An amazing community! 

Dear Editor,

As many of you know, the last few months have been a medical adventure for me and my family.  Three weeks in the hospital for open heart surgery sure shook up my world, but thanks to the love and support of my family, friends and community, I am on my way to a total recovery….no, I’m better than ever!

So much appreciation goes out to Pam Gripp, Chris Botz and Ben Brack for getting me to the hospital in a snow storm; we have the BEST first responders on the planet!  Thanks to the POA staff and Board of Directors, and especially Shauna Ianson, for making my recovery worry-free knowing you all had my back.  J.T. for the swank ride home.  Thank you to Neighbors Helping Neighbors for always being there in times of crises, you are all a gift.  To Tony Karnow and his musical maestros, The Laughing Buddha, Ruby McNulty and Lynette Tieder for all the hard work you did for my Benefit in January, and everyone who came and donated, so much thanks.

To my daughter Melissa . . . love you more than words can express, you took such good care of me.  I think we’re even for the 40 hours of labor and the teenage years . . . maybe.

Crestone may be a small town, but your hearts are HUGE!  I am blessed to be surrounded by such compassionate and generous humans.

Much love . . .

Barb Bateman, Melissa, Rachel & Giselle Sladin


Let’s admit & commit

Dear Editor,

Our youth have imbibed some heavy soundbites:  The world’s out of control. The future’s a questionmark. I’ll never earn what my parents did.  Images of nuclear winter, armageddon, drugs, sex, violence and vampires are everyday stuff.  If they feel “I can’t possibly fit in; life’s too dark a tunnel” are we surprised?

Such dark messages are basenotes for the song of society.  Their collective immune system being blown open, young people can’t help but be societal reflectors.  A loaded car speeding, hitting a rut and flipping six times—is this not a possible future for our global family?  Now in our community, this image is on everyone’s mind.

Our youth need us.  Do we get how much we need them?

They’re “the Flux Generation.”  Their job: navigate a future of whitewater.  You and I enjoyed smoother raftings—but our youth are forced seaward at an alarming pace.  Knowledge is doubling every year!  Even cyber-smart kids can’t keep up.  Comix, sci-fi/fantasy, TV/film, nano-technology all demonstrate how congruence with one’s humanity is a high-stakes game.  Educations failing to empower often bow to a pantheon of promised “highs”.

Maybe the answer’s spiritual. But imagine their attitudes about our “spiritual” community:  If what you’ve given us is spiritual, no thanx.  [It’s the who-but-my-buds-can-understand feeling we’ve all experienced.]

Here we are on common ground.  We all face the Flux.  But how does this translate from us to them? Let our first response be, “There is no us and them.”

Scrooge learned he couldn’t stand idly by.  Yet we’ve done so, and will continue . . . so long as we feel these aren’t our kids—our kids live in Denver.  Today’s Tiny Tim uses a different crutch, yet needs our help just as much.

Let’s admit, “We don’t know what to do,” and nevertheless commit to:

• Embracing our youth—talk to them, see their faces . . . and their hearts;

• Addressing substance availability/use extensive in our community;

•  Creating opportunities for youthful vision and effort.

Our young folks want to be valued and find value in themselves, to belong, to make a difference and be who they are in the flux of life, so their generation won’t pass on what’s been passed on to them.

I write on the Equinox:  Let’s support existing outreach efforts and grow new possibilities—so that light and dark balance the next generation.  We owe them some sense of spring.

William Howell


Help Fillenberg

Dear Editor,

Steve has been a longtime resident of Crestone.  He’s a great massage therapist and a long standing volunteer firefighter. He played the successful role of good Samaritan on Feb. 7 but came out of the journey with several fractured bones (not to mention a fair amount of trauma). With a fractured wrist and femur he has been unable to work since, and doctors speculate a minimum of another 2 months of rest and physical therapy.

As a single woman in our community it’s comforting to know there are men like Steve here who are willing to step up when someone needs help. If you feel so moved please consider calling or stopping in to the Credit Union and making a tax deductible donation to Steve’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors account. He has not only medical expenses but rent, wood, food etc.  If anyone is interested in cooking they can contact me or him directly.

Steve’s number is 588-7004.

