Category Archives: Goings-on

Help Dr. Camarata get his Medicaid license back

If you and/or your family use Dr. Camarata’s family practice in Nederland, and especially if you’re a Medicaid patient, you need to know that his practice has been denied renewal of his Medicaid license, meaning that Medicaid patients will be forced to go to Boulder and try to find a practice that accepts Medicaid. We need to help to reverse this decision.

Although Dr. Camarata’s intention is to continue to operate his practice, this decision threatens his ability to do so. His practice, the only family practice from Estes to Black Hawk, is critical to the Peak to Peak community, Medicaid or not.

At the bottom is a link to a letter to the Texas corporation that bought the Medicaid contracts for the State of Colorado, that Dr. Camarata’s office can include with their appeal to restore his ability to serve Medicaid clients.

If you are affected by this, or are just disturbed by a Texas corporation messing with our community’s healthcare, please download this letter, add words of your own (polite please), print and sign it. I don’t care if you sign with your real name, just don’t make it so fake that it’s dismissed out of hand.

When you’re done, please fold it envelope style and put it in the Town of Ward box in front of town hall (NOT the post office). I’ll pick them up on Thursday and get them to Nederland by the deadline (3/16/17 at 5PM). Or if you go to Ned, just take it to his office, BEFORE Thursday 3/16/17 5PM.

Also you can email Governor Hickenlooper on his website https://www.colorado.gov/governor or call him at 303.866.2471; email our state representative KC Becker  kcbecker.house@state.co.us or call her at 303.866.2578; and email our state senator Stephen Fenburg stephen.fenberg.senate@state.co.us or call him at 303.866.4872.

As mayor, I’m also contacting all these people, but that’s not enough, you have to do it too. All this info will also be in FB, the QT and in the Post Office.

Lastly, there’s a Town Hall meeting at the Gilpin County Rec Center Sunday, March 26th from 4 to 6 pm. Local and state government folks will be there, along with Dr. Camarata. We’ll have a presence there. Let me know if you want to go.

Letter in support of Dr. Camarata

-or-

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1V6460Exy1951lKE7A6iirbbGs-a2pIwOmscKSekx2WU/edit?usp=sharing

Let me know if it doesn’t work.

Hummer/Cold Springs Fire

Yesterday afternoon a fire started on Cold Springs Drive near Nederland, Colorado. The conditions are ripe for it – record temps, extremely low humidity and lots of fuel. As of the last I’ve heard, the acreage burned was about 226 acres. We know structures have burned – the report is at least 4 – but we don’t have confirmations of an exact number.

A number of Nederland area subdivisions have been evacuated – Cold Springs, Bonanza Mountain, St. Anton’s Highlands, Silver Springs – and the western area of Sugarloaf Rd is on pre-evacuation alert. A pre-evacuation means the affected households should be prepared to leave at any time. If you feel unsafe, leave immediately – do NOT wait for an evacuation notice.

Here is the most up-to-date, accurate info: Boulder OEM emergency info

Here are road closures:

  • Hurricane Hill – between Hwy 119 and Ridge Rd.
  • St. Anton Summer Access Road – between Hwy 119 and Ridge Rd
  • Sugarloaf Rd – between Switzerland Trail and Peak to Peak Hwy
  • Peak to Peak Hwy between Sugarloaf and Ridge Road
  • Silver Point to Peak to Peak Highway
  • Cold Springs Road – between Hwy 119 and Ridge Rd.
  • Ridge Road
  • Conifer Road
  • Thunder Ridge South Road
  • Cougar Road
  • Shady Hollow Road
  • Switzerland Park Upham Gulch
  • Wolfetongue

Single-file only law for riding bicycles in Ward

Following is the text of the proposed Bicycle single file ordinance:

ORDINANCE NO. ____
Series 2015

AN ORDINANCE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE TOWN OF WARD AMENDING WARD TOWN LAWS BY ADOPTING PROVISIONS REGARDING THE CREATION OF A “SINGLE-FILE ONLY” LAW FOR RIDING BICYCLES WITHIN THE TOWN OF WARD

WHEREAS, the Town of Ward is authorized by state law, including without limitation C.R.S. § 42-4-111(1)(h) to adopt and enforce regulations for the operation of bicycles as necessary; and

WHEREAS, the Town has determined groupings of bicycles on our roads creates a hazard for vehicles, bicycles, pets and pedestrians; and

WHEREAS, the pending improvements to both Lefthand Canyon and Brainard Lake Road will inevitably increase traffic, both vehicular and bicycle, through the Town; and

WHEREAS, in order to promote the health and safety of Town residents, the Town of Ward has determined to adopt a single-file only law for riding bicycles, motorcycles, mopeds, electric assisted bicycles within the Town boundaries;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE TOWN OF WARD, COLORADO:
Section 1. The Town of Ward hereby establishes a “single file only” ordinance for bicycles within Ward’s jurisdiction. The ordinance shall state:

No person shall drive a motorcycle, moped, electric assisted bicycle or bicycle adjacent to any other such vehicle within the same lane on the roadway, and shall not ride two or more abreast except on paths set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding bicycles or electrical assisted bicycles also shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

Section 2. The town of Ward will install and maintain official signage or other traffic control devices placed upon or at the entrances to the roadways within the Town limits to give notice of this local ordinance and increase awareness.

