Front Page

June 22, 2000

Citizens Utilities requests 48% rate increase

By Richard Walter

A proposal which would nearly double natural gas rates for customers of Citizens Utilities Company has been filed with the Public Utilities Commission of the State of Colorado.

If the application for gas cost adjustment is approved by the commission, an increase of approximately 48 percent for residential customers would become effective on July 1.

That means, for example, that a customer currently paying $50 per month for natural gas service would see an increase to $74 if the application is approved as filed.

A Citizens Utilities official in La Junta said the purpose of the filing is to reflect changes in natural gas rates being charged the utility by its suppliers of natural gas and pipeline delivery services. The increase would affect all customers receiving service on the firm's Western Slope system.

Copies of the application as filed are, or will be, available for examination at all public offices of Citizens Utilities, including the one at 457 Lewis St., in Pagosa Springs, or at the offices of the Public Utilities Commission, 1580 Logan Street, Office Level 2, Denver, CO, 80203.

Anyone who desires may file a written objection or seek to intervene as a party in the filing. If you wish only to object to the proposed rate hike, you may express that feeling in a written objection to the Commission. The filing of a written objection itself, however, will not allow you to participate as a party in any proceeding on the proposed action.

If you wish to participate as a party in the matter you must file written intervention documents to the proposed action with the Commission at the address above.

Members of the public may attend any hearing (no dates have been set) and make a statement under oath about the proposed action whether or not a written objection or request to intervene has been filed.

The filing Tuesday was under the authority of David Freeman, manager of the firm's Colorado Gas Division.


Fire danger spurs added restrictions

By Karl Isberg

Despite the fact Mother Nature proved recently that rain still exists, local officials warn of persistent fire danger and urge residents and visitors to exercise caution and make plans to deal with potential wildland fires.

A countywide fire ban remains in effect and upgraded fire restrictions for public lands were put in place Wednesday.

In recognition of increased fire dangers, most fire-related activities are banned on the San Juan National Forest, on all Bureau of Land Management lands and on Southern Ute tribal land in Archuleta County.

The ban includes "building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal broiler, or a coal or wood burning stove." This restriction applies to use of fire grates in developed recreation areas and to high-altitude recreation areas exempt from fire restrictions put in place earlier in the year.

Campers and hikers on public land can still use petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns and heating devices that use pressurized liquid with a regulated flame.

Smoking on public lands is prohibited, "except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area of at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material."

No chainsaws can be operated on public lands. Use of explosives is prohibited as is welding or operation of any torch with an open flame. Fireworks are banned on public lands at all times.

Jim Shepardson of the Pagosa Ranger District said Forest Service crews fought two small blazes last weekend. Both fires were caused by lightning.

One fire was located in the Sand Bench area, 20 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs, an hour's hike from the Mosca Road. Shepardson said Pagosa-based firefighters extinguished the half-acre fire with the aid of a helicopter.

A second fire burned less than an acre near East Toner Road, 15 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs. A USFS crew was able to get a tanker to the scene.

According to Shepardson, a small blaze flared June 18 on Archuleta Mesa, south of Pagosa Springs, and was fought successfully by a crew from Dulce, N.M. Another fire on private land near Chromo was put out by property owners.

"Nothing really got going," said Shepardson. "That little shot of moisture we got came in, gave us some breathing room and allowed us to take care of these fires."

The Forest Service continues to prepare for wildland fires that might ignite in the near future.

"We have a lot of resources in the area now," said Shepardson. "The Pagosa Ranger District now has three engines available. We have staged two Type-1 air tankers at the La Plata County airport, along with a Type-2 medium-sized helicopter and two smaller helicopters - one at Mesa Verde and one at Durango. We have an Air Attack aircraft that is used to direct air support during a fire. We are assembling a tactical group in the area that includes two crews of firefighters, an additional five engines and supervisory personnel. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has a crew based at Ignacio with seven engines."

Enhanced firefighting capability can't eradicate the potential for a disastrous fire, said Shepardson, who touts prevention measures as the front line of defense.

"Even with all this stuff here," he said, "it's possible with conditions the way they are that no one's response would be quick enough - no matter how quick they are."

Archuleta County authorities agree, and they agree that prevention is the key element in the current situation.

Pagosa Fire Protection District crews responded to the sites of two small blazes on June 18, both caused by lightning strikes.

One fire was on Cameo Court, near Piedra Road, approximately two miles from U.S. 160. A second fire was on Cemetery Road, three miles north of Pagosa Springs.

"Both fires were extinguished by residents," said fire chief Warren Grams. "We took a tanker and eight firefighters to each location as a precautionary measure."

Grams worries about conditions in forested areas adjacent to residential developments, anticipating problems that could occur if wildland fires erupt. His fears are shared by Russell Crowley, Archuleta County's director and coordinator of emergency services.

"The problem," said Grams, "is the forest is in such a state of overgrowth that trees are touching each other. This creates an extreme hazard because fire travels from tree to tree in the crowns. Ground fuels keep the fire in the trees and when you couple all this with a high wind, you have a very dangerous situation."

Grams and Crowley stress the need for property owners to create a defensible space around structures.

"A defensible space extends at least 30 feet from a structure," said Grams. "It should be a clear space, with no trees overhanging a roof and with no firewood stacked next to the house. Grass should be cut low and homeowners should attempt to keep it green. If people elect not to do a defensive space around their house, they have to know there is a high probability they'll lose the house in the event of a wildfire."

Crowley noted there are residential subdivisions with few roads available as escape routes during a wildland fire. He said residents should plan their escape from properties if a fire occurs.

"So much of the county is vulnerable," said Crowley, "with homes located in timbered areas, in brush, with limited access and little or no water available to fight fire. A lot of people live on ridge lines where fire can move up slopes very quickly. People need to know how to get away safely and be willing to leave in a timely fashion."

Two sites in the county where danger is particularly high, said Grams, are the Aspen Springs subdivision west of Pagosa Springs and "the Martinez Canyon area in the Fairfield subdivisions. These are heavily populated areas with lots of trees and oak brush close to structures."

Grams reminded residents to plan ahead for evacuation of pets and livestock..

"In conditions such as those here now," said the chief, "it is also a good idea if you live in a high-risk area to have a suitcase packed with some clothes and a supply of prescription medicines. People should keep important papers in a fireproof safe or in a safety deposit box at a bank."

In case of evacuation of major residential areas, said Crowley, alerts will be broadcast by the local radio station. "It's also possible we will use the county assessor's office to outline fire danger areas on a map then try to contact residents by phone Our last option, of course, will be to use sheriff reserves and members of the Mounted Rangers to drive roads and streets to warn people, but we have to be very careful not to put anyone in harm's way. The best advice we can give is to do whatever you can to prevent fire from occurring, to protect your homes with defensible space, and to remain very aware of what is happening in your immediate environment."

Grams and Crowley remind local residents that use of fireworks is strictly prohibited under current fire bans.

"All fireworks are banned in Archuleta County at this time," said Grams, "though we will probably go ahead with the fireworks show over Pinon Lake on the Fourth of July. We'll have trucks and a crew at the lake that night and we can control the event. Also, people need to remember that there are no campfires or burn barrels permitted in the county. People can use gas grills but there is no open fire of any kind allowed at this time."


Sheriff's plea for personnel is delayed

By John M. Motter

Action on County Sheriff Tom Richards' appeal for two additional deputies was postponed by county commissioners meeting in regular session Tuesday.

Richards is anticipating the July 15 deadline when the Pagosa Lakes Property Owner's Association will cease to provide law enforcement assistance in the Fairfield-Pagosa communities west of Pagosa Springs. Until that date, the PLPOA has three deputies in the field working under the direction of the county sheriff.

"When we lose those Pagosa Lakes officers, it will add 6,000 people to the number of people we are responsible for," said Capt. Otis May of the sheriff's department. "Between Jan. 1 and May 21, the county had 590 calls, Pagosa Lakes 515 calls. With summer visitors in town, we expect the number of calls to increase."

May assured the commissioners that two deputies can replace the work done in the past by the PLPOA Public Safety Office and enable the sheriff to continue to provide services in other remote areas of the county.

When asked by Commissioner Bill Downey what kinds of calls were represented by the numbers, May didn't know, but offered to assemble a report.

The cost for two deputies with paraphernalia was estimated at about $140,000 for a year. Salaries and benefits for two officers are estimated to cost about $70,000 a year and the cost of vehicles and equipment about the same.

In this case, because about one-half the year is past, the salary cost will be less than for a full year.

"The money for funding this is there for this year, but it may not be next year," said Dennis Hunt, the county manager.

Hunt pointed out the commissioners have already spent $360,983 for projects and items not included as line items in this year's budget. Income over budget for the year has dwindled from an estimated beginning balance of $567,614.69 to $206,638.68, according to Hunt.

In the end, Downey asked for a more detailed accounting of the cost of adding two deputies.

"If the economy goes down, department benefits must go down," Downey said. "People may be faced with wage cuts. I recommend we wait for another month before taking action on this."

Richards and May argued that hiring two replacements now from the staff currently in place at the Public Safety Office will save the county money. The savings would happen because those people are already trained and accredited, according to May.

"Hiring people already trained will save $8,000 per person and three months break-in time," May said.

By agreement, the three commissioners decided to wait, possibly a month, before taking action.


Forecasters see rain ahead; mandatory rationing still possible

By John M. Motter

Rain is on the horizon for Pagosa Country. No one knows if the anticipated ethereal showers will trickle from the sky in inconsequential dribbles or descend in a volume sufficient to negate the need for water rationing and fire bans.

Local citizens still need to be careful with water consumption, according to Carrie Campbell, general manager of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District.

"If we don't get enough rain in the next week or 10 days, the threat of mandatory rationing will still be with us," Campbell said. "People have been great about saving water, but the threat isn't over. The water at the spillway at Hatcher and Stevens reservoirs is about 13 inches below the top. So far, voluntary rationing is working."

Help may be coming, according to Paul Frisbie, a National Weather Service forecaster from Grand Junction.

"Thursday will remain sunny and warm," Frisbie said, "with high temperatures in the mid-80s to low 90s, and lows in the mid- to upper 40s."

"By Thursday evening, cumulus clouds should move into the area," Frisbie continued "and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, conditions could become very active. Active means showers and thunderstorms."

On a broad geographical scale, factors controlling the weather appear to be shifting from the seasonally dry June pattern in the direction of the late summer, monsoon pattern, also typical for the area.

"Two factors are needed to create ideal conditions for the summer monsoon season," Frisbie said. "First, a high pressure area is needed in eastern New Mexico and western Texas. Clockwise winds around the high pick up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and whirl them in the direction of Pagosa Country."

