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Family history

Ralph Routons article covering the Pinon Canyon controversy was wonderful. You captured the feelings of the ranchers and inhabitants of the southeastern corner of Colorado so well.

I have parents and a brother and a sister and their respective families living in the "area of interest." The ranch where my parents still live and where I grew up is beautiful canyon land. My grandfather homesteaded the land in the early 1900s. My father built the house where all five of us children were raised.

There are so many special places on the ranch. The thought of never being able to set foot on it again, should the Army take it, is beyond comprehension. We feel sick to our stomachs to think about people being forced to leave when they worked all of their life to improve their ranch and build their houses and pay for the land they own and raise their children.

It would literally kill my father to leave there. So whether the question you quoted in your article, "Is the Army prepared to kill American citizens to seize their property?" would infer shooting them to take their land, or whether it would be the loss of their land that would end their lives, the result would be the same.

I live in Amarillo and have no particular connection to the house I live in, so I can imagine that is how people in Colorado Springs feel if they have never lived on land that has been in the family for generations.

Most people seem to think that the landowners who have to sell to the Army can go buy another ranch somewhere else. The problem is, even if the landowners didn't have the heritage and special bond with the land they own now, the money from selling to the Army would not allow them to buy anything comparable in another location.

Thank you again for your eloquent article.

Becky Robertson Hugg

Amarillo, Texas

Who's unpatriotic?

I would like to thank Ralph Routon for his column on April 19. My familys ranch borders the Pinon Canyon Training Site and, like Donna Sneller, I am tired of hearing the Army's half-truths and lies.

I attended the Fort Carson town meeting in Pueblo on April 17 and was sad to see how Fort Carson and Colorado Springs are trying to sell their expansion plans to Pueblo and Pueblo West. It is wrong for Colorado Springs to benefit at the state of Colorado's expense.

Routon hit the mark when he wrote that in our eyes (ranchers) Colorado Springs has become the epitome of selfishness, wailing that Pinon Canyon must expand or the Springs will lose Fort Carson.

I would like to remind the people of Colorado Springs and the entire state of Colorado that if the Army and federal government are allowed to take the ranch land and public lands (Comanche National Grasslands) it will be lost to the state forever. This is a bad and dishonest job that Fort Carson is trying to pull on Colorado.

It is also cowardly and dishonest to call the ranchers and citizens of southeastern Colorado unpatriotic for not wanting to give up their land, way of life, tax base, schools and rural economy. No, I feel it is unpatriotic for the Army to terrorize the very people it has sworn to protect.

Thanks again to Ralph Routon for articulating almost exactly how I feel about the proposed Pinon Canyon expansion. Thanks also to the Independent for publishing the column.

Mark Johnston

Swink

Misconception

I am from La Junta and I oppose the Pinon Canyon expansion. However, in no way do I oppose the Army. My best friend is in the Army and I just had the privilege of picking him up from the airport. He was recently shot overseas defending our freedom.

I think people believe because we oppose the expansion we aren't supportive of our military, but that is not the case at all. I am very thankful for everything being done for us, and when you have someone that you love on the front line, it really makes it a reality.

I really was happy to see someone from Colorado Springs writing about this issue and sticking up for us down here. It helps me to remember there is good and bad in all people. At least we have found one of the good ones!

I encourage all who don't think our land is valuable to come down to the canyons and take a tour. (Starting in May, Picketwire Canyon will be offering tours.) There is so much buried treasure in the Higbee Valley that people who don't get out couldn't imagine. It is God's little piece of heaven here on Earth.

Brittani Dellinger

La Junta

Search for allies

I sincerely enjoyed and appreciated Ralph Routon's article "Ranchers bring battle to town". Colorado Springs and Fort Carson MUST realize that the farmers and ranchers have to be considered in this mess. After all, farmers and ranchers are the backbone of this country. You just can not take away what they have worked their entire lives to develop.

While the article is very good, it is only seen locally. Have you thought about taking this problem to someone who can being this to the attention of the world? I'm thinking about Willie Nelson. Willie is totally dedicated to helping the farmers and ranchers. I think if he knew about this fight he would be willing to step into the fight. (Think of Farm Aid.)

Someone has to care enough to help!

Betty McDonald

Florissant

History repeats

Thank you for giving voice to our concerns about the Pion Canyon expansion ("Ranchers bring battle to town," Between the Lines, April 19). If a foreign army threatened to take our land, we would expect our government and Army to protect us. Who protects us from our own Army?

Do you have a way of checking out the figures the Army gave about the salaries of those who will be coming to Fort Carson? Because $40,000 to $50,000 seems a little high to me. The Army has a credibility problem going way back to Indian days.

After the cavalry successfully removed the Native Americans from this land, the wise men in Washington decided they would give it to homesteaders if they would come here to live.