Graditude for reading,



Thanks for the help

Dear Editor,

We want to thank all of you in the community who have offered us their heartfelt support over the past six weeks. Thank you Josh and Chris with emergency services for your prompt and professional care. Thank you Harper, for stepping in to take care of me when Jane was out of town. Thank you Robyn and Neighbors Helping Neighbors for being there, and helping us to survive during an extremely challenging time. Thank you Alex for your friendship and ongoing support. Thank you to those of you who provided rides to hospital and physical therapy appointments. Thanks to all of you who offered therapies, a gift basket or hot meal. We are deeply thankful to all of you, some anonymous who donated to the fund set up for Steve. It has made the world of difference going towards food, essential bills and medical costs. We are eternally grateful always.

Steve Fillenberg & Jane Adorney


Asking for your continued support

Dear Editor,

I want to thank all the Democrats who supported me at the local Democratic Caucuses. I appreciate those who volunteered to vote for me at the Assembly in Saguache on March 18. Unfortunately, I was two votes short of the needed percentage to get my name on the Democratic Primary Ballot for County Commissioner for District 1.

I am continuing my effort to represent you at the County for the next four years. If you would like to help in that effort, please sign one of the petitions that is being circulated that would allow me to take part in the Democratic Primary Election for County Commissioner from District 1. Time is of the essence, so if you are a registered Democrat, and have not signed a petition to place my name on the Primary Ballot, please call 256-4252 by April 2, and I will bring one to you to sign.


Matie Belle Lakish


K. Danforth, Crestone mayoral candidate

Dear Editor,

My name is Kairina Danforth and I am running for Mayor.  This letter is to tell you something of my background, experience, and vision for the future.

I have four children and seven grand-children, and was a single mom during my children’s teen-age years.  Then I met and married Hob Danforth and spent the next 33 years with him until his recent passing.

While living in Albuquerque, I worked for Bernalillo County as  Assistant County Manager.  When we moved to Crestone I was elected as a Town Trustee for two successive terms (and also Mayor Pro Tem), served as a Town Planning Commissioner, and have been actively involved in a variety of volunteer committee and task assignments.   I have also owned and operated a small business here for the past eight years.

While living in Albuquerque, I also enjoyed a successful career negotiating large-dollar-value research and development contracts for about 25 years.  While working at Sandia Labs I received my master’s degree, with a concentration in Procurement Management and later was promoted into a management position.

Equally, if not more important, is what I believe and would wish to see if elected as Mayor.  Our recent tragedy offers the opportunity to do more for our young people.  I believe the Town can become more actively involved with local groups to offer more longitudinal opportunities for youth programs which could provide opportunities for competitive excellence, as well as personal development and life skills.  The Town might also be able to offer assistance, for instance, in acquiring grants to further these sorts of activities.

More generally, I believe that the Crestone community of tomorrow should retain the best qualities of Crestone today such as our quiet, small-town character, our connection to the incredible beauty of our natural environment and our cherished individual freedom, while at the same time meeting the public service needs of our residents and building a strong local economy.

I believe that we must all have an understanding of what we each can do as individuals, and that we, then, must  work together to create the Crestone of tomorrow as we would wish it to be.

Thank you for considering my candidacy to become your next Mayor.

Kairina Danforth


Karen Koyote-Boyer, Water board candidate

Dear Editor,

Hello, my name is Karen Koyote and I am not a politician. I do not have any experience being on boards and I have not worked in government. I’ve never worked for a water district and I am not a doctor. BUT I do care deeply about the quality and cost of our Baca water. I care that we have citizen input on the decisions that affect you. I care that we struggle to make those payments and tap fees and taxes. I care that many of us have been hauling in water from outside sources and still make those payments. I care about the water that is given to our children and animals and put on our crops. I care about our health and our environment. That is my agenda, this is my platform. And I will ask questions; I will listen to your questions. I will listen to your concerns and do my level best to address them. I will listen and collaborate with the existing board members to find creative solutions to problems. I am a problem solver, researcher, educator and brainstormer. I own Baca property and pay Baca taxes and I am acutely sensitive to increases of the same. Because I care about these things I am willing to commit to running for the Baca Grande Water & Sanitation Board. I am committed to attending those 48 loooong meetings, looking at what’s right, looking at what could be better, asking for input, getting opinions, and doing my part to make this a service that everyone can be proud of. And if I am not elected I will still be involved, just on the other side of that table. What’s with that table anyway?  I think we should all sit in a circle . . . what do you think?

