Ladies and Pirates head to state tournament
Pirates face 'best' 1st at state tonight
By John M. Motter
The Pagosa boys basketball team takes the floor tonight at 8:30 against Weld Central in the first round of the Colorado Class 3A championship playoffs. The game is being played at the Air Force Academy and immediately follows the Pagosa girl's game.
Reaching the state playoffs is a notable achievement. In the entire state, only eight teams from each classification reach the playoffs. Adding to the honor this season is the fact that the Pagosa boys were definite underdogs when the season started, at least when compared with Intermountain League favorites Monte Vista and Del Norte. When the last shot was taken at the end of the 10-game IML schedule, Pagosa was no longer an underdog. The Pirates had whipped every team in the league twice without a loss. Wrapped around their gaudy 10-0 league record was a very respectable 15-3 season record against all comers.
After reaching the championship game of the IML District Tournament where they lost to Monte Vista, the Pirates faced Western Slope District Tournament champion Eagle Valley last week in a regional playoff game. Only 16 teams in each classification reach the regionals. Stopping in the sweet sixteen was not the Pirates goal. They traveled for hours on a bus, then whipped Eagle Valley 59-50 Saturday to advance to the elite final eight in the state tournament.
This is the first Pirates team to reach the state playoffs since 1993. That team, coached by Bunk Preuit, lost in the first round of the tournament. Old-timers remember the 1960 Pirates squad that captured the state championship, the only Pirate state championship in a team sport.
A balanced blend of seniors, juniors, one sophomore, and even a freshman make up this year's squad. That balance makes it difficult to say who the starters are. In fact, the starting five has varied during the season with all of the top seven players having started one game or another.
The dominating characteristic of this team is unselfish team play. Six different Pagosa players have been high point man for a game some time during the season. The team tends to find the man with the hot hand and feed that man.
"I'd say the main reason we have come this far is because the guys are not selfish," said Kyle Canty, the Pirates head coach. "As the game goes along, they find out who is hitting and that is where the ball goes."
The Pirates starting lineup through much of the season has consisted of seniors Clinton Lister, Lonnie Lucero, and Charles Rand along with juniors Micah Maberry, David Goodenberger, Daniel Crenshaw and Tyrel Ross.
"It's almost better to think of us as having at least seven starters," Canty has said. The rest of the Pirate squad has playing time and has scored, including freshman Jason Schutz, sophomore Darin Lister, junior Dominique Lucero and seniors Brandon Thames and Carlos Martinez. Depth is an important part of the Pirates scheme, since an always running, in-your-face defense has been paramount to their success.
The Pirates offense features movement with big men playing outside and popping 3-pointers with the shorter men cycling under the basket and then the big men moving under the basket and the smaller men outside. All of the seven starters are 3-point threats and all help bring the ball up court.
Pagosa vs Weld Central
Pagosa Springs is seeded eighth in the state tournament, their opponent Thursday Weld Central is slotted first in the state tournament. Pagosa expects to do battle early.
"I'm kind of glad to get the best team first," Canty said. "This way, we have almost a week to prepare for them. After the first game, you don't get the chance to prepare for anybody else because you don't know who your next opponent is going to be. Besides, if you're going to be state champs, you have to beat the best sooner or later. Right now, the pressure is on them."
Weld Central is located in Keenesburg, northeast of Denver. The school colors are blue, red and white. They are called the Rebels and play in the Long's Peak League, which includes Bennett, Burlington, Erie, Estes Park, Frederick, Lyons, Roosevelt, University and Weld Central.
The Rebels did not lose a league game this season and lost only to Eaton all season long.
"We're going to work real hard all week," Canty said. "They run a really good matchup zone defense. That is kind of one-half zone, one-half man-to-man and is a difficult defense to play. We will have to be patient on offense and take advantage of what they give us, go to the second or third option to score."
Weld Central played in the state Class 3A championship game last year, losing to Buena Vista in the final. Every Weld Central starter from last year is back this year, led by Derek Baumgartner, a postup player with size. Baumgartner leads the team in scoring and rebounds. On offense the Rebels play as a team as evidenced by the even distribution of scoring. D. Baumgartner averages 13 points a game, N. Hutchins 10.8 points a game, R. Lanning 8.6 points a game, Niko Sirios 8.2 points a game, and Tim Sirios 6.3 points a game. The Rebels have held 10 opponents this year to fewer than 40 points.
Joining Pagosa Springs and Weld Central in the eight-team field are Eaton, La Junta, Kent Denver, Monte Vista, Buena Vista and Highland. Monte Vista is also from the IML and opens with Kent Denver.
Today Kent Denver plays Monte Vista at 10:15 a.m., Buena Vista plays Highland at 1:15 p.m., Eaton plays La Junta at 5:30 p.m., and the Pagosa-Weld Central game is in the feature slot at 8:30 p.m. The four winners play Friday in the semi-finals, the four losers play Friday in the consolation round. Semi-final games are at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The consolation semi-final games are at 10:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.
The championship game is at 7:45 p.m. Saturday. The consolation championship game is at 10:15 a.m. Saturday. A third-place game is played at 1:15 p.m. Saturday.
Ladies open state against Faith Eagles
By Roy Starling
The Lady Pirates (18-4) have an 11-game winning streak going, picking up their fourth consecutive Intermountain League District 1 and regional titles in the process.
What more could first-year coach Karen Wells ask? "Well, all I want is to win three more games," a laughing Wells said before practice Tuesday.
Those three wins, of course, would give the Lady Pirates their first state championship. By the time you read this, they'll already be in Colorado Springs, site of the Class 3A State Championship. Tonight at 7, they'll face the third-seeded Faith Christian Eagles (22-1) in the opening round at the Air Force Academy field house.
A win against the Eagles would send them up against the winner of the Frederick (22-0) vs. Platte Valley (16-6) game on Friday at 4 p.m. A win on Friday would put them in the championship game (Saturday at 6 p.m.) for the third consecutive year. Just three little wins and one very big title.
While Wells really wants those three wins, she'd settle for her team "playing their best and being happy with it. I just want them to do their best and have fun."
The good news is that the Air Force Academy field house has become the Ladies' second home. They've played six games there over the last two years, winning four of them. The bad news is that Faith Christian has also played six games there over that period.
In 1998, the Eagles advanced by knocking off Frederick, but then were nipped by Pagosa in the semifinals. Last year, they went into the tournament undefeated and with a No. 1 seed, defeated Colorado Springs Christian in the opener, then were upset 56-54 by eventual state champion Eaton.
This year, the Eagles are loaded as usual. Gone is hotshot Elspeth Whipple, but sophomore Jetta Weber has stepped up to fill her shoes on the perimeter. Weber averages 12.9 points per game and has connected on 43 3-pointers on the season.
The Eagles' top scorer is 5-foot-11 senior post Rachael Groves at 15.5 a game. Junior Corrie Wall, a 5-foot-11 post, will also require some attention, as she averages 10.3 points per game.
"They have three really good players," Wells said, "and two of those we're really concerned about. They have Groves who can score on the inside and Weber from the outside. We'll just try to shut them down, and we may even go to a box-and-one (defense). We'll really be keying on stopping Weber's threes."
Meanwhile, Wells said, the Eagles face the unenviable chore of stopping not three but four Lady Pirates. "They have to decide who they want to key on," Wells said, "Mandy, Katie, Ashley or Janae - they've all been our leading scorer at one time or another."
The Ladies may have one other slight advantage - at least Wells chooses to see it as an advantage. The Eagles have coasted through their 22-1 season with hardly any experience at being behind or playing in tight games. Back on Dec. 18, they lost 46-43 to Eaton (now seeded No. 1) on the road, but since then their only close game was a 54-48 win over St. Mary's, a team they later beat by 26 at districts.
The Eagles won their district title with an easy 49-32 win over Denver Christian, then trounced Fountain Valley 60-35 to qualify for state.
"Faith Christian has really only had one close game," Wells said. "We should know how to play close games. We've been behind and come back to win. We know how to handle the panic at the end of the game."
At times this season, the Ladies have acted like the cardiac kids. In both Ignacio games, they came from behind to win. In the first Centauri game, they were down by 13, came back to take the lead, but lost in overtime. In the second Centauri game, they blew a sizable halftime lead in the third quarter, but regrouped for a 42-38 win. In the district finals on Centauri's home court, the Ladies were down by 11 in the first half, but came back to beat Centauri by four in overtime. It's hard to imagine this bunch getting rattled.
Should the Eagles prove to be too much for Pagosa tonight, the Ladies will move to the consolation bracket for an 11:45 a.m. game on Friday against the loser of the Frederick-Platte Valley game.
In other action at the state tournament, No. 4 seed Colorado Springs Christian (20-0, and 4-point winners over Centauri in regionals) will play Aspen (No. 5, 21-1) in the sunrise special at 8:45 this morning. The Frederick-Platte Valley game is at 11:45 this morning, then the top-seeded Eaton Reds (21-1) will play Denver Christian (17-6) at 4 p.m.
Forest Service studies Piano Creek Rd.
By John M. Motter
Public comments are being solicited by the U.S. Forest Service concerning a proposal by the developers of Piano Creek Ranch to improve and snowplow East Fork Road.
East Fork Road provides access to Piano Creek Ranch, a development proposed on private land located on the East Fork of the San Juan River in Mineral County.
East Fork Road is owned and maintained by the Forest Service, but during settlement years operated as a military road connecting Fort Garland with Fort Lewis in Pagosa Springs and later as a state highway. Current maintenance is done through contracts with Archuleta and Mineral counties.
"We are required under the Alaska National Interest Claims Act to provide access to those who own property within Forest Service boundaries," said Sonja Hoie, a Forest Service land specialist with the Pagosa Springs Ranger District.
Even though the Forest Service must provide access to the surrounded property, it is entitled to require the property owner using the road to sign a lease with conditions for road construction and maintenance, Hoie said.
In the case of Piano Creek, a lease would not be necessary if Piano Creek planned to use the road as it is currently used, only during the summer season. A lease is being required because Piano Creek has asked to keep the road open year around.
Conditions for the lease will be established by either an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement. Both are studies conducted by third parties contracted by the Forest Service and paid by the user. An environmental assessment is less involved and consumes less time than an environmental impact statement.
Concerns voiced and cataloged during the current comment period will be used to decide whether an EA or an EIS will be conducted. A decision on the Forest Service's next step should be reached late this spring or during early summer, Hoie said.
Because the land proposed for development is private property, the Forest Service has no jurisdiction over the development.
Written comments are being accepted now concerning Piano Creek's proposed usage of the 5.5 mile section of the road reaching the development. Comments should be postmarked by April 5 and sent to Sonja Hoie, Pagosa Ranger District, Box 310, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.
The proposal calls for the road to remain gravel surfaced, but widened where feasible. Other potential improvements include installation of culverts, protection from falling rock, traffic control signs, cattle guard upgrades, underground utility lines within the road easement, and a two-lane bridge where the Quartz Meadow Road crosses the San Juan East Fork River. The Quartz Ridge and Windy Pass trailheads will be relocated and combined. A parking lot will be required at the east end of Piano Creek Ranch for winter recreation usage. Year around public access to the East Fork Road and to the Windy Pass, Quartz Ridge, and Silver Creek trails is assured.
The East Fork Road is open to motorized traffic from spring through fall, but because there is no snow removal, is closed during the winter to automobiles. It is open to snowmobiles and cross country skiers during the winter.
Body found in Pagosa Springs motel
By Karl Isberg
Local law enforcement officials are working to pinpoint the cause of the death of a Nevada man whose body was found in a downtown Pagosa Springs motel March 6.
The body of Peter James Oreskovich, 31, of Incline Village, Nev., was found by motel employees in a room at the Oak Ridge Motor Inn at approximately noon on Monday. The motel is located on Hot Springs Boulevard.
Officer George Daniels conducted an investigation at the scene.
Daniels reported that members of the motel housekeeping staff attempted on March 5 to enter the room rented to Oreskovich, but found the door chain-locked.
Another attempt to the enter the room on March 6 was also unsuccessful. The motel owner and manager then forced the door open and discovered Oreskovich's body.
According to the police report, the deceased man was found on a bed in the room. There were no signs of foul play discovered by Daniels, and the investigation found no signs of traumatic injury to the body.
Archuleta County Coroner Carl Macht's assessment of the situation at the motel agreed with that of Daniels: that there was no obvious sign of foul play.
Macht reported Wednesday that Oreskovich's body was taken to Montrose for an autopsy to determine the cause of death. No autopsy results were available on Wednesday.
By John M. Motter
Action was delayed Tuesday by the county commissioners on a proposed contract providing police patrol and law enforcement services for the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association.
Commissioners Bill Downey and Ken Fox decided on the delay to give themselves and County Attorney Mary Weiss more time to study the proposal. Commissioner Gene Crabtree, chairman of the board of commissioners, called for an immediate vote after saying, "this issue has dragged on long enough. It is time for action."