Section 3. Variances to this ordinance may be granted by permission of the Town Council of the Town of Ward, for purposes of allowing permitted bicycle races to use our thoroughfares, and other purposes as the Town Council deems appropriate

Section 4. Failure to comply with this ordinance shall be subject to a fine.

Please note – state and county law allows 2 riders abreast (though this is even abused by some groups of bicyclists who ride 4 and 5 abreast, as a pack), this ordinance would limit cyclists to single file in the town limits.

Also enforcement would be by Ward marshals. That said – Boulder County has always had the right and the statutory power to enforce ANY traffic code in Ward – this is not something over which we have any control. They’ve always had this right and this ordinance sees no change in that situation.

What this ordinance WOULD do is give us the right to signage that would mitigate at least some of the problem with no enforcement at all – most bicyclists are willing to follow the law if they know it and this law would work in our favor.

In answer to some of the concerns raised:

  • Left Hand Canyon, as far as I can tell, is NOT a bicycle single-file road, marked by single file signs, but even if it is single-file only, that only pertains to the county road, outside of town limits. To make Utica Street a single-file zone, we have to change its designation in town.
  • Enforcement of a single-file ordinance for bicycles would be no different from current enforcement of any other traffic violations in Ward – whatever enforcement we have will be by the local marshals. That said, Boulder County Sheriffs (and State Patrol) have the statutory right to give out tickets in Ward, as they do in any municipality. So don’t run the stop sign with ANY cop car behind you.
  • Most of the fine from ANY ticketed traffic violation goes to the county, since we have chosen not to have a municipal court in Ward. But the point of this ordinance and the signage is not revenue, but safety.
  • And that’s the intent of the signage – to legally inform bicyclists that they must ride single file through town, reducing the chance of dangerous bicycle/car/pedestrian/pet encounters. The presence of the signs alone will likely go a long way to encouraging better bicyclist behavior, even without strict enforcement.
  • Indeed, bicyclists do make up a large portion of the town’s general fund revenue. They also make up a significant portion of the IPFPD’s emergency services calls. Those two things don’t come from the same pot, but packs of bicyclists (especially speeding bicyclists) increase the risk of accident. It’s unlikely that many bicyclists will stop coming to Ward because they have to ride single file and even if a few were willing to give up their addiction to Fred’s in protest, I still don’t see how allowing bicycle packs to endanger us, our children, our animals and our other visitors is a good trade for tax revenue from the few bicyclists who would stop coming and spending their money.

So read the actual ordinance (on the board in the case outside) and make up your minds; it will be voted on at the April election.

 

Road closures

By now, many folks in the Ward community have learned that starting in May 2016, we will be impacted by 6 months of road repairs on Left Hand Canyon from the Jamestown bridge at the confluence of James and Lefthand Creeks to Lickskillet, at the 10 mile marker.

There will be times when the road is shut down altogether – potentially for several days at a time – from the Jamestown bridge up to Lickskillet. This extent of closure will cut off access to Lee Hill and Old Stage, so we will have to find other ways to get to town. Other times there may be 1 – 3 hour delays. You can find current information at LeftHandCanyon.com. Please rely on that site for the most up-to-date info, as this site update its info from there.

Some of the time, the road is likely to be inaccessible from 8AM to 4PM, with delays from 7AM-8AM and from 4PM-5PM. At least, that’s how they’re currently handling the road repairs below the Jamestown bridge.  LeftHandCanyon.com says that may be different but we will know better as the time approaches.

I would suggest visiting that construction project in its off hours (after 5, before 7AM or on weekends) to see the extent of what they’re doing. This is NOT your daddy’s simple repaving!

Not only will this affect our travel to and from Boulder, it’s going to impact our local businesses that depend on that through-traffic for their revenue, their ability to continue to employ some of our town residents and it will have repercussions on our town budget that depends on sales tax revenue for 40% of our general fund income. And it will have an effect on postal deliveries, the trash roll-off, and propane deliveries and I’m sure there’s other ramifications we just haven’t thought of yet.

But WAIT, there’s more!

Starting in late September of 2016 (yes, it overlaps), there will be extensive repairs and repaving on the Brainard Lake Road, that is projected to last until May 2017. While this won’t affect our ability to get to Boulder, it will still impact our local businesses.

At the February town meeting (February 1, 7PM) we’ve invited some folks from Boulder County transportation as well as the business owners and other folks to come and talk about how we can ensure that we minimize this disruption. We’re starting to put together a plan to help our community better deal with this and if you would like to help, let’s put our heads together. Come to the February 1 town meeting.