"The second factor," Frisbie said, "is the presence of a weak low pressure area off the coast of Baja California. That is the source of the rain you had last week. Wind directions around the low pressure area move in a counter-clockwise direction. When both the high and low set up, the moisture-laden winds between them are additive and that is what creates your monsoon season."

Hearts were lightened last week by the first measurable rain on Pagosa Country since May 17. On Friday, a scant 0.08 inches were trapped at the official National Weather Service measuring station at Stevens Field. On Sunday, an additional 0.14 inches was measured followed by a more respectable 0.21 inched Monday.

Friday's rainfall was the first measured during June and the first reported in town since May 17 when 0.10 of rain fell.

Temperatures last week ranged from a high of 86 degrees June 15 down to a low of 40 degrees Tuesday. The average high temperature was 80 degrees, the average low temperature 43 degrees.

Precipitation during June averages 0.91 inches although 4.26 inches were recorded during June of 1941. No measurable rain fell during the Junes of 1951 and 1980.

During July, precipitation averages 1.63 inches. The maximum precipitation ever recorded during July was 5.78 during 1957. There is no July of record with no rainfall, but during July of 1993, only 0.05 inches were measured in town.


Llama deaths probably caused by a young bear

By Karl Isberg

Local wildlife officials think the recent deaths of three llamas at a ranch near Pagosa Springs were caused by a bear - sufficient reminder to residents of Archuleta County to be wary as bears search populated areas in search of food.

According to Doug Purcell of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, a llama was attacked May 22 at the Firefly Ranch on Snowball Road northeast of Pagosa Springs. The ranch is owned by Doug and Jamie Sharp.

The llama, said Jamie Sharp, weighed an estimated 40 pounds. It was eight months old and was purchased for its distinctively small size. Purcell reported the carcass of the llama "was almost completely devoured."

An inspection of the area where the llama was killed revealed no tracks due to extremely dry soil. DOW investigators concluded the animal was killed and eaten by a mountain lion or a bear.

On the night of June 16, said Purcell, the predator struck again. The next morning, two seriously injured Llamas were found near a fence in a pasture. While the animals survived the attack, they were put down soon after their discovery due to the traumatic nature of their wounds.

Sharp said the victims of the second attack were larger llamas, each weighing between 150 and 200 pounds. Sharp said no concrete estimate of the value of the animals was available.

"The consensus," said Purcell, "is the attacker was probably a young bear. There was some fence down near the llamas and that added to the theory a bear might have been involved."

While it is common for mountain lions to attack vulnerable livestock, Purcell said an attack on livestock by a bear, "is a little unusual. Generally, when it happens, it is a younger animal that will do something like that."

Purcell said the Sharps are taking precautions to keep other livestock from being attacked. Sharp said most of the 100 llamas at the ranch are now moved to a barn at night.

In the meantime, Purcell said he and fellow DOW officials will watch carefully for further signs that a predator is prowling the area.

"Usually," he said, "when you get a predator of livestock, you've got an animal in the process of developing a bad habit. You have to deal with the animal. Hopefully, the animal will find another food source. Many times it doesn't, and the livestock owner has every right to shoot the predator."

Purcell said an interesting sidelight to the Firefly Ranch situation occurred when a bear trap was put out at the site following the attacks on the llamas.. The trap failed to catch a marauding bear, said Purcell, but it did capture a young hybrid wolf. The animal was turned over to a local hybrid wolf rescue organization.

With extremely dry conditions and bears on the move in search of food, sightings of animals in residential areas are increasing. Residents of the county are reminded not to store garbage outside homes or to keep dirty barbecue grills near homes or on decks. Hummingbird feeders can attract the attention of bears as can pet foods stored in a garage or on a deck.


Inside The Sun

County rules gate must be open

By John M. Motter

A gate across a road paralleling County Road 326 is illegal, according to two of the three county commissioners. Mary Weiss, the county attorney, agreed with the two that the gate is illegal.

Commissioners Bill Downey and Ken Fox asked Weiss Tuesday to write the landowner responsible for closing the gate with instructions to leave the gate open.

The gated road in question is located on the divide between the Rito Blanco and Upper Blanco basins. It generally moves in a southeasterly direction and was formerly much used to access the Upper Blanco Basin. In recent years, CR 326 has been used almost exclusively to reach the Upper Blanco. The county maintains CR 326, but not the older road.

Bob Smith placed the item on the agenda and asked the commissioners to do something about the gate. Smith said he used the road for a variety of purposes until the gate was closed.

Commissioner Gene Crabtree defended the landowners responsible for closing the gate, said to be the Regester family. According to Crabtree, unknown persons have been damaging private property and littering along the road.

Facts generally assumed to be true at the commissioner's meeting are: the road has never been abandoned and is a county and public road; the county stopped maintaining the road in 1977; and most of the road fronts Forest Service land.

"The county abandoned the road for maintenance in 1977 and just forgot it," Crabtree said. "People come in and abuse the cattle, they throw parties and litter. There are vehicle problems with ruts and such. They have a right to close the road."

Downey and Fox, along with Weiss, argue that the road is public and no one has a right to put a gate across it. They therefore concluded at the commissioner meeting to take steps to keep the gate open.


PAWS staff gets water ruling power

By John M. Motter

Staff of the Pagosa Area Water District were authorized by their board of directors Tuesday to initiate mandatory water conservation measures if the need arises.

"I think we should authorize staff to take the steps necessary for mandatory water conservation," said Harold Slavinksy, chairman of the board. "The need could arise before we meet again. They are the ones who know what is going on. This way they can take the necessary steps without calling us."

The board backed Slavinky's proposal with a favorable vote taken at the regular monthly meeting Tuesday night.

PAWS has a contingency plan spelling out steps to be taken in event of a water shortage. The plan also identifies trigger points for initiating specific steps of the contingency process.

Phase 1, voluntary water rationing, is now in effect. Phase 1 asks water users to use outside water only between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. and in every way use as little water as possible.

Phase 2 entails mandatory water rationing. Users will be required to use outside water only on alternate days. People with even-numbered addresses will water on even numbered days. People with odd-numbered addresses will water on odd numbered days.

Phases 3 and 4 are much more stringent.

In other business the board:

- Learned from the auditing firm of Clark, Wilson, White, and Associates of Durango that the district's financial business is in good order.

- Standard practice for dealing with water overages was approved for four users. Only three of the users were on the agenda.

- A donation of $100 was approved for the Pagosa Springs Rotary Club Chuck Morman Memorial Gold Tournament.

- Consideration was postponed concerning a proposed lease agreement between the district and Pat Parelli International Study Center, Inc.

- The board resolved to pursue conditional water rights in order to irrigate park and recreational property in Pagosa Springs with raw water instead of treated water.

- Concerning the Country Center water and wastewater system, it was decided that the district will limit itself to providing water meters and making connections on request. Since the district owns no rights of way or easements within the development, it will not be responsible for repairing leaks or other maintenance. If a leak develops, the district may close the water tap on the line feeding the area. Country Center is generally the core area at Fairfield-Pagosa surrounding the super market.

- Concerning an item not listed on the agenda, the board approved one-time cash payments for employees who attend certification schools on water distribution and sewage collection systems.

- Discussion was held concerning the amount to be paid Jack Delange as a consultant. It was decided to put specific, per project, dollar limits on Delange's work.


TABOR analysis sees small districts hurt most

By John M. Motter

The continued financial viability of small local governments that rely heavily on property taxes is threatened by TABOR 205A, according to an analysis of the proposed constitutional amendment prepared by the Colorado Policy Collaborative.

TABOR 205A is an initiative to be placed on the Nov. 7 ballot by Douglas Bruce, author of the TABOR amendment now in effect. The Colorado Secretary of State announced May 25 that TABOR 205A had received a sufficient number of verified petition signatures to qualify for the November 7 ballot. If approved by voters, TABOR 205A would amend the state constitution.

The proposal involves tax cuts as defined in the following language: a $25 tax cut, increased $25 yearly (to $50, $75 ...), shall lower each tax in each tax bill for each district in existence 2001 and later: utility customer and occupation tax and franchise charge; vehicle sales, use and ownership tax; yearly income tax; property tax; income and property tax equal to yearly revenue from sales and use taxes on food and drink other than tobacco and alcohol; and income tax equal to yearly revenue from estate taxes. Tax cuts and state replacement of local revenue shall not lower state or excess revenue. The state may limit local acts increasing replacement costs, and joint income tax returns equal to two tax bills.

According to the analysis, the language of the proposal is ambiguous to a fault, and will undoubtedly need deciphering by the Colorado Supreme Court.

The CU Policy Collaborative examines Colorado local governments and issues facing them. This particular report looks at the impact TABOR 205A will have on ad valorem, also known as property, taxes collected by local governments. The report is prepared in conjunction with the Graduate School of Public Affairs of the University of Colorado at Denver. Prepared by Dr. Tom Brown, the report does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the University of Colorado at Denver, the Graduate School of Public Affairs, or the CU Policy Collaborative.

This study is based on data submitted by 56 counties, 174 school districts, 245 municipal governments, and 981 special districts.

The tax bills affected will include those for utility customer taxes, occupation taxes, franchise taxes, property taxes, sales taxes on vehicles, ownership taxes on vehicles, and income taxes. Joint income tax returns will be treated as two bills.

The effect of losses for specific entities is inversely proportional to the size of the entity. Small entities or entities with small property tax levies are harder hit on a comparative basis, because they typically have no other income source.

Across the state, the average property tax loss for school districts the first year is 0.39 percent. For some school districts, however, the loss could be a maximum of 48 percent.

Among fire districts the maximum loss is 83 percent, among libraries 81 percent, and one pest control district will lose 97 percent of its revenue.

In Costilla County, one of the poorest counties in the nation, the county government will lose 43 percent of its property tax revenue, the school district 48 percent, the ambulance district 80 percent, and the fire district 83 percent.

Countywide, Archuleta County will lose 5.12 percent of its total property tax revenue in the Year 2001 if voters approve TABOR 205A.

For Archuleta County entities, first year property tax losses by percentage will be as follows, according to the report: Alpha-Rockridge Metropolitan District - 0.60; Archuleta County - 1.79; Archuleta County 50 JT School District - 0.29; Aspen Springs Metropolitan District - 36.29; Bayfield 10JT-R School District - 0.16; Ignacio 11JT. School District - 2.99; Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District - 7.15; Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District B - 3.02; Pagosa Fire Protection District - 18.11; Pagosa Springs Sanitation District - 11.34; Pagosa Springs - 18.32; Piedra Park Metropolitan Improvement District - 17.16; San Juan River Village Metropolitan District - 0.46; San Juan Water Conservancy District - 78.89; Southwestern Water Conservancy District - 81.80; Upper San Juan Hospital District - 26.69; Upper San Juan Library District - 45.36.


