Losing a business in a ‘silver lining’

My name is Rebekah. I own a small tourist attraction, the Iron Springs Chateau Dinner Theater, with my husband and my best friend and her wife. Both couples are retired military, one Army and one Air Force. After military retirement, we decided to purchase the business my best friend and I had worked in for 20 years. It’s been the best experience of my life, owning this little out of the way place; putting together the shows, watching the faces of the audience as they laugh and groan at our performers’ antics. I can’t tell you what we’ve sacrificed to keep a for profit dinner theater alive in Manitou Springs, it would take too long and you wouldn’t read that far.

We didn’t mind not taking pay the first two years that we owned this business; this was an act of the heart, not of finances. We recognized that this wasn’t really a “money maker” but a preservation of tradition and legacy, an act of love. Needless to say, the sacrifices have been many, but we promised ourselves that we wouldn’t sacrifice our security, our military pensions; that we’d reserve that to keep our families safe, secure, housed and fed. This year, we broke that promise.

This year we are suffering as all tourism in Colorado is by the effects of the pandemic, but mostly we are suffering because the Manitou Springs City Council closed the Incline. You see, we do parking for hiking during the day; this supplements the theater and honestly, keeps it running.

The council closed the Incline on March 18 in fear of the coronavirus. We understood this, we were all so very uncertain at the beginning of this; however, I emailed the City Council the day of the closure and was surprised by their response. Two council members responded to my complaining email with surprising comments. They were using this opportunity (of the global pandemic) to force the owners of the Incline back to the negotiation table…“The silver lining in this may be that the City of Colorado Springs takes a more active role in ensuring we have the facilities we need to ensure the public safety.”

So the day after the closure of most of Colorado, I learned that my City Council cared more about the state of port-a-potties than the survival of my historic business. That they would point out a “silver lining” to a person who is in fear of losing her business was a little disconcerting at first, but it got worse.

I went to this City Council every month asking them to please open the Incline. We are now at almost five months closed, and our little business is in serious financial jeopardy and they still refuse to open until a “plan is in place”. One city official commented to my husband, “Yes, this has been hard on everyone” and well, yeah, I guess that’s true, but you know what, you have a job. You are working, you haven’t laid anyone off, not one city worker has been furloughed… let’s see I had to lay off 20 employees and I haven’t paid myself since March.

Small businesses need the support of their local governments, and you know what my local government is doing? They are actively preventing my business from surviving this literal catastrophe. They are making it impossible for us to take care of ourselves and forcing us to rely on government “grants/loans” to survive. We could’ve made it, but not now, now we have to apply for and pray that the grants and loans come through. My City Council devastated my business for bathrooms. The City Council of Manitou Springs has had seven years to partner with COS in this matter but you choose now.

What I want you to take away from this is that I’m frustrated and I’m angry. Why couldn’t they do this while the Incline was open? Why did it take closing it for the two parties to start talking? Are our local governments so inept that they couldn’t come to a compromise without taking such drastic action?

Rebekah Ratterree

Manitou Springs

People deserve to be heard

Freedom isn’t neat and tidy it’s inherently messy, but isn’t that how we like it? It is raw, just like us Coloradans. The governor of Colorado punted a recent request from state Senate and House GOP leadership that requested the General Assembly get its say regarding K-12 education and COVID. This is a request squarely in the interests of the people. We deserve to be heard!

For many months, we the people have allowed the experts to steer the ship of state and our freedoms are approaching rocky shoals as the goal posts are continually moved, as it relates to COVID-19. King Jared Polis, at least that is how it seems he fashions himself, has issued executive orders circumscribing our rights and enlarging his powers. When will enough be enough?

Rory Carlin

Colorado Springs

Separate the noise from signal

In the months since the COVID outbreak, we have been bombarded with counts and how horrible the U.S. is doing in treating and managing the pandemic. Yet the initial models the government used that set the economy on its heels and the numbers produced to justify the actions that continue to strangle a recovery do not satisfy the rational mind.

I want ratios: Percent of cases resulting in hospitalization, percent of cases resulting in death, meaningful comparisons of that rate to other flus. I want them presented in a rational manner where variation is measured, and outliers identified. In short, I want them to separate noise from signal and lead in a meaningful way.

Surely there must be someone in the government capable of producing a coherent story with real numbers. We need statistics calculated in a valid way and framed in a way that the average person can understand them; the kind of facts journalists used to produce.

Absent this, it is not unreasonable to assume that the flood of politicized “news” passed off as information is designed to do nothing but scare and manipulate. I am looking for a leader to step up and tell the truth.

Tom Griffin

Colorado Springs

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