October 14 Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

After reading your September 30 vaccine mandate article (twice), I felt only disgust and betrayal by supposedly intelligent hospital administrators who seem more focused on finding ways not to comply with mandates rather than finding ways to protect the health of patients and employees alike. Of those mentioned in the article, that seemed particularly true of Russell Tippin, CEO of Medical Center Health System (Medical Center Hospital in Odessa where, unfortunately, my significant other was recently a patient), who is “consulting with legal experts” to, apparently, find ways not to comply with any vaccine mandate. That some 40 percent of the MCH staff is not vaccinated against a highly contagious infectious disease is not only irresponsible but should be terrifying to those who might become patients there.

On the other hand are Marfa Clinic, Agave Home Health and, I’m sure, several other clinics in the region where all staff are already fully vaccinated, as well as Big Bend Regional Medical Center and other facilities that are in the process of complying with mandates and CDC guidelines. My opinion: everyone working in a healthcare environment should be vaccinated. If some choose to quit, so be it. At least they won’t be in a position to infect others, in what is supposed to be a safe environment.

I’m reminded of the early years of the AIDS epidemic when some people who intentionally infected other people were prosecuted and jailed, the exact charges I don’t remember. Is it possible that people who know they are infected with COVID-19 and subsequently infect others could also be criminally liable, a handful of recent egregious acts notwithstanding?

As I write this there are 7,619 people in Texas hospitalized with COVID-19, the most in the nation and over 3,000 more than the next worst state. With cooler temperatures (soon) and an influx of tourists (now), it is reasonable to expect an increase in COVID cases in the Big Bend where we do care about the health of each other, unlike some hospital administrators. Be safe. Get your shots. Wear a mask. There’s nothing hard about protecting yourself, your family, your friends and neighbors.

That said, my compliments to George Covington for his terrific column last week titled “Personal liberty lets you die but not kill.” Not to detract from the overall content of the column, but I particularly liked the reference to “muddy-minded half-wits” ––  the governors of Texas and Florida. And the possibility that Abbott may in fact be (is?) a fifth columnist was certainly thought provoking. (Yes, I had to Google it.)

Fred Gossien

To the Editor:

On behalf of all of us at the Chinati Foundation, I want to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who supported and participated in Chinati Weekend 2021. What a wonderful feeling to welcome neighbors, friends, supporters and new visitors back on the grounds for the art, land and conversations that are at the heart of the Chinati Open House Weekend tradition.

Our deepest gratitude to all who made the musical performances and exhibitions such a special part of the weekend. For Sounding untitled for the Self-guided Listener: David Dove, Rolando Cantu, Laura Dykes, Carmina Escobar, Juan Garcia, John Alan Kennedy, Gabriel Martinez, Bob Rainey, Liz Tonne, JD DiFabbio, Jackie Zazueta, Karen Martinez, Stephen Flavin and the Estate of Dan Flavin. Steve Morse for the installation of Dan Flavin’s untitled (In Memory of my father, D. Nicholas Flavin). Molly Ferguson Rodriguez and Mariachi Santa Cruz, Mahrla Manning and Empyre Music.

Thank you to Chinati’s Artist in Residence Alan Ruiz for opening his studio and sharing his thoughts online and in a Saturday public conversation with curator Ingrid Schaffner. Our thanks to Abby Boyd and the Marfa Visitors Center, Gory Smelley and Marfa Recording Co.

Chinati Weekend programming was made possible in part with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

A very special thank you to Douglas Friedman, and Dan and Ashlyn Perry for so graciously hosting benefit receptions throughout the weekend.