Sales tax pace is slowing

By John M. Motter

County sales tax revenues have increased at a record pace over the last two years, but that growth bonanza may come to an end, according to Dennis Hunt, the county manager.

"Through the first third of this year sales tax revenues have only increased by 1.8 percent when compared with last year," Hunt said. "We need to watch this trend closely. This is the first time in the last few years that sales tax income has leveled off. It's not increasing at the same rate."

Sales tax receipts are a major revenue source for Pagosa Springs and for the county. Last year, sales tax collections amounted to almost $4.2 million, more than in any previous year. Sales taxes are levied at the rate of 7 percent on most retail purchases in Archuleta County. Of that amount 3 percent goes to the state. The town and county divide the remaining 4 percent equally. The $4.2 million represents the total collected; consequently, the county and town each received $2.1 million for the year.

The county's share is apportioned among the general fund, the road and bridge fund, and the road improvement fund. The town's share is committed to capital improvement projects.

Sales taxes collected in the county during April of this year totaled $321,648, considerably less than the $355,028 collected during April of last year. Year to date collections including April amount to $1,270,550, 1.8 percent ahead of the $l,248,130 collected through April of last year.

Hunt is quick to point out that state collection methods lessen the credibility of monthly reports, since account attributions might be added almost arbitrarily to last month or next month at the whim of the state.

The county's share for April is apportioned $80,412 to the road improvement fund, $64,330 to the general fund, and $16,082 to the road and bridge fund.


Vista and Bonanza getting new surfaces

By John M. Motter

County sales tax revenues have increased at a record pace over the last two years, but that growth bonanza may come to an end, according to Dennis Hunt, the county manager.

"Through the first third of this year sales tax revenues have only increased by 1.8 percent when compared with last year," Hunt said. "We need to watch this trend closely. This is the first time in the last few years that sales tax income has leveled off. It's not increasing at the same rate."

Sales tax receipts are a major revenue source for Pagosa Springs and for the county. Last year, sales tax collections amounted to almost $4.2 million, more than in any previous year. Sales taxes are levied at the rate of 7 percent on most retail purchases in Archuleta County. Of that amount 3 percent goes to the state. The town and county divide the remaining 4 percent equally. The $4.2 million represents the total collected; consequently, the county and town each received $2.1 million for the year.

The county's share is apportioned among the general fund, the road and bridge fund, and the road improvement fund. The town's share is committed to capital improvement projects.

Sales taxes collected in the county during April of this year totaled $321,648, considerably less than the $355,028 collected during April of last year. Year to date collections including April amount to $1,270,550, 1.8 percent ahead of the $l,248,130 collected through April of last year.

Hunt is quick to point out that state collection methods lessen the credibility of monthly reports, since account attributions might be added almost arbitrarily to last month or next month at the whim of the state.

The county's share for April is apportioned $80,412 to the road improvement fund, $64,330 to the general fund, and $16,082 to the road and bridge fund.


Vista and Bonanza getting new surfaces

By John M. Motter

Folks suffering from the ruts and dust of Vista and Bonanza Boulevards should breathe easier in a couple of weeks.

Rebuilding the two thoroughfares started this week and should be completed in two or three weeks, according to Roxann Hayes, the county engineer.

"Vista Boulevard will be rebuilt from Highway 160 to Lake Forest Circle," Hayes said. "We're going to put in a 12-inch rock base and lay a 3-inch asphalt surface over that."

Bonanza will get the same treatment from Vista to Prospect Boulevard. An exception is that Bonanza will get an 8-inch rock base because it carries less traffic than Vista.

Construction on both thoroughfares is being performed by Weeminuche Construction Co. and paid for from Fairfield bankruptcy settlement funds directed by the county.

In a related project, work on Northlake Drive should start this week, Hayes said. Northlake will be paved from North Pagosa Boulevard in a northeasterly direction to the Village Lake spillway. This work is also part of the Fairfield bankruptcy settlement package administered by the county.

Work on South Pagosa Boulevard. and Meadows Drive is also scheduled to start soon, according to Hayes. This work is being financed from county funds formerly scheduled for rebuilding Lightplant Drive. The Lightplant Drive project scheduled for this summer has been postponed. "We'll do Lightplant Drive with money we raise next year," Hayes said.

When the South Pagosa Blvd. work is finished, the stretch between Capricho Drive and Cameron Place will be rebuilt. Meadows Drive will be reworked between U.S. 160 and Big Sky Place, including a new rock base for portions of the stretch being rebuilt. A left turn lane from Meadows Drive to U.S. 160 is being added, according to Hays.

In an unrelated project, Civil Constructors of the Helm Group of Carbondale has been awarded the contract to replace a bridge on the Navajo River between Chromo and Edith, Hays said. Work should begin soon on the Navajo project.


County inks pact for fiber-optic lines

By John M. Motter

A step toward providing fiber optic lines between Archuleta County and the outside world was taken Tuesday when the commissioners signed a $1,375,000 contract between the county and Department of Local Affairs.

Not signed were a memorandum of understanding, an intergovernmental agreement, and other documents needed for Archuleta County to become the lead county among five Southwestern Colorado counties in connection with spending the grant.

The county commissioners reserved more time to review the remaining documents before making the final commitment. They are concerned that the county might have to spend county money to fulfill certain terms of the process in the event of failure by other involved entities.

The Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado includes Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan counties plus the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Indian tribes.

Involved are funds popularly referred to as Beanpole Funds. Their purpose is to develop state of the art communications capability for rural Colorado. One of the tasks is establishing modern trunk lines linking Albuquerque to Farmington to Grand Junction to Denver. It is also desired to link Farmington and Durango with Denver through the San Luis Valley.

A second task will be to link rural communities along the trunk lines.

A third task is to develop an infrastructure among government entities within communities, for example schools, town government, county government, and so forth. Presumably, at a future date, private individuals and entities will be allowed to piggy-back onto the system.



Dear Mr. Editor,

I wonder if your readers can imagine this scenario.

You are driving your family to the church of your choice one beautiful Sunday morning. Suddenly, a police vehicle with red lights and siren pulls you over to the side of the road. The police officer, with drawn weapon, orders you and your family to "spread eagle" against the vehicle.

The reason? A broken tail light lens. More serious, you have a bumper sticker reading "I love my Bible," or "I love the U.S. Constitution", or "I believe in the 2nd Amendment." Laughable?

Let me quote from the April issue of the "American Hunter Magazine", published by the NRA. "The FBI law enforcement bulletin (issued monthly to all law enforcement agencies) has an article entitled "Vehicle stops involving extremist group members," Dec. 1999 issue.

Law enforcement officers are cautioned when making traffic stops, that the display of pro-gun bumper stickers is a sign of possible extremist group involvement. Officers are also warned about displays of the Bible and the U.S. Constitution! Still laughable? Check it out with your chief of police or sheriff. They have copies. The FBI monthly bulletin is not a secret document.

When are we, the American citizens, going to put a stop to the type of irresponsible leadership that these "one world government" dupes like Clinton, Gore, Reno and their spineless followers are forcing upon us? A bumper sticker is a sign that makes us extremists? Thank God mine only says, "Old retired Buckeroo!"

Forget the gun issue. It is meaningless if they take away the Bible and the American Constitution and it's guarantees of freedom! If they take them ... I guess we deserve it.

The only thing left then, is the hammering on your door in the middle of the night.

Remember the Election Day in November is close. Register and vote and we can clean them out once and for all.

Jack Barlow

Past due bill?

Dear David,

Well, PLPOA, there you go again.

We just received a very intimidating collection letter from "Colorado Management c/o PLPOA" regarding a "balance past due" on our annual association dues. You see, we didn't know we had a "balance past due" because we never got a bill. In all the years we've been members of PLPOA, we always paid our dues promptly after we received a statement. If we don't get a bill, it's extremely hard to remember something that only surfaces once a year. It doesn't matter whether PLPOA's clerical staff or the post office dropped the ball; if we don't see a bill, we have no way of knowing when or how much we owe. We always pay our debts, but we're not mind-readers. And this certainly wouldn't be the first time that problems occurred with PLPOA's office procedure or Pagosa's mail system.

The least PLPOA could do is send a courtesy follow-up copy of their bills in the few cases where there's no response 30 days after the initial mailing. This is a routine practice in the rest of the business world. Instead, PLPOA does absolutely nothing for six months, then ambushes you with a gratuitous form-letter which implies you're a deadbeat, assesses a ridiculously high late charge and threatens, among other things, "further legal action." Yes, we know they have some kind of cryptic system whereby a coded symbol is supposed to appear next to a delinquent account on their periodic newsletter. This would be just fine if we'd seen one of their newsletters over the past two years. They must have sailed into the same administrative Bermuda Triangle as our dues bill.

One of the reasons could easily be PLPOA's record keeping. Their dues letter for example, lists our property as "8103 Pagosa Blvd." We have no idea who's at this location but it certainly isn't us. For all we know, someone at 8103 Pagosa Blvd. is puzzling over a "balance past due" for our address. PLPOA did get our account number right and, once we were aware that our payment really was overdue, we took care of it immediately. This, however, doesn't excuse their heavy-handed, bolt-from-the-blue collection technique which makes absolutely no allowance for the possibility that the initial bill was either never sent or never received.

We're sure our suggestion for a gentle one-month reminder to pay dues will be ignored as have so many others in the past. This is a classic illustration of the workings of a typical mindless bureaucracy and an excellent example of why an adversarial relationship continues to exist between PLPOA management and the membership they're supposed to represent.

T.K. and Virginia Beach

Anaheim Hills, Ca

MDA salute

Dear Editor,

Each year, hundreds of special children in Colorado from the ages of 6 to 21 are able to experience the magic of summer camp. They swim, ride horses, paint and even go down a zip line. To the average person, these seem like normal youth activities. But to a child living with a neuromuscular disease, these activities are far from an everyday occurrence.

Thanks to the Pagosa Springs community, kids from Southern Colorado will be going to Muscular Dystrophy Association Summer Camp near Idaho Springs, Colorado. This annual camp allows area children to spend a week with other kids, doing the things many of us take for granted.

With the help of the entire community in September, Pagosa Springs raised $21,357 at the MDA Lock-up at the Bear Creek Saloon. The event was made possible thanks to the 68 local business people who were 'locked-up' for Jerry's Kids and the countless others who supported and helped them raise their 'bail'.

