Letters to the Editor

Letter: Successful baseball season

July 27, 2014 — 

As our baseball season winds down and the equipment starts stacking up in the rec office, we would like to thank our coaches who spent many evenings and hot days on the diamond coaching our players and teaching them not only baseball but sportsmanship and teamwork. Many thanks to Bob Daniel, Kirk Schneider, Auden Schendler, Larry Madden, Garry Pffaffmann, Todd Hartley, Eric Musselman, Scott Garcia, Marlin Wolfe, Steve Clettenberg, Pedro Alvarez, Tom Moore, Robert Peters, Jeff Limongelli, Shaine Conrardy, Todd Stoner, Bart Johnson, Jon Leibell, Kevin Bruce, Michael Coyle, Michael Glenn, Michael Bassi, Eric Vozick, Mike Glen, Tim Bauer, Deb Reardon, Marge Schrock, Karen Baxter, Jeanne Mackowski and Katie King. I also would like to thank Katie Hankinson, the umpire coordinator, for keeping the umpires organized and keeping our fields ready for play. Thank you to all of our umpires for their hard work with the games. Thank you to Crown Mountain, Kat, Christy and Chris for making sure we had wonderful fields to play on. Thank you to all the parents who helped with treats, made sure the kids were at the fields with all their gear and cheered the teams on! And finally, thank you to all the players for giving the teams the best you could. You are all champions! Thanks for being on Basalt Recreation’s team!

Dorothy Howard

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Letter: There is always a light and hope at the end of the road

July 27, 2014 — 

On behalf of Eliseo, Mayra, their children (Eliseo and Jesse) and the Amaya Lopez family, we are thankful for the Aspen community in El Jebel, Carbondale and Glenwood. You were supportive morally, spiritually and financially. Your presence has filled us with hope and strength and helped console us in a time we needed it the most. Thank you for your generous help and solidarity with us. We were surprised and amazed to see and feel in your hearts the fellowship that we witnessed. It made us feel strengthened and supported by your kindness toward our loved ones, Eliseo and Mayra. We will be forever grateful toward this loving community that showed us love and consolation with your presence. With your help, we were able to see the big hearts that saw past color, race and beliefs. Thanks to all those who were able to join us in our pain, and thanks for granting us time out of your schedule to be with us during this time. On behalf of the children left behind, Jesse and Eliseo, and the Amaya Lopez family, we will never forget you all, and we pray to God that he guides you and sheds his grace on all who were there until that last moment possible. We part with these humble words: “May there always be light and hope at the end of the road.” The wonderful community of Aspen was that light and hope for us on that road, which we will never forget. May God give back to you all a portion of what you all have given us, and thanks to each and every one of you for your solidarity. Thanks again, blessings, and overall peace to you all.

Amaya Lopez family

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Letter: Pot clubs are not right for the community

July 27, 2014 — 

A recent editorial in The Aspen Times (“Marijuana clubs belong in Aspen,” Commentary, July 25) suggests that the City Council approve pot clubs.

While I do support the current marijuana laws at this time, the pot-club idea is foolish and shortsighted.

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Letter: Thrift Shop lifts special athletes

July 26, 2014 — 

Another year gone by. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the volunteers of the Thrift Shop of Aspen. For over 25 years, the Thrift Shop of Aspen has helped our Special Olympics athletes by donating a substantial amount of money.

We appreciate it each and every year and feel they need the recognition that goes with being so generous. It’s so nice to know that the Thrift Shop continues its ongoing task of assisting nonprofits with important missions and projects.

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Letter: Thank you, Valley View Hospital

July 26, 2014 — 

Last week I experienced a problem with my heart that required me to arrive at Valley View Hospital in an ambulance that triggered a great deal of commotion. Even though the EMTs did their best to make me comfortable, I was a pretty nervous guy as I entered. That ended almost immediately. The Valley View nurses are truly wonderful. Every one of them was at the top of their game and was thoughtful, kind and caring. I never thought that a hospital visit could make me feel as if I were on a weekend getaway.

Thanks to everyone in the Valley View Critical Care Unit. I know that I have dropped some of your names, and I really missed badly on the names of the guys, but I do want to give a shout-out to Lesley, Natalie, Annalise, Valerie, Stacey, Heather and Dr. Jennifer York. You all are the best! You make me wish that I were 35 years younger.