How to Prepare for Everything Workshop – Free

PreparednessWorkshopFlyerThe Inter Mountain Alliance is sponsoring a “How to Prepare for Everything” workshop to take place on Saturday, January 9th from 10-1pm in the Ned Community Center. This workshop is not about disaster preparedness per say but instead about how to prepared for disruptions in our lives. This is a hands on workshop that will provide take home tools to support our unique families in preparedness for the disruptions that life brings and how to support our unique living situations. This workshop will be taught by Aaron Titus, the Co-chair of the BoCoVOAD.

I have attached a flyer for you to share with your community members. This workshop is open to the public and all are welcome.

Let me know if you have any questions. See you all soon!

Amy E. Hardy | Community Resilience Director

Foothills United Way
1285 Cimarron Drive

Lafayette, CO 80026
Phone: 303-895-3418
amy.hardy@unitedwayfoothills.org

Poetry Reading

If you want to enjoy some fantastic food, wine, poetry and wit this might be the best place to be in the mountains on a Friday night.
Join us for the wit and wisdom of Pam Harrington and Margaux Murphy, reading together for the first time in 17 years.
Ward Public Library
Ward, CO
Friday 10/23
7:30PMWard-Poetry

Fire Bans by both Boulder County and the USFS 9/25/15

Sheriff Pelle Orders Fire Ban for Western Boulder County mountains

Boulder County has enacted a fire ban for the mountains

Here is summary of the ban:

The fire ban prohibits:

  • Slash fires
  • The use of any kind of fireworks or model rockets
  • All other outdoor spark or flame producing activities
  • All outdoor burning not listed below as allowable

This fire ban allows for:

  • Indoor fires in fireplaces or stoves
  • Smoking indoors or within an enclosed vehicle
  • Campfires in improved and maintained campgrounds that are currently open to thepublic, as long as the fuel for such fires are smaller than two feet in diameter by three feet in height.
  • Liquid or gas fuel stove use
  • Charcoal grill use on private land
  • Smoking outdoors in areas free of flammable material
  • Fires contained within maintained fire pits or grates on private land

The fire ban will be in effect until the sheriff finds that the hazardous conditions have subsided.

Additionally Fire Restrictions begin today on portions of the Roosevelt National Forest in Boulder County

Boulder, Colo. (Sept. 24, 2015) – Fire restrictions go into effect this morning, Sept. 24, 2015, on portions of the Roosevelt National Forest in support of the fire ban by Boulder County.

The fire restrictions are in an area bounded on the west by State Highways 7, 72, and 119 (Peak to Peak Highway);on the north by the Boulder County line just north of Highway 36; on the south by Highway 72 (Coal Creek Canyon); and on the east by the Roosevelt National Forest boundary in Boulder County. These restrictions limit where and what type of fires you can have and are in place until rescinded. Within the fire restriction area, forest visitors cannot:

  • Build or maintain a fire or use charcoal, coal, or wood stoves, except within a developed recreation site (e.g., campgrounds where fees are charged). The use of petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices, providing such devices meet the fire underwriter’s specifications for safety, is allowed.
  • Use explosives, including fireworks.
  • Smoke, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while in an area at least three feet in diameter cleared of all flammable materials.
  • Weld or operate acetylene or other torch with an open flame.
  • Use any internal or external combustion engine (including chainsaws) without a spark arresting devise properly working.

To view both the closure and fire restriction orders as well as a map of the areas covered by both, go to www.fs.usda.gov/arp. They are listed in the “Alerts and Notices” box on the right. All visitors are reminded to be extra careful with fire this fall and winter, especially in windy and dry conditions and in places where tall grasses have cured.

K. “Reid” Armstrong
Public Affairs Specialist/Community Liaison

Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests

Pawnee National Grassland

p: 303-541-2532
c: 970-222-7607
krarmstrong@fs.fed.us

fs.usda.gov/arp

Caring for the land and serving people

Shooting area discussion in Western Boulder County

There are open house meetings planned to discuss the 5 possible designated shooting areas that meet preliminary criteria as safe and sustainable. Open house meeting means that there is no presentation, just tables with information and people to talk to – so you can come and go as you please.

These possible areas include:

  • Ruby Gulch (in our Fire District)
  • West Magnolia
  • Allenspark Dump
  • Bunce School Road
  • Beaver Reservoir Road (also in our Fire District)

Meeting 1: Nederland Open House
Monday, July 20, 6-7:30PM
Nederland Community Center
Meeting 2: Boulder Open House
Tuesday, July 21, 6-7:30PM
Boulder County Clerk & Recorder’s Ofc
1750 33rd St. Boulder
Meeting 3: Allenspark Open House
Thursday, Aug 6, 6-7:30PM
Peaceful Valley Resort (between A’park and Ward).

This decision impacts our community, please plan to attend one or several of these meetings.

