Letters to the Editor: October 30, 2008

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Dear Editor,
I want to take this opportunity to thank all the senior citizens and retirees who are supporting the bond issue to build a new elementary school and repair the middle school and high school. Many of you have signs in your yards encouraging others to support 3A and 3B.
For those senior citizens/retirees who are planning to vote against this issue because it won’t benefit anyone you know or because of the increase in your taxes, I want you to stop and reconsider your decision.
First of all, citizens in the past paid taxes so you could go to school and learn to read this newspaper.
Even in days long past it took a sacrifice of time and resources for our forefathers to build country schools. They made those sacrifices because they valued education.
It couldn’t have been easy in the midst of the Great Depression to finance the building of our current elementary school, but it had to be done and they did it.
Don’t our children today and future generations deserve the same commitment from us?
Peggy Strate

Dear Editor,
This has been a difficult economic year for all of us. Too many Americans are struggling to pay their monthly bills. Many people are wondering if regular citizens are ever going to be able to stop bailing out big companies. Apparently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) thinks we need a “relief package” for the nation’s largest telecommunications providers. That’s why the FCC is just days away from voting on a proposed order that could end up costing consumers millions of dollars on their monthly phone bills.
Right now, when AT&T and Verizon use smaller carriers’ telephone networks to complete calls, they have to pay an access charge to those carriers. This is a major revenue source for the mid-sized telecommunications companies that serve mostly rural, high-cost areas. The order proposed by FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin would all but do away with that revenue, instead shifting the burden to all residential and business telephone customers by forcing carriers to raise their rates $2 to $15 per month.
Most astonishingly, Chairman Martin insists the FCC must vote on this order on Nov. 4. Perhaps he assumes that no one will be paying attention when this proposal is approved without even the slightest input from consumers or anyone representing their interests.
I encourage everyone reading this to take the time to send a note to the FCC Commissioners (their e-mail addresses are below) and to your representatives in Congress, urging them to look out for consumers. We need to stop this vote. The only vote taking place on Nov. 4 should be in the voting booth, not at the FCC.
Chairman Kevin Martin at KJMWEB@fcc.gov; Commissioner Deborah Tate at dtaylortateweb@fcc.gov; Commissioner Robert McDowell at Robert.McDowell@fcc.gov; Commissioner Michael Copps at Michael.Copps@fcc.gov; Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein at Jonathan.Adelstein@fcc.gov
Erik Zimmer
Colorado general manager

Dear Editor,
We the people of this great nation have to bring back God to run it. Chase all those who are against God out of this country.
We have to end our evil ways.
End our selfish ways.
Stop buying oil from Arab countries.
Our Constitution is designed for only a Christian nation, not a divided nation like we now have. There are too many factions in this country against God. Those have to be eliminated from their power as there is no separation of church and state.
We have to stand with Israel (God’s people) never against them.
Our present school history books are wrong because they do not tell the true story of God’s part in how this nation was originated.
The ancient history of the so-called 100 Years War was actually more than 120 years long, fighting to bring back God into this world between England and the Catholic Church. The King’s Version of the Holy Bible in English.
We have to follow God’s laws to have everlasting life with God. He knows we do sin and we are to ask His forgiveness for our sins.
Obama and most democrats in Congress are against our way of freedom …
Obama is good at lying to get elected.
Orval LaBorde

