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Hauser: Welcome to the CMC family, Salida

Earlier this month, we witnessed a historic act: For the first time since 1981, a new community has voted to join the Colorado Mountain College special taxing district, while simultaneously the existing CMC district has invited them in with open arms (nearly 80% voted yes). On behalf of the CMC Board of Trustees and all our employees and students, we welcome residents of the Salida School District, which includes both Salida and Poncha Springs.

The last time this happened was 38 years ago, when Steamboat Springs joined CMC in a similar fashion.

What does this mean for residents throughout the existing CMC district? When leaders in Salida reached out to CMC it was clear the college district had much to gain.

The Salida area has a lot in common with other CMC communities. It includes Monarch Mountain ski area and numerous outdoor outfitters that serve thousands of anglers and boaters who frequent the Arkansas River. It is a business and government center for the Arkansas River Valley and has been designated as a Certified Creative District by Colorado Creative Industries, a division of the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade. (Four of the seven CCDs in the state are within CMC’s total nine-county service area: Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Grand Lake and Carbondale.)

The demographics are favorable to supporting a local college campus. Salida’s birth rate is growing faster than the death rate, suggesting that the community is becoming younger and attracting younger professionals with children. As those children get older, they will be looking at their local college for postsecondary education.

The Hispanic immigrant population in Salida and Poncha Springs is growing steadily and significantly. The expected growth in this population indicates strong potential enrollment across programs.

And adults living within the Salida School District have more education than the state average, which mirrors other CMC communities. This provides a local pool for qualified and talented faculty and staff.

What does this mean for Salida-area residents? When earlier this year CMC conducted a feasibility study about the potential annexation, Salida made perfect sense.

The area has been in the college’s service area for decades but Salida’s options were limited. High school students could take college-level courses at no cost to them, but the school district paid the higher tuition rate of $170 per credit hour, rather than the in-district $80 rate. The state, and the college’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, restricted the number of courses that could be offered.

Salida’s economy is similar to the rest of CMC’s region, so the college has deep experience preparing the workforce for what our mountain communities need: the outdoor recreation industry, health care, tourism and hospitality, snow sports and more. Employers who have been struggling to fill vacancies in a fast-growing economy need a postsecondary partner to train current workers and hometown employees with the skills and education needed for their businesses to thrive.

The only age group in Salida with negative growth is that of 18- to 20-year-olds, suggesting that high school graduates generally leave the community for college due to the absence of local higher education opportunities. These students can now attend college at home — or at any of the college’s 11 other campuses in mountain resort towns much like their own including Steamboat Springs, the Vail Valley, Rifle, Breckenridge, Dillon, Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Leadville. They can now earn one of the nation’s most affordable bachelor’s degrees and one of Colorado’s lowest-cost associate degrees.

Thank you to voters in Salida and those across CMC’s vast geographic footprint for saying “yes” to the future of your local college. To the Salida School Board, volunteers who knocked on hundreds of doors, to local elected and public officials, and so many others who believed in something bold, you did it! Congratulations.

David Delaplane, CMC’s “founding father” who is 92 years young, wrote to me on election night expressing his genuine pride and noting the similarities between Salida’s annexation journey and the college’s founding by a similar process. Local residents voted yes on Nov. 2, 1965, creating a college to serve the central mountain region of Colorado. And, they just did it again on Nov. 5, 2019. History in the making.

Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser is president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College. She can be reached at President@ColoradoMtn.edu or @CMCPresident

School Views: A few words of thanksgiving

Recently I had an opportunity to meet with resort community superintendents from across the western United States. In speaking with leaders from Jackson Hole, Crested Butte, Sun Valley, and Telluride, I gained perspective about what separates our community from others.

Few get to experience the network of support comparable to what we enjoy in Eagle County. We are fortunate and grateful to have such a supportive community that prioritizes education for all. 

