Front Page

November 11, 1999

Courthouse split by commissioner's executive session

By John M. Motter

Closed doors Tuesday separated the Archuleta County commissioners from the people who elected them. Events transpiring behind those closed doors may close doors between the commissioners and four elected county officials.

At issue is the perception by the four elected officials that County Manager Dennis Hunt is granting larger raises to people in his department than are being allowed in other departments. Although the commissioners are responsible for adopting the budget, Hunt, along with finance officer Tracy Allen, is charged with preparing the budget for the entire county.

Each of the four elected officials say their departments are not being treated fairly when it comes to employee raises.

"Why are we left out in the cold?," asked County Clerk June Madrid. "We are given a memo telling us to limit our employee raises to 2.9 percent in accordance with the cost of living. Then we see Dennis giving his people raises anywhere from 5 to 20 percent. They tell me what happens in other departments isn't my business. Then one of my people quits and goes to work for the sheriff for $5,000 a year more than I can pay. Another employee quit and went to work for Taco Bell."

"I have needed another employee for three years, but haven't received one," said County Treasurer Traves Garrett. "The three people I have work really hard and we have got the job done. I consider all of them as key people. So it doesn't set well with me when I see people in another department getting larger raises than my people. The county manager is not the only one with key people. My people are key people, too, and they've been here a lot longer. What I want is equity among the departments."

"My concern is that everyone be treated equally," said Sheriff Tom Richards. "If Hunt wants to give those people those kinds of raises, I think what is good for one department should be good for all departments."

"I feel when the elected commissioners allow one of their employees to determine what the employees of other elected officials get they are giving that person too much power," said County Assessor Keren Prior. "What I want is parity, fairness. It's hard for someone with an interest in his own department to not be biased. He only sees what concerns him. He sits in judgment on us and he doesn't know our people or the work we do. I cannot believe he is unbiased," Prior said of the county manager.

Prior suggests that elected officials have a say about the budget. Even though, at the beginning of the budget process each department head, including elected officials, submits budget requests to the county manager, and even though subsequent meetings are held between the commissioners and department heads, Prior feels all of the meetings amount to nothing because "what we say doesn't make any difference."

"It's time for the taxpayers to get involved, to find out what their county government is doing," Prior said.

Tuesday at the end of the commissioners' regular meeting, the agenda listed: executive session with Keren Prior - personnel matters; executive session with June Madrid - personnel matters; executive session with Traves Garrett - personnel matters; and executive session with Tom Richards - personnel matters. All are elected to office by the voters of the county, just as the commissioners are elected.

When asked why they scheduled "underground sessions," Commissioner Ken Fox, chairman of the board of commissioners replied, "They are not underground sessions. Executive session has been called to discuss performance and salary evaluations."

When asked who requested that the meetings be private, Fox said, "The county commissioners." None of the other four elected officials asked for an executive session even though they hire and supervise the people involved.

Fox did not volunteer, nor was he asked, if the decision was made by agreement of all of the commissioners. Fox was not available for comment Wednesday because he and Hunt were attending county business in Denver.

"The first time we see the agenda is Friday afternoon prior to the Tuesday meeting," said Commissioner Gene Crabtree. "Typically items on the agenda are placed there by Ken (Fox) because he is chairman of the board of commissioners or by Dennis Hunt."

Public hearings concerning the budget are scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday, according to Crabtree. In addition, Crabtree said the commissioners traditionally make final budget adjustments while attending a Colorado Counties Inc. statewide meeting in Colorado Springs in late November or early December.

Whereas "social gatherings and chance meetings" are exempt from open meeting regulations if discussion of public business is not the central purpose, all meetings of a quorum of public officials at which public business is discussed or formal action "might be taken" are to be open to the public. Also, local public bodies "must keep minutes of meetings where formal action does or could occur."

Concerning last Tuesday's meeting, Madrid said, "I was surprised when I saw that they were holding an executive session for personnel reasons because I don't believe they have any right to conduct a meeting like that concerning my personnel. They are my people, they work for me, the commissioners don't know them, and they have no right to tell them what to do."

The commissioners are responsible for adopting the county budget, including the budgets used by other elected officials.

"They have the right to adopt the budget, but they don't have the right to tell me how much to pay my people," Madrid said. "Ken said they have the right to set salaries, how much we should pay each person. He said the commissioners wanted an executive session so each of us could talk to them one-on-one without being interrupted. I do not believe they have a right to set individual salaries in other departments."

All of the elected officials admitted that salaries was the basic topic discussed during the executive session with the commissioners.

The Colorado open meetings law allows executive sessions closed to the public for certain, but not all, personnel reasons. Salaries, raises and performance evaluations would not normally be a valid reason for an executive session.

In addition, the law requires an agenda heading concerning personnel issues to say something more specific than "personnel."

The intent of the open meeting law is contained in a legislative policy statement which says: "It is declared to be a matter of statewide concern and the policy of this state that the formation of public policy is public business and may not be conducted in secret."

Enforcement of open meeting laws relies on the willingness of concerned citizens to challenge public bodies they think are violating the law. Such response could include initiating court action against the offending public body.


Second traffic signal close to 'sure bet'

By Karl Isberg

For years, local residents have used Archuleta County's only stoplight as a landmark when giving directions.

The stoplight controls traffic at the intersection of U.S. 160 (Pagosa Street) and Hot Springs Boulevard in downtown Pagosa Springs.

With project bids looming in the near future, construction of a traffic signal at the intersection of U.S. 160 and Lewis Street is set to begin next spring. When the work is done and the light is in place, giving directions will be more complex.

If a traffic signal planned for the intersection of U.S. 160 and Piedra Road is put in place, the days of "go to the traffic light and take a left," will be gone forever.

Pagosa Springs Town Administrator Jay Harrington said Wednesday that a project to reconstruct the current intersection of U.S. 160, Lewis Street and 5th Street is as close to a sure bet as you can get.

"We've had to modify parts of the plan after we received feedback from the Colorado Department of Transportation," said Harrington, "but we expect it to go to bid soon. If we receive an appropriate bid back, our goal is to have construction begin next spring."

That construction will involve a slight re-route of 5th Street, to eradicate what is now a three-way intersection and move traffic on 5th Street on to Lewis Street before it reaches the intersection. With the re-route of 5th Street, only Lewis Street will join U.S. 160 and that intersection will be controlled by a stop light.

The town of Pagosa Springs has budgeted $180,000 for the downtown intersection project and CDOT has committed $90,000 to the job.

A project to alter the intersection of U.S. 160 and Piedra Road is more complex, and problems remain to be solved.

Following a meeting on Nov. 8 with CDOT officials, Harrington said he detailed a number of issues town and county officials have concerning proposed CDOT reconstruction and signalization of the intersection of U.S. 160 and Piedra Road.

The intersection was changed several years ago by CDOT, to include a right-turn-only lane for westbound highway traffic turning on to Piedra Road, as well as a turn lane on Piedra Road, an access lane for traffic leaving Piedra Road to the westbound lane of the highway and a turn lane for vehicles accessing Piedra Road from the eastbound lane of the highway.

According to most resident drivers, despite the changes, the intersection remains one of the most dangerous in the county. With proposed development on the northeast corner of the intersection, traffic flow is expected to increase.

The current CDOT plan for the intersection includes a traffic light and an elevated island delineating the right-turn-only lane for westbound traffic leaving the highway.

The improvement is long overdue, said Harrington, but planning must be more farsighted.

"In general," said Harrington, "we are concerned about the proper design of the intersection. CDOT has committed to construct and signalize the intersection next summer. Local officials have concerns about some design issues. One of our basic concerns is that widening the U.S. 160 corridor to four lanes from 8th Street in downtown Pagosa Springs west to North Pagosa Boulevard is the number-one priority for the Southwest Transportation Planning Commission and the number-three priority in the entire Region 9 20-year plan. But the corridor project hasn't been plugged into the funding plan and probably won't be funded for five to 10 years. The problem, as we see it, is the design of the intersection does not acknowledge the potential expansion of the corridor to four lanes. There has been no planning to incorporate this possibility. Also, we don't think CDOT has considered the proposed rerouting and construction of Eagle Drive (the access road on the north side of the highway that feeds traffic to the intersection). The town and county will do the work on Eagle Drive while the state works on the intersection. The projects must be coordinated.

"At our meeting on Monday we tried to get CDOT, town and county staff together to make sure we all get a grip on the issues before this project goes to bid," said Harrington. "I think all the issues can be easily resolved if we get everyone together. Fortunately, CDOT made a commitment to the town and county to do so, and the bottom line is we all need to be on the same page."


State lays down law for school district

By Roy Starling

During a discussion of Colorado's new state accreditation requirements Tuesday night, the School District 50 Joint board of directors seemed to agree on one point: It's the state's way or the highway.

Commenting on an accreditation system that relies almost entirely on the results of Colorado Student Assessment Program tests, Superintendent Terry Alley said the state was "definitely taking away local control. And I'm not sure what their rationale is."

Alley said there was a lot of "unhappiness" with the requirements "mainly due to the heavy emphasis on CSAP scores."

"Apparently they're more interested in how we're doing as opposed to what we're doing," said school board president Randall Davis. "They're really pushing teachers more and more to teach to the test."

Colorado students between third and 10th grade will ultimately be taking a total of 11 CSAP tests (in reading, writing, science and math), and the state will average the results of all 11 to chart students' progress towards mastering state standards. "That average will have to show a 25 percent increase over a three-year period," Alley said, "or the district will have to get 80 percent of its students at the proficient or above level."

Failure to meet either of those requirements would land a district on "academic watch," which could then lead to "academic probation" within a year. Continued "poor" test results would result in the loss of accreditation.

Alley said the district must put together an "accreditation contract proposal" for the Colorado Department of Education by July 1, 2000. The contract, which will allegedly be in effect for six years, must specify the following:

- The district's content standards for student learning, including achievement performance levels

- The district's standards, goals and requirements to be met over the term of the contract; (this) plan should be clearly defined with defensible data-driven/results-based instructional programming.

- The assessments that will be used to measure each student's progress toward and achievement of the district's adopted content standards, including specification of an acceptable performance level; included in this must be a "results-based" classroom instructional plan which clearly aligns with standards and the CSAP testing program.

- Goals and strategies to improve all student academic achievement and to identify and reduce consistent patterns of low academic achievement and discrepancies in academic achievement related to race/ethnicity, gender, exceptional ability, disability, and limited English proficiency.

Among the "assurances" that the district must include in the contract are "evidence that the district's content standards meet or exceed state model content standards" and "evidence that the district assessments are either comparable to or more rigorous than state assessments."

This consistent use of state standards and "results-based" plans as a gauge for student learning runs completely contrary to the school board's goal to "pursue innovations related to the ideas presented in the works of consultant Alfie Kohn" and its mission statement which aims at enabling "students to become productive members of society and to grow as lifelong learners."

As a response, Alley envisions the board giving the state its due, and nothing more. "We'll do what's required, what we have to do," he said. "We're not the only district unhappy about this, and we expect to hear from some of the others at the Colorado Association of School Boards conference in December."

For the next few months, then, the directors will wrestle with maintaining the integrity of their own vision of education while implementing the rather rigid accreditation requirements imposed by the state.


Don't drink and drive - especially in October

By Karl Isberg

Statistics collected during the last two years indicate October is the best month to drink and drive in Pagosa Springs.

It is also the best month to be arrested for DUI.

According to Pagosa Springs Chief of Police Don Volger, a survey of DUI incidents within town boundaries between January and October show two things: that October brings out the drunken drivers and that there has been a 61 percent increase in the number of DUI arrests from 1998 to 1999.

In 1998, reported Volger, there were 28 DUI arrests made by Pagosa Springs officers between January and October. Three DUI arrests in November and in December of 1998 brought the yearly total to 34.

In 1999, said the chief, there were 45 DUI arrests made during the first 10 months of the year.