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Letter: Fashioning possibility for economic development

July 26, 2014 — 

Great news story about a new economic-development possibility for Rifle and Garfield County, “Clothing designer looking at Rifle activity” (Rifle Citizen Telegram, July 17).

I have known Maggie Burns, Denver fashion designer and owner of Marie-Margot Couture, since 2009. She’s industrious, sincere, creative, forward-looking and straight-up.

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Letter: Update from Uganda

July 26, 2014 — 

I have officially been on the ground in Uganda for one month now, and the progress that already has been made is huge. So far we have been able to start our after-school programs, which consist of art, music, storytelling and sports. On average we have about 28 kids from the village join us each evening. We also have started a support group for women who are living with HIV. As you can tell, the progress made in this short period of time is truly incredible! Without the support of the Aspen community, none of this would have been possible. So upon reaching the one-month marker, I wanted to first take time to thank my community for all of the love and support. Thank you to everyone who came out to the event at The Red Onion in June, thank you to everyone who has financially supported me, and thank you to everyone for the endless prayers. I am so humbled by our community.

Sarah Elizabeth Nininger

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Letter: An increasing destination for art

July 25, 2014 — 

I’ve enjoyed the lively discussion on the major, 20-foot-high piece by James Surls at the new roundabout in Carbondale, recently approved by the town trustees to be installed this fall. This process has had folks talking about art. The Surls sculpture is made of stainless steel and bronze and has organic references that I think match Carbondale’s heritage. It is valued at about $400,000, half of which is a gift from Surls. The other $200,000 will be entirely contributed from private sources with a lead gift from Connie and Jim Calaway.

Art is becoming increasingly important for our town, and we are becoming a player in a rapid regional change of more and better art. Consider the Surls piece, the lively annual change of sculpture of our “Art About Town” series, the recent opening of the beautiful Powers Museum (adjacent to Planet Earth and having a highly complete collection of Jasper Johns prints), our fine new library and the recent Colorado award to the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities that recognizes Carbondale as a creative district.

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Letter: Thanks for reporting on Basalt

July 25, 2014 — 

Thanks for reporting on Basalt

I wanted to send a shout out to The Aspen Times and Scott Condon on the excellent job that is being done covering the news and happenings around Basalt. As a part-time resident, it is refreshing and informative to read about the great things that are going on in our special town. I thank you for the comprehensive reporting and look forward to more.

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Letter: Practicing for the future?

July 24, 2014 — 

Congratulations to the school board of Aspen High School for the hiring of your hatchet man John Maloy. He has successfully managed to run off some of the best athletic coaches the high school has ever seen, not to mention the 2012 high school athletic director of the year plus, from what i have heard, some great teachers. Looks like Maloy is honing his hatchet skills to use in the future as the CEO of one of our fine corporations that is in need of some serious downsizing. Great job for your awesome hire. You should all be so very proud to make these needed changes to a high school that has been ranked the top high school in the state.

Dean Wagner

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Letter: Doing what needs to be done

July 24, 2014 — 

For several months now, a friend and I have been brainstorming how to convince the Open Space and Trails Board to design and build a bike path from the Brush Creek Intercept Lot to the airport so that bike riders from Snowmass Village could ride safely all the way to Aspen. It appears that Al Beyer, Benjamin Koons and Nils Koons had the same idea. Being more impatient than my friend and I are, they actually started building the trail. Their impatience harks back to the days before we had a sign law, when former Mayor Bugsy Barnard just went up and down the highway cutting down all the billboards that had sprung up. It verges on vigilantism: You just go out and do what obviously needs to be done.

My friend says that instead of Al and Ben and Nils being fined, they should have been given a choice of either paying the fine or accepting appointment to the Open Space and Trails Board. Just do the right thing, n’est-ce pas?

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Reckling: Save the Woody Creek post office

July 24, 2014 — 

As the pistons slow and the powerful “chuff-chuff” of the steam engine eases, the conductor walks through the passenger car and yells, “Catherine!” When the train comes to a full stop, some passengers get off as others climb aboard.

The engine hisses as it builds up more steam and the engineer sounds the whistle long and hard to signal his departure. Onward the train travels for several miles until its next stop. The conductor reappears in the passenger car and shouts, “Emma!” At this stop another group disembarks before the train chugs out of the Emma depot. As the train continues on, the conductor visits the passenger car a third time to shout, “Woody!” just before its next stop.