Presenting the proposal was John Nelson, a member of the PLPOA board of directors.
The proposal is a result of a PLPOA concern expressed late last year that the Public Safety Office may have been operating illegally for the past several years. Following disclosure of the concern, the PLPOA has been searching for a way to operate the PSO with the approval of the county, sheriff, and according to perceived law. Tuesday's proposal was the lastest effort in this search.
Tuesday's proposal has the approval of Sheriff Tom Richards, according to Nelson. County approval is also required because of liability concerns.
Downey and Fox both said they need time to study the latest proposal. The item will return to the commissioner's agenda March 21.
Members of the audience presented comments ranging from "you sound like a fool," or "what we do is none of your business" aimed at a commissioner to "I live at Pagosa Lakes and no one has ever asked me if I want the PSO. Speaking for myself and everyone I know, we don't want the PSO in any form."
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners:
- Voted to attach green metal markers on road signs for county maintained roads and red metal markers on road signs for roads not maintained by the county. The purpose of the color coding is so that people looking at property will know if they are buying along a county maintained road, said Crabtree, who proposed the idea.
- Appointed Fred Harman and Kim Kinion to the 9-1-1 advisory board, joining the three county commissioners.
- Moved the date and time for a public hearing concerning fees for the building and planning department to April 4 at 6 p.m.
- Building permit fees were waived for a building addition to Fire Station No. 2. The rationale for waiving the fee is that the fire district is supported by property taxes and the county should not collect fees from another taxing entity.
- The commissioners agreed to match whatever the city grants Colorado Housing with a like amount, ranging between a $2,000 minimum and $6,000 maximum.
- Ben Johnson of Pagosa Auto Sales asked the commissioners to notify him when the county is soliciting bids for vehicles, new or used. "I am licensed to sell new or used cars," Johnson said. The county agreed to include Johnson in bid solicitations.
Snow could make Pass messy
By John M. Motter
Basketball fans motoring to Colorado Springs today or tomorrow for the state basketball tournament face a 30 percent chance for rain or snow showers in Pagosa Springs and across Wolf Creek Pass. The forecast was made by Jerry Smith, a National Weather Service forecaster from Grand Junction. The latest storm should have set in late Wednesday and is expected to last with scattered showers through tomorrow.
At the other end of the route, the forecast for the Colorado Springs area calls for partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance for rain showers. Temperatures should range between the upper 40s and the mid 50s. Weather conditions across La Veta or Poncha passes could present rain or snow showers, but should not prevent anyone from crossing, Smith said.
Some clearing could occur this coming weekend Smith said, but there is still a 20 percent chance for showers. Today's wind is coming from the southwest, but the wind could shift to a more westerly flow, Smith said. If the wind does change direction, snowfall may shift from the San Juan Mountains north to the mountains of central Colorado.
About 3.75 inches of snow fell in town last week, about 4 inches the week before. The heaviest snowfall occurred March 5 when 2 inches dropped, March 1 when 1.5 inches fell, and Feb. 24 when 3 inches fell. Precipitation for the week totaled 0.8 inches. March snowfall this year totaled 3.75 inches through March 7. The average snowfall for March is 16.8 inches. During March of 1975, a record 47 inches of snow fall was measured in town.
High temperatures last week ranged between 40 and 59 degrees with an average of 46 degrees. Low temperatures ranged between 20 degrees Tuesday and 32 degrees Sunday. The hottest temperature ever recorded in town during March was 80 degrees on March 21, 1981. The coldest temperature ever recorded during March was minus 25 degrees recorded March 4, 1966.
The highest wind speed recorded at the Fred Harman Art Museum last week was 28 miles per hour, recorded about 8 p.m. March 7. On March 5 at 11:10 a.m., a gust of 27 miles per hour was recorded.
Eightmile Mesa Road spectacle closes
By John M. Motter
The long-running spectacle of Eightmile Mesa Road apparently closed Tuesday at the weekly county commissioner meeting.
An agreement was reached between the county and Fred Schmidt, representing Loma Linda Ltd., for distribution of the remains of a $93,250 escrow account Schmidt established to finance reconstruction of Eightmile Mesa Road between U.S. 84 and the entrance to Loma Linda subdivision.
Schmidt and Loma Linda became involved through years of negotiations and agreements with the county built on the premise that, because the Loma Linda development bears a large responsibility for the traffic increase on Eightmile Mesa Road, the Loma Linda development should pay for upgrading the road.
Schmidt escrowed $93,250 for the road work last fall, hired U-Can-Afford to do the work, and assigned the contract with U-Can-Afford to the county. After U-Can-Afford had been on the job a short while, an independent inspection firm hired by the county said the work was not up to county standards. The county pulled U-Can-Afford off of the job and hired Weeminuche Construction to complete the work.
Ultimately, the county paid Weeminuche Construction $74,600 for its work, the money taken from county road and bridge funds. The county also paid Western Technologies $4,370 for engineering quality control inspections. From the escrow account, Denco was paid $50,580 for gravel and materials and U-Can-Afford $29,500.
Remaining in the escrow account was about $13,000 of principal and $800 in interest. Both parties agreed that the county should receive the $13,000, Schmidt the $800. In addition, Schmidt agreed to waive a bond stipend.
Both parties agreed to Schmidt's stipulation that the issues concerning the road be dismissed "with prejudice."
"With prejudice" means that the county gives up the right to ever open issues involving Loma Linda Ltd. and U-Can-Afford concerning the Eightmile Mesa Road issue just settled, said Mary Weiss, the county attorney. Both Weiss and the commissioners said that settlement of the Eightmile Mesa Road issue does not resolve and is not related to other issues concerning improvements agreements connected with the Loma Linda subdivisions.
By the end, the final cost of the Eightmile Mesa Road project reached $159,000, an overrun of about 72 percent. The county paid all of the cost above $93,250.
The Eightmile Mesa Road issue began approximately 15 years ago.
Trustees discuss sales tax election
By Karl Isberg
Pagosa Springs trustees took time at their March 7 meeting to discuss an upcoming town sales tax election.
On April 4, registered voters living within town boundaries will vote on a sales tax proposal described by Town Administrator Jay Harrington as "a defensive move on the part of the town."
The issue was placed on the ballot in response to on-going court actions that could affect the way in which sales tax revenues are divided between the town and county.
At present, a 3 percent sales tax collected in the county goes to the state of Colorado. Revenues from 4 percent sales tax is split evenly between the town and county.
A 2 percent sales tax is perpetual and revenues are split evenly between town and county. Another 2 percent sales tax approved by the voters of Archuleta County in 1994 is also split evenly, with certain provisions on joint town and county service issues. That tax expires in 2003.
Members of the Archuleta County Road Users Association wanted an issue put on the ballot in 1995 asking voters to change the distribution of revenues from the 4 percent sales tax, with the county receiving 75 percent of the revenues and 25 percent of the revenues going to the town. Eighty to 90 percent of the total sales tax collected in Archuleta County is collected within the boundaries of Pagosa Springs.
Archuleta County took the question of the legality of the proposed ballot issue to District Court. A District Court decision went against the Road Users Association. An appeal by Earle Beasley and Fitzhugh Havens to the Colorado Court of Appeals led to a reversal of the District Court ruling and an election was ordered. Archuleta County and the town of Pagosa Springs appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court and while the high court works with the question, the Court of Appeals stayed the election order.
The issue on the April 4 town ballot will ask voters to allow the town to impose "up to three percent sales tax," if and only if "the existing sales tax is repealed, repealed and readopted, determined to not be effective, or expires in whole or in part in an amount greater than one percent."
Town officials recently mailed election notices to all registered voters and legally required wording on the notices prompted Harrington to alert the trustees to the need for clarification of the issue.
"The wording could be confusing to some people," said Harrington. "We need to be sure voters have the correct information about this issue. There are several people in the community talking about the issue who really don't understand the situation: the history of the tax, the way the tax revenues are allocated, the history of the cooperative relationship between the town and the county. We need to insure that people receive accurate information."
Harrington said the main concern of town officials is that voters "realize that nothing the town is proposing could boost the sales tax above the existing 7 percent. We have set up this proposal to deal with a situation where the distribution of sales tax revenues changes, if it changes. There can be no effect on the total amount of sales tax a town resident pays."
Mayor Ross Aragon added that trustees, "need to counter misinformation and propaganda spread by certain opponents of the current split of revenues. We need to be on our toes to secure the interests of the citizens of Pagosa Springs."
Voters in Pagosa springs will also see three names on the April 4 ballot, listed as candidates for positions on the board of trustees. Two candidates are incumbents - Bill Whitbred and Jeff Jones - and they are joined by newcomer Rick Kiister. Since there are three spots open on the board, and only three certified candidates, the race is moot.
In other business at their March 7 meeting, trustees:
- were notified by Harrington that a project to reconstruct the intersection of U.S. 160 with Lewis and 5th Streets is proceeding on schedule.
Harrington said contracts with a construction company have been signed and said equipment specifications have been sent to the Colorado Department of Transportation for approval. The contracts, with Strohecker Asphalt and Paving, are for approximately $279,000. The joint CDOT and town project will alter the intersection of Lewis and 5th Streets and put a traffic signal where the new roadway meets U.S. 160. Harrington said the project should begin within 60 days.
- heard from Harrington that another intersection reconstruction project has stalled. The proposed reconstruction of the intersection of U.S. 160 and Piedra Road includes a rerouting of Eagle Drive, a frontage road that parallels U.S. 160, to a more northerly terminus with Piedra Road. Eagle Drive now meets Piedra Road just north of the highway intersection.
The project was to be a joint effort by the town, Archuleta County and CDOT.
"We have not heard 'boo' from CDOT," said Harrington. "CDOT just responded to a letter from us requesting a meeting in November (1999). We are scheduling a meeting of town and county staff next week to plan strategy, going on the assumption that CDOT will continue with its uncooperative stance. We need to figure a way to take care of this project, with impending development near that intersection."
- approved a $2,000 donation to Colorado Housing Inc. for use in a youth work program conducted by the organization. The money was donated with the understanding that CHI provide the town with an accounting of the way in which the money is spent.
San Juan snowpack better but below average
By John M. Motter
The snow pack on the mountains feeding water to the San Juan River was greatly boosted during February, but still remains below normal, according to a report from the National Resources Conservation Service.
Snowpack readings in the southern San Juan Mountains remains well below 50 percent of average, according to the Conservation Service March 1 report. For this part of Colorado, the snowpack readings are the lowest percent of average snowpack recorded since 1977. Not only are snowpack levels in this area well below average, they are below the levels reported at the same time last year.
In the remainder of Colorado, especially the mountains north of I-70, snowpack levels are near normal. The state-wide average is 80 percent of normal. The state's lowest readings in the San Juan, Animas, Dolores, San Miguel, and Rio Grande valleys lower the state average.
Overall, snow accumulations in the San Juan, Animas, Dolores, and San Miguel River basins increased by 22 percent of average during February and as of March 1 were at 63 percent of average. The lower elevations and valleys in this area only received 84 percent of average precipitation during February and the water year total was 43 percent of average on March 1.
Snowpack for the San Juan River Basin watershed is 46 percent of the snowpack last year and 42 percent of the long-time average.
The combined reservoir storage level in these basins remains at 116 percent of average for this time of year, 16 percent more storage than was available last year at this time.
Stream-flow forecasts for these basins are highly variable and range from 50 percent of average on the Rio Blanco at the Blanco Diversion to 82 percent of average on the San Miguel River near Placerville.
In Archuleta County, stream-flow forecasts include 56 percent of average for the San Juan River near Carracas, 55 percent for the Piedra River near Arboles, and 52 percent for the Navajo River at the Oso Diversion.
Navajo Reservoir inflow is forecast at 51 percent of average as of March 1.
Now that the first round of public meetings has taken place, and we are in the waiting phase while Four Corners Planning and Design works to process and implement all the public input gathered for the Archuleta County Community Plan, I would like to offer a few comments on the process itself.
I was impressed. I was impressed that so many citizens cared enough to attend the meetings and express their well-formulated thoughts. I was impressed that some 50-plus citizens who could not attend the meetings, took the time to define and mail, e-mail or fax in their opinions. I was impressed that our high school kids had some pretty definite and well-thought-out recommendations. I was impressed that the county commissioners came to the meetings and listened to what the public had to say. I was impressed by all the wonderful coverage given to the process by The Pagosa Springs SUN, Connections Magazine, and our local radio station, KWUF. I was also impressed by the way in which the meetings were handled. Four Corners Planning and Design did a good job and those attending the meetings were polite, respectful of others, and non-argumentative while getting their points across.
Thank you, citizens of Archuleta County. It's amazing what we can accomplish when we all work together. We do all make a difference.
