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Letter: Having graduation on Memorial Day weekend puts additional stress on locals

Dear East Grand School District, I feel compelled to make you aware of the impact to the whole county with graduation on the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend.

As a business owner, we rely heavily on local labor. As tourism brings in 78% of the total county revenue, it makes me question why you would bring such hardship to families that work in the tourist industry, as well as the business owners trying to navigate a lack of labor and still having to deal with the COVID economy.

In the 30 years, I have been in business I have never had Memorial weekend off as it is a major income earner for our businesses. Also, we will also be at maximum capacity already with the holiday crowds. Why bring more stress to the already full county?

— Candy and Simon O’Connor, Mid-Town Cafe and Blue Water Bakery

Letter: Newspaper didn’t need to rehash charges against deceased defendant

On April 12, 2021 the Sky-Hi News published a story about Tyler Wagner, a young man who had been pulled over by the police and arrested for possession of illegal substances.

Mr. Wagner has since passed away. On May 20, 2021 you reported that charges had been dropped because Mr. Wagner had died, and once again listed in detail the charges against him.

Was it really necessary to to announce the obvious — that a man who had passed away no longer faced charges against him, and then to regurgitate the charges for a second time in your newspaper?

The Ski-Hi News should have more sensitivity to a deceased person and his family than to unnecessarily publish a negative story about him. You should have left it alone. You owe his family an apology.

— Brian O’Connor, Sacramento

Letter: Now is the time for community cleanup days

Happy Spring! My friend and I spent some time picking up trash in Tabernash on Sunday. I know we’re not the only ones disturbed by the amount of trash collecting on our roadways from Winter Park to Granby. It is getting worse with the increase of visitors and development.

I know there are several businesses and individuals who do their part. Our neighbors in the the Highlands did a great job cleaning up their stretch. However, there is so much more to do.

In the past we have had cleanup days, but I am unaware of any coming up? I am also unsure if it’s up to our local highway departments? There is much out there and it is not easy to dispose of it all without help. Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated. I’m sure as a community we can get going on this before our busy summer is upon us.

I will ask the same question that Diana Lynn Rau asked Friday in her thoughtful article: Why can’t we respect nature and our beautiful valley?

— Virginia Pizzella, Tabernash

Letter: Early childhood pros deserve recognition, support

It’s been over one year since COVID-19 started and about six months since the wildfire devastated our community. We have since seen countless examples of heroism locally from firefighters to public health professionals.

While we continue to celebrate these individuals, another group of professionals should be in our hearts and minds: Early Childhood Professionals. Even before COVID-19, early childhood providers were essential workers, but this past year has shown that these professionals are willing to jump an incredible number of hurdles to stay open, keep children safe and cared for, support families, and serve as a critical piece of economic infrastructure in our community.

Early childhood providers have had to:

• Clean and disinfect numerous toys and surfaces that young children touch and put in their mouths everyday after a full day with children. No custodial department.

• Get every child over age two to wear masks all day. Lift and play energetically with young children all day wearing a mask themselves. Then, teach social-emotional skills to children (many not yet verbal) with everyone’s faces covered.

• Reduce their enrollment/class sizes due to COVID-19 regulations. Then keep operating on that reduced revenue while maintaining required teacher:child ratios.

• Stay open regardless of “dial levels” with no hazard pay. Health benefits are rare. They accepted the risk and kept showing up, making, on average, $26,875/year.

• Bare the invisible weight of a year marred by strained relationships. Their families lost routines, income, and homes. Early childhood providers were there, feeling their struggles and disappointment with them, absorbing their hurt.

Child care is so much more than just a place for kids to go while adults work. An early childhood program is a specifically-designed environment ran by highly-skilled professionals who are helping to raise children to be emotionally-intelligent, problem-solving, compassionate human beings during their most critical years of brain development.

This year, in particular, has shown how dependent our economy is on this sector. Early childhood providers are the workforce behind the workforce. Everybody is dependent on somebody that depends on child care.

Thank you early childhood professionals — we see you, and we are so grateful.

— Katy Hale, executive director of Grand Beginnings

Letter: Our commissioners represent Grand County well

Our three county commissioners were put in office by people who value their opinions and decisions. If you do not like what they do, use your voice to vote someone else in.

— Joann Sharp, Tabernash

Letter: Props to the railroad museum in Granby

Hi Granby, my wife, daughter and I just completed two weeks volunteering at the Moffat Road Railroad Museum, and we had a delightful time.

We want to thank Dave Naples, who the Granby community doubtlessly knows is a huge asset and a wonderful man who gets things done for people, and his extraordinary staff, as well as the entire Granby community for making us feel so welcome.

We also come from a mountain (and railroad) town, and have been made to feel very much at home in Granby. We are retired teachers and, at heart, small town people, and there is something very special about this place. We will be back repeatedly, for both the Moffat Museum and the community. Who knows, we saw those very nice retirement homes on Agate Avenue.

— Peter and Deb Smith and daughter Lindsey Epperson, Flagstaff, Arizona

Letter: Will the real town of Fraser please stand up?

Six months have passed since the Fraser Board of Trustees passed Resolution No. 2020-10-05. That resolution voided the March 3, 2020 Elk Creek Conservation Easement for 17-acres that also gave a release to the town’s largest landowner and developer from the requirement contained in the Annexation Agreement for the preservation of 469-acres of Open Space.