Only two months in 1999 saw a decline in DUI arrests when compared to the same months in 1998. There were no DUI arrests in Pagosa Springs in February or March of 1999, compared to one arrest in February 1998 and two arrests in March of that year.

Every other month from January 1999 to October 1999, except October, showed an increase in DUI arrests. April and May of 1999 showed increases of four DUI arrests, with five arrests in each month. July and August of 1999 each produced increases of three arrests over 1998 totals.

October, though, appears to be prime DUI season in town. October 1998 produced 12 DUI arrests as did October 1999.

"It's interesting," said Volger of the October arrest figures. "In 1998, before October, we averaged one or two arrests per month, then had 12 arrests in October. This year we had 12 arrests in October. The first tendency is to find a connection to the big game hunting season and to visiting hunters; but that's not a valid connection. The DUI arrests are not hunter-related. We are arresting local residents."

While the October phenomenon remains a mystery, Volger thinks he understands the 61 percent increase in DUI arrests when the first 10 months of 1998 are compared to the same period in 1999.

"I attribute the increase to our change in our night-time patrol," he said. "We now have double coverage at night, with two officers on duty. This has led to an overall increase in the number of traffic stops we make during night-time hours, and those stops lead to more DUI arrests."

The trend pleases the chief. "The chances of a drunk driver being caught in Pagosa Springs have gone up dramatically and will continue to increase as we provide more patrol coverage and continue to give DUI intervention high priority. We would rather put someone in jail than scrape them or their victims off the highway."


Crabtree 'sick and tired of Waste Management'

By John M. Motter

A citizen request for county help in cleaning up Trujillo Road was followed by a ringing condemnation by Commissioner Gene Crabtree of Waste Management, the county's trash contractor.

Robert Preston, a citizen living south of town, asked the commissioners to do something about debris he says is cluttering Trujillo Road.

"I drive Trujillo Road frequently," Preston said. "The trash and debris are a disgrace. I've seen construction materials, tires, tree limbs, boxes, bottles, cans, nails and screws. I was told this is the sheriff's responsibility, but he didn't return my call. I stopped at his office and was told it is not the sheriff's responsibility."

Preston suggested that the commissioners: fine litterers, organize a Trujillo Road clean-up day, and ask the transfer station operator to help clean up the roadway.

"The transfer station people work for Waste Management," said County Manager Dennis Hunt. "We can't order them to work away from their stations."

"What bothers me is they are sitting out there doing nothing," Preston said.

Others present in the room, including commissioners, noted that the transfer station and landfill are the worst locations for litter and debris.

"Landfill hours don't suit the local contractors," said Crabtree. "On Tuesdays and Thursdays they are open from 11 (a.m.) to 2 (p.m.). On Friday and Saturday they are open from 11 (a.m.) to 4 (p.m.). We should demand they change their hours.

"Every time I try to call Waste Management they are either broke down or they don't have enough help or time," Crabtree said. "I'm sick and tired of Waste Management. They need to go away. If they aren't interested in doing what we want, we should see if someone else is interested. They don't have any local workers. Someone is always driving in from Chama or somewhere. On their way in they stop for coffee and to enjoy life. We need to tell them to get on the stick or get out."

"I support a clean-up effort," said Commissioner Bill Downey. "We need to ask the sheriff to enforce anti-litter laws in that area."

In the end, the commissioners took no formal action concerning Preston's request.

In other business Tuesday the commissioners:

- Approved a variance from planned unit development regulations as they apply to the Cloman Industrial Park. The variance allows developers in the park to move from sketch plan to final plat, and negates final plat mylar requirements.

"We are changing the PUD regulations," said Mike Mollica, director of county development. "This variance is in accordance with the changes we anticipate. If others outside of Cloman Park come to you, I suggest you provide them with variances for similar circumstances."

- Denied a variance request submitted by Aspen Springs resident David Been. If granted, the variance would have required the county building department to give Been a certificate of occupancy for a machine shop he is building on Turkey Lane. If the Colorado Department of Transportation requires a builder/owner to agree to certain road improvement requirements, the county supports CDOT by refusing to issue a certificate of occupancy until the builder/owner agrees to do what CDOT requires.

- Agreed to waive trash dumping fees for a dumpster used by the United Methodist Church in connection with the annual Christmas Bazaar.

- Heard a report that work on rebuilding Eightmile Mesa Road is in progress.

- Read and accepted a progress report presented by Social Services Director Erlinda Gonzalez.


Inside The Sun
Supreme Court or voters may settle tax issue

By Karl Isberg

A long-standing dispute regarding a county-wide 2 percent sales tax and whether or not voters should be allowed to decide on allocation of revenues from that tax to Archuleta County and the town of Pagosa Springs could soon be resolved by the Colorado Supreme Court.

Then again, maybe not.

There are two questions at this point in time: what the Supreme Court will decide relative to the position of opposing parties in the case, and whether or not an election scheduled next spring for voters in Pagosa Springs might take the steam out of any court action.

Archuleta County now has two separate sales taxes in effect, in addition to the 3 percent sales tax levied by the state of Colorado. One of the county taxes is a perpetual 2 percent sales tax and an additional, voter-approved 2 percent sales tax is in place and expires on Jan. 1, 2003. Voters agreed by a slim margin in November 1994 to authorize the second 2 percent tax.

At present, revenues from the 4 percent sales tax is divided evenly between the county and the town. An agreement struck between the two entities entailed several agreements and promises, including joint road projects and agreements regarding town use of the county jail and central dispatch service. The town also earmarked its share of the revenues for capital improvement projects.

In 1995, two Archuleta County residents, Fitzhugh Havens and Earle Beasley, acting on behalf of an organization called the "County Road User's Association," petitioned the county to place a question on the Nov. 7, 1995, general election ballot. That question dealt with a proposed redistribution of the 4 percent county sales tax. The proposed reallocation would give Archuleta County 75 percent of the sales tax and 25 percent would go to the town, effectively reducing the town's share of sales tax revenues to 1 percent.

Archuleta County and Pagosa Springs successfully challenged the CRUA in the 6th District Court, preventing the question from being placed on the ballot in 1995. The entities argued that the CRUA's petition did not include information required by state law and the court concurred.

After a CRUA appeal, the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned the district court decision and ordered the county to hold the election.

The county and town then asked the Colorado Supreme Court to review the case and the Court of Appeals stayed its order until such time the Supreme Court either agreed or disagreed with the request to hear the case.

Prior to the Supreme Court's announcement that it will hear the case, Pagosa Springs trustees took action to safeguard sales tax revenues collected within town limits. By some estimates, as much as 90 percent of the total sales tax collected in the county is collected within the Pagosa Springs town limits.

On Sept. 7, 1999, the town trustees passed an ordinance making clear the town's intent to protect revenues that support its capital improvement efforts. The emergency ordinance concerns imposition of a "town-wide sales tax not to exceed 3 percent."

Further language in the ordinance makes clear the conditions under which such a sales tax would be imposed, if approved by the voters. If approved, the 3 percent sales tax will "become effective immediately only if the existing Archuleta County sales tax is repealed, repealed and readopted, determined not to be effective, or expires in whole or in part in an amount greater than one percent."

The election is scheduled for the first Tuesday in April 2000.

"The road users association wanted 3 percent dedicated to county roads," said Pagosa Springs Town Administrator Jay Harrington, "with the town getting 1 percent. That would effectively eliminate our capital planning."

Harrington said the move by the town trustees was also taken in light of their desire not to alter significant relationships between town and county. If the allocation is in jeopardy and the voters in town agree to the proposal in April, trustees indicated they would still be willing to consider cooperation with the county concerning sales tax revenues, but noted the relationship would rest on a different foundation.

"The town and county agreed years ago to split those sales tax revenues 50-50, " said Harrington, "with some provisions concerning how the money could be used: joint road projects, jail and dispatch services and the like. To change the allocation of the revenues and the relationship that underlies it could unravel a very productive relationship. Many of the items towns and counties have historically had conflict over, we've tried to deal with in our agreements. We've successfully created a positive working environment for the two entities. To date, it's been very effective, and we don't want it to change."

But, change it might, and control of the sales tax situation now appears to rest in the chambers of the Colorado Supreme Court and in the voting booth in Pagosa Springs.


New town hall gets $250,000

By Karl Isberg

A Nov. 4 message from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to Pagosa Springs Mayor Ross Aragon notified the mayor that Pagosa Springs will receive grant assistance from the state for construction of a new town hall.

Bob Brooks, of the Department of Local Affairs, stated his department received a recommendation from the state's Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Advisory Committee that the town receive a $250,000 grant to help with the town hall project.

On Oct. 22, Aragon and Town Administrator Jay Harrington attended a meeting with the committee at Ouray and made a presentation with a request for a $300,000 Energy Impact Grant. The money for the grant program derives revenues from state severance tax and mineral lease revenues from oil, gas, carbon dioxide, coal and metals extracted in Colorado.

Following review of the Pagosa Springs proposal, the committee recommended the partial funding of $250,000 and Brooks said he concurs with the committee recommendation and is offering to enter into a contract for that grant amount.

A contract for the grant will be executed and the grant money will be forwarded to the town.

"We asked for $300,000" said Harrington, "and considering the limited energy impacts in our area, the amount the state offered is very good. We'll be looking for the contract to arrive."

Town officials propose beginning construction of a new town hall on Hot Springs Boulevard near the intersection with Apache Street in June or July of 2000. Completion of construction and occupancy of the new building is expected by July 2001.

Harrington said the proposed construction cost of the 13,000-square-foot Town Hall is $1.5 million. Sale of the current Town Hall property at the intersection of U.S. 160 and Lewis Street is expected to produce $300,000 to be put toward construction costs. The remainder of the project cost will be satisfied with sales tax revenues taken in by the town during the year of construction.

An acre of land on Hot Springs Boulevard now occupied by the Pagosa Veterinary Clinic has been acquired as part of the new Town Hall site. Once built, the new Town Hall will anchor a three-phase project on approximately four acres, expected to include a 22,000-square-foot community center and, eventually, a child care facility. Funds for the community center are currently being raised by a non-profit organization.


Davis, Feazel, Lee resume board duties

By Roy Starling

Following the Nov. 2 election and Tuesday night's swearing in and reorganization, the School District 50 Joint board of directors will pretty much have the same faces in the same places for the next four years.

Randall Davis, Carol Feazel and Russell Lee were sworn in at Tuesday's regular monthly meeting. Davis, who began serving on the board in 1979, returns for another term after defeating former board member Laura Haynes. Feazel, who was originally appointed to replace Haynes, defeated challenger Kathryn Pokorney. Lee ran unopposed.

In their reorganization, the directors retained Davis as the board's president and Lee as vice-president. Director Clifford Lucero will continue to serve as secretary. Lee will also relieve Director Jon Forrest of his duties as the board's BOCS representative.

The board appointed Feazel as its delegate to the Colorado Association of School Boards and as its legislative representative.

In other business, the board:

- Approved the following staff recommendations: Sarah Glover, high school special education aide; Shelly Osmera, high school junior varsity girls basketball coach; Chantelle Kay, high school "C" team girls basketball coach; Sean O'Donnell, high school "C" team boys basketball coach; Chris Hinger, junior high assistant wrestling coach; and Janet Martin, bus driver.

- Agreed to purchase from Mary Pierce nine lots adjacent to the high school for $110,000; the district will also pay all closing costs.


Three choices

Dear David,

Evidently, there are some PLPOA property owners who are not happy with the covenants. Some only want the covenants enforced that they like. However, the enforcement of covenants is not a discretionary decision. The covenants are legally binding and they "run with the land."

For many years, some covenants were ignored and not enforced and others were applied to everyone except special groups. It was obvious to the majority of PLPOA property owners that they wanted a change. And in 1998, they voted overwhelmingly for change.