Thank You!

Karen Koyote-Boyer


Kyle Grote, Water board candidate

Dear Editor,

Hello, my name is Kyle Grote.  I bought the old Weiss ranch on County road T in 2007 to help protect the water from being diverted out of the area.  Since then my team and I at Chokurei ranch have focused on being good stewards of the land, growing and raising food to keep it local, and continuing to conserve and protect the water. Our drive has been to provide good clean food for as many families as possible with the intent to help people feel good when they eat and to know where their food comes from.

My family and I have lived in the Baca since 2009 and have been concerned about the water quality in my home ever since.  My focus when elected is to make sure we have the purest clean water possible for the community, keeping peace on the board, making sure our water is managed properly, and to also ensure that our water will continue to flow during any long periods of power outage.  We are bathing, drinking, and watering our gardens with this water and it crucial that it is of the highest quality possible.

Thank you for your vote,

Kyle Grote


Dean Lloyd, Water board candidate

Greetings, Friends & Neighbors,

I, Dean Lloyd, am one of several in this community committed to attaining the purest, chemical-free water possible in the Baca. I have held home meetings on local water, gathered information from residents, and educated the public on our situation. I’ve had the water in the Baca tested and researched the current Baca water system.  I’ve spoken to engineers and scientists specializing in water and am a member of a concerned citizens group dedicated to Baca water purity, proper water management, and understanding the water laws.  I have set out to educate myself on these issues because I am concerned about the health of our community and I am now ready to offer what I have learned by volunteering for the Baca Grande Water & Sanitation board.

I have lived in the Baca since 2008 and have worked in Oriental medicine and hydro-therapy for over 22 years.  I have a long-standing interest in water purity and water management and last year I became treasurer of the non-profit Water Watch Alliance ( Over the past year, I have become familiar with State and Federal laws, regulations, and guidelines for safe drinking water, testing procedures, formulas for water, risk factors, and more.

I am committed to being responsive to members’ questions and concerns and my intention is to be a good listener to the public and the other board members. My aim is to foster a positive productive board environment and to review and assess the budget with an eye towards reducing overhead and waste wherever possible

I don’t believe we should have to wait until the end of this year for a resolution to our water quality problems.  Please vote for me to assure efficient restoration of the highest quality water to the Baca.


Dean Lloyd


Parvin Johnson, Water board candidate

Dear Editor,

I am pleased to be a member of the current Baca Grande Water & Sanitation Board of Directors and hope continue to be a contributor to the positive changes that are taking place to benefit our community.

Water safety, quality and reliability are foremost on the minds of the board of directors.

Rebuilding a frail and neglected infrastructure is also a priority and is necessary to maintain water safety, quality and reliability.

It is also necessary to provide and maintain financial security and accountability in order to provide the financing to accomplish these water and sanitary required projects.

Building a reliable, capable, dedicated and trained staff  to provide service to the community in an efficient and friendly way.

It is important that the board work together with knowledge, care respect and responsibility and serve the community with integrity, openness and transparency. I pledge to serve in this capacity if you choose to have me represent you for another term.

Background: I founded a HVAC, plumbing, electrical engineering and lighting design firm in Florida, which still bears my name. I have worked in Engineering for 50 years, serving as Principal and CEO of JALRW Engineering Group before moving to Crestone with Patricia 7 years ago.

Parvin J. Johnson Sr.


Quicker emergency response

Dear Editor,

The other day I spotted a column of what I thought was smoke west of the Baca on the valley floor.  I watched it for about 5 minutes, and when it didn’t disperse, I called 911.  After 3-5 minutes of describing where it was, west of Crestone, east of Moffat, south of both, etc, the man who answered the call decided that it probably pertained to the Moffat Fire District, instead of the agency I’d called at 911.  He transferred me to the Saguache Sheriff’s Office, and I went through the same descriptions and explanations again.

If CrESD, the new emergency services district, were funded and fully operating, this delay would not have happened.  There would be one clear telephone number to call.  That time savings would make a big difference to me if my house were in danger of burning down, if a fast moving fire was being blown by winds, or a loved one had just collapsed from a heart attack.