As we all know, such release was not previously approved by the town board and our town manager resigned in the aftermath.

Town officials have commented that an outside attorney was retained and a committee formed to review the town’s development documents. We do not know the scope of this work or whether a report of finding will ever be publicly released.

In the interim, we have two unfinished buildings languishing at the entrance to our town and “sediment-laden stormwater” flowing from land being developed by Grand Park Development LLC into the Fraser River and Elk Creek. Notices of Violation for this water pollution have been issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.

The future of Cozens Meadow has been jeopardized and opened for development and now our cherished Fraser River is being polluted. Who will put a stop to this? We need development, but it needs to be smart and responsible.

Last week the town board was tasked with appointing a replacement trustee for the year remaining on the seat vacated by Ryan Barwick. Peggy Smith applied to fill this seat and was prepared to stand up for this community and address these development issues head on. Her support was publicly broadcast and widespread among Grand Park and Rendezvous residents, Fraser old-timers, primary and secondary homeowners, and beyond into the county.

Despite Peggy’s overwhelming support, the board moved in a different direction appointing Kaydee Fisher to the seat. I wish Ms. Fisher well and remain open-minded about her appointment.

The leadership and oversight of the town begins with the board. When are we going to see this leadership tackling these development issues? What enforcement measures are available?

Five, 10, and 15 years from now, I want to be able to say that “our valley has developed soundly, well-planned, and with good construction practices” — not “What happened?”

So, will the Real Town of Fraser Please Stand Up?

— Michele Murray-Hedlund, Fraser

Letter: Commissioners shouldn’t mix party politics with COVID decisions

It is puzzling that Grand County Commissioner Kris Manguso described our county as a “Republican” county given that there are more people registered as unaffiliated than as Republicans. She seems to believe that being a Republican protects one from COVID infection, and that since there are some other counties with no restrictions, it’s OK to drop all restrictions.

Of the examples she gave, Weld, Mesa and Elbert counties have seen infection rates increase in the last two weeks by 28%, 172% and 76%. Only El Paso county has had a decrease of 1%.

Cases in Grand county over the past two weeks have increased by 38%, though deaths have not increased in some time (source: NYT COVID Tracker). Debates on health issues such as COVID restrictions should be informed by data and an understanding of relative risk. Perhaps it is time for the commissioners to approve the formation of a board of public health to advise them on such issues, a board composed of people with medical and epidemiological experience and training.

— Susan Newcomer, Fraser

Letter: County commissioners should represent their districts, not a political party

In response to COVID restrictions Grand County Commissioner Kris Manguso was quoted saying “We are truly a Republican county … All three of us sitting here are Republicans, anyway, and I would really like us to see us consider opening up all the way.”

Based upon this statement and subsequent comments by the other county commissioners, it appears that the commissioners are considering making their decision not on data, science, or state recommendations, but rather personal party affiliation. As a life-long unaffiliated voter who has voted across the party spectrum, I find this statement quite concerning.

While there is an expectation that the policies of our elected representatives will lean a certain way based upon their party affiliation, they take an oath to perform the duties of their office to the best of their abilities. The commissioners need to be reminded of the political makeup of the county they represent. According to the Secretary of State in March 2021, there were 2,455 Democratic, 4,029 Republican, and 5,016 unaffiliated active voters in Grand County. Choosing to only represent 35% of their constituents is not performing to the best of their abilities.

We are all tired of the constraints that COVID has placed upon our lives and desire for things to return to normal, but those decisions should be made from the data collected and interpreted by the health experts they appointed, as well as state and federal advisements, not political affiliation. If the experts and their data point towards a safe full reopening of the County, then the commissioners would be remiss to not reopen. However, making such decisions based on partisan politics is not in the best interest of the community. Our county commissioners are elected to represent all the people in their districts, not just those that are members of their party.

— Katie Nicholls, Grand Lake

Letter: Search and Rescue thanks Winter Park Resort, uphill community for largest single donation ever

Grand County Search and Rescue (GCSAR) is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization providing four season emergency backcountry services to residents and visitors in Grand County since 1985. Our organization never charges those needing assistance or rescue, and so we are highly dependent on donations and grants from our community and visitors.

This year Winter Park Resort embarked on an uphill pass program at the resort for a nominal fee of $15 for the year. Winter Park Resort generously donated the net proceeds from this program to support GCSAR. Winter Park Resort has been a long-term valuable partner to GCSAR, allowing our team to train at the resort and providing us with the skilled resources of their avalanche dog team, who were instrumental this year on two missions.

The new program was embraced by our community, and as a result Winter Park Resort donated $40,000 to GCSAR. This is the largest single donation ever received by GCSAR, and in a year when the organizations that traditionally support us through grants have needed to cut back or eliminate some of their programs.

This could not have come at a better time to help us continue our mission. A direct and significant benefit from the Resort’s initiative establishing this program has been to give new and experienced uphill skiers a safe area to enjoy the sport during the dangerous conditions that existed for much of the season in the backcountry, reducing the number of missions the team was required to respond to, keeping everyone safe!

On behalf of our entire team, Thank You Winter Part Resort! Thank You uphill participants! Stay safe and enjoy our great County!

— Mike DonMoyer, president of Grand County Search and Rescue