Vail Daily letters to the editor |

Vail Daily letters to the editor

Vail Daily
Vail, CO, Colorado

Allen’s rhetoric off-base

Ms. Barbara Allen has recently written two letters to the Vail Daily presenting her reasons for opposing Commissioner Stavney’s re-election and suggesting there is some effort by Mr. Stavney and others to “steal(ing) the Allen access.” In her recent letters, Ms. Allen stated that she has been trying to keep Stavney, Dan Godec, Peter Runyon and Bob Warner from “stealing the 80 acres owned by my brother and myself.”

I have been reluctant to react to Ms. Allen’s comments and letters, but too many friends and colleagues have insisted that her remarks and signs required a response.

In short, no one is trying to “steal” Ms. Allen’s land. To suggest that the four individuals mentioned above are attempting to “steal” her land is reckless, offensive and patently untrue.

I was asked to serve on the Eagle Valley Land Trust approximately eight years ago and I have been honored to serve as its President for the last three years. The Land Trust’s mission is to conserve and protect special spaces in Eagle County forever.

It does this through partnerships, encouraging donations of land and working with individuals who may be inclined to place a conservation easement on their property.

The Eagle Valley Land Trust does not buy property, it does not own, or seek to own, property — and it has not tried to “steal” Ms. Allen’s 80 acres. Inquiries as to whether a person is willing to sell and possible sale prices can not be construed as “stealing.”

As president of Eagle Valley Land Trust, I have been involved in discussions with land owners in the Lake Creek Valley. Some of that land abuts Ms. Allen’s property.

In that context, I have met with Ms. Allen’s attorney on different occasions for the purpose of discussing the possibility of acquiring her property, but those meetings have not developed into an agreement or even a framework for further discussion.

The lack of progress has been Ms. Allen’s belief that her land is worth considerably more than current appraisals for comparable acreage. All agree that Ms. Allen, like everyone else, is entitled to try to maximize a sale price for her land or to decide not to sell, as she may wish.

The Eagle Valley Land Trust agrees that all reasonable efforts should be taken to preserve critical elk habitat in Lake Creek, including the habitat on Ms. Allen’s 80 acres.

We are blessed to live in a community containing the third largest herd in Colorado. We feel the best way to protect that habitat is through a conservation easement on as much of Lake Creek open lands as may be feasible. We have already been successful in preserving 1,015 acres, and we hope to work with the State Land Board in the future in obtaining a conservation easement on their 640 acres.

Ms. Allen’s innuendo that there is some collusion between the Open Space Advisory Board, the county commissioners and the Eagle Valley Land Trust is absurd. Eagle County and the Eagle Valley Land Trust have been completely transparent in disclosing open space plans.

The county commissioners and the Open Space Advisory Board have had numerous public meetings to discuss and prioritize possible open space acquisitions. Citizen participation and feedback, including Ms Allen’s, has been encouraged and welcomed at these meetings.

I hope this letter has addressed specific statements made by Ms. Allen suggesting certain folks are trying to “steal” her land. I also hope the facts above have dispelled any notions that the Eagle Valley Land Trust has done anything improper. It has not and I hope each of you will join us in supporting the preservation of historic lands, wildlife habitat, open spaces and waterways for our future generations.

Dan Godec

President, Eagle Valley Land Trust

Another great show

If you didn’t have a chance to attend “Company,” put on by the Vail Valley Theater Co., last weekend, you missed a gem of a production. The talent in this valley continues to amaze me. The singing, dancing and acting, along with the direction, was superb.

You still have a chance to catch the show at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-21, at Homestake Peak auditorium (the former Battle Mountain High School) in Eagle-Vail.

It’s hilarious, so be prepared for a laugh fest. It’s not to be missed. Directed by Beth Swearingen, it features seasoned Vail Valley Theater Co. veterans Lance Schober, Don Watson, John Tedstrom, Charis Patterson, Todd Frye, Didi Doolittle, Franny Gustafson, Jena Skinner and Nicole Whitaker.

Several relative newcomers Jason Steinberg, Robin Smart, Mallory Parks, Heather Lemon and Scott Hopkins add their talents to round out the cast.

Musical Director Taylor Kundolf demonstrates his piano playing expertise onstage, along with drummer Larry Dutmer. The Stephen Sondheim score is difficult, but all the performers handle it with ease. I promise you won’t be disappointed with this production, a collaboration by all the hard-working volunteers of the Vail Valley Theater Co.

Marka Moser

Ryan for commissioner

Access to affordable high quality health care is an issue that I am passionate about. Any political candidate’s view on access to care is an important factor in my voting decisions.

I first met Jill Ryan in 2005, when she was hired to direct the county’s public health agency. Jill was immediately assigned to complete a community health assessment for Eagle County, an enormous collaborative undertaking.

watched her bring dozens of different community stakeholders together to identify issues of concern in our community and achieve consensus on the top priorities. Her grasp of research and use of data were meticulous. She was fair, honest, flexible, and open to the ideas and strategies of everyone involved. She listened: to her employees, colleagues in the field, and a wide array of community members.