Mary K. Carpenter
Steering Committee Member for the
Archuleta County Community Plan
The League of Women Voters of Archuleta County encourages voters to attend the League's Pre-Caucus Information and Candidates Forum on Monday, March 20, in the County Fair Building at the fairgrounds. Meet the candidates at 6:30 p.m. and the information Forum begins at 7 p.m.
The purpose of the forum is to provide the voters of Archuleta County with important caucus information (party resource persons will be available), and an opportunity to meet and talk with county commissioner candidates and to listen to their visions for Archuleta County. All the county commissioner candidates have been invited to attend, present their views, and answer questions from the audience.
Newcomers who are not familiar with the caucus system are encouraged to attend, as well as those voters who are interested in the positions of the candidates on the many issues facing the residents of Archuleta County.
The LWVAC Public Forum gives all county citizens the opportunity to become informed on the caucus process, the candidates, expand their civic knowledge, and participate in "Making Democracy Work" for them.
Message in a letter
When I attended the Leap Day commissioners meeting, I found them giving an OK for the spending of $6,000 of tax funds for "Predator Control" program. As I understand it, this is at the request of the wool growers.
Unfortunately I did not know if it would be a trespass on protocol to comment from the audience, so I'll send them my message in this letter.
First of all, I would like to know how many wool growers there are in Archuleta County, and how many sheep are supposed to be protected by this tax payer funding. There might be cheaper ways to protect the sheep, such as guard dogs. That's what we did at the ranch when we ran a small band of 60 ewes.
Secondly, we do not want any interference with our coyotes on our property, because they are a major control agency on our resident rodents. Without coyotes and other predators the mindless multiplication of rodents would eat us alive.
All this I would have said before the commissioners approved the expenditure, had I known if such comments were permissible.
So many people in this community are to be commended for their proof of commitment in preserving and protecting our county. Let me start with the members of the Vision Committee for their countless hours of dedication. Also, the Steering Committee for their assistance in bringing a full representation of the county to the community plan workshops.
Although we are only in the first phase of developing our community plan, I must express satisfaction with the choice we made in Four Corners Planning and Design Group. To date, they have done an exceptional job.
Our 1999 addition to the community, director of county development, Mike Mollica, couldn't have come at a better time. It is a pleasure working with an experienced planner and a good listener.
And most of all, I want to thank all of the people who attended the first set of community plan workshops last month, including the juniors and seniors of Pagosa Springs High School. Together, we heard from almost 1 percent of the population of Archuleta County. That in itself is a message.
A reminder for all citizens, please remember to attend the next set of community plan workshops scheduled for May, to discuss the alternative growth scenarios.
People stand tall
We've begun an exciting process in Archuleta County. In the last three weeks we've had important citizen participation at seven Community Plan meetings along with an added meeting with high school students. Not only was there good attendance but there was real and meaningful input from everyone. Though a captive audience, the high school juniors and seniors eagerly participated with valuable contributions.
From everyone, we've heard about liking the small-town atmosphere, the open vistas of mountains and open river corridors, the dark night sky, the people, and so many more things that we all value. And, now we know we all value it because it came out in every meeting. We heard real needs: respect for pristine open space, protection for clean air and water, getting rid of junk, road and safety needs, healthcare needs, and much more.
When this kind of community participation isn't prioritized, the best of community plans and their implementation by well-meaning hard-working people go awry. We've begun our process based on the priority of community participation. If we maintain this stand, we can look ahead far enough to glimpse beyond the horizon and plan that optimal future that we all want Archuleta County to enjoy. That can only happen by our all pulling together and then working to keep it happening. This is not a job that the commissioners, the vision committee, or the town council can do with just our approval. We won't get what we are working toward unless everyone of us takes it forward - because in the long run, we will not be able to go any farther than all of us will go.
We are beginning to gain our true stature. We can do it.
Who needs it?
For years I have driven past Wolf Creek Industries (located on U.S. 84, south of Pagosa Springs) and thought to myself "what a terrible eye sore." Upon learning that recently Wolf Creek Industries was being auctioned off and dismantled I was overjoyed. My immediate thought was, "Great, now the acreage will be returned to a pristine site and one which blends in with all other beautiful views which we are so blessed to enjoy."
My bubble has been burst, however, upon learning that Hansen Development is planning on covering the above mentioned acreage with a 300-unit R.V. park. What could possibly be any worse? Another scar across the landscape. Think of the traffic congestion this will place on U.S. 84, think of the beautiful evening sunsets being eclipsed by the glow of R.V. park lighting, think of the abundance of noise to be tolerated by adjacent families, think of the unattractive view we must all bear.
I encourage everyone to attend the proposed Planning Commission meeting to be held April 12 at 7 p.m. in the county commissioners meeting room in the courthouse. It is vitally important that we have a "plan" for our ever-growing community. Who needs another R.V. park?
Cynthia and Jim Peironnet
I am writing to say "amen" to the letter in last week's (March 2) paper titled "Peace and Harmony." I have been doing a lot of thinking myself lately. In pondering the recent and unexpected deaths of Ron Wedemeyer and Terri Smith, I have come to a conclusion: It is my job, and your's as a member of this extraordinary human race, to exhibit love in all ways to all people.
It is not our job to pass judgment or place labels on people. If anyone is flawless, let him cast the first stone. Consider the life of Jesus Christ. He showed nothing but compassion, mercy and most of all love. He showered love on all people, of all walks of life. God is love, and we are all his children. As members of the same family, love should be the strongest emotion. Not judgment or condemnation.
I get so tired of hearing my own children argue and irritate each other. I'll bet our Heavenly creator gets tired of listening to us do the same thing. Let's learn to accept differences, assist each other whenever possible and above all things, show each other unconditional love. The kind of love that breaks down walls and creates friendships. If we weren't so busy trying to convert each other to our way of thinking, we'd probably find friendships in the unlikliest places.
Life is too short. You never know what tomorrow may bring. I haven't always been the most tender of souls, but life is a lesson. I, for one, am learning that I'm not perfect. Oooh, that's scary. Take care, Pagosa and God bless . . . you are all beautiful.
Thanks for help
On behalf of Census 2000 and the U.S. Department of Commerce, I want to thank you for your help in recruiting applicants for the 2000 decennial census. Your articles in The Pagosa Springs SUN in January attracted approximately half of the 124 applicants who tested for the positions. Other columns in your paper from Lenore Bright at the library and Janet Copeland at the senior center also attracted applicants to the testing. Because of your support, we will have enough people to conduct the census in an accurate and efficient manner which will benefit all of Archuleta County.
Thank you again for your help. The SUN is one of the big reasons why Pagosa Springs is a great place to live.
Our hats go off
Our hats go off to the Pagosa Springs Music Boosters for the absolutely wonderful show they put together last weekend. The talent displayed was nothing short of exceptional and the way the program was produced kept us wanting more even after it was over. We know that the beautiful piano will be blessed with many artists before its time is up. It is especially significant to us as a few short years ago our small town took on the same type of venture and purchased a grand piano through our newly formed Arts Council. The community events and donations paid off the loan in less than three years, and countless numbers of students, amateur wanabees, and professionals have provided countless hours of entertainment for the community using this instrument.
Thank you again for a delightful evening in a delightful community.
Ken and Becky Berg
Red Ryder on line?
We enjoy your paper very much. Helps me wish it was time to come up to Pagosa for a visit. Beautiful country. One question though, can you not run the Red Ryder comics on line?
Roy and Mary Brown
Editor's note: The Red Ryder comics are printed by special permission with a major emphasis on protecting its copy right.
Pagosan were saddened Saturday to learn of their loss of Mrs. Leah Walker.
Leah DeEtte Walker was born on May 1, 1918, in Huron, S.D., to Byron and Nona DeEtte Skinner. She died on March 4, 2000, at her home in Pagosa Springs surrounded by loved ones.
Mrs. Walker moved to Colorado in the early 1950s from South Dakota. She retired from the Pagosa Lodge in 1984 shortly after Fairfield Communities Inc. assumed ownership. Mrs. Walker loved the outdoors, mountains, driving the back roads in 4-wheel drive, horses, and above all, family. She helped raise two of her grandchildren, Joni Lattin and Lando Garcia, both of Pagosa Springs. Attending bear hunting camp in Saskatchewan, Canada, with her daughter Dawn Walker and son-in-law Michael Bates had become a spring ritual in her last years. Only her health could prevent her from attending again this year.
Mrs. Walker was respected as being a strong independent woman with strong independent children, who are raising strong independent children. Every time another red-head was added to the family, the family knew whose genes the child had. Her daughter Dawn acknowledged that "any time one of us is being stubborn, we like to call it determined, we inherited that trait from her, as well.
"As a matter of fact, I'm writing this obituary well before her death. She wanted it ready so that her children wouldn't have to try to write this while I was overcome with grief from her death. Always thinking of others up until her last breath. That's my mom. I'm sure she is with the Lord, plying him with her home-made cinnamon rolls, trying to fatten him up," Dawn said.
Mrs. Walker was preceded in death by one daughter, Judy Blair, one son Del Volmer and one grandson, Joel Blair. Her surviving family include her sister, Frances Kuehl of Antioch, Calif.; son John Volmer of Wyola, Mont.; son Lewis Volmer of Boise, Idaho; daughter Kathy Miles of Estes Park; son Stan Walker of Pagosa Springs, and daughter Dawn Walker also of Pagosa Springs. Mrs. Walker is also survived by 22 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, with another great-grandchild expected in June.
A memorial service in honor of Mrs. Walker was held at Community United Methodist Church with Rev. Don Ford conducting the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be sent to the American Cancer Society, Mercy Home Health and Hospice, or Community United Methodist Church Scholarship Fund of Pagosa Springs.
Damon Christie of Pueblo was runner up in the recent Colorado Youth State Collegiate (style) Wrestling Championship in Denver Feb. 26. and 27.
Six-year-old Christie wrestled at 53 pounds and lost only one match.
Christie is planning on attending the Pagosa Springs Pee Wee Wrestling Tournament scheduled for April 1. He is the grandson of Joel Christie and Wanda Christie of Pagosa Springs.
By Roy Starling
The young Pueblo West Cyclones came roaring into town Saturday and did their very best to blow away the Lady Pirates and earn a spot in the Class 3A State Tournament in Colorado Springs today.
And, boy, did they try to do it quickly. Led into the fray by firebrand point guard Ashley Hesselberg, the Cyclones attacked the Ladies with what could only be called a hot-potato offense. The Pueblo West girls didn't ponder, reflect or speculate; they caught the ball and shot, in basically the same motion.
But when the storm finally blew itself out, the Lady Pirates' ship was back on an even keel, and all the pooped hands on the poop deck were celebrating a 56-40 win, Pagosa's fourth straight regional title.
The Ladies won their 11th consecutive game by once again giving the opposing defense too many people to stop and no one to key on. Katie Lancing had 16 points to lead the offensive charge. Mandy Forrest was right behind her with 15. Janae Esterbrook scored 10 and Ashley Gronewoller nine to complete the balanced attack.
The same four girls dominated the glass against the shorter Cyclones. Forrest and Gronewoller each had a dozen rebounds, Lancing pulled down 11 and Esterbrook grabbed nine. Consequently, the visitors got very few second opportunities in their quick-draw attack.
The Ladies also pretty evenly distributed the dishes. Gronewoller had five assists, Lancing four and Forrest three.
The spirited young Cyclones hit the floor with a major case of jitters, committing eight turnovers in the first quarter - most of those coming from adrenaline-powered passes that sailed over the hands of their intended receivers. But since the Lady Pirates couldn't quite find their rhythm either, they could only build a 13-10 lead after one period.
In the game's opening minutes, the Cyclones had an unforced turnover and one encouraged by the Ladies' Bonnie O'Brien. Pagosa, meanwhile, was running its offense but couldn't get a shot to go down.
With 5 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the quarter, Forrest finally broke the drought when she took a pass from Gronewoller and knocked it in from close range.
Delighted to find the baskets had openings at the top, Pueblo West sophomore post Caroline Ottino cashed in seconds later to tie the score. Hesselberg then stole the ball on a Cyclone press, missed a layup, got her own rebound and scored to put her team up 4-2.
Following a Pagosa turnover, the Cyclones set up their offense again, but when they attempted a shot, Forrest executed a block-and-grab, returning the ball to the Lady Pirates. On the other end, Lancing dazzled the Cyclones with a reverse layup to knot the score at 4-4.
At 3:43, Forrest took a beautiful lead pass from Lancing on a fast break and was hacked in the act of shooting. She then set the tone for a torrid evening of Pagosa free-throw shooting by sinking both attempts from the line.
Quick baskets by senior guard Brandi Garcia and Hesselberg put Pueblo West back up 8-6 at 2:53, but that would be the Cyclones' last lead of the game, and it wouldn't last long. At 2:40, Forrest scored underneath, Sara Gray fouled her and Forrest converted the free throw to put Pagosa in the lead for good, 9-8.
