Front Page

June 3, 1999

250-foot fall from Overlook claims New Mexico man

By Karl Isberg

Emergency Medical Services personnel from the Upper San Juan Hospital District joined Mineral County authorities and Wolf Creek Ski Area employees on May 26 to recover the body of a man who plunged to his death at the San Juan Overlook site on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass.

An EMS recovery team was called to the Overlook in the afternoon of May 26 to recover the body of Christian Thompson, 31.

According to Mineral County Sheriff Phil Leggit, the process that led to the discovery of Thompson's body began when the victim's father found his son's car at the Overlook.

"He (the victim) was a school teacher in Albuquerque, " said Leggit. "He came up and was staying with his father in Pagosa Springs. The son left the house at 10 a.m. and never came back. The father went looking for him and found his car at the Overlook."

Upper San Juan Hospital District Director Bill Bright said Thompson's father knew of his son's attraction to the Overlook area. When he found Thompson's car, said Bright, the father drove to the ski area to seek help.

According to Leggit, Thompson's body was spotted below the Overlook by a pilot sent to fly over the area. Several Wolf Creek employees arrived at the scene and Bright said one ski patrol member, Julie Martinez, went over the edge of the precipitous drop and made her way to the body. She was not able, however, to move Thompson.

Other ski patrol members employed at Wolf Creek arrived at the scene, said Bright, including Mason Sharp, a member of EMS. Following a survey of the situation, the EMS team was requested.

Bright, Sharp, Carl Macht, Carn Macht, Jill Young and Tom Bamrick of EMS responded to the Overlook. Bright, Sharp and Carn Macht made the technical descent, recovered Thompson's body and took it to a U.S. Forest Service road below the site. At that point, Forest Service personnel assisted in the transport of the body, which was eventually taken to a funeral home in Mineral County.

"Apparently Thompson went out on a high, rocky knob," said Leggit. "He fell and ended up 250 feet down at the bottom of the cliff. We're not real sure what happened. Our Mineral County Coroner requested an autopsy to determine what should be done."


Class of '99 celebrates new beginnings

By Roy Starling

The Class of '99 chose as its motto "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end," from "Closing Time" by Semisonic. Saturday morning approximately 1,900 friends and family members showed up at the Pagosa Springs High School gym to celebrate the class's ending and its new beginning.

With 96 students, the Class of '99 was the largest to ever graduate from the high school and the first to receive diplomas at the new school.

The graduates and the capacity crowd were treated to music, memories and inspiring speeches.

After an initial welcoming as they proceeded over the photo ramp to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance," the seniors were officially welcomed by salutatorian Nicolle Sellers.

Sellers talked briefly about what life is not, then told her classmates that "life is about who you love and who you hurt." Most of all, she said, life is "about choosing to use your life to touch someone else's in a way that could never have been achieved otherwise."

"Be yourself - but be your best self," Sellers said. "Above all, remember that God helps those who help themselves. Act as if everything depended on you, and pray as if everything depended on God."

Salutatorian Emily Stoltz introduced English and speech teacher Curtis Maberry, chosen by the Class of '99 to deliver the faculty address. Maberry told the class he wanted to speak to them one to one, from the heart.

Maberry told the seniors he loved them and that they needed "to leave with the knowledge that many people in your life truly love you, and you need to leave knowing there is hope."

Following Maberry's address, seniors Jessica Brown, Kachina Domenick, Corri Patterson, Brad Schmidt and Kim Smith gave the Class of '99 history, then the high school mixed choir sang Greg Gilpin's "Graduation Song."

The crowd was then treated to a lively and colorful slide presentation put together by seniors Gillian Berrich, Sara Fredrickson, Katherine Frye, Tranell Ross, Jancy Savage, Sellers and Stoltz. The slides, accompanied by "Closing Time," Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You" and other songs, included individual shots of the graduating seniors as well as group photos of them working, playing and mugging for the camera.

Following the slide and music show, valedictorians T Jay Carter and Tracey Farrow briefly addressed the gathering. Both Carter and Farrow reflected on the relative comfort of their early lives, "leaving the comfort of our parents' arms," and the need to be ready for the more difficult life ahead.

"We have learned responsibility, discipline and determination that will undoubtedly aid us as we set our focus ahead on a new, unpredictable era of our lives," Farrow said.

Carter told his classmates they were now at a fork in the road and he urged them to take "the narrow path, with many pitfalls and struggles. It will take hard work and determination to make it to the next end, but the reward at the end of the narrow path will be worth tenfold the reward of the easy path. . . . Today we step out into the world. God help us all."

Counselor Mark Thompson then named the following 33 seniors who received a variety of scholarships from local businesses, civic organizations, foundations, trusts and colleges and universities across the country:

Brad Ash - Adams scholarship, Adams State College; Western State College academic; Ross Memorial

Gillian Berrich - diversity grant, Mesa State College; Fort Lewis College Dean's; Eastern New Mexico University; Educational Talent Search; Colorado Mounted Rangers Troop F; Spanish Fiesta; Norwest Bank

Shannon Bishop - Mesa State College; Ruby Sisson Foundation

Jessica Brown - Fort Lewis Presidential; 4H; Masonic Lodge

T Jay Carter - Colorado State University Distinguished Scholar; University of Northern Colorado Presidential; Mesa State College, Bookcliff College; Pagosa Springs Rotary Club

Robin Curvey - Colorado Mounted Rangers Troop F; Spanish Fiesta

Darren Davis - Whit Newton Good Citizen

Kachina Domenick - Roanoke College Honors and Academic

Tracey Farrow - VFW; Fort Lewis College Presidential; Bookcliff, Mesa State College; Land Properties; University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; Colorado State University; Ruby Sisson Scholarship

Angelica Fatur - diversity grant, Mesa State College; Colorado Mountain College; Citizens Bank; Pagosa Springs Rotary Club

J.B. Forrest - Land Properties; Ross Memorial

Sara Fredrickson - University of California at Santa Barbara Athletic; Steve Lynch Memorial

Katherine Frye - Pagosa Fire Protection District

Megan Gross - Adams State College Presidential, Incentive and Music; Pagosa Springs Music Boosters

Dustin Hemauer - Imagine America

Reyanna Klein - St. Mary's University Presidential

Bryan Looper - Sterling Community College Athletic; Charles J. Hughes Foundation; Spanish Fiesta

Caleb Lungstrum - Florida College Academic

Jared Mees - Red Ryder; Azuza Pacific University Dean's

Doug Newton - Adams State College; Western State College Academic

Corrilee Patterson - Fort Lewis College Presidential; Western State College Dean's; Community United Methodist Church Dee Locken Discipleship; Eddie Oldham; Pagosa Springs Music Boosters; Pagosa Fire Protection District

Julia Rolig - Mesa State College, Bookcliff College; Women in Engineering

Tranell Ross - Pagosa Springs Rotary Club

Phillip Salas - Charles J. Hughes Foundation

Brad Schmidt - Pagosa Springs Lions Club

Nicolle Sellers - Ruby Sisson Scholarship; Pagosa Springs Rotary Club

Jason Silva - Western State College Athletic

Kim Smith - Bookcliff College, Mesa State College; Ruby Sisson Scholarship; University of Colorado Diversity

Emily Stoltz - University of Puget Sound

Brandon Thompson - University of Biola Academic

Chris Tressler - Imagine America; Pagosa Springs Rotary Vo-Tech

Hilary Wilson - Fort Lewis College Dean's

Pauline Yago - Charles J. Hughes Foundation.


Community Center takes 'big step forward'

By Karl Isberg

A project to design and construct a Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard took a big step forward Tuesday night as the town trustees ratified an architectural contract with the firm of R. Michael Bell.

Selection of the Durango-based architectural firm followed a series of interviews with four candidates for the design work on the proposed center and town hall, to be located northwest of the junction of Apache Street and Hot Springs Boulevard. The contract ratified on June 1 was a three-way contract between the town, the non-profit community center board and the architectural firm.

Bell and Associate's contract was completed only after the firm agreed to modifications of the architectural team stipulated by town officials and members of the community center board. Those stipulations require that Bell include a local architect as an associate on the project and utilize the services of a local engineering firm.

Town Administrator Jay Harrington told trustees Tuesday that Bell will use Pagosa architect Julia Anne Donoho as an associate and will use Davis Engineering to provide engineering work during the design phase. "We think this will be a good team," said Harrington.

Harrington said the cost for the design phase of the community center project is set at $250,000. "This amount will change only if the size of the building grows or shrinks," he said.

As the project moves from the design phase to actual construction, planners anticipate involvement of construction-oriented management, rather than using the architectural firm or town officials to act as general contractors.

"Bell will be the architectural firm doing the plans and specifications," said Harrington. "Our goal is bring in a special construction manager and to have that person on site. If this is the way we go, we will advertise for this position later in the year."

Regarding an impending transaction with a potential impact on the community center design and construction, Harrington updated trustees on the town's attempt to acquire land adjacent to the site. He said the town's attempt to purchase the building and land currently occupied by the Pagosa Veterinary Clinic should be finalized with a closing in July. If the sale concludes, said Harrington, the current owner, Dr. Dave Baker, will be allowed to stay in the building during August rent-free and can renew a monthly lease thereafter until something is done with the property. Harrington said the Bell and Associates team will evaluate the property and structure as part of the design process to determine possible inclusion in the community center project.


'We can't afford to be poor anymore'

By John M. Motter

Two long-time Archuleta County residents asked for continued road maintenance at Tuesday's regular meeting of the county commissioners.