While there are numerous people who contributed to the event, special thanks need to go to Mark Stauth and the entire staff at Bear Creek for their support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

So, this week, as young children from Southern Colorado are able to laugh and play, know that you, citizens of Pagosa Springs, are the reason.

Kim Bruna

MDA District Director


Dear David,

I just received the June 1 paper. Thank you for the 1928 page on Dr. Mary Fisher. I didn't attend the funeral inside the building, for the place was packed - not even standing room; when I was allowed to place my flower offerings beside the other flowers. A man had sent me up the choir stairs, saying "come back out." I hadn't intended to do so, but did so after seeing the place being so crowded.

Names that I knew: Judge Byrnes, Marg Cato, John Galbreath (my uncle), Mrs. Schonefelt, Mrs. Loring, Gilbert Loring, Carl and George Kleckner, Jim Corrigan, Rev. Dowler, pastor, the Mullins, Francis Mote, Whitney Newton, Herbert Loucks. I do so appreciate the "old SUN, and Red Ryder, etc.

I "agonize" about the cement plant and the Mineral County huge problem even though I'm no longer a part of Pagosa. Just a few friends my age remain - Eloys George, Betty Feazel, Evangeline Catchpole, Ann Seavy, now that Thelma has left us.

I appreciate Shari's column, John Motter's and am beginning to read again. Mr. Isberg. Last week's (for me) was very lightening to me. His article drawing from his teenage taught me several things and I thank him for that. After this, I won't be so impatient with them.

I read the letters to the editor completely and enjoy even the ones I don't agree with.

Congratulations on the many rewards you have received.


Frances Coffee

Dallas , Tx.


Dear Editor,

I was glad to read the June 8 article reporting that Archuleta County is near completion of its acquisition of a parcel of land out on Cloman Boulevard. However, after reading the article by John Motter regarding this 90 - or is it 40-acre - parcel acquisition by the county (both amounts were reported) and several other past articles I felt that some points still need clarification.

The total amount of land being offered by BLM is in fact 40 acres. The parcel of land being acquired by Archuleta County is 30 acres. The Humane Society has filed a separate application for 10 acres with the BLM, not with the county.

Since we are not a governmental agency, our organization is not entitled to the same price breaks as the county and is required to pay 50 percent of fair market value for the 10-acre piece of property as listed in the Recreation and Public Purposes Land Use Act. At today's fair market values, I would hardly call what we anticipate paying as nominal as was stated.

The good news, however, is that we are entitled to some kind of a price break. Currently, the 10-acre request is still in the hands of the BLM and an appraisal of the land should be completed by mid-July.

The Humane Society is grateful to Archuleta County for reducing it's initial request of the BLM from 40 to 30 acres and we are happy that their application is finally near completion. It gives us hope that all the red tape can be weeded through and that we too will be acquiring some land soon to house a bigger and much needed animal shelter for our community.


Mary Jo Coulehan


Humane Society of Pagosa Springs

Editor's note: The writer is correct about the total acreage. The story she refers to was also correct. The error was in the headline.


Dear Editor,

In your edition of Thursday, June 15, 2000 there were several well written articles concerning the latest Board meeting at Pagosa Lakes. I wish to point out two items:

1. My name is spelled Lukasik rather than Lukasic.

2. In Section 1, Page 9, the last paragraph under the headline PLAT states that the appointment of Ms. Dahrl Henley as Chairperson of the Rules & Regulations Committee was tabled pending an interview by the Board. The appointment of Ms. Henley was actually confirmed by the Board. In a related matter, the appointment of Ms. Sarajane Meyers as Chairperson of the Code of Enforcement Hearing Panel was tabled pending an interview by the Board.

Thank you for your continued objective reporting on the Board meetings.

Walt Lukasik,

General Manager

Cement comment

Dear Editor,

For over fifteen years my family and I have loved vacationing in Pagosa Springs, and in the past few years have become co-owners of a cabin on the San Juan River in the San Juan River Village subdivision.

I have recently learned there is the possibility of a cement plant going into operation on the banks of the San Juan River less than a third of a mile from the Village. I am greatly concerned about the effect this will have on this beautiful area.

River pollution, noise pollution, cement dust in the air, increased truck traffic and possible diminishment of property values are of great concern not only to me, but to everyone who lives in a visits this beautiful area.

My family and I love visiting at all times of the year, and Pagosa seems to have maintained it's small town way of life which is so refreshing in this day of "fast" everything. The San Juan River Village is equally wonderful with its quiet back-to-nature atmosphere.

I would ask that all these things be seriously considered before allowing a cement plant to begin operation at the site proposed. Surely there must be some area away from so much natural beauty that would be appropriate for the cement plant.

Thank you.


Lorna J. Miller

Sherman, Tx.

Arboles residue?

Dear Editor,

Maybe it's about time we ramble way down river and garner a few old fashioned "Hatfield and McCoy" convictions on the entire cement plant saga from our good neighbor out Arboles way.

I sometimes wonder what might be the effect of concrete residue on that great lower Navajo Lake "carp muck" where Bob Dungan likes to venture and attempt miraculous extractions with his 4WD "relic". Could make his summertime jaunts kinda permanent.

I know he doesn't necessarily appreciate scantily clad females driving overgrown motorhomes with California plates; that's an awful hard scenario on the "relic."

But Bob's sage outlook just might sway how I vote for the wannabe commissioners running in the primaries should they all voice where they stand with some relevance. The tap dancers will definitely get a thumbs down from yours truly.

Anyway, do ya think Dungan could possibly be as NIMBY?

Jim Sawicki



Doris Johnson

Doris Lillian Johnson of Pagosa Springs, born Dec. 26, 1906, died June 14 in Mercy Hospital in Durango with her devoted daughter and loving friends by her side.

Fondly known as "Granny," Doris is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Doris and Gene Waller of Pagosa Springs; son, Jimmy Harrell of Baton Rouge, La.; daughter-in-law, Sylvia Harrell; brother and sister-in-law Leonard and Teal Hernandez of Mansuer, La; six grandchildren, six great grandchildren and one great-great granddaughter. She was preceded in death by her brother, Edward Hernandez.

She served faithfully as one of Jehovah's Witnesses for 63 years.

Memorial services were held Saturday at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Pagosa Springs with Steve Wirth presiding.

Marvin Jones Jr.

Marvin Clay Jones Jr. of Comanche, Tx., passed away June 14 at the age of 76. He was born to Irvin and Tressie Jones in Dallas, Tx., on July 21, 1923.

Mr. Jones is survived by his loving wife, Nao of Comanche, Tx.; son, Marvin Jones Jr. of San Marcos; daughter Pamela Schoemig of Pagosa Springs, Co.; brother, G. W. Jones of Canyon Lake, Tx.; sister, Thetus Routon of New Castle, Tx.; four grandchildren, Pamela Frazior of Dallas, Tx., Chad Thompson of Brighton, Mi., Jacob Clarke of Pagosa Springs, Co., and Clay Jones of Waxahachie, Tx.; and five great great grandchildren, Haley Jones, Forrest Frazior, Emily Jones, Sara Frazior and Madison Thompson.

Graveside services were held Monday in the Dallas/Fort Worth National Cemetery.

Ron Olson

Friends of Ron Olson were saddened to hear that he had passed away at home on Wednesday, June 14, at the age of 39.

Ron was born to Art and Shirley Olson on December 6, 1960 in Burbank, Ca., and had made his home in Pagosa Springs since 1992.

After Ron put himself through college, he worked in different aspects of construction and opened his own business in Pagosa Springs, Paragon Construction and Tile.

Ron liked both work and play and had many interests.

He is survived by his father, Art Olson of Weed, Ca.; his mother, Shirley J. Olson of Bend, Or.; his older brother, Brian J. Olson of Bend, Or.; his younger brother, Jimmy James Robert Olson of Bend, Or.; one niece and three nephews, Alana, Chad, Dale and Grant Olson.

Ron will be greatly missed by his friends and family and his younger friends as well.

Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday with the Rev. Louis Day officiating at the gazebo behind the county offices in Centennial Park.

Regina Samples

Pagosa Springs residents were saddened to hear that Regina Beth Samples passed away at her home in Pagosa Springs on Friday, June 9 at the age of 48.

Regina was born to Wayne and Oma Lou Samples on Jan. 31, 1952 in Mesquite, Tx. and had made her home in Pagosa Springs since moving here in 1985.

After graduating from high school, she began working for a company that manufactured aircraft parts. Later, she also worked as a housekeeping manager, beauty operator and most recently as a clerk in a dry cleaning business.

Regina took special interest in her pets and enjoyed flowers.

She was preceded in death by her father, Wayne, and is survived by her mother, Oma Lou, in Mesquite; a sister, Melinda McFadden of Dallas, Tx.; a brother, Gerald Samples; nephews Cory and Mark Parker of Dallas; nieces Leslie Barber of Denver, Co., and Natalie McFadden of Dallas; and many other family members. She will be greatly missed by numerous others friends and family members as well.

A public visitation was held June 14 at Pagosa Springs Funeral Options with Father John Bowe offering a blessing.

Memorial contributions may be made at the Rio Grand National Bank with proceeds going to the Samples family and the Humane Society.



Ft. Lewis grads

Two Pagosa Springs residents are summer graduates of Fort Lewis College in Durango.

Davienne Ferguson graduated cum laude with a degree in business administration-management; Jan Kennedy received her degree in art.

Jessica Starling

Jessica Starling, daughter of Roy Starling, formerly of Pagosa Springs and Melody Starling of Winter Park, Fl., has graduated from Guilford College, Greensboro, N.C., with a degree in English and Religious Studies.

She was also named to the college Dean's List for Spring 2000.

Matt Thomas

Join us in congratulating Matt Thomas who graduated from Arizona State University this spring. Matt received his bachelor's degree in Urban Planning and Development. David and Betty Thomas of Pagosa Springs are the proud parents.


Sports Page

Two Pagosa athletes show well in all-star games

By John M. Motter

Charles Rand and Mandy Forrest, local athletes who will be long remembered, represented Pagosa Springs last week in Colorado High School Coaches Association All-Star games.

The 2000 All-State Games involved nearly 300 athletes, trainers, coaches and game administrators using the athletic facilities of the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley. Activities started Monday with wrestling. On Tuesday, girl's volleyball teams took over the spotlight. Wednesday was devoted to girl's softball and the night to girl's basketball. Boy's basketball was featured Thursday. Friday was football day.

All of the participating athletes are seniors selected by high school coaches. The format pits teams from the north against teams from the south.

