Letter: Carbondale has proud coal-mining heritage | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Carbondale has proud coal-mining heritage

I’m used to backhanded compliments and people “objecting” to my comments and decisions that I make in my role as mayor of Carbondale, but Jill Soffer’s I felt recent letter to the editor (“Let coal mining die,” May 22, The Aspen Times) deserved a response. First of all, nowhere did I state that the Carbondale Board of Trustees is “not opposed to coal mining” — Soffer, read that article again. Carbondale is committed to bringing permanent preservation of the Thompson Divide region, and in our efforts to preserve, our board has been careful not to interfere with other communities’ choices in regards to their local economies. Carbondale is committed to reducing our carbon footprint and is well versed at the factual information Soffer shared in her letter. Carbondale is working diligently to have control of our own destiny. We have worked over these past decades to enhance our way of life, and protecting Thompson Divide is paramount to those desires.

Since Soffer decided to make her feelings known and called me out personally, I’d like to address a few things. I would imagine that if Soffer resided in Carbondale for 20 to 30 years, she would know that coal mining once was the life blood of our community. Soffer would maybe realize that her comment regarding coal mining — “It’s choking and gasping to stay alive but dying nonetheless” — is completely insulting and cruel to those miners and their families who perished 34 years ago in a tragic coal-mining explosion that claimed the lives of 15 miners. Soffer, I’m sure we can agree on many things, but you’ve demonstrated your inability to be thoughtful, let alone forward-thinking, and definitely not empathetic to “reducing the pain of families,” as was stated in your recent letter.

Every decision I make is one looking well into the future with the perspective of where I and my beloved hometown have been. Make no mistake, I’m not promoting coal mining, but I am respectful of Carbondale’s history. Soffer may run down coal mining all she wants, but without coal mining, the Carbondale that Soffer claims, as noted under her signature, would not be what it is today without that history. I’m proud of my heritage and the tolerant rednecks who raised me.

The Aspen Times should be ashamed of its naming of her letter “Let coal mining die.” A little bit of sensitivity to our local tragedies would go a long way to showing that you’re still a community and regional newspaper, even if your ownership is not.

Stacey Patch Bernot

Fifth generation Carbondale native and proud coal miner’s daughter