We are wrapping up three years of construction and renovation made possible by Eagle County voters who approved general obligation bonds by voting for 3B in 2016. Our schools are safer, brighter, and more connected than ever before. We have replaced high-mileage school buses and made sure that all students have access to computers and technology.

We also have made improvements in working conditions by increasing salaries, decreasing class sizes, restoring programs, and ensuring all students have access to school counselors. These changes were made possible with voter support of 3A, a mill levy override, in 2016. 3A sunsets in 2023, but as our progress has shown, the local investment is essential to maintaining quality schools. The state has made a few adjustments to its funding formula but is still requiring schools to rely on local support, so the future renewal of 3A will become critical for our continuing success.

Since the recession, state funding, though increasing a little each year, is still way below the funding established by Amendment 23, with legislators legally reducing funding with the inclusion of a negative factor into their formula, which they call budget stabilization. This reduction has cost Eagle County Schools over $60 million since 2009-10. The 3A mill levy override helps to offset this loss in funding and goes to our primary goal of attracting and retaining quality educators and support staff.

Local nonprofits contribute another layer of support. Walking Mountains Science Center, SOS, Mountain Youth, Mountain Recreation, Cycle Effect, Red Ribbon, Bright Future Foundation, YouthPower365, and Vail Valley Partnership all provide essential services for students. They pick up where Eagle County Schools stops and extend learning opportunities for all. The combination of great community schools and amazing after-school support and enrichment services leads to a robust and exciting student experience for our children.

We also enjoy significant support from local businesses. Among the most consistent partners are Vail Health, Vail Resorts, and the Gallegos Corporation. Students also receive substantial emotional support from Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, MindSprings, and the Hope Center. These organizations are critical to establishing a community-wide network of social-emotional supports for Eagle County youth. Dozens of other local companies have partnered with Eagle County Schools to provide internships and apprenticeships for local youth. They are helping create career-ready graduates who are prepared to make meaningful contributions to the workforce.  

Colorado Mountain College is another significant partner with the school district. The college developed a bachelor’s degree program for education that includes on-the-job internships in our schools and prepares future generations of teachers right here. We hired CMC’s entire first graduating class! In addition, we offer dual enrollment and advanced placement courses for students where they get college credit and high school credit, without parents having to pay for college tuition. Over 30% of our high school students take advantage of this unique offering.

I’m humbled to serve in a community so committed to creating an outstanding educational experience for our young people. Countless parents also volunteer in schools and participate in various programs supporting our schools directly and indirectly. Thank you for all you do to help our students succeed.

Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. Email him at philip.qualman@eagleschools.net

Letter: We need employee housing, but not Booth Heights

I love Vail, and understand the role that the resort company plays in our community. I acknowledge the importance that housing plays for employees and employers. However, I challenge Beth Howard’s statement that the Booth Heights location is ideal for employee housing.           

It is the opposite of ideal for development. Not only is it already inhabited by a native bighorn sheep herd, but it is also a geologic hazard zone that contains wetlands and habitat for other wildlife. A huge rockfall mitigation berm is part of the plan. The increased traffic, foot and vehicular, would make an already dangerous underpass intersection worse. For decades, the parcel was an integral part of a community-developed open land plan. 

I am moved by stories of people moving to town, spending all their savings on first and last month’s rent, working multiple jobs to stay afloat, struggling with housing availability and expenses. I have lived this narrative. The limited space for growth in the Vail Valley will continue to be a problem. If we build on every available parcel now, in 40 years, my guess is we will still have a housing issue. 

The rites of passage for young people will continue to include emptying their pockets to put a roof over their heads and juggling several jobs around their ski schedule. Old-timers will still sit on their favorite bar stool. The moon will rise over the Grand Traverse. Some things will never change.

Unfortunately, what will change is the disappearance of our bighorn sheep herd. The wild mountain feel of East Vail will be diminished. Environmental stewardship was at the core of Vail’s founders’ original philosophy, and I believe that it should be at the heart of our vision for the future. 