This was the call of the conductor in the 1890s as the train pulled into present-day Woody Creek.

This Aspen-bound train belonged to the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Co. as it delivered its passengers from other towns, or the big city of Denver, into the Roaring Fork Valley. Some rail travelers enjoyed day trips up and down the Roaring Fork Valley to visit family or to take a therapeutic soak in the mineral-rich Glenwood Springs. The Aspen branch line originated in Glenwood Springs, and Woody Creek was the last stop before Aspen.

Not only did the arrival of these steam-engine railroads put an end to the isolation of mountain hamlets and the arduous journeys of stagecoaches and wagon trains; they determined where towns and cities would become permanent places on the map. It was a consequential evolution that where the train stopped, prosperity grew.

In the case of Woody Creek, a store was opened and a post office was established in 1920. The first postmaster in Woody Creek was a man by the name of Frank O. Stevens, and in 1922 Ben M. Strawbridge took over the position. Later years brought other postmasters, with Jesse Bouge and Lee Jones being a couple of the names on record.

Fast-forward to today, and you can see that the community activity of Woody Creek revolves around its post office. In rural communities like Woody Creek, the post office remains a vital social artery. Yes, it’s where residents go to pick up their mail, but it’s also where people come together to discuss community issues and have a visit with their neighbors.

Last fall, I wrote a column that alerted readers about the pending doom of Woody Creek’s post office. David Rupert, a Colorado postal spokesperson (my dad used to say that the word spokesperson was just a polite way of saying bullshit artist) berated me in his letter to the editor for having “fanned quite a bit of fear in the community” by writing about the U.S. Postal Service technique of phasing out post offices. He brushed over the issue by stating the Postal Service was merely “adjusting the hours” at the Woody Creek post office because it doesn’t produce enough revenue.

Rupert, and all Postal Service officials, must realize that when you reduce hours of operation, you reduce the income of the postmistress. When the postmistress’ income is decreased to where she can’t sustain a living, she is forced to seek employment elsewhere. A post office without a postmistress (or postmaster) can then be closed with no recourse from its customers.

Besides that, there is a congressional directive of the “public service obligation” required of the Postal Service found in the Postal Reorganization Act that reads, “The Postal Service shall provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas ... where post offices are not self-sustaining. No small post office shall be closed solely for operating at a deficit, it being the specific intent of the Congress that effective postal services be insured to residents of both urban and rural communities.”

Sherry Mahoney has served as Woody Creek’s postmistress for almost six years now and is not only a devoted postal employee but an invaluable member of the community and a true public servant. As her hours are gradually reduced, she is being starved out of her job.

Woody Creek has many residents who do not own automobiles. Though tough as nails, the lives of the elderly are greatly affected by shortened hours and would be devastated if the post office was eventually closed.

In the words of Jennings Randolph, former U.S. senator from West Virginia, “When the post office is closed, the flag comes down. When the human side of government closes its doors, we’re all in trouble.”

Please join the residents of Woody Creek at the Woody Creek Community Center (next to the Woody Creek Tavern) at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. on July 31 as we discuss the future of our post office with Postal Service representatives.

For all those who attend, enjoy a free beer at the Tavern after the meeting.

Margaret Wilson Reckling would like to thank Len Shoemaker for his historical insight on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Co. Railroad and post offices of the Roaring Fork Valley. She welcomes your comments at margreck880@gmail.com.

Letter: Leave access to river in Basalt

July 24, 2014 — 

There are many of us who would prefer to see Old Town Basalt maintain some of its charm rather than be overdeveloped. Open space by the river is a real asset to a town. A park and undeveloped land have intrinsic value and cannot be replaced once given up. If a town is inviting for people to spend time in, they also will spend money there. Think of the attraction to cyclists, families, visitors, dog walkers and river users who would be able to relax by the river and walk along its banks. When the “vote” for the three plans was put forth, I did vote for the one I thought was the lesser of the evils, but I don’t want to see the river area developed nor the Triangle Park area. There are many other options if we are not just thinking profit and money to the few who could benefit from development. Please keep as much open space and access to the river corridor as possible.

