interest of students. Through this decision-making process, we work hard to model inclusive and positive discourse, so our children are exposed to a healthy model of governance. Remember, our goal is to raise citizens, and a crucial aspect of our society is becoming a critically thinking, voting member of our democracy. In fact, that was the goal of the system of public education envisioned by our founding fathers. As time has gone on, the system has changed for good reason — more people have been enfranchised to vote! Yet, the goal remains the same: healthy discussion, respectful debate, public engagement, and, ultimately, the movement toward a more perfect union.   

With this in mind, and as a volunteer member and president of our board of education, I ask you to understand this, model this, and support our children by engaging with us in healthy ways. As time wears on, we’ll continue to address difficult topics as well as mundane ones. Some will draw the public to our meetings, and most will not. Meanwhile, we’ll view each issue through the lens of our mission in the hopes we can move closer to achieving it. As we do this, we invite you to contribute to the discourse through the public comment portion of our meetings, through written comments, and with us outside of meeting times. However, we will not tolerate insults, harassment, yelling or any disruption that interrupts the business of the board during our meetings. That type of behavior does not exemplify good citizenship, is unproductive, and none of our volunteer directors deserve to be treated in such a manner. 

As president of the board, I will not allow it.  

While most of our interactions with the public are respectful and fruitful, it is not always the case, and I feel strongly that no one should feel unsafe during our meetings. We appreciate open and respectful participation in our processes, and we look forward to continuing our service to our students throughout our terms.      

We wish you all a safe and happy holiday this week — there is certainly much to be thankful for. 

Kathryn Kuhlenberg, president, Roaring Fork Schools Board of Education, on behalf of the entire board (Jasmin Ramirez, board vice-president; Natalie Torres, secretary/treasurer; Maureen Stepp, member; Kenny Teitler, member) 

Don’t change 8th and Midland land intentions

I was happy to hear that CDOT is now having a conversation with the city of Glenwood Springs on the change of use for the Eighth and Midland property.

When I was on council and a member of the Transportation Commission in 2000 the city and CDOT formed a partnership in three studies required by CDOT to prove that a relocation of Highway 82 off Grand Avenue is needed. Both CDOT and the city invested a lot of money and time into these studies. The conclusion was that by the year 2030 if nothing was done to change the traffic flow on Grand Avenue there would be gridlock. 

I argue that we will reach this gridlock in the next few years. Unfortunately, even after the city bought property along the river (with loans from CDOT) for right away needs to relocate Highway 82, a decision was made to replace the old bridge and forget the relocation. The intersection at Eighth and Midland was an important part of any future decisions in reducing traffic congestion in the future. CDOT and the city partnered in 2005 in condemning the then Collins’ property (05CV119), now the Eighth and Midland property, for future highway improvements. This intersection has safety concerns because of heavy pedestrian use, heavy traffic, and is a major utility corridor.

This is not objecting to affordable housing, but against the city changing the use of this property and for other reasons mentioned above.

Don “Hooner” Gillespie, Glenwood Springs

A few words from candidate Diaz

It is with sincere gratitude that I would like to offer my appreciation to voters of Garfield County for their gracious consideration of my candidacy for the position of County Treasurer. I would further wish to extend my heart-felt gratefulness to the volunteers, donors, officers, and members of the Democratic Party who supported my campaign as their nominee. Throughout the process I was humbled and honored by your constant encouragement. 

Though there were many highlights in this campaign, I would be remiss if I did not call attention to an ugliness that I hope we can commit to one another to extinguish here. In the many conversations I had with residents of this county, the vast majority were positive. However, I witnessed several angry insults leveled at candidates that would shock any reader here. 

I would like to remind everyone, the candidates for local office are your neighbors. They are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters — they are us. It is one thing to express your disagreements with their positions. It is entirely something else to feel entitled to vulgarly insult someone because they belong to another party than you. 

I truly hope Mrs. Couey was spared these experiences. We poison ourselves and the community if we allow the opinions of national pundits, who are paid to stoke anger and division for ratings, to become how we describe our local candidates. We should always remember the democratic axiom that “every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.” 

I would like to extend my congratulations to Treasurer Couey on a hard-fought and won campaign. Thank you, Carrie, for stepping forward to serve our county. Though we disagree on our priorities for the Treasurer’s Office, I have no doubt in your sincerity to do what is right on behalf of the people of Garfield County as you see that course. I wish you success. Your success will be the county’s success. 

We may continue to disagree, but the election is over and now is time for unity for our county. May God Bless Treasurer Couey, her family, and the people of Garfield County.

Aron Diaz, Rifle

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