Carl Cocchiarella

East Vail

Letter: From Booth Heights to Ever Vail

I was sorry to hear that Beth Howard, new COO of Vail Mountain, thinks Booth Heights is an “ideal” location for employee housing. I ask her to consider the recent Town Council election which was clearly a vote against Booth Heights. I call the election results a sweep for the sheep.  

Vail voters value their wildlife: they speak for the sheep when they said no to Booth Heights. I hope that Beth will work to find a more suitable location for VR employee housing. She said Ever Vail (between Lionshead and Cascade) ) is on her “radar screen” with the possibility of 45 employee housing units. Perhaps an additional 30 units could be built at Ever Vail as an alternative to Booth Heights. Ever Vail would be an ideal location for VR’s employees.  

Patti Langmaid


Letter: Tell Gardner to get on board with CORE Act

Thank you Rep. Joe Neguse and Sen. Michael Bennet for the bold and important CORE Act that will protect 400,000 acres of critical wilderness and wildlife habitat across Colorado.

For the past 25 years, the volunteers of Eagle Summit Wilderness Alliance (formerly Friends of Eagles Nest Wilderness) have observed firsthand the increase — now explosion — in visitors to our wilderness areas. Today, the pristine ecosystems that hikers expect to encounter are challenged as never before. Our mission is to help the Forest Service preserve and repair these treasures. Each year our trail and campsite crews rehab dozens of camps, clear hundreds of trees from trails, and combat invasive weeds. Our citizen rangers assist and educate more than 12,000 visitors on the trails.

Stopgap measures such as encouraging alternative trail choices and mandatory permitting are not enough. The public cries out for more capacity. The CORE Act offers exactly that, with its promise of three new wilderness areas and additions to two others on the White River National Forest in Summit and Eagle Counties.

It is a straightforward solution, shaped over the years by a vast coalition of stakeholders. Mountain bikers will maintain access to 17,000 acres in the Tenmile Range. Wildlife will get new conservation areas. Colorado history will be preserved in the Camp Hale National Historic Landscape without changing current recreation access. Across the state, new protections of a variety of public lands are supported by the majority of local residents and by the county commissions in every county directly affected by the bill. 

Now, the fate of this important bill depends on Sen. Cory Gardner, who so far is the only Colorado senator in the 55-year history of the Wilderness Act of 1964 to not support new wilderness designations for our state. Contact Sen. Gardner today at (202) 224-5941 and strongly urge him to get on board and actively help lead this bill to success in the U.S. Senate.

Bill Betz, Chair, Eagle Summit Wilderness Alliance

Thistlethwaite: God in politics

There have been a lot of references to God in the history of American politics, some perhaps cynical, some likely sincere.

Today, however, a very dangerous way of invoking God in politics has emerged. This is epitomized by Paula White, Donald Trump’s so-called “Spiritual Adviser.” She has recently joined the White House staff to lead the Faith and Opportunity Initiative, a division of the Office of Public Liaison.

White has taken to praying “against” the president’s opponents, and she suggests they “operate in sorcery and witchcraft.” Really. We should recall that for centuries charges of sorcery and witchcraft generally meant one is in league with Satan, and those charges have gotten a lot of innocent people killed.

White is a proponent of what is called the “Prosperity Gospel,” the controversial theology that claims God wants all Bible-believing Christians to be healthy and wealthy. In the God and politics mix we see in the U.S. today, “Prosperity Gospel” is a view found among many evangelicals, though not all, and it is a view held among Trump’s so-called “base.”

In general, this “base” is the Christian-identified, broadly “evangelical” and overwhelmingly white demographic that voted for Trump by 81 percent in 2016. These people still significantly support Trump, despite the sexual and political scandals that have rocked this administration. White’s role now, it seems to me, is to keep shoring up the president’s “base” through such polarizing political theology.