"I'm sure you'll do what you want anyway," said Billie White-Evans. "But we've owned acreage on Fawn Gulch Road over 40 years and the county has always plowed the road. We're both over 70 and physically handicapped. We don't want to sell to subdividers. We've raised our children here and we expect another four or five generations of children could be raised on this property."

Neighbor Helen Giardin, another area old-timer, accompanied White-Evans.

White-Evans' concern is prompted by publicity concerning county re-evaluation of road maintenance policies, including the possibility that many roads will no longer be maintained or even have snow removal.

"We're not just talking about what we want, we're talking about what we need, our way of life," White-Evans said. "We need access year around. If we have an accident at home we need to get out. We can't afford to be poor any more. Do we have to join the subdivision mania just to live? We don't want blacktop or magnesium chloride. We just want to get in and out."

"I share all of your concerns," said Commissioner Bill Downey. "Fawn Gulch is a Schedule A maintenance road and we're not looking at stopping maintenance there. I don't see much danger that we'll stop maintenance on that road. I feel that we should continue to maintain roads that were here prior to the subdivisions, especially for snow removal."

Fawn Gulch Road is a county road until it reaches the Log Park subdivision, according to County Manager Dennis Hunt. From that point on, it is a Forest Service road and will be maintained according to a contract between the county and the Forest Service, Hunt said. Schedule A maintenance is conducted on Forest Service roads.

White-Evans also expressed concern about a proposal by Commissioner Gene Crabtree to clean up junk in the county.

"Are you going to make us get rid of the old, historic farm equipment on our ranches," White-Evans asked. "We're being pushed out."

"No, I wasn't referring to that," Crabtree said. "I want to get rid of junk that is an eyesore and threat to public health."

Lower Blanco Road

Several residents from the Lower Blanco area asked the county to lower the speed limit on the Lower Blanco Road.

"The current speed limit of 40 miles per hour is way too fast," said Michael Turolla, spokesman for the group. "Driving at that speed deteriorates the road surface and is just plain dangerous. We had a rollover Saturday. The speed limit on curves is 25 miles per hour. Speeders or trucks or even the school bus coming around a curve can put you in the ditch. There are too many curves and the road is too narrow. It's a miracle no one has been killed yet."

The group asked that the speed limit be changed to 30 mph and enforced.

Before the speed limit can be changed, state law requires that an engineering study be made, Downey said. Speed limits on roads all across the county are being studied. The Lower Blanco Road is included among the roads being studied.

Old wagon road

The county may be drawn into a civil dispute involving the old Pagosa-to-Durango wagon road west of town. Property owners Cal Stanger and Sam Matthews disagree about whether a portion of the old road is public property or private property belonging to Matthews. According to Matthews, the county awarded the right of way to the Matthews family during the 1930s, in exchange for a right of way for the current Put Hill roadway. Stanger argues that Matthew property descriptions go to the north boundary of the road, leaving the right of way intact.

When the dispute reached the county last year, the commissioners adopted a document intending to show the county has no interest in the road, according to County Attorney Larry Holthus. Matthews' attorney argues that the county document supports the idea that the county abandoned the road. Stanger's attorney argues that the county should clarify its position to show the county has not abandoned the road, only declared it isn't interested in the road.

An issue, according to Holthus, is if a decision involving whether private parties can make a road public if the public entity is not involved in the decision.

The county took no action Tuesday concerning this issue. The old road has been used since the days when stage coaches ran between Durango and Pagosa Springs, but has fallen into disuse during recent years. The development of subdivisions west of town has obliterated much of the route, which was south of U.S. 160, at least until it crossed today's Fairfield Pagosa developments.

Sales tax lawsuit

The State of Colorado Court of Appeals, on May 27, refused to rehear its own decision calling for the county to take certain sales tax matters to a vote of the people. As a result of the May 27 decision, the action will be forwarded to the Colorado Supreme Court. That body can consider the case and render a decision, or refuse to accept the case, according to Holthus.

Events leading up to the May 27 decision started in 1995 when a suit was filed by the County Road Users Association, Earle Beasley and F.T. Havens against the board of county commissioners and the town of Pagosa Springs. The suit asked the commissioners to place on the ballot a referendum calling for a 75-25 split of a 4 percent sales tax with the county taking 75 percent of the sales tax revenues and the town taking 25 percent. The suit further specified that two thirds of the county portion be spent on roads.

The suit has rattled around in the Colorado court system since September 1995. On Dec. 24, 1998, the appeals court reversed an earlier district court decision which had favored the county. The Dec. 24, 1998, decision required the county to conduct the election. In response to the Dec. 24, 1998, reversal, the town and county petitioned the state appeals court for a rehearing. The May 27 appeals court decision denied the request for a rehearing. In addition to refusing to rehear the case, the May 27 appeals court decision finds that the County Road Users Association is not entitled to receive attorney's fees.

Other business

The commissioners conducted the following additional business Tuesday:

- The commissioners were informed by Tim Smith, airport manager at Stevens Field, that Stevens Field has been selected by the National Weather Service as a cooperative weather reporting site. The National Weather Service weather monitoring equipment has been installed and training provided. This could be the first step in the acquisition of automated weather equipment for the airport, according to Smith.

- The commissioners joined the National Forest Counties and Schools Coalition, an organization formed to fight a proposal by the U.S. Forest Service Chief to eliminate federal timber sale funds currently going to counties and school districts. The loss would remove about $65,000 from the Archuleta County budget, Hunt said.

- Two routine annual contracts with the Area Agency on Aging were renewed.

- Anita Hinger was appointed to the 15-member Archuleta County Fair Board.

- Revised Archuleta County Fair Board by-laws were approved.


Jury finds Echavarria guilty of possession of controlled substance

By Karl Isberg

A 6th Judicial District Court jury trial in Pagosa Springs ended on May 26 with Lorenzo Cardenas Echavarria, 40, of Pagosa Springs found guilty on a charge of possession of a controlled substance.

Trial proceedings before Judge Greg Lyman began on June 24. After the jury returned the verdict, Lyman issued a minute order setting a sentencing date for Cardenas of June 25 in the district court in Durango.

Echavarria was one of 10 suspects sought by the Pagosa Springs Police Department as a result of an investigation that ended on Nov. 20, 1998. The original charge against Echavarria was conspiracy to sell cocaine, a Schedule 2 controlled substance.

Local law enforcement authorities made eight arrests on Nov. 20 and issued arrest warrants for two suspects who had left the state.

In the time since their arrests, two suspects - David Couie and Lazaro Dozal- entered guilty pleas to the charge of distribution of a Schedule 2 controlled substance.

Couie was sentenced in district court to a four-year term in Community Corrections. Lazaro was sentenced to 60 days in jail, two years probation and 100 hours of public service.

According to the district attorney's office, trial proceedings have been scheduled for three other suspects.

One suspect who fled out-of-state, Jose Temez, remains at large.

Charges were dismissed against two of the original suspects, Rene Curiel and Greg Jewell.


Inside The Sun

Intermediate School announces honor roll

Principal Butch Madrid announced last week that three fifth graders, seven sixth graders and two students in the School Within a School program made straight A grades during the fourth quarter of classes at Pagosa Springs Intermediate School.

Named to the fifth grade honor roll with all A grades were Niko Carrizo, Ursala Hudson and Chris Baum.

Fifth graders listed on the fourth quarter honor roll with a mixture of A and B grades included: Brea Thompson, Charmaine Talbot, Emmy Smith, Emilie Schur, Matt Nobles, Derrick Monks, Roxanne Lattin, Jim Guyton, Kelly Freudenberger, Emily Buikema, Daniel Aupperle, Paige Halwes, Sandra Griego, Casey Schutz, Craig Schutz, Wade Williams, Jamie Bruton, Jessica Blesi, Kari Beth Faber, Caitlin Forrest, Havi Kornhaber, Meghan Montoya, Chris Mueller, Lindsey Wirth, Veronica Zeiler, Sara Baum, Esther Lloyd and Ross Medicine Crow.

Sixth graders named to the intermediate school's fourth quarter honor roll with straight A grades were RiAnn Daugaard, Levi Gill, Kristin Gustavson, Janna Henry, Hannah Kraus, Molly Kraus and Christine Morrison.

Sixth graders listed on the regular honor roll with a mixture of A and B grades were Michelle Brusto, Danelle Condon, Brittany Corcoran, Kelli Ford, Brett Garman, Danielle Gialich, Jessica Harms, Amanda Huang, Christena Lungstrum, Jesse Mueller, Katie Price, Derrick Rader, Ryan Ranson, Cassidy Rotman, Rachel Schur, Jacob Smith, Courtney Steen and Landry Ward.

Heather Dahm and Randi Andersen, who participated in the School Within a School, were named to the fourth quarter all-A honor roll, according to Madrid's office. Students in the School Within a School program who were listed on the "A - B honor roll" included Caitlyn Jewell, Audrey Miller, Logan McLellan and Heather Andersen.


Relay run for peace passes through Pagosa

A relay run for peace passed through Pagosa Springs last week while on its way across the length and breadth of America as part of a global initiative to usher in the new millennium by passing through over 1,000 cities and towns this summer.

Arpan De Angelo of New York City, as one of the runners in the 100-nation Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, was carrying a flaming Peace Torch. De Angelo, 46, said the torch symbolizes the runners' goal of peace through sports. He said Peace Runs International, the non-profit organization formed to manage the event, is directed by Shambhu Neil Vineberg.