The Ladies extended their lead with a 15-foot jumper from Esterbrook and a Lancing banker from a Forrest inbounds pass. In the quarter's final minute and a half, the Cyclones generously gift wrapped four turnovers for the Ladies, but the appreciative girls couldn't capitalize. The period ended with diminutive Cyclone sub Lauren Gould hitting a jumper at the buzzer to give her team a fresh dose of momentum, down only 13-10 after one.
A little over three minutes into the second quarter, the Lady Pirates gradually began to pull away. Up 15-12, Lancing scored off an Esterbrook assist, and Pueblo West followed this with another turnover. The Ladies made them pay when Lancing found Gronewoller standing inside a circle of Cyclones and looped the ball into her. Gronewoller ignored her defenders and scored, putting Pagosa up 19-12 at 4:26.
Gray got two back on a break, but at 3:07 Lancing scored again on an inbounds play. Ottino answered quickly, scoring on an offensive rebound, then Gronewoller answered right back after getting a feed from Lancing. The score was 23-16 with 2:19 remaining in the period.
After a Lancing free throw and an Esterbrook banker in the lane, the Ladies enjoyed their biggest lead of the half, 26-16, and it appeared they were ready to pull away. But with 25 seconds left, the Cyclones' Vanessa Gutierrez hit a huge shot, knocking down a 3-pointer from the right side to cut the lead to 26-19.
A missed Pagosa free throw gave the Cyclones another shot, but when they missed, Lancing snagged the carom, setting up a last-second attempt for the Ladies. On an inbounds play, the ball went out to O'Brien, standing on the other side of the arc and, for the second straight game, she calmly connected on a clutch shot from downtown, giving her team a healthy 29-19 lead as the buzzer sounded.
Cyclones stick around
Not quite ready to warm up their bus, the Cyclones opened the second half with two quick baskets by freshman Lauren Dunsmoor to trim the lead to six, but Forrest returned from a brief second-quarter break to stop their run. At 5:16, she scored off a Lancing feed; at 4:20, she blocked a Cyclone shot; at 2:44, she scored off another Lancing assist; and at 2:22, she reversed the direction of a close-range Ottino shot.
Two Gronewoller free throws put the Ladies up 36-28 with 1:57 remaining, then a Lancing putback boosted the lead to 10 about 30 seconds later.
At 1:08 the Ladies again led by 10, 40-30, but Hesselberg drained a hopper in the lane, Garcia hit a free throw, then Hesselberg intercepted a Pagosa pass and drove for a score, cutting the deficit to 40-35 going into the final period.
After baskets by Gronewoller and Esterbrook pushed the lead back up to 44-35 with 6:33 remaining in the game, the Cyclones, sparked once more by the tireless Hesselberg, sneaked back into the game and trailed only 44-40 with four minutes remaining. About that time, Pagosa coach Karen Wells had a talk with her team.
"I told the girls, 'Don't think they (the Cyclones) don't want this as bad as you and they're going to fight just as hard as you,' " she said. "I kept bringing the score to their attention. When the Cyclones cut the lead to four, I told the girls not to take anymore outside shots. I said, 'Make them come out and foul you.' "
That's what the Cyclones chose to do in the final 3:14, and they certainly chose the wrong person to foul. Hesselberg fouled Lancing while she was grabbing an offensive rebound and she hit both free throws to make it 46-40. At 3:01, Lancing stole the ball and Ottino fouled her. Again, the Pagosa sophomore hit both shots from the line. At 1:46, Dunsmoor fouled Lancing in the act of shooting and - no surprises here - Lancing hit both to put her team up 50-40, and the game was essentially over.
Lancing, Canty and O'Brien added four more points from the stripe, and Esterbrook hit one more from the floor, giving the Ladies a 56-40 victory.
The Lady Pirates wound up converting 17 of their 24 free-throw attempts for a 70.8 percentage. Lancing was 8 for 10 from the line, Forrest 3 for 3, O'Brien 2 for 2 and Gronewoller 3 for 4.
Hesselberg led the Cyclones' scoring with 10 points, followed by Ottino with eight and Dunsmoor with six. The Pueblo West girls went to the line only eight times, converting three.
Second-half surge sends Pirates to state
By Karl Isberg
Let's go to state!
The Pirate basketball team will make the trip to Colorado Springs for the Class 3A State Tournament following a dramatic 59-52 win over the Eagle Valley Devils on March 3.
It was a tough test for the Pirates, who finished first in the regular-season Intermountain League standings, but second to Monte Vista at the district tournament. The second-place finish meant the Pirates would face a regional foe on the road - and that foe was Eagle Valley.
The Eagle Valley gym was packed to the rafters; fans crowded into every square inch of usable space in the facility and the crowd was loud and ready for action. A contingent of Pagosa supporters occupied a section of one set of bleachers and the din from both sides of the floor set the stage for an outstanding high school athletic event.
Both teams were tense as action began. Players had trouble scoring at the outset, with the Devils putting the first points on the board.
Pagosa's shooting at the beginning of the game was like a sports reporter's bank account - whatever went in, came right back out. Pirate marksmen had seven shots fail to drop before Tyrel Ross tied the score 2-2 with 4 minutes, 39 seconds remaining the first quarter.
Eagle Valley clicked into gear and scored three buckets in succession to take a 9-2 lead as the Devils appeared ready to take control of the game.
The Devil defense was obvious, and it worked during the first half. Pirate point guard Charles Rand was vocally identified as "the shooter" by the coaches on the Eagle Valley bench and every time the Pirates worked the ball around the perimeter, Devil defenders were all over Rand, denying him an unmarked opportunity from 3-point range.
The Devils 1-2-2 zone met the Pirates as the Pagosans moved the ball up court, and a transition to a 2-3 zone helped subdue the Pirates' trademark outside game.
While the Devils and their coaches concentrated on the "shooter," however, other things began to happen when Pagosa went on offense.
First, the ball was worked to the low post to David Goodenberger and Micah Maberry, posing a threat from inside. Second, with Devil defenders collapsing to watch the Pirates center, Ross was left momentarily free in the left corner. Ross popped two 3-point buckets as Pagosa made up ground quickly.
A Pirate turnover at the baseline led to an Eagle Valley basket, but Maberry nailed a shot as the first period ended to close the gap to 11-10. Maberry scored four points during the quarter.
Pagosa took its first lead of the game, 12-11, when Goodenberger sank a putback off a rebound of a shot by guard Lonnie Lucero, but the advantage could not be maintained. As the second quarter began. Eagle Valley got two turnovers, but did not convert. A Devil sank two free throws and Pagosa turned the ball over again. Two more successful charity shots put the home team ahead 17-15.
Pagosa turned the ball over again, and another free throw went through for Eagle Valley.
Finally, with the outside game clamped down by an intense Devil defense, the Pirate low-post game came alive. Goodenberger hit from inside to narrow the margin to 18-14, and Eagle Valley answered with a single point. Goodenberger drove to the hoop and scored another two points.
When the Devils took a blocked shot down the court and scored a 3-pointer to go up 22-16 it looked as if they would wrest the momentum away from Pagosa and steam into the locker room at halftime with a comfortable lead.
Maberry soured that chance with two points from the low post. Goodenberger snapped up a rebound of a shot by Rand and scored two points. The big Pirate then took a pass from Ross in the lane and, with 30 seconds remaining in the half, he scored again and the teams were tied 22-22.
Second half action
In the second half, the Pirates' strengths and the Devils' weaknesses became apparent.
Pagosa had better guards, more speed and more endurance. The Devils were tired from their first-half efforts to stifle Rand and Lucero on the perimeter and were worried about Pirate forwards who proved they could score.
Eagle Valley adjustments and fatigue translated into Pirate opportunities from outside. Rand began to capitalize with his quick release. When the Pirate senior saw a crack in the defense, he took advantage of it.
Rand started the scoring in the third quarter with a basket from the top of the 3-point arc. Eagle Valley answered with a 3-pointer and the teams were knotted 25-25.
Lucero stole an Eagle Valley in-bounds pass and Rand popped another 3-pointer. Clinton Lister added a basket and the Pirates went ahead 30-27. A flurry of turnovers followed and, after traveling was called on the Devils, Rand again hit from beyond the 3-point line. Eagle Valley stayed in pursuit with a bucket, but Ross answered from the left corner with a 3-pointer to put Pagosa in front 36-29. Goodenberger took a pass from Rand at the free-throw line and connected for two points. Daniel Crenshaw scored with a shot from the lane to give the Pirates a 40-31 lead.
Eagle Valley closed the gap by two points but Rand hit yet another 3-point shot with 18 seconds left in the quarter to give Pagosa a 43-33 advantage at the buzzer.
Eagle Valley scored the first two points of the final quarter. Rand answered, taking a breakout pass from Goodenberger, pulling up and hitting a jump shot. Lucero scored after he drove through heavy traffic in the lane and put in a layup. Pagosa was ahead 47-38.
Rand brought the ball down court and was tripped in front of the Pirates bench. The official called the Pirate for traveling and Eagle Valley came back quickly with a 3-point basket.
Midway through the final quarter, the Eagles kept pace with the Pirates' scoring. Goodenberger scored off a give-and-go at the baseline and the Devils responded with two points of their own. Rand drove to the basket from the time line to score with a layup and the Devils answered with a successful jump shot.
With 2:29 left in the game, Pagosa was ahead 51-45 and Eagle Valley took possession on a jump ball. The Devils had an apparent clear pass to an unmarked player at the low post when Crenshaw made a great defensive play, diving to tip the pass and cause a turnover. Back down the floor, Rand was fouled and hit both shots from the free throw line. Pagosa 53, Devils 45.
Eagle Valley went into a foul strategy, tying up the Pagosa ball handlers in the back court and sending them to the foul line. Rand hit two charity shots and Eagle Valley answered with a basket. Pagosa was ahead 55-48 and there were 58 seconds left in the game.
With 42 seconds remaining, the Devils scored with two free throws and trailed 55-50.
Lucero was fouled in the back court and converted on 1 of 2 foul shots.
At the 19-second mark, the Devils got two points from the free throw line and trailed 56-52.
A successful free throw by Ross stretched the Pagosa lead to 57-52 and a Devil was fouled with 6 seconds left. Following a Pirate time out, the Devil missed his shot from the line, Crenshaw grabbed the ball and fired an outlet pass to a streaking Rand. Rand ended the game with a layup, sealing the 59-52 win.
Rand was the game's top scorer with 22 points. The Pirate senior had four 3-point baskets and was 4 for 4 at the foul line.
Goodenberger and Ross each tallied 10 points. Maberry scored eight points against Eagle Valley; Crenshaw had four points; Lucero hit for three points; Lister had two points against the Devils.
A touted Eagle Valley height advantage did not translate into points or rebounds. Goodenberger had 14 rebounds against the Devils. Rand, Lister and Crenshaw each had three rebounds.
"I'm always pleased with the outcome when we win," said Pirates coach Kyle Canty. "I thought we played a little tentative. The regional game has a lot of pressure. At the regional, you have to win."
Canty highlighted his team's defense as a key factor in the victory.
"I was pleased with the defensive play of the kids," he said. "We didn't do any tricks. We played man-to-man. Usually we double on the post, but we didn't need to do it against Eagle Valley."
On offense, Canty saw a patience that eventually blossomed and produced points. "Everybody was patient," said the coach. "Charles (Rand) waited until everything fell apart inside and that opened it up for him. Playing unselfishly has been our signature all year long. Eagle Valley played the same way. It's fun basketball to watch when two teams play that type of game. I basically have seven starters and can have only five on the floor. Eagle Valley didn't have that kind of bench. I knew if we could get any of their starters into foul trouble, things would fall off pretty quickly for them. A couple of times, they made a run on us. They were ahead 9-2 and we caught up. They made another run on us, but our kids just kept going. It was good for our guys to realize they can come back and win like this."
Volleyball Club spring season begins next week
By Karl Isberg
The Pagosa Springs Volleyball Club spring season begins on March 14 and local female athletes, beginning with next year's seventh-graders, are urged to participate.
According to club director Penné Hamilton, the club session for athletes going into seventh and eighth grades next school year starts at 5:30 p.m. on March 14 at the high school gym.
A session for players who will be in high school next year, will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the high school gym on the same evening.
Club practices will be held each Tuesday and Thursday until the school district's spring break, then throughout the month of April. A full schedule, with additional practice dates, will be given to players at the March 14 sessions.
The Pagosa Springs Volleyball Club provides basic volleyball skills instruction to younger players and works to hone the skills of advanced players in preparation for future club and school competition. A club team of high school players will participate in the Crossroads Tournament in Denver on March 17 and 18, and the team plays other Four Corners club teams in tournaments held during the spring.
Cost for the spring club program is $20 per player. Players can also pay the $20 fee for the club's summer program at the March 14 session.