White represents an alarming, and frankly appalling, direction for God in politics. She is becoming a poster child for the part of white, Protestant evangelicalism that has, in my view as a Christian pastor and teacher, completely sold out its religious mission to a narrow political agenda. This kind of Protestant evangelicalism has lost its Christian faith and become a branch of the Republican party.

Paula White’s “prayer” about the president’s “enemies” is quite different from the kinds of prayer and spiritual advice American presidents have received from evangelical pastors before. For 50 years, the Reverend Billy Graham, who used to epitomize American Protestant evangelicalism, met with, prayed with, and presumably advised each president, Democrat and Republican, up through President Barack Obama. But Reverend Graham never once publicly, to my knowledge, condemned any president’s “enemies.” In fact, in 1989, in his prayer at the inauguration of George H. W. Bush, Rev. Graham prayed to God to give the new president “the wisdom, integrity and courage to help this become a nation that is gentle and kind.”

Some evangelicals are starting to wake up to how their faith has been twisted and corrupted by this political identification. Ben Howe is a self-described conservative Republican and Protestant evangelical, son of a preacher, and the author of the new book “Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals chose Political Power Over Christian Values.”  They have become “snake oil salesmen,” as Howe writes, and describes himself as “stunned.”

As the effects of this corruption of white Protestant evangelicalism were starting to become clear in the election of Donald Trump, more than 300 Christian theologians and pastors, myself included, met at a church in Boston. We issued a warning and a call to Christian evangelicals to repent of this substitution of conservative politics for the Christian faith. We asked such evangelicals to “believe in the Gospel.”

I spoke at a press conference at this event about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Christian pastor who was arrested and ultimately executed by the Nazis for his opposition to Hitler. Bonhoeffer condemned the German Christians of his time for their “cheap grace,” that is, their selling their faith to gain political power in Hitler’s Germany.

I said: “The Christianity Bonhoeffer denounced is the Christianity we denounce today. It is a Christianity that literally enables hate, hate for people of color, for immigrants, for those of other religions, for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender human beings, for women and girls, for the poor and the most vulnerable among us.

“And why do these so-called Christians do this? Not out of obedience to the teachings of Jesus, because Jesus taught the exact opposite of their hate-mongering. No, they do it for power, for political gain.

“Jesus asks, ‘What does it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul?'”

I called on those kinds of evangelical Christians, and, indeed, I call on all of us who ascribe to the Christian faith to embrace the good news of the Gospel.

“The good news, and it is very good news, is an invitation to turn away from greed and turn toward love of neighbor.”

That call has become ever more urgent in our time.

I believe God weeps for such hatred and division promoted in God’s name. And we should weep too.

Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is President and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary. She and her husband now make their home in the Vail Valley.

Robbins: New York Times v Sullivan is a seminal case in American law

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, the New York Times published a full-page advertisement by supporters of Martin Luther King Jr., entitled “Heed Their Rising Voices.”  The ad criticized the police in Montgomery, Alabama, for their mistreatment of civil rights protesters.  The ad also contained a number of factual inaccuracies, such as the number of times King had been arrested during the protests, what song the protesters had sung, and whether or not students had been expelled for participating. 

Although he was not named in the ad, Montgomery police commissioner, L.B. Sullivan, had his hackles raised. He claimed that had been defamed! But whoa there, pardner. Before seeking punitive damages in a libel action, Alabama law required a public figure to first demand a retraction.  So Sullivan hoisted up his quill and dispatched a written request to the Times asking it — politely one presumes — to publicly retract the ad.

A couple of quick asides for context. There are two kinds of defamation: slander which is spoken and libel which is written. Defamation itself may be defined as a false and unprivileged statement of purported fact that is harmful to someone’s reputation, and disseminated “with fault,” meaning as a result of negligence or malice.  As distinct from “compensatory” damages, which are meant to restore one to his or her prior condition after an alleged “loss,” “punitive” damages are meant to punish, set an example or send a message. 