Peace runners such as De Angelo plan to be crossing the western and northern portions of the United States from now until mid-August in order to spread "a message of oneness to usher in the new millennium peacefully." The 1999 U.S Peace Run will continue westward from Pagosa and travel through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. From there the run turns eastward and will go through Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut before ending in New York City on Aug. 14.

The 11,000-mile U.S. Peace Run is part of the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, an event held every other year since 1987, involving over one million people. Peace Runs International, the non-profit organization formed to manage the event, is directed by Shambhu Neil Vineberg.

International highlights of the Peace Run so far this year include a continuous run throughout Europe running from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. The European Peace Run, which aims to cross through every nation of Europe before Dec. 31, may be threatened by the fighting in Yugoslavia. The Peace Run also includes simultaneous running events in the U.S., Canada, Eastern and Western Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Australia.

Emphasizing a global theme of international peace and multi-cultural understanding, the non-profit Peace Run was inspired by world peace advocate Sri Chinmoy, who has dedicated his life to promoting the cause of peace. He has written and lectured extensively on peace, offered hundreds of free peace concerts and met with many world figures to advance the cause of international harmony.

The American Run Peace was launched on April 17 with a relay run through all five boroughs of New York City and a ceremony at the United Nations. International runners representing NATO countries and Yugoslavia joined in a call for peace.

The New York event was the first of several city-wide events that will be held in connection with the Peace Run in major cities around the country - including Washington, D.C.; Seattle; Chicago; and Providence, R.I.

"One of our goals is to build partnerships with community groups who participate in the Peace Run to expand their own peace activities," says Vineburg. "We're also working with the Mayor's Council for the Peace Run, a coalition of 70 city mayors, led by Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton, on ways to adapt the Peace Run to the needs of urban America."

The Peace Run has been endorsed by many of the nation's mayors, governors and members of the Congress, by world-class athletes like Carl Lewis and Grete Waitz, by leaders of numerous countries, by Pope John Paul II, President Mikhail Gorbachev, the Dalai Lama, the late Mother Theresa, Sir Paul McCartney and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.


Dyer, Larson speak at recap

By John M. Motter

About 50 people showed up Tuesday night at the county fair building to hear Sen. Jim Dyer and Rep. Mark Larson talk about the recently completed Colorado legislative assembly.

Conducted by the Archuleta County chapter of the League of Women Voters, the assemblage featured talks by State Senator Dyer, D-Durango, and Representative Larson, R-Cortez.

Following introductions by Windsor Chacey, president of the local chapter, Dyer and Larson took turns talking about how the legislature works and how legislation originates, a recap of actions taken by the most recent legislative convention, and a question and answer session.

"This is not a debate," Chacey said. "Tonight's talk is for information only."

Dyer brought down the house with his remarks concerning the success of his legislative agenda during his first year in the Colorado Senate after a number of years in the House.

"For those of you who think less legislation is better, I had a good year," Dyer said. "I originated five bills and they were all defeated."

Legislation originates with the people, according to both Dyer and Larson. Dyer said there are four kinds of lobbyists and all are sources of information for elected officials.

"First, there are the hired guns paid for by special interest groups," Dyer said. "These people are professional lobbyists whose hearts are not in the issues they support. We have to learn to use the information they provide, but not let them use us."

Second, according to Dyer, are the institutional lobbyists who believe in what they are doing. "Again," Dyer said, "we have to use them and not let them use us."

Third are the true believers, Dyer said, people whose hearts are in what they support.

"I have a greater tendency to listen to these people and believe them," Dyer said.

Finally, according to Dyer, the greatest body of lobbyists are the people, such as those in attendance at Tuesday night's meeting.

"You, the people, are the greatest source of information and ideas used to develop legislation," Dyer said.

Larson said, "I agree with Dyer, when he said, 'Legislation should come from the home people.' Those of us elected to public office need to stay connected with those who elected us."

Each legislator can introduce five bills, according to Larson. Three of those bills must be introduced by mid-December. Late bills relating to health and welfare can also be introduced near the end of the 120-day session.

"The Columbine tragedy was the defining moment of this legislative session," Dyer said. "It tended to put what we are doing in proper perspective. Several gun laws were being considered and the governor, appropriately I think, postponed action on any of them. It was too soon to act, something we didn't need to rush into."

Key actions of this year's legislators revolved around tax cuts and roads, according to both legislators. One road issue was a decision to borrow $2.3 billion against future federal road receipts. That issue goes to the voters this fall. A tax issue was passed reducing the state income tax from 5 percent to 4.75 percent.

No clear pattern dominated the question and answer session. Questions ranged from concern about changes in direct sales and use tax applications through the tobacco settlement, noxious weeds, gun controls, and a variety of welfare issues.


Paving project begins June 15

By Karl Isberg

Pagosa Springs Trustees focused their attention on public improvements at their meeting on June 1.

With ratification of a contract with Strohecker Asphalt and Paving, the trustees ensured that a town paving project will begin on June 15. The contract with the Bayfield-based paving company is for $317,980 with the project set for completion on or before Sept 12.

Paving work within town boundaries will be less extensive than in previous years. Crews will put asphalt on Durango Street in South Pagosa; on South 6th Street adjacent to the San Juan River; on South 5th Street from Apache Street past the front of the Sports Complex; and on a short section of Pike Drive, to the second entrance of the Pizza Hut parking lot.

Intersection improvement

Town Administrator Jay Harrington told the trustees that a draft intergovernmental agreement was received from the Colorado Department of Transportation concerning a proposed project to reconstruct the intersection of U.S. 160, Lewis and 5th streets, and to install a traffic light at that intersection.

According to Harrington, the draft agreement shows a $90,000 contribution to the project by CDOT, with the remainder of the projected $255,000 cost paid by the town with available capital improvement funds. If the project goes ahead, the town will contract the construction work and administrate the project.

"If things go smoothly," said Harrington of the agreement, "we hope to bid the project by mid to late summer. We'll see if the bids are competitive at that time, since there are only a few contractors in the state who do this kind of work. We'll shoot for a fall project."

Final plan approval

Trustees also gave their approval, with conditions, to the final plan for Phase 1 of the Overlook Planned Unit Development, proposed for construction on a tract on the south side of U.S. 160, adjacent to the east boundary of the Fred Harman property and to the north boundary of the Alpha Subdivision.

The first phase of the Overlook project involves construction of 108 townhome units.

Trustees approved the final plan for the project with conditions. Among those conditions are that developers obtain a final CDOT access permit and an avigation easement; that a buffer issue with properties in the Alpha subdivision be resolved; that coordination with local utility companies be complete; and that Rob Snow Road, which will be used during initial construction, be developed and repaired by the developer during use.

Harrington said Wednesday that, with the approval of the final plan by the trustees, the remainder of the process is administrative in nature, with town staff checking that conditions are met. He added that work on the project cannot begin until a development improvement agreement with the town is completed, a modified final plat is finished and the developers have provided a financial guarantee for the project.



Time to wait in line

A few weeks ago I was commenting about how it's unusual to see Pagosa motorists intentionally waiting in line in order to purchase fast food. The new practice appeared to be out of place in Pagosa. But now I'm reconsidering. I'm not plugging the fast food drive-ups, but it's evident Pagosa motorists need to develop patience and practice waiting in line.

With the continual arrival of new year-round and seasonal residents to Pagosa Springs, and the increasing amount of east-west traffic on U.S. 160, learning to wait patiently while seated behind the steering wheel can be a life-saving lesson.

Even a miraculous overnight installation of traffic control lights at all of the busiest intersections and junctions along U.S. 160 within Pagosa's expanded town limits would not eliminate the dangerous driving conditions. An almost equal number of feeder areas service the various businesses west of town along Put Hill and beyond the area of Pagosa Lodge deliver significant traffic onto the highway. This results in an increasing number of motorists wanting to enter into the speeding east-west flow of traffic.

Traffic lights will offer a partial solution at some time in the future. Driving the speed limit when on U.S. 160, and waiting patiently when needing to make a left turn onto, or across, the highway will provide an immediate safeguard towards your own and the public's well-being.

Besides increasing your personal safety, driving at or under the speed limit will protect your wallet. The town police and Colorado State Patrol officers are vigilantly enforcing the posted speed limits . . . as well they should. They are not conducting speed traps, they are enforcing the law and protecting you and other motorists.

Developing patience while waiting for an opening in the oncoming traffic before turning left onto or across the highway can protect your life. Just as there are some safe driving traits that apply to winter driving in Pagosa, using cautious patience is a trait that we need to add to our summer driving habits.

You might not have moved to Pagosa Springs so that you could wait on traffic, but now that you're here, all of us better learn to do so.

David C. Mitchell

Dear Folks
By David C. Mitchell

First impressions last the longest

Dear Folks,

Saturday was the first time in a number of years that I've missed the graduation exercises at Pagosa Springs High School.

When I was teaching at the high school I didn't attend the commencements if I could help it. Back then graduation was usually a sad time for me. The graduating classes were still small enough that I usually developed some enjoyable relationships with many of the seniors. I hated to see them leave.

The Classes of 1978 and '80 were extra special.

The Class of '78 had been freshmen my first year at PSHS. They were a super bunch of youngsters. Though I went to their graduation, I sat in the hall outside the door to the old gym.

I had similar ties to the Class of '80. I had taught most of them as seventh graders before I was transferred to the high school during the spring of '75.