Denise Handrich

Basalt

Letter: Share the road with cyclists

July 23, 2014 — 

Share the road with cyclists

My apologies to the commuters who drive to Aspen on 82. I’m the cyclist that you see riding along the side of the highway many mornings. When you are flying by at 60 to 70 mph, I want to be as far from you as I can be. What you may not realize is that there is also a fair amount of debris in the shoulder that I am also trying to avoid. If you see me riding close to the left edge, it’s because I have no choice. Please don’t swerve into me for giggles (white box truck, I’m talking to you!) it’s unnecessary and frightening. Until the Rio Grande is paved in it’s entirety, I’m stuck on 82, and I don’t like it any more than you do. Please share the road and be respectful.

Gail Mason

Aspen Village

Letter: Woody Creek lost another longtime Woody Creature

July 23, 2014 — 

Woody Creek lost another longtime Woody Creature

Gaylord’s “The Sage of Woody Creek”, longtime companion, Buckwheat the dog passed away. Most of us all knew Buckwheat very well, we will miss him, like we did when Biff the Cat, the Tavern’s mascot, passed away. May they both rest in peace!

Michael Galvis

Woody Creek

Letter: Aspen is losing parking

July 23, 2014 — 

Aspen is losing parking

Where are the residents of Aspen supposed to park? The new art museum has been given all the parking spaces on both sides of their new building in perpetuity for a sculpture garden, and the residents of Aspen have lost 16 to 18 parking spaces forever. This morning, and for the past several weeks, they have posted no parking signs for six spaces on 600 E. Hyman Ave., Four spaces on 600 E. Cooper Ave., Eight parallel-parking spaces on East Spring Street and eight angle parking on the west side of Spring Street. That totals 44 spaces of town parking that are unavailable for tourists, locals, shoppers, patients, clients — for several weeks and 18 parking spots lost forever. There is even a nasty sign in front of the museum across from Sandy’s that says, “No Stopping or Standing to let people off.” Instead they are to walk several blocks or waste gas circling for a parking spot instead of paying for parking spots and construction spots and fines and fees the museum paid for “storm water project.” The city planners say they never realized that the Art Museum would be taking so many spots! Another good deal for the art crowd. Across the street is the Crandal Building that at one time housed seven physicians, and now it is down to two pediatricians. What is the plan? Mom drops off her 5 year old while she looks for parking. She schleps the two kids and a newborn in the winter from Rubey Park. The skier/hockey player with a sprained ankle hikes in from the high school. Fortunately, the kids in wheelchairs can park in the handicapped parking in front of the office. It isn’t just sick kids, but every business around needs some way for people to get to their business. I love the bus system, the bike stations and parking garage, but they don’t work for many people and all situations. In a few weeks it will be done and things will be better, but there was a major lack of planning, thinking of consequences and to have given the Art Museum permanent control over 18 parking spaces to use for a sculpture garden is difficult to comprehend. Aspen as a local community is truly slipping away. There is very little or nothing that can be done at this point except roll over. This is not the council that voted for the project and Mayor Skadron was the no vote. We need better planning; involve more of the impacted neighbors and ask more questions. Just because someone owns the ground (paid too much for it), it is not the city’s responsibility to make it possible for the developer to make a huge profit.

William Mitchell

Aspen

Letter: A front page full of drivel

July 22, 2014 — 

Excuse me while I wipe off the spray. I’m just finishing Sunday’s front-page story in The Aspen Times, “Lewis remains an icon for human and civil rights.”

The article extols Congressman John Lewis, who is currently in Aspen “promoting his latest book,” as I read. Lewis also has been pushing a very partisan political agenda, as I do not read.

My point is to bemoan the omission. Any self-respecting tabloid’s front page should at least attempt impartiality, should it not? And, especially when telling about active and vocal politicians, to display some concern for the substance of their politics.

All I learned about Lewis is how heroic he once was for civil rights and how active he is today in efforts which apparently no one opposes and which must excite and inspire everyone, without exception, if only we could learn what they are. But all this will unfold in profusion, no doubt, once we buy that book.

Enough with the icons and idols. Still dripping with front-page slobber, I ask that you insert a few facts in the news you present there. Save the drool for advertisements and the Commentary page.

Chris King

Aspen

Letter: Congratulations, Lo Semple

July 22, 2014 — 

I want to congratulate Lo Semple for writing a letter to the editor (The Aspen Times, “A milestone acknowledge,” Commentary, July 12) congratulating Aspen Skiing Co.’s Mike Kaplan for congratulating him for skiing 100 days last year, and then Semple finished by congratulating himself for being a true local. Once again, congratulations!