We need to be constantly reminded that the purpose of the various covenants (Declarations of Restrictions) and ECC rules is to maintain property values. Property values are determined by many factors including views, locations, and quality and size of nearby homes. That is the prime purpose of the covenants and we need to enforce them to achieve these goals.

I strongly encourage association property owners to read the covenants (Declaration of Restrictions) that apply to one's own subdivision. Since all of us bought the covenants that were applicable to the subdivision in which we reside when we purchased our property within the PLPOA, then it behooves us to become familiar with those Declarations of Restrictions.

The PLPOA board cannot ignore the covenants. They were originally drawn up, along with an outline of enforcement, by the developer. They are legally recorded documents. This board should not elect to choose which covenants they like and will enforce.

As one who helped change the covenants in our subdivision for the purpose of maintaining and improving our property values, I know it is possible to affect a change. It took us eight months and over $1,400 but we worked together and got it done.

If you think a change is needed, then work within the system. The board or ECC cannot change the Declarations of Restrictions, only the vote of a majority of PLPOA property owners can do so. Until then, we must live by the rules we have in place.

The alternative to our various covenants, and they are not uniform throughout all subdivisions, is no rules with the resulting lowering of property values.

But, until the property owners are ready to work to change the rules, following these covenants is no different from following the laws of the county, and the building codes, and the laws of Colorado or the United States.

We have three choices: One, live and work within the association and its procedures to improve and enhance our life here. Two, be unhappy with what we have and work toward eliminating covenants with a result of lower property values. Three, continue to be unhappy but unwilling to work toward any change. In that choice, moving is the answer.


George R. Esterly

Come on down

Dear Editor,

I would like to say "thank you" to John Feazel for his enlightening letter in last week's SUN. Now I finally know where he is coming from - Neanderthalville.

I particularly liked his statement "If I don't need it, then nobody else does, period." Shall we bring back the cave and the club?

I realize no human on earth could ever change the way he thinks but I'd like to suggest that he become better educated (that's what libraries aim to do, by the way) before he harangues the general public on an issue he clearly knows nothing about. Our ballot issue for the Sisson Library was not about raising taxes, if he had taken the time to read the proposal.

As chairperson of the board for the Sisson Library, I invite him to visit more often and see our overcrowded children's area, our book collection averaging a dated 1984 age and our carpet, which we are making do with by covering the worn spots with runners. And, as for being politicians, well anyone that knows me knows "what you see is what you get" - no hidden agenda here, only 19 years of no pay public service - can he say as much?

I think he also needs to do some research in theology and the earth sciences, all of which are available for no charge at his library.

So, as the game show host says, "come on down." John, I promise lots of smiles and lots of learning - for free.


Kay Grams

P.S. Our world is what we make it.

 Women's suffrage

Dear David,

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns (who brought "The Civil War" and "Baseball" to our living rooms) has produced an exciting new documentary entitled "Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony," and woman's suffrage. The film will air on PBS on Sunday, Nov. 7, and Monday, Nov. 8, both starting at 8 p.m. EST. Stanton and Anthony, along with many others (both men and women) fought to repeal laws that allowed slavery and barred all women from public speaking professions, property ownership and child custody, if married in some states, and of course, the vote.

Few American women realize that it required almost 75 years for the suffragists to achieve the vote that we all take for granted today. From 1848, when a resolution calling for woman suffrage was adopted at the Seneca Fall Convention, to 1920, when the 19th amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified (a decade after the deaths of Stanton and Anthony, and 144 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed), several generations of suffragists had labored tirelessly for the right of women to vote in the United States.

In honor of these women and men, The League of Women Voters of Archuleta County has placed a copy of "One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement," edited by Marjorie Spruill Wheeler, in the Ruby Sisson Library. The League encourages all citizens to watch this important program and read the book; because, not only have men and women fought in the past to attain the right to vote, but they continue the fight to preserve our political freedoms that we so highly value today - it is important that we know their deeds and remember their sacrifices.


Windsor Chacey

Bus system

Dear Editor,

This is a letter of thanks to all of those people responsible for implementing The Mountain Express Bus system of Pagosa Springs.

I work as a dishwasher at The Pie Shoppe in Fairfield and would not be able to keep my job without dependable transportation.

The white Mountain Express shuttle shows up at Turkey Springs Trading Post every weekday at 8:30 a.m. and takes me safely to Fairfield.

After work I catch the bus at City Market which takes me back to Turkey Springs.

The bus drivers are courteous and the ride is comfortable. Most important - they are dependable.

If you want a fun outing for your children, get a bus schedule and go for a ride on the Mountain Express. The scenery is beautiful and the other passengers are fun to meet and to chat with.


Stacy Denton

Support the youth

Dear Editor,

This Friday I will travel to Aspen to participate in the Miss Teen Colorado USA 2000 pageant, which will be held on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the great people and the many businesses in this community for their support and sponsorship in helping to make this trip happen for me.

To all my family and friends for their help in baking all the goodies for the bake sales and just being there, thanks for all you have done each and every one of you.


Natalie Ortega


Transfer fee

Dear Editor,

At the end of July, the PLPOA directors signed a contract with Colorado Management and Associates (CMA) to provide bookkeeping services and a general manager for the PLPOA at a cost of $12,000 per month. CMA was the only company the directors entertained; no competitive bids were sought (against the board's own policy). During July, many property owners were concerned about the costs associated with contracting with an out-of-town management firm and what additional costs might be hidden in the contract. The property owners were assured that the contract had been thoroughly reviewed and that the costs to the property owners would actually be the same or less than what it had been the previous year and that there would be no reduction in the services provided. A recent PLPOA newsletter also stated how pleased the board was with CMA and how using CMA was a cost savings over the previous staff.

On Oct. 1, CMA started assessing a $75-per-lot transfer fee to each piece of property that is sold within the Pagosa Lakes subdivisions. The Pagosa Springs Area Association of Realtors estimates that approximately 500 pieces of property change hands in Pagosa Lakes each year. This includes houses and vacant lots. This works out to be an additional $37,500 charge by CMA, in addition to the $144,000 per year that they are being paid by the PLPOA. The $37,500 goes directly to CMA and ends up in Denver. This service was provided at no charge by the PLPOA staff in the past. But now the directors have succumbed to supporting these extortion practices of CMA.

At the board meeting on Oct. 14, a PSAAR representative was allowed to voice the concerns of the Realtors toward this new and excessive charge. Director Pat Curtis, board president, would not allow any other comments on the subject from property owners. The large group of property owners were "stonewalled" by Director Curtis in a dictatorial fashion.

Director Curtis started out by commenting that the transfer fee was a "non-negotiable" part of the contract with CMA. Unfortunately the majority of the directors rushed to sign the contract without arguing this point and the cost is now being placed on the property owners. When asked about the transfer fee, one director told me that he didn't think that the contract with CMA allowed CMA to charge such a fee. Obviously he did not read the contract completely before signing it. It appears that many of the directors have forgotten that they were elected (or appointed in the case of most of the directors) to represent the property owners for the betterment of the association, not for the financial gain of CMA.

The directors have made a huge mistake by contracting with CMA. It is time to break the contract and to remind the directors that their job is to make decisions for the PLPOA that are in the best interest of the property owners.

Craig Givens

Start waking up

Dear Editor,

Well, it's about time some more people who think they own property start waking up. Just maybe they are starting to see the PLPOA for what it really is: a power-hungry, money-spending, mind-controlling, can't-mind-your-own-business organization.

Elaine Hyde's letter hits it right on the nail head. Her first question about the population being pleased could be answered by a group of retired property owners getting together, acquiring a list of all property owners and composing a letter outlining all of the outrageous incidents against other property owners, needless lawsuits, increased monies and needless expenditures over the years and sending it to everyone on the list asking for a signature on a petition to abolish the PLPOA and put in a set of covenants and leave it at that.

Elaine has the idea so she should be the one to head it up and I would even help in what ever way I could to make this abolishment a reality. One does not have to live in the PLPOA boundaries to help. After all if the cancer starts in one area, it can spread to another and another till it takes over the whole body. Marilyn Scarpa would be another to help. After all, people, you should put your actions where your mouth is.

Let's get it done and then we could live as our founding fathers wanted us to live - free.

Randall Mettscher

Philosophy of life

Dear Editor,

Kate Terry has a line in her Local Chatter of Philosophy of Life that seems applicable to the PLPOA . . . "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups."

M.R. Tippit


Dear David,

I enjoyed reading the Oct. 21 issue of the SUN, but I have a question about your relationship with Sally Hameister. Do you compliment, or complement, each other's work?

Keep smiling, and Hook 'em Horns.

Gene Wissler

Austin, Texas

Editor's note: I compliment Sally for her work; the SUN does not try to complement her work.


Kimberly Ruminer

Kimberly Louise Ruminer passed away Thursday, Nov. 4, 1999, in Durango.

Ms. Ruminer was born Aug. 27, 1963, in Kansas City, Mo. She had been a resident of Durango for the past 16 months.

She enjoyed stuffed animals, balloons, toy bears, books, receiving greeting cards, and MTV. She loved her nephews, and had a sweet and quiet personality. She loved the Lord.

Ms. Ruminer leaves behind her mother and father, Janice and James Smith of Pagosa Springs; sister, Pam and her husband Dale Stone of Allison; brother, Jeffrey Jones of O'Fallon, Mo.; nephews, Cody and Cory Stone of Allison; maternal grandparents, Foy and Ruby Sorrell of Gatewood, Mo.; paternal grandparent, Sibyl Smith of Durango; step-sisters, Wendy Hare of Texas City, Texas, and Robyn Gray of Denham Springs, La.

Funeral services were held Tuesday, Nov. 9, in Thayer, Mo., at Myrtle Cemetery. In lieu of flowers the family requests contributions be made to Community Connections 281 Sayer Drive Number 200, Durango, CO 81301.


Pagosa Profile

Jim Miller

Parks Maintenance supervisor

Town of Pagosa Springs


Where were you born and raised?

"I was born in Riverside, California. I was an Air Force brat, so I traveled extensively. We lived in Alabama and North Dakota, and I ended up going to high school in Altus, Oklahoma."


Where were you educated?

"I graduated from Altus High School as a member of the Class of 1967. I went to the University of California, at Berkeley, and dropped out the same year as the Unabomber."


When did you come to Pagosa Springs?

"I moved here two years ago."


What is your domestic status?

"My wife Lynn and I have been married three years."


What work did you do prior to your employment by the Town of Pagosa Springs?

"I've been doing landscaping work since shovels were made of stone. I spent 20 years managing private estates in Idaho and California. Malibu was the last place I worked. It is one of the nicest spots in California, and I couldn't wait to get out of there."


What do you like best about your work?

"Happy, growing, newly-planted trees."


What do you like least about your job?

"Taraxacum Oficinale - the dandelion. I don't know the Latin name for cigarette butts."


Sports Page
Lady Pirates wrap up surprising season

By Karl Isberg

With losses in two of three matches, the 1999 Lady Pirates volleyball team ended its season at the Class 3A regional tournament at Manitou Springs on Nov. 6.

Pagosa Springs finished the season with a 20-6 record, winning the Intermountain League and District 1 championships.

Losses to regional champion Manitou Springs and to second-place Middle Park, and a win over Olathe, gave Pagosa the third-place spot at the regional tournament. The two top teams advanced to the state championship tournament at Denver.

The Lady Pirates played eight games in their three matches at Manitou and won four of the games. One more win and one less loss would have kept the season alive for one more week.

It was not to be.

Middle Park

The Middle Park Panthers were the first opponent on the slate for the Ladies. The Panthers play in the large and always tough Metropolitan League and finished fourth in the regular-season standings.

Middle Park began to gain momentum at the end of the Metro League season and turned on the steam at the district tournament, finishing second behind champion Lutheran and preventing perennial favorite Faith Christian from advancing to the regionals.

The Panthers carried their momentum into the regional tourney at Manitou, but were unable to bring it to bear in the first game of the match against the Lady Pirates.