Hamilton urged all local volleyball players in grades seven through 12 to participate in the program and extended a particular welcome to youngsters needing an introduction to the sport before the next school year.
Congratulations to basketball teams
Congratulations to Pagosa Springs High School's basketball teams.
Both the Pirates and the Lady Pirates have advanced to the state tournament level, being played at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, starting today. The girls play Faith Christian at 7 p.m. and following at 8:30, the boys play Weld Central. Both Faith Christian and Weld Central have lost one game each this season.
This is the fourth year in a row that the Lady Pirates have made it to tournament, and this is the first year (probably) that both teams have made it the same year. But the Pirates have made it in past years.
Please note the new Sisson Library hours. The library is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Thursday, the library is open 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday hours are 8:30 to 5 p.m.
The staff members at Sisson Library are keeping tabs on the number of people using the library during the new hours. If this extended time is a help for you, use these hours and tell the staff.
Please note this announcement: The person who has won sweepstakes in the clothing department at the Archuleta County Fair the last several years is not going to enter that department this year. This is so that other people will feel free to enter without her competition
The Pagosa Players and the King's Men made its first appearance last summer with an excellent production of "The Taming of the Shrew." Now PPKM is sponsoring another Shakespeare event, staged "concert readings" based on Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors," the evening of April 8 at WolfTracks Coffee Company and Bookstore located at the west end of the New City Market Mall.
Only 35 tickets can be sold due to a limited space. It is suggested that tickets be purchased early. The cost is $4 purchased 24 hours before the show, and $5 at the door.
Sixteen members of PPKM company will take part in this reading of the Globe Theatre's interpretation of William Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors." The Globe Theatre (where all of Shakespeare's plays were produced) reduced several of his plays from their original length to a size that could "be enjoyed by the whole family community, including children, without harming the actual plot, thought, and diction of Shakespeare's works."
Performance space is donated to PPKM by WolfTracks and 10 percent of all proceeds including admission prices, coffee and dessert sales, will be donated to United People Help Ministries, P.O. Box 3637, Pagosa Springs.
A complete version of "Comedy of Errors" is planned by PPKM for the summer of 2001.
Pagosa Springs Health Partnership's next presentation in their lecture series will be on food and nutrition. Although supplements, exercise and medications are important, much of our wellness or illness arises from what we eat and how we eat it. Speakers Muriel Cronkhite, M.A., and Sharon Porter, R.P.P., will address basic nutritional needs, popular diet theories, the right kind of fats, and how to use food to reinstate balance when you're feeling down. Suggestions for satisfying the taste buds are included, as well as a sample snack.
Muriel Cronkhite has a B.S. in Home Economics, Food and Nutrition, and a masters degree in Gerontology. She worked as Tribal Nutritionist on the Pima Reservation, which had the highest diabetic rate in the world. Sharon Porter developed cleansing, health-building and gourmet menus for health resorts and has helped thousands to change their food habits. She is familiar with both vegetarian and meat diets and is an experienced health practitioner/educator. Sharon is a registered Polarity Practitioner.
All are welcome at the lecture on March 16 at 7 p.m. at the Parish Hall. The Pagosa Springs Health Partnership sponsors a free educational lecture the third Thursday of each month. The presentation is preceded at 6:30 by an introduction to PSHP.
For information, contact Sharon Porter at 731-4553.
Fun on the run
The rivalry in college basketball between the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky is hot. This story is told as an example.
At one of the games (a recent game as it is reported), an elderly woman was sitting along with an empty seat beside her. Someone approached her and said, "Ma'am, I have never seen an empty seat in this arena at the 'Dream Game.' Whose seat is this?" The woman responded that she and her late husband had been season ticket holders for 28 years, and the seat belonged to him. "Well couldn't you find a friend or relative to come to the game with you?" the observer asked. "Are you kidding?" she replied. "They're all at my husband's funeral."
Welcome spring with Daffodil Days
We have five new members to share with you this week, two renewals and one change of management. Things continue to clip right along here with membership numbers approaching a phenomenal 680 - whoda thunk it? We do appreciate each and every one of you and thank you for your support.
Rick and Jody Unger, owners of Copper Coin Liquor, are opening another business, Design A Sign, in the same location at 920B San Juan. The Ungers are no strangers to the sign business because this is what they did for years before they came to Pagosa. They can handle anything in the custom sign department, to include signs, banners, lettering and magnetic signs. Please give them a call at 264-2288 to discuss your custom sign needs.
Billy G. Chenoweth joins us next with the Ridgeview Mall located at 525 Navajo Trail Drive on the west end of town. Certainly this will be the first outlet mall in Pagosa and has piqued great interest about just which stores will appear. Billy can't yet spill the beans, so we'll just have to watch the progress to see which retail stores are included. Billy was kind enough to give me a tour of the building, and it looks terrific so far. If you have questions, please give him a call at (405)495-2767.
Kathryn Cole joins us next with Crazy for Beads located in the River Center at 136 E. Pagosa Street, No. 5. Kathryn is a local designer and silversmith specializing in unique, one-of-a-kind silver jewelry pieces and handcrafted candles as well. She produces some wonderful, unusual hearts in sterling - earrings, necklaces and bracelets. I know this because I was given a set for Christmas and love it. We visited the shop and found thousands of beads, swarovski crystal, semi-precious stones, supplies, findings and much, much more. You can give her a call at 264-9133 to learn more.
Steve Rogan joins us next with his new business, United Loan Consultants. Steve provides loans for residential, land and commercial projects as well as seconds and refinances. He has the technology to fund just about every loan or credit scenario and would welcome the opportunity to discuss your lending needs. Please give Steve a call at 731-6111 to learn more about United Loan Consultants.
Our pal, Kim Moore, joins us next as an Associate Real Estate member. Kim is an Associate Broker with Jann Pitcher Real Estate located next to the new Citizens Bank Building at 63 Talisman Drive, Suite 3. Kim specializes in finding just the right property for just the right person. She listens to your individual, unique needs. Please give her a call at 731-4065 to see how she can help you.
We have a change of management with our next member, Summit Lending. Lisa De Kramer will now head up the Pagosa office located at 56 Talisman Drive, #60. Summit Lending offers excellent residential loan programs for purchases and refinances on primary residences, second homes and investment property - from conventional, FHA, VA, sub-prime and construction/permanent loan packages.
Please call Lisa at 731-5070 to learn more.
Our renewals this week include April Bergman (our special "Copy Queen") with Curves for Women, and Gary and Margo Lalman with the Quest for Wellness Center. Thank you new members and renewals for your support and confidence. We are deeply appreciative.
It's that time of year when most of us are, well, almost desperate for spring to arrive and Daffodil Days provides the first opportunity to experience that wonderful touch of spring. Nothing says spring quite like a bouquet of daffodils, and they can be yours with a simple phone call - and you can be a part of supporting cancer research as an added bonus. The American Cancer Society sponsors this event every spring, and proceeds are used to fund education, vital research, and local patient services.
The ACS can always use volunteers, so if you would like to be a part of this effort, please call Suzan Gray at 264-6639 or Wendy Adams at 731-6110.
A bouquet of these beautiful yellow flowers offers a great and inexpensive opportunity to recognize and surprise special friends, family members and co-workers. Bouquets are $8 each and can be purchased at Mountain Greenery on Lewis Street on or after next Wednesday, March 15. You can place orders for delivery by calling either Suzan or Wendy at the above numbers. Do your part to eliminate cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer and saving lives through research, education and patient services.
Food for friends
Our pal, April Bergman, owner of Curves for Women here in Pagosa, is involved in the Curves Food for Friends National Food Drive 2000 and invites you to become involved. Last year the Curves Franchisees collected and donated over 150,000 pounds of food, and this year they have of goal of collecting 500,000 pounds to distribute to those who are in need.
Anyone who joins Curves for Women during the week of March 15 and brings a bag of groceries will not be charged the normal service fee. If you like, you may drop off non-perishable food items at Curves for Women (located behind the Hogs Breath) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m., or at Shear Talk, 510 San Juan. All food collected will be donated to local area food banks. For more information, please call 731-0333.
St. Pat's Parade
You still have plenty of time to register for the St. Patrick's Day Parade taking place next Friday, March 17, beginning at 4 p.m. (weather permitting). We already have several entries and generally have over 20 groups participating, so don't get left out. All you need to do is stop by the Visitor Center and pick up an entry form or use the one provided in your recent Chamber "Communiqué." This is the just-for-fun parade of the year and one everyone loves. We're adding another request for those participating - please bring a "boom box" to carry along or place on your entry float. Will Spears at KWUF has offered to play Irish tunes throughout the parade so we can all play the same appropriate music. This worked just great for the Christmas Parade of Lights and should be just the thing for this parade. Cash prizes will be awarded for the Best Float, the Most Green Costume and the Most Bizarre Costume. The entry fee is $3.17, and we will begin lining up on Sixth Street at 3:17 on Friday, March 17. If you have questions, just give Morna a call at 264-2360.
You'll have plenty of time to head home after the parade and put on some fancy duds for the Rotary Casino Royale, The Grandest Party in Pagosa Springs, held at the Pagosa Lodge. It's going to be quite the evening, I assure you, with entertainment and games galore - something for everyone. The evening includes the 1940s Big Band Sounds of Jeff Solon, the Casino Piano Bar with John Graves, comedian Rick Marshall, magician Blake Chatfield, and a three-piece string combo, The Walking Stix.
Game lovers will have some mind-boggling options from which to choose: black jack, craps, bingo, wheel of fortune, bridge, canasta and dice games. Among the hors d'oeuvres that will be served that evening are chili pinwheels, mini quiches, cheeses, veggies, hot wings, mini pizzas and some of Dawn's (Chez Pagosa) delectable desserts.
Tickets for this event are available from any Rotary member or at the Visitor Center. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door, so you would save some dough by purchasing them right away. Just give us a call at 264-2360 with any questions.
Lone Star opening
If you're in the mood for some Texas-style barbecue and all the fixins', you'll be happy to know that the Lone Star Cattle Company is open and ready for your business. The LSCC is owned by Richard and Barbara Husbands and is located at 30 North Pagosa Boulevard (formerly Burly's Grill). I asked for a run-down on the menu and was very hungry at the end of the list: ribs, brisket, sausage, chicken and turkey, chili, baked potato, corn on the cob, potato salad, cole slaw, fried okra, pinto beans, corn bread and cobbler are all there for the asking. The food is served cafeteria-style so you can move through rather quickly if you need to or take your time. The hours are 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. seven days a week, and you can give them a call at 731-9564. Congratulations to the Husbands on their opening.
Funny money added to St. Patrick's festivities
In addition to green beer, green ice cream and the St. Patrick's Day Parade, we now have funny money gambling, big band music and dancing. I guess green is the color of money, even funny money. As for the big band music and dancing, the Irish love music and dance, don't they?
The Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs proudly presents their premier Casino Royale on Friday, March 17, from 6:30 p.m. until midnight at Pagosa Lodge. If you enjoy gambling, this is definitely for you. If you are not a gambler, there's street music, dancing, hor d'ouveres, desserts and the fabulous opportunity to pull out those fancy threads. Entertainment for the evening will be presented by Jeff Solon 1940s Big Band, comedian Rick "The Coach" Marshall, John Graves and the Walking Stix. The food will be catered by Chez Pagosa. Sky Ute Casino will be operating the bingo parlor while local Rotarians will play croupiers and show you a good time. Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center and Pagosa Lodge. Proceeds will benefit the Pagosa Springs Community Center and the Rotary Scholarship Fund. Ticket cost is a tax-deductible donation. Additionally, you may go home with one of the large number of prizes that will be auctioned off at the end of the evening. Trade your funny money in for something wild, fun, useful.
Pagosa Pretenders, a family theatre, in conjunction with Pagosa Players and King's Men will present Arabian Nights on March 10, 11, 17 and 18 at the Pagosa Springs High School auditorium. Curtain time is at 7 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at the Sisson Library, Moonlight Books, Wild Hare Gifts and Pagosa Springs Arts Council. ($5 adults, $3 seniors and children 12 to 4, children 3-and-under free).
Congratulations to Rod and Barbara Preston on their 50th wedding anniversary, March 12. Keep loving and cherishing each other and may there be many more anniversaries.
Our support goes with our Pagosa Springs High School varsity girls and boys basketball teams as they compete at the state championship in Colorado Springs tonight. Go Pirates.
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 Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association:
- Call to order
- Approval of agenda
- Approval of board meeting minutes
- General manager's report
- Public comments
- Committee Reports: Treasurer's report, Director Judy Esterly; Board and Lakes, Fisheries and Parks Committee; work session, Larry Lynch; road committee report, Bill Ralston; Lake Forest Estates survey error report, Emmet Showalter.
