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Letter to editor for April 9, 2009

Physicians’ pay

    While I respect those whose opinions differ from mine and I don′t believe it′s appropriate to argue through dueling letters to the editor, I do believe that misinformation should be challenged.  The letter from Claus Enderlein suggested that "a politician and his minions" would decide what was proper health care treatment under a government-financed delivery system.  Medicare is government-financed, but treatment decisions are the right and responsibility of the patient and the provider only.  Many private insurance plans severely restrict those decisions by restricting both eligibility and authorization.

    The April 2 letter from Jerry Price claims that doctors "can demand $1000 per hour."  My medical education and training spanned eleven years, and I was a surgical specialist, but I never made anywhere near $1000 per hour.  That kind of income is reserved for baseball players, rock stars and big time CEOs.  In 2007, the average primary care physician made about sixty dollars an hour.  The average hourly income for a heart surgeon that same year was about two hundred-forty dollars an hour, a substantial income but far short of a thousand dollars per hour.

    Physicians, unlike many other professionals, can′t set the price of their "product."  That price is set by Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance companies and others.  Physicians receive what those payers believe is the fair price. Often, they don′t recieve any reimbursement for their services.  Even so, physicians are well-paid for the long hours they serve and the serious responsibilities they accept, but it′s never been and never will be as excessive as Mr. Price claims.

    R. David Zehring, M.D.

Trudy Vader

    Can it really be true?  The Re-1 School District Board of Education has actually dismissed probably the best, most dedicated, gutsy, and innovative principal John Mall High School has seen in a long time!  Perhaps it’s the Board that should be dismissed, but certainly not Trudy Vader. Forcing her to quit won’t help the students or teachers of John Mall High School, most especially so soon after their last superintendent was fired.  What an upheaval this will cause in the learning process. Loyalty and trust between faculty, students and principal takes time to build.  In the last two years, since Trudy Vader took over the reins, I have seen a real difference in that high school.  The atmosphere is more positive among staff and students, and there has been a feeling when walking down the hall that real learning is taking place and that the students trust in their principal and know she wants them to succeed.  Now these young people are going to have to start all over again with a new principal?  With all the recent departures and change of leadership, how are they going to trust a new person at the helm?  And won’t they be wondering how long the new one will last – one year?  Two years?  Students need continuity, not disruption!  Think again Board and put the students first, beyond your own political and personal agendas.

    Barbara Yule

Walsenburg’s future bright

    I have had the opportunity to drive through Walsenburg on a weekly basis since 2000 and prior to the appointment of Mr. Pearson in 2006, I was fortunate enough to have been selected to serve as the interim Town Administrator. Most of you probably haven’t paid much attention to the changes that have occurred in your community, particularly in the past few years.  When Mr. Pearson moved to a new position in January of this year, I was selected to serve as the interim Town Administrator until a new Administrator was hired.  I am totally amazed at what has happened in Walsenburg since being here in 2006. When the City Council appointed Mr. Pearson and allowed him to manage the City in a professional way, this set the tone as to how the City was to be managed in the future.  I am sure Mr. Hein, the new Administrator, will do the same. Probably the most common theme that prevails as I have the opportunity to chat with citizens in the community is the Spirit of Progress that is expressed by most.  A drive through the community will illustrate that optimism.  The new Library at the north end of town, destined for demolition before a citizen’s group stepped forward to save the building and turn it into a first class facility; the new Sports Field at the school is probably one of the best in Southern Colorado and illustrates the community’s commitment to educating its youth. The annexation of the Northlands and the potential it beings to the City of Walsenburg is hard to imagine today.  With the installation of the utilities, the future development of the area is unlimited.  The construction of the new Waste Water Treatment Plant will provide the treatment capacity for the City with a population of 10,000.  Walsenburg has the best water rights in the basin and with their own sewer, gas, water and electric power available, who knows, it could be wind or solar, the future look unlimited.  Most cities would love to have these in their arsenal for future development.  The new Water World is one of a kind in Southern Colorado and certainly attracts many visitors to the area.  The joint establishment of the City-County Transfer Station and the combined dispatch center are examples of city/county cooperation that provides a savings to the taxpayers.  The future establishment of the Regional Building Authority, now in its planning stage, will only add to the services provided to its citizens.  When the City Council changed the way Council Members are elected in the future, with half of the Council being elected every two years, will certainly add continuity to the City Government. Lastly, the opening of the Museum of Friends is one of a kind and when it becomes better known in the area, it will be a Destination Facility for the area.  I am sure I have overlooked some other accomplishments in Walsenburg.  If I have, please accept my apology.  Citizens of Walsenburg, you have a lot to look forward to and your future looks bright.  Your Government has served you well.  Thanks for letting me be a part of your community.


