Carnes: State of the county and thoughts on Avon’s barn boondoggle (column) |

Carnes: State of the county and thoughts on Avon’s barn boondoggle (column)

Since we still do not have a State of the Union address, allow me to address the current state of Eagle County.

Well, maybe just the state of a couple things.

It’s not like I want to address the parking lot at the Avon City Market (when there’s snow on the ground drivers appear to be playing a game of “Bird Box”), but a few actually serious issues, and only one has to do with Eagle County and the other with the town of Avon, so let’s just forget the whole “state” of anything and get down to two main topics.

Eagle County has three commissioners. All three are to the left of the political center and all three use the ladies room in a restaurant.

One of them, Jill Ryan, as of last weekend has officially abdicated her throne for a much more important seat at the “Big Boys & Girls” table at the state level as executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Hooray for Jill.

And now a committee of “left of political center” party leaders will choose amongst eight candidates one week from today to replace her.

Though not familiar with most of the candidates, I feel we don’t need to be playing musical chairs with candidates who are already in place as elected officials elsewhere.

With a forum Wednesday in El Jebel and another Feb. 5 at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards, our opportunities to share opinions are limited. In fact, they are so limited none of us are allowed to speak on a candidate’s behalf, so … um, write a letter or something, I suppose.

Gender and party affiliation aside, my vote is for Claire Noble, an Air Force veteran with a sharp mind and even sharper wit, both of which can only benefit Eagle County.

The other issue is — drumroll please — Avon’s Hahnewald (rhymes with “pre-mothballed”) barn.

As a member of the Avon Town Council 25 years ago, I consistently railed against the use of tax dollars for public art. It was simple then and is still simple today: Folks do not pay a 4 percent sales tax so elected officials can subjectively appease particular segments of taxpayers.

The same applies to 110-year-old storage sheds.

Inevitable downturns in tax collections always prove the logical use of private funds for such projects, not public tax dollars needed for roads, police, fire, etc.

And with all due respect to the families involved, Avon Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes summed it up for me with one sentence: “I don’t think we should send it to a ballot to waste our staff time and money on a ballot initiative that would fail.”

When it’s so painfully obvious taxpayers are against something, elected officials should not do that particular something.

Unless, of course, they decide to declare the issue a “National Emergency,” in which case they will spend the money however they see fit regardless of public sentiment or ballooning debt.

But I do believe that is a tactic only available at the national level.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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