Please support the Crestone Emergency Services District.  It’s for all of our benefits.

Janet Woodman


An independent fire district candidate  

Dear Editor,

I am Claudia Wolfe, L.Ac., OMD, an independent candidate running for the Fire District Board. I say independent because I was not hand-picked by the District Formation Committee.

Voting for me offers the community an independent perspective on the board to foster transparency and accountability. My allegiance is to the community at large and not to anyone’s special agenda.

I support dialog, lean budgets and policies being implemented according to the Service Plan in the best interests of the membership.

An issue that deserves close consideration is the proposed policy of sending volunteers and equipment out of the area to fight fires.  On the one hand, this can generate extra revenue, but on the other hand, it could leave our community without sufficient coverage during high fire season.  Another concern is the insurance liability issue has yet to be resolved before leasing equipment from the POA can be implemented.

Another practice used in the past and hopefully will never be used again, is Ben Brack’s suggestion at a POA Board meeting that we use prisoners for fire mitigation as a means of cost savings.  This must never, ever happen again in a community that has no local police.

I have served in California as VP and later as Executive Director of the largest board of directors in the U.S. in my medical profession. Prior to that I was in private practice as a licensed primary health professional in Santa Barbara, California.  Thus, I am familiar with the functions and duties of boards and EMS.

Claudia Wolfe


Why I’m running for the CrESD board

Dear Editor,

I’m running because I want to support the fire and ambulance volunteers, and their requests seem logical and reasonable to me.  Also, they were at our home in the past year during a medical emergency when we needed them, and they performed splendidly.  What people don’t seem to understand is that these people are volunteers, which means that they don’t have to provide the services that they do.  We have already lost half of our volunteer strength through various reasons, including friction between the volunteers and the prior POA board and insecurity regarding the implementation of the new emergency services district.

My qualifications:  I am a retired physician assistant and nurse practitioner and a past trainer for ambulance services.  I’ve worked for decades in many clinical settings, including those that were just beginning—such as where we are with the new district.  I hold a masters degree in public health administration and planning as well as a masters degree in nursing.  I’ve consulted to and served on boards, including the CrESD board.  I think that serving on the emergency services district board for the past few months gives me perspective that will be helpful as we go forward in making the district fully operational.

Terry Godfrey,

Vice Chair, Crestone Emergency Services District Board of Directors


Check for accuracy

Dear Editor,

There is a rumor within the community that the Baca Grande POA has stated that it is unable to negotiate an equipment/facility lease with the Crestone Emergency Service District. This is a fabrication. If you, and your readers, will look at page 9 of the March edition of The Crestone Eagle, the truth of the situation is made clear. Without reproducing the entire letter contained within the POA article, let me just cite a brief paragraph that clearly states the POA position: “The POA BOD would like to express its intent to continue to work with CRESD on these issues and find solutions to providing appropriate ambulance and fire protection to the POA members. The primary issues include both insurance and mill levy matters.”

Can it be any clearer? Though, in the November election, the local Baca/Crestone community voted to both ESTABLISH and FUND the new fire/ambulance district. (Yes, the mill levy passed in the local community, but lost because the out-of-town property owners who reside within Colorado did not understand the local issue.)

I find that a particular paradox! Most people owning property here, but living and voting elsewhere in Colorado, own undeveloped lots. When one looks at assessed evaluation and the resulting 16 mill levy on undeveloped lots, such owners will have a net REDUCTION in costs as the POA lowers dues by the estimated $70 per lot cost for providing fire and ambulance protection.

The Baca Grande POA board is being cautious at this time. They are concerned about the mill levy. They want to see a secure financial base for CrESD as they look forward to removing themselves from the problems inherent in a corporation providing fire and ambulance protection. CrESD has the same concern. That is why the mill levy issue is on the Special District election in May.

However, there are a small but persistent group who have profited by having the owners of undeveloped property within the Baca subsidize their rental properties and other holdings with the inherent inequity of funding fire and ambulance service based upon a universal dues instead of a property tax based upon assessed value.  Without concern for accuracy or integrity, these people will say and do anything to keep us subsidizing their profits.

Take a stand. Check for accuracy! Do your own math!