    Lew Quigley, Interim         City Administrator,         Walsenburg

Bradford Mesa Quarry

    We moved to this area for the same reasons as a lot of people, open air, peace and quiet, love of nature, virgin soil to live upon, and lots of wildlife.

    This proposed quarry operation will adversely affect all of us all in many ways. Air quality, peace and quiet, wildlife, and the environment.

    This proposed quarry operation will also affect the natural habitat of the animals, birds, and plants that have lived in this area for centuries.

    The impact area “studied” for this quarry operation is 200 feet around the proposed quarry perimeter. This is a conveniently small impact area to give an accounting of “impact”. There is a much larger impact area to consider than this 200 foot impact area. This quarry operation is also planning a railroad spur that will go beyond the 200 feet. There is no mention of the spur’s impact, nor the destruction/construction to build it, let alone the noise and pollution of the trains hauling the product from this quarry operation.

    If country road 120 is used for hauling the product of this quarry operation, there will be a lot of truck traffic also creating dust thus adding to the pollution problems already caused by the quarry operation.

    This will lead to a lot of noise, dust, and disruption of life; ours and nature’s. Then there is the blasting, digging, sorting, hauling, other activity associated with preparing the gravel for distribution.

    Another issue is the use of magnesium chloride for dust control. There are some problems with this pollutant:

    1.)  It will not just stay on the ground where it is put, it will mix with the dust as it is driven over and will also be carried wherever the wind blows. We will all be breathing the dust with the magnesium chloride for 14 + years.

    2.)  The rain and snow-will will carry the magnesium chloride down to the Bradford Reservoir which is one of the few local stopping off watering holes for local migrating geese and ducks. Magnesium chloride is toxic to these birds.

    3.)  When put on unpaved surfaces it gets into the environment. Being salt based (it normally comes from the Great Salt Lake and brought here), it renders the land sterile. Check out the area around the Great Salt Lake in Utah and also Cottonwood Pass in Colorado where this has been used for years on the road. There is nothing growing along the side the road for the entire length of the pass where this substance has been used.

    So, how much damage will this quarry operation cause us, our lands, our animals, and wildlife?

    The respiratory problems will affect the dairy herd, farm animals (including two herds of alpacas and llamas), free range cattle, etc. Marie Lakes (which has a lake full of exotic fish and is visited by many species of wild birds) will be affected from runoff that will get into the water that feeds these lakes.

    Dave Navratil

Card of thanks

    The Dwight A. Harrison family wants to thank all of the folks in the La Veta/Cuchara area for their outpouring of sympathy for our loss of Chuck. Your reaching out has made a definite impact on us and meant more than you could possibly ever realize. I have learned two special life-lessons from the death of two of my sons, Chuck and Tom, that I share with you as it may make a difference on how you wake up tomorrow and view the world.

    (1) I never realized how many wheelchairs there are out there until my son needed one.  It’s pretty easy to overlook the hurt out there when life is going good for you.

    (2) I called Chuck one day, a couple years ago, to see what was going on. He said he was eating lunch by himself in his car outside his office in Vail. I kidded him about not being very exciting. In a call a few months ago, someone was picking him up for lunch. I said that sure beat eating by himself in his car outside his office, obviously referring to the previous call. He replied, “What do you mean? Those were the good days.” He had by now given up driving, going to the office and confined to a wheelchair. Live and appreciate each and every day, even if it seems uneventful. I live in Monument, but please know my heart in is La Veta/Cuchara.

    Thanks again for reaching out. There will be a memorial service in Vail, Colorado at the Single Tree Golf club on April 18th.

