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Commissioners failed to protect property owners in OK’ing AMI expansion
I am writing this letter to the editor in response to the March 14 article about the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners’ decision to approve the expansion of the AMI church on Lookout Mountain Road. The concerned local residents of Lookout Mountain attended a hearing by the commissioners that featured emotional testimony from AMI church members and with expert information from the fire department chief and retired chief; from a highway engineer’s evaluation of the failures of the AMI staff to meet the numerous problems for all roads leading to that church location; from local residents whose access to their homes would be impaired; from residents who fear for wildfire potential for their homes; from residents who fear their property values will be adversely affected and their quiet community will be turned into a bustling city area rather than the pleasantly rural environment they have enjoyed.
It is amazing and raises serious question as to the impartiality of the commissioners who received the objective and subjective data of that hearing and seemingly came into the room with their minds made up before hearing any of the data. Two commissioners, John Odom and Don Rosier, voted for the expansion, and one, Faye Griffin, voted against the expansion. It made me think I had missed the hearing. Then, it began to really impact me that we had been so poorly represented by the two assenting board members who did not do their job of protecting our properties.
Your article notes that Rosier had received e-mails “attacking me and making threats to my personal safety.” It is not surprising that a Lookout Mountain resident might feel resentful and enraged when an elected official threatens your very home and blatantly fails to do his job to protect constituents’ property values.  
The Denver Post followed up with a front-page article on March, 19 about the large church on the south side of I-70 having gone into foreclosure, the congregation having split up and the church now sitting vacant.  The two commissioners pointed out in their defense that their job was to determine appropriate land use based on the evidence. I would assert that they did not do that, did not use common sense or even the recommendations of their own zoning staff, and made a haphazard decision. A large church sits vacant, a fact known at the time of the hearing. Why is it not a place for the AMI? We do not need a very big church in our area drawing large crowds of worshipers up from Denver and the surrounding area on a weekly or more often basis.
J.G. Benedict

Get involved in school budget issues to ensure our kids get the best education
I am writing in response to the article in the Canyon Courier on March 22 titled, “School board seeks input on budget issues.” I want to say how much I appreciate the continued willingness of the Jeffco school board and Jeffco administration to solicit community input by hosting budget forums and community conversations across the district to discuss the future of our schools. 
I attended the budget forum that was held Jan. 28 at Evergreen High School.  It was clear during that forum that the community felt the following were important to protect for the coming years in our schools: teaching positions (to maintain smaller class sizes), the elementary music program, Outdoor Lab, teacher librarians and teacher salaries. 
I honestly cannot fathom the idea that my children may not continue to receive music education during their remaining elementary school years or get to go to Outdoor Lab, which has been a blessing for sixth-grade and high school students in Jeffco for more than 50 years. I find it appalling that our schools receive $700 less per student than they did in 2009. For my daughters’ school, that amounts to $280,000 less per year that our teachers and staff have to ensure our kids continue to receive the quality education they’re accustomed to and deserve.
I am so grateful to Jeffco school district employees for doing all they could to keep the cutbacks from affecting the students in the classroom, including the significant reduction in compensation they have sacrificed. I feel like district employees have shouldered this burden on their own long enough.
I’m concerned that principals and teachers will look elsewhere for more gainful employment if we, the voters, don’t show them that we value education and their contributions to the future of our nation. If the United States is to be a leader in the world, we all need to invest in education, becasue our children ARE our nation’s future.
It’s time for Jeffco voters to show that we want our district to have the funding necessary to ensure the continued level of excellence we have come to expect in Jeffco.   
I plan to attend the board meeting on April 5 and the community discussions on April 28 to learn more and to support our district in discussing solutions to the budget crisis we face. I hope others in our community will do the same.
Tina Gurdikian
Jefferson County