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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: 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: Neighbors seek to work with Winter Park on housing project

On April 13, 2021 the Board of Adjustments for the Town of Winter Park voted 4-1 to deny a building height variance for the proposed Fireside Creek development.

The zoning variance denial was due in large part to the cooperation of over 140 concerned neighbors seeking to work with the town to ensure that the proposed workforce housing development is one that will not put unfair burdens on nearby property owners and residents, such as limited views, high density, loss of open space, and increased traffic on a blind curve on Kings Crossing Road.

Residents of four homeowner’s associations (Alpine Timbers, Kings Crossing Place, Silverado II, and Wolf Park Townhomes) have expressed their concerns to the town since November 2020.

Recently, the town has publicly pledged to ensure that the proposed development will comply with all the zoning, building, and landscaping standards adopted by the town.

We recognize the need for workforce housing, and will continue to work with the town to balance community needs with the needs of adjoining property owners and residents.

— Roger Hankey, member of Silverado II HOA Board of Directors, Winter Park


Letter: Grand County Public Health director wants to clarify department’s actions

Editor’s note: This letter to the community was submitted by Grand County Public Health Director Abbie Baker on Monday.

Fellow Residents:

I feel the need to clarify the actions taken by the Grand County Public Health Department (GCPH).

Our county has had sustained increased case counts since mid-January. Until the end of January, the cases were spread across the county. However, in the last few weeks, there has been a substantial trend of cases coming from Fraser and Winter Park residents.

With the sustained high transmission rates for Grand County, we were in a situation where we needed to move into Level Red restrictions for at least part of the county by Saturday, February 13. Fortunately, thanks to our lower hospitalization rates and our population being less than 20,000 residents, we had the opportunity to be selective with how we moved to Level Red restrictions.

With 70% of the cases in the last 14 days coming from Winter Park and Fraser, my initial proposal to the State (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, CDPHE) was to focus Level Red restrictions in those towns with the highest transmission. Upon further analysis of case investigations, there were three specific locations in Fraser and Winter Park indicated as common sources of viral spread.

I proposed to the state that we use this data to focus our increased restrictions on only those locations where transmission is occurring, and they agreed to let us use this approach. Two of the three businesses are small, locally owned businesses. In an effort to maintain working relationships with those businesses, we opted not to call them out by name. They are not a threat to community health at this point in time. Those businesses have met the additional restrictions willingly and have not been asked to close. Local support resources have been applied to help these businesses survive the reduction in business. Thank you to the Town of Fraser, the Town of Winter Park, Winter Park/Fraser Police Department, Winter Park Resort, Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, and Dr. Darcy Selenke for contributing to these conversations and working with the public health department and local businesses.

While unconventional, this approach seemed a better alternative than implementing Level Red restrictions across the entire county and/or enforcing Level Red restrictions on all restaurants in Fraser and Winter Park. If this approach does not result in lower transmission rates for Grand County, there will be expansion of higher restrictions. Yet, if our case rates decline more rapidly than expected, there is also an opportunity to lift restrictions more quickly.

Public Health has been working with Winter Park Resort since before they opened in December to try to mitigate disease spread. Until recently, their efforts had the desired effect. They provide alternate isolation locations for positive cases, testing for employees, and have a robust contact tracing program. They are willing to terminate employees that are not cooperating with isolation or quarantine orders and have followed through. They have also implemented stricter policies in their employee housing with the same consequence of termination for non-compliance. Despite the Resort Management’s best efforts to contain the spread among employees, GCPH, in consultation with the State and Winter Park Resort, decided to declare an outbreak at the Resort not only to inform the community of the situation but also to provide increased support from the State on testing options, analysis of protocols, and containment efforts.

It is important to remember that our residents’ and visitors’ response to the containment protocols affects us all. Personal behaviors have a greater impact on our ability to open than business operations. I know our community can continue to pull together to get us through to recovery. I know we can do better – follow masking and distancing guidance, limit your exposures, get tested and stay home when you are sick, and when you are able to, get the vaccine.

I want to see us go from 2nd highest transmission in the State to one of the lowest as soon as possible. That depends on how we pull together and respond now. We can do this!

Your new Grand County Public Health Director,

Abbie Baker-MPH, CHES

Letter: Try conservative media, you might be astonished

What difference does it make where I get my news? All media should report facts and make personal opinion as commentary. But are they? I don’t think so, and most polls show people say the media is very biased.

It seems that Fox News and commentary shows a conservative bias, while almost all other TV media is biased to liberal views. NPR commentary is biased to liberal views, while almost all other radio commentary is biased to conservative views. Most radio news has a slant left or right — mostly left — but most radio commentary is right. Social media and big tech are almost all biased left, while also working to block conservative views. Major newspapers, with rare exceptions, are strongly biased left. Local news is generally somewhat balanced.

Thus, if you get your news from TV, social media, big tech or newspapers, you are by in large getting leftist views. If you are listening to Fox News or radio, you are usually getting views from the right. Ask yourself, where am I getting most of my news and why is it important?