Roger Marolt

Snowmass Village

Letter: Immigration problem stems from misguided policies

July 22, 2014 — 

The open-border advocates can now see first hand what their misguided “humanitarian” policies have created.

They say we can’t deport the 11 million illegals hiding in this country. By presidential fiat, Obama gave the “dreamers” de facto amnesty. And for goodness sake, we can’t break up any illegal families, the bleeding hearts cry.

And now, those “great-thinker,” progressive Democrats can’t figure out why the rest of the world believes our country is soft on illegal immigration.

Obama has refused to enforce our immigration laws and is completely responsible for the horde of illegals now breaching our borders. How long will we be able to play Mother Theresa to the Third World before the USA becomes a Third World country? The Democrats can never buy enough votes and the Republicans can never have enough cheap labor.

Beware citizens, the 1 percent can never have enough poor to nurture their greed.

Bruno Kirchenwitz

Rifle

Letter: Too hot to handle, too hard to hear

July 22, 2014 — 

On July 9 at 5 p.m., I attended a Historic Preservation Commission meeting in the basement of Aspen City Hall. I went hoping to better understand the controversy between the Lundy structure renovation and the home owned and lived in by Martin and Beate Block.

Hearing what was discussed by the commissioners was not possible; there was no audio system. I asked to have the sound amplified and was told I could not hear because people in my row were talking. True, people were asking each other what was being said. No one could hear. Microphones were in front of each commissioner. Each speaker needed to hold the microphone directly in front of his or her mouth when talking. After a few spoken words they no longer spoke directly into the microphone and, despite the fact the sound was set at its highest level, the sound did not resonate.

The room was very hot, and I asked if the air-conditioner system could be turned on only to be told there was no cooling system. Many people gave up and left due to the discomfort and poor sound.

Attending that meeting was a waste of time. I learned nothing, and I left as I began to feel faint from the heat.

Aspen as a world class city should be able to place fans in public meeting rooms. Continuing as is is unconscionable.

The Aspen City Council recently approved $215,000 to fund the USA Pro Challenge cycling race that comes to town next month for a once a year event. I hope the council will purchase fans and an amplifying system that will be used all year. Until then, calling a public meeting under present conditions is a sham.

Linda Kalnitsky

Aspen

Letter: Who bears the majority of the blame?

July 20, 2014 — 

Melanie Sturm’s column (“The era of intended adverse consequences”) in Thursday’s edition of The Aspen Times contained much to praise, particularly regarding Washington’s current legislative impasse and appalling lack of leadership.

As a centrist, however, I like to spread the blame around fairly. Thus, I missed in Sturm’s commentary any acknowledgment of Republican responsibility for the immigration-reform mess. It seems to me that the stalling tactics of the Republican-led House are at least as responsible as any failings on the part of the Obama administration. In this election year, Republicans seem bent on not offending powerful tea party interests opposed to meaningful immigration reform. Thus, meaningful compromise seems, for now at least, dead in the water.

Thus far, I believe, Obama’s second term has proved largely one disaster after another. But I do give the administration a pass on the immigration issue. Here, the Republicans seem to bear most of the blame.

Donald Wilson

St. Louis

Letter: Look carefully at Maroon Creek Valley proposal

July 20, 2014 — 

We are writing in regards to the current pending land-use application being submitted by Celestial LLC for development of a lot within the Maroon Creek Valley. The proposal requests permission to use transferable development rights to build a 13,250 square-foot structure on a 35-acre lot with a 3-acre building envelope that is compromised by two avalanche paths and an alluvial fan.

We have serious concerns because of the size of the home as well as the significant environmental risks. This application should be of concern to not only residents of the Maroon Creek Valley but to residents of the Roaring Fork Valley who value the corridor that provides entrance to the Maroon Bells and the Snowmass Maroon Bells Wilderness Area.

A home of this size on a compromised piece of property is a precedent-setting event. The majority of the homes in the Maroon Creek Valley are closer to 5,000 square feet. The recent approval of a 15,000 square-foot home including the caretaker unit is not comparable to this application in that it is located on 180 acres and actually served to preserve large amounts of acreage from any further development.

Many residents in the Maroon Creek Valley have made consistent efforts throughout the years to preserve the unique quality of this much used public corridor to a recreational wilderness area. Developments, such as the one proposed by Celestial, can permanently change the nature of this rural area.