Last year Rand was chosen Most Valuable Player of the Intermountain League by IML coaches. Last Thursday he scored 6 points for the South in the CHSCA All-State game. The 10-member South team selected from 3A-4A schools lost 83-74.

Forrest, an All-Conference volleyball and basketball selection, and also All-State honorable mention in both sports, played last Tuesday for a South 3A-5A team that vanquished their opponents from the North in five straight games. Forrest expects to play volleyball this coming year for Grand Canyon College in Arizona.


Community News
Chamber News
By Sally Hameister

Flower power brightens downtown

We have one new member to introduce to you this week and three renewals. Allow me to share these folks with you.

Steve Scearce joins us with Homes and Land of Southwest Colorado Magazine located at 835 East Second Avenue, Suite 202, in Durango. This is Southwest Colorado's premier guide and best-read, four-color real estate magazine. You can contact Steve in Durango at 385-4114.


Our renewals this week include Angela Atkinson with Pagosa Kid located at 472 Pagosa Street; Rhonda Greer with Anco Southwest Insurance Services, Inc. located at 2147 Highway 160 West, Suite A; and Beth Warren with KSUT Four Corners Public Radio located in Ignacio, CO. We're delighted to have all these folks as Chamber family members.


As always, we have the good folks who love to play in the dirt to thank for their recent work downtown. We all trooped to the flower beds on Pagosa Street last Tuesday and completed the petunia planting in record time; and, as always, we had a wonderful time doing it.

Our thanks to fellow gardening fans: Shari Gustafson, Phyllis Allspach, Mary Hart, Kerry Dermody, Judy Galles and Dalas Weisz. I think Dalas was a little anxious about being the only male in the group, but he and Suellen did all the pick-up, hauling and set-up work that made it so much easier for everyone else. Newcomer to Pagosa, Nancy Metcalf joined us as well, and we're hoping she will become a Diplomat after spending the morning with the charming Diplomats/planters. Of course, as always, Suellen was there covering all the bases and making sure we stayed on track.

Suellen and I completed the day by planting the Visitor Center whiskey barrels with red and white petunias and geraniums. Hopefully, all the flowers will flourish and make the downtown area a more colorful spot for all of us during the summer. Thanks to all of the above for their hard work to keep Pagosa "purty" for the summer.

PYF cookout

Spitfire Creek Ranch is ready to celebrate its equine-assisted psychotherapy program for at-risk kids and their families. Over the past five years, the Pagosa Youth Foundation has been in the community working hard toward the planning and preparation of Spitfire Creek Ranch. The heart of the ranch is work with at-risk kids and their families using the horses and therapists at the ranch to assist in the development and the healing process for our kids. Through the various exercises with the horses and the therapists, the kids are taught responsibility, discipline and leadership.

Spitfire Creek Ranch, located south on Colo. 151 in Allison, is having a Joe-Bob Cookout 1 to 5 p.m. June 24, to thank all those in the community who served with the foundation as members or volunteers and the many local businesses who contributed. Spitfire would also like to invite the people of Pagosa Springs, Ignacio and Durango to come and experience the equine demonstrations, meet the therapists and horse professionals and enjoy the food. An auction and fundraiser will be held to help continue this work for our kids

Please RSVP to the Pagosa Youth Foundation at 731-5660.

TNT raceway

TNT Raceway is now open and ready for business at 301 North Pagosa Boulevard, Unit B 17, 18 and 19. These folks offer rental cars, birthday parties by appointment and fun for the whole family. Hours are 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and Sundays from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. Sounds like a fun summer activity for the kiddoes, large and small.

Movin' members

Curves for Women has been such a success, they will be moving July 1 to a new location in the same building complex. You can now experience the 30-minute Quickfit exercise program in a larger, more comfortable facility (formerly Soaring Eagle Mercantile and Bead Shop.)

You can warm up, perform cardiovascular and strength training and cool-down stretch while losing pounds, inches and, most importantly, acquiring the habit of exercise. Stop by and say hello to April and the gang at Curves for Women and mention this article for an additional $10 off. This offer expires July 31.

Youth and wildlife

June 24 could be a busy day for you if you choose to do it all. The Crazy Horse Educational Expeditions in conjunction with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, USFS Pagosa Ranger District, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Sportsman Supply and Campground, Crazy Horse Outfitters and Pagosa Springs EMS will present a fun day for the entire family. Non-profit organizations will provide games, face painting, booths and organized activities at reduced prices for the fun and enjoyment of all. Scheduled activities will include sack races, pie throwing, horse shoe competition, game booths and pony rides. Smokey Bear will appear at 10 a.m., and the Pagosa Springs EMS clowns will be on site all day for your entertainment. You can also enjoy snow cones, cotton candy and an all-day scavenger hunt.

Please join the gang at the Pagosa Youth and Wildlife Day at the Sportsman Supply and Campground 20 miles north on Piedra Road. Advanced registration is required for some events, so please contact Willy at 731-9717 for more information. Mountain Snapshots will be on site all day to capture any and all of those special Kodak moments.

SunDowner time

Next Wednesday evening is SunDowner party time at the Pagosa Springs Arts Council Gallery in Town Park, and you know those folks always give a heck of a party. This evening will include a living arts drawing and exhibits by local artists Jan Brookshier, Robert Garcia, Ruth Carr and Donna Brooks. Prizes in the living arts drawing will include yoga classes, ballet classes, dance classes and gymnastics classes. As always, you're sure to have a great time with lots of folks and support the Arts Council all in one fell swoop. The gallery at 314 Hermosa is the place, 5 to 7 p.m. is the time, and five buckaroos will get you in the door for this fun evening. See you at the July 28 SunDowner.


Pagosa Lakes
By Ming Steen

Pagosa Lakes triathlon attracting wide attention

Off-road triathlons have been lurking on Colorado's wooded trails for a good decade, but only recently have the muddy multi-sport events popped out of the woods. The Pagosa Lakes Triathlon, started in 1992, is beginning to catch more attention. Since early May I have received calls from Rocky Mountain Sports, Creede Mineral County Miner and Kristin Carpenter, a free lance writer in Durango - all wanting to include our triathlon in their articles on off-road competitions. Active has even moved us into the .com world by offering on-line registration.

But don't panic, we will always be a race with less profile and more peace and quiet. We are still the folks who want to get off the road and into the environment. We are the people who want to play in the woods.

The Pagosa Lakes "High-Tri" Triathlon is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 12, this year. It includes a 7.2-mile run, a 13.4-mile mountain bike ride and a half-mile swim. The run will start at 8 a.m. from the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center and the final leg, the half-mile swim, will be in the recreation center pool. Both the run and the bike segments of the triathlon will cover some beautiful trails along Martinez Canyon. This is a fun event and I encourage you to challenge yourself, either competing as an individual or as a team.

Triathlon will make its Olympic debut in Sydney (Australia) this year. The Olympic distance, a 1.5 kilometer swim (0.9 miles), 25K bike ride (15 miles) and 10K run (6.2 miles), is done in less than two hours. That's vastly different than the "Ironman," a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and marathon (26.2 miles) run, which depending on conditions, takes eight to nine hours.

The Pagosa Lakes Triathlon's best individual time was set last year by Scott Anderson at one hour, 45 minutes and 25 seconds. Scott is a six-time winner of this triathlon. The team record of 1:42.43 was also set last year by Kim Eggert (former Olympian), Brian Dameworth and Greg Brumley of Creede. The rest of us take just a little longer to finish but the same huge sense of accomplishment is still there when you cross that finish line. Come join me and the rest of Pagosa's runners, bikers and swimmers.

"The Gauntlet" a wilderness adventure run organized by Pathfinder (no, not the SUV) will be held in Pagosa on Sunday, July 23. "Gauntlet" will combine instruction and family entertainment for a full forest festival for everyone from beginners to pros. The one-day challenge will test stamina and know-how in a combination of hike, run, rappelling, land navigation, archery, wilderness medicine and some mystery events thrown in so you can't be too sure of yourself. Organized by Pathfinder, a local business, "Gauntlet" will include a full day training seminar in the above skills on July 22. Learn one day, do it the next. That's what I would call living on the edge. For more information call 1-800-BUCKSKIN or

For a predictable and tame experience, there is the Rotary Freedom Run on Tuesday, July 4. This 1K run or walk will precede the Fourth of July Parade. Runners and walkers of all ages and ability level are invited to participate. Each participant will receive a beautiful commemorative T-shirt and if you are swift, you get to take home an apple pie.

This event is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs. Registration forms are available from the Recreation Center and the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center or you may register the morning of the run in front of the Ruby Sisson Library at 9:30 a.m. Cost is $5 per person. This is a family event. Every year we have babies in strollers, dads carrying junior on the shoulders and grams with her walking stick. This one is not about winning. It's about being a part of the red, white and blue celebration.


Arts Line
By Jennifer Galesic

Photography, sculpture in gallery show

Now showing at the Pagosa Springs Arts Council gallery at Town Park is a spectacular combo of breathtaking photography by Jan Brookshier, and bold thought-provoking sculpture by Roberto Garcia Jr.

The display of colorful photos gracing the gallery walls bring you a new perspective to many familiar places. Jan says, "Living in the San Juans affords me a never-ending supply of subject matter."

A stunning contrast to the photos is the magnificent sculpture of Garcia. Roberto's heart and soul are in every piece he creates.

With one week remaining to view this show, be sure to stop by the gallery between now and June 28.


The PSAC, together with the Chamber of Commerce, is pleased to host the June Sundowner event. This fun-filled evening will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. June 28 at the gallery in Town Park. The SunDowner includes live music, appetizers, and drinks - all for a very reasonable $5 per person. The event will be catered by Vincenzo Sencick of Enzo's catering. See ya there!

Upcoming exhibit

Beginning June 29, the works of Ruth Carr and Donna Brooks will be on display at the Town Park gallery. Both of these talented and interesting ladies have something unique to offer.

Ruth Carr's passion is watercolor painting, in particular paintings of her surrounding Blanco Basin residence. The Basin has been her source of inspiration since purchasing property in 1974. Neighbor and friend Donna Brooks will also be exhibiting work. I had an opportunity last summer to view Donna's work at the gallery. I was absolutely amazed. Donna creates intricate woven pine needle baskets, hide purses, and many other items that are quite obsolete in our very modern world.

This show will be the second exhibit at the Town Park gallery for both Donna and Ruth and will run through July 12.

Thank you

PSAC would like to extend thanks to the individuals who helped make the 2000 Spanish Fiesta a grand success. Thank you to Spanish Fiesta board members Lucy Gonzales, Jeff Laydon, Mercy Korsgren, Katalina Carrino, Isabel Webster, Delores Butler, Andy Martinez, Margaret Gallegos, Clare Burns, J.J. Lawlis, Ruth Paulson, Doris and Howard Green, Marilyn Printes and Byron Hamlin.


