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October 19, 2012
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Vail Daily letters to the editor

Challenge with Eagle flightsIn your Oct. 15 issue, I read with interest about the annual decreases in the flight service and what needed to be done to help the Eagle County Regional Airport.As a tourist before we moved here, we flew into the area both via the Denver airport as well as Eagle, owning time-shares at the Westin and Sheraton in Avon.The main problem we had, as frequent million-mile travelers on American, was finding an open seat to use our miles because of the lack of flights coming to Eagle, thus forcing us to use the Denver airport. The difference in renting a car there and driving here was far cheaper than paying a higher price for a seat and renting a car at Eagle.The only time we were able to use our miles was the first week in February, and I had to book about five months in advance for that. I was told that was because there were more flights during that time of the season.I see that deals are made to ensure that flights continue to come to Eagle, thus ensuring the companies can make money - which of course should be seen coming back via the hotel, meals and other activities they would use - but I think you need to also look at the airlines in competing for the Denver versus Eagle market.There have been times where we went somewhere else because we could not get flights to Eagle, and that is sad.I have been to resorts all over, and for the airlines to survive in an area, the price for tickets can be a make-or-break for some.If we are going to have more visitors, we need to look to the airlines for some pricing specials and flight additions. So far, I see us just paying the difference in their full flights here and not much from their end. It should be a two-way venture.George Squyres Jr. EagleFancher for councilI urge all Avon citizens to elect Jennie Fancher to the Avon Town Council. Jennie is smart, hard-working and cares deeply about our community. She has the vision and energy to help Avon achieve its full potential. As I come to the close of my eight years serving on the Avon Town Council, I would be delighted to pass the torch to someone of Jennie's caliber and talents. I feel confident that Jennie Fancher would make an outstanding Avon Town Council member. Kristi Ferraro AvonSupports ObamaThe job situation is slowly improving. Obama did not make that mess - he inherited it. All the yelling from the other side that he hasn't done enough is ridiculous. Four years is not enough time to fix things, and what Obama managed to do probably prevented a real depression. But jobs are not the only issue, although his opponents would say they are (and I find it almost funny that rich Romney is so concerned about jobs for the rest of us). Other issues are real and are being ignored. For one, Romney and his vice presidential pick would put women back in the Dark Ages. I lived through the '50s, which was a lovely time for white males, but not such a good time for women and minorities. I don't want to go back there.Although President Obama has not always done what he set out to do (how could he, when the House of Representatives fought him at every turn?), I'd far rather have him in office than Romney. When I see someone working three part-time jobs and not making enough money to buy insurance, I say hooray for Obamacare, which would allow people to buy insurance in groups at a lesser cost. Let's hope he has a chance to implement it.Romney and cohorts seem to have an inability to understand that climate change is real and is affecting crops, livestock, forests, water levels -you name it. Instead of pushing for less destructive kinds of fuel development, they can't wait to drill in protected spots, such as the Arctic Wildlife Refuge (what is the word "refuge" supposed to mean?) and every inch of federal land the oil companies can put their hands on.I am one of Romney's 47 percenters. I am retired and living mostly on Social Security. I was an Air Force wife for many years, and because of much moving around, didn't get into the job market until very late. I'd hate the thought of what I would do if there was no Social Security. Moving the start date up a year would probably make a huge difference toward solvency, but the investment market is just too chancy to substitute for Social Security, something Republicans would like to do.Please, think and study the issues, and vote for President Obama.Katherine Delanoy EagleOpen space is no luxury A number of writers have already contributed comprehensive responses to the open space fund issue. However, I was still troubled by assertions made by Don Rogers and motivated to write.Rogers claimed "the open space tax is a luxury in a county that's already four-fifths public open space."Coincidentally, I recently came across the following report regarding Blair Mountain in West Virginia, which reminded me that just because land is currently unavailable for development does not mean it is protected in perpetuity.In 2009, three coal companies challenged the listing of West Virginia's Blair Mountain on the National Register of Historic Places because it would interfere with their plans for mountaintop coal removal. Blair Mountain is significant because it was the sight of the largest armed uprising in labor history. After pressure from the coal companies, the West Virginia preservation officer reversed the decision, which was then challenged in court by a coalition of environmental and historical groups. Recently, a federal judge threw out the appeal by this coalition, removing Blair Mountain's protection.Rogers was misleading in his use of the term "open space." I can only assume, since he does not clarify, that he means BLM land, national forest land and privately held land not yet built on. These are not protected lands. BLM and national forest lands can be sold.As Scott Conklin notes in his column, "public land is not the same as open space. Of the large portions of our community that are public land, only wilderness areas have a level of protection that guaranties permanence."Rogers also tries to shame the public by claiming such a tax a is luxury while our schools struggle. As if these funds would easily be diverted from open space to the school district. This is the same school district Rogers has taken to task on these very pages for poor financial choices, like not consolidating facilities to save