Since my oldest was a member of the Class of 1980, I was obliged to take a seat inside the old gym that Memorial Day weekend. As with the Class of '78, the Class of 1980 had many fine youngsters and some close friends.

But the Pagosa Springs graduation class I remember the most is the Class of '74. Since I was in town that weekend to sign a contract with District 50 Joint, I attended the commencement.

I was a stranger to Jody Martinez, Vivian Hise, Gene Haning, "Moi" Montoya, Pam Formwalt, Mark Houser, Tom Gibson, Bruce Quintana, Jim Watkins, Bill Corbin, Casey Lynch and the other members of the class. But being a newcomer to Pagosa, I wanted to learn what I could about my new home.

I sat in the old wooden bleachers that were nailed against the west wall of the gym.

The school board and administration were seated on the old stage.

There were more than enough metal folding chairs lined up on the gym floor to seat the friends and families of the graduates.

With just 41 seniors in the class, it did not take long to present the diplomas.

Being a stranger in a strange land, or a newcomer in an old-timer's sort of town, I was an unattached observer.

The first thing that caught my attention was Superintendent Abner Hahn's welcoming remarks. He encouraged any and all to feel free to walk to front to take photographs of their youngsters at any time during the proceedings - it was to be a special time for the graduates and their parents.

But the most memorable part of the day was the conclusion. The diplomas had been awarded, the tassels had been turned and now the Class of '74 was to march up the center aisle and stand against the north wall of the gym to be congratulated by their loved ones.

From my vantage point atop the bleachers, I could not help but notice tears were rolling down the cheeks of the graduates as they left their high school years behind them. They were strangers to me, but it was evident they were special friends.

I'm glad for all the folks who have been able to move to Pagosa during the past few years. I hope they will enjoy it as much as I do. But I wish Pagosa had not lost its closeness.

Know you are loved and please keep us in your prayers.



By Shari Pierce

Symbols from the new mural

This week we'll continue with a look at the symbols chosen to represent our county's history on the new Pagosa Street mural.

The hot springs cone is shown on the mural as seen at the parking area near Juan's Mountain Sports and The Springs. The hot spring which is responsible for the location of our town is down Hot Springs Boulevard just south of the Spring Inn. This is the pool from which legends and hopes grew.

A Ute legend tells that long before white men saw the peaks of the San Juan Mountains and long before they walked in the grassy valleys of southwest Colorado, "a plague fell upon the Redman. All known medicine from berries, herbs, and grasses, all known ointments of quaking aspen, pine and bear grease failed to curb the mysterious malady that brought death to their dwindling tribe.

"Finally on a high plateau in the mountains, on the banks of the San Juan River, a great council was called. Here the Utes would build a gigantic fire and send a message to the Chief of The Happy Hunting Ground. Here they would dance and pray around the blazing pyre and tell of the numerous deeds of their braves; they would acknowledge the faults that had displeased the Great Chieftain and implore a healing before the last of their tribe should be stricken.

"During the night while the Indians slept, in the very spot where the fire had burned to embers, there appeared a pool of boiling water. Loud were the victory cries of the Utes: Manitou had heard and answered the call of his people: Pagosa! Pagosa! Healing water! Here the grateful Utes camped for many moons performing rituals of thanksgiving and victory. They bathed in and drank the water from the boiling spring and health returned to them."

In 1859, John Macomb, a captain and topographical engineer for the army, visited the hot spring. He wrote, "In the upper part of this valley is the Pagosa, one of the most remarkable hot springs on the continent, well known, even famous, among the Indian tribes, but up to the time of our visit never having been seen by the whites."

Macomb predicted that this place would become "a celebrated place of resort, both for those who reside in the surrounding country and for wonder-hunting health-seeking travelers from other lands."

But Pagosa Springs failed to become the resort town that was predicted by those early visitors. Perhaps the biggest obstacle was travel. Pagosa Springs was not an easy place to reach. The nearest rail stop was approximately 30 miles away. A long wagon ride over dusty roads brought travelers to the springs.

Bath houses were built and people did come to soak in the waters that were claimed to have curative powers. But the springs themselves were unable to support the community. Other avenues of economic support for the community were needed - and did come.

More next week about the mural.

25 years ago

Local logger seriously injured

Taken from SUN files

of June 6, 1974

Melvin "Shorty" Lord suffered serious injuries, including a broken back and neck in a logging accident last Friday. The accident occurred far back on the Mosca Creek drainage. Lord suffered multiple cuts, a broken back and fractured neck. His condition is reported as satisfactory.

Three Pagosa Springs riders, Anthony Rivas, Vaughn Jacobson and Bill Goodyear, have qualified to compete in the State High School Rodeo finals being held in Henderson next week. The three young men have been competing in San Juan Basin rodeos. They are the first Pagosa students ever to qualify for the state high school finals.

Two large fires this week caused property damage estimated at more than $30,000. One fire took place at the Catholic Parish Hall Monday afternoon. A second fire occurred early Wednesday at a residence on North 7th Street owned by Ernie Rivas. The structure was unoccupied and in the process of being remodeled at the time of the fire.

A large portion of the lumber stockpiled at San Juan Lumber Co.'s Durango mill was destroyed by fire last Saturday. Cause of the blaze is still undetermined. Firemen from Durango and Cortez were joined by volunteers from the Forest Service and rural fir departments in battling the blaze.


Community News
Local Chatter
By Kate Terry

Protests save elk from slaughter

When it became official that the New Mexico Game Commission had issued a "kill permit" to allow unlimited day and night killing of elk on ranch and farm property in New Mexico, Dick Ray posted petitions in Pagosa Springs and Chama, New Mexico and surrounding areas to protest.

Saturday, he took the petitions to the Game Commission meeting in Albuquerque. There were nearly 1,450 signatures from Pagosa Springs, 300 from Chama, and those from Durango and surrounding areas.

The Game Commission had only heard one side of the argument - that from a small number of ranchers who believe that they are suffering losses due to elk in their pastures and hay fields. But many New Mexico ranchers don't feel that way and, as a matter of fact, four ranchers from Chama went with Dick to the commission meeting to protest.

The outcome is that the law has been rescinded and all is well for the elk. The reason for the protest is that some of the elk in Colorado go south into New Mexico for the summer. The "kill permit" to allow the elk slaughter had to do with killing 60 percent of the deer, and cutting the population of 7,000 elk to 2,900 elk.

A note here: the proper title in New Mexico is Game Commission and in Colorado, Wildlife Commission.

Special team

Cindy Gustafson's birthday was May 21 and Ron's birthday is June 6. They have four children: Kristi, Kelly, Karla and Kim. To celebrate these birthdays and Mother's Day and Father's Day, the kids contacted the Pagosa Springs parks and recreation department to set up a team in the summer baseball program for players 10 and 11 years old. The team name is the "A's" ("A" standing for Athletics), and the sponsor is "Gus' Group" (who are Cindy and Ron Gustafson.) The team is coached by Len Richy. T-shirts presented to Cindy and Ron were inscribed "Mama Gus" and "Papa Gus." And when the summer is over, and it's time for the pizza party, the kids will pay for that. A great gift from great kids!

Rosy visit

You who remember John and Janet Hayes who opened the first Wild Rose Restaurant will be happy to know that they will be visiting Pagosa Springs Saturday, June 19. A pot luck is planned for that day, in Town Park, hours 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., so that old friends and customers can visit with them, and their twins, Ross and Sean.

The Wild Rose opened in 1981 in what's now Ray's Hair Care on Lewis Street. Ray had moved his business from that site to the newly built Pagosa Plaza. When the Hayes moved to California five years later, the business was sold to Ruthie Williams and a year later she moved it to Pagosa Street next to Goodman's Store where the Irish Rose is now located. And Ray moved back to Lewis Street.

John and Janet prepared some of the best food ever in Pagosa in the '80s and people talk about it even today. They were famous for their soups and salads - in fact, for all their food - and for their big cinnamon rolls, as some still say "to die for." Jan Sorenson wistfully recalls that when a tray of fresh cinnamon rolls was placed on the counter and she said "I want that one," even if it was in the center of the tray, she got her roll. The Hayes were wonderful people who consistently prepared good food.

Lee Hill is helping with the pot luck. Any ideas? Call her at 264-6913.

Chamber News
By Sally Hameister

Is Pagosa a Y2K 'boom town'?

The holiday week becomes even more festive when we can share three new members with you! Our warm congratulations go out to all of our graduated Pagosa Springs High School Seniors. I can still remember the unparalleled exhilaration of completing twelve years of blood, sweat and tears (and a lot of fun) and the excitement and terror of all challenges ahead. Our best wishes to all of you.

We all knew that one of these days Pagosa would have a McDonald's, and that day has arrived. We are delighted to welcome Shelly Linn who brings us McDonald's of Pagosa Springs located at 40 Talisman Drive, #213-l. McDonald's Restaurant in Pagosa features the world-famous McDonald's breakfast and, of course, the equally world-famous Big Mac. All of their regular menu features are available to you, and buses and groups are their specialty. Welcome to Pagosa, Ronald.

A very nice gentleman, Tod J. Kerr, joins us next with Kayak Kerr Company with a totally unique slant on kayaking. Tod offers a "flat-water" experience as opposed to the white-water variety that strikes terror in the hearts of folks like me. You can join him on a guided lake-kayaking trip in sea-rated kayaks. You can choose a half-day, a full day or even an overnight camping trip. This is a great way to begin your kayak experience. Kayak Kerr Company is located right on Heron Lake just ten miles southwest of Chama, New Mexico, and can be reached by phoane at (505) 588-9371. Tod was kind enough to offer a first-time discount to any member of the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce, so I encourage you to take advantage of this bonus.