More info at USFS

Culvert and road rehabilitation in upper Lefthand Canyon starts June 23

Delays up to 30 minutes can be expected on June 23 and 24; Shorter delays necessary until work completed

Boulder County, Colo. — Boulder County Transportation’s Maintenance Division will begin work to install a concrete culvert and conduct roadway and shoulder repair operations on upper Lefthand Canyon Drive just west of Sawmill Road on Tuesday, June 23. Construction operations will be conducted from 7 a.m. to approximately 4 p.m.Monday through Thursday, until mid-July, weather permitting.

During the first two days of construction, June 23 and 24, 30-minute travel delays for both motorists and cyclists can be expected. Travelers are encouraged to use alternate routes on these days. After June 24, Lefthand Canyon Drive will be reduced to one lane of traffic control-assisted access during working days and delays will be kept to a minimum. Access for emergency responders will be maintained at all times. The work zone will remain open for all users Friday through Sunday.

This project is in anticipation of planned roadway resurfacing work that will take place later this summer at a date to be determined. More information will be provided about that project as soon as dates and travel impacts are known.

For more information, contact Andrew Barth via email or call 303-441-1032. All current Boulder County Transportation project information is available at www.BoCoConeZones.com.

Spring Clean up

June 27

Ward Spring cleanup is coming and it’s going to be different!

Boulder County has changed their policy about providing trash pickup for community cleanups and will no longer provide free trash rolloffs for our Spring Cleanup. Instead they will provide several FREE rolloffs for recycling and diversion of the following categories of items:

  • Appliances of any sort – refrigerators (yes CFCs are okay), stoves, water heaters, vacuum cleaners, etc
  • Tires – Your own or feel free to drag them out of the woods.
  • Electronics – printers, monitors, computers, stereos, TVs, etc
  • Scrap metal
  • Rigid Plastic items like Rubbermaid tubs, outdoor furniture, plastic trashcans, laundry baskets
  • Motor oil, paint, antifreeze
  • Ordinary single stream recycling – bottles, cans, paper, etc

We’re looking for volunteers to help sort and direct.

We’ll be providing regular free trash service on June 13 for household trash. We will NOT be accepting any of the materials listed above for diversion and will not accept those materials in our trash pickups in the future either.

In case you haven’t noticed we’ve been pre-staging the collection of those divertible items at the old Catholic church and you are welcome to bring your materials there, anytime. Please self-sort appliances in the appliance pile, tires in the tire pile, and we can really clean up our town and our yards and not have to send as much to the landfill. Do NOT leave trash or single stream recycling.

Questions? Either comment here or call 303-459-9273 and we’ll get back to you.

Brainard Lake Road Improvements

The Town of Ward is in discussions with Boulder County about the impact of the County’s road improvements on town property that borders the road.

The following maps indicate the extent of the impact. The impact is not inconsequential but is more inclined to resilience on our property than on county property. Additionally the county has committed to compensate us by helping us to repair infrastructure that might otherwise be out of our possibility, like replacing a stretch of 100 year old water pipe and repairing some of our roads. Their plans do include revegetation and we do have input into the design process, and into the revegetation process.

One concern that has been raised is the multitude of trucks going through town and likely exceeding our speed limit, endangering our citizens, our children and our pets.  This will probably be the most obnoxious and dangerous impact. I’d like to propose that we reconsider a town magistrate – part time, perhaps local – who could adjudicate minor traffic and local offenses and give us some measure of control of the speeding traffic (including bicycles!). If the haulers know there is enforcement in town, they’ll be less likely to take advantage of us.

Page 1 - Brainard Lake Rd Reconstruction Page 2 - Brainard Lake Rd ReconstructionPage 3 - Brainard Lake Rd ReconstructionPage 4 - Brainard Lake Rd ReconstructionPage 6 - Brainard Lake Rd Reconstruction

Baxter St. Fire Fund

On Sunday, March 4th, 2012, a house on Baxter Street in Ward, CO was completely destroyed by fire due to an apparent propane leak and subsequent fire.  The residence is a total loss.  Three adults and two children (boys) ages 7 and 9 have been impacted by this event. Thankfully there were no serious injuries.

In response we (Ward Citizens) have created a fund through the Union Congregational Church of Ward to ease the loss/burden for those affected. The monies collected will be used to purchase/replace:

  • Clothing
  • Toys
  • Books
  • Furniture

Because storage for actual donated items is a problem with no immediate remedy, the people affected are requesting that no actual items be donated at this time. Because of this it would be easier to establish a monetary fund that the victims can draw from as they are able to replace and utilize their property.

Donations can be made to:
Union Congregation Church of Ward
Baxter Street Fire Fund
P.O. Box 304
Ward, CO 80481

Please make checks payable to UCC of Ward, with a notation to direct funds to the Baxter Street Fire Fund.
Thank you in advance for your tax deductable donation.  Tax information will be given upon request.

We live in a proud and wonderful community that helps its own in time of need!