money. Furthermore, as the most recent Vail Daily poll shows, even when a tax is prudent and necessary, like the current request from the fire district, public support is tepid at best.Rogers' solution is lose-lose. Repeal the open space tax and lose out on the opportunity to set aside land that can be enjoyed for generations. At the same time, the likelihood of an increase in property taxes for the school district is unlikely. Such an effort in 2011 was handily defeated.All the while, Rogers seems oblivious to the tremendous synergy such a tax has generated, as noted in Jill Ryan's letter, where she emphasized how the impact of the open space program has been amplified by the combination of grants, multiple funding partners and donations by homeowners associations.John Hill's letter regarding Boca Raton provided an excellent benchmarking example where a community with foresight has set aside land, thereby enhancing the community's quality of life and property values.Lastly, establishing the open space program showed local, not federal, stewardship of our valley.Deirdre Noble ArrowheadSmall price for safetyMaybe you don't think passing this ballot issue, while important, will ever affect you, your family, or your property. You decide the odds of anything happening and requiring the fire department's services aren't worth the small cost. On Nov. 6, you decide to vote no on 5A. Suppose enough people vote no and the mill levy increase does not pass. Eagle River Fire (Eagle River Fire Protection District) must decrease services to meet its budget. The staffed fire station just minutes from your house is closed down. The next closest station is 10 minutes away. Not that far, you say. Or is it?Imagine that your parents come to the mountains to visit you and ski or hike or bike. They aren't used to this high altitude. Your father has a heart condition, which doesn't become apparent until they are at 8,000 feet. Suddenly, in the middle of dinner, your father clutches his chest and falls to the floor. He's having a heart attack. You call 911 for help. Everyone is panicking. Dispatch tells you firefighters will be on the way, but they are also responding to a structure fire with injuries, and no other units are available at this time. Since the mill levy did not pass, the station that was just a couple minutes away from your house was closed. The EMTs who were always there and now could have saved your father's life are not available. Imagine explaining to your children that their grandpa wasn't able to receive the medical help in time because too many people voted no. The monthly amount Eagle River is requesting is about the cost of a Netflix subscription on a $500,000 home. Is the safety of your family and home really not worth that much?I have family and friends who have worked in Colorado in the emergency medical services field for many years. I've seen firsthand the elation of many firefighters when they arrive in time and save a life or have saved a property from a totally devastating fire. The men and women who staff your stations are highly trained to respond to your emergency, and they want to help you, your family and your community.Please, vote yes on ballet issue 5A Nov. 6. Eagle River Fire Protection District needs you to be there for them now so they can be there for you in the future. Carol Scherling BreckenridgeVote yes on 5AHaving personally watched three fires burn in Avon last summer, there is no question that we are voting yes on ballot measure 5A. In all cases, we watched the Eagle River Fire Protection District respond quickly and professionally. But for how long can underfunded firefighters always respond on time and so well? Because of their stressed budget, the Eagle River Fire Protection District has already implemented rolling fire station closures, cut 70 percent of administrative staff and deferred critical equipment purchases, including much-needed large-scale wildfire fighting equipment. We certainly do not want the Avon fire station to be closed when we next dial 911, so we'll say yes to 5A. Please join us in voting yes for the modest property tax increase in ballot question 5A and let's properly fund our community firefighters.Darien Underwood, Tamra Nottingham Underwood Yes to fire taxI'm a Minturn resident, and I'm voting yes for 5A to support the Eagle River Fire Protection District's mill levy.In this valley, our residents and visitors demand the best of everything.We simply cannot allow our fire service to offer anything less than first-class, 24/7/365 protection. The reality of our declining property value situation has caused a proportional decrease in the fire district's revenues. Two stations will permanently close if 5A does not pass.Property values may continue to waver as the economy recovers. That doesn't change Eagle River Fire Protection District's need for a steady revenue stream to make sure you and I receive top-notch fire protection. If 5A doesn't pass, it's very likely that my property insurance rates will go up, and it's exceedingly likely that my insurance will increase far more than the amount I'll pay to support 5A.For a $500,000 home, a yes vote on 5A amounts to $12.50 per month. Paying higher insurance rates doesn't guarantee protection for my family or me if we have a fire or an emergency at home. When seconds count, I want to know that the Eagle River Fire Protection District station down the street is fully staffed with firefighters who are ready to respond.This summer brought extreme wildfire danger to our valley, and wildfires around the state had a disastrous effect. In this area, we depend directly on tourism and recreation to draw visitors and residents, and we cannot afford to skimp on fire protection.This area is world-renowned for having the best of pretty much everything. We need to make sure that includes our level of local fire protection. Vote yes for 5A. Ensure that your home, your family and this community receive the highest level of service that Eagle River Fire Protection District and its highly trained staff can provide.Penny Bumgarner MinturnReasons to support 5AWhile I understand this election season has heated topics, I urge you to set aside all preconceived notions and ask you to thoughtfully consider this letter. Eagle River Fire Protection District is a professional fire service agency and proudly serves Camp Hale, Tennessee Pass, Red Cliff, Minturn, Eagle-Vail, Avon, Mountain Star, Wildridge, Beaver Creek (contractual