Pagosa jumped out to a 3-0 lead, taking the serve from the Panthers with a kill by senior middle hitter Mandy Forrest and scoring with an ace serve by Katie Lancing, a kill by Meigan Canty and a tip by Forrest.

The Ladies increased their lead to 7-1 with two gift points on Panther errors, a kill by Nicole Buckley and an ace by Forrest. The Lady Pirates had the game in control and their opponents seemed stunned.

Pagosa's lead went to 10-2 as the Panthers had troubles with two serves by Andrea Ash, then hit a ball out of bounds.

Middle Park scored three unanswered points before Buckley killed, Lancing hit an ace to the back line and a formidable Lady Pirate tandem block forced Middle Park's outside hitter to put the ball into the net.

With Pagosa in front 13-6, Middle Park managed one final point. A perfect backward dink by Forrest put Pagosa on the brink of victory and a stuff block by Lancing and Canty completed the 15-7 Lady Pirate win.

Pagosa got the first point of the second game of the match when an overly-eager Panther hitter committed an error. The Panthers settled down and quickly built a 5-1 advantage. The Lady Pirates seemed to lack concentration and communication. Tiffanie Hamilton scored with a kill down the line but the Panthers came back to extend their lead to 13-2.

The Lady Pirates did not give up the ghost. Ash scored with an ace serve and a fourth point went on the board for the Ladies after a Middle Park passing problem. The Panthers surrendered two more points with hitting errors and Janae Esterbrook closed the gap to 13-7 with a kill off a pass from Forrest. But the Middle Park lead was too great to overcome and, with the serve back, the Panthers ended the game 15-7.

The third game of the match proved the critical game for each team. Both squads were needing to win the game and match to have a reasonable chance of advancing to the state tournament. While each team figured to defeat Olathe, each had to face Manitou Springs, the No. 2 ranked Class 3A team.

The teams began the third game by trading eight side outs without a score. Finally, a poor Lady Pirate pass strayed above the net and a Panther stuff block put a point on the scoreboard for Middle Park. Pagosa came back with a successful back-row attack by Forrest, and took a 2-1 lead with a Panther mistake.

Middle Park went in front 4-2 as Pagosa hitters put attacks out of bounds. Pagosa got a point on a Panther error and Buckley tied the score by winning a battle for a ball above the net.

The battle see-sawed again: Middle Park got a point when a Lady Pirate made contact with the net and a kill to the back line put the Panthers in front 6-4. Pagosa got a point when a Panther attack went awry. A series of great back-court digs by the Ladies led to a successful tip by Lancing and the score was knotted 6-6.

Middle Park went ahead 7-6 with an ace and Lancing tied the score with a stuff block. Pagosa took its last lead of the match getting a gift point from the Panthers and a point on a tremendous kill of an errant Middle Park pass by Forrest.

Three stuff blocks led to Middle Park scores, and the Panther outside hitters nailed two kills for points. Trailing 12-9, the Ladies got the serve on a kill by Esterbrook but could not make it pay off. Middle Park took the ball back and ran the table for the 15-9 win.

"We started absolutely awesome," said Lady Pirate coach Penné Hamilton. "We pretty much set them back on their heels. In the second game, we made a bunch of errors right at the beginning and dug ourselves into a hole. We couldn't dig our way out. We had our chance in the third game when we were ahead 9-7 and didn't take advantage of it. We simply made too many mistakes."

Forrest had 12 kills against Middle Park. Buckley put five kills down, while Lancing and Hamilton each had four kills.

Lancing had 20 setting assists during the match, beginning what would be one of the best days of her young career. The sophomore was clearly the finest setter at the tournament.

Hamilton managed 13 digs in the back court. Esterbrook had eight digs against the Panthers; Ash had seven digs during the match. Lancing hit four ace serves.


The Olathe Pirates were a mystery prior to the regional tournament. The team captured the regular season championship in the Western Slope League yet finished third at the district tournament behind Hotchkiss and Aspen. Olathe's lineup lacked height and firepower along the net, but compensated with a scrappy attitude and a solid back-court defense.

Trailing 4-0 in the first game against the Lady Pirates, the Olathe players must have wondered whether they belonged at the regional event. Pagosa got points from Forrest, Buckley and Lancing, then Hamilton caught fire at the outside scoring three times to put her team ahead 8-2.

The Lady Pirates' onslaught continued while Olathe managed to collect nine points before game's end, all the points unearned. Pagosa went on to the 15-9 victory with scores from Esterbrook, Lancing, Forrest and Hamilton.

Olathe was not a pushover, however, and the team came back with a strong effort in the second game, forcing the Lady Pirates to fight for a 17-15 win. Olathe proved later in the day that their effort was no fluke, as the team took Middle Park to three games before losing to the Panthers.

Pagosa was ahead by a comfortable 12-4 margin in Game 2 when Olathe began to climb back into contention. The Lady Pirates had earned points from Canty, Forrest and Lancing and the Pagosa blockers stifled what little attack Olathe could muster. What allowed Olathe back into the game was a series of Pagosa errors.

Forrest got the Ladies into a position to win with an ace that put Pagosa in front 14-11, but a hitting error gave Olathe a point and the game was tied as two ace serves got past the Lady Pirates' serve receive.

Each team gave up a point with a mistake before two great back-court digs gave the ball to Forrest who, in turn, put a perfect dink to the back line for a point. The game ended when Buckley slammed a kill to the floor from the outside.

"While the team as a whole didn't play as well against Olathe," said coach Hamilton, "Mandy Forrest played a nearly flawless match. It was nice to see us beat them in two games; they were a scrappy team."

Hamilton had six kills against Olathe. Forrest had five kills, while Buckley, Esterbrook and Lancing each had four kills.

Forrest put up six stuff blocks during the match. Lancing had 16 assists and two ace serves.

Both Esterbrook and Lancing made six digs against Olathe.

Manitou Springs

Pagosa's only chance to advance to the state tournament hinged on a two-game victory over powerful Manitou Springs (23-3), the Tri Peaks League and District 6 champs.

While the Lady Pirates lost the match in three games, it was apparent there was little difference between the teams. On another day, the match might have gone another way.

The first game of the match was tight from beginning to end, with Pagosa's strength matching Manitou's strength along the net. The Lady Pirates took an early 3-1 lead with two kills by Esterbrook, but the Mustangs roared back to lead 4-3.

Esterbrook tied the game and the Ladies used a Mustang error and a dink by Canty to go in front 6-4. Forrest scored a point with a stuff of Manitou's best middle hitter and a Mustang mistake put Pagosa ahead 8-5.

Manitou surged to tie the game at 8-8, but a kill by Buckley and a dump to the 10-foot line by Lancing put Pagosa in front 10-8. The Lady Pirates led 12-9 but gave up two points with hitting errors.

Hamilton returned serve to Pagosa and the Ladies scored with a textbook back-row kill by Forrest and two ace serves by Hamilton. The first game belonged to the Lady Pirates.

Manitou came back to win the next two games 15-7, 15-6, but the scores do not reflect the closeness of the games. Each game was characterized by lengthy, scoreless exchanges of side outs, with the first game colored by an unusually high number of calls against Pagosa by the floor official for incidental contact with the net.

The second game of the match was knotted through the early going, with Manitou ahead 7-6 before the Mustangs made their move. Manitou earned 4 of 8 points to secure the victory. Pagosa earned 5 of 7 points, with the back-row kill by Forrest remaining effective. Hamilton and Buckley scored from outside, and Canty got a point on a block in the middle.

Manitou made several mistakes at the start of the third game and, with an ace by Lancing, the Lady Pirates had a 4-0 lead. Buckley got a point with a block to keep Pagosa in front 5-1. Manitou came back strong, creating a 6-5 lead with effective quick sets to the middle hitter and profiting from several Lady Pirate errors. Pagosa got its last point on a Manitou error before the Mustangs used a series of well-hit balls inside Pagosa blocks to take the game and match.

"As a coach," said Hamilton, "I can look back on the season and see this match as one of the best we had. It was a real battle, and the scores don't reflect how tough a battle it was. You had to be there to know. The girls fought to the end, and it was good to see."

Forrest had a spectacular outing against the Mustangs, with 20 kills against one of the best Class 3A defenses in the state. Buckley looked anything but a sophomore as she nailed nine kills against Manitou. Esterbrook ended her Lady Pirates career with seven kills; Hamilton and Canty each had six kills.

Lancing put up 34 setting assists during the match and had eight digs and an ace. Hamilton produced 10 digs on defense and hit an ace against Manitou.

Successful season

Though a trip to the state tournament is not in the offing for the Lady Pirates this season, their 20-6 record would be welcomed by all but eight or so teams in Class 3A. Pagosa forged a record that, at the start of the year, would have been reckless to predict in light of the fact 5 of 6 starters had little or no varsity experience.

"I lost six seniors after 1998," said coach Hamilton, "and returned only two players from that team - only one starter. We also started a new setter this year. You look at that, and it is easy to see the girls had a fine season."

Another undefeated Intermountain League season, the fourth consecutive IML schedule without a defeat came, said Hamilton, "when the rest of the league underestimated us. We dominated our competition all season long. I attribute part of that success to our senior leadership on the court from Mandy and Janae, and part of it to the fact that our sophomores, Katie and Nicole, grew up so quickly. We got quality play from our juniors Tiffanie and Meigan and good serving and defense from Andrea."

Hamilton said she and assistants Shelly Wedemeyer and Connie O'Donnell were pleased by the progress the team made. "Things we never anticipated a year ago happened with this team and we were really pleasantly surprised in that respect."

The program loses two senior starters in Forrest and Esterbrook and loses senior Kayla Mackey as well. A strong nucleus of starters will return: Canty and Hamilton, who will be seniors, and Lancing and Buckley who will be juniors. Ash, a defensive specialist and designated server, will also be a junior.

"For me it's the same as for all volleyball coaches," said Hamilton. "When you're finished with your season, you start thinking about how to improve your program. I'll meet with Connie and Shelly next week and we'll begin to develop our plan for the year."


Pirates take on Fort Morgan in state playoffs

By John M. Motter

Pagosa's football Pirates take on Fort Morgan Saturday in the first round of the Colorado Class 3A football playoffs.

Coach Myron Stretton's Pagosa gridders earned the right to enter the playoffs by capturing the Intermountain League title without losing an IML game. Their opponent, the Fort Morgan Mustangs are unbeaten in the Northern Tri-Valley League, unbeaten this season by anyone, and ranked first among 3A schools in Colorado. Game time is 1 p.m. at the Fort Morgan stadium.

"We're looking at their game films," Stretton said. "They are obviously a good football team, both offensively and defensively. They've beaten everyone they've played by a big score. They have a good quarterback who runs the ball well, a tailback who looks fast, a big fullback, and a big receiver.

"As good as they are, I think we're ready for them," Stretton added. "We'll have the advantage of having played in tight games. I have a lot of confidence in our guys. Last week's game with Cortez was a good warmup. My only disappointment is losing to Cortez. I think we are a better team than they are."

Pagosa dropped a 34-19 season-ending encounter to the Class 4A Panthers Saturday. The loss reduced Pagosa's season record to 7-3, 5-0 in the IML.

No one was injured during last Saturday's game. Punter and deep safety Darin Lister did not play because of a tender ankle injured a week earlier in the Del Norte game. Lister will probably be ready for Fort Morgan, Stretton said. Multi-purpose player Lonnie Lucero, also helped from the field during the Del Norte game, played Saturday without a sign of a limp.

Cortez won the coin toss Saturday and elected to receive. Pagosa's Clint Shaw kicked off in place of Lister, the Pirates' regular kicker. Shaw's kick sailed high in the direction of Pagosa Peak and dropped into the arms of Panther Josh Lee. The pigskin didn't stop there, but tumbled onto the turf where it was recovered by Pagosa's Nathan Stretton on the 27-yard line. The filled west bleachers plus one sideline full of Pirate fans shouted and pumped their arms in the air.