Our third member this week earned Diplomat and associate member, Sylvia Murray, a free SunDowner. Sylvia did some active recruiting to allow us the pleasure of welcoming Manuela Heaton with Pagosa Laundromat and Carwash. These good folks are located at 126 North 4th Street right next to Edelweiss Needlework Chalet. They offer a coin-operated laundry, drop-off service (they will do the washing, drying and folding for you!) and will iron what you like as well. You can't beat that for service.

If you have questions, please call 264-5480.

Fabulous Y2K town

Just on the heels of the buzz created by Pagosa's mention on MS/NBC's Today Show, I received a news clipping from the Washington Times in which Pagosa Springs was cited as being a "fabulous Y2K town." Written by Jennifer Kabbany, the article was entitled "Millennium havens find business brisk as 2000 approaches." Our town was described as "primed for whatever may come at the start of the new millennium." In addition, Kabbany said, "This southwestern Colorado city, population 1,900, is one of the many 'Y2K' boom towns popping up across the nation as sanctuaries for what has been billed as possible massive computer problems beginning Jan. 1."

It goes without saying that this kind of publicity is met with great ambivalence in our fair town. I think most would concur that they will be greatly relieved when the new millennium arrives and maybe we can settle down to some semblance of normalcy once again.

Thanks, LPEA

Once again, our heroes from LPEA have risked life and limb to retrieve damaged flags and replace them with new ones. Steve and Phil are the men of the hour who stopped by to help us out once again. Think of them when you drive by and see the Chamber logo flags flying in the breeze. Thanks, guys, we do appreciate you.

Free SunDowner

You, too, can earn a free SunDowner, and it's as easy as it can be. When you meet a new business owner or one who, heaven forbid, is not currently a member of the Chamber, encourage them to join. Just be sure to tell them to let us know that it was you who recommended their membership, and we will see to it that your next SunDowner is free. There is a "Recruited by" line on the membership form, and just make sure your name appears on that line.


Pagosa Lakes
By Ming Steen

Recreation Center offers summer swimming lessons

Swimming lessons will again be offered this summer at the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center. The first session will begin on Monday, June 21. Classes for beginner swimmers will be conducted from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. Intermediate/advanced swimmers will meet from 11:15 a.m. to noon. The sessions are only two weeks long with classes taught from Monday through Thursday. A second session of classes will begin July 12. The third session will begin Aug. 9. The duration of the session and times for the classes will remain the same. Beginner classes will be limited to six students while the intermediate/advanced class will accommodate up to 8 to 10 swimmers. Please come by the Recreation Center to register for classes. You may call Tiffany Thompson, the instructor at 731-5824 for additional information.

Pagosa Lakes Property Owner's Association will host a free children's fishing derby on Friday, June 11, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Lake Hatchery jetboat ramp area. Awards will be presented for the biggest and the most fish caught. Children will be divided into age groups: 5 and under, 6 to 8, 9 to 11 and 12 to 16. Lunch will be provided to the fishing derby entrants.

Fishing for derby entrants will be done from the shoreline as no boats or floats will be allowed. Parental or adult supervision is required. A PLPOA issued lake-use permit is not required. When fishing with youngsters, the most popular bait are garden worms and night crawlers. Be sure to take along a pocketful, but don't loose them in your car. Remember, most youngsters have a short attention span; we'll keep the derby short and lively. Please get them their own tackle, appropriate for their size, like a small Zebco Snoopy rod-and-reel combination for the really young anglers.

Plan on bringing the children to a morning of fishing, food and fun. Don't forget to bring caps and sunscreen. In the event of inclement weather, please call the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center at 731-2051 for an update.


Senior News
By Thelma Risinger

Seniors will be swimming at the Spa Mondays

Hello everybody.

It is nice to have Mr. and Mrs. Bill Baker here for several weeks this summer.

Coordinators are organizing swims for seniors citizens on Mondays at the Spa. For more information call 264-2167 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.

Edith Dame won the $5 gift certificate from City Market on Friday.

Another month gone by for 1999. They are flying by and time gets shorter all the time. There is still much to do.

I do not know who "Senior of the Week" is, as their number is drawn on Monday. The Center was closed this Monday for Memorial Day.

Maudie Baker was here for the holiday.

This warm weather sure feels good. It is so nice to sit on the porch or be out in the yard again.

John Martinez is a good volunteer.

Do not forget the Senior Citizen Picnic in the Park on June 11. "Senior Choice" meal will be served at the picnic. A large crowd is expected. It is a fun day.

The senior bus travels to Durango each Tuesday morning returning here late afternoon. $6 is the fare for senior citizens. $7.50 all others. This is the only paid transportation out of Archuleta County. Isn't that something?

Do you know how or where or when to pay your water bill? It takes two stamps, two checks and two envelopes to try to pay water and sewer. Why can't we just go the town hall and pay like we used to?

See you at the Picnic in the Park tomorrow at "high noon."



Library News
by Lenore Bright

Check out picture that inspired mural

Be sure and take a look at the new mural next to Milt Lewis's Gallery. It is an historical look at our area by Andrew Woodward. We are pleased to have helped provide some of the images through our Denver Public Library digital photo collection.

The Indian is Buckskin Charlie, Ute Indian Chief. Genelle Macht sat on his lap when she was a little girl.

If you would like to see the pictures that inspired Andrew, come in and look at our collection.

'Title Wave'

I really like that name. This year's summer reading program begins on Monday June 14. Remember it is for children of all ages. The six-week program gives participants the opportunity to keep up their reading and writing skills while having fun. A story time will be planned for Fridays.

Summer telecourses

For older students, we have another way of keeping up skills. Rocky Mountain PBS gives the opportunity to take college classes on your television. Pick up a brochure at the desk.

Colorado rock art

"Visions From Canyon Walls," is a book about paintings recently found in a cave in the Picketwire Canyonlands near La Junta. This study was prepared and funded by the United States Army at Fort Carson. The book is an integral part of Fort Carson's program to preserve and protect significant cultural resources on Fort Carson and the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site.

Anyone interested in prehistory archaeology will enjoy this new site information. A video is also available on the subject.

Bicycling manual

June is "Bike Month." The department of Transportation put out a guide for using roads and trails around the state. This publication has information about many laws and information for children. Ask for it at the desk.

Consumer information

There are many free pamphlets on a variety of subjects. Other booklets are inexpensive, usually less than one dollar. Find out your rights when buying a used car, settlement costs on buying a home, pension rights, help finding a job, and in other important transactions. Ask for a copy of the catalog.

Your government established the Consumer Information Center in 1970 to help develop, promote and distribute useful information to the public. They publish a new catalog four times a year. You may order by mail, toll free phone, fax or Internet.

Medical information

Thanks to the Methodist Church Supper Fellowship, we have many new books and materials on health issues. The Library Ladies have been busy getting the books processed and on the shelf. Be sure and look over the new additions. We appreciate this help in bringing our medical collection up-to-date.

Tax notices

There's been much discussion about the valuation of property notices this past week. You can thank the good old TABOR amendment for this too. One of Douglas Bruce's more obscure paragraphs in the amendment demanded that valuation notices must be mailed annually, must state actual value and the value must be determined solely by the market approach. More about this later and how it will impact your many services. It is estimated that only one in ten actually understand how property taxes work. We hope to help clear up misconceptions. We appreciate Keren Pryor and her staff for the help they've given in clarifying some of the tax questions. We don't envy them, as theirs is a thankless job.

Internet use

According to the Washington Times, 40 percent of women, and 36 percent of Hispanics are now on line. Fifty percent of white males are on line. Computers are now in 50 percent of homes. Low-cost PCs are creating a new market in households earning less than $35,000 annually.


Thanks to Dot and Ernest Jones for financial help. And thanks for materials from Mary Marugg and Sonlight Camp, Don Mowen, Tiffany Milburn, Carol and Arv Fisher, Mr. and Mrs. Wes Huckins, Barbara Lindley, Carole Howard, Sheila Hunkin, Sherrell Bohannon, Col. and Mrs. William Storm III, Cecelia Arnold and Darla MacLean.

Arts Line
By Jennifer Galesic

Gallery features Jensen's exhibit

Now showing at the Pagosa Springs Arts Council gallery at Town Park are the works of Barney Jensen.

This fascinating exhibit opened last week and will continue through June 9. The display of art created with watercolor, acrylics and bronze includes scenes of Pagosa's own hot springs, Pagosa Peak and fly fishing.

One of the highlights of the show is a short story titled "Miracle on Wolf Creek Pass," brought to life with 12 illustrations. This is an adventure with many twists and turns. With just one week left, be sure to drop in soon and see it all for yourself.

June exhibit

I am pleased to announce the upcoming exhibit titled, "Hannah Kraus and her Two Shard Sisters."

The opening for this vibrant display will be on June 10, from 5 to 7 p.m. It features 12 year-old Hannah Kraus, Laura Winzeler and Jan Parrish, all rolled into one fun-filled show.

Hannah Kraus moved from Georgia to Pagosa Springs last year. Her interest in painting was sparked when she was 10 years old. Hannah launched her painting debut with an acrylic of Princess Diana. Since then, she has painted different people as well as flowering subjects such as a poppy, a sunflower and an iris.