Dear Editor,
Nov. 4 is only a few days away. For those who haven’t voted, please go to the polls and support Meeker schools. Our schools, students and teachers need the support of our community. Initiatives 3A and 3B are about improving the learning environment, so our kids have a safe and healthy place to learn.
A “yes” vote for 3A will permanently extend the existing mill levy override. The mill levy override is not a new tax and helps fund teachers’ salaries. It helps keep our student-teacher ratios in check. Because of the mill levy override, an average class size is 20 students per one teacher.
A “yes” vote on 3B will fund a $24 million bond to build a new elementary school (a cost of about $17.5 million), make major repairs to the mechanical and electrical systems at the high school and middle school, as well as fund a new roof at the middle school.
Now is the time for us to invest in education. Our school infrastructure needs to be addressed. If we don’t do it now, then when? Next year, or the year after, when costs have continued to rise? Today, we have a strong local economy, the oil and gas industry will pay for 80 percent of the 20-year bond debt. Interest rates are at historical lows, making it the right time to lock in low rates. Bonds are good investments.
Supporting our school system is good for the entire community. Our young people are our future. Vote “yes” on 3A and 3B!
Margie Joy
Iris Franklin
Citizens for Meeker Schools

Dear Editor,
I reckon you folks are sick and tired of political persuasion coming from every possible medium. Fortunately, it will all be over soon. If you are not an early voter please consider a “yes” vote on 3A and 3B.
3A is to permanently extend the existing mill levy override of $404,670. 3B is to pass a $24 million bond to build a new Meeker Elementary School and make improvements to Barone Middle School and Meeker High School.
There is no doubt we need a new elementary, but there have been some questions about the other buildings. Being a faculty member in the high school for 14 years I would like to share with you some of our issues, mainly energy efficiency. With the rising cost of heating fuel, the high school needs to take steps to become more energy efficient. Last year it took $52,000 just to heat. There is a list of items that need to be done, but taking action should pay off in the long run in energy savings. I realize in a unstable economy it is a hard choice to make such a financial commitment, but our buildings are old or in need of work, and what is more important to our future than our children?
Andy Goettel

Dear Editor,
Please let us not directly link the proposed new elementary school with a new justice center. The focus should be on providing all of our children the best education possible by building a quality educational facility. The town owns the land on which the current elementary school is located and will, by default, own the building, too. The result is that the town will definitely be looking at a very public process when deciding what to do with the property. It has in no way been decided that a justice center will be located on that spot! I sincerely hope the citizens of Rio Blanco County will not penalize our children by voting against 3A and 3B because they don’t want a justice center in the middle of town!
Ann Franklin

Dear Editor,
There was an article in the Herald Times on Oct. 23 that implicated Barnard Pipeline and ExxonMobil employees as being unsafe drivers. I realize the implication was a quote from a gentleman, but the quote is wrong and we have proof to back it up.
Barnard Pipeline buses most of our employees to the job site. We have two EA buses from Rifle, Rangely and Meeker. Most employees are required to ride the bus but some employees do drive back and forth to work. Rig welders are allowed to drive to and from work as it is a requirement for their job duty to furnish a welding truck. There are other exceptions that require employees to either drive personal vehicles or company vehicles to work, depending upon job duties.
At the Barnard Pipeline work site, we have a “Brass Alley” implemented. Every worker on the job site has to brass in and brass out. What this means is every employee picks up a small coin shaped piece of brass stamped with a number that corresponds with each individual employee’s name. Each piece of brass is controlled by third party guards at three guard shacks located in our yard. The purpose of this Brass Alley is to know exactly what the time is when employees get to work and when the employees leave work. Employees show up to work and get their brass and it is logged by the guards when the brass is picked up. Each individual employee also returns their brass at the end of every day and the quit time is logged by the guards.
The work hours for this project are 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The brass in time is recorded by the guards but the brass out time is only checked due to the heavy volume of all employees finishing the day at the same time. If an employee needs to leave earlier or later than 4:30 p.m., then the time is recorded. I have attached the Brass Alley logs for the day of Sept. 18. As you can see from the attachment, two employees did leave early and 15 employees left after 4:30 p.m. However, as you can see by the attachment there were no welders left after 4:30 p.m. With the exception of one welder who left early, they all left right at 4:30 p.m. Mr. Madison is incorrect in his statement of “While proceeding north-bound on County Road 5 at about 5:30 p.m., I was passed several times, twice on blind corner with double yellow lines, by drivers in welding trucks that were coming out of Barnard Pipeline and ExxonMobil worksites.” Since our welders left at 4:30 p.m., they would no longer be on County Road 5 and generally already home by 5:30 p.m.
I would like to ask that someone from the Herald Times print a statement regarding this correction. I have an idea of where the welders came from that did unsafely pass Mr. Madison, but it would be unfair to single out any one contractor or gas company as there are dozens of each in the Piceance Valley. I am not saying we or our employees are perfect drivers, but facts are facts. In the case of this printed statement in the Herald Times, the facts about this particular incident are not correct.