Hamilton Brannan

President CrESD


Our new special district in action

Dear Editor,

Fire District proponents promised us more accountability, transparency, and “local control”.  Then at the first Crestone Emergency Services District Board of Directors meeting last December, the district’s attorney announced that “democracy” had no part in district business.  The first two board meetings were held largely in executive session outside of public view.  The last two meetings sandwiched executive sessions in the middle of the meetings.  Even public observation is deterred by limiting public comment to the beginning of the meetings only, then scheduling executive sessions soon thereafter.  The board has enacted a policy prohibiting public comment or questions during the actual meeting itself.  Why should anyone stick around or even attend these meetings if they can only speak at the beginning without any information on the agenda items to be discussed later and then stand outside during an executive session of undetermined length, merely to listen afterwards to board discussion with no ability to comment or even ask questions?  So much for accountability, transparency, and “local control”.

Of far greater concern is the fact that this board is fully aware that several provisions in the district’s Service Plan approved last year, remain unfulfilled, have expired, or are otherwise void.  Yet despite this knowledge, the board chose to place the failed mill levy question (based on this now invalid Service Plan) back on May’s ballot.

Crucial to the district’s viability was the acquisition of the POA’s $2M emergency services assets without which the district cannot provide any services whatsoever.  In January, per the POA‘s legal counsel, the CrESD/POA Agreement was void.  In February, the board announced that due to critical legal and insurance obstacles, the POA couldn’t enter into any contract to transfer any assets by any means including lease.

Since the mill levy is solely for the Operating Budget, is the district planning on generating millions in taxpayer debt to duplicate the POA’s assets?  We now have no idea of CrESD’s plans or overall cost to us.  Go to for details.

Diane Dunlap


Set it straight

Dear Editor:

With all due respect to Ms. Dunlap, the information in her letter is not true in almost every instance:

1. False – The Crestone Emergency Services District attorney did NOT say democracy had no place in district business. He said that though our meetings are open to the public, the job of any public board is to conduct the business of the district, with citizens invited to attend, witness, and to, under appropriate guidelines, provide their opinions. He did say they are not “town hall” meetings.

2. FALSE – Our executive sessions have been at the end of our meetings, NOT sandwiched in the middle. Executive Sessions are not only legal but necessary by statute to address confidential legal matters, such as the law suit brought against CrESD by Ms. Dunlap. (Ms. Dunlap has not attended any regular monthly CrESD board meetings.)

3. False – The Service Plan is still valid.

4. False – The CrESD/POA agreement is not void.

5. False – The POA did NOT say it wouldn’t lease emergency services assets to CrESD. On the contrary, the POA has stated its intention to continue working with CrESD to find solutions (see the POA’s letter in the March Eagle.)

6. False – CrESD’s plans are no secret. The Service Plan has not changed. The cost to the public is the mill levy.

In last November’s election, the majority of local voters not only approved the formation of the emergency services district, they also approved the mill levy. The board has been doing its due diligence, fulfilling the democratically expressed will of the majority of voters and emergency services volunteers, to make this a viable district. We do not have any personal agendas.


Eli Dokson,

CrESD Board Member


The voice of a volunteer

Dear Editor,

We, as volunteer firefighters, are often reminded that “Cr.E.S.D. (Crestone Emercency Services District) is not about the needs of the emergency responders. It is about the needs of our community.”

However, at the Baca Fire department, the well-packed red bags containing the high-tech protective bunker gear with the names of terrific former members still reside on the shelves at the Baca firehouse, sad reminders of those who have resigned in frustration.  These uniforms remain, waiting for the moment when CrESD receives funding to operate as a public department and the community servants who wore them return.

Fortunately, most of the community is very supportive of our volunteers.

The remaining volunteers are led by a few fiercely dedicated veterans, who keep their lips sealed to their daily frustrations, and refuse to quit because they will not allow our community to go without ambulance and fire protection. They are the ones who know the correct sequences to turn on all the various switches and valves and PTOs to actually get water out of the trucks without destroying the equipment or injuring bystanders.

Over the course of many months and hundreds of hours of training, we rookies try to absorb all this information and skills that are possessed by the veterans and make it second nature to ourselves. But the equipment and protocol are very complex, and the most advanced skills can truly only be learned in the midst of true emergencies; learning directly from the more experienced veterans as they respond to life-threatening situations.