Chinati Weekend 2021 was generously supported by Brooke Alexander, Valerie and Robert Arber, Art Blocks, Ben E. Keith Co., Mark and Carolyn Blackburn, William Bondy, Suzanne Cadden, Lee and Mike Cohn, Wendy and Joe Davis, Joseph DiCristina, Laura and Walter Elcock, Douglas Friedman, Mack and Cece Fowler, Matthew Goudeau, Anthony Grant, Sarah Harte and John Gutzler, Crystal Hansen, Robert Holleyman and Bill J. Keller, Natasha Kamrani, Lorri Kershner, Rosy Keyser, Lannan Foundation, Kathleen and Christopher Loughlin, McGinnis Family Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas, Anthony and Celeste Meier, Jaqueline Northcut, Rebecca and Christian Patry, Dan and Ashlyn Perry, Pilgrim Building Company, Josh Pollock, Brenda R. Potter, Matt Powell, Noelle and Eric Reed, Liz Rogers, Lawyer, Mr. and Mrs. Rod Sanders, Haley Schultheis and Sean Richardson, Nicolas Shake, JLH Simonds, Neil and Carla Subin, studio CAK, Natalie and Terry Tocker, Patricia Villareal and Tom Leatherbury, Erin and Larry Waks, Summer Wilson, and WinWin Creative LLC. Thank you to our Board of Trustees and all our members who support Chinati throughout the year.

Chinati is grateful for the in-kind sponsorship of Tequila Casa Dragones, The Marfa Spirit Co., Rambler Sparkling Water, Troop Beverage Co., and Twisted X Brewing Co. Thank you Teal Étoile Black, Ro Lewis, Todd Touron, Josh Shepard, Seth Siegel-Gardner, Morgan Weber, Dave Mead, Reed and CC DesRosiers, and Hunter Stewart.

With thanks for food, drink, flowers, and support: Angela Reece and her terrific team at Walter Burke Catering; Faith Gay, Joey Benton, and Cactus Liquors; Lizzie Wetzel and Magic Hour Marfa; Bridget Weiss and Marfa Table; Tilly Hawk and Meredith Younger; Maisie Crow, Max Kabat and The Big Bend Sentinel. For his photography, thank you Alex Marks.

Thank you to the following for their many contributions toward making the weekend a stellar success: The City of Marfa, J.B. Aguirre, Arturo Alferez Jr, Turo Alferez, Justin Almquist, Valerie Arber, Larry Bamburg, Mae and Willa Bamburg, Sterry Butcher, Leah Caldwell, Shea Carley, Hannah Carrell, Mark Cash, Kathie Compton, Chris Conners, Angela Cordero, Elizabeth Davis, John Ehrke, Janet Enriquez, Nick Fazio, Menelaos Fischer, Jaylia Foster, Katie Price Fowlkes, Nancy Francis, Derrick Francis, Rachel Gomez, Bianca Gonzalez, David Harding, Audrey Hererra, Cynthia Hernandez, Griselda Hinojos, Kathryn Hinojos, Levi Hinojos, Judd Foundation, Alex Kamelhair, Kat Kane, Alex Leos, Minerva Leos, Ian Lewis, Annette Mendoza, Arron Luna, Marfa ISD Cafeteria, Rhonda Manley, Eliseo Martinez, Ruben Martinez, Natalie Melendez, Rachel Monroe, Mya Nunez, Jasmine Nunez, Linda Ojeda, Penny Poenisch, Rory Parks, Lawrence Rivera, Catryna Rodriguez, Andy Schneider, Sam Schonzeit, Matt Scobey, Gerardo Ureste, Maria Ureste, Amy White, Mac and Julie White, Dakota Wilbourn, Misty Wilbourn and Ray Zubiate.

Thanks to program director Chris Taylor and participants in Land Arts of the American West at the College of Architecture, Texas Tech: Maria Amador, Jef Biesinger, Wils Brewer, Talia Brown, Christoffer Eide, Meghan Giles, Joshua Haunschild, Penelope Leggett, Amber Noyola, and Phil Jackson.