- Old business:
A. PSO update, President Rod Preston
B. Settlement fund set aside for North Village Lake, President Preston.
- New business:
A. Lake Forest Angler parking, Larry Lynch
B. Board acceptance of proposed declarations of restriction changes for North Village Lake
C. Discuss CMA signature authority on Colorado business bank account, President Preston
D. Appointment of alternate ECC members, three vacancies, DCC manager Margaret Gallegos
E. Request from Pagosa Fire District to waive $30 permit fee, DCC manager Gallegos
F. Addendum to Colorado Management & Associates contract, President Preston
G. Public relations, Director Esterly.
New book focuses on Colorado River
We received a wonderful book donated by the Southwestern Water Conservation District entitled "Reflections on the Colorado." This book is published by the Colorado River Water Users Association, a non-profit organization composed of individuals, corporations, and public water agencies in the seven basin states of the Colorado River: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes. Twenty-two members of the association were asked to capture their thoughts about development of the Colorado River, and what is contained in the book is a varied collection of thoughts, feelings and impressions of the Colorado, along with some wonderful historic photographs. As the editor notes, "blood may be thicker than water, but we all have some of the Colorado River coursing through our veins."
The Pagosa Pretenders Family Theater's next production will be "Arabian Nights." Susan Garman and Company have put up a colorful display here at the Library sure to pique your interest and arouse your imagination, and the production is certain to be as much of a crowd-pleaser as past shows. Performances will be held on two consecutive weekends: March 10 and 11, and March 17 and 18 at the Pagosa Springs High School auditorium. Tickets are $5 for adults, and $3 for seniors and children age four to 12. Children under four are free. You may purchase tickets here at the Library.
Next time you're in the Library, be sure to peruse our cart of "Staff Picks." All of the members of the Library staff have singled out books from our collection for your reading pleasure: some are personal favorites and some just looked interesting to us. There are recommendations both in fiction and nonfiction, some you may have seen before, and some you've probably never heard of. Give it a gander, and let us know what you think.
Well, you asked for more new books, and we are scrambling to weed out the old to make room for the new. Keep your eyes peeled on the New Books shelves and again, we'd love your input.
By the time you read this, all the sellers' spaces for the Friends of the Library Indoor Garage Sale may be gone, but please call 264-2209, or come in and ask. If you have just a few items, we'd be delighted to accept donations of anything but clothing for the library's sale booth. This one-day event is scheduled for Saturday, March 18, from 7 to 11 a.m. only, and is at the Fairgrounds Extension Building on U.S. 84. Make a morning of it and then treat yourself to a nice lunch out afterwards.
What do you think?
Now that we have a little over a week of our extended schedule under our belts, patrons are starting to arrive regularly a little earlier, and are staying a little later.
Please take a moment to tell us what you think about the new schedule, and take home a bookmark with our hours and phone number, for handy reference. The new hours are: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We hope you are able to take advantage of the extended schedule and come in before work in the morning, after you drop the kids off at school, or even after work in the early evening.
Donations of materials came from Bill Storm, Bill Gottschalk, Maxine Stephens, Shirley Snider, Carol Novak, Carole and Bob Howard, Anita Statton, Wayne Crosby, Mary Lou Sprowle, Betty Reynolds and Barbara Lindley.
'Arabian Nights' opens this weekend
Got a camera? Want to take better pictures with it? Well, now is your chance to brush up on your photographic skill. The Pagosa Springs Arts Council is holding its very own photo club workshops.
The first workshop, "Methods: Camera-Lens-Light," will be held on March 18 at the PSAC Gallery at Town Park, from 1 to 3 p.m. This workshop focuses on an overview of basic principals of photography, giving the participant a better understanding of the functions and practical applications of their own personal gear. You also learn to determine lens selections that provide expected results and learn more about the "quality of light," to apply it to develop your own style.
Choosing films can be confusing and expensive, and you can find out what will work best for the type of photos you want to do. This is where the second workshop saves the day! Not only does it cover film choices but it also teaches you to challenge yourself with new ideas of composition - classic and abstract. Learn to understand under- and over-exposure and how they can enhance or ruin your results. Learn to train your eye! The second workshop, "Methods: Film-Exposure-Composition," will be held on March 25. This workshop meets at the Town Park gallery and will take place from 1 to 3 p.m.
Workshop cost is $29 for one session ($39 for non-PSAC members), or $40 dollars for both sessions ($50 for non-PSAC members). For information, contact Jeff Laydon at 731-3686. Remember, space is limited for this unique opportunity to increase your skills at a divine art, so sign up as soon as possible at the PSAC Gallery and Gift shop.
Encore! Encore! With all the excitement of the photo workshops you will be pleased to know that there are some fine examples of photography on display. Due to a large outcry of awe and approval, the photography contest contestants are still on display at the PSAC Gallery and Gift shop in the town park. They will continue to be on display through March 21. This gives you time to come down and witness the awesome photographic talent in this community, and pick up some pointers in this skill along the way. The gallery and gift shop are open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Make way for the Pagosa Pretenders and their rendition of the classic "Arabian Nights." This family troupe is aiming to amaze its audience with remarkable acting skill. There will be a total of four Pagosa Springs High School auditorium performances, on March 10, 11, 17, and 18, at 7 p.m. each evening. So now you're thinking, "Where can I get tickets to this exciting event?" Well, I'll tell you a few places. Tickets are available at Sisson Library, Moonlight Books, Wild Hare Gifts, and the PSAC Gallery and Gift shop. Adults are $5, kids and seniors $3, and kids three and under are free. Don't miss out on this great deal of family entertainment and fun.
Christian art show
Time to show your spirit, local artists. An all-Christian Art Show will be held at the Pagosa Springs Arts Council Gallery. This show will be a combination of many talented artists who express their inspiration and faith through art. Whether you have just one piece or several, you are encouraged to participate. All mediums are welcome. You need to be a PSAC member and there is an exhibit fee of $15. Artists who are interested in showing their "Expressions of Faith," need to contact the exhibit coordinator Kent Gordon, at 264-4252
The "Expressions of Faith," exhibit will have a very special opening reception on Palm Sunday, April 16, from noon to 4 p.m. Refreshments will be provided and picnics are encouraged. Inspirational music, performed by local musicians, will add blessing to this exciting exhibit. Musicians who would like to participate are also invited to contact Kent Gordon, or the PSAC at 264-5020.
The annual PSAC garage sale is rolling around just in time for spring cleaning, so start collecting items worthy of reselling. The garage sale will be held on April 15, giving you time to gather your goods. For information or to make requests for help in transporting your ins and outs to the gallery, call Phyl Daleske at 731-4589 or the PSAC at 264-5020. Leave your name and number and you will be provided with answers to your very important questions.
Three native Pagosan sisters visit Senior Center
We seniors always are indebted to the many wonderful folks who do nice things for us, and this week we especially want to thank the folks at Daylight Donuts for their generous donations of donuts to the Senior Center. What a treat.
The volunteers who support the Senior Center are so appreciated - this week we acknowledge Teresa Diestelkamp, Kathy Perry, Jo Rose, Helen Girardin, Lilly Gurule, Lydia Martinez, Lena Bowden, June Nelson, Mary Archuleta, Chris McCracken and Betty Thomas.
What a pleasant surprise for me to learn that we have three sisters coming to the Senior Center - Helen Girardin, Inez Seavy and Mary Carpenter - and they are "Real Native Pagosans."
Casa De Los Arcos is currently taking applications for a two-bedroom apartment. You need to be at least 62 years old or disabled. You may apply in person at 503 South 8th Street or call 264-4828.
Spring is almost here and with the new season brings senior activities and trips to warmer climates. There are still openings for the Laughlin trip scheduled to depart March 23 at 8:30 a.m. from the Archuleta County Senior Center, returning March 27 at 6:00 p.m.
Help! We are in need of assistance. One of the seniors needs to have her toilet replaced, if you can help with this please call Cindy at 264-2167.
We would like to thank the Archuleta County Senior Citizens Inc. for the financial assistance with our seniors who were in dire need of eyeglasses. Thank you very, very much.
AARP tax preparation has been moved to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Don't forget to make your appointment. Please remember that AARP is here to assist those in need, not only seniors. Please call 264-2250 (Mountain Express) to make an appointment.
Colors herald spring's arrival
It's coming. Spring.
The colors of spring here in Pagosa Country are not the ones I looked for back in Tennessee. No pale green of daffodil stems. No yellow of forsythia blossoms. Here the first colors of spring are red and purple and orange.
Tom had to travel back east two different times around the end of February. I drive him, because I want to have the 4-wheel drive vehicle in case it snows. That meant four round trips to Durango airport and a lot of time to look at the countryside. And see spring sneaking in.
The first indications were those willow-like bushes with the vertical branches that grow in the areas that they call "bottoms" in Tennessee, along creeks and low-lying meadows. At first I thought it was my imagination and wishing, but by the fourth trip it was apparent that the sap was rising. The branches were definitely turning red. And purple. And orange.
Some of the trees, too, were feeling the warmth and waking up. Along the rivers the cottonwoods, which have looked gray and fuzzy since last fall are developing red buds at the ends of their branches. The dangling willow branches by a ranch house are turning yellow. Some other tree, which I don't yet recognize, has upthrust yellow-orange sprouts.
At the dealership near Bayfield or Gem Village, the lot is now ablaze with shiny new red tractors, another sign of spring.
Even the grass looks more awake. I swear I saw a greenish tinge developing in some fields.
Blue is another spring color here. On March 1 three mountain bluebirds flashed across the meadow like little pieces of sky fallen to earth. The next day I saw two more. Two weeks earlier, just before the snow storm that made the skiers happy and hopeful again, there was a solitary robin perched on a stump by our house. I had to get out the binoculars to verify what I was seeing. I guess he'd been deluded by the warm weather into thinking spring was already here. Probably thought he'd get a jump on the competition. Then the snow came. I suspect he won't be contributing any more to the gene pool.
And there's another indicator, a novel one for those of us who are experiencing spring here for the first time - the brown color of mud.
Hotshot and I live two miles from the highway. Two unpaved miles. Graveled yes, paved no. I know a lot of people have much longer treks than that, but it doesn't matter. It might as well be 20 miles of unpaved road, or 200 miles. The car gets just as dirty. And those mud lines that develop on your legs from getting in and out of the car and just as noticeable.
Now, I don't object much to mud on a car. Heck, I think it protects the finish. So Ole Paint doesn't get a wash more than once or twice year, if he needs it. But Hotshot comes from a family that liked clean cars. They always said the car rode better when it was newly washed.
He bore with having "the dirtiest car in Pagosa" until the day before we left for a trip to the big city of Phoenix, and then he washed it and drove home slowly.
"If we go anywhere tonight," he said, "it'll have to be in your car, because I'm not getting any extra dirt on mine." Okay. Fine. No problem.
Next morning we loaded up the car and headed out towards Durango. Guess we hadn't seen enough of that road yet. About 10 miles from home, he said, "We have a vibration. I think it's a tire imbalance. I think there's still mud in the wheels."
"Come on," said I. "Can a little mud cause an imbalance?"
Of course, as soon as he mentioned it, I felt my feet vibrating in response to the car. The sensation traveled to my knees, which began a sympathetic tingling. We started to pass another car, and at the higher speed the car really began to shake. Imbalance, nothing. Maybe a tire had fallen off.
We drove on to Durango and pulled into one of those big carwash places outside of town. Fifteen minutes of high power wash, and twenty quarters later, the water streaming from the fancy pierced wheels was clear of mud. And little chunks of the stuff lay beside each tire, slowly dissolving in the runoff.
The mud had been deposited uniformly, a little bit at a time. And solidified there, kind of like cement. If he hadn't washed the car the day before and partially cleared the deposits, we'd never have had the problem. Maybe I'll just let Ole Paint stay dirty.
Back on the road and vibration-free, we made the rest of the trip with no surprises. Unless you count the 4 inches of snow next morning at Show Low, where we stayed overnight. Or the rain that fell on Phoenix all day Monday. But maybe rain is a sign of spring in the desert.
Though it lacks the attention afforded Super Tuesday, Friday will
be significant in that Archuleta County voters may exercise their
right to vote in the Colorado Presidential Primary Election.
Besides Vice President Al Gore, the Democrat ballot includes the names of former Sen. Bill Bradley and Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. Joining Texas Gov. George W. Bush on the Republican ballot are Gary Bauer, Steve Forbes, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Alan Keyes and Sen. John McCain. Though Bauer, Forbes and Hatch's names will be on the ballot, they have already dropped out of the primary race. There is speculation that Bradley and McCain could do likewise before Friday.
Eight precinct polling places in Archuleta County will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for tomorrow's voting.
Precinct 1 will be open in the county commissioners meeting room in the county courthouse.
Precinct 2 will be open in the fellowship hall of Community United Methodist Church on Lewis Street.
Precinct 3 will be open in the Archuleta County Fair Building on U.S. 84.
Precinct 4 will be open in the basement of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Arboles on Colo. 151.
Precinct 5 will be open in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9695 on U.S. 160 west.