Our emergency services members are here to serve, but we are only 20 people out of 1,000.  We will always do our absolute best to provide the highest quality protection to our community that we are able to under existing conditions and with available equipment. It is a path of public service that is our honor to uphold. We always invite other members of our community to join our ranks as new volunteers. Despite the challenges we face, it is a constantly rewarding endeavor to become a volunteer emergency responder. We need more volunteers, even with no prior experience. Join us today and begin your training this week!

As a community of individuals, we have all chosen to live work and play here.  With that choice, comes the responsibility of situational awareness and self-preservation.

William Alder Lakish


Special Districts aren’t so special

Dear Editor,

I’ve spent considerable time researching Special Districts, studying the laws governing them as well as statutory responsibilities from the Colorado Department of Local affairs (DOLA), the government entity that Special Districts report to.  I’ve also spoken at length to several people at DOLA.

In addition, I’ve read the Crestone Emergency Services District (CrESD) Service Plan (something I’d be willing to wager hardly anyone has done).

I’ve also corresponded with current and former POA board members and many residents who know a great deal about the history of Crestone and the Baca.  It’s been a real eye opener!

Special Districts are quasi-governmental Title 32 entities that are governed by a huge pile of statutes, many vaguely written.  Jerrod Biggs at DOLA told me that once a Special District is formed, it essentially ceases to be a democratic process.  The only say you have over the District’s activity is what, if anything, the board chooses to pay attention to.  If you don’t like what the board does, too bad.  You elected them.  All you can do is orchestrate a difficult, expensive recall election, try to get better people on the board in the next regular election or sue them.  The happy story that a Special District is more accountable is pure fantasy.

Joe McConnell at DOLA told me that DOLA was not an authority “over” Special Districts.   DOLA does not get involved in any disputes over statutory violations by Special Districts except with regards to the budget report that Special Districts must file with DOLA.  That’s it, folks!

The only “stick” that DOLA has comes into play only if a Special District fails to file proper budget reports.  If they don’t file, then DOLA has the power to authorize the county treasurer to withhold tax revenue.  However, the treasurer doesn’t have to comply with DOLA.   So the only “stick” DOLA has is essentially a flimsy skinny twig.

The POA on the other hand is a Title 38, Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (CCIOA) entity for common interest communities.  It’s a 501 c4, non-profit corporation, defined as “a social service organization” that is formed to serve the community that it represents.  The POA is supposed to be a democratic model similar to a town hall meeting where members have a say and a vote in what transpires.  Non-profit corporation law also governs the POA.  Theoretically a POA is much more accountable to property owners than a Special District is.

There’s no way for me to convey everything I’ve learned over the last several months in this little article.  Even if I could, it would require you to take my word for it.  That’s what we’ve all had to do with this issue.  We’ve had to choose who we thought we could believe, or what story we wanted to believe.

Since I felt this shouldn’t be our only choice, I’ve put up a new web site, The Baca Grande Citizens’ Action Network, ( where I’ve posted a great deal of info, documents and more that you can access 24/7 to begin your own research on what’s going on around here.  It’s a work in progress but there’s quite a bit on the site already.  You’ll be amazed at what our “wonderful’ decision-makers have been up to.

What I can say is that I’ve come to an inescapable conclusion; that there isn’t any governing entity, no POA or Special District that is going to function properly if the majority of board members don’t give a damn about the laws and rules.  They are going to do whatever they want because they know that it’s very difficult to hold them accountable.

As difficult as it may be to believe, we currently have three boards that don’t give a rat’s behind about the laws and rules.  It’s pure folly to continue presuming that such a thing can’t happen here.

So what’s the point of this article?  After looking deeply into everything, I’m convinced that the last thing we need is another unaccountable board to deal with, especially one with the powers of a Special District.  We’ve had two boards that have been and are currently notoriously difficult to deal with.  The majority of the current POA board has gone completely rogue. From my experience so far, this new CrESD board isn’t any different.

It’s also been very upsetting to see coverage directed at opponents to the CrESD composed primarily  of character assassination using platitudes that opponents are nothing but “mean-spirited and divisive,” insinuating that there is no reason for anyone to oppose the CrESD.

