Because he was taken from us just before my first birthday, what I know about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. comes from his speeches and writing. His words provide a stark contrast to so many activists and politicians in today’s polarized political climate.

Dear Editor:

How about that Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center? Council expected to install five outdoor soaking pools/splash pad for $800,000. Splash pads proved impossible within budget and were eliminated. 

Dear Editor:

I write to note the retirement of Karen Prosser, clerk of the Chaffee County Combined Courts, and to honor her selfless service as well as that of her predecessors.

Dear Editor: 

The local Salvation Army extension would like to thank all the volunteers and donors who contributed to another successful kettle bell fundraising season. Our sincere appreciation goes out for the generosity of our community. A total of $25,913 was raised in Chaffee County to help local residents.

Development fees: where, how used?

Increasing development fees appears to be one idea coming out of the county’s comprehensive plan currently under consideration.

At a meeting last week, Nora Bland of Cushing Terrell, the firm hired to draft a comprehensive plan, told Chaffee County Housing Policy Advisory Committee members that housing is the county’s No. 1 issue.

The U.S. ended 2019 with punitive air strikes on extremists in Iraq, Syria and Somalia. That’s a signal to all. America isn’t in withdrawal – anywhere. Nor have Americans declared victory against Islamist terrorism and walked away from the fight.

Dear Editor:

I never thought I’d be “that” person, but here goes:

Stop signs. For the love of all that is holy, can we pretty please have more stop signs? 

Dear Editor:

On Jan. 9, The Mountain Mail published a guest opinion by Star Parker entitled “President’s timely move against evil.” 

Parker asserts the “muted” reaction of Democrats to the assassination of Iranian general Soleimani differentiates Republicans from Democrats: “One part of America believes there is good and evil, and one part doesn’t.”

The assassinated Iranian general was undoubtedly evil. The attack was nevertheless a devastating strategic blunder.

Dear Editor:

(Warning: Disturbing thoughts ahead! Sharp curves! Steep grades! The following letter is not recommended for people with nervous conditions.)

I don’t know about you, but I think 2020 could be a monumentally historic year.

Iranians pull back

In “reprisal” for the death of a top general by a U.S. air strike, on Wednesday Iran launched a dozen surface-to-surface missiles at two bases in Iraq housing American troops.

Purpose of the launch apparently was to send a propaganda message to Iranians that the regime had avenged Qasem Soleimani’s death with a lethal strike on U.S. forces in Iraq.

The awful truth about the corporate and governmental power elites in our democratic society is that they really don’t like democracy at all. They prefer to rule by buying lawmakers, hiring lobbyists, running Orwellian PR campaigns and relying on authoritarian police power to control people.

The muted reaction of leading Democratic politicians to the elimination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani reinforces my sense of what divides our country and differentiates the two parties.

Working-class jobs don’t matter. We can easily replace them. West Virginians won’t mind installing solar panels instead of mining coal.

Such was the callous sentiment behind the statement of former Vice President Joe Biden when asked last about the left’s green revolution. Would he move forward with green policies that directly killed hundreds of thousands of blue-collar jobs?

The prospect of war with Iran is terrifying.

Experts predict as many as a million people could die if the current tensions lead to a full-blown war. Millions more would become refugees across the Middle East, while working families across the U.S. would bear the brunt of our casualties.

‘Further aggression will not be tolerated’

The death last week in Iraq of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, has Trump administration critics in Congress and elsewhere claiming the president has gone too far.

The first session of the 72nd General Assembly ended at 6:45 p.m. May 3, and here we are in 2020 already gaveling in the second session.

This marks my last year in the Legislature – I have already served seven years of my eight-year term limit. I purchased a statue of a bull rider to place on my desk this year. The inscription reads: “This is not my first rodeo – I have seen this bull before.” 

Dear Editor:

While his wife is wishing for “peace on the earth,” the man who sits in the White House is spinning from one destructive, self-serving blunder to another. 

Already under impeachment for trying to badger a vulnerable ally into actions to undermine a competitor in the 2020 election, this man has now set off a firebomb in the Middle East with the assassination of an Iranian general. 

In a full-blown U.S. war with Iran, up to a million people could die initially.

Hundreds of thousands more could die in the vacuum to follow. Millions would be made refugees. That’s the conclusion of experts surveyed by Vox reporter Alex Ward. “The worst-case scenarios here are quite serious,” Middle East scholar Michael Hanna warned.

Dear Editor:

Now that Heart of the Community Christmas Drive has wrapped up, I wanted to thank everyone who helped with the success of the program, including: 

Dear Editor:

The Salida Community Center would like to thank all of the numerous volunteers for making this year’s Community Christmas Dinner a huge success. 