Colorado Senators Urge Senate Leadership to Consider Rural Communities in Postal Service Reforms

UNITED STATES SENATE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 7, 2011
CONTACT:  Tara Trujillo – 202-224-4334
Michael Amodeo – 303-249-5286

Bennet, Udall Urge Senate Leadership to Consider Rural Communities in Postal Service Reforms

Washington – Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, along with Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) are urging Senate committee leaders to consider western states and rural communities when exploring potential reforms to the U.S. Postal Service.

“We think a long-term viable postal service must be placed on a secure financial trajectory while protecting the important role that USPS plays in rural America,” the Senators wrote in the letter to the leaders of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the subcommittee dealing with the Postal Service.

“While it is imperative that we address current structural dilemmas facing the USPS such as the mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefits and overpayments into the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), we must set the Postal Service on a new course that embraces innovation and creative business practices and protects the millions of Americans who depend on this longstanding institution regardless of sleet or snow, six days a week, year after year.”

In the letter, the Senators outlined priorities for reform that encourage innovation, take creative approaches to existing assets and maintain the competitive edge.

In June, Bennet and Udall sent a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General expressing concern over USPS location closures and consolidations that could make it more difficult for Coloradans to send letters and mail packages.

In September, they sent a letter to Ruth Goldway, chairwoman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, urging the Postal Regulatory Commission to carefully consider the effects of possible postal service closures on rural areas and small towns in Colorado and across the country.

Full text of the letter is included below.

Dear Chairman Lieberman, Ranking Member Collins, Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Brown,

As the Committee and Subcommittee explore potential reforms to the United States Postal Service (hereinafter, USPS or the “Postal Service”), we encourage you to value the essential role that it plays in western states and rural America as a whole. USPS delivers to 308 million locations daily, bringing in $67 billion annually at zero operating expense to American taxpayers. From personal banking services to retail advertising, both public and private sectors rely upon USPS to facilitate contact with rural communities and markets that might otherwise lack connectivity.

In fact, private sector enterprises often rely on USPS to provide final destination deliveries to many of these remote locations that would otherwise be deemed unprofitable. It is critical that any changes to the USPS do not undermine current law to provide maximum access to postal services for both urban and rural Americans.

We are supportive of your recent efforts to introduce postal service reform legislation, and would ask the Committee to consider the following standard as you seek to move forward. We think a long-term viable postal service must be placed on a secure financial trajectory while protecting the important role that USPS plays in rural America.

Encourage Innovation

The USPS must transform itself to meet the demands of 21st century consumers and businesses. The Postal Service has a long tradition of adapting to changing technology and it must do so again with the ever increasing prevalence of the internet. The USPS has to work quickly to identify and adapt to new markets such as digital mail services and build stronger partnerships with the private sector to strengthen and expand its business.

Creative Approaches to Existing Assets

We are also concerned with plans to close a number of post offices serving rural areas. Small and remote communities especially in rural and mountain regions, often depend on the local post office for their mail service and as an accessible representation of the federal government. Additionally, the possible closure of post offices on Indian reservations would place a significant burden on residents, many of whom live in remote areas and lack reliable transportation.  Reservations post offices perform a critical service where many residents rely on their post office to engage in commerce, access to government services and pay their bills. We believe that there are considerable opportunities for the USPS to reassess its existing capital assets and maximize their unique role in rural communities. For example, the Postal Service should be encouraged to work with other government agencies to explore housing multiple government services through existing post office centers. We are also supportive of efforts to identify potential post office locations whose services could be housed elsewhere in local communities such as markets and banks. Proposals such as these offer opportunities to save costs, promote efficiency and strengthen accessibility for the general public.

Maintain Competitive Edge

Some proposed reforms to the USPS include eliminating Saturday delivery to institute a shortened delivery week. By doing so, the Postal Service would be relinquishing a significant portion of its market share for relatively nominal savings. A number of businesses that depend on the USPS for Saturday delivery such as banks, retailers, and periodicals would turn elsewhere for Saturday service leaving the USPS at a competitive loss. Similarly and as mentioned above, the Postal Service provides a unique product to thousands of rural and remote communities that would otherwise lack the same access to the broader marketplace. We do not believe that it is in the Postal Service’s best long-term interests to forfeit these considerable components to its overall business portfolio.

While it is imperative that we address current structural dilemmas facing the USPS such as the mandate to pre-fund future retiree health benefits and overpayments into the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), we must set the Postal Service on a new course that embraces innovation and creative business practices and protects the millions of Americans who depend on this longstanding institution regardless of sleet or snow, six days a week, year after year.

We appreciate your consideration on these matters.

# # #

More Postal Service inaccuracies challenged

So you have the same info I do, if you want, download the pdf of the Proposal to close the Ward Post Office, and the pdf of the budget information.

Based on the info in those two docs (and one other letter that’s quoted in my response), I wrote the following letter.