Senior News
By Janet Copeland

Seniors bus sidelined by accident; trips still on

Just when I think there isn't going to be anything new to write about, something always happens.

This week we are sorry to say that our nice bus was involved in an accident. It was run into on the side and disabled the doors were disabled so it will be out of commission for a while. That means we will have to use the old blue van to transport seniors so, for all the planned trips, there will be a limit of eight people on the bus. Of course, others who wish to go can drive their personal cars and meet up at the designated site. We hope this won't be too inconvenient for everyone and we sincerely hope our bus will be repaired soon.

Speaking of trips, Payge and Tina are going all out to plan trips of interest for the seniors - some had requested a day trip to one of the casinos so, like magic, it is planned - a July 12 trip to the Ute Mountain Casino in Cortez. Also, the Chama Train Ride is planned for July 6, a trip to Durango to the Bar-D Wranglers barbeque/program is planned for July 26, and a 3-or 4-day trip to Grand Junction is tentatively planned for the last weekend of July. Please folks, sign up for these activities at the front desk so they will know whether there is enough interest to keep them on our schedule. As you receive today's paper, some of us will be rafting on the Animas River in Durango - that should be loads of fun.

So many wonderful people donate time, money and items to the Seniors - this week we particularly want to say "Thank You" to Hannah and Pat Foster who donated Richard Simmons Exercise Tapes for the exercise program. This generous couple has donated for many things in the past and we are most grateful to them.

Our treasurer and faithful member, George Ziegler, had surgery this week - we hope George will do well and be back with us soon.

Just as we were getting to enjoy visiting with Marion Knowles again, she is leaving for a month to be with her sister, who is having surgery. We pray for her sister's speedy recovery and look forward to Marion returning soon. Also, Lilly Gurule will be going to Denver for a couple of months - we will miss Lilly, who is a big help in setting up tables and preparing drinks for our group.

It was great having Irene and Jim Dunavant back last week - they are some of our Snowbirds returning for the summer. Also, our thanks to Trish Davis and Allison Hilkert for bringing Marge Mountain to the center on Friday - we miss Marge when she isn't able to be there. Carol Kakala was back with us on Monday - welcome back, Carol. If you have neighbors or friends who would like to come to the Senior center but are unable to get there on their own, please offer to bring them or call the center to arrange for transportation. The nutritious food and camaraderie is very beneficial for older folks who don't always cook the foods they need.

I hear from Diane Cooney that Helen Hart passed away on Friday, she was in Illinois near her family. Cards may be sent to: Mary F. Benson, 72323 N. Shipley Rd., Dundee, Ill 62425.

Cruising with Cruse
By Katherine Cruse

Bluebird couples flock to new nests

I've been watching the birds around the S Bar S, otherwise known as the Cruse place.

We already had one bluebird nesting box up in the scrub oak, and this year it was taken by a pair of western bluebirds - the ones with the reddish brown chests. The mountain bluebirds that normally occupy the site spent an extra week or two fooling around trying to make up their minds, and they had to look elsewhere.

"I've got the plans for a bird-house," said our neighbor Buck. "Bring me a piece of 1 x 6 cedar, and I'll build one for you."

I did, and he did, and Hotshot hung the new house on a T-pole near the garage, sheltered by a big clump of scrub oak and pretty much out of sight of the original house, in case the birds didn't like looking at each other.

Right away, a pair of bluebirds came to check it out. Then they flew away.

"They've gone to contact the agent," said Hotshot.

In the days that followed, the new birdhouse generated a lot of interest, but no takers. I first blamed the shiny metal plate that secured it to the post. The early morning sun reflected off that thing as if it were a mirror, or a gun barrel, or a gambler's diamond ring. Maybe the birds didn't want to live with something that garish. Maybe they were frightened by it. Maybe they were blinded.

I bought a can of spray paint, camouflage grayish tan, matte finish. "This is for the shiny metal," I told Hotshot. He went out and spray-painted the whole birdhouse. The birds still ignored it and began raising a family in a nesting hole somewhere in the scrub oak.

Hotshot said, "I think the hole's too small."

"It's the paint, I said. "They probably can't find the birdhouse. It's all camouflaged." He ignored that, and took a ruler outside.

"The holes are the same size," he reported, "But the wood on the new place is thicker. Maybe they're nervous about going in. They think it's a tunnel." With a drill he flared the opening so that it was wider inside the box.

Success. We sat back and watched the birds try again. By the next morning a mountain bluebird couple had taken possession, and Mrs. B. was carrying grasses into the now satisfactory opening.

Meanwhile, back at the old home place, tragedy struck the western bluebirds. We think one of the neighborhood cats ate the male, leaving Ms. Western a single mom. It's a lot to ask of any mother, to raise a family without help.

In the next three weeks, we watched and wondered if the babies would survive.

I'm sure she had moments when she wanted to just get away from those open squawking mouths for a few hours.

But she did a great job. Last week four fledglings left the nest. The first day they sat around on stumps and low branches, calling to let her know where they were. Next morning they were on the walk to the garage, looking dazed, as the sun gradually warmed them up. We kept a water pistol handy, to squirt the cats. Now the kids are getting more adept, and their perches are higher.

Unlike a lot of our neighbors, we don't hang hummingbird feeders. And it's not because we don't want to 'chum' for hungry bears. We tried feeding hummingbirds one year, the second year we lived here. Among the furnishings that came with the cabin was a feeder, probably purchased by some vacation tenant years before. I filled it with hummingbird food, my head full of visions of the miniature birds with the iridescent feathers. So dainty. So fragile.

So pretty to watch, sipping the nectar that I graciously provided.

You probably know that there are mostly two kinds of hummers around here - broadtail and rufous. Broadtails are the ones that make the loud buzzing or trilling sound as they fly. They're likely to zoom up and hover in front of your face, checking out that red cap you're wearing, before they zoom off again. Male broadtails have the rosy throat that we associate with hummingbirds. Rufous hummers have a beautiful chestnut throats and backs.

The rufous hummers are extremely territorial.

I hung the feeder near the back deck and settled down to watch. Within a day, a rufous had decided that this was his feeder, and he wasn't going to share. Not that he drank from it all that much. Mostly he sat on a nearby branch and strafed all the other hummers, broadtail or rufous, that ventured near "his" feeder.

I bought another feeder and hung it in the oaks on the side of the house. Big mistake. You could see one feeder from the other, if you were a bird. That little tyrant started guarding both feeders. Back and forth he patrolled.

"Give up," said Hotshot.

Nope. I was determined to feed hummers. Talk about a glutton for punishment.

Back to the store. I came home with a third feeder, which I hung in yet another location. This one was on a porch post, out of sight of the first feeder and some distance from the second.

You guessed it. Another rufous showed up.

I retreated inside. The yard became a battleground. It sounded like an WWII movie full of fighter planes diving and strafing. The animosity and ill will and desperate struggle for supremacy was palpable. And irritating. The birds wore themselves out chasing each other away. They narrowly avoided posts in their aerial skirmishes. A couple crashed into windows.

It was all so unnecessary. They may not have noticed, but every time a feeder became empty, I refilled it with red syrup.

I lasted for one more week. Then, a friend told me she was going to have a yard sale.

We humans must appear incredibly slow to hummingbirds, almost like trees. But sometimes we can move pretty fast. You never saw three hummingbird feeders disappear so quickly.

Since the birds had been on the sauce for only a week or two, they got through the detox procedure pretty fast and went back to their normal food sources.

The peace and quiet was wonderful.


Library News
By Lenore Bright

Summer reading program draws 235

Our dear Kate Terry is back home after a prolonged stay in the hospital in Albuquerque. We're so glad to hear her voice and know that she is recovering from her extensive surgeries, and is ready to embark upon a strict walking and exercise regime. It is good to have her back.

Summer reading

We had 235 eager readers signed up for this year's event during the first week, and we checked out 2,195 books. Readers may sign up anytime in the next few weeks. Readers of the Week winners were Michelle Bliss, Waylon Lucero, Carmela Lujan, Michelle Parker, Trevor Bryant, Adeline Thompson, Kala Matsdorf, Breezy Bryant, Stephanie Swenson and Julia Adams.

There were three contests and the winners' names are posted at the library. This year, there are many contests and many winners. Be sure and check each week to see if your name is on the list. Contest entries must be in by 3 p.m. on Saturdays to be eligible. Your full name, age, and phone number must be on the entry.

Early childhood

We invite parents and other caregivers to view some excellent videos on training infants and toddlers. We are honored to house the "Essential Connections" video collection donated by Juanita Payne and Amy Higgins. The Colorado Department of Education finally responded to research that shows the brains of babies develop earlier, and much more rapidly than educators realized. The initial rapid development slows at about three years of age.

The eight videos in our collection cover a variety of subjects concerned with all aspects of infant care. These are the first donations to a planned childhood development center here at the library. There are currently eight videos in the collection.

We are also purchasing books on the subject of childcare to augment the childhood development center.

Juanita and Amy attended intensive training for infant and toddler care through a Social Services grant, and have given several workshops to a variety of caregivers, Head Start staff, parents, and day care providers.

They will hold workshops June 28 and July 8 in conjunction with Pueblo Community College. We will have the materials from the various workshops for your use For more information about these important workshops, call Juanita at 731-5271.


Public lands

We receive an interesting newsletter from the Southwest Colorado Public Lands organization. This issue covers a number of timely topics including the Piano Creek easement, and the Jackson Mountain timber sale. Ask for a copy at the desk.

Lasting impressions

Are you concerned about your child watching violent scenes in movies, on television or in video games? A family guide was created with you in mind. It is provided by Denver television Channel 7, Rocky Mountain PBS, and The Colorado Trust.

This guide gives you ways to help your children make healthy media choices. Media literacy is the ability to be media-smart, to think critically about the messages of the mass media ( TV, radio, music, movies, advertising, etc.). The 3 R's of media literacy are "review, reflect and react."

Parents are urged to review what their children have seen and to spend time thinking about all aspects of the program. Parents are urged to reflect on whether the program fits what they believe, or what they feel is right. Then, parents should react to the program to determine what will they do or believe differently than prior to the viewing.

We have free copies of this valuable guide. Ask at the desk

A paradise

We now have a copy of the Chamber of Commerce promotional video featuring our beautiful area. Jan Brookshire did the spectacular cover photo. The videos can be purchased at the Chamber. How fortunate we are to live in such a setting.