agreement), Bachelor Gulch, Arrowhead, Homestead, Edwards, Lake Creek, Singletree, Pilgrim Downs, Cordillera, Bellyache Ridge, Red Sky Ranch and portions of Interstate-70 and U.S. Highway 6 & 24. While they have a very close working relationship with Vail Fire, Eagle River Fire Protection District is a completely separate entity. The Eagle River Fire Protection District has not built any of their fire stations as they have been donated to the district or leased for a nominal fee.Eagle River Fire Protection District is asking its voters for a 3.77 mill levy increase on ballot question 5A in this November's election. The Eagle River Fire Protection District has experienced a tax revenue decrease since 2010. Eagle River Fire does not charge for its services when residents and visitors dial 911. The district has historically received about 90 percent of its revenues from property taxes. Property values have drastically declined in our area; therefore, Eagle River Fire has experienced a proportional decline in its revenues. In response to these declines, The Eagle River Fire Protection District cut 70 percent of its administrative staff and is terminating the resident program at the end of 2012 (this was an additional 26 firefighters at full capacity). In addition, since April, the Eagle River Fire Protection District has been forced to temporarily close neighborhood fire stations (Minturn, Avon, Edwards and Cordillera) when firefighters were sick or injured. Despite these cost-saving measures, Eagle River Fire Protection District has been forced to dip into reserves during several large-scale incidents this year. Without a yes vote to 5A, two stations will permanently close in 2014, increasing response times to any incident. It has not been determined at this time which stations would close. A room-and-contents fire doubles in size every 30 seconds, so any increase in response time could mean the difference between containing the fire to the room of origin, or the entire house becoming involved in fire.The mill levy increase of 3.77 mills would offset the decrease in revenue and allow Eagle River Fire Protection District to replenish its reserve funds. A yes vote on 5A will maintain Eagle River Fire Protection District's tax revenues at 2010 levels; ratchet down as property values recover; not contribute to a revenue increase of greater than 2010 levels, plus inflation and growth; ensure the taxpayers of the district receive a high level of fire protection service by maintaining 24/7/365 staffing levels at its five operational stations; and only increase residential property taxes by $2.50 per month for $100,000 assessed value ($30.01 per year).A no vote on 5A will permanently close two stations in 2014; after talking with insurance agents, they advised me that if the ISO rating of the district was to go up by 2 or more points, which it will with the closing of stations, that a person could expect at least a 10 percent increase in their annual homeowner's policy.A local campaign, Citizens Campaign for 5A, has been started to support the initiative. Visit the campaign's website, www.erfpdvoteyes.com, for more information. I urge you again to look at the facts and ask yourself, would you rather pay for professional fire service response to all types of incidents, from structure fire to wildland fire to car accidents? Or would you rather your insurance company costs increase due to closures of neighborhood fire stations? The choice is yours on Nov. 6. Please vote yes on 5A!Mikel Kerst Retired Battalion Chief, Eagle River Fire Protection DistrictFancher for councilThe citizens of Avon will vote for three seats on the Avon Town Council this election. I sincerely feel that Jennie Fancher will superbly fill one of the open Avon council positions. Jennie is committed to building our Avon community, enhancing our business environment and serving all the citizens in Avon.Jennie brings a perspective and background that enables her to work cooperatively with our neighbors, businesses, and residents. Jennie is extremely thoughtful and will do the hard work required for Avon, while providing her unique insight. She will enhance the Avon Council so that it operates as one team comprised of seven unique ideas pushing Avon to be the greatest community possible.Having been part of the Avon Town Council for the last six years, I know to count on each council member's ability to think critically, do the homework required and work cooperatively. All these attributes are essential. Jennie has these qualities and more. She will serve the public in an open and transparent manner, and in the context of the Avon council's framework while expressing her perspective so that Avon becomes a greater community. In my conversations with Jennie, her enthusiasm, vision and desire for a healthy exchange of ideas on the Avon Town Council show through as outstanding attributes. I enthusiastically endorse Jennie Fancher and ask you to vote for Jennie Fancher for Avon Town Council. Rich Carroll Mayor, Avon Turner for DAWould you want somebody who's not a doctor operating on you? Would you want somebody who is not a cop responding to your home after you called 911? Then why would you want somebody who has never prosecuted a single case protecting you in court?In the race for district attorney, there is only one candidate with experience: Scott Turner. He has been a prosecutor for 10 years. He doesn't talk about wanting to prosecute big cases. He has actually prosecuted them and put criminals in prison. While the rules say this is a political office, politics should not matter when it comes to enforcing our laws and fighting for us in the courtroom. Most citizens of the 5th Judicial District may not realize that the District Attorney's Office has an annual operating budget of $3 million. I want a district attorney who can do what the job requires, and who is capable of properly managing this budget. At a recent meeting, Scott's opponent stated the District Attorney's Office budget is $2.4 million. It's a little unsettling when somebody aspiring to manage the District Attorney's Office and budget is off by $600,000.The office of district attorney is too important to entrust it to a rookie. That's why I'm supporting Scott Turner. I hope you will too.Randy Milhoan Minturn


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The VailDaily Updated Oct 19, 2012 11:23AM Published Oct 19, 2012 11:20AM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.