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been reading over the proposal to close the Ward Post Office and subsequent correspondence, again, and I have some more observations and questions to which I’d like answers. I have not seen answers to these questions yet

  1. Marcela, in your letter to Pat Cypher of October 28, 2011, you state:
    “The projected 10-year savings from the discontinuance of the Ward Post Office is $655,139. This amount includes the postmaster salary and fringe benefits. The postmaster salary and benefits for the last fiscal year was $83,675.”
    The latter number, multiplied by ten ($83,675 X 10 = $836,750), would be $181,611 MORE than the former number, which should be the total savings from closure, and BOTH are different from the number actually quoted for “EAS Craft and Labor” in the economic savings breakdown in the proposal, $899,639. So what does this discrepancy mean? How do we trust your (ie the postal service’s) “savings” calculations, when the numbers seem to shift at will?
  2.  In looking at the POD Financial Summary, under Investment there is a line item: Construction/Renovation, with a negative figure: ($14,000). To what does this refer? Farther down, in the column, 10-year Operating Variance, there is another negative number, ($92,859). To what does this refer? Further, I don’t understand the two figures: Total 10-year operating variance: $855,476, and the “POD 10-year NPV, $655,139.” Please explain the difference.
  3. In the proposal, one of the advantages (and disadvantages) you note is “The loss of a retail outlet and a postmaster position in the community. Retail services may be provided by the rural or contract delivery carrier.” I’m pretty clear how this is a disadvantage, please explain to me how this is an “advantage.” I will point out that the same conditions that make travel to Jamestown impractical (it’s a steep, curvy road that’s often snowpacked and/or icy in the winter) also make the carrier’s route timing somewhat less than predictable. So you want us to stand out in below-zero, high-wind (80mph is NOT uncommon), or blizzard conditions, to meet the contract carrier? Or drive an hour+ round trip in dangerous conditions to do our postal retail business? We’re pretty tough, but that’s asking a lot.
  4. Your proposal suggests providing delivery services by highway contract route, I presume using CBUs (Is this government acronym speak for Cluster Box Units?) Who pays for the boxes? Their installation? Their maintenance? The snow plowing necessary to keep them open in the winter? The locksmith to come and unfreeze the (100+) locks when we get one of our common sub-arctic systems? Heck, where are you going to PUT 100+ boxes? Private property? Government property? Who pays the rent on the land? Who pays to reinstall when the snowplow driver can’t see them in the 6 foot drifts and drives over them, or the out of control pickup truck slams into them, and scatters mail from here to Timbuktu? Who gets to go back to banks, billing companies, clients, and the senders of all the other important mail we receive and tell them, “Sorry, I didn’t receive your check, bill, notice.” For instance, I have an FCC Amateur Radio Operator’s License. The FCC is very clear – if they can’t reach you by mail, your license is revoked. If you are caught transmitting on a revoked license, that’s a felony. FYI, there are 7 Ham Radio licensees in the Ward Post Office area.
  5. In the “advantages” section, item #2, “Customers opting for carrier service will have 24-hour access to their mail.’ In point of fact, we have 24-hour access to our mail right now, in a semi-warm (ie not below freezing), protected-from-wind-and-snow, lighted location right this very instant. So that is by NO means an advantage – it’s decidedly a downgrade and a distinct DISadvantage. Item #4 suggests that CBUs and parcel lockers add security and convenience. Already have it, so please keep your CBUs, they are NOT an advantage. None of this addresses how “access” to a CBU will work for the elderly, sick, disabled. Please address this, particularly for our problematic winter months.
  6. Enquiring minds want to know: who decided what was convenient for Ward or what would “adversely impact” it? Have they ever visited Ward, even in summer, much less in winter? Why not?
  7. Item 3 states that “Savings for the Postal Service contribute in the long run to stable postage rates and savings for customers.” In response, some observations and suggestions: from what I’ve seen of the investigations into USPS finances there are several issues that would go a long way to fixing the PO financial woes. The first is to either eliminate the requirement to pre-fund the 75 years of retirement or to extend it over a 40 year period. I know that’s legislative, but that should have been explored first, before putting forth community-destroying proposals. Same with the $6.9B refund. From what I’ve been able to find out, if the USPS were to close each and every one of the rural post offices, it would amount to less than 1% of the USPS budget. That implies to me that the cost “savings” to the PO will be nowhere near enough to actually fix the Postal Service’s fiscal problem.