Point of View

This educational series on PBS seeks to entertain, inform and connect citizens. There are nine more weekly programs. The acclaimed independent non-fiction film showcase is in its 13th year. We have a poster advertising upcoming programs. There is also a web site at with updates on activities.


Thanks for materials from Dr. Alton Dohner, Carole and Bob Howard, Joy Erickson, Marietta Gordon, Sally White, Gail Shepherd, the Northrup Family, A.J. MacMillan, Jody Nehring, Kristine Erickson and Nancy Lu Walls.

Financial help came from Lupe Henricksen.



Causes and effects

It's hard to believe that at one time the major concern of

Pagosa Springs was: "What do you think will happen if

the mill closes?" At that time, it was a legitimate concern to wonder what the effect would be if the mill closed.

The question focused on the San Juan Lumber Company mill which once operated on the southeast side of the U.S. 160-U.S. 84 Y . Not many years ago, when Archuleta County was among the state's leading counties in unemployment, the payroll and income from the lumber mill was a major economic factor for the homes and businesses of Pagosa. Folks dreaded what the effect might be should the mill close.

Today, the once active site is a vacant piece of property littered with the debris of a partially demolished lumber mill. Like most vacant land in Pagosa, it has a "For Sale" sign and in all likelihood an inflated price.

Another valid question that surfaced during the same era as the mill's operation dealt with whether all the new subdivisions being developed in the county would be able to find enough buyers. There was a legitimate concern as to what the effect would be if the properties went unsold - or failed to attract buyers.

The resulting effect of the mill closing or the resulting effect of developers not finding enough buyers are no longer the concerns of the day. Today's major concerns for many folks is what will happen to Pagosa if another cement plant opens and if the continual subdividing continues uncontrolled.

Many folks are concerned about what the effects might be, but they continue to ignore the causes that led someone to think opening another cement plant or starting another development in Pagosa would be profitable ventures.

While on the subject of being concerned about the effect possible events could have on the future of Pagosa, it's not too early to start preparing for the possibility of the drilling of natural gas wells in the western and southern portions of the county. The extraction of the coal-bed gases could occur on Southern Ute Tribal lands within Archuleta County or on private lands, depending on the ownership of the mineral rights beneath that land.

Some of our neighbors to the west in adjoining La Plata County have learned that the effect from such ventures - besides producing natural gas -is that seeping gas is released into the soil, air and water on adjoining properties that are not involved in the drilling.

It is the type of effect that would not be caused by increased population, nor could it be controlled by even the best laid plans for controlling growth.

David C. Mitchell


Dear Folks
By David C. Mitchell

Life has upsides and downsides

Dear Folks,

"Whaddaya doing for Father's Day?," would have been an applicable inquiry for last week's "Whaddaya think?" question.

Another natural would have been, "Whaddaya want for Father's Day?"

What did I do for Father's Day? I hoped to pedal my Schwinn from Trinidad to Walsenburg.

Folks wonder why I consider an 82-mile bike ride as being a wished-for Father's Day gift. Being a simple person I give a simple answer: I've never done it before and I'd like to ride over Cuchara Pass. Also, being able to get away and to be surrounded by strangers is my Father's Day gift to myself.

The longer I'm a father, (like it or not, being a father entails an actual "until death do us part" involvement - once a father always a father) the more I question why folks give gifts to fathers on a certain day of the year.

To me, being a father is the greatest gift there can be.

In the best of worlds, being a father means that you have a wife. Good gift No. 1. In any world, being a father means that you have the responsibility and privilege of caring and providing for your sons or daughters. Good gifts No. 2, 3, 4. . . .

If a material gift could add anything to or improve such a father-child relationship then something needs fixing.

Wanting a gift for Father's Day is somewhat like wanting a ladder to stand on when you're atop Mount Everest. The peak of Mount Everest is supposed to be 29,141 feet above sea level. You should be satisfied without a ladder.

That's why I wanted to ride my bike from Trinidad to Walsenburg. I get to ride over Cuchara Pass. Cuchara's elevation is only 9,941 feet where Colo. 12 crosses the pass. That's no Mount Everest, but that's okay, I'm easy to satisfy.

I hoped to ride over La Veta Pass on Monday and Poncha Pass on Tuesday. I plan to ride over Fremont Pass today and Berthoud Pass on Saturday. They're part of my Father's Day gift.

Riding mountain passes on a bicycle is somewhat like being a father. There are upsides and there are downsides. Riding mountain passes takes commitment. No matter how much you think you're prepared, you're not. You have to just keep pedaling.

If not for the tiring, frustrating, bothersome (and all the other applicable negative adjectives) uphill pedaling that's necessary to get to the top of the pass; you'd never get to enjoy the satisfying, rewarding (and all the other applicable positive adjectives) downhill stretch that awaits on the other side of the peak. It's like being a father.

There are breakdowns, thirst, lousy conditions, flats, hunger, unexpected frustrations, pain in the . . . uh, sore bottoms, but in the long run, or ride, the persistent pedaling provides a unique experience. It's like being a father.

Naturally, patience and perseverance are involved. And if fathers are patient and persevere, in time they become a father-in-law.

Of course this dimension adds to all of the applicable positive adjectives.

But if being father is great, and it is, being a father-in-law is even greater. It's the part of the equation that endows fathers with the potential for their greatest gift of all - being a grandfather.

That takes us back to "Whaddaya want for Father's Day?"

Being a grandfather, my answer is: "Nothing." I've already got much, much more than I ever deserved.

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



25 years ago

Vote set for new fire district

Taken from SUN files

of June 26, 1975

The question of whether to form the proposed Pagosa Fire Protection District will be put to the voters next Tuesday. The voting will take place in Pagosa Lodge. Residents of Colorado who are 18 years or older and who are the owner or the spouse of the owner of property in the district or who reside in the proposed district are eligible to vote.

Almost $1.5 million has been appropriated to various federal agencies in this county to alleviate unemployment. Generally the purpose of the funds has been described as for helping the area's unemployment by providing jobs that will provide forest protection, improve roads on the Southern Ute Reservation, increase erosion prevention and for beautification projects.

Tennis star Dennis Ralston is returning to the Pagosa Racquet Club this weekend. Ralston, a member of the Pagosa Racquet Club advisory board, was ranked as one of the top 10 tennis players in the world and held a number of major titles.

The hottest day of the year to date was recorded Monday of this week when the mercury climbed to 81 degrees. Freezes at night are still being experienced in some areas of the county.

By Shari Pierce

Alley addresses daily life in Pagosa Springs

Twenty-five years ago a project was undertaken to record history of Archuleta County. Several "old timers" were interviewed and recorded. They were asked questions about their own family history along with area history.

While all of the interviews were interesting, one I found particularly so was an interview with George Alley Sr. This is because Alley addressed more of the day-to-day aspects of life in Pagosa. This information appeals to me because I am intrigued by how life on a daily basis has changed through the years.

In his interview, Alley relates that to this point, 1975, he thought 1942 was the height of population for Archuleta County with there being a little over 4,000 residents. Alley described the county as a community of small ranches; then the Great Depression came along. "We brought all those people into town from all those ranches. They'd have maybe 50 or 100 head of sheep and they would eke out a living and then Roosevelt came into the picture, now I'm not injecting political strategy don't misunderstand me, but during that era of time, when we came in with WPA and I was the first Welfare Director of Archuleta County, a man could come in and he would work until he earned $37.50 in any one month, then he got off and someone else would come in. In those days $37.50 would feed a family of 4 or 5."

Alley came to Pagosa Springs in 1923. He said there were more business in Pagosa then than in 1975. "When I came here we had a thriving creamery across the river that manufactured Treasure Mountain Butter and we shipped it all over the state of Colorado." The town also had two bakers, two banks, four grocery stores, two pool halls, one theater.

Alley related that the only thing they didn't have were filling stations; there really was no need for them. "There was an old chap with a peg leg down on the corner who sold gasoline, and he didn't have a gas pump, he got his gas in five gallon cans, there was two five gallon cans in a case, because with about 10 cars, and you just ran them in the summer and not very far because of the roads."

And Alley told of Archie Dunn who was pretty enterprising. It seems Dunn would drive down to Hersch's every morning, except Sunday, and for $5 he would take a person to Durango. "If he was lucky and didn't have too many flat tires you would have two hours to do your shopping and see a doctor or whatever and then he would always try to get back to Pagosa by 7 or 8 that night."


Pacing Pagosa
By Richard Walter

Nicknames can define a lifestyle

"Hey, Walkin' Dude!"

That's what one woman calls out when she sees me on my jaunts through Pagosa Country.

It's just one of the many nicknames I've accumulated - most only briefly.

Others have been less symbolic of a lifestyle. For example, I was once known as black socks.

It wasn't because my socks were dirty. My mother made sure of that. When I played baseball for good old Pagosa High more than 50 years ago, we had uniforms but no socks. The school couldn't afford them and neither could most of the players.

Unfortunately, I had extremely hairy legs and the black socks appellation seemed apropos of the situation. I never objected to it and I'm sure it wouldn't have done any good if I had.

Another baseball-linked name was Scatterarm. When on the mound I had all kinds of stuff, but rarely knew where it was going to go. For some strange reason, I never had that problem on throws from the outfield.

Of course I had the same substitute names as many other youngsters who are slightly overweight - Chubs, Fats and Blob come to mind. When I had to start wearing glasses (simply because I couldn't see the blackboard after getting lime from the football field tossed in my eyes) I was Four-eyes for a while.

For one brief period, while playing trombone in the Pagosa High School Band, I was know as Slides (for alleged dexterity with the instrument's mechanism).

Along the way in my journalistic career, one wag decided I looked like Clark Kent and my middle name really is Clark. So I became, to one group of associates, Little Superman. There were, unfortunately, no super powers associated with the name.

During my collegiate days, another nickname came my way accidentally.

When I arrived at tryouts for a spot on the Colorado team in the Columbine Rookie (Baseball) League in Aurora, I was wearing my fraternity sweater with a TKE emblem on the pocket. The coach read the TKE as IKE and for the rest of my professional baseball career (all of one season), I was Ike.

As the journalism career advanced, the given name Richard became the traditional substitute, Dick, despite the fact my mother objected. "If I'd wanted a son named Dick I would have named him that," she argued.

To some, who thought I had some reporting talent, I became known as Ace.

When I progressed into a management capacity, one fledgling reporter tabbed me Chief and that lasted until much later in my career when he became the managing editor of the newspaper where I was the news editor.

Another Pagosan told me that for months he had referred to me as Popeye.

Seems he felt I resembled the muscled comic strip sailor and would tell his co-workers when they saw me walking: "There goes Popeye again."