Laura Winzeler moved to Pagosa in 1996 from California. At a very young age, Laura realized her love of color. Later on, she discovered a way to express her passion through the many aspects of pique assiette (French, for "stolen from the plate"). This is a form of shard mosaic art, using broken pieces of pottery and dinnerware to make a one-of-a-kind object.

"It is a wonderful blend of color, form and texture," says Laura, "and there really is no right way to do it. The pieces are as unique and varied as their creator."

The third artist in the exhibit will be Jan Parrish, an acupuncturist and artist-at-large. Jan moved to the area in 1995 with her two daughters. She has found that the beautiful surroundings offer a retreat for her creative energies to flow. Her work diversifies as her interests change. She has worked with various art mediums over the years, including jewelry, leather crafts and rock sculpting. Jan's current inspiration is found in the pique assiette. Jan's philosophy is simple: there is no better way to spend a bad weather day than to break old pottery and infuse the pieces into an array of delightful colors onto new and recycled goods.

Sounds like a party to me! Mark your calendar and join us for a fantastic trilogy of eye candy, beginning June 10 and continuing through June 23, at the PSAC gallery at Town Park.

Award-winning artist

Local artist Paul Bond was honored recently when his work won "Best of Show" from among 300 nationwide entries at the Gateway National Juried show at Farmington, N.M.

Paul was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. His painting career began when he moved into a house where a painting easel had been left behind by the previous tenant. Paul is basically a self-taught artist and his work is a blend of fantasy and realism. His winning piece in the Gateway show is titled "On the Path of Knowing." It will be on display at the Farmington Museum in Gateway Park through June 10.

Another local artist, Sandy Applegate, was also selected to participate in the Farmington show. Congratulations to both of you.

We want you!

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council is looking for a membership committee volunteer. To find out about the particulars, call Joan Hageman at 264-4863. There is also a position available as a writer for the Artsline column. If you can spare a couple of hours once a month and you enjoy writing, please call Joanne at 264-5020.


Summer hours at the PSAC Arts Center and Gallery are in effect now through the Labor Day weekend. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

Have a happy June and remember, "To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of the arts."


Sports Page

Wood, Schofield make 3A all-state team

By Roy Starling

Pagosa Pirate senior Jeff Wood has been named as the catcher for the Denver Rocky Mountain News' first team Class 3A all-state baseball team. Jason Schofield received honorable mention as a pitcher for the second consecutive year.

Athletic director Kahle Charles said he believes Wood is the first Pirate ever to be selected for first team all-state honors in baseball.

Wood, a catcher, finished the season with a .576 average with seven home runs and 42 runs batted in. His RBI total was tops among the players named to the all-state team. Schofield went 10-0 for the season with a 2.68 earned-run average. He struck out 101 batters in 63 innings.

The News named Eaton's senior third baseman Mike Carrasco Class 3A player of the year. Lamar's Mike Thompson, who sported a 0.60 ERA, was pitcher of the year.

Other Intermountain League players receiving honorable mention from the News were Nathan Boothe, catcher, Monte Vista; Shane Horton, outfielder, Bayfield; and Ronnie Swartz, second baseman, Monte Vista.


Vanlandingham now ranked 5th in nation

By Roy Starling

Professional mountain biker Shonny Vanlandingham took a break from the national point series last Sunday and took a ride on the 15.5-mile Iron Horse cross country course in Durango.

Competing against 13 other pro women, Vanlandingham took third place in the event, finishing the course in 1 hour, 22 minutes and 53 seconds. Finishing ahead of her were Alison Dunlap and Rene Marshman.

Dunlap, arguably the best female cross country rider in the nation, came in at 1:21.09, while Marshman came in second with a 1:22.04 time. Finishing after Vanlandingham were Carmen Richardson (1:23.52) and Kim Smith (1:24.24).

Vanlandingham's national pro career got underway in earnest last month with two races, one in Big Bear, Calif., and another in Red Wing, Minn.

At Big Bear, she lined up in a field of 85 as a relatively unknown rookie. She quickly introduced herself to the California mountain-bike community by racing to a fourth-place finish in the cross country event.

"They'd never heard of me out there," Vanlandingham said, "so I think I surprised them. I know I surprised me. That was my first race outside of Colorado. I was pretty excited."

Ann Trombley finished first at Big Bear, followed by Marshman and Rachael Lloyd.

Vanlandingham's strong showing in the cross country qualified her for the intense short-track cross country race, and she finished seventh in that event.

"In a short track," she said, "you do laps for 25 minutes on a track that's about three-quarters of a mile to a mile long. If you get lapped, you get pulled from the race, and about half the racers get pulled."

Following the Big Bear race, Vanlandingham headed north to Red Wing, Minn., and she found racing conditions remarkably different there. "That was a very difficult, very technical race," she said. "It was a completely different terrain from what I'm used to. The trail ran through a lot of trees and there were a lot of slick roots on it. I was flailing."

Her flailing was good enough for a 19th-place finish in the cross country and 13th in the short track. Still, a third of the way through the national point series, she finds herself ranked fifth in the nation in cross country races and sixth in short track.

"I'm very happy with the way things are going so far," Vanlandingham said. "The Minnesota race was rough, but I learned a lot from it. I'll just have to develop the skills for that sort of track, because a lot of the races will be in the East."

Next weekend, June 10 through 13, Vanlandingham will race in Seven Springs, Pa. The final two races of the season will be in California and Vermont, respectively.


Video Review
By Roy Starling

Which piper to pay?

Atom Egoyan's "The Sweet Hereafter" (1997) is a film with the elaborate structure and complex characterization of a rich literary novel. It jumps around in time and space, weaving three stories together.

One story is of a school bus accident that kills most of the kids in a small British Columbia town.

Another is about the troubled relationship between Mitchell Stevens (the ambulance chaser in town to find someone to sue in the wake of the tragedy) and his drug addict daughter Zoe. Stevens is portrayed masterfully by Ian Holm.

Finally, there are haunting refrains from Robert Browning's "The Pied Piper of Hamelin." Nicole (Sarah Polley), the lone survivor of the accident, reads this tale to two kids she babysits.

"Pied Piper," in case you've forgotten, is about a town who hires a Piper (a pied one, from out of town) to rid the place of a rat infestation. But after he's de-ratted Hamelin, the town managers refuse to pay the Piper the thousand guilders they promised him.

Annoyed, the Piper pipes another ditty, this one luring all the kids (except one) from the city: "As they reached the mountainside, / A wondrous portal opened wide, / As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed, / And the Piper advanced and the children followed, / And when all were in to the very last, / The door in the mountainside shut fast."

In short, the peeved Piper pilfers the pre-pubescent offspring of all the panicky parents, and he takes them, he says, to "a joyous land" where "everything was strange and new."

Story one (about the accident) is told two ways: First, in the present, as the bereaved families and the surviving bus driver talk to Stevens about the accident and incidents leading up to it; and, second, in flashbacks to the day of the accident.

These latter sequences are much like director Mike Nichols' treatment of "Snowden's grim secret" in "Catch-22." It's as if the event is too powerful to be approached directly; the camera must start, retreat, rest, refocus, then try again, inching closer to the horrible thing itself with each sequence.

Story two is told via flash-forwards, if there is such a term, to Stevens' plane ride home when he happens to sit next to a former friend of Zoe's. Naturally, she asks how Zoe is doing, and poor Stevens fights through layers of grief, anguish, confusion and denial to tell her a kind of history of his daughter, from innocent infancy, through a childhood sickness that almost took her, to her current hopeless condition.

Story three comes to us intermittently from the lovely and mysterious Nicole, much of it by way of voice over. In Browning's poem, there is one child from Hamelin who is not led into the mountainside by the Pied Piper: a lame child who "could not dance the whole of the way." Browning's survivor feels deprived, left out, alone, bereft once his playmates are gone. He envies them. Nicole, too, seems to think surviving may be the more onerous task.

So, you're asking, "How do all of these three stories come together to form one easily understood plot with an explicit message?"

Do they have to?

Some people can make sense of tragedies and disasters almost as soon as they happen, and seem to know immediately what lesson should be learned from them. Most of us, however, need more time. "The Sweet Hereafter" shows us people in that transition period (which may go on forever) as they try to come to terms with what happened - and this would include the lawyer who is losing his own child.

Will bringing a suit hasten this process? Such an action won't bring their children back. But Stevens, who will get one third of the damages awarded, reminds them that a suit will "give voice and direction to your rage" and will be for "the protection of other innocent children." He tells one family, "If everyone had done their job with integrity, your son would be alive and in school this morning."

Look at Stevens' motives. On the one hand, he's just doing his job, and if he does it well, he'll make a lot of money. On the other, he's carrying some rage himself. His daughter has followed a Pied Piper of her own. Who's to blame? Who knows? As Stevens says, "Something has taken our children away. It's too late. They're gone."

Who is the Piper? Where are our children going? Who is responsible? How do we go on in their absence in a town (and a life) now strangely quiet?

These are the questions Egoyan's beautifully crafted film invites us to ponder.

By John M. Motter

Pagosa area was foreign to soldiers

By John M. Motter

It is altogether fitting that Americans honor their military servants on Memorial Day. All over the earth, Americans have died defending our freedoms. What some of us forget is that, less than 125 years ago, those far from home service men wearing our country's uniform were stationed at Fort Lewis in Pagosa Springs. Some of them gave their lives defending what the country believes in.