The best part was seeing the results. Jill took best practices, long employed in other communities that were cost effective and achieved measurable positive outcomes, and put them to work in Eagle County to solve issues around access to care, emergency preparedness, oral health, and more.

Jill was instrumental in the creation and implementation of a community collaborative called Eagle County Smiles, designed to provide uninsured children with a dental home. Six years later, Eagle County Smiles remains a sustainable program of its own, privately funded through individual, corporate, and regional foundation dollars. Eagle County Smiles has served nearly 1,000 uninsured children in our valley and has improved the quality of life here for all of them.

This is but one example of the work that Jill initiated in her tenure with the county that continues to this day. Other examples include the ongoing planning for a federally qualified health center, long-overdue planning to address the long-term care needs of local seniors, and the recently implemented community paramedic program.

Jill Ryan’s commitment to health care access is indisputable and is one of many reasons that she will have my vote for Eagle County commissioner.

Karen Simon


Reconsider open space tax

I would like to respond to Mr. Conklin, of the Eagle Valley Land Trust, whose recent column on open space ran in the Vail Daily. It is very condescending to write that those who disagree with him “fail to understand the complexities of our mountain environment.”

My first suggestion is that Mr. Conklin get out of the valley floor and visit the hundreds of thousands of acres that comprise the White River National Forest and Bureau of Land Management holdings in Eagle County. Most of us who lived here or moved here came because of the natural resources and love of the mountains.

The Ute Native Americans believed in real open space, no fences, no permanent structures, no open space regulation.

The trappers, miners, ranchers and recreation industry certainly understood the complexities of the mountain environment. Please don’t preach to us that you know best.

Second, we have heard your story before. Back in the ’90s and then again in 2002 we were misled by your group and urged to pass the Open Space Amendment or the Eagle River Valley would be condos lining the highway from Glenwood Canyon to Vail. We were sold snake oil.

Recently, we were informed that land is too expensive on the valley floor to be purchased with the open space tax, and they will be looking elsewhere to buy land.

Third, the amendment was passed by 51 votes in 2002. What were the first open space purchases? Well, 6,723 acres of failing ranches (with no public access) for $6.6 million. Only after public pressure were 1,143 acres (with public access) purchased for $9,710,000. Included in the public access is a $3 maintenance fee you will be charged each time you use the Dotsero landing open space. Why are you charging us? The amendment includes maintenance of open space purchases.

Over $16 million was spent in the first 10 years. I suppose if you’re a 1 percenter, those numbers are pocket change. For the rest of us it’s real money.

What about the next 10 years? Could that money be better spent helping our schools, fire districts, water districts, roads and bridges, public health? Or just having a few extra dollars in our pocket for groceries or to pay the utilities?

There are those who want open space, but do not want to bail out ranches with our taxes. No matter what Mr. Stavney says, the way the amendment is written, there is no guarantee our taxes will purchase open space with 100 percent public access.

I found it interesting the Bair Ranch attached a “Romney for President” banner on the bridge over the Colorado River. The hypocrisy of receiving $2 million of Eagle County taxpayers money in order to bail out their ranch, yet supporting a man who was against using taxpayers’ money to bail out the auto industry! At least we got our money, plus interest, back from the auto industry and saved hundreds of thousands jobs. Can we get our money back from the Bair Ranch? Of course not!

It will be nice to vote for county commissioners who will represent the citizens of Eagle County and not be puppets for special interest groups. All we are asking is that we are allowed to reconsider the open space tax. This is how our democracy works.

Michael Gross


Trust women

Please consider how valuable your vote is in this presidential election and what is at stake for all women in America.

The Republican platform outlaws birth control and abortion even in cases of rape, incest and the pregnant woman’s health. This is the position of Romney and Ryan.

They will take away the right of women to choose what happens to our own bodies concerning reproductive health — a right we have had for almost 40 years. They will dictate and obliterate these rights.

They will rule against some forms of birth control. Romney has promised to do away with Planned Parenthood — an organization whose work is providing affordable birth control to women, cervical and breast cancer screenings, diagnosing and treating STDs, promoting prenatal and postnatal care, and for women in crisis, providing access to safe and legal abortion care.

It is highly likely that within the next four years, one or two U.S. Supreme Court justices will retire and new ones be named. Romney and Ryan have promised to name new justices who will rehear and strike down Roe v. Wade.

Women of America, please, we must unite and vote against this Republican tyranny against women’s rights.

There is no woman who easily makes the decision to have an abortion. No politician should have the right to abuse a woman’s right to choose. We must stand together to protect choice, and to protect the rights of being a woman in America. These are fundamental rights.