Others who witness my foot trips around the area have applied less appealing descriptions. The Walking Fool, That Nut, and Pagosa Pacer (which was in part responsible for the title of this column) were just a few.

Returning for a moment to college days, my full name seemed to totally confuse an accounting professor. Each of my names could be a first, middle or last name and R. Bruce McCosh could never determine in his own mind which of them should be used when addressing me. To him, and thus other members of the class, I became Mr. Three Names. It was easy to remember but a nickname I didn't want following me for life.

Having thus personified myself by many of the alternate names that have come my way, I thought it would be interesting to see what others in the community have been called.

Pagosa builder Charles Erdman, for example, was not Chuck or Charlie, the common nicknames, in high school. Instead, he was Sonny or Luke. I never really knew why. He must have liked the latter name because he gave it to his son.

Undersheriff Russell Hebert says few people in Archuleta County know that he has been called Toby since childhood in Louisiana. Seems his godfather came to visit the family and infant Russell was found eating under a cistern piling with a dog named Toby. The name carried over to the youngster for the rest of his life.

Fellow Pagosa Sun writer Karl Isberg says he was known, while toiling in the radio field, as The Iceman, an obvious takeoff on the surname and possibly related to the "cool" sounds emanating from his turntable.

Editor and publisher David Mitchell, on the other hand, says he never had a nickname.

Some prominent folks in the community have nicknames so associated with them that few know their real names. A good example is Edward Madrid, principal of the Intermediate School. Everyone, it seems, knows him simply as Butch.

Another in the same category is high school teacher and former coach Bunk Preuit. Few know him by his real name, Otis.

Former Pagosa sports star Jack Lynch, who later became and still serves (though once retired) as athletic director for the Aurora High School system, was nicknamed Bullet. His brother, Ben, says he never knew why.

Some authors have pseudonyms. Some are ghost writers for others.

Me? I'm just old Walkin' Dude.


Old Timer
By John Motter

Burns and Wirt impacted our history

By John M. Motter

When Pagosa Country oldtimers get together with time on their hands, talk is sure to focus on the good old days. As soon as every coffee cup is full and everybody's health has been satisfactorily discussed, palaver turns to the year the river dried up, or the year snow almost reached the roof tops, or why that fabulously rich treasure was never found. If the coffee holds out, an eccentric oldtimer will be mentioned - not one sitting at the current table, of course.

In Pagosa Country, a couple of the names that pop up on a regular basis belonged to T.D. Burns of Tierra Amarilla and Emmet Wirt of Dulce. Both men were known from Santa Fe to Denver, especially by folks living in the San Juan Basin. The memories of both are clouded by so much legend that the facts are hard to reach, sort of like panning a few ounces of gold from several tons of river-bottom gravel.

Both men tremendously impacted Pagosa Country history, but a biography has been written about neither. The classic San Juan pioneer information source, "Pioneers of the San Juan Country," contains a short biography of Wirt written by J. Denton Sims, the father-in-law of Wirt's daughter Cecelia. Sims was a missionary at the Reformed Missionary Church on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation starting in 1914. In his memoirs, "Cowboys, Indians, and Pulpits," Sims talks about Wirt at greater length. While Sims' articles are informative, they are one-sided, as one would expect from a relative.

Another author who talks about Wirt is Veronica E. Velarde Tiller, who wrote "The Jicarilla Apache Tribe, A History." Tiller has gained distinction as the first Jicarilla Apache to earn a doctorate degree. Her account of Wirt's contributions to the Jicarilla adaptation to living within the limits of Anglo society, while giving Wirt his due, is more dispassionate and critical.

Like most folks important to the history of an area, Burns and Wirt had their good and bad sides. It is probably best to consider them as products of their times, a time when Manifest Destiny was still in vogue and the American view of Indians and Hispanics had a definite, downhill slant. Whether a man was hero or saint depends largely on the vantage point of the viewer. For example, former general and President Andrew Jackson is venerated as a hero by millions of people, but not by the tens of thousands of Indians Jackson forced to tread the "Trail of Tears" to Arkansas and Oklahoma.

First, I'll mention Burns briefly. His name shows up in all kinds of pioneer records and accounts, but I know of nothing that focuses specifically on the man. Burns is said to have arrived at Abiquiú circa 1864-1866. Some say he was an agent of Thomas Catron, the Santa Fe lawyer who ultimately secured title to the entire Tierra Amarilla Land Grant. Since Catron didn't arrive in New Mexico until 1866, the allegation is unlikely. In 1866, Burns was commissioned a captain in the New Mexico militia. At some time, perhaps 1874, Burns founded a mercantile establishment at Tierra Amarilla. He used his influence to have the government store moved from Abiquiú to Las Nutritas when Camp Plummer was established there. In the beginning, the name Tierra Amarilla referred to a collection of communities. The community known as Tierra Amarilla today was then known as Las Nutritas.

Early pioneers in the San Juan Basin from as far away as Mancos and the Upper Animas Valley traveled to Burns' store to purchase supplies. His was the nearest supply point during those first years. When Fort Lewis was established at Pagosa Springs in 1878, Burns was among the first contractors to supply feed and grain for the army.

He is said to have owned many hundreds of thousands of sheep. He hired Hispanics of the region to take the herds to the mountains during summer. He also provided store goods to his Hispanic neighbors on credit. One must remember that these Hispanics were not long removed from being Mexican citizens. The American takeover of New Mexico occurred in 1846-1848, scarcely a generation sooner. Burns is said to have taken advantage of his Hispanic neighbors by forgiving their debts in exchange for them signing documents releasing claims to the Tierra Amarilla Grant. The subject of the Tierra Amarilla Land Grant is too large and complex for this article. Feelings in the area concerning the subject still run strong, however, as witnessed by the 1967 uprising when armed men raided the Tierra Amarilla County courthouse.

Burns later established a store in Rosa, now at the bottom of Navajo Lake, and a bank in Durango.

The legendary Wirt is better remembered by Pagosa Springs oldtimers, possibly because he did not pass away until 1938. His impact on regional history was probably not as broad as Burns', but his life cast a bigger shadow locally. Dulce and the Jicarilla Apache Indians were the focus of Wirt's influence. Tales surrounding Wirt are legendary in proportion.

A favorite story describes a visit to Denver's Brown Palace, the most posh establishment in the Mile High City at that time. The steak brought to Wirt's table was exceedingly rare. Wirt is said to have thrown the chunk of meat on the floor, pulled his ever-present pistol, and shot the bouncing meatball full of holes. "Waiter," Wirt said. "I've killed it. Now take it to the kitchen and cook it."

We read about Wirt and his favorite leisure activities in an early issue of the "Pagosa Springs News." With two cowboy cohorts, Wirt attended a housewarming party thrown by Sheriff Billy Kern. The house in question still stands on San Juan Street just east of the Spa Motel and Resort and is known as the Sturdevant House. According to the newspaper, as the evening wore on the three cowboys became increasingly exuberant, finally elevating the evening's entertainment to a resounding climax by shooting out the lights, "emptying their pistols several times." Sheriff and posse gave chase, but failed to capture the fun lovers before they crossed the border into the safety of New Mexico Territory.

In another Pagosa newspaper account, we learn that Wirt gunned down a man named Lipps in Amargo. Wirt was not convicted for the shooting because it was well known that he acted in self defense.

Wirt was born on a Missouri farm Feb. 7, 1868, according to Sims, but traveled west as a teenager so he could "do his own thing." His first job was provided by Alec Sullenberger at a sawmill a few miles west of Chama. Wirt's responsibility was night herding the oxen.

Wirt then switched to cowboying for the Bar U Cattle Company, allowing his wages to accumulate. According to Sims, he only needed enough money to buy cartridges and powder for occasional downtown celebrations.

At some point, after suspecting that the Bar U was going broke, Wirt looked up the big boss and demanded his wages. "It's too much, we'll have to pay you in installments," he was told.

"That's not good enough," Wirt said. With one hand on his pistol, he marched the big boss down to the pasture where enough cattle were selected to cover Wirt's claim. He then, single-handedly, drove the cattle across Cumbres Pass, into the San Luis Valley, and on to Pueblo. At Pueblo, he rented pasture and commenced butchering cattle, selling the meat to meat markets.

Later he drove his remaining herd to Amargo where he set up a meat market and general store. When a man named Ed Vorhang claimed title to Amargo, Wirt persuaded his neighbors to move two or three miles west and found Lumberton.

Wirt became champion of the Jicarilla people, according to Sims, by taking their side in confrontations with Anglo settlers. It is said that on more than one occasion Wirt prevented whites from harming Jicarilla visitors in Amargo. At another time a Jicarilla man was killed in town. Wirt stopped the Jicarilla from burning Amargo in retribution. When an Apache who owed Wirt money died, Wirt is said to have marked his accounts ledger "Paid in full by God."

Eventually, Wirt moved his general store to Dulce where he was post trader. His was the only store on the reservation and functioned as a company store with all of the implications of that term. Virtually all Apache trade passed through Wirt's hands. Sims credits Wirt with teaching the tribe to market timber and sheep, an economic activity which helped the people survive.

Tiller's account of Wirt's activities is more critical. Tiller points out that through the trading post, Wirt handled nearly all of the tribe's money for years, money moving in both directions. Wirt bought the sheep from the Indians, then marketed them off of the reservation. In the process, he became extremely wealthy.

In later life, Wirt married Christina Schirmer, a nurse he met at a Durango hospital. Wirt refused to wear a coat, even at the wedding.

The reason he refused to wear a coat may have stemmed from a knife fight during the earlier years of Wirt's life, according to Sims. Wirt was wearing a coat at the time. The coat slowed him in reaching for his gun and he almost lost his life as a consequence. The circumstance persuaded him never to wear a coat again.

"He wore the best clothes money could buy," Sims said, "but they were not always in style; they were what Emmet wanted to wear. He was always picturesque in any crowd at any time. With his great Stetson hat, coatless, but always in later years with a freshly laundered shirt and white collar and invariably a red tie, with one front suspender attached to a pistol holster buttoned to his pants and the holster out of view inside, where his pistol always rested until later years when he wore it only out on the range with the cattle he always raised."


Business News
Biz Beat


Shari Zale. left and Becky Ball, center, own and operate Snips. They are joined by nail technician and hair stylist Cindy Carothers.

Snips is located at 63 North Pagosa Boulevard, F-2, across the parking lot from Radio Shack.

Snips is a full-service hair and nail salon with plans in place to offer barber services beginning in November.

The salon is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, with Thursday evening appointments available.

Call Snips at 731-6500.


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