We would like to thank Jeanine Zeman for doing an awesome job organizing all of the volunteers. A special thank you to Jeff Yoast and Ira Curry for manning the kitchen and to Don Potts from Shallots. Ken Brandon was so much help and helped a great deal with recycling.

Dear Editor:

I recently ran across the 2017 document obtained by Tom Bomer when he sued the city of Salida, costing Salida $55,000 in legal fees.

Bomer received a $20,000 “settlement” check from Mayor P.T. Wood and city council shortly after their first election.

2010-2019: Growth, schools, hospital

The decade 2010-19 started with the nation, Chaffee County and Upper Arkansas Valley digging out from the 2008-09 recession.

Though the county and valley did not see unemployment rates rising significantly, the region’s economy faltered, with sales tax revenues declining from previous years.

Baseball had an exciting year – breakout stars, a major cheating scandal, a seven-game World Series.

And now it’s capping off the year with a disastrous idea from the owners. Led by the Houston Astros – the same Astros mired in scandals over cheating and domestic violence – Major League Baseball has proposed cutting 42 minor league teams all around the country.

Here’s a basic truth about people who make decisions on public policy: They rarely have all the facts they want.

Over the years, I’ve sat in countless meetings in which, after we’d reached a sticking point, someone said in exasperation, “Well, what are the facts?” We’d all look around the room because, no matter how much information was already on the table, a key fact that would help us move forward was missing. Yet policy has to get made anyway.

Dear Editor:

The holiday season is but a warm memory, and the Holiday Park Sisterhood will soon begin reviewing dozens of scholarship applications from Salida High School seniors.

Making a difference 

In November, Salida School District R-32-J voters approved joining the Colorado Mountain College tax district, a decision that will make a difference in the region for years to come.

Annexing to CMC means taxpayers will see a roughly four-mill increase on property taxes. What residents get is reduced tuition fees and more robust class and program offerings.

Dear Editor:

After reading the inaccurate letter dated Dec. 26 by Ken and Ellen James, we feel compelled to respond. The Jameses’ claim that “the swim team went to the city council and requested the lap pool be reduced to 78 degrees at all times to support their competitive sport” is incorrect. 

Dear Editor:

A writer to the Dec. 19 issue of the Denver Post “Open Forum” has urged people to support the Solar Energy Industries Association’s five-year expansion of the current Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) at its present rate of 30 percent.

If Republicans are smart heading into 2020, they will focus on a mantra of “Education equality.” It is the single best wedge issue Republicans have during an election cycle in which voters will take a bull-market economy for granted. 

Freight once again on Tennessee Pass?

Could freight trains be running once again on Upper Arkansas Valley rails?

It’s possible if the Colorado Pacific Railroad is successful in its bid to purchase the Tennessee Pass Line from the Union Pacific.

Dear Editor:

With regard to pool temperature, the swim team does not want the temperature lowered to 78 degrees as stated in a Dec. 26 letter to The Mountain Mail.

Dear Editor:

Ms. Richardson is unquestionably correct to say standardized tests are biased (Dec. 19 guest opinion). It is the degree of bias and the impact of irreducible bias factors on the utility of the test that are of concern.

Dear Editor:

Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center is a gem, which supports all groups of users, from the very young to the very old.

There is the swim team, lap swimmers, aqua bikes spin, cardio splash, volleyball, splash, weekend water workout, adult stroke clinic and open swim with diving board, slide and climbing wall.

The Trump administration says it’s anti-Semitic to criticize Israel. That’s the gist of a recent executive order that would treat campus calls to boycott Israel over its treatment of Palestinians as anti-Semitic discrimination on the basis of “national origin.”

Dear Editor:

The board of The Grainery Ministry of Salida would like to extend our thanks to the community of Salida for their generous donations to our organization this Thanksgiving season.

Cookies, milk, alfalfa

Local governments – Salida, Poncha Springs, Buena Vista and Chaffee County – should each be leaving Santa a glass of milk and cookies, along with a bale of alfalfa for his reindeer.

Is anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head again? It seems that way, as it has now been discovered that the recent Jersey City shooting suspect had published anti-Semitic posts prior to the shooting.

As President Trump’s impeachment unspools, news coverage is buzzing about conspiracy theories and geopolitical rivalries. But at the root of Trump’s effort to extort Ukraine was a simple motive: Trump hoped to influence our elections to preserve his power and that of his associates.

The angry backlash against their belief that marriage is between a man and a woman started on social media. Soon activists called for a boycott. Then officials banned them from selling in a key market.

Faced with mounting social, economic and legal attacks on their business, the company’s leadership was faced with an impossible decision: conscience or livelihood?

Sen. Michael Bennet deserves applause for standing against the silly prospect of Medicare for All. It would devastate the economy and substantially dilute care for 44 million mature Americans who spent their working years earning Medicare benefits.

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