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Time for action
As someone dependent on well water contaminated with PFCs for 10 years, now with high levels of contaminants in my blood, I appreciate Indy reporter Nat Stein following the story. My attempts to get information regarding mitigation efforts have been frustrating. Often the buck is passed between public health and the Air Force and back again. There is no process for keeping community members informed, just one public meeting in July.
Comparing notes with a community organizer in Portsmouth, N.H., tells me the citizens of Security, Widefield and Fountain should demand more. There, a community group advocates for citizens exposed to PFCs through consumption of contaminated water on a former military base. An advisory board convenes community meetings and provides a conduit for information. Once educated about PFCs, citizens demanded and received blood testing. That community gets technical assistance from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
About 10,000 people are impacted around Portsmouth; here, about 80,000 have been exposed. Who is paying attention? Who is giving us the support needed to wade through the technical stuff and make sure decisions are being made with community health in mind? What is the public process for making our concerns known and accessing information?
My contact at Peterson AFB recently emailed that we are looking at a "3 to 5 year time frame for the Air Force to get through the CERCLA (Superfund) process to be at the Remedial Action Phase if the Air Force is found to be the source of the PFOA and PFOS in the groundwater." What exactly does that mean?
As a friend said, "It's time to stop agonizing and start organizing!"
— Susan Gordon
Editor's note: Venetucci Farm co-manager Susan Gordon is part of the Fountain Valley Clean Water Committee (facebook.com/FVCWC) — a citizen watchdog group that had its first public meeting on Tuesday. Contact Liz Rosenbaum (firstname.lastname@example.org) to stay abreast of future developments and meetings.
I moved to Colorado Springs in 1975, about the time Ent Air Force Base was closing and just before the city conveyed the Ent property to the U.S. Olympic Committee for what has become the flagship U.S. Olympic Training Center.
Now, 42 years later, I am retired and use some of my time giving guided tours at the OTC. I have always known the OTC was an important part of our Olympic endeavor, but I had no idea how big of an attraction it is for tourists. People get a wonderful feel-good experience watching videos of past Olympic achievements and seeing where and how the athletes train. I have seen thousands of tourists go through the OTC, and all leave feeling enriched and proud that we have a commitment to the Olympics. When I guide an OTC tour, I frequently ask where the visitors are from. Almost always, all of the group are from other states or countries. They come to Colorado Springs to see a lot of sights among the 50-plus in our region, but four things stand out: Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, the Air Force Academy and the OTC.
Our city is an attraction because we have those one-of-a-kind things. There is nothing like them anywhere. We have an opportunity to build a fifth attraction that is a reason for tourists to come to our town, the U.S. Olympic Museum.
The Olympics in Rio generated an average of more than 26 million viewers with peaks of more than 36 million viewers in the USA and more internationally. Every one of those viewers is a potential Olympic Museum customer.
— Paul McNeill
The irony couldn't have been more striking. Two days after our City Council declined to consider a ballot measure to modestly increase funding for our beleaguered parks system, and two weeks after the city and The Broadmoor closed on the biggest giveaway of legacy parkland in our history, a Trust for Public Land report on the economic benefits of local parks was unveiled with great fanfare at — where else? — The Broadmoor.
Our city has a number of attractions of which we are very proud. Many enjoy taxpayer support. They also are entities that could be located anywhere. However, what is truly unique about Colorado Springs is our spectacular physical setting. It is a major reason we and many others live here. And more than any other attraction, it is what brings tourists to our region. It is through our parks, trails and open spaces that we — and our economy-boosting visitors — can actually access and enjoy this setting.
Funding for our parks system remains below 10 years ago, while substantial cost increases for water to pay for the Southern Delivery System have further eaten into this inadequate funding level. Scientific public opinion polling consistently shows strong citizen support for greater funding for our parks, trails and open space and for not trading these assets away.
What is it that our city leaders don't get?
— Kent Obee
Defending Leslie Weise
Leslie Weise is a hero. She is protecting her family and the community. It's time for Utilities to own up to and fix the air emissions problems.
The people of Colorado Springs deserve better. We demand clean air and safe water. Hiding the air emissions problems and prosecuting the citizen who, through no fault of her own, revealed the problem, makes you look incompetent, nefarious and wasteful of taxpayer dollars. It is time to post every test — water, air and others — online and get the state health department involved to oversee and interpret the results, because Utilities, City Council and the mayor have lost credibility!
If you want to attract high-tech, innovative businesses, showing that you won't and can't deliver the most basic services isn't going to help much.
— Mary Talbott
Power to the people
2016 is officially in the books. Good riddance! Yet the perennial reset button eludes many of us, as we hold our collective breath and await the untold changes sure to come as we enter the dawn of the Age of Trump.
So what will Mr. Trump and Republicans do? In the spirit of positive thinking, let's start with what they won't do. They will not roll back the significant progress made on social issues like gender equality and pot legalization. That ship has sailed. When Americans get a right, they do not give it up. The country has always moved left on issues of social justice. Conservatives cannot reverse the winds of change; at best they can adjust their sails.
Trump will no doubt be successful in undoing some of Obama's financial and environmental reforms, as well as replacing Obamacare with a lighter version more palatable to the sensitivities of conservative values. But let's get real, increased government involvement in health care and coverage is here to stay, in one form or another.
Good luck, Mr. Trump. Your success is mine as well. Please remember it is the people, not the government, who can truly solve the issues of the day. Voting is not where democracy ends. In 2017, get out there and be an active part of the change.
— Brent Weiner