I can tell you, there are a lot of substance behind why many oppose the CrESD and I can tell you they oppose it because they have done their homework!

Please begin doing your own homework at before you saddle this community with yet another difficult board, agree to give your rights and millions of dollars of POA member assets away.  It is never a wise thing to base decisions primarily on fear, hearsay or personalities.

—Bruce McDonald


Why an emergency services district is needed

Dear Editor,

The main reason to form the emergency services district was to move public safety decisions into an organization with the proper authority. The POA (Baca Grande Property Owners Association), a corporation, exists for the purpose of protecting property values. An emergency services district exists for the purpose of protecting the public.

The implementation of the POA Employee Handbook in 2010 highlighted the difference in priorities—for example, it forbids the expression of an opinion which might show the board in an unfavorable light, even if statements are true, and even if they affect public safety. Refusals to agree to these policies resulted in the suspension or exodus of seven of your most experienced people. Since then, when a full fire roster meant 27 people, volunteer numbers have dropped very low. Although new recruits have brought the number of fire department volunteers back up to 17, the loss of seasoned volunteers puts a greater burden on those who are left. In one week in March your volunteers left their homes and jobs ten times to serve here in the northern SLV.

We used to have eleven hazmat awareness-level certified volunteers, now there is one. There are no longer any Wilderness First Responders. There are now only a few state-certified (FF1) structural fire fighters. I have heard, and believe, that there are volunteers who are waiting to join, or re-join once the new district begins managing these services. Let’s begin the rebuilding as soon as possible. If you think that volunteer morale has not been affected by the pervasive bullying and intimidation by some who are against the fire district, then you are mistaken. They fight your fires or help you when you need it most. There is now an even smaller group of emergency medical personnel and fire fighters trained and ready to protect your lives and your homes.

Although some salaries and positions will be reduced, your emergency services volunteers are confident that the shift to a district will provide the long-term stability that is critical to emergency service organizations. A special district is a unique type of entity that is different, for example, from water districts or recreational districts. Rules related to finance, reporting and transparency are all specified in Title 32 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, created specifically to provide oversight in emergency services.

Yes, some people’s taxes will go up initially. The important point is that any additional tax increases will be put to the voters instead of the five-member POA board deciding. In fact, over 80% of taxpayers will pay less than $100 per year for this new district—around 70% of taxpayers will pay less than $60.  These figures do not even consider the potential decrease in POA dues—estimated at $70 per year. And none of the capital reserve funds will be transferred from the POA to the district.  Therefore the district must begin to build up at least a minimal savings account.

I know that the number of issues supported by taxes has increased a lot in recent years: aren’t the life-saving ambulance and fire services worth it? If you want to understand the costs, then attend the budget work sessions for the various organizations you pay for.

Your local volunteers need management transparency and seamless policies between the fire department, the ambulance service and search & rescue. This community needs leadership and cooperation to be able to continue our excellent emergency services. Please vote YES in May to fund the emergency services district.


Kimberly Bryant, Former Fire Chief, Baca Grande Volunteer Fire Department


What a good dog!

Dear Editor,

Scout’s translating through me his accolades & appreciation for the love of the Crestone community & our literacy in dog language. For all the back scratches & kind words & biscuits, you know who you are.

Scout will be retiring to live on a spacious ranch in Wyoming with his Papa Russ, Brother Scamp, Cousin Ciri, Aunt Sandy & Uncle CL who are all delightedly looking forward to the reunion.

“It’s for the best,” says Scout, who is also excited. Scout hopes for the opportunity to say thank you all in person before he travels north.

“Remember,” Scout encourages, “Love lives on & on.”

Stacia Burton


Rags are not trash

(This is a revised version of last month’s letter, which contained typos.  Our apology—Eagle)

Dear neighbors and friends,

What to do with torn and stained clothing? At the freebox, they end up in the trash.

We have an alternative: Rainbow’s End Thrift Store in Alamosa will take them, bale them and send them off for distribution in other countries.

What we need is a few people to spend a half hour or less each week sorting “rags” from “good stuff” and others to transport the rags to Rainbow’s End. Please call me at 588-8572 if you’re interested in helping.


Margaret Vrana