Precinct 6 will be open in the Pagosa Lakes Community Center on Port Avenue.
Precinct 7 will be open in the education building at Community Bible Church on Village Drive.
Precinct 8 will be open in the El Centro Senior Citizens Center on Zuni Street.
Only persons registered by Feb. 10 will be eligible to vote in Friday. Voters registered as unaffiliated may declare a party affiliation at the polls Friday and cast a ballot on the party ballot of their choice.
The results of Friday's primary election are nonbinding since both the Republican and Democratic parties in Colorado select their national delegates respectively through state caucuses in April. Still, Friday is significant in that the polls are open and the people may exercise their privilege of voting. David C. Mitchell
Going to where you shouldn't be
The SUN was blessed with some wonderful grandson visitations over the weekend.
Check out the adorable features of Gabriel Starling in the space above and consider his mastery of baby talk.
I sympathize with Gabe's concerns about "enduring the indignities of intracontinental air travel."
Flying from Durango to Phoenix to San Jose is somewhat an endurance test. Making the flight in the reverse order definitely tests a granddad's endurance when inch-and-a-half rains in Phoenix delays the return from San Jose by 90 minutes and adds another couple of hours to the layover, make that "sitover," in Phoenix.
But even an ice-encrusted runway at Durango, and icy drive to Elmore's Store in order to navigate a slick U.S. 160 to the top of Yellow Jacket Pass could not diminish my pleasure of visiting with three-week-old Payton and his big sister Macey. "Yup."
After being wrapped around Macey's little finger for three days, I felt like a wet noodle when I finally hit the bed at midnight Sunday.
I left my heart in San Jose and my mind no telling where.
I'm thankful that somehow or other Karl, John, Roy, Terri, LaVonne, Kim, Shari and Ronnie have gotten me through the week. I look forward to reading this week's SUN once I'm rested. It will be interesting to see what I tried to focus on as I stared at my monitor earlier this week.
I am aware that this is the SUN's annual state basketball tournament edition. The big cities can have their Stanley Cup, World Series or Super Bowl editions whenever their hired guns are fortunate enough to win the final game of their never-ending seasons.
I'll take the Pirates and the Lady Pirates playing in the state playoffs.
What a basketball season. The Unstoppable Pirates and the Improbable Ladies.
Other than the players and their coaches, when the season started none of us expected to be at the Air Force Academy this weekend.
The folks in the San Luis Valley probably looked away in disbelief Wednesday when the School District 50 Joint bus and the school's Suburbans went through Del Norte, Monte Vista and Alamosa yesterday.
It was not supposed to happen.
The Pirates were supposed to return home and put their basketballs away for the year following the Intermountain League tournament.
The Ladies were supposed to spend this season in the thankless throes of rebuilding.
The classrooms weren't supposed to be empty at Pagosa Springs High School today and tomorrow.
Substitute teachers weren't supposed to be in demand at the local schools.
The parking lots at the motels in the Interstate 25-North Academy Boulevard area of Colorado Springs weren't supposed to be filled with autos bearing YU and FAA license plates this week end.
Somehow or other the Pirates and the Ladies, and their coaches, never got the message. Someone forgot to tell them this wasn't supposed to be their year.
But thanks to coach Kyle Canty and his staff, and to Clinton Lister, Lonnie Lucero, Charles Rand, David Goodenberger, Daniel Crenshaw, Tyrel Ross, Micha Maberry, Darin Lister, Carlos Martinez, Dominique Lucero, Brandon Thames and Jason Schutz; and to coach Karen Wells and her staff, and to Janae Esterbrook, Mandy Forrest, Bonnie O'Brien, Katie Lancing, Meigan Canty, Ashley Gronewoller, Andrea Ash, Carlena Lungstrum and Amber Mesker; John, Roy and myself are joining the rest of Pagosa in Colorado Springs for the state championships.
We are not supposed to be there, but fortunately, no one told the Pirates or the Ladies.
Know you are loved and please keep us in your prayers. David
New record for Wolf Creek
Taken from SUN files
of March 13, 1975
Snowfall dropped on Wolf Creek Pass this week with more than a foot a day falling for the past seven days. Snowfall between March 5 and March 12 left 87 inches of new snow. It brings the total snowfall at Wolf Creek for the winter to 539 inches.
This Saturday, March 15, is the date of the annual Fireman's Ball. It will be held in the high school gym and good music will be provided. All benefits derived from the dance are used to purchase training aids, special equipment and help with training expenses.
A new law in 1975 closes the hunting and trapping of bobcats on March 13. Animals that can be hunted on a year-round basis are coyotes, coons and skunks.
A new record for attendance at Wolf Creek Ski Area is broken daily these days. Daily attendance at Wolf Creek has now exceeded the 30,000 mark. Last year's total was approximately 24,000 skiers. Wolf Creek is the economy ski area in Colorado and is becoming more popular each year.
Mrs. Brown celebrates 95th birthday this month
On Monday of this week, I was reminded that a delightful lady is celebrating her 95th birthday this month. About 10 years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Faye Brown as she was helping me with a story I was preparing about her family - the Teesons.
After that initial meeting, I have had the good fortune to visit with Mrs. Brown on several occasions. One of the most fun afternoons I spent with her included several young ladies. I took my Girl Scout troop out to Mrs. Brown's ranch one spring day. They were excited to see all of the baby animals and Mrs. Brown was the perfect hostess. She took the girls all around telling them about all of her animals, especially her cows. She obviously cared a lot for them.
The girls were excited by the whole experience - most of them did not have the opportunity to be around farm animals very often. They asked good questions and Mrs. Brown patiently answered them all. Following this most excellent tour, Mrs. Brown topped off the afternoon with an invitation to come in the house for a cookie.
Mrs. Brown descends from one of the earliest settlers of the Chromo area. Her father, Sam Teeson, came to the United States at the age of six. The Teeson family settled in Texas. Sam Teeson grew up a cowboy and buffalo hunter.
After tiring of hunting, Teeson moved westward where he settled in Chromo around 1880, making him one of the earliest settlers in that area of the county.
In 1887, Sam married Leora Blevins. The Blevins family had come to this area about 1885.
Sam and Leora had seven children - Tom, Jim, Louie, Annie, Mary, Tinnie and Faye. Leora had an older daughter, Jennie, who had been born in Texas prior to Leora coming to this area. After a number of years, the Teesons sold their place in Chromo and moved their family to the Blanco Basin. Some of the children attended the Blanco Basin school, although their schooling was sporadic. As was the case for many children of the time, no school was held during the winter months due to the snow. Summer months limited schooling because of the demands of farming and ranching.
Sam Teeson passed away in 1932. Leora passed away in 1946.
Mrs. Brown continues to delight visitors to her residence just northeast of Pagosa. This being the place she and her late husband, Raymond, purchased in 1940. She remains one of our area's home-grown treasures.
Read this column. It's easy.
This is my column.
See the column?
Dick and Jane see the column.
They like the column.
The column is short.
Dick and Jane like the short column.
See Dick and Jane.
Dick and Jane are happy.
All the sentences are short.
Dick and Jane like short sentences.
Each paragraph has two sentences.
Dick and Jane like short paragraphs.
Dick and Jane are happy.
This year, Dick and Jane are idiots.
See Dick and Jane be idiots.
Last week, Karl read his Press Association contest results.
A mean man said Karl's column is too long.
Karl is sad.
See Karl be sad.
Last year, Karl sent a longer column to the contest. It won first place.
Last year, Dick and Jane were smart.
Now, Dick and Jane are confused.
See Dick and Jane be confused.
"Why did the longer column win first place?," ask Dick and Jane.
"That is hard to understand," said Karl. "There are two ideas."
Dick and Jane are worried. Two ideas are more than one idea.
"Tell us, Karl," say Dick and Jane. "We want to know."
"Some people who write newspapers think you are smart," said Karl.
Dick and Jane are happy.
"Other people who write newspapers think you are stupid," said Karl.
Dick and Jane are sad.
"Some people who write newspapers think they are smarter than Dick and Jane," said Karl. "They think Dick and Jane read at the fifth-grade level."
Dick and Jane are mad.
"They don't want you to read a long column. They think you have the attention span of a chipmunk," said Karl.
"Since you are not as smart as they are, they do everything for you," said Karl. "They make things simple and short, so idiots can understand them."
Dick and Jane are mad.
"They think more than one idea confuses you," said Karl. "They want you to be happy."
Dick and Jane are confused.
See Dick and Jane be confused. Their mouths are open.
"They write simple sentences," said Karl. "They don't like adjectives or long words."
Ahhhh. Dick and Jane are happy again.
"They make it easy because you are stupid and they feel sorry for you" said Karl. "They want to help you."
Dick and Jane feel safe.
"The other people who write newspapers think you are smart," said Karl.
Dick and Jane are surprised.
"They think you can understand more than one idea," said Karl. "They think a paragraph can include more than two sentences."
Dick and Jane are scared. See their eyebrows.
"They use big words," said Karl. "They know you will look up the meaning of a word you don't know."
Dick and Jane are anxious, but they don't know what "anxious" means.
"This year," said Karl, "the mean old Press Association judge thinks you are idiots. I want to win another prize."
Dick and Jane want Karl to win a prize.
They like Karl.
Karl likes Dick and Jane. If he writes a strange word, he will use parentheses and explain the word to Dick and Jane.
Karl will write a good food column this week.
Karl will not use French words.
This is a recipe.
See the recipe.
Find two slices of white bread. (Bread that is white.)
Put butter on the bread.
Take a piece of processed American Cheese and put it between the slices of bread. (This is a sandwich.)
Put a frying pan on the burner of the stove.
Turn on the burner. The burner is hot.
When the pan is hot put the sandwich in the pan. (A frying pan.)
When one side of the sandwich turns brown, turn the sandwich over. (On its other side.)
When the other side of the sandwich is brown, take it out of the pan.
Turn off the burner. (The burner of the stove.)
Eat the sandwich.
The sandwich is good.
Pour milk in a glass.
Drink the milk.
Milk is good.
I like puppies.
Do you like puppies?
I like you.
This is the end of the column.
Pass important to Southwest Colo.
By John M. Motter
Last week we offered a report from the engineer who chose Wolf Creek Pass, giving the reasons for that selection. This week, we give more on the opening of the pass and a first person account of one of the first trips over the pass. The writer is Myrtle Hersch, nee Stodsgill. She was the wife of Dave Hersch and the mother of Joe Hersch and Marguerite Wylie. Moving along one more generation, Myrtle Hersch was the grandmother of Joan Seielstad, currently residing in our community.
A news writer at the time reported, "The new road is forty-four miles longŠthe cost of construction will be more than $76,000Šthe road is passable now (Oct. 22, 1915), though not for the average motoristŠFred Catchpole made the first trip in an automobileŠIt is felt the road will boost automobile travel in Colorado by 25 percentŠthe original highway was 12 feet wide."
The official opening took place Aug. 21, 1916, and was conducted at the box canyon 12 miles east of the summit. About 1,000 people and 250 cars were present. Free elk meat and coffee were served.
And now, Myrtle Hersch's story, courtesy of Marguerite Wylie, who was present as a small girl.
In February of 1916, our Chalmers car was shipped from Pagosa Springs by Denver and Rio Grande narrow gauge railroad to Santa Fe, New Mexico, as the town was snowed in at that time of the year. There, our family, consisting of my husband David, our thirteen-year-old son Joseph, and small daughter Marguerite and I began a leisurely tour of 6,000 miles through warmer, and lower altitude states. We planned our homecoming over the new pass, later in the summer, from the east side.
At that time there were none of the luxury motels as of today, so we carried a complete camping equipment with us for comfortable living either inside or out in the wide open spaces. We did little real camping - liked the hotels better. Tent setting we found difficult for soft hands, so we took the easy way, and kept our overnight bags easily within reach.
On our return we spent some time in Denver, where we bought a new seven passenger Cadillac V-8 car while the Chalmers was being painted and reconditioned. Joseph went into the Cadillac garage and worked and became quite an expert at placing cars, tire changing, greasing, and what-have-you. At that time there were not the rules and regulations for drivers that we have now.
The report came that the pass would be opened shortly, so we started on our way home - David and Marguerite in the Chalmers and Joseph and I in the Cadillac following. When we reached Decker Creek work camp, high up on the mountainside above the present Decker Creek bridge, we found my sister, and her two teen-aged sons, Eugene and George Hatcher already camped. They were returning from a trip through the Ozarks, and were also waiting to cross the pass. The highway engineer informed us it would be a few more days, as heavy rock work had delayed their progress. What were a few more days, with the semi-permanent camp, good fishing, best of cold mountain water, and big spruce trees about? Besides, it gave us a chance really to try our equipment.