When, the Times said, “Nah. Nothing to see here,” and failed to dull the burrs that had gotten beneath the commissioner’s saddle, he sued the Times and a group of African American ministers mentioned in the ad. Knowing which side his grits were buttered on, Sullivan “home-courted” his action, bringing suit in the cozy confines of the local county court. 

In the charged atmosphere of the 1960s, the result was predictable. The judge ruled that the ad’s inaccuracies were defamatory “per se,” and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Sullivan, awarding him $500,000 in damages. In this milieu, “per se” may be thought of as “inherently.”

 The Times appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court of Alabama, which, again — perhaps predictably — affirmed it. It then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. And there is where the rubber met the road.

The question teed up for the court’s consideration was this: did Alabama’s libel law unconstitutionally infringe upon the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and freedom of the press protections?

To sustain a claim of defamation or its squirming polliwog, libel, the First Amendment requires that a party knew, in deciding to publish the information, that the statement was false or reckless. 

‘Actual malice’

The Supremes were unanimous, holding in a 9-0 decision that news publications could not be liable for libel to public officials unless the plaintiff met the exacting standard of “actual malice” in the publication of the false statement. The rule of law applied by the Alabama courts was found unconstitutional for its failure to provide safeguards for freedom of speech and of the press, as required by the First and 14th Amendment.

The decision further held that the evidence presented in the particular case was insufficient to support a judgment for Sullivan.

Writ large, what the court ruled was that “the First Amendment protects the publication of all statements, even false ones, about the conduct of public officials except when statements are made with actual malice (with knowledge that they are false or in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity).”

In particular, the decision allowed newspapers greater freedom to report on the widespread chaos and police abuse during the Civil Rights Movement. More broadly, the decision opened the doors to the press to criticize or otherwise comment upon all public servants or officials.

In Sullivan, the Supreme Court adopted the term “actual malice” and gave it constitutional significance.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Black explained, “‘Malice,’ even as defined by the Court, is an elusive, abstract concept, hard to prove and hard to disprove. The requirement that malice be proved provides at best an evanescent protection for the right critically to discuss public affairs and certainly does not measure up to the sturdy safeguard embodied in the First Amendment.”

Following the Sullivan decision in 1964, the Supreme Court extended its higher legal standard for defamation to all “public figures” (not just public officials). Because of the high burden of proof on the plaintiff and the difficulty of proving the defendant’s real knowledge, these decisions have made it extremely difficult for a public figure to win a defamation lawsuit in the United States.

Sullivan opened up the doors to a free“er” press and helped remove the fetters from the Fourth Estate.

From the lips of Benjamin Franklin, “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.” 

From Thomas Jefferson, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” And Jefferson again, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Sullivan assured that the press must be free, especially to criticize those in power.

It does us all well to remember the essential role of a free press — as the founders wished it to be — in today’s all-too-contentious political huff and swirl.

Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley with the law firm of Stevens, Littman, Biddison, Tharp & Weinberg LLC. His practice areas include business and commercial transactions, real estate and development, family law, custody and divorce and civil litigation. Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at his email address, robbins@slblaw.com.

Haims: Good news on diabetes

Chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease cost the United States about $3.8 trillion a year. While heart disease and cancer together cause about 1.5 million deaths, and cost the U.S. about $375 billion a year, diabetes is responsible for under 100,000 deaths and costs the U.S. about $237 billion.

There are two types of diabetes — Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is not producing enough insulin and therefore causes blood sugar levels to be high. When blood sugar cannot get into cells, it builds up in the bloodstream and damages the body. Type 1 diabetes affects about 5% of people with diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is different. In Type 2, the body loses its ability to respond to insulin. While it may develop in children, it most often occurs in middle-aged and older people. The good news is that you can take steps to prevent or delay the development of Type 2 diabetes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the U.S. prevalence of diabetes of people between 8-79 years of age peaked in 2008/2009 when there were about 1.7 new cases per year. By 2017, cases of diagnosed diabetes declined to about 1.3 million new cases a year.