Just as women before us had to fight for the right to vote, we must fight again now and win with our votes to protect a woman’s right to choose and make her own decisions about her own body.

Please do not vote for these Republicans, Romney and Ryan. Please vote to re-elect President Obama and Vice President Biden, who respect and protect women’s rights. Don’t be afraid. Inside the voting booth only you know your vote. Please vote to protect women’s rights for all women. Please vote for President Obama. Thank you.

Betsy Hendrickson


Proud to serve

My name is Bryce Hayes, and I have had the pleasure of serving our community since 2001 as a firefighter with Eagle River Fire Protection District. Our district serves a large area (from the top of Tennessee Pass to Wolcott) and all the communities in between, including Red Cliff, Minturn, Eagle-Vail, Avon, and Edwards.

Although we have a close working relationship with Vail Fire, we are a separate department and have not remodeled a fire station in nine years.

I’m writing this letter because the future of the department I love is uncertain. Tough economic times have forced Eagle River Fire Protection District to take some drastic measures, including layoffs, delaying critical apparatus purchases, and most importantly, closing fire stations.

Since the failed ballot initiative in 2011, we’ve had periodic closures of the staffed stations (Minturn, Avon, Edwards, and Cordillera). Beaver Creek is currently under a contractual agreement and cannot be closed. The department simply doesn’t have the funds to backfill empty spots on a rig when someone is sick or injured. We don’t like leaving stations unstaffed any more than you do.

As firefighters, we’re problem solvers, and we are highly trained to mitigate emergencies. We respond to a variety of calls, including fires, motor vehicle accidents, gas leaks, medicals, hazardous materials spills, technical rescue (rope, swiftwater, ice, confined space and trench rescues) wildland fires and service calls. We do not bill for our services.

Our members make a modest living (all salaries are available to the public) with firefighters starting at $13.64 an hour. There isn’t one firefighter on our crew who wouldn’t risk their life to save yours.

Several Eagle River Fire Protection District crews proved this during the Chambertin Fire when they entered a fully engulfed, collapsing building after receiving a report of trapped residents. We risk a lot to save a lot. That will never change.

We have the best job in the world because we are able to see the difference we can make in someone’s life when our skills and training are put to use. Wanting to help people is a common thread in the fire service. The gratitude you (the community) show us is overwhelming and simply humbling. It’s hard to leave each shift without a deep sense of satisfaction.

Eagle River Fires staff strives to reciprocate the community’s good deeds by giving back through various causes, including: selling chili at the rodeo with all proceeds going to Round Up River Ranch, helping build Round Up River Ranch’s archery range, annual Fill the Boot Campaign that benefits the Muscular Dystrophy Association, school visits, CAMP 911, helping with Minturn senior lunches, shoveling senior sidewalks, highway cleanups, Special Olympics run, assisting with Starting Hearts CPR/AED programs, delivering food baskets and presents to needy families, and Fired up for Pink with proceeds going to Sonnenalp Breast Center’s Gap Fund.

In November, Eagle River Fire Protection District is asking our voters for help, which is a tough thing for any firefighter to do. Without your support, our service and the community events to which we contribute will greatly diminish.

Without a “yes” vote, our reserve funds will dry up in 2013 and two stations will permanently close in 2014. I live in the response area of Eagle River Fire Protection District’s Avon Station, so I know when that station is closed, the closest engine is coming from Edwards or Minturn — likely too late to keep a fire in check, affect a rescue or provide a critical medical intervention.

When you review the con statements in the voter ballot, there are misleading statements. In response, please note that Eagle River Fire Protection District staffs only five of its nine stations. Eagle River Fire Protection District has not built any of these stations: some are leased ($1 a year). Others were built and funded by the specific community in which they are located or are run by the Eagle River Fire Protection District via intergovernmental agreement.

With a “yes” vote on 5A, you will continue to receive exceptional 24/7/365 fire service from a group of highly dedicated individuals. You are the reason we go to work and love our jobs. We look forward to continuing to make a difference in citizens’ time of need and giving back to our incredible community.

For more information visit Eagle River Fire Protection, Eagle River Fire Protection District’s Facebook page, and Eagle River Fire Protection

Bryce Hayes

Eagle River Fire Protection District

Ryan for commissioner

There are many issues by which to evaluate the prospective county commissioners. I encourage you to vote for those candidates whose views best support children and families.

I have known Jill Ryan for many years, beginning with her former role as director of Eagle County’s health department. Jill is an advocate for children and families, and is continually working to increase their access to health care, including immunizations, oral health, and primary care. Jill also supports services and programs that assure children are ready to start school. Jill is a new mom herself and can relate to local working families.

We need Jill’s experience, knowledge and passion in the role of Eagle County commissioner. I believe Jill will invest in local children and families. Strong families build strong communities. Join me in voting for Jill Ryan for County commissioner.

Jeanne McQueeney


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