Let’s take a look at one very important story in 2020: the Biden family getting money from China, Russia, Ukraine, etc. The story broke in the NY Post well before the election. If you haven’t heard about it, or heard only that it is Russian disinformation, or heard about it only after the election, you are getting your news only from liberal sources.

It seems the Biden family has received millions of dollars from foreign enemies for “joint business deals.” Don’t think it is scandalous? Check it out via a conservative media source. If you try hard, you might even find some facts searching the web. You can also try Ross Kaminsky on KHOW 630 AM early mornings or Tucker Carlson on Fox TV. Try it, you may be astonished.

— Frank Watts, Winter Park Highlands


Letter: We need experts working at the county’s health department

I was quite alarmed to hear that Grand County Health Director Brene Belew-LaDue had suddenly resigned in the middle of the pandemic. The Sky-Hi News reported that she was “choosing to prioritize her physical and mental health after a difficult year with little support from the (county commissioners).”

Belew-LaDue has apparently been targeted for personal attacks by members of the public and public officials. Grand County will surely miss her 17 years of experience in public health. It will be extremely difficult to find a replacement with her experience while the pandemic rages on.

The citizens of Grand County and commissioners who are making personal attacks on our public health officials must stop. Disagree if you must, but do so in a reasonable and nonthreatening manner.

The vaccine is arriving in Colorado as I write this. There is light at the end of the tunnel. But we need our public health experts to help get us through the next several months before the infection rates will significantly decline. I urge county commissioners to appoint a Board of Public Health professional to supervise the county’s health department.

— Bruce Friend, Fraser


Letter: County needs stability in leadership

We are in the middle of a pandemic when we in Grand County desperately need to protect our residents, our businesses and our economy. It is a tough balancing act. It needs to be based on public health science.

Our Board of Grand County Commissioners is also our county’s board of health, yet they have no background in public health, medicine or science. I’m sure it’s difficult for them to hear from their constituents who are most concerned about a paycheck, putting food on the table, or losing a business. But what about those of us scared for our lives?

We need accurate information about the risk of getting infected and the leadership that skilled public health departments can offer to help thread this sensitive needle between individual behavior and our community needs.

Clearly, Dr. Brene Belew-LaDue was not getting the kind of support she needed to effectively manage this crisis. In the past 11 months, the Grand County EMS chief, emergency manager, public health director and county manager have all been replaced.

Thus, there is turnover in all health care facing entities for the county. Stability is needed in the form of persons with medical background who can provide leadership that is based on science and best practices, not political beliefs. One way to add stability might be to split the conflicting duties of the commissioners by forming a Board of Health for Grand County.

— Martha Baird, Fraser


Letter: Being considerate by wearing a mask is not living in fear

I have been wearing a mask every time I go out in public. I’m not sure why being considerate to others for the common good is now being mocked by some who are calling it “living in fear,” but it needs to stop now.

When I wear a mask over my nose and mouth in public and in the stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and offices, I want you to know the following:

• I’m educated enough to know that I could be asymptomatic and still give you the virus.

• No, I don’t live in fear of the virus. I just want to be part of the solution, not the problem.

• I don’t feel like the “government controls me.” I feel like an adult who’s contributing to the security of our society, and I want others to do the same.

• Wearing a mask doesn’t make me weak, scared, stupid or even “controlled.” It makes me caring and responsible.

Imagine a loved one — a child, father, mother, grandparent, aunt, uncle or even a stranger — being placed on a ventilator, alone without you or any family member allowed at their bedside, and ask yourself if you could have helped them a little by wearing a mask.

— John E. Riedel, Granby

Letter: Granby Post Office should be replaced

Even before the multiple crises caused by Covid-19 and the East Troublesome Fire, the Granby U.S. Post Office building was inadequate to serve the population growth of eastern Grand County.

Let’s ask Congress for a brand-new, multi-story, handicapped-accessible Federal Building with a modern U.S. Post Office on the ground floor. Put all the government agencies serving eastern Grand County on the upper floors. If constructed near City Market, we’d have one-stop shopping for mail, food, gas, and government.

— William “Bill” Hamilton, Lake Granby

Letter: Post office’s accommodations for disabled are dreadful

Once again I submit this letter in the hopes for change. I’m a handicapped senior with a broken back and osteoporosis in both knees. I do not use a wheelchair and do my best to remain independent and do my own errands and chores.

However, our local post office has no accommodations for handicapped people, except a handicapped parking spot. Now, the office hours are from noon-5 p.m. because they’re short-staffed? The line of people with masks on are all the way to the back of the facility, and I stood in line until I was in tears and had to leave.

Yes, I submitted an email to USPS about this, and thus far have not seen anything change. Can anyone please tell me what we’re supposed to do? I know there are handicapped people far worse off than myself. I can’t imagine what they must go through.

— Rhonda Nutter, Granby