The Pagosa 11 got the message. Quarterback Ronnie Janowsky whistled a pass to no one in particular on the first Pagosa play of the series. On succeeding plays, tailback Shaw pierced the Panthers defense for eight yards, Lucero ran for three yards and a first down, then 13 yards and another first down, and Shaw slipped through the middle for a touchdown. Backup extra point specialist Josh Trujillo split the uprights, and Pagosa was on top 7-0 before anyone's cleats were dirty. Now there were more fans on the sidelines than in the bleachers.

Shaw kicked off again. This time the Cortez receiver captured and kept the ball. The Panthers started on their own 34-yard line. Having moved the ball a scant two yards in three plays, Cortez punted.

Pagosa again moved the ball, but this time a holding penalty prevented the Pirates from making a first down. After an exchange of punts, Shaw raced around the right side of the Cortez line for 25 yards and a first down on the Cortez 10-yard line. A Cortez interception in the endzone two plays later ended the Pirates scoring threat.

Cortez then rode the passing arm of Josh Mortenson for the next two minutes, finally scoring on a Mortenson pass to Bryce Tanner. Another pass picked up two points on the extra point try. Cortez lead 8-7 with 2:36 left in the period.

By the time the first period ended, another Pagosa threat penetrated to the Cortez 22-yard line before a clipping penalty killed the drive.

Cortez rang up another TD early in the second period, but failed on the extra point try. Before the half ended, the Pirates again threatened, this time reaching the Cortez 1-yard line. An incomplete Janowsky to Tyrel Ross pass in the endzone ended the threat. The halftime score was 14-7 Cortez.

Only one score was recorded during the third period, a 1-yard plunge by Adam Hermann for the Panthers. The extra point try was no good and the period ended with Cortez on top 20-7.

Cortez scored twice in the early stages of the final period before Pagosa got back into the offensive groove. Pagosa's next scoring effort was fueled by Janowsky's passes to Ross and Lucero before Shaw blasted over from the 4-yard line. Trujillo's extra-point kick was no good and the score was 34-13 in favor of Cortez with 5 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the game.

The game's final TD was scored by Trujillo after the Pirates retained possession of the ball on a drive that used up three minutes.


Mountain League honors Kurt-Mason, Dach

By Roy Starling

For the fourth year in a row, Pirate center midfielder Seth Kurt-Mason has been named to the Mountain League all-conference team, while sweeper Peter Dach received honorable mention from the league's coaches.

"You'd want a guy like Seth on any team," Pirate soccer coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason said. "He's such a leader in games and at practice. Even kids from other teams looked up to him, and other coaches obviously liked him."

What made Seth one of the premier players in the league? According to his coach, plenty of things.

"He's extremely creative, has great footwork, excellent speed and he just dominates in the midfield," he said. "He has some of the best moves I've ever seen and definitely the best handspring throw-in. He's also a great playmaker. He can see things developing on the field and that's how he manages to be in the middle of every play."

Dach, who earned the moniker "Superman" from loyal Pirates fans, has impressed his coach and opposing players the past three years with his deceptive speed, his patience and perfect timing when approaching an enemy ball handler.

Kurt-Mason recalls that when Dach joined the team as a freshman, "he was pretty meek, so he didn't play much." But it didn't take long for the mild-mannered sweeper to develop an attitude and become one of the Pirates' hardest working and most reliable players.

"Peter left his skin on the field," Kurt-Mason said. "He played every game at the highest level he could play. This whole season, the kids - from forwards to goalie - counted on Peter. He was a vocal leader who understood the game and his role in it."

Others named to the all-conference team were Nelson Lamb (who just nosed out Seth as the top vote getter), Carl DeSelm and Michael Burleigh of Telluride; Kyle Anderson, Erik Bergmann, Billy Ziotacha and Jenna Velardi of Crested Butte; Jordan Batchelder and Chris Hughes of Ouray-Ridgway; and Rory Martinez and Chris Smithwick of Ignacio.

In addition to Dach, the following players received honorable mention: Tyler Hawk-Erskine and Sean McCarthy of Telluride, Dan O'Brien of Ouray-Ridgway and Royal White of Crested Butte.


Community News
Local Chatter
By Kate Terry

Kate gets kissed by a llama

Have you ever been kissed by a llama?

I have. His name is Rigatoni. He's four months old, a beautiful mass of soft fur in shades of brown, tan and white, with big sparkling brown eyes. He's one of the 80 llamas on the FireFly Ranch owned by Jamie and Doug Sharp.

Saturday, at the very successful Civic Club's Christmas Bazaar, the Sharps and Susie and Dave Belt, who own and operate Echo Mountain Alpacas, shared a booth and it was there that I learned about these two fascinating businesses.

The Bazaar was a good place for this. People were lined up at the door when it opened at 8 a.m. and kept a steady stream - going and coming - all day.

On Sunday I was lucky for the Belts did a special tour for a group of people from Scotland, and Jamie Sharp gave me a special tour. That was where I "met" Rigatoni. (I'd like to think that he kept nuzzling me because of "me" but I have a feeling he nuzzles everyone!)

Alpacas and llamas are both from the camel family. One might get them confused, but that can easily be taken care of by going on a tour. FireFly Ranch is a working ranch so tours are once a week, on Wednesdays, at 1 p.m. The telephone number is 264-6614 and it's located out Snowball Road. The barns are painted blue. Easy to spot.

The tours at Echo Mountain Alpacas are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 1 p.m. The telephone number is 731-2729. It is located at 678 Dichoso Street. The street starts on South Pagosa Boulevard and cuts across Meadows Drive, so you can get there by way of South Pagosa Boulevard or Meadows Drive. They have a limited supply of alpaca fibers for sale as well as some clothing items. They offer breeding stock for sale and offer boarding services.

The Belts would like for more local people to visit them. They have tourists, many from out of the country, like Sunday's bunch from Scotland and those from Peru last week. But local people don't know they are there and the tours are free.

Jamie has a business called "Fibers" located on the ranch: as you enter keep going straight. Here she teaches classes in spinning and Susie Belt teaches classes in felting. For sale are looms, stuffed animals, wonderful books about llamas for children, and other llama related things, and wonderful yarns in gorgeous colors.

A club has been formed for weavers, called "Weavers." The idea is to get fiber artists in the area together, to socialize and eventually from a guild and bring in guest speakers. Please call Jamie if you are a weaver.

I think that I will always remember the wonderful feeling I had when I was surrounded by the gentle llamas. No pushing, just the feeling of being brushed by bunches of soft fur.

Jamie had called in "the girls" (the females) to eat. Llamas and alpacas are so light on their feet, it seems they could easily be blown away, but not necessarily so for the llama herds sheep (coyotes don't like llamas). A tour of either ranch is a wonderful way to entertain a guest. Pure fun.

Fun on the run

Consider the case of an Illinois man who left the snow-filled streets of Chicago for a Florida vacation. His wife was on a business trip and was planning to meet him there the next day. When he reached his hotel, he decided to send his wife a quick e-mail. Unable to find the scrap of paper on which he had her e-mail address, he did his best to type it in from memory.

Unfortunately, he missed one letter and his note was directed instead to an elderly preacher's wife whose husband had passed away only the day before. When the grieving widow clicked her e-mail open, she took one look at the monitor, let out a piercing scream, and fell to the floor in a dead faint.

At the sound, her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen:

"Dearest wife,

Just got checked in.

Everything prepared for your arrival tomorrow.


Your eternally loving husband.

P.S. Sure is hot down here."


Chamber News
By Sally Hameister

Kiosk keeps Chamber on cutting edge

Five new members to share with you this week and eleven renewals continuing the "Year of the Awesome Responses."

Morna, Suellen and I couldn't be more pleased with the prompt and enthusiastic response we've enjoyed during this year's membership renewal campaign. We are most grateful to all of you for your continued support of our efforts in your behalf and pledge to carry on with your best interests in mind. To those of you who might need a little nudge, I will be making some personal calls to chat with you - how's that for a warning? On to our new members.

Welcome to Cascade Water/Coffee Service with Daryl Leeper at the helm. This business is located at 1000 South Lake Street in Farmington, N. M. Cascade offers delivery at either your home of the office. Their product line carries purified bottled water and office coffee break supplies, paper products, coffee brewers and water coolers. If you would like to learn more about Cascade Water/Coffee Service, please give Daryl a call at 800-416-1859.

Another out-of-area business joins us this week, Maiman Financial located at 1315 Main Avenue, Suite 221, in Durango. Heather Tautges is a residential and commercial mortgage broker and the person in charge at Maiman. These folks specialize in lot loans, construction loans, home improvement loans, and equity lines of credit. If you would like to learn more about Maiman Financial, please give Heather a call at (970) 382-5950.

Our old pal John Porter joins us next with A Reading Society and Ensemble presenting Thursday Night Live. You will have the opportunity to congratulate this group tonight at their first presentation and performance at Loredana's. This is Pagosa's first dinner-theatre offering and will be offered to you on the second Thursday of each month with new ideas and material. The cast will render live readings of plays, especially vintage television and radio classics. Sounds like lots of fun to me and presents yet another opportunity for Pagosa residents to enjoy something new and different - and support the arts in our area at the same time. Tickets are available at Loredana's on Bastille and at Hodge Podge in the River Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for dinner/performance.

Our next two members join us as Real Estate Associates, and I am particularly happy with this since this has been one of my recent bandwagons. I think it makes such good sense for Realtors to join as Real Estate Associates since it gives them a personal presence on the Chamber Website, mailings to relocation requests and the membership directory. Obviously competition is fierce in the Real Estate milieu in Pagosa, and Associate Membership gives the Realtor a distinct edge.

Welcome to Al Baird with Coldwell Banker, The Pagosa Group, located at 2383 Highway 160. Al encourages you to put the professionals to work for you in the areas of residential, commercial or vacant land - they have it all. Visit them on their Website: or give them a call at 731-2000.

Yvonne Kuri also joins us with Coldwell Banker, The Pagosa Group, at the same location. Yvonne sells Archuleta County whether it's a home, land or commercial property you're interested in. She offers you twenty-five years of experience in the Real Estate field and invites you to give her a call at 731-2000 to learn more about her services.


We're happy to welcome the following renewals: Michele and Mark Mesker with Paint Connection Plus; Valerie and Scott Firth with DCI Technical Services; Faye and Gary Bramwell with Astraddle A Saddle, Inc.; Camille Cazedessus II with Rendezvous Books and Art/Pulpdom; Bill Gullette with Endaba Wilderness Retreat, Inc.; R.D. Sprague with Acres Green R.V. Park, LLC; Jann C. Pitcher with Jann C. Pitcher Real Estate (we are so happy you're on the mend, Jann); Linda Morrison with Pagosa Insurance Agency, Inc.; Mariko Layton with Life Force, LLC; Christine Lawrence with Bike and Glide Mountain Seasons Sports; and Associate Members, Tom and Wyoma Richards. We're delighted with your renewals.

Parade of Lights

We're very excited about this year's addition to our holiday celebration in Pagosa, the first Parade of Lights to take place (weather permitting) on Friday evening, Dec. 10, at 6 p.m. We feel that Pagosa has come of age to host this parade as an annual event and presents yet another reason for our visitors from near and far to make sure they are here for this weekend. Invitations to all members will be in the mail soon to give you all the details, but we hope that you and your family/business/organization and/or neighbors will get together to join us in this premier event. Cash prizes (100 Big Ones) will be awarded in five categories: Best and Brightest in Business/Organization/Family/Lodging/and Real Estate. Santa Claus will appear on the Chamber of Commerce float, by the way, so it's sure to be a child-pleaser. Look for your invitation in the mail and begin thinking up clever ideas for your entry. Of course, we will celebrate Christmas in Pagosa as we always do on the first Saturday of Dec. 4, with Santa at the Chamber, Christmas cookies, spiced cider, caroling by our Mountain Harmony ladies and the annual Lighting Ceremony performed by Santa himself. Watch the SUN for more information about both of these holiday celebrations.