Last but never least, my most heartfelt thank you to the extraordinary staff at Chinati who make the weekend possible: Sarah Atwood, Tobin Becker, Molly Bondy, Julie Carey, Gracie Conners, Rowdy Dugan, Sandra Hinojos, Raymon Jacquez, Jon Karst, Miguel Leyva, Savannah Lust, Hannah Marshall, Kathy Ridgeway, Michael Roch, Jen Rowles, Ingrid Schaffner, Shelley Smith, Peter Stanley and Edsel Vana. Our interns: Laura Cowling, Shelby Rogers and Emma Ryan.

Stay well,

Jenny Moore
Director, The Chinati Foundation

Dear Editor,

I want to take this opportunity to respond to The Big Bend Sentinel article pertaining to the Marfa City Council meeting on September 30, and their discussion of the Marfa Museum Thrift Store rent. The council’s characterization of the museum board members as financially irresponsible is an injustice to those members. As pertaining to thrift store rent, there is more to the story than was brought out at the meeting. I want to emphasize that last October when the agreement was made for the thrift store to move to the MAC building, the museum board was ready, willing, eager and financially capable of paying each month’s rent on time. The full rent has been paid, although not how we would have liked the process to have unfolded.

I want to reassure the public that the Marfa and Presidio County Museum has a board of directors that upholds the highest ethical and moral standards. Every bill gets paid on time and we have not defaulted on any payment. We take the financial responsibility of the museum seriously.

I also want to respond to a comment made at a September 20 city council budget meeting pertaining to the museum. A proposal was made to tear down the museum since it would cost upwards of $500,000 to repair the building. This is a gross exaggeration not based on facts. I personally have met on several occasions with one contractor who submitted a repair bid and I have met with a structural engineer about the building. On both occasions we discussed costs, therefore providing me more insight and facts into this issue. Visitors continue to give high reviews about the museum. It is the only museum in the county that preserves and presents the rich, unique and vibrant history of the city of Marfa and the County of Presidio.

Terry Norman

Dear Editor,

In my opinion the coverage on the October 7 city council meeting in last week’s Big Bend Sentinel is a prime example of one-sided, biased reporting. While the museum board was not outright called deadbeats, that was certainly the implication. And nothing could be further from the truth.

Why was there no museum board member comment on the thrift store situation? Why not do a deep dive (or even a shallow one) into the facts surrounding the situation before disparagement?

For instance, the unsigned rental contract/lease agreement for the rooms at the MAC building was “lost” at City Hall from October 2020 until April 2021. It took the city six months to “find” the contract. The contract was then forwarded to the board, but there was just one problem –– the contract was incorrect. It had to be rewritten; this after six months.

Repairs, painting and cleaning were to be done by the city as a condition of the lease. Some very sloppy painting (with paint drips left on the floor) was done. Frank Quintanar, thrift store manager, had to do touch-up painting/clean-up. As for repairs and cleaning, don’t make me laugh! Mary Williams, museum board member, vacuumed/cleaned the whole place.

Multiple city council members expressed frustration with managing professional landlord-tenant relationships in a town as small as Marfa. Seems pretty basic to me:

  • Have a contract to be signed in a timely manner
  • If you say you are going to repair, paint and clean before occupancy, then do it
  • Honor the word that you give
  • Be professional

So to Councilmember Yoseff Ben-Yahuda — yes, you do need to be savvier as landlords, without being punitive.

But speaking of being punitive: a $50 per day fee after two calendar days of late rent? Is that even legal? Isn’t there usually a 30-day grace period for late rent payment or something to that effect? So, Raul Lara, you say: “This is not personal. This is business.” Well, this makes me wonder.

And last, but not least, the delinquent rent that the thrift store owed the city was paid in full on the morning of September 30 –– the very morning of the evening city council meeting. The debt was paid in full at the time of the meeting. Were the mayor and council members even aware of this? Why wasn’t this reported by The Sentinel? So, yes, Buck Johnston, it is indeed an awkward situation.

Dawn Shannon