Mike Jones
Project Manager
Barnard Pipeline

Dear Editor,
As a lifelong Republican, it is only after careful consideration and studying both candidates in-depth that I have decided to publicly support Todd Hagenbuch for Colorado State House District 57. After listening to both Republican candidates leading up to the primaries, I felt strongly that neither candidate would represent Rio Blanco County and District 57 in a positive light. At that time, I felt that I should at least consider what Todd Hagenbuch had to say and represented. Sharon and I listened to the debates between Hagenbuch and Baumgardner at the fall Club 20 meetings and spoke to Mr. Hagenbuch and his wife afterward and felt the choice was clear. Mr. Baumgardner is a poor candidate for the Republican ticket and would be an embarrassment to District 57 if elected. Mr. Hagenbuch’s views on Western Slope water interests, oil, gas and energy issues, taxes, transportation, education and property rights are well-thought-out. I have served on many state healthcare boards, so I have dealt with politicians and people who are truly representing the citizens who elected them. A true representative is concerned about the effect his or her decisions will have on the people whom elected him or her to that leadership position. Mr. Hagenbuch is not a politician; he is someone who will bring issues near and dear to our hearts to the Statehouse in a positive light. By writing this letter, I risk offending many Republicans, some of them life-long friends, but I feel strongly about this choice and the immediate and long-reaching impact the right or wrong choice will have on northwest Colorado. As a healthcare advocate, my publicly backing Mr. Hagenbuch could have repercussions if Mr. Baumgardner is elected to my business, but the stakes are high enough that I am willing to risk that. Sen. White and Rep. Hagenbuch are the right answers to Rio Blanco County’s problems.
Bren M. Sullivan

Dear Editor,
This is in response to the letter questioning the identification of Barnard Pipeline employees being involved in dangerous and reckless driving activities which I witnessed on Sept. 18. On the afternoon in question, I was in the Piceance Creek area doing development site inspections from about 2 p.m. through the evening. I went by two of the County Road 5 access points used by Barnard Pipeline for the ExxonMobil pipeline project as a long line of welding trucks was coming from each. This was probably about 4:45 p.m. I was joined on County Road 5 by a number of the trucks as we headed toward Meeker. It was between there and town that the dangerous driving incidents by drivers in those trucks took place. I stopped at another site near Meeker about 5:30 p.m. and saw no more welding truck or other incidents after that time.
The new county Condition of Approval was crafted because of a growing number of incidents of dangerous driving behavior by all drivers, welding trucks included. The quotes that were in the paper came from a staff report that singled out Barnard drivers only because they were to be involved in the project being considered.
The Condition of Approval will apply to all new projects that involve a large commuting workforce where bussing is not an option. It was developed with input from the county attorney, the county sheriff and his staff and several major energy companies operating in the county. It includes two parts, the first describes the requirement for immediate dismissal of employees that engage in specified dangerous driving behavior. The second part requires education of and discussion with employees of the need to drive safely, not only on the job, but also during the commute.
It is hoped that preventive education will reduce or eliminate the reckless driving so that the penalty portion does not need to be used. It is also hoped that rather than denying they have a part in the escalating number of dangerous driving incidents and accidents, the companies operating in Rio Blanco County will join the county in dealing with the problem and cooperatively seeking a solution.

Jeff Madison
County Planning Director