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The political games have begun in Paonia

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Dear Editor:

Well, I guess it is time for the silly season, at least here in Paonia. The municipal elections are scheduled for April 3 and the trivial and outlandish stories are already starting. In the Jan. 24 edition of the DCI, Ms. Jen Brunner wrote a letter to the editor that was headlined, "Ethics, oversight missing in Paonia government." The letter was a diatribe that borders on libel. The issue Ms. Brunner is referring to concerns the Town of Paonia's efforts to revitalize an area in the southeast corner of Paonia Town Park, around the coal miner statue.

Ms. Brunner's letter is nothing but untruths, falsehoods and distortions that she weaves into an outrageous implication of criminal behavior. This is a shocking and offensive misrepresentation of an honest effort to deal with a problem. A better portrayal of the matter is, "No good deed shall go unpunished." As already mentioned this is the start of the "campaign" season so you never know what someone is going to try to turn into an issue. One important actual fact that Ms. Brunner does not state is that her husband, Mr. William Brunner, has submitted his name as a candidate for trustee in the upcoming municipal election. This is the same William Brunner that was elected in the April 2016 election and resigned on June 20, 2017, just before the Paonia Town Board was scheduled to meet at a special town board meeting to consider taking action against Mr. Brunner for improper actions as a trustee. Ms. Brunner's letter is nothing more than political games.

Anyone who pays attention to the Paonia Town Board meetings knows that Ms. Brunner's letter is totally inaccurate. Unfortunately, many people do not pay attention and/or they listen to gossip and read the Paonia "Malice" Board. So, Ms. Brunner's fabrications cannot go unchallenged.

One example of Ms. Brunner's untruths is her claim that "the board has decided to spend more than $20,000 on an art project in the park." The commission for Ira Houseweart to create an entrance arch is for $5,000. I could go through the rest of the Brunner letter line by line but that would make for an overly long letter. Let me summarize instead. The Paonia Town Board has been working on the miner statue area of the Town Park since the spring of 2017. The matter was on the agendas at the Sept. 27, 2017, and the Oct. 10, 2017, meetings. A motion at that meeting to approve the proposed concrete work in the public works director's plans was rejected by the board. The public works committee reported at the Oct. 24, 2017, meeting that the committee and staff were working on a revised plan for the miner statue area in the park. The committee and staff incorporated suggestions received from numerous individuals, including the public works director, the former parks maintenance contractor, members of the original coal miner statue committee, long-time residents, newer residents and trustees. I also consulted with Ira Houseweart who created the entry arch to the Paonia River Park and many of the metal works in the River Park. With this information the public works committee brought a proposed plan before the town board at the Nov. 28, 2017, board meeting. The board approved the plan unanimously. Public comment was solicited at all the meetings mentioned above. As the public works committee continued to work on the plans for the miner statue area in the park I submitted three reports to the board on 1) how the coal miner statue came to be, 2) who Melvina Hall Clark was and why there is a memorial dedicated to her in the Town Park and 3) how the park came to be. Tamie Meck wrote several articles from these reports that were published in the DCI. I would describe this as a very sufficient process. A committee has been established from this group of people and will make recommendations to the board on the project. One person does not have the legal right or even the ability to make decisions for the Town of Paonia.

As to the reference to Kristin Chesnik, it is an outrageous leap to state that the actions of the current board have any resemblance to a convicted embezzler. In fact there is no resemblance to what the current board does and the boards in 2008 to 2012 did or did not do. Most members of the current board have worked very hard for the citizens of Paonia and have conscientiously followed all legal requirements. Politically based allegations to the contrary do not change those facts. The effort to revitalize the coal miner statue area of the Town Park is intended to deal with a long-standing problem of inadequate maintenance of the vegetation in this area and create an area that will serve as the entrance to the park.

As I started with -- this appears to be the start of the silly season. Ms. Brunner's letter portends a campaign of frivolous allegations. Please don't be fooled by false claims. Insist on facts and try to educate yourself as to what is actually happening. The political games have begun.

David Bradford
Trustee and
Mayor Pro Tem
Town of Paonia

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