On July 26th, a messenger came to tell us the engineer would come at ten o'clock the next morning to line us up for the trip over. By this time two more cars had joined us. We were to break camp and put our car tops down, because of protruding rocks over the road. There were no hard topped cars then. During the night we had a regular down-pour of rain. A very difficult task packing up in the mud. Clouds hung heavy over the mountains, but we were all ready to roll on time. The engineer started Mr. and Mrs. Vrendenburg in front in a Ford roadster, then Mr. and Mrs. Goodnight of Monte Vista in a Buick, the Hatchers in a Velie, third in line, then the Chalmers and Cadillac last, as the heavier cars might mess up the road for the other cars - to use his words.
While in camp David and I walked down the narrow steep grade to the open flat below, and even when dry it looked rather hazardous as it was only a few inches wider than the camp wagon tracks. A wall of rock on one side, and straight down on the other; but the engineer assured us it was all right, for it was well packed, but for us to not drive too close together to make room for possibilities.
We were happy to be on our way again, although it looked as if we might have another downpour any minute. We felt too, we were making history, being the first group of cars over the hill. As we were nearly a mile from our camp, on the steepest pitch, with mud slick as soap, the Ford stopped. The driver ran back to flag down the line of cars. We all walked down to see if there might be a rock slide, a possibility. Here they had come face to face with a wagon train, three big, loaded covered wagons, with several extra horses leading behind each wagon, and quite a number of people in their group. These people had been camping for three weeks on Wolf Creek, at the west foot of the pass, also waiting to cross. The engineer had told them to wait until he gave the clearance, as five cars were on their way over, and it would be impossible for either group to pass the other, excepting at certain places. As the wagon train waited in its camp, the head man's patience wore thin, and "if the pass was to be open on July 27 - By Gar - he'd take his right and go, let come what may." Before leaving his camp, he laid in a supply of Pagosa's fire-water, and when he met our group he was all set for battle. He got out of his wagon, buckled on his revolver, and with unsteady steps, and loud abusive language, ordered all cars to back up to some place where he could pass. "Take the outside of the road, as my horses are not dependable. I'm giving orders to be understood and followed and I'm going through, if I have to shoot the last - - - to make way for my wagons." He was so angry and unsteady we could not even guess what he might do. Finally, the men of our group told him to shut up and get back into his wagon, until they could find a workable plan, or they'd pitch him down into the canyon. He sat.
Then began the most terrifying experience of backing inch by inch on that narrow, slick steep grade. David always believed in going forward, so was not expert at backing - especially under such conditions. Joseph's experience in the Cadillac garage paid off. He showed real efficiency in this case. Finally, one-by-one, we managed to pass each other.
When we got down into the flat lowland, there was no road at all, just mud and water soaked trails, each driver making his own guess which set of workmen's wagon tracks to follow through the willows until he could connect with the next section of ascending road up the mountainside.
At Box Canyon we had to wait until fifteen heavy dynamite blasts tore away a section of rock, then all this debris had to be cleared away before we could attempt to cross over. At one place a steam drill stood against a rock wall, and we had to drive around it on the point of broken rocks. The Cadillac was too long to make the turn around the drill, so again Joseph had to see-saw inch-by-inch to make the turn. Just as we got around, the whole point slid off into the stream below.
None of the other cars carried food, so when we found a slightly dry spot under a spruce tree, the Hatchers and we invited the group to eat with us, as we had an ample supply from our camp. Every man had shoveled, pushed, lifted, and worked his best for everyone who needed help. We had showers all day long. There seemed to be no bottom to the road with this rain on the new construction. When we began to climb, the road was so slick, or again so sticky, it took the five cars three hours to cover only a quarter of a mile. Added to all these delays, the Chalmers and Cadillac each had a flat tire. Now, night was coming on and we were still two and one half miles from Mr. Logan's work camp. The lighter weight cars passed through the mud holes all right, and drove on towards camp, but the heavier cars just sank. Marguerite and I walked the distance through mud and rain to the road camp for help. Mr. Logan sent four big horses to assist, but they couldn't move the cars. When this didn't work, Eugene Hatcher backed their Velie from camp carrying heavy log chains. With the horses and chains, the cars were pulled out.
The high altitude and the excitement of the day, besides the wet and cold, was more than I could take. The cook and his buddy moved their beds into the dining tent, and fixed a place for me to lie down and rest. My family didn't get to camp until 8:00 PM. I was too tired to eat, and didn't get warm all night.
When morning came, I still couldn't eat, but the sun came out and we were ready to make a fresh start. Mr. Logan sent his crew ahead early to fill in a one hundred foot bog with spruce boughs. Still, every car had to be pulled through. We still had rough going to the top of the pass, which is over ten thousand feet high. We were told that our troubles were all over, as it was down grade, and work done the previous fall was well packed by highway equipment. We were all in good spirits, for we knew no one would meet us today. Each car took its own pace coming down, not too close because of the sharp curves - Joseph and I still followed at ten miles an hour, and in low gear. We came to a section of the road which was supported by a built up rock wall, and noticed that the tracks of the cars ahead were only four or five inches from the rocks, but it looked safe enough, when CRASH! that entire wall gave way and let the side of our car down and hanging in mid air. Only a very small rock below our left front wheel kept us from going down. As we carefully slipped out on the upper side, the car teetered as if it were on its way down. Only a miracle caused it to hold, for it seemed that a puff of wind could set it off. We stood and looked - all the cars had gone ahead, and we were alone with miles to any work camp. We knew that my husband would stop soon, if Marguerite didn't see us coming behind them. After about fifteen or twenty minutes a wagon with two men and carrying heavy cables and a bicycle came along. The men tied the car to the trees on the upper side with ropes. One man rode the wheel down two miles where he met David walking back with some of the work crew. The men cut down several small trees and built cribbing which they filled in with rocks. Then they jacked up the car little by little, built again, until it was near level position. Six men held the cables while David drove onto solid ground.
While they were working, I carried drinking water in a pint cup from the creek below up that bank for the men, for now it was midday in a July sun. It was forty feet to the nearest tree to stop the car's rolling, had it gone down.
When the task was nearly completed, I took photographs, then the three of us went on down the two miles, where Marguerite sat waiting all these hours, alone - not knowing what had happened to any of us.
As my family was reunited, and no one was hurt, I began to weaken, and became so shaky I couldn't stop trembling. Kept growing weaker and more frightened as the miles passed until we were within two miles of Pagosa Springs and home. I did as some other women in the past have done - fainted. At the Todd ranch, they stretched me out on the grass beside the highway, and with water and spirits of amonia, I was soon revived. I have heard of people being scared to death. This was the next thing to it
Even with such experiences, I love our Wolf Creek Pass, with its forty-seven years of memories and happy associations.
One 'Beauty' and two beasts
Of the three movies I saw this weekend, only one really deserved my careful attention, but, unfortunately for me, I've already written about it twice, so I'll not bludgeon you with a 3-peat.
The good movie I saw was "American Beauty," still playing at a theater very near you. I first saw it back in October and had been chomping at the bit for it to get here. Then, as frequent strollers down Pagosa Street will know, a poster for the film went up at our local theater several weeks ago. So during all this time I've been tantalized by that picture - the flat tummy, the hand pressing the rose against it - and hoping that the "Coming Soon" sign was telling the truth.
Well, it was. So if you like movies that are carefully, thoughtfully and artistically made; and if you're an adult; and if you're open minded; and if you can enjoy a work of art even if you wouldn't necessarily want to be friends with most of the characters depicted in it, then you really must see this beautiful movie on a big screen, possibly while you nibble on a large pickle.
Most people would be more likely to enjoy the two inferior movies I saw. One was a remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1968). The original was a pretty enjoyable piece of work. It featured Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in the leads, and these two were awfully good at charming and enchanting audiences back then. They both had a kind of heat that traveled from the screen down to us pathetic slobs eating our greasy popcorn and getting our shoes stuck in the syrupy remains of spilled soft drinks. Real charisma, real presence.
Dunaway, her face only slightly bloated, shows up as Crown's shrink in the fluffy remake and, hey, the heat is gone. Crown is played by one those guys like Pierce Brosnan or Timothy Dalton or Dylan McDermott and in the female lead we have either Sandra Bullock or Renee Russo.
The movie is about a filthy rich guy (Thomas Crown) who gets his kicks by stealing art masterpieces out of museums. The female lead, whose name escapes me, works for an insurance agency and so of course she's trying to recover the lost work of art in order to claim 5 percent of its net worth. Gosh, I never knew this was what art was all about. Now I know that the Old Masters struggled with their sanity, their demons, their craft, slaved over this or that spot on the canvas, threw tantrums, started over, all of that, to provide a hobby for the wealthy. It was all about investments and prestige!
So these two characters, both slimy and conniving, go to work trying to outsmart each other and - you're not going to believe this - start to fall in love! I have never been so surprised in a movie. Who would've thought the Brosnan Dalton guy would be attracted to the Bullock Russo woman?
After thoroughly enjoying this shoddy remake, I moved on to what I hoped would be a fresh and inventive movie, "Stigmata" (1999). I think it might have been a tad influenced by "The Exorcist" and the Indiana Jones movies, but we shouldn't hold that against it.
In fact, let me try something different here: I'm going to try to keep my opinions to myself and just speculate on how different audiences would react to "Stigmata."
Teen-age audiences are going to love it because it makes religion (in this case, Christianity) "interesting." What I mean by this is that it develops a kind of comic-book theology and focuses on the blood and suffering of the Christian story.
For example, we get to see a statue of the Virgin Mary crying a river of bloody tears. We get to see the main character, Frankie Paige (Patricia Arquette), suffer the wounds of the Crucifixion, starting with the nail holes in her hands (which, in the interest of accuracy, the film has moved to her wrists), and moving on to some lashes on the back, a crown of thorns on her head, and nail holes in her feet.
The inflicting of these wounds is made pretty explicit and is spliced in with footage (not actual) of Christ's Crucifixion so that we can make the connection. Kids love this kind of stuff! It's like a heavy-metal video or that one by Madonna where she's writhing around inside a church.
In case you don't know, when someone is visited by these wounds, it's called a stigmata, and hence the title of the film. We're told that this happens only to the most holy and devout believers - St. Francis of Assisi, for instance. But in "Stigmata," it happens to Frankie who doesn't appear to know beans about Christianity and is a self-proclaimed atheist.
I hate to take up your time by explaining how this happens, but here goes. This very devout priest named Father Alameda dies in South America, someone lifts his Rosary, sells it to Frankie's mom, who then gives it to Frankie, and then Bingo! There she is in the tub, minding her own business, when water starts dripping all over, doves start flying, and she starts getting her wrists hammered.
But many teenagers will love all of this, and they'll like the fiery special effects, especially the one where Frankie levitates just like Regan did in "The Exorcist."
Many fans of conspiracies will also find something to like in "Stigmata," especially those who learn most of their history from watching such Oliver Stone movies as "JFK" and "Nixon."
The conspiracy in "Stigmata" is that the Catholic Church is trying to cover up the existence of a newly found gospel. The contents of this jewel are so threatening to the future of the Church that they break it up into three pieces for purposes of translation. For instance, they give a Franciscan page 1 to translate, a Dominican page 2 and a Jesuit page 3. What a dirty trick!
The stigmatized Frankie is being used as a messenger by the spirit of Father Alameda to make this controversial "new" gospel available to the masses, pardon the pun. But the Church fights back with the "evil" company man and status-quo defender Father Daniel Houseman (Jonathan Pryce), who would even kill Frankie if he had to in order to save the Church. So there's good conspiracy stuff here.
Finally, as my slightly more famous colleague in film criticism, Roger Ebert, has already pointed out, the movie makes great comedy for Bible scholars and theologians. Throughout the film, we're given snippets from this spooky lost gospel. Before I heard any of them, I just assumed the writers would make up a gospel that contained such revolutionary commandments as "Let there be no popes" or "Sin is permissible, confession optional."
But here are the hair-raising snippets: "The Kingdom of God is inside you and all around you and not in a building of wood and stone," and "Break a stick and there am I; lift a stone and I am there." Even an armchair, Monday-morning scholar such as I recognized the source of these hardly threatening sayings: They're from the Thomas Gospel, unearthed at Nag Hammadi back in 1945. The book is a list of Jesus sayings, and scholarly consensus has it that some are legitimate, some have a coating of Gnosticism spray-painted on top, and this review is no place to tell you about Gnosticism. You can look it up.
The Thomas Gospel is right out there in the open and can be found in most major bookstores. There have also been plenty of books written about it, and they're readily available. So if the Catholics are trying to cover up this book, they're doing a pretty rotten job of it.
I go on about this at such length because "Stigmata" ends with this sinister message on the screen informing us of this existence of the Thomas Gospel and the Church's refusal to canonize (or recognize) it.
Maybe it's just me, but I thought the occasionally bawdy "American Beauty" was more sensitive to the presence of God in a fallen world than "Stigmata," with its truckload of Christian iconography. Still, teenagers and conspiracy nuts will much prefer the latter.