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Letters to editor for August 7, 2008

To All Our Friends in La Veta, Walsenburg & Huerfano County:

    Thank you very much for welcoming my family and friends out to our ranch last weekend (July 26, 2008). We had an absolutely phenomenal family reunion for the Mall, Kennish, Clayton, Stinson and Harshman Families.  It had been more than 44 years since we had a reunion as large as last weekend, but over 150 relatives and friends representing five generations, visited from eleven different states in each corner of the country, staying anywhere from a few hours to over two weeks at every possible location in the county.  Besides the dinner and dance at the ranch, activities included a large group tour of John Mall High School, horseback riding, a hike up the West Peak, a trip to the Great Sand Dunes, a day at Walsenburg Wild Waters as well as numerous restaurant, gallery, museum and shopping ventures in Walsenburg, La Veta, Cuchara and Gardner.  I hope the kids (young and old) were well behaved. Judging by the feedback I received from all of my relatives, everyone should be proud and encouraged by the success you have developed.

    For more than 46 years, Southern Colorado has always been a special place to me.  I relish every opportunity to show off the beauty and amenities of the area. Those years as a kid visiting my grandma & granddad have me forever indebted to the area.  Allowing my two children the same experiences John & Laura Mall gave me is priceless.  On behalf of my family and friends, thank you for all of your gracious hospitality.

    Roger & Lisa Mullarkey

    Rattles Ranch

    Son of Theresa Mall, grand-     son of John & Laura Mall

    I am writing to express my support for Frank Ruybalid for District Attorney.

    As crime victims, our family has had the misfortune of having to interact with the District Attorney’s Office, under the leadership of Lee Hawke for over two years.  Our experiences have been frustrating and disheartening.

    Our impression of the current District Attorney, Lee Hawke is that he and his assistants are uncaring and incompetent.  When our 75-year-old family summer cabin in Wahatoya Canyon was burned down and we learned that the perpetrators were known, we felt sure we would get justice.  We were mistaken.  We encountered indifference and a frightening lack of knowledge.   My calls were never returned.

    I do not know Frank Ruybalid.   I do know that he wrote to me and expressed his concern for our loss and asked for my support.  I am happy to give it.  I believe that Huerfano and Las Animas counties need a change in the District Attorney’s Office and I urge you to vote for Frank Ruybalid.

        Linda Zuflacht   

             San Antonio, Texas

    I want to thank all of the people who came to the Weight Watchers meetings in Walsenburg. We closed the meeting last Monday and are trying to get a meeting going in La Veta.  Please sign up at Charlies Market in La Veta for those of you who are interested and support Maria in her efforts to get this very helpful and healthy lifestyle change going here.  Maria will be going to leader training and will be leading the meeting here once it gets up and going, hopefully by the 1st of October. More information will be in the paper as we proceed.

    Thanks for your support,

    Joyce Bestol

Dear Editor,

    I took a non-sufficient funds check to the DA’s office about eight months ago. To date, there has been no results. The DA has done nothing for me and probably no other businesses. People can pass bad checks without any consequences.

    James W. Correnti

To: Huerfano Journal

Re: The “Flushed $50,000”

    It was stated in the Huerfano Journal, July 10, 2008 issue, that Re-1 School Board “hoped USAPartners would come through with grant funding for the new sports complex.  The board gave them $50,000 as seed money. Erin Jerant, as stated in the article, asked Superintendent Doyle if the $50,000 was gone and Doyle stated “probably yes.”

    That $50,000 would have funded a complete after school music program at John Mall High School for ten years! All of you parents who have children enrolled in that school should be outraged.  Sports are fine. I am all for it but not all kids are “jocks.”  We have to provide a creative outlet for them. So the next time between the hours of 4 pm and 6 pm (main crime as told to me by the Walsenburg Police) you see kids just “hanging around with nothing to do”, remember you could have had a music enrichment program after school for your kids until the year 2018! The Colorado School of Rock has had a program especially designed for John Mall High School kids for the last five years.  Library big screen TVs, water parks, sport complexes, high speed internet – all good things.  Your kids are crying out for music. Help them before they go away forever or probably yes, end up dead or in jail. Positive, creative expression is essential for kids looking for direction.