What was it like to be a soldier stationed at Pagosa Springs in 1878? The following letter to the postmaster general of the United States was written by Capt. Francis F. Dodge, commander of Company D, Ninth Cavalry and commander of Fort Lewis at the time. Company D of the Ninth Cavalry was not comprised of ordinary troops. The enlisted men of Company D were black, labeled buffalo soldiers by the Indians. Buffalo soldiers played a huge role in the settlement of the west.

Before 1879 ended, one of Dodge's troops earned a Congressional Medal of Honor for service above and beyond the call of duty in a confrontation with the Northern Ute tribe north of Meeker. Also stationed at Fort Lewis during 1879 was Company I of the 15th Infantry.

Everyone who ever served in the military knows that mail call is the most important event of the day. Capt. Dodge's letter complaining about poor mail delivery to Fort Lewis says much about what military service in Pagosa Springs was like in 1879. Here is Dodge's letter.

"Headquarters, Fort Lewis, Col.

March 4, 1879

To the Postmaster General, Washington, D.C.


I have the honor to invite attention to the inefficiency of the mail service between the post and the east, and to recommend that said service be increased to at least semi- or tri-weekly mail. At present all the mail for the post comes over the route from Ojo Caliente, N.M., to Animas City, Colo. It is true a weekly mail has been established between Pagosa Springs and Del Norte, Colo. (carried on foot over the summit) but I have yet to learn that a single letter has been brought into this garrison by it. I cannot tell where the fault lies, but there is evidently a screw loose somewhere. The mail from Ojo Caliente is carried on horseback and as a rule, only letters come through. Official communications have been fifteen days en route between this point and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and a longer time has been occupied in the transmission of letters between here and Santa Fe, N.M., a distance of only 160 miles. Last month a detachment of recruits were sent to my company from Santa Fe in a six mule team wagon. Their description lists were sent by mail. The recruits arrived here just six days in advance of their description lists. A person might almost as well be in Alaska as at Fort Lewis as far as any benefits to be derived from the public press are concerned. An officer informed me yesterday that he had lost a hundred papers since the 1st of January, and for myself, I can say that I have received but three members of a weekly periodical which has been regularly sent to me since the 20th of December last. I am informed by two gentlemen whom I know to be reliable, that in January last when passing through Ojo Caliente they saw a large amount of mail which had accumulated in that office. One of them was allowed to look it over and take out letters addressed to himself and friend. They report that the business of the office was conducted in a loose manner, registered letters receiving no more attention than newspapers, and all the mail stored in such a manner as to be easily pilfered.

I should have made an earlier report of this matter had I not been informed that the postmaster at Ojo Caliente had changed as well as the contractor over the route, and hoped for some improvement.

I am told that the mail sometimes comes through in ordinary grain sacks, and I have deemed it necessary to send a courier with a letter to Santa Fe because of the uncertainty attendant on its delivery by the mail.

In conclusion, I would make the suggestion that the contractor be required to carry the mail in buckboards or some light vehicle, and not on horseback as is now customary. We might then hope to get what belongs to us, and there is also a possibility that we might get it on time, something as yet almost unknown.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Francis F. Dodge, Capt. 9th Cavalry, commanding post.

By September of 1879, Capt. Dodge faced problems more serious than the mail. Ute Indians confined to a reservation near Meeker lashed out at their captors. Agent Nathan C. Meeker was killed, a stake driven through his heart. Altogether, 11 men on the agency were killed and all of the women and children taken captive.

Maj. T.T. Thornburgh, commander of the Fourth Infantry stationed at Fort Frederick Steele in Wyoming, had been warned of the coming trouble and set out for the Meeker Agency Sept. 25 with three companies of cavalry, one company of infantry, and 25 wagons. The embattled Utes ambushed Thornburgh and his troops on the Milk River north of Meeker Sept. 29. Thornburgh was killed, but his command managed to turn over the wagons and form a ring from which they held off their attackers.

Capt. Dodge, Lt. M.B. Hughes, and 35 buffalo soldiers marched all night, carrying only three days rations. They broke into the ring of defenders near the banks of Milk River the morning of Oct. 2 and soon found themselves pinned down.

Finally, Col. Wesley Merritt arrived from Fort D.A. Russell in Wyoming with five companies of the Fifth Cavalry. Upon seeing the reinforcements, the Utes abandoned the battlefield, leaving behind 14 dead troopers, 43 wounded troopers, and only a handful of horses and mules left alive.

From Company D, veteran Sgt. Henry Johnson earned a Congressional Medal of Honor. First, he left the safety of his rifle pit and dashed through heavy fire to visit the trenches of his troops. On the fifth day of the fight, Johnson shot his way from the enclosure down to the river where he filled water jugs, then returned to his men.

Before the Army completed analysis of the Meeker Massacre, the Ninth Cavalry was already gone, marching in the direction of New Mexico where they would become embroiled in the wars with the Apache Indians.

The passage of years has a way of changing history, weakening the impact of some events and strengthening others. Among the more controversial subjects of American history are the bloody conflicts between Native Americans and whites. Regardless of how one feels concerning the rightness or wrongness of our country's interactions with the Native Americans, terror generated by life threatening confrontation between the cultures was real. The combatants on each side often showed unusual bravery.

Those of us living in Pagosa Country would do well to pause and reflect on the value placed on our lands by former residents, a people willing to die for their choices.


Food for Thought
By Karl Isberg

'Ipana' makes Karl a grandpa

One minute I'm in cruise-o-matic, wheeling down the highway of life and suddenly I look up and I'm in a left turn only lane. It's too late to switch lanes. I gotta make the turn.

The next minute, I'm In a different neighborhood, motoring down a different street. I'm a grandfather.

I am sitting on the couch watching television when the call comes.

I'm watching one of the new breed of shows that flaunts oddities and disasters, a show with a title something like "Boy, Who Woulda Guessed I'd Be Alive After This!"

I've enjoyed the surgical removal of a 300-pound tumor from a woman's abdomen; I've seen a guy survive an attack where a knife was plunged 10 inches into his head (the victim has a tendency to get emotional over relatively trivial matters); I've marveled as a gal is hauled to the bottom of the Sea World pool by an irate Orca.

When I was young, we went to the carnival and ferreted around the dark recesses of the midway to find these kinds of thrills. Now, they're on Fox.

I am preparing for an hour of "World's Greatest Train Wrecks," when the phone rings.

Suddenly, I am a grandfather.

I am not surprised by the news. The situation did not sneak up on me. I expected the call, though I thought I would hear the phone ring during an episode of "When Pets Go Bad."

I had nine months warning, then I had nine hours warning. My oldest daughter Aurora called from her home that morning. Something about mucous plugs and contractions and whatnot. The information was female, ominous. She and her husband Forrest sped to the "birthing center" only to be sent home to wait.

Later in the day, Aurora called again. She was back at the birthing center. She handed the phone to Forrest while she had a contraction. I heard her groaning in the background. I settled back on the couch and tuned to a special: "Moms Who Seduce their Daughter's Prom Date."

Then, bingo, I'm a grandfather. For the first time.

It's a little girl. Little Ipana. Actually, her parents gave her the name Forrest Amber, but I will call her Ipana - my favorite name. My choice of a name is driving Aurora insane. At last, revenge is mine!

Ipana comes out of the chute at a hefty eight and one-half pounds - the same weight as those dinky dumbbells the guys with teeny arms and necks use at the gym. The same weight as a Lady Brunswick.

The birth is imbued with ramified meaning. This gorgeous baby is a paradox: a delight and a portent. Ipana's clock has just been wound, and mine is winding down. Her life is ahead of her; I am - to use a hockey metaphor - well into the third period, two goals down and skating a man short. I am off the freeway, slowing down, on an unfamiliar side street.

As soon as the message arrives, it's time to do grandparent stuff.

Kathy and I hurry to Durango and catch a flight to Denver, then we snag a flight to Phoenix. Aurora is a flight attendant and provides us with passes. The passes are great: for a nominal sum, all you have to do is fly 300 miles in the wrong direction then, like a desperate hitchhiker, thumb a ride to your destination - if there is a seat available. It used to bother me, but now that I am a grandfather I am calm, patient.

We rent a car in Phoenix, and when we get to Aurora's house in Mesa it is immediately clear that many things about the birth process have changed in recent years. This serves to reinforce my notion that I have turned a corner, wheeled onto a strange avenue.

No longer do we live in a society where a woman stops for a moment during her work in the field, cocks her head at the reception of an unmistakable signal, waddles to a pit she has dug in the ground and over which she has constructed a thatch canopy, squats, takes two deep breaths, catches an infant, cuts the umbilical cord with her teeth, straps the baby to her chest and sets out to finish her furrow before dark.

Neither do we live in a society where the expectant mom is given general anesthesia, has the baby yanked from her with a set of forceps, and spends two weeks recuperating in the hospital.

No, things have changed.

I look around Rori's house.

There are notes stuck on every wall, on every vertical surface. It is like a sports locker room.

"I believe in my ability to birth."

"I focus on what I want rather than what I fear."

"Get in touch with yourself. You feel. . . angry, happy, confused. Express!"

"Be willing to listen to others. S/he feels. S/he needs."

"Dear Helper: See the new mother. See how happy she is. She might overdo, and soon she will look like this (picture of a smiley face gone south). Help her follow her new mother rules, including three naps a day. Three cheers for the happy helper."

There are innumerable powerful woman slogans pasted around the house, next to all sorts of man-must-do-the-bidding-of-powerful-woman slogans.

I don't recognize the street signs.