The application has been pending for a number of years, which included it’s denial at one point. It has been a long and complicated process. It would be in the best interests of the future of the Maroon Creek Valley for all Roaring Fork Valley residents to take a careful look at this application, which is to be decided by the county commissioners today at a public hearing at 9 a.m. This is a singular decision that could have permanent effects on our entire valley.

Donna and Tom Ward

Aspen

Letter: Good job, Pitkin County Sheriff Department

July 20, 2014 — 

I would like to thank the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department for patrolling the ramp at the airport heading to Aspen. Every morning I witness grown-ups driving to Aspen and turning at the lights to the airport, then going down the ramp, in order to get ahead of the bottleneck traffic going into Aspen. They proceed in the bus lane to Buttermilk, going at a good clip, and they are three minutes ahead of everyone else.

Pitkin County can make a little extra cash by charging the stray traffic $20 a pop at the booth leaving the airport ramp. Maybe it’s worth it to the folks who can’t wait their turn in the traffic to Aspen, and Pitkin County can make a good sum of cash on the side due to commuter’s impatience.

Why not stop at Roxie’s for some breakfast? Enjoy your idle at 3 miles per hour with a hot meal!

Elaine Lechuga

Basalt

Letter: Give seniors priority

July 19, 2014 — 

Give seniors priority

How ironic that I am waiting in line to renew my driver’s license at the Glenwood Springs motor-vehicle office while reading about long lines and understaffing in The Aspen Times newspaper.

Now, because I am a senior, I have to go to the DMV to renew my license, and they want to check my eyes.

My firsthand experience was awful. I must agree with the writer that something has to be done. It’s absurd to wait and stand 3 1/2 hours to renew your driver’s license.

There were no immigrants who were holding up the line. All were English-speaking, so let’s get that excuse off the table.

Many on line take so much time because they lost their driving privileges and were going through the hoops with motor vehicles to be reinstated. Others had just moved to our state and were getting a Colorado license. There was a young man getting his first license, a man who lost his wallet and a lady who wanted her name changed on her license.

I and a senior friend of mine who is in his mid-80s had to wait patiently behind all of these people.

We just needed our eyes checked!

Finally it was my turn.

Question: “How can I help you today, sir?”

Answer: “I am here to renew my license.”

Response: “OK — look into the eye-testing machine. Read the top line. Good. OK — now, there is a light blinking. What side is it blinking on?”

Answer: “On my left.”

“Now where is it blinking?”

“On my right.”

“Good again. That will be $22. OK — sit down, and someone will call you and take your picture.”

I timed my interview and eye test. It took three minutes. A little longer for my friend: five minutes. He likes to talk a lot.

The ordeal was over. It took 3 1/2 hours!

Good gravy — there has to be a better way!

How about this idea? Let seniors go to the head of the line. We just need our eyes checked. Our backs and feet will thank you.

And here is another idea: How about all candidates running for office be required to get their driver’s licenses renewed before they can get their names on the ballot? At the DMV office, and no cheating. They have to personally apply. Incumbents, also.

I will bet you things will get better if the Hickenlooper also has to wait on line.

Dennis Fitzpatrick

Carbondale

Letter: Speak out on Woody Creek post office

July 19, 2014 — 

Speak out on Woody Creek post office

The federal government’s cutting of the open/business hours of the Woody Creek post office will be the first step in the eventual attempt at closing not only the Woody Creek post office but many of the others on its list! Woody Creatures need to be sure and come to the Woody Creek Community Center on July 31 at 6:30 p.m. to a meeting with a post office administrator to discuss this issue. Please attend if you can. Your voice needs to be heard loud and clear!

Michael Galvis

Woody Creek

Letter; Thanks for supporting The Buddy Program

July 19, 2014 — 

Thanks for supporting The Buddy Program

The Buddy Program would like to acknowledge the generosity of all those who contributed to the success of this year’s Honky-Tonkin’ Bash for the Buddies. Over 400 guests and volunteers came out to support the Buddy Program and the 1,000 youth who are empowered through mentoring experiences in the Roaring Fork Valley. We are very grateful to all the loyal Bash patrons, donors, volunteers, restaurant contributors, silent-auction and volunteer coordinators, live-auction and silent-auction contributors as well as our corporate and in-kind sponsors. This event would not have been so successful without the generous support of our sponsors: Boogie’s Diner, Prada, Aspen Magazine, The Aspen Times, Alpine Bank, Meridian Jewelers, Premier Party Rental, Aspen 82, Gold Leaf Event Design and Production and Escobar Bar. Many thanks also to our generous host committee: Richard Jelinek, Tony Mazza, John Phelan, Richard Rogers, Lew Sanders, Daryl Snadon and Gary Stewart.

