Friday, August 10, 2012

Irony Run Amok in Fairplay, Colorado

Opinion by Gerald Trumbule
Banner ad from The Flume, Fairplay, Colorado

Ever since I attended a trial in Fairplay, Colorado, located in Park County, there have been times when I awake at four in the morning, unable to sleep, as I catalog the injustice done there to an old rancher, Vern Wagner. I'm not going to reiterate the litany of injustice through which Vern has suffered here, because it makes me sick to do so, but you can search "Vern Wagner" on this site to read it for yourself.

When I started this blog 7 years ago, I envisioned a kind of easy-going, fun activity which would provide me with some entertainment during my declining years. Instead, I found rampant corruption, evil, and malfeasance under every rock. In my estimation, no other place equals Fairplay, Colorado as a representation of how far wrong things can go. With the name "Fairplay", the irony could not be more complete.

And so it was this morning that I found myself unable to sleep and turned to The Flume, Fairplay's online newspaper, for my dose of Irony Run Amok. First off was the banner ad, reproduced above, and the following article:
Six Park County suicides in 2012 already more than 2011 totalPosted: Friday, August 3, 2012 3:30 pmMike Potter, Staff Writer | 0 commentsSix suicides have been reported in Park County in 2012 through July 31, outpacing the previous year’s total of four. Park County Coroner David Kintz Jr. said the six suicides as of July 31, puts Park County on pace to near the totals from 2009 and 2010.In 2010, 14 people lost their lives to suicide in the county. In 2009, that number was 15.

Then, of course, we shouldn't overlook this (from Wikipedia):

South Park animated seriesThe town (of Fairplay) has become mildly famous in recent years as the town depicted in the South Park animated television series on Comedy Central. Although the geographical references contained in several episodes imply that Fairplay is the model for South Park, it is much smaller and more rustic than its fictional counterpart, which has a more suburban character. Co-creator Trey Parker grew up in Conifer and went to high school in Evergreen, both of which are somewhat more affluent mountain communities immediately west of Denver in Jefferson County. Co-creator Matt Stone lived in the Denver suburb of Littleton.Because the town is a regional center of government and commerce, the term "South Park" has historically been used in the town in the naming of institutions and business, including South Park High School (the namesake of which appears in the series). The elementary school is Edith Teeter Elementary and the middle school is Silverheels Middle School.
Although the town of South Park is based upon the real life town of Fairplay, the latter is mentioned by 
Gerald Broflovski in the episode "Night of the Living Homeless" and described as "4 miles away" in "Jakovasaurus", which implies that it is a separate town in the show. The county seat offices in Fairplay are seen, though not mentioned by name, in the episode "Stanley's Cup". In "T.M.I." the Pissed Off and Angry Party invade a FedEx Office location which the news reporter reports as the Fairplay FedEx. A South Park parallel to the Burro race can be found in the Cow Days episode.
And back to The Flume and the Park County Sheriff's Blotter
Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012 4:27 pmClaire Jordan, Intern | 0 comments
Adult content - A man at the Timberline Campground called 911 on July 28 to report that there was a group of people not allowing anyone into the grounds. The man said the people had a cross and a whip and were saying that no one could go back there because there was adult content going on. The reporting party said he saw a man hitting a woman that was tied to a cross with a bullwhip.
Heartbroken - A Bailey woman called 911 on July 28 to report that her husband was threatening to commit suicide. She said that there were lots of pain medications and firearms in the room with him. She reported that they had had an argument the day before, and he said that he had no reason to live if she was going to leave.
Impatient thief - An employee at the Long Liquor Store in Pine called 911 on July 26 to report that a male customer left the store without paying for his items. The employee stated that the man had tried to pay with his credit card, but it would not go through, so he left, saying, “It’s taking too long.”
Dog’s safety - A Bailey woman called 911 on July 25 because she was worried about her safety. She had previously filed a report about a man hitting her dog, and she said that man had just called her and told her he was on his way to her house “to see the dog.”
Intoxicated wanderer - A Bailey woman called 911 on July 26 requesting an officer after her son became uncontrollably intoxicated. She stated that he left the house on foot, and she did not know where he was going.
Thin horses - A Bailey resident reported three underfed horses in the Bailey area on July 26.
Summary - Between July 23 and July 29, the Park County Sheriff’s Office responded to 17 animal control calls, 260 citizen assist calls, 27 paper services, 98 traffic stops and three welfare checks.
Arrests - Owen Springer from Hartsel was arrested on July 23 for domestic violence and was later released on a surety bond.
And another tidbit:
I have been co-manager of Park County Animal Shelter since feb, 2011 when the ex-manager was arrested for embezzling $30000.00. We had a new board come on June 1, 2011. They decided to reopen our manager job to the public and are making myself and the other co-manager reapply for our jobs. In the mean time they took our job away and made us just regular employees. And put some interm guy in our position until they hire a manager. Is this fair, can they do this to us?
Response 1: It is wholly unfair, but unfortunately they can do it. It is perfectly legal.
 Is there anything we can do?
 Response 2: Unfortunately, there is nothing that you can do. As an employee At Will, you work at the pleasure of your employer. Your employer can terminate you or make you reapply for your job for any reason or for no reason at all so long as the reason for the Termination or job changes is not based on any one of the prohibited grounds such as your race, age, gender, national origin, disability or the like. Since the reason for making you reapply for your jobs does not have anything to do with one of the prohibited grounds mentioned above, your employer's action is legal. Therefore, you cannot challenge it. You do not have any legal recourse.
 I am sorry that I do not have better news for you.
But there has also been some of this:
To the Editor,

As I’ve watched, read and listened to the accounts that have transpired regarding Vern Wagner, an All-American Citizen, I now believe that we, as the people of the United States of America, are about to be subjected to abuse by the very people who we have entrusted with our laws and policies.