Hard lessons were learned, and many were forced to leave. Many of us who remain can proudly point out our parents' grandparents' homestead. Thanks to the tenacity of our forefathers, we have learned to make this land produce. Thousands of pounds of cattle are marketed annually, ending up on your plate. We pay real estate taxes, income tax, sales tax, fuel tax and every other tax our public servants have thought up. We contribute to every sector of the local economy: grocery stores, feed stores, lumber stores, gas stations (and how) and, most especially, the banks.

Now the Army is coming to remove us. The wise men (whose salaries we help pay) have devised a plan to take this land out of the hands of private citizens and put it under government control, where it will cost billions of dollars to maintain. Is there any common sense left in Washington D. (doesn't) C. (care)?

Jennie Yocam

Kim

Avoid the cesspool

Thanks for exposing the Army's land-grab scheme. It's a scheme meant to enrich the developer man by turning La Junta into another cesspool military town!

David S. Schneider

La Junta

Contradictory mail

I recently received another piece of mail from someone who must be impersonating our new "arch-conservative" congressman, Doug Lamborn. It's a slick, glossy brochure, kind of like something you'd expect to see on the campaign trail. I know it can't be the real Doug Lamborn, though, because the fine print on it says it "was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense "!

I cannot believe that the guy who campaigned through much of last year as a hard-core fiscal conservative a hawk with our tax dollars would spend those same tax dollars so freely and needlessly. Not to mention, its message was to tell me about tax day. As if I need Lamborn wasting my tax dollars to tell me about the IRS!

Maybe the real Doug Lamborn has become a victim of identity theft. If not, then maybe he is a victim of what I call "Washington Incumbent Syndrome" after only a couple months on the job!

Carol Brewer

Colorado Springs

Different memory

I write to get the record clear and straight on the way the Human Relations Council (HRC) was terminated ("Remembering agendas," Letters, April 19), and the way the City Council got in the way of citizens' interests. When the possibility came to terminate the HRC, I sat in chambers and listened to a wide variety of citizens plead with Council members not to end it.

African-Americans, Native Americans, Spanish-Americans, other minorities, women and numerous white guys who also had civility in mind all from a variety of professions and vocations.

I talked to Jerome Page, then-president of the Urban League, and suggested we each invite five people to a meeting to consider options and strategies. Mr. Page asked why I was interested in this topic as then-president of the Pikes Peak Arts Council. I said that harsh circumstance makes for dark and foreboding art, and in this beautiful city we have better things to creatively celebrate.

Very shortly we had more than 80 people active on this citizens group. We organized a rationale and a strategy on why our city should retain the HRC, as well as how it could be strengthened. Only then-Councilman John Hazlehurst offered his help and assistance. We were briefly distracted in creating our proposal by a local feminist (who shall mercifully remain nameless), but once we straightened that out (without excluding her) we made our proposal with many citizens arguing for it in many ways with many levels of persuasions.

All were rejected. One more time our City Council got in the way of citizens willing, creative and able to do something decent and humane for our city!

Dean E. Tollefson

Colorado Springs

Fly right

Yes, the red-tailed hawk is a commonly seen species in the Pikes Peak region, but the bird in the photograph accompanying "Like A Bird Habit" (cover package, April 19) is a ferruginous hawk, a rather uncommon species around here.

Richard Bunn

Green Mountain Falls

Body of law

In the April 19 "Your Turn" column ("Bedeviling her sisters"), Alysabeth Clements states "I have the right to my own body, no matter what I happen to be doing with it."

I am curious what Ms. Clements means. I view a right as something our government was formed to ensure I can continue to exercise. Therefore if I must ask permission of a government-approved entity to engage in the behavior, or if I risk incarceration or government fine by engaging in the behavior without infringing on others' rights, the behavior does not qualify as a God-given right, nor an activity that falls under the pursuit of happiness.

We can count in these the right to put marijuana in one's body, the right to ride in a motor vehicle without wearing a seatbelt, the right to carry a firearm to defend one's body against attackers, the right to a late-term abortion. I think readers get the point and can fill in their own list.

We still can smoke tobacco if we want, drink alcohol and eat food until obese. The latter is under attack in the great city of New York, and smokers and drinkers certainly know where they stand. I am interested in hearing what Ms. Clements believes she has the right to do with her body. Maybe we can get it outlawed, too.

Paul Stevenson

Colorado Springs

Wrong messages

As absurd as it was for Cho Seung-Hui to blame society for his terrible killing spree, there was a tiny fragment of truth to his statement. We live in a society that accepts hatred as the norm, and we are each responsible for the butterfly effect that our comments and actions, no matter how small, bring about.

