Letter to the Editor: Gossip serves no purpose

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Dear Editor:
Though it usually works best if one can judge not and forgive all as said over and over in the scriptures, but it isn’t always easy to do. One thing seems for sure; we all struggle to judge not and struggle to forgive all at some time or another in our lives. All of us have different beliefs, have been taught differently, have different personalities, have different life experiences, and handle the constant outside influences differently.
Take living in Rangely and the influence here; it’s a safe place with little crime, we don’t lock our doors; basically a friendly, great place to live! But, Rangely is also a place where it is easy to get caught up in gossip, believing everything you hear because you know most everyone. Personally the gossip aspect of Rangely is about the only thing I detest; it is seldom the truth, it is a one-sided story and usually at the fourth or fifth level of hearsay; and really, is it any of our business to know intimate details of others misfortunes, mistakes, health problems, family struggles or financial struggles? Gossip in my mind is evil and hurtful, and serves no good purpose. I will not get into a long dissertation; for now I will leave the gossip as something Rangely could work on by just taking responsibility for ourselves and not spreading the story or at least by getting the story directly from the source and getting permission to share.
You must be wondering what the purpose of my article is — and I must say writing this is very uncomfortable and disappointing to me that it is necessary. My purpose is to encourage the members of this community to seek the truth instead of believing gossip; to strive to be more forgiving and compassionate to others and less revengeful and condemning, and finally to tell the other side of a much too one-sided story that was published in the Herald Times regarding the civil action against Rangely’s election procedures. The Town of Rangely does have deficiencies in our election process; in fact the same process has been used for years. A public hearing was held on Dec. 11, 2012, to give the community and newspapers the opportunity to ask questions. Also on Dec. 11, 2012, the town council approved Resolution 12-10 authorizing the town attorney to resolve a civil action by the district attorney concerning election procedure deficiencies. The important thing is that the election results were not compromised and the town will make the appropriate corrections moving forward.
The original civil action complaint to the state about Rangely’s election procedures deficiencies was sent in by Darlene Feller and I believe she was simply the voice to a disgruntled group that felt their friend, Chris Brasfield, was treated unfairly during the appointment process. The civil complaint was filled with part truths and omitted other important facts, which was meant to tarnish the reputation of the town, the town manager and his wife, and the town administrative staff. However, if one is looking for truth, then following the investigation, all reputations remain intact and not compromised in any way. This could only have occurred because there were no malicious or criminal intent on the part of the Town of Rangely, its elected officials and its administrative staff and their families.
The election deficiencies were either ongoing prior occurrences or occurred simply because the administrative staff and Colleen Brixius, wife of Town Manager Peter Brixius were all helping Chris Brasfield, then the town clerk and election official, with the ballots because of a very difficult family hardship Chris was enduring with the illness of her son. With Chris missing a number of work days to be with her son and to campaign as a candidate for county commissioner during the election process, help was necessary to process ballots for mailing and receipt — if this had not happened the election could have been compromised or missed key deadlines. According to all who assisted, they were asked by Chris Brasfield either prior to or during the election process to assist with the election.
News articles also came out first in the Grand Junction Sentinel and later Bobby Gutierrez, editor of the local Herald Times, conducted his own interviews and sadly wrote a one-sided story that falsely accused Colleen Brixius of destroying election ballots. The truth is that Colleen Brixius did not destroy election ballots; it was Chris Brasfield that ordered another employee to destroy ballots after the election, but prior to the mandatory retention schedule as determined by state statute (ballots destroyed were those returned for unknown addresses).
Let me go back to my first points in this article: as a community can we strive to seek the truth instead of believing gossip; can we strive to be more forgiving and compassionate to others and less revengeful and condemning? This is my desire for Rangely — to have the peace and unity that comes from just trying to be better people every day.
To those that this article brings some feelings of hurt or anger or if you have been offended, know I did not intend for that to happen and that I am sorry it affected you that way; I ask forgiveness.
My prayer and hope for Rangely is that the year 2013 be a year for healing for those that need healing, for building unity in our community, for strengthening in our economy, and for finding joy in our families and work.
Lisa Hatch, Town of Rangely Trustee
Other council members
in support of this letter:
Frank Huitt, Mayor
Brad Casto, Trustee
Clayton Gohr, Trustee
Dan Eddy, Trustee
Elaine Urie, Trustee
Joseph Nielsen, Trustee

Publisher’s Note: Neither the article nor its author ever accused Colleen Brixius of destroying election ballots. The article simply reviewed the details of the legal affidavit sent to the Secretary of State’s office which included a person’s allegation of that behavior. From the article: “According to an affidavit filed by the district attorney’s chief investigator Anthony Mazzola, [Darlene] Feller sent a letter, dated June 28, 2012, to the Secretary of State’s office alleging that Rangely town manager Peter Brixius’ wife Colleen had either tampered with or destroyed ballots during the municipal elections.”