    Dwight A. Harrison

Card of thanks

    On April 6, 2009, the drawing for raffles for the Cori Maldonado fundraiser was held. The ladies goodie basket was won by LaVerne Lohringel of Denver, the beautiful quilt donated to us, was made by Mary Lou Abila and her mother; Demi Valdez. It was won by Rickey Cruz of Walsenburg.

    The 5×10 military flag was won by Frank Noga of Walsenburg. And our large Bar B Que grill was won by Chuck Martinez.

    I would like to personally thank all who participated in this raffle fundraiser. Cori’s trip comes up in May and we are still a few dollars short. So anyone wishing to still donate can do so by sendiing a check to St. Mary Credit Union.

    Susan Noga

    Susan’s Flowers

More on health care

    A couple of years ago I made a comment to some friends that the price of health care is going to be too expensive and people are going to end up dying in the streets.  No sooner did I say that then Primetime and Dateline both did programs on hospitals in Los Angeles and New York City putting still sick, indigent patients in cabs and ambulances, driving them to vacant lots or street corners, and dumping them off with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  It made me wonder if I foresaw the day when the streets would be lined with dead and dying people who were denied medical care simply because they didn’t have the money to pay for it.

    Even during the Middle Ages there were charity houses where people could go to die.  I don’t know of any now-a-days.  Today, one has to have the right kind of insurance, or sign over everything they have for medical care.  If you say it isn’t true, I know of several people who had to sell everything they had and their parents had just for an operation because they couldn’t afford insurance.  I’m wondering if these aren’t the next group of people who’ll end up dying in the streets the next time they need medical care.

    So, what do we do about it?  So far, no one’s been able to stand up and say enough is enough.  We keep letting the price of health care go up using the excuse that we have to keep the incentive in it for students to become doctors.  Really?  Is that the only reason for it?  I didn’t realize it was true until I was in an auto accident and neither my health provider nor auto insurance companies would pay the bill.  When I finally found out how to cut through the “red tape”, and get the insurance companies to pay, the doctor treating me made the comment, “Now I can afford to buy that new pool table I want.”  WHAT?!!!  I felt like I was slapped in the face.  I didn’t go to him just to buy him a pool table!

    Right now you’re probably thinking that we wouldn’t have enough doctors around to fill our medical needs if we didn’t provide the “incentive”.  Really, what is the incentive – money or the welfare of humanity?  I worked for a while in a hospital several years ago and got to know some medical students and doctors.  I was curious about their reasons for becoming doctors so I asked  them if the money incentive wasn’t there, would we have fewer doctors.  They all answered “yes”.  However, they also added that though we would have fewer doctors, those we would have will be of better quality.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have better quality doctors as opposed to someone who’s “in it for the money”.  Also, socialized medicine isn’t the answer either.  Just ask the people in other countries who have it.

    Finally, you’re probably thinking that the reason for the high cost of health care is the insurance doctors and hospitals have to have for malpractice suits.  Granted, we patients need some form of protection against malpractice and negligence; however, we don’t need those outlandish settlements either.  Money can’t bring back a life or give one a life in the event a doctor or hospital is TRULY guilty.  But some of those suits are ridiculous and have nothing to do with negligence or malpractice.  In all my years of working in a hospital and knowing people who have sued, I can count only twelve cases where I felt they were justified.

    It seems as though people want to get rich quick and would find any means to do it.


    V.A. Blaine

Lawmakers target ballot fraud with new bill?

    Re: interesting article in the Chieftain (as an April fool joke?)  Who’s with me on this one… how about a bill that states our lawmakers cannot submit for the millionth time, the same rotten bill that failed to pass because it was written badly?  I see these same “lawmakers” resubmitting the same stuff season after season because the vote was a resounding no.  That should do it forever!  The article states that this new bill would make sure that the bill got there properly? What the heck is “ethical” with these political people! They submit bills from their lobbying partners… the folks who give them $$$$ to get into that position in the first place.  Unfortunately, it is all about money and nothing about caring, fairness, being a community. Nothing has changed since the beginning of time and never will.  Money talks.  I just wish they wouldn’t pretend they are working for the people.  If they really wanted to do something ethical, they would drop their expense accounts and their outrageous salaries and hand it over to some poor soul living under the bridge.  This bill could be calld “HB100000for the people.”  Vote for it.

    Dorothy Mihanovich