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The truth about Red Barn

Dear Editor:

This letter is in response to Wednesday’s letter by Michelle Bonfils Thibeault about the Cozy Point lease. It contained numerous errors about the Red Barn team that has submitted a proposal to take over the Cozy Point operation. Something Ms. Thibeault failed to mention is that she is a trainer at Cozy Point Ranch, which means that she, too, would have had to sign the gag clause forbidding any comments about the ranch to the city or the media.

1. Partners Judy Nelson and Melissa Wight’s team of 11 trainers, equestrian, agricultural and environmental specialists and their five trainers bring more than 258 years of professional experience to the table. These people have been in the agricultural and equestrian trenches all of their lives – not exactly a “rookie group” that is “misrepresenting [their] knowledge and abilities to run … the ranching and equestrian operations.”

2. H2J Camp – Nelson has run the camp for five of the past seven years. ALL of her instructors are experienced, adult professionals. The student/teacher ratio is lower than recommended standards. There are NO “under-aged juniors” supervising the children.

3. H2J Scholarships – Of the 13 children in the first week of the camp, six were on scholarship (four from downvalley, one from Aspen who rides the free bus to Carbondale to attend the camp).

4. Nelson did offer to make capital improvements to the ranch, but the current operator required Judy to sign the “gag clause.” She refused, so he would not sign a lease with her. That action prompted Judy and Melissa to look into other issues at the ranch and to submit a proposal, because they believe it is important for Cozy Point to be a REAL public facility, run for the benefit of all valley citizens.

5. Red Barn stands behind their promises 100 percent. This is what contracts are for! They even told the task force they would put their guaranteed rent of $100,000 a year in the bank for the city to draw it down.

I am proud of my nearly year-long association with this team. They are extremely knowledgeable and capable, and clearly have the long-term best interests of the city in mind with their commitment to turn Cozy Point from the existing, semi-private run facility to a true, publicly accessible ranch and equestrian operation.

Jeanette Darnauer

Darnauer Group Communications and Red Barn, LLC consultant


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