This year’s Honky-Tonkin’ Bash was held at Marolt Open Space under the big top where guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, a silent and live auction, live music by Bobbie Yang and his band, lots of dancing, a delicious dinner and a beautiful performance by our own Buddy Band — comprised of six very talented Little Buddies. As always, the Bash featured signature dishes and cocktails by many of Aspen’s favorite restaurants, including Asie Restaurant, BB’s Kitchen, Cache Cache, Caribou Club, Conundrum Catering, Escobar, Fusion Catering, Heather’s Savory Pies and Tapas Bar, Hickory House, Hops Culture, In the Soup, Jimmy’s, L’Hostaria, Matsuhisa, Randy Placeres’ Aspen Culinary Solutions, Resqwater, Rustique, Whole Foods and Zeno. A big thank you to Bash Event Planners Chelsea Dillon, Kate Ryan and Barbara Platts with Gold Leaf Event Design and Production as well as Volunteer Coordinators Erika Leavitt and Natasha Lucero. We are fortunate to have such a strong team!

We also would like to extend our gratitude to our Board of Directors, led by Adam Goldsmith, our Bash Committee, comprised of Diane Anderson, Mona Look-Mazza, Albert Sanford and Angie Stewart, our Leadership Development Board led by Jim Palardy, our very generous National Council donors, led by Mona Look-Mazza and Angie Stewart, and of course our wonderful Chairman of our Board, Lenny “Boogie” Weinglass, who has been a tremendous champion of our cause for so many years!

Thanks to the generosity of our community, the Buddy Program is able to provide critical services and programs to our local youth including individual mentoring, group mentoring, Lemonade Day, scholarships and therapeutic counseling at no cost to them. Your support allows our children to grow happier, healthier and to their full potential. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

With deepest gratitude,

David Houggy

The Buddy Program, executive director

Letter: Thanks to the Elks

July 19, 2014 — 

Thanks to the Elks

Basalt Recreation would like to extend a big thank you to the Aspen Elks Lodge for their generous support of our programs and our scholarship program. With their help, we certified our new lifeguard staff at the Basalt Pool, and we were able to replace some worn-out lifesaving equipment to improve our pool. The Elks Lodge also helps with our scholarship program so we can help families enjoy many programs that they may not be able to otherwise. We are very fortunate to have the support of an organization like the Aspen Elks Lodge who really cares about the youth of our community!

Dorothy Howard

Basalt Recreation Department

Letter: Excess supply for unlimited demand

July 18, 2014 — 

Excess supply for unlimited demand

Andy Stone certainly gets one thing right — we have no control over the law of supply and demand.

Or, viewed another way, we do have control if we want to unleash growth and thus create excess supply to satisfy unlimited demand.

But that is akin to destroying the village to save it!

By limiting growth — a desired public goal — we limit supply, and that causes land and home prices to rise. We have offset some of the undesired consequences by creating affordable-housing programs, and those have largely worked. But, if that’s the case, why the absence of Stone’s cited “swingsets in backyards”?

The answer is that choosing a place to live involves more than just a house price. Families also need to buy school supplies, get cars serviced, get shoes repaired — and none of those things can be readily done in Aspen. We have groceries and Gucci and not much in between. In addition to housing, we also should be investigating how we can expand services to local residents. And that is a whole different set of policy dynamics, indeed.

But Stone also addresses the lodging question and takes issue with us “falling behind Vail.” Well, we not only are falling behind Vail, we are falling behind most resort locales in the Mountain West. Our lodging stock is decreasing and aging, and we certainly lack anything even modestly “affordable.” And that speaks to our core industry — tourism. It is in that category that we are falling behind and losing ground to the competition and thus a lodging incentive ordinance to facilitate a refurbishment of our needed lodging stock. And we can control that refurbishment. We are not seeking to recreate Vail, heaven forbid. But that does not mean that we cannot and should not expand and upgrade our hotel offerings in order to sustain our tourism industry.