    I understand there are 67 District Offices across the US and seven Area Offices that bring in $0 (zero dollars). How many people work in the Area and District Offices for the zip code 80481? What are their salaries? Why are you eliminating offices with revenue and not offices that solely administer and never touch the mail, and don’t make a cent for the USPS? So here’s another suggestion: close the District and Area offices. If there are Post Offices where you’ve determined that there isn’t sufficient workload, assign them some of the work the Area and District Offices do now. Post Offices stay open, postmasters stay busy, and you eliminate administrative costs, building rental, utilities, salaries at both the Area and District Offices. What valid reason does the Postal Service have for not considering these kinds of notions before going straight to “screw the customer?” If, in my business, I did that, yeah I’d be out of business in pretty short order too.
    I’ll say this here, from my discussions with my constituents (I am a member of the Ward Town Government), no one that I’ve spoken to, not even the most raging anti-government among us, is even okay with, much less happy with the idea of losing our Post Office. And all to whom I’ve spoken would be okay with the idea of a shortened work week, which would dramatically lower the cost of operation. We’ve talked about half days, 5 or 6 days a week, or only 3 or 4 days a week of window service. We’re not intransigent, but we’re absolutely opposed to the total closure of the post office.
  8. Item #5: “Customers opting for carrier service will not have to pay post office box fees.” $44 per year saved hardly makes up for potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in increased costs of doing business with the post office in a town an hour (RT) away, or waiting for the driver by the highway, especially for those of us depending on the US Mail for some part of our small, home-based businesses.
  9. Item #6: “Saves time and energy for customers who drive to the post office to pick up mail.” And increases time and energy for customers who have to drive to the CBUs (especially in bad weather) to pick up mail. Depending on where you would put the CBUs, it’s probable that it would increase the number of people who have to get in their cars and drive to the boxes, and it would certainly increase the number of people who have to get in their cars to do PO business, even if one can transact with the carrier, even if you’re not physically present. (Let me ask you: would you leave cash in a box by the highway, say for a money order, or for insurance on a package that you want to send? Yes lots of folks in this town not only don’t have a car, they also don’t have bank accounts, and so operate with cash.) At best that “advantage” is a wash.
  10. Among the disadvantages, you mention changing the mailing address, but that the community name will continue to be used. I run a small business, one of 30+ small businesses, government agencies, and non-profits in the Town of Ward (a list is attached). I am here to tell you that that could be devastating – I’ve had thousands of customers over the years and though most contact me by phone or email, some still contact me by mail, and many pay me by mail. Matter of fact, probably half of my income is from big clients whom I invoice and who pay me by mail. I also get some residuals and royalties for work done long ago – always nice to walk to the Post Office and find a surprise check. I would have almost no way to contact those payees to inform them of an address change. I’m resisting exaggeration, but the potential for loss is staggering, and I’m not completely sure my business would survive it. I know that other business owners here feel the same. That’s not to mention the family/friends/ acquaintances who have my address from the 20+ years I’ve used this post office. Another loss of time and money to me. Additionally you say “the Zip Code is not expected [italics mine] to change.” Boy that leaves a hole you could drive a Postal Service 18-wheeler through.
  11. Factual errors: Ward IS an incorporated community. It is administered politically by the Ward Town Government, consisting of 6 elected council members and a mayor, not by Ward Town Hall. Ward Town Marshall provides Police Protection, not Boulder County. The Ward Post Office building IS listed as an historic landmark (115+ years old), and even though the Postal Service has been operating from that building for only 37 years, we’ve had postal service in this community for 148 years. Why do you not count the years we’ve had postal service, only the years it’s been in that building? You’re not changing buildings, you’re looking to eliminate the service altogether, in this town. Why have you not corrected these factual errors?
  12. Over the past 4 years, only one year has seen a decline in revenue, and the September year-to-date in 2011, still shows an increase in revenue over September ytd 2008 (from the historical figure in the financial reports), and that is in a general economic downturn that has affected our community as much or more than many others. In evaluating the mail volume sheets, I notice that the numbers show both ups and downs, not a consistent or steady decline in most categories, as your justification states. So effectively, though the revenues/volume are not high, by your own figures they are NOT steadily declining, as stated in paragraph 2 of the justification. (You even note in paragraph 3 that there has been a slight INCREASE in revenue over the last few years. Please. Make up your mind.