Vern Wagner, whom I have known more than four decades, is being vilified as someone who would abuse, neglect and undermine a way of life that has sustained him, his family and many other folks for generations – ranch hands, farmers, citizens of every kind who are involved with the livestock business. Every person who is involved with this livestock business knows what it takes to accommodate more than a thousand head of cattle.

Vern exercised responsibility and knowledge by acquiring 100,000-acres plus. I have witnessed firsthand his dedication and care of not only the livestock, but also of the land. I have witnessed the many years of 4 a.m. departures from his home to check on all of the livestock and land. This included welfare checks, fences, water and all that pertains to ranching.

As I see, hear and read about the unfolding events in Park County, I believe that there is a vendetta being aimed against the Wagner family. As a friend watching from the outside, I see an unfair judgment being made with bias against a solid American family of fine standing. It is my hope that everyone in the state of Colorado that reads or witnesses this action understands the “real cause” of this action, which, in my opinion, is theft, by supposed lawful judgment, of land and livestock.

If it can happen to our neighbor, it can happen to us.
Larry Ruybal
Lafayette, Colo.
And this:

To the Editor,

It is somewhat incomprehensible that Vern Wagner has been targeted by the county and Animal Control to violate his rights to his cattle, outright stealing his cows and selling them. What kind of government has Park County become? Believe it is a case of absolute power corrupting absolutely. The county should restore the Wagners' cows and drop the legal issues aimed at him. I own property in Thousand Peaks and am not alone in these opinions.

Kathryn Chappell
Brighton, Colo.
And this:

To the Editor,

Vern Wagner left the Salt Works {Ranch} in much better shape than before he came here. He put up hay for five years and improved the hay production and successfully irrigated, maintaining our water rights. Vern tore out over five miles of fences and reconstructed four miles. He built numerous high gate post entrances and cleaned up the old stack yard by ridding it of surplus stuff by digging trenches and burning materials that needed to be disposed of. He did the same thing in the Salt Works pasture and cleaned up a lot of material in that area. He did all this to protect the animals and keep ranching in the forefront.

Losing cattle due to Mother Nature and confused animals is horrible for anyone. I remember asking my Aunt Elaine back in the early eighties: "How many colts did you get?" She said, "Eleven but the coyotes got 10 of them." I think the judge in our district court in Park County - who the appeals court unanimously said had infringed Vern's constitutional rights 10 times - should be retired from sitting on the bench. That he led the last court hearing is a travesty of justice. Come on, Park County, get that "picket-line and boards up." Bring back Vern Wagner, who we regret having left the Salt Works Ranch due to the financial shenanigans that are trying to break him. You will never find a more true cowboy and great cattleman.
Clare Fanning-Butcher
General Partner, Salt Works Ranch

And if you haven't yet had enough of "Animal Control is out of Control in Colorado", you might want to read this: ANONYMOUS CALL TO NEW ANIMAL ABUSE HOTLINE LEADS TO RAID ON COLORADO WOMAN'S RABBIT FARM 
And this: 


  1. Gerald,
    Your opinion of Fairplay is apparently based on one controversial trial in the Park County court. There are emotional opinions on both sides of the issue, hence, controversial.
    But Fairplay is hardly the only place in the country where a court’s decision provokes controversy. Examples can be most likely be found in your own hometown newspaper.
    Regarding the gun seller’s banner ad on The Flume website, The Flume runs ads from several types of legitimate businesses, including gun sellers, but also churches, tree removal and solar energy contractors, grocery stores, special events in the community and car dealers, to site the most recent edition.
    You seem to have the opinion that the gun ad on The Flume’s website banner is somehow related to the suicide rate in Park County. But if that is your point, why not tell us how you came to that conclusion? Because you mention the two in adjoining paragraphs just leaves readers with the question – “So what?”
    There is a cartoon named after the South Park area of Colorado. It’s a cartoon, it’s not real. How does that tie into your opening statement about "rampant corruption, evil, and malfeasance under every rock" in Fairplay?
    You site the Flume's coverage of the Park County Sheriff’s blotter. Yes, there is crime in Fairplay and Park County. It’s not clear if your opinion is that it’s unusual to have crime, or unusual to report it. But The Flume, like other newspapers, reports news of the county – good and bad.
    In your last comment, “and this,” the link brings one to an article in the Clear Creek Courant about an incident in Idaho Springs, not in Fairplay.
    Come out and visit Fairplay sometime. It’s not the evil place of your nightmares.
    Laura Van Dusen
    Como, Colorado

    (I’m writing as a private citizen of Park County, however, I am also a freelance correspondent for The Flume)