Things change, and we need to change with them. That is all that is being facilitated by City Council with this new ordinance. We will not be Vail, and don’t want to be Vail or anybody else. But improving our hospitality offerings helps keep us who are.

James DeFrancia

Aspen

Letter: Clarifying nonprofit expenses

July 18, 2014 — 

Clarifying nonprofit expenses

A recent article in The Aspen Daily News (“The Bash for the Buddies,” July 13) sets out to “follow the money at one of Aspen’s top fundraisers.” We at the Buddy Program appreciate the coverage of The Bash for the Buddies and of the great work that we do. However, I feel that the emphasis on “following the money” misses the mark and needs clarification. In particular, the statement that, “only about 4.5 percent of the nonprofit’s revenue went directly to youth,” needs to be addressed.

The 4.5 percent figure represents what we allocate for scholarships and counseling. While we are thrilled to be able to provide approximately $70,000 to these two important areas each year, this is not our primary mission. Our mission is “to empower youth through mentoring experiences in order to achieve their full potential.”

We provide and facilitate mentoring and various programs and experiences for our mentors, mentees and many other children in the valley. We are a quasi-social service organization with case managers and support staff who are necessary to accomplish this. So, yes, many of our expenses are related to paying the people who do such an amazing job, and that is just how it should be.

The true impact of the Buddy Program should be measured in what we have and continue to accomplish. We have grown from serving a handful of youth in the early years to nearly 1,000 today. The continued financial support we receive from our very generous donors is what has enabled this growth. As importantly, there is an incredible amount of time and energy contributed by our many supporters including our Big Buddies, Race and Bash volunteers, over 150 Silent Auction donors, sponsors, media partners and many others.

The Bash is not just a fundraiser. It and the Boogie’s Buddy July 4th Race are important marketing events and “friendraisers.” In order for this organization to flourish, we create relationships and inspire all types of support within the community.

Yes, it’s true that fundraisers are not cheap to put on, but they are an integral part of fundraising for us and most of the nonprofit organizations in the valley — and the country, for that matter. We at the Buddy Program are proud of our efficiency in this area. In 2013, our event expense ratio was 33 percent, significantly lower than the national average of 50 percent. In other words, for every dollar we raised at events, we kept 67 cents, whereas most charities only keep 50 cents. It is important to note that this is only the ratio for events; for other fundraising activities like appeals, our expense ratio is much lower.

The accounting of most businesses and nonprofits, ours included, can be difficult to follow, and certainly cannot be summed up in an attention grabbing headline. The bottom line is that in one form or another, 88 percent of our revenue net of fundraising costs goes toward helping our youth, and this compares favorably with the national average.

We are always available to answer questions concerning the important work we do and how we do it.

Thank you again to our community for all of your support — without you we could not have such a positive effect on so many youth in our valley.

Adam Goldsmith

The Buddy Program, President of the Board

Letter: It’s invasion, not immigration

July 18, 2014 — 

It’s invasion, not immigration

We are all so much more enlightened by the idiotic cartoon to which you devoted half a page in your July 16 “Commentary” section, depicting a heartless Republican elephant on the border denying “refuge” to Jose, Maria, and their “so-called child” Jesus, who are riding on a Democratic donkey.

Is there supposed to be an analogy here? Joseph and Mary were not migrants, refugees or aliens, but citizens who were being ordered around by big government to report to Bethlehem for a census.

They were also a family, not parent-less young men bearing disease, crime and a host of other social needs and problems into communities that will be forced to absorb them.

Let’s get real here. We are no longer talking about “immigration,” but about invasion, brought on and abetted by the same big government that’s forcing the rest of us into Obamacare and debt.

Whom, exactly, does this benefit? Certainly not middle-class white taxpayers and their unemployed family members. Certainly not African Americans, whose jobs are being stolen by cheap migrant labor, and who themselves are seeking asylum from Detroit-like inner cities. And certainly not Latinos, whose neighborhoods will be among the first to feel the degradation of their standard of living as uneducated, religion-less dependents and predators show up in their neighborhoods.

Why is this happening? It is hard not to conclude, along with Dinesh d’Souza, that progressives in the Democratic Party desire nothing more than to take a Saul Alinsky, Cloward-Piven wrecking ball to American society. It is not Jesus who is being born on the Donkey’s back, but Satan.

Chad Klinger

Basalt

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