    Sincerely,

    Jac Mihanovich

    Colorado School of  Rock, Inc.

coloradoschoolofrock@yahoo.com

Dear Editor,

    For those citizens of our town who haven’t been confused by the billing practices of the utility department, all you need to do is go to the utility office and inquire about why your bill shows so many discrepancies, because if you haven’t been confused yet you wll be.

    Apparently, common citizens aren’t allowed to speak to the Office Manager, as you will be headed off by the clerks that try to explain away why so many late charges, no payment charges, cut-off notices, etc., etc., are added to their utility bill. I feel sorry for these women, because they obiously can’t explain many of them away, for instance, when a consumer presents all receipts for those bills in question and still get red tagged or worse, get their utilities turned off with no warning. I realize that in many cases there will be those who are actually behind in their payments and have no leg to stand on, but for those who have a legitimate complaint against any government agency including utilities departments, here’s a couple of phone numbers: Citizen Advocate office, (303) 866-2885, and Loretta Kennedy 1-800-543-8200; Consumer Advocate for Congressman Johnsalazar. A reminder: Save your receipts, and vote.

    Jim Williams

To the Editor;

    In 2004, our precious 2 ½-year-old baby, Crystal, was riding in a car that was hit by a drunk driver, who was on parole from a prison in Oklahoma. He walked away.  She died.  I was very disappointed in the decision by District Attorney Lee Allen Hawke to give the driver, Ethan Ramirez, a plea bargain which would give him a short prison sentence, and serve that prison sentence “concurrent,” or at the same time as, a sentence he had to serve in Oklahoma for violating his parole.

    When the crime was committed, Frank Ruybalid was the District Attorney. He told us what our rights were in this case as parents and victims, and told us he would not make a plea bargain with Mr. Ramirez unless both of us agreed. Knowing that we wanted a jury trial, Mr. Ruybalid put a lot of work into the case, and said he would not offer a plea bargain, and that Mr. Ramirez would have to serve both a prison sentence in Colorado and the one he already had coming in Oklahoma, consecutively.

    Since Mr. Ramirez had been convicted of felonies twice before, Mr. Ruybalid was holding out for a Colorado prison sentence of no less than 18 years. Mr. Ramirez had seven years remaining on his Oklahoma prison sentence.

    Mr. Ramirez’ defense attorney got the case delayed until Lee Hawke took over the District Attorney’s Office.  Mr. Hawke called us in March, 2005, to say that he wanted to make this plea bargain with Ethan Ramirez, and he wanted to know if we would agree to it. We told Mr. Hawke that we would rather see the case go to trial and let the jury make the decision. We told Mr. Hawke we thought there should be some justice in this case.

    Mr. Hawke told us we had no say in the matter; that he could do whatever he wants because he is the District Attorney. He said the only thing Ethan could be convicted for was careless driving, and that none of the other charges, like vehicular homicide based on Mr. Ramirez’ drunk driving, were punishable.  He seemed most concerned with getting it resolved quickly so he can get on to helping more criminals get off the hook.

    By this plea agreement, Mr. Hawke told the public that it is okay to drink and drive and take lives, because the District Attorneys Office will pat you on the back and let you get away with it.

    Even though he is not the District Attorney any more, Mr. Ruybalid has been available to answer our questions about the criminal justice process. Mr. Hawke never was. Recently we learned that Ethan Ramirez never went back to Oklahoma to serve his prison sentence there.  The State of Oklahoma decided not to revoke his parole, and Mr. Ramirez has served only his Colorado sentence, which was a year shorter than his Oklahoma sentence. Although he is still imprisoned, he became eligible for parole this year, just four years after he caused Crystal’s death.

    When Frank Ruybalid was the District Attorney, he worked hard on Crystal’s case, and paid attention to our concerns. Mr. Hawke did neither.  In the primary election coming up August 12, the public would give some degree of “justice” to the “criminal justice process” by voting Mr. Ruybalid back into the office he was serving so well in 2004.

    Barbie and Paul Avis,    

    parents of Crystal Avis    

    and concerned citizens