Each time we ignore a person in need, each time we "treat" our kids to a bloody video game or movie, each time we flip off a fellow driver, each time we teach our children that it's OK to belittle gays, goths, geeks or what have you, we send little messages that perpetuate the very social climate we claim to abhor.

I saw two bumper stickers on the same car today. The first said, "Hate is not a family value." The other said, "Focus on your own damn family." We are sending a mixed message to our kids that it is wrong to hate unless we think the person really deserves it. In one way or another, we will all suffer the consequences of this attitude.

No matter what our religious convictions, if we each tried a little harder to model compassion so the youth of our country could see an example of humanity, would it make a difference? I'd say it's worth a try.

Laurie Gabriel

Colorado Springs

Control the guns

Headlines: 33 shot to death at Virginia Tech. Taxi driver killed by stray bullet in gunfight on Colorado Springs city streets.

Every day presents yet another opportunity to speak out in favor of gun control. Since so many of us in Colorado Springs evangelize for Jesus, one can't help but wonder what he would have us do in the face of the attacks so regularly and successfully carried out by deranged gunmen in our society.

I doubt he'd advise we all bear arms, ready to blast the living daylights out of anyone who presents (or might present) a threat. It is disheartening that so many of us Christians pass on opportunities like this to recall that we are to "turn the other cheek," that one of the great promises is our "swords (weapons) will be beaten into plowshares," and that we are commanded, "Thou shalt not kill."

Perhaps we have just given up. It is now being widely acknowledged that no matter how many massacres, no politician dares alienate our vast and powerful "gun culture" by advocating and pursuing removal of the one constant in all instances of massacre by firearm: the guns.

C.S. Odlin

Manitou Springs

City problems

In regard to the letter from G. Miller ("Calm over stormwater," Letters, April 5) about the stormwater "tax," it was supposed to be put in front of the voters. City Council opposed it and knew why!

These past years our taxes were funneled into City Council pet projects instead of being used where they were intended. City Council, anticipating this project will bring in millions, will create 36 new jobs, from engineering to maintenance and repairs and, of course, information technology. I am surprised they don't bring in people from California or New York to supervise at an extra expense.

City Council has played around for years, spent time in bed with the developers and now they reach in our pockets again. The city faces a $295 million backlog of these projects. I was hoping for a new, understanding City Council but after voting them in again, people here do not deserve any better. And believe me, they will come for more money again in the future.

One way they could save money is to do away with the ineffective city manager's job.

E. Little

Colorado Springs

About earthships

The article about earthships ("Berm me up, Scotty," April 19) was interesting but not original. There have been many such projects over the years. The one element that is lacking in all of them is that they take little notice of how this will relate to modern urban ghettoes.

Is it possible that the crowded city precincts of large cities will benefit from earthships? While certain savings in power can be realized, who will be able to withstand the modern need for transport, a varied diet or foodstuffs that cannot be home-grown? Do earthships have any relevance to the crushing populations in India? I doubt it.

Earthships are an interesting aspect of modern life but hardly a sustainable lifestyle that can be a benefit for large urban areas. They're fine for wide-open spaces like Colorado Springs but hardly suitable for Los Angeles or Mumbai (Bombay). More's the pity.

Don Smith

Brisbane, Australia

On target

Ralph Routon's April 12 column ("New Life for the Grace Crew?) is one of the best pieces of clarity written about gay rights in the Episcopal Church, both in and outside of the church.

In 2000, I traveled to Denver to attend the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Never have I met so many conservative (some would say radical) Episcopalians willing to shove their view of the Bible, Jesus Christ and morals down the throat of fellow Episcopalians who differed even the slightest from their view of the world.

I find it laughable that some conservative Episcopalians want foreign bishops of their choosing because their diocesan bishop may tolerate homosexuals. We cease to be the "Episcopal" Church and become "congregational" if we as members or parishes pick and choose bishops outside of the established canons of the church over the episcopacy. Conservatives would see red if progressives of the church tried doing this over the ordination of women back in the 1970s, let alone gays in this new millennium.

Bishop Eugene Robinson isn't the first gay bishop. He just happens to be the first OPENLY gay bishop. But conservatives want us all to go back to the seemingly halcyon days of the 1950s of Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it To Beaver when, in reality, society's problems of unwanted pregnancies, alcoholism and drug abuse are never addressed and a patriarchal view of family life and the world is the only view.

One of these days, my brothers and sisters of Africa, Asia and other parts of the world will wake up to the fact that this largely American-financed campaign against gays in the Episcopal Church and larger Anglican Communion will come back to bite them.

Scott Larsen

Vancouver, B.C.

Editor's note: Scott Larsen has served as interim Director of Communications for Integrity, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender ministry of the Episcopal Church of the United States.

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