Christmas cards

Just a reminder that the Pagosa Springs Christmas cards are available at the Visitor Center as long as they last. It still seems early, I know, but there are only about two and a half weeks left in November, and the month of December will descend upon us like a freight train. (Not exactly a great holiday simile, but you get the meaning, I'm sure.) Stop by and pick up a box of these beautiful jewels so you won't have to think about that particular piece of the holidays anymore.

Newsletter inserts

Please get movin' on those newsletter inserts as quickly as possible and get them to us at the Visitor Center. We set a deadline of Nov. 26, but because of the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 25 and the possibility of us closing the Visitor Center on that Friday, we would like to see them by Nov. 24. The December newsletter is always a popular choice for inserts because of the holidays, so I would encourage you to be an early bird with your 700 flyers and check for $30. We had to go to $30 because the number of inserts has gone through the ceiling. Give Morna a call with any questions at 264-2360


In our never-ending attempt to be on the cutting edge (no, really, I'm serious), your Chamber of Commerce has contracted with Signature Multimedia, a company specializing in interactive touch screen kiosks and displays, to have our very own kiosk at the Visitor Center. If you are not familiar with this concept, picture an ATM - but instead of receiving money, you receive information. Yep, information at your fingertips. The user would press a button to access information in a category to view sponsors. The button next to your company's name would allow the user to see a full-page ad with your company's logo, photos and information. Then they can press the CALL button under your ad, which would directly connect them with your company or directions to your location along with them. The program also includes a MAP button, highlighting the location of your company. Additionally, when the touch screen is not in use, your ad would be displayed as a screen-saver for approximately 30 seconds, up to 30 times a day. This represents just another marketing/advertising opportunity for you and your business. My vision is that this will certainly not replace our Diplomats during regular business hours, but will be an invaluable aid to visitors arriving after hours who will be looking for lodging, restaurants and just all services in general.

The representatives from Signature Multimedia will be contacting you sometime in the near future to see if you would be interested in participating in the kiosk program, and, obviously, there is no obligation to take part if you feel this is not the right avenue for you and your business. The fee for one year is $499, and you can call Rhea at 888-545-9853 for answers to any questions you might have. We at the Chamber see this as just another option for our membership to get their names out there by hook or by crook. It also serves to make our community more "user/visitor friendly" and that helps all of us.

Thanksgiving openings

If you are a lodging or restaurant member, please give us a call and let us know your Thanksgiving status. We are receiving lots and lots of phone calls from folks who want to come to Pagosa for the holiday but are having trouble finding lodging and want to know where they can go for a Thanksgiving feast. Please call Morna if you have rooms open for that time period - and if you are a restaurant, please let her know if you will be open on Thanksgiving day. You can reach us at 264-2360.


Pagosa Lakes
By Ming Steen

Really, there's plenty to do in Pagosa

When I first moved to Pagosa, a dear friend from San Francisco came to visit. After a mere two days she proclaimed she felt like a living dead from dearth of external stimuli. "Just how are you going to entertain yourself in sleepy hollow?" she asked. In my 16 years in Pagosa I have not once suffered from a want of reasons to get me speedily out of bed each morning.

Let's take a look at this Saturday. In the morning, there is the Turkey Trot to benefit the Ruby Sisson Library. The Trot consists of a 5-kilometer walk to begin at 9 a.m. or a 10K run at 10 a.m. - starting out from the parking lot of the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center. After the Turkey Trot, attend Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church's annual luncheon and fashion show at noon. The event will be held in the Parish Hall. For the evening, let Debbee Ramey entertain you at the Pagosa Lakes Community Center. Debbee will be joined by other musicians at the Whistle Pig Folk Night, part of a series of monthly concerts sponsored by Pagosa Springs Arts Council. It doesn't get any better - Saturday offeres a fine balance of athletics, good food, fashion and local musical talent.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will speak at Fort Lewis Concert Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m. He will be addressing environmental issues. Tickets are required for this. Call the box office at 247-7657 for tickets.

Another master swim clinic will be conducted on Thursday, Nov. 18, at the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Natalie Koch, coach of the Pagosa Lakes Swim Club, will be teaching the clinic. Please call the recreation center for additional information.

Party for Powder, a benefit fundraiser for the Pagosa Springs Community Center, will be held this Saturday night at 7 at the "Victorian" next to Jackisch Drug. What is this party for powder? Besides being a gathering of people yearning for powder, it will be an opportunity to view two new ski and snowboard films. In addition to watching some phenomenal action, you will be donating towards the fund for the Community Center through a $5 movie fee. A number of local businesses have also donated door prizes of skis, snowboard, hot spring passes, videos and lift tickets. As an additional bonus, you'll have the chance to register to win a week of heli-skiing in New Zealand with round trip airfare for two. Tickets are available at Summit Ski and Sport, Pagosa Springs Town Hall and Wolf Tracks Bookstore.

The PLPOA monthly board meeting will be held tonight at 7 in the Pagosa Lakes Community Center. Members and observers are encouraged to attend. Public comments are heard at the beginning of the meeting.

The following agenda for tonight's meeting was provided by the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association: - Call to order

- Approval of agenda

- Approval of board meeting minutes

- General manager's report

- Public comments

- Committee reports

- Old business

- Correction of survey errors in Lake Forest Estates, re-affirm motion passed at Jan. 14, 1999, board meeting

- New business

- Approval of 1998 audited financial statements

- 1998 audit additional fees letter from Clark, Wilson, Zink

- July 31, 1999, audit proposal by Clark, Wilson, Zink

- Colorado Management Association addendum

- Physical plant fund

- Real estate utilization

- Carry over funds

- Ballroom Dance Club request for sponsored group status

- Appointment of Gene Cortright to appeals/hearing committee

- Personnel manual.


Education News
By Tom Steen

Success in reading begins early

In 1999, we are witnessing a time of unparalleled activity to get more children on the road to reading.

An unprecedented pro-literacy movement, focused on children under age 9, is sweeping through thousands of communities across the nation. A common strategy has emerged for reading success: we must start early by preparing young children to read, and we must finish strong by providing excellent instruction and community support in the primary grades.

In 1998, The National Research Council produced "Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children," a blueprint for action to create a nation of readers. The study clearly defines the key elements all children need in order to become good readers. Specifically, kids need to learn letters and sounds and how to read for meaning. They also need opportunities to practice reading with many types of books. While some children need more intensive and systematic individualized instruction than others, all children need these three essential elements in order to read well and independently by the end of third grade. Effective teaching and extra resources can make it possible for many "at-risk" children to become successful leaders.

Newspapers, businesses, libraries, sports teams, community service groups, employees, college students, and volunteers of all ages are stepping forward to tutor children, work with parents, provide books, and support schools. This crusade is reshaping our view of the reading challenge. Every parent, caregiver, teacher, and citizen has a role to play to spark dramatic improvement in reading. Explore ways that you or your organization can support this effort.

What can be done to prepare more children for reading success?

First, families can maximize the benefits of parent-child communication from birth.

Second, caregivers and preschool teachers can be trained and given resources to stimulate emergent literacy.

Third, children deserve well-trained teachers who understand reading development, who can pinpoint problems, and who can address them effectively.

In addition, entire communities can rally around their children for literacy success. This means more partnerships between schools and communities. It means greater engagement of private enterprise and cultural groups. It means more volunteers and more opportunities for legions of mentors and tutors.

By expanding our view of who contributes to students' reading success, we are increasing opportunities for millions of Americans to endow our children with this lifelong skill. If we succeed in engaging this untapped pool of adults, the results will revolutionized education in this country.

The Education Center is working with the schools to coordinate the participation of tutors in after-school programs. Many of the current tutors are local high school teens who are doing an outstanding job of working with younger students. There is a pressing need to involve more community adults as volunteers to support this program.

Please contact the Education Center at 264-2835 to see how you can help during the after-school hours or contact the schools if you would like to help during regular school hours.


Library News
by Lenore Bright

'Yes' vote provides 'adequate funding'

Cloud nine

What a week it has been. We are still enjoying our state of euphoria.

Voters gave us a clear mandate, and we can now plan well for the future.

Finally, after 107 years, the library will have adequate funding. Civic Club members started the Library all those years ago. And the Civic Club members today are awesome. They made over $5,000 at their bazaar. Proceeds help the library and support other community projects. Congratulations to this dedicated group of ladies.

Raffle winners

Stained glass - Sabra Miller; small oil painting - Julie Ellison; eagle head bolo - Donna Trepas; baby afghan - Herman Riggs; picture frame - Anita Schwendeman; casserole carrier - Billie Evans; Christmas wall hanging - Jo Bridges; cross stitch bird picture - James Dickhoff; table runner and napkins - Taylor Craigen; basket, hot pad and glove set - John Passant; money wreath - Yvonne Samples; luncheon cloth and napkin set - Gary Hemas; Christmas stocking - Etta Fay Day; Christmas pillow - Callie Renfro; Christmas table runner set - Shellie Hogue; book pillow - Herman Riggs; money basket - Lyn Constan; monogrammed vest - Margaret Wilson; metal fish sculpture - Jim Peironnet; Blondie's fruit basket - Ann Van Fossen; Christmas clayorama - Michael Turolla; bird house - Jennai Bachus.

Lost and found

A pair of glasses in a brown case and a silver ring were found at the bazaar. If you're missing one of these, come by the library and pick it up.

Thank you

So many people deserve thanks for work at the Bazaar, I know I will forget someone if I try to list them all here. We'll try to get them all privately. But Truett Forrest and his Promise Keepers, Circle-T Lumber, and Ralph Gibson deserve special recognition. Ralph made the new partitions, Circle-T helped, and the Promise Keepers set them up and took them down - what a job!

We thank all of you who had a part in this 25th annual event. To all of you who made the lovely raffle items, and Margaret Wilson - you've outdone yourself! This was the most successful raffle ever. (And Margaret wanted me to thank all of you who bought raffle tickets - you made the difference.)

More thanks

We're still savoring our election. Thanks to the Friends and the Civic Club for forming the "Library Yes" Committee. Dick Hillyer and Scotty Gibson co-chaired the committee that worked so hard to win our ballot issue. We thank all of you who donated to the campaign. We won't let you down.

Turkey Trot

One more event to go in this exciting season. Join the walkers and runners Saturday for the sixth annual event. Our own marathon will be fun with prizes and goodies. You have two more days to sign up.

The Library will be closed for the Turkey Trot, so come on out and join us.

Local author

Julie Gates, one of our outstanding teachers, has another book published. "Consider the Earth: Environmental Activities for grades 4 to 8, Second Edition" is now in print. While it is mainly for teachers, it is a good reference work for parents, grandparents, home schoolers, and the general public interested in environmental activities. Congratulations to Julie for this well-reviewed work.


Thanks for financial help from John and Joyce Webb, Carol Fulenwider, and Mr. and Mrs. V.C. Bilbo. Materials came from Mosetta McGinnis, Mary Lou Sprowle, Kate Lister, Trish Davis, Victoria Landon, Addie Greer, Gary Hopkins, Larry Blue, Nancy Strait, Ralph Manring, Mary Stahl, Sharon Stetz, Lucy Gonzales, Carole and Bob Howard.

And a special thanks to Suellen Lohr for donating a globe.


Arts Line
By Jennifer Galesic

Final Christmas card class Saturday

Christmas beckons the artists and artistic lovers of Pagosa as it nears the time of the "Olde Tyme Christmas Shoppe" at the Pagosa Springs Arts Council Gallery.