We meet Ipana. She eats. She sleeps. She poops. The birth process might have changed, but day-old babies remain the same.

Aurora describes the birth, then shows us the video. Whether we want to or not, we are privy to nearly every agonizing moment of the process.

Forrest performs admirably. He follows the advice I gave him a week before - advice garnered from my vast experience as a father. For example: If she hits you, don't cry and don't leave the room. When she screams at you and calls you vile names, say "Yes, honey." Do not tell her, moments after the birth, that she has never looked more alluring. Remember, you are the primary source of her discomfort.

How to describe the video?

Low light in the room, with a special high beam trained at the center of the action. Something dad really doesn't need to see.

Soothing music; guttural sound - Aurora making Rhino noises, Tibetan in effect and apparently designed to produce some sort of vibration, a resonance with the contracting womb. Incredible pain. No drugs. (Talk about a change! During her last pregnancy, my wife Kathy started begging for drugs at 24 weeks.)

The screaming grows in intensity as our mommie-to-be grips the handles of her "birthing chair." No more stirrups, no more table. Thank goodness the medieval device was made in Germany, fabricated with the finest steel from the Ruhr Valley.

Action reaches a fever pitch. The midwife announces that the head is arriving. Forrest stops giving useless breathing instructions and drops to his knees to catch little Ipana.

The scene is primeval, riveting. But, as Forrest reaches down, the screen goes momentarily dark, then is filled with the image of Aurora's manic Staffordshire terrier, Sheba. Forrest has mistakenly taped over the moment of birth in an attempt to capture Sheba's excitement upon receiving a new ball and a mummified pig's ear.

Dear helper: See the new mommie. See the new mommie go berserk. Be a happy helper and run for your life. Three cheers for the happy helper.

Forrest and grandpa escape to the drug store where we buy 406 rolls of film. We spend the remainder of the day and that evening taking photos of Ipana as she eats, poops and sleeps. The camera flashes are nearly constant. Ipana is going to grow up believing life is accompanied by flashes of blinding light at 30-second intervals.

Kathy, in the meantime, makes at least 20 trips to the store for other supplies. Aurora was ordered to remain in bed for three days and when she is not feeding Ipana or handing her off to be tended, she reads baby advice books and argues with Kathy about baby care. Kathy constantly prods little Ipana with some new type of swab. Another burdensome memory for the child to bear as she grows.

I spend two weeks salary at the one-hour photo shop, paying for four prints of every photo.

We eat takeout food for two days and coo at Ipana and then it is time to do something we never did with our own children. Something pleasant. It is time to be grandparents, and leave.

On the flight home, we run into extreme weather. Our 737 is diverted to an alternate airport where we wait out storms in Denver. I spend my time asking crew members precise questions about rudder maintenance. I show the flight attendants and fellow passengers hundreds of photos of Ipana. I am a grandpa.

In Denver, we hitch a ride on a rumpsprung Dornier 328. We wait for 45 minutes at the gate while the lights in the cabin go on and off and people rush from the terminal to the cockpit. They yell at each other and hand pieces of paper and a screwdriver back and forth. The flight attendant is biting her nails.

Weather between Denver and Durango is awful. The Dornier quivers and rattles. I have a vision of the crash site. My remains are found in a pile of crumpled baby photos and crushed complimentary pretzels.

Now, safe at home, I am into phase two of being a grandfather. Telephone calls. Nearly every night. I've got to know how Ipana is faring. Is she doing differential equations? Has she developed an expressionistic painting style? Has she read Wittgenstein? What does she think of Wallace Stevens? Has she pooped?

What do you think she'll want grandpa to cook when the family visits in the fall?

I've got to come up with something grandfatherly; something wise and accommodating.

I tried to create a dish that uses baby food - strained peaches, strained peas, breast milk - all to no avail.

As a grandfather, it's incumbent on me to produce something tasty, but not wild. Something that's easy on the digestive tracts of the ancient and the new alike.

I can't make pad thai or chile rellenos. There'll be no jerk pork or ceviche.

By the same token, I can't serve crushed Saltines soaked in 2 percent milk (one of Kathy's favorites).

You can't go wrong with fruit. I'll be able to practice with summer fruits then transition smoothly to autumnal fruits as the visit of my granddaughter draws near.

Maybe a tart, with a four-yolk crust, blueberries and pastry cream. Frangipane with apple in the fall. Get little Ipana used to cholesterol and life-giving fats.

Better yet, since the kid won't have teeth for a while, a compote of some kind. A mixed fruit compote.

I'll cook up a syrup with water, sugar and a bit of fresh mint.

I'll gather up a bunch of fruit: whatever is ripe and looks good - banana, nectarines, peaches, blueberries, raspberries - and I'll cut the fruit into pieces. I'll pulverize part of the fruit in a processor then mix the sludge with the rest of the pieces of fruit. I'll add a touch of vanilla extract, a pinch of salt and a bit of lemon or lime juice then cover the whole mess with the syrup. A couple of hours in the fridge, and we're eatin' compote.

I realize Ipana won't be able to indulge next fall. But, there's nothing to say that grandpa can't let the little tyke gum a bit of juice off his finger.

It will be an idyllic scene: Gramps, Ipana, a bit of compote and an episode of "The Greatest Industrial Fires of the Decade." I have a lot to teach the kid.

I've turned a corner, but it looks like a nice road. Guess I'll keep driving for a while.



Dear Editor,

This week (May 25) I witnessed what I thought only took place deep down south 40 years ago. Yes, the 6th Judicial District Court and the Pagosans on the jury who, without any concrete evidence, found a man guilty.

I don't know how they were even able to get an arrest warrant much less a felony conviction.

The defendant was a Hispanic who has worked 24 hard, honest years in Pagosa Springs. He never had a chance. He could have brought in 100 character witnesses, he could have had high profile attorney F. Lee Bailey or Robert Shapiro and he could have had the pope as a witness, nevertheless he still would have been found guilty.

A very sloppy and unprofessional police detective who in the period of a 90-day so called investigation was unable to gather any evidence. The only evidence he had after investing $4,500 of tax monies was $100 worth of low-grade narcotics some of which even tested positive of baking soda. And these drugs were not gathered from one person; it combined the whole investigation which involved some 12 people.

The way they created an uneven advantage and obtained the arrest warrants was through a confidential informant, one who was nothing short of a paid witness. The informant did what only a sophisticated hard core drug addict could do: use the local police and its best detective to support her drug addiction. In order to get the gullible detective to continue to invest money in the investigation, she involved many innocent people. She was nothing close to being credible, reliable, especially in proving the guilt of another.

The one-day trial was a railroad from the beginning. Evidence was lost. What little evidence they had was tampered with. At least half of the jury knew the defendant personally and read about the charges in the paper. The trial should have never taken place in Pagosa.

Another shocking moment was when one of the defendant's witnesses was called to the stand in his defense. The witness did not speak English yet they let the Mexican national be cross-examined without a Spanish-speaking translator. Also, what could be heard on the barely audible audio tape while the jury was away was alarming, the informant apologizing for not remembering any of the details surrounding the investigation and the so-called dates and places in which she was supposed to have made the so-called drug buys over and over in front of a handful of members of the audience including myself. The informant could be heard telling the detective and the district attorney I'm sorry I just can't remember.

This describes the demeanor and behavioral language of the informant who not only had the police department fooled but the jury as well. What other person with a conscience and integrity would reach such a verdict with so little, if any, evidence?

Any person who violates our country's laws deserves nothing but justice. I love this town and the people in it, but when you witness what I have, it is clear that just because a person has been charged with a crime it doesn't necessarily mean they are guilty. This case and every single person involved should step back and analyze this whole situation. Was a rapacious predator removed from the innocent streets of Pagosa or was it simply a 1999 lynch mob taking place in Pagosa?

Rene Curiel

Bad rap

Dear David,

The Columbine High School shootings struck a chord that is resonating across the country. It raised our consciousness of the world our teens have to live in. That's good. I fear it has also focused our attention on what teens do wrong. That's not good.

The emphasis is again on "kids at risk." In truth, they are all "kids of promise." If we expect the best, our kids will rise to our expectations.

The majority of young people have always had to live with the negative PR created by the actions of a few. Let's recognize and celebrate everything our Pagosa teens are doing right. Congratulations to all of this year's graduates. Congratulations, also, on the outstanding progress all of our future Pagosa graduates are making.

As we send Pagosa's Class of '99 out into the world, let them know we are proud of them. I am confident they - like Pagosa's past graduates - will bring honor to our community.

Tom Steen

Agree to disagree

Dear Editor,

I would like to address something that John Feazel has written. He says (regarding DC Duncan, letter to the editor May 27) "He does not speak from his heart or conscience because he is in denial. Everything he has written is phony. He does not care about people's rights; nor does any other liberal, but the liberal elite no doubt like him because he is doing their dirty work of advancing their agenda of communism in America; which means no rights for the majority of Americans."

First of all, in denial of what?

Mr. Feazel's further statements are also ludicrous. He does not know DC so how does he reach his ridiculous conclusions? I've been married to DC for 26 years and I know he speaks from his heart and conscience. He definitely cares about people's rights and fairness for all. Advancing the agenda of communism? Oh, please. That's the most absurd thing I've heard in a long time.

Yeah, I know what you're going to say, John - that DC has had a long time to brainwash me. Well, you don't know me, either. I definitely think for myself (as you say you do). I think it's time to agree that we can all disagree and leave it at that.

Jaye Duncan