Again, if decline in workload is an issue, we are open to a reduced hours compromise. Has this even been discussed? Why not?

If this proposal had used accurate information, that supported your justifications, then the conclusion might be more reasonable. However in my industry we have a saying: GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out, ie you can’t make a good decision based on faulty information.

Additionally, nowhere in any of these documents do you speak to the intangibles of what happens when you shut down the heart of the community; that’s not listed in the “disadvantages,” but to the community it’s an overriding consideration. Closing the Ward Post Office would devastate our community. I have seen what happens to communities, isolated to begin with, that lose their post offices. “Adversely affected” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

For the third time, we are open to alternative ideas for how to keep our Post Office open.

Thanks for the detailed and accurate answers I expect you to provide in answer to these questions.

Yours truly,

Karelle Scharff

Small business owner

Member of Ward Town Council

 

 

National Survey Affirms Public Support of Post Offices

A new national consumer survey conducted by the American Consumer Institute (ACI) concluded that the vast majority of Americans continue to oppose post office closings. In addition, the polling data substantiates NAPUS’ arguments before the Postal Regulatory Commission against the Retail Access Optimization Initiative (RAOI), relating to the American public’s use of post offices.
The survey, which was released on Thursday, found that 72% of Americans are opposed to the planned closing of the RAOI-targeted post offices. This data is consistent with past survey results conducted over the past two years by Gallup and the Washington Post. In addition, the survey results conflict with USPS assertions about the rarity of customer visits to post offices; the ACI survey found that the average person visits the post office more than once a week, and that the visit is not just to purchase stamps. In fact, according to ACI, 68% of the public visit the post office to ship parcels, 53% to send priority or express mail, and 50% to weigh packages or envelopes. Another crucial finding is that nearly half of those surveyed stated that they would have to travel more than seven miles to the next nearest post office if their post office was closed.
The cross-tabs on the survey (i.e., the detailed data) provide some fascinating insights relating to rural post office customers. Approximately twice as many rural customers use post office boxes, as compared to non-rural customers. Within the context of NAPUS’ cross-examination of the USPS at RAOI hearing, the USPS witness conceded that USPS does not collect data to record post office visits relating to post office box mail retrieval. Also, approximately twice as many rural customers visit a post office multiple times a week, as compared to non-rural customers. And, 64% of rural postal customers would have to travel in excess of seven miles if their post office was closed. Hence, as NAPUS pointed out at the RAOI hearings, rural postal customers would suffer a disproportionate decrease in postal access if their retail facility were to be closed. Another interesting finding in the survey is that 68% of postal customers who identified themselves as Republicans oppose post office closings, 69% of Independents oppose closings, and 81% of Democrats oppose closings. Simply stated: a bipartisan and overwhelming majority of Americans oppose post office closings.

What YOU can do

If you use the Ward Post Office, EVER, you need to write to the Postal Service department that’s coordinating closures. There are comment forms in the Ward Post Office on the bulletin board, along with partially addressed (I didn’t want them to look like they all came from me) stamped envelopes. Then call your Colorado senators. Their website contact pages are listed to the left. Tell them that it’s a hardship to you for the PO to close.

You can also download a copy of the comment form by clicking here. Fill it out and send it in, preferably from Ward, but that’s a little less important.

Ideas for a letter, use what’s appropriate, or other information if that’s appropriate:

  • Impracticality of an hour round trip to the next nearest PO (either 26 to Jamestown or 28 miles to Ned, RT),
  • negative social impact on the community
  • impact on local businesses
  • impact on the town – budget (PO pays rent to the town), town mail pick-up, especially on a more limited budget
  • impracticality of CBU (cluster box units) in bad weather, especially with regard to locks freezing, ice, wind, snow and its plowing
  • Might mention how this might impact the elderly and disabled who often don’t drive or don’t feel comfortable driving in winter conditions, but need to get their SS check, or their meds through the mail, and frequently don’t have a computer, or an internet connection, and maybe not even a bank account.

Address it to:
Marcela Rivera
7500 East 53rd Place
Rm 224
Denver, CO 80266-9998

Please go to our Facebook page and like it: http://facebook.com/SavetheWardPostOffice

Go view the youtube videos:

Becky’s new song:

and the KGNU interview (starts the same as the song):

Continue Reading

Bennet: USPS ‘Time-Out’ Provides More Time to Evaluate Effects of Potential Post Office Closures? Maybe yes, probably no.

U.S. SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET
Member: Agriculture, HELP, Banking and Aging Committees

CONTACT: Michael Amodeo – 303-249-5286
Laura Brandon – 202-573-5350

Bennet: USPS ‘Time-Out’ Provides More Time to Evaluate Effects of Potential Post Office Closures

Announcement Comes on Heels of Several Bennet Efforts to Ensure USPS Reform Recognizes Impact on Rural Communities

Washington, DC –Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today announced that the USPS has issued a temporary “time-out” on post office closings that will provide more time for the Agency to examine potential effects of these closings on local communities and help Coloradans avoid frustrating and needless holiday season service interruptions.

This month, USPS issued a notice to all Area Vice Presidents, directing them to temporarily suspend all Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) implementations and post office closings beginning November 19, 2011 through January 2, 2012. While districts may proceed with the post office discontinuance process, the physical closing of a post office or the physical relocation of routes will be temporarily suspended during this window.

“Although we are not out of the woods yet and reforms to place the Postal Service on a more secure financial trajectory are absolutely needed, this temporary ‘time-out’ ensure that the USPS can step back and more closely evaluate the potential effects of post office closures on local communities,” said Bennet. “We have worked hard to communicate the important role post offices play in rural communities, and we hope the USPS uses this time-out to take a closer look at the potential effects of these closures on Colorado communities.”

This announcement comes on the heels of several Bennet efforts to ensure USPS reform takes into account potential impacts on rural communities.

Earlier this month, Bennet and Senator Mark Udall wrote a letter to Senate committee leaders urging them to consider western states and rural communities when exploring potential reforms to the U.S. Postal Service. In the letter, the Senators outlined priorities for reform that encourage innovation, take creative approaches to existing assets and maintain the competitive edge.

In June, Bennet and Udall sent a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General expressing concern over USPS location closures and consolidations that could make it more difficult for Coloradans to send letters and mail packages.

In September, they sent a letter to Ruth Goldway, chairwoman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, urging the Postal Regulatory Commission to carefully consider the effects of possible postal service closures on rural areas and small towns in Colorado and across the country.

KGNU Interview