Visitors are in for a treat of beautiful handmade items with a cheery theme from local artists. There is bound to be something for everyone - even those difficult individuals to shop for. The Christmas Shoppe will be open from Dec. 2 through Dec. 23 during the regular winter hours, Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Artists, there is still a little time left to submit your Christmas creations, so don't delay. Please call Joanne at 264-5020 as soon as possible to be a part of this annual celebration of Christmas bliss. The pieces will be accepted at the gallery in Town Park on Sunday, Nov. 30, between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Also, a reminder that the Arts Center/Gallery and Gift Shoppe is closed during the month of November. The Gallery will reopen with an open house reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 2, at an "Olde Tyme Christmas Shoppe," in the town park.

Card workshop

Time is of the essence on this upcoming activity. There's only a couple days left to enter the PSAC watercolor Christmas card workshop instructed by Mary Cardin at the gallery in the town park. The final class will be held on Nov. 13. The workshop will be from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. with participants bringing a brown bag lunch. The cost is $35 and the list of materials each person must bring will be given out at registration.

Hurry and call the PSAC gallery at 264-5020 and leave your name and number to register, immediately! Registration is by payment of the fee and on a first-come basis. Only 12 people will be able to participate in the class.

Whistle Pig

Prepare your ears for an audible treat! The next Whistle Pig open mike night is Nov. 13 and features a very talented group of musicians including Debbee Ramey (Tucker). Song writer and musician Debbee has been living and making music in Pagosa Springs and the Southwest for nearly 18 years. She recently journeyed to California to work on a CD recording. Debbee will be accompanied by Robbie Pepper and other friends. That's not all either! All musicians, poets, and storytellers are encouraged to come out and express themselves. Whistle Pig takes place at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse, 230 Port Avenue, and begins at 7 p.m. Donations are $4 for adults; kids and teens come along free. Also, on Dec. 11, Whistle Pig will host a Christmas dance with music by John Graves.

Y2K events

Great news for those preparing ahead for the year 2000 exhibit season. Applications for exhibiting work at the Arts Center/Gallery are available and may be picked up at the Moonlight Books during the month of November. That means now!

Another thing to keep in mind is the annual PSAC photography contest will be here before you know it. Time to dig out that camera and get a head start. The entry deadline is Feb. 2. All photographs will be displayed at Moonlight Books Feb. 5 through Feb. 26. For more information, contact Phyl Daleske at 731-4589.

Help wanted

The PSAC is searching for a person with computer access (and skills to match) to maintain the membership roster and keep it up to date. PSAC also needs someone, again with a computer, to help prepare its quarterly newsletter, "The Petroglyph." If you're interested, please leave your name and phone number at 264-5020.


Thanks so much to the folks at the Spring Inn and the Pagosa Lodge for their assistance, donating rooms to the Creede performers. Both establishments are well appreciated for their hospitality.


Senior News
By Janet Copeland

Seniors celebrate Halloween with songs, parade

Thanks to our wonderful staff and cooks at the Senior Center, we celebrated Halloween and the October birthdays on Friday with much fanfare and beautiful decorations - everyone had a great time. Carlo Carrannante sang some "songs from the past" that most of us recognize. We appreciate his sharing his exceptional voice with us. The second graders from Kate Lister's class visited us again, bringing paper pumpkins and cards they had drawn for their "adopted grandparents" - they are a wonderful group of children and we enjoy them so much. The students, and many of the seniors, were dressed in Halloween costumes and provided a Halloween parade - what fun!

Winners of the Seniors Costume Contest were Eva Darmopray, Kurt Killion, Bruce Muirhead and Lena Bowden. They really went all out in coming up with original and cute costumes, as did several other folks. Thanks everyone for participating and making it such a fun occasion.

Our Seniors Choice Meal will be served at noon on Monday, Nov. 8. Everyone should come out and enjoy this wonderful lunch prepared especially per our requests. Thanks so much to Dawnie and the kitchen crew for allowing us this choice.

An anonymous donor has offered to give away a very good wood stove. If you are interested, call Cindy at 264-2167.

Congratulations to our Senior of the Week, Dorothy O'Harra.

Our most welcome guests this week include Fidel Perea, Jane Martinez, S. Beaught, Douglas Howard, Juanita Gallegos, Juanita Archuleta, Fannie Romero, Carol Pacheco, and Jay Myers. It was good to see members Ray and Lila Martinez and Willie Trujillo eating with us on Friday. We hope all of you folks will come back to eat with us again soon.

Again our sincere thanks to all the wonderful volunteers at the Senior Center. This week's volunteers include Teresa Diestelkamp, Kathy Perry, June Nelson, Margie Martinez, Don Hurt, Chris McCracken, Helen Girardin, Jo Rose, Mae Boughan, Jay Myers and Johnny Martinez.

Some of the high school students have volunteered to help our shut-ins. If you are a shut-in and need help with light housekeeping, reading, or just want someone to visit or play games with, contact Cindy at 264-2167 and she will make the arrangements.

The Senior Center will be closed on Nov. 25 and Nov. 26 for Thanksgiving.


The voters in Archuleta County have demonstrated a willingness to trust their elected officials with excess revenues so long as it does not involve increasing tax rates beyond the limitations imposed by the TABOR Amendment.

The results of Tuesday's county-wide election indicate that most voters are aware that municipal entities cannot maintain existing services and infrastructures nor provide improvements without being allowed to use excess revenues that result from an increase in population, part-time residents and tourists.

It's unrealistic to think a county or district can properly address growth-related demands without being trusted to retain and use growth-related excess revenues. Last week's county commissioners meeting offered an illustration.

Whereas the supposed number of county employees living below the poverty level dropped from 27 to 11 during the day's public and closed discussion, it still is understandable the commissioners are interested in continuing to increase the salaries of the county employees who are under their direction. I am sure the county's other elected officials want to do the same with the various employees within their departments. Even after discussions at this week's commissioners meeting revealed that there are zero full-time employees receiving wages below the poverty level, salaries should remain a valid concern with all of the elected officials.

Salaries and benefits have been and probably always will be a point of contention in the county courthouse, town hall and school district. Still, it is a rare incident if there is only one applicant for any of the full-time job openings that are advertised by the county, town or schools. This is understandable. Besides offering a salary, employment with the municipal sector offers medical and dental benefits as well as 11 or so paid holidays a year and at least two weeks of paid vacation. Also, county employees are offered free memberships with a local fitness center.

As with the job openings themselves, all other services or positions such as county attorney, fuel, road materials, office supplies, janitorial services, printing, and heavy equipment have always been advertised and awarded to the most qualified applicant or lowest bidder. State bids are used on vehicle purchases. As for construction projects, state statutes require that all projects over $50,000 be advertised and put out for bids.

Reading between the lines of the recent discussions among the county commissioners, there is more than just a concern about salaries; there is a concern about the management of the county.

Again, this is not the first time for such a concern to arise. In the past, it was discussed in private among certain commissioners, probably more so than in public, and eventually in public at their regular meetings. The discussions lead to changes. However, within a few months the changes were changed and the management of the county returned to its former status.

Changes should not surprise anyone in public service. In a real sense, they are growth-related matters. Whether they are related to the growing demands for improved services within the county or related to the growing cycle of its leadership, they are good for the county. Especially when the discussions are conducted during public meetings so that everyone can be "in the loop."

David C. Mitchell

Dear Folks
By David C. Mitchell

Checking up on La Nina, El Sol

Dear Folks,

For years, other than in Spanish I classes, "La Niña" never entered our conversations. But now, "The Little Girl" is visiting Pagosa every other year. She definitely is one winter visitor the business folks in Pagosa Springs can do without.

This isn't the time of year for Forest Service officials to be cautioning folks about using fires in the back country.

If this keeps up the Colorado Division of Wildlife folks will have to reconsider releasing more lynx in this area later this winter. It just wouldn't be fair to turn one of the transplanted felines loose early next spring if the nearest snow is hundreds of miles to the north.

The fascinating felines have made their way back into the headlines recently. Unfortunately it was a good news-bad news situation.

The other day it was reported that one of the 28 surviving lynx, one of the 41 who had been released in the San Juan National Forest last spring, has made its way more than 500 miles to southwestern Nebraska. Another has been traced by its radio-collar to the lower part of Navajo Reservoir in New Mexico. Of the remaining survivors, most are still in Colorado.

A third lynx, one of the 13 who have been killed or died of natural causes, was shoot near Cortez on October 31. The year-old female had been released near Creede last May. It was killed by a Louisiana deer hunter reportedly shot the lynx "while sitting on his ATV, while parked on the road."

That adds up to charges of willful destruction of wildlife, a felony, killing a state-endangered species, shooting from a road, and having a loaded weapon on a vehicle. A conviction on all counts could result in $110,000 in fines, up to seven years in jail and a lifetime prohibition from hunting.

Evidently the Division of Wildlife officials are undaunted by the prospects of El Niño and a possible snowless winter as they plan to release another 50 lynx next spring in the San Juan Mountains.

I had planned on using the perennial snow banks on the north side of the house for my Y2K water source and food freezer in January. But now I have to add La Niña to my "What If?" list for the new year.

A short news item in yesterday's Denver daily reminded me to keep a spot open for "El Sol" on my end-of-the year preparedness list.

Yes, the sun plans to be in a bad mood when it greets the year 2000. It will be erupting into the most active part of the sun's 11-year cycle with outbursts of energy that can threaten communication satellites and electrical power.

Though they don't receive as much attention as the Y2K prognosticators, officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are saying that the approaching solar storm could be more destructive than previous cycles because the Earth now has more power grids and satellites that might be affected. The intensity of the solar storms are expected to cause three types of energy eruptions: geomagnetic, radiation and radio storms.

So San Juan National Forest officials aren't the only folks who are concerned about problems flaring up.

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



25 years ago

Spanish Club at state festival

Taken from SUN files

of Nov. 21, 1974

A new type of enterprise for this area is now in operation just east of town. It is the Shive Springs Trout Ranch where trout are to be hatched and sold commercially to owners of lakes and ponds in this area. Many year's ago Born's Lake was operated as a commercial fish hatchery but this area has been without one for a long time.

A group of searchers from South Dakota is in the Blanco Basin area this week looking for a plane that has been missing for almost a month. The plane, carrying two men and three bodies was en route to South Dakota from Gallup, N.M., when it disappeared.

High school Principal Ron Shaw was presented with the keys to a new 1975 Chevrolet last by Ben Johnson, owner of Johnson Chevrolet. The vehicle is to be used by the school for its driver's training program. There is no charge to the school for the car, with its use being donated by Johnson Chevrolet.

A very lively comedy is in the offering as the Pagosa Springs High School Drama Club presents its fall play, "Off the Track," tomorrow night and Saturday in the high school gym. Under the direction of Will Hobbs, the cast includes Tammy Powell, Paulette Shoemaker, Debby Cole, Julie Peters, Robert Martinez, Janet Walter, Laurie Corbin, Dawn Walker and Laurie Ebeling.


By Shari Pierce

Bridge work excruciatingly slow

Pagosa's temporary bridge across the San Juan River in town had washed out in 1957, following a very snowy winter and after several years of service. Town officials began meeting with state representatives, searching for help to replace the bridge. It was determined that the old bridge which had crossed the Piedra River and U.S. 160 was available. This seemed the best bet to quickly remedy Pagosa's situation. Even this option would cause the town to be without a bridge for a couple of months.

It was an inconvenience for those needing to cross the river. It was a 7-mile trip around from one side to the other. And the road traveled was not in good condition due to the high waters caused by the run off. County crews were put to work grading and graveling to get the road in shape to be used. A temporary footbridge was constructed across the San Juan River.

At their August meeting, the county commissioners committed men and equipment to help in the construction of bridge approaches.

In September, The Pagosa Springs SUN announced that the state highway department would supervise the construction of the bridge and supporting piers. It was thought the bridge could be up by late fall or early winter. That was not to be.