Determining the explanation for this decrease most likely lies in a combination of education from sources like the National Diabetes Prevention Program in addition to health awareness and changes in lifestyles.

Though diabetes affects many parts of the body including the heart, eyes, gums/teeth, kidneys and nerves, one part of the body that often is affected is the feet. Losing feeling and experiencing numbness in the feet often occurs over time. This is sometimes the result of a condition called diabetic neuropathy.

One of the types of diabetic neuropathy is called peripheral neuropathy. This is the most common type and most often affects the feet and hands. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain or temperature changes
  • A tingling or burning sensation
  • Sharp pains or cramps
  • Increased sensitivity to touch — for some people, even the weight of a bed sheet can be agonizing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of reflexes, especially in the ankle
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Serious foot problems, such as ulcers, infections, deformities, and bone and joint pain

A diabetes diagnosis can be daunting, but a simple attitude adjustment can make a world of difference in how well you fare while living with the disease. By proactively taking steps to monitor key health indicators, experts agree that it’s possible to prevent some of the most severe risks of diabetes, including lower limb amputation.

Tips from the American Podiatric Medical Association:

  • Inspect your feet daily, checking the entire foot and all 10 toes for cuts, bruises, sores or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration. Treat wounds immediately and see your podiatrist if a problem persists or infection is apparent.
  • Exercise by walking, which can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve circulation. Be sure to wear appropriate athletic shoes appropriate for the type of exercise you’re doing.
  • When you buy new shoes, have them properly measured and fitted. Foot size and shape can change over time, and ill-fitting shoes are a leading cause of foot pain and lesions. Certain types of shoes, socks and custom orthotics are available for people with diabetes, and they may be covered under Medicare. You can find a list of podiatrist-approved footwear and products for people with diabetes on the APMA website.
  • Keep your feet covered and never go barefoot even at home. The risk of cuts and infection is too great.
  • See a podiatrist to remove calluses, corns or warts — don’t tackle them yourself. Podiatrists are specially trained to address all aspects of foot health for people with diabetes.
  • Get checkups twice a year. An exam by your podiatrist is the best way to ensure your feet stay healthy.

To learn more about foot care for people with diabetes or to find a podiatrist, visit www.apma.org.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. Contact him at www.visitingangels.com/comtns or at 970-328-5526.

Letter: Gardner should support the CORE Act

Rep. Joe Neguse deserves a huge round of applause for his success in getting the CORE Act passed in the House of Representatives.

This enormously popular bill, thoroughly analyzed and discussed by experts and the public for over a decade, deserves a hearing in the Senate. Sen. Michael Bennet has already lent his support to the bill but we have yet to hear anything from Sen. Cory Gardner.

Gardner’s record on public lands is pathetic. While assuring his constituents he fully supports restoration of funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, he has consistently voted to divert those funds.

If Gardner fails to support the CORE Act, he will be the first Colorado senator in over 40 years who has never supported a wilderness bill. Gardner’s is not a legacy any of us can be proud of.

Jonathan Staufer


Letter: Ode to a beer cooler

Thanks, Bart & Yeti’s beer cooler, for serving me cold (and sometimes TOO cold) beers for the last 45 years. Thanks for introducing me to new people and maintaining existing friendships all these years. Thanks for separating me from my money, but most of all, thanks for breaking my fall in 1982, when I came crashing through the ceiling over the bar.    

It was obvious that you were failing, and we all accepted this, and we knew you would be leaving us; however, I have to thank all the bumper stickers that held you together for the last three years, and for that I am grateful.  RIP, Bart & Yeti’s beer cooler. Words are not enough … so perhaps I will have a beer. I’ll miss you! 

P.S. Bring stickers.

Packy  Walker