It was later decided that the bridge should rest on steel piling driven into the ground. The town also had problems getting bids from companies to move the bridge. Only two bids had been received, $21,000 and $30,000. These were both beyond what the town could afford. It was then decided the state highway department would move the bridge and charge the town the amount the town had set aside for the project, approximately $10,000. These decisions were not made until early December.

Finally, on Dec. 19, the SUN reported that work had actually begun on preparing the location for the bridge. Pilings needed to be driven and the river bank leveled to allow safer working conditions for the equipment working on the bridge.

Work on the bridge was excruciatingly slow and in mid-January the town board met to discuss the project at length. It was decided that something had to be done to move the project ahead. If the bridge was to be in place before the spring runoff and in time to do any good the next summer, work would have to be done by the town. One of the board members resigned and "took on the job of building the bridge."

More next week.

Video Review
By Roy Starling

'Matrix' film a near myth

Unless you've seen "Alice in Wonderland," "Alien," "Empire Strikes Back," "Enter the Dragon," "The Greatest Story Ever Told," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "Karate Kid," "Kentucky Fried Movie," "The Truman Show," or almost any town-tamer Western, you've never seen a film like "The Matrix" (1999).

Yes, "The Matrix" is a daring and original movie, loaded up with mythic and religious allusions and symbolism, and indebted to scenes, themes and plot lines from a whole array of earlier movies.

The film focuses on a character known variously as Thomas and Neo (Keanu Reeves), who, like most of us, senses that there's something wrong, artificial, unreal about the world he lives in. The "life" he sees going on around him is a sham, a mockery, a sham of a mockery of a sham.

The movie soon alerts us that something lies beneath all its appearances, objects and names, that, in short, it's kind of an allegory, so we go to work trying to figure out the significance of the character's names. This is a good thing: It keeps the brain busy during some of the needlessly long fight (and fight rehearsal) scenes.

The Reeves character is Thomas in that, like the Thomas of Christian stories, he begins by doubting - first, the world he lives in and, second, his alleged role in transforming and liberating it. He is Neo because he is new and can lead the way to, I guess, a new heaven and a new earth.

Neo is also an anagram of "one," and he is believed to be The One other members of the resistance are looking for, The One that comes along only once in an eon.

Neo learns of his calling by telephone calls (telephones, incidentally, take care of all the serious business in this movie, just as cell phones do for big-city folks all across this great nation of ours) from a mysterious Morpheus.

Morpheus turns out to be Laurence Fishburne (who was nothing more than a skinny little dude back when he was in "Apocalypse Now"), a kind of John the Baptizer character, preparing the way for The One. Morpheus is named after a being, seen in the works of Ovid, who causes dreams in which human beings appear. Once you've seen this film, you'll see how appropriate that name is.

In addition to trafficking in the dream trade, Morpheus also serves as Yoda to Neo, teaching him, in a sense, to tap into the Force, to overcome matter with mind, to learn some serious hot-diggity-dog kung fu moves.

With Morpheus' help, Neo swallows a red pill, follows the White Rabbit down its hole, and suddenly he isn't in Kansas anymore. His journey begins, actually, when he is swallowed up by a mirror (long believed by primitive minds to be the gateway to an alternative reality), then he is submerged in water (get it?), and then he pops up in the post-apocalyptic real world.

Neo learns that what he thought was the real world was in fact The Matrix, "a neural interactive simulation, computer-generated dream world, . . . the world that's been pulled over our eyes to blind us from the Truth."

So in what appeared to be real life, human beings were being controlled by machines who needed them for their energy. So how is that different from the world we live in now?

In case you're wondering, a matrix, according to Mr. Webster, is something, as a surrounding or pervading substance or element, within which something else originates or takes form or shape - a kind of womb, in other words. In fact, matrix is derived from the Latin word "mater" (mother).

Anyway, in "The Matrix," out of The Matrix there exists one last human city, known as Zion, a term often used to refer to the birthplace of Judeo-Christianity. Other folks use it as a synonym for "the Jewish people" or the City of God or Utopia.

Since this is a very conventional Hollywood movie (aside from its thought-provoking allusions), there can be only one way for The One to usher in a peaceful, harmonious new heaven and new earth where the lion can lie down with the lamb: He must arm himself to the teeth, along with his trusty female sidekick Trinity, and blow the brains out of those sinister suit-wearing sentinels of cyberspace. It all comes down to who has the most guns and who can dodge bullets the fastest.

The finale is a regular gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and you can relax and enjoy all the fireworks knowing that most of the beings getting blown to bits aren't really human. Of course, this is what we tell ourselves during wartime, but that's another story.

Very few people in my business would write a review of a Keanu Reeves film without heaping derision on the poor boy's acting ability, but - at the risk of losing my film-reviewer's union card - I'm going to pass on that cheap pleasure. Movies like "The Matrix" require no acting, and Reeves did very well with not acting.

There is disagreement among moviegoers over whether "The Matrix" is a clever, intellectually and emotionally engaging work of high-tech wizardry or just a pretentious pile of poppycock, a heaping helping of humbug, a babbling batch of balderdash, a clumsy collage of claptrap.

Although this movie wasn't my cup of black coffee, I shouldn't be too hard on it. Any movie that invites us to challenge the dreary, machine-like, monotonous, lifeless way most of us get through life can't be all bad. Whatever it takes to remind us that we're not dead yet.

Which reminds me

For another week, at a theater very near you, you can see the beautifully made creepfest, "The Sixth Sense," starring Bruce Willis and a tremendously gifted child actor named Haley Joel Osment. This movie is scary, brainy, sophisticated. See it with someone whose lap you won't mind winding up in.


By John M. Motter

What happened to earliest buildings?

Who erected the first buildings in Pagosa Springs? The answer to that question may be lost forever. Welch Nossaman claimed to build the first cabin in 1876. The Southern Utes burned Nossaman's first civilization efforts.

We know that the first Pagosa Springs post office opened its doors June 5, 1878. We know that first post office was located about one mile south of the Great Pagosa Hot Springs on a freight road connecting Tierra Amarilla, N.M., with Animas City and the Silverton mining districts. The post office application claimed 100 residents would be served. Who were those residents and where did they live?

On Oct. 18, of 1878, 22 enlisted men belonging to Company I of the 15th Infantry and commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Alexis R. Paxton marched into Pagosa Springs. The record doesn't tell us if they marched, road horseback, or rode wagons. Because Paxton's troops began building living quarters immediately, it is safe to assume they brought wagon loads of supplies and tools with them. It wouldn't be surprising if they rode on the wagons as well.

In those days it was customary to assign troops with building skills to an assignment such as Pagosa Springs, where the task was to erect a fort. Paxton's orders called for him to pick the most suitable site and erect temporary quarters as soon as possible.

He accomplished a great deal in a short time, to the dismay of Capt. W.T. Hartz, who took command Oct. 28. In an Oct. 30, letter, Hartz wrote, "I find that Lt. Paxton has a large hackel (jacal) or stockade building for dirt roof 110 x 18 feet in the clear two thirds completed, also a building 20 x 30 for his own use, as they are so nearly finished I will allow him to complete and occupy them. His company will then be comfortably housed and the other work can then go on without interruption."

Hartz noted that a bench on the west side of the San Juan River would be a better building site than the site chosen by Paxton on the east side of the river. Ultimately, the fort was built on the west side on a location now housing downtown Pagosa Springs.

Our question is, what happened to those two buildings erected by Paxton? They were probably occupied by troops that first winter, but after that, the troops would have moved across the river to the main fort.

Winter came with a vengeance that first winter. The black troops who made up Company D, Ninth Cavalry, pitched their tents along the river, probably in the vicinity of today's county courthouse. Other troops and additional functions were housed in tents. The thermometer dropped near a minus 40 degrees. The snow was deep and supplies couldn't reach the partially completed fort.

In December of 1878 Lt. McCauley, assistant engineer, Dept. of the Missouri and assigned to the Third Cavalry, visited the fledgling fort. He leaves us a description, including maps. The maps showed what was planned for construction, as opposed to what actually existed at that time. McCaulay's map shows four buildings south of town at the post office location, along with one building southeast of the Great Pagosa Hot Spring. Other buildings are located in the general vicinity of what today is the intersection of San Juan Street and Hot Springs Blvd. Because Paxton's buildings are described as having a "northern exposure" we suspect they were built in this vicinity where on the south they were shaded by Reservoir Hill.

McCaulay's map shows a road branching from Hot Springs Blvd. and running northwesterly south of the Great Hot Spring eventually crossing the San Juan River a few feet east of the confluence with McCabe Creek.

A photograph of the Great Pagosa Hot Spring taken circa 1881 shows several buildings south of the Hot Spring, buildings we can no longer identify.

President James A. Garfield, in 1877, set aside one square mile surrounding the Great Pagosa Hot Springs as a townsite. That action was meant to keep people from settling on that square mile, but it didn't work. The Army tried to chase away squatters, but that didn't work either.

By April of 1879, a Pagosa resident reported, "There are 33 buildings at this place. Two mercantile establishments - Major Peabody, the post trader and Indian trader also, and Joe Clarke and Ed Laithe the other. There are four saloons owned by Major Peabody, Ed Laithe, Thomas Blair, and Broad and Co., and one butcher shop owned by Stull (Stollsteimer?) and Capt. W.S. Walker; one sawmill owned by Major Cooper of Animas City but Superintendent by Thos. Graden.

"The conveniences for bathing at the springs are rather poor, just now, there being no public bath house.

" Mr. Dunn, of Animas City, met with quite a misfortune on Monday last. He and his wife being out visiting, their tent caught on fire and burned to ashes in about ten minutes.

"The first burial at Pagosa Springs took place the latter part of April. Jose M. Velarde of Tierra Amarilla died. Cause of death was old age. Ed Laithe conducted the services."

And so we read through a few reports of the birth of the town of Pagosa Springs. While the reports provide answers, they leave as many questions unanswered. One of those questions remains. Who erected the first permanent building?


Business News

November 11, 1999
Biz Beat

Yale Espoy is the owner of Isabel's, located at 20 Village Drive, at the corner of Village Drive and North Pagosa Boulevard.

The restaurant features eclectic American food, served at reasonable prices in a casual atmosphere. A full range of quality wines and spirits is available and great service is a hallmark of the establishment.

Isabel's is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner only, from 5 to 9 p.m.

Reservations are recommended. Call Isabel's at 731-5448.


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Note to snow lovers: Be patient

By John M. Motter

Local folks waiting for the weather to change need a mountain lake full of patience, according to Bob Jacobson, a National Weather Service forecaster from Grand Junction.

"Your weather will remain dry and unseasonably warm for as long into the future as we can see," Jacobson said.

A high pressure ridge centered on the Four Corners area is controlling local weather conditions, according to Jacobson. The ridge is strong enough to force the Arctic jet stream into a northerly path across southern Canada before dropping into the Upper Plains states and the eastern United States.

"Temperatures should range from the upper 50s to the mid-60s during daylight," Jacobson said, "and down to the low 20s at night."

High pressure forces a downward air movement which does not allow the development or entrance of clouds, according to Jacobson.

Pressure is normally measured in inches of mercury and is created by the weight of air. When measured at sea level, a column of air will push mercury in a vacuum to a height of 29.92 inches. Because the column of air is shorter at higher elevations and weighs less, the mercury displacement in inches decreases. Because Pagosa Springs is at an elevation of a little over 7,000 feet above mean sea level, a barometric reading at Pagosa Springs is likely to be between 24 and 25 inches.

"All pressure readings are relative and all are converted to the same sea-level standard so valid comparisons can be made," Jacobson said. "A high pressure area is identified by placing adjusted pressure readings across a broad area on a map. The area containing the highest readings is the high pressure area."

Current weather trends in the Four Corners area are following a La Niña pattern, according to Jacobson. That means warmer than usual water in the western Pacific Ocean is creating warm air. The warm air is responsible for the high pressure which, in turn, is shunting water-laden air to the north of Pagosa Country.