The Upper San Juan Hospital District has a 2002 budget that's nice and neat. Current earnings match up against current debt, revenues match expenses. It's just that cash flow is over $100,000 behind.
District manager Dee Jackson told the district board Tuesday that most of the district's first large property tax check was diverted to pay past due bills, including payroll taxes left over from last year.
According to the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center board meeting report, total aged payables - vendors waiting to be paid by the district - equaled $77,626 as of March 1. According to the Emergency Medical Services report, aged payables equal $81,110. The total includes the over $100,000 owed to vendors plus about $33,000 owed in back taxes and $18,000 owed internally from the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center to Urgent Care.
"We are paying the bills right before they turn out the lights," Jackson said. Totals do not include $80,000 from the Dr. Mary Fisher Foundation that the district has committed to making a "best effort" attempt to refund.
On the other side of the balance sheets, district staff members are still working hard to collect receivables. Monies owed to the district total $149,381 at the medical center. At EMS, over $300,000 in bills owed the district remain outstanding, the vast majority, $217,000, going back 90 days or more.
Rod Richardson, EMS operations manager, said a part-time emergency medical technician, Molly Dorr, has been making great strides clearing up old accounts. At one time, she was given a box uncovered at the EMS building containing over 35 unknown bills dating back to 2000. Of those, only two remain unidentified. The others have been assigned a category - either insurance, private pay, payment plan or other - and collections are being attempted. To further help with collections, the board approved districtwide procedures to manage customer accounts and balances at the meeting.
Addressing the cash flow will take many more steps over the next few months, Jackson said. "It's going to be uncomfortable for the employees," she said. "If we all pitch together, we're going to get there, but it's going to be uncomfortable for a few months."
Everything from the ratio of employees to providers to the kind of paper towels used will be considered. Currently, each position within the district is being reviewed and justified. Both Richardson and Laura Rome, medical center operations manager, are learning the district's computerized accounting program to better understand cash flow, and Jackson continues to review each district account, working little by little to reconcile them all.
Starting in the next 30 to 45 days, Jackson said, the district will be able to purchase medical and surgical supplies through HealthCare Purchasing Partners International. This group-buying strategy should save in the neighborhood of 35 to 50 percent. To help save more money, the board voted to stop paying full insurance benefits for dependents of employees, asking employees to pay half. The district will still cover 100 percent of the employees' insurance costs.
On an upside, both ambulance runs and medical center patients contacts were up in February. Even then, payroll exceeded receipts at the clinic.
"I am a rock," Jackson said, "but I don't want to operate on sand."
In a dry year with danger from wildfires during the coming summer threatening local residents, significance is added to the Archuleta County fire operating plan for 2002 approved by the county commissioners Tuesday.
The plan fulfills the requirements of the latest Interagency Cooperative Fire Management Agreement between the State of Colorado and the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Because a majority of the land in Archuleta County is owned by the Forest Service, Southern Ute Tribe, or BLM, the plan takes on added importance for the Pagosa Fire Protection District, and sheriff Tom Richards, the chief fire official in the county.
The purpose of the agreement is to establish standard operating procedures and agreed-upon policies and responsibilities to implement cooperative wildfire protection for all lands within Archuleta County.
Participants in the agreement are the Archuleta County Sheriff, Archuleta County Commissioners, Pagosa Fire Protection District, Colorado State Forest Service, U. S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Southern Ute Agency, and Jicarilla Agency.
Each agency has ultimate responsibility for wildfire management on its own lands. The sheriff and fire protection district are responsible for wildland fire management on all non-federal lands in Archuleta County.
Reciprocal zones have been established one mile either side of fire protection boundaries. Reciprocal zones have been established for initial attack purposes only. Initial attack means the period of fire suppression activity from the time of initial dispatch to 12 hours after ownership is determined and the protecting agency is notified.
It is the responsibility of the agency making the initial attack to notify other agencies if their lands are threatened. Once ownership has been determined, the protecting agency shall dispatch replacements to relieve initial attack resources at the earliest possible time or negotiate continued suppression activities.
For fires within the reciprocal zone, each agency will assume responsibility for its own expenses during the initial attack period. Requests by protecting agencies for commitment of supporting agency resources beyond the initial attack period will be placed with the Durango Interagency Dispatch Center.
The ranking officer of the first responding agency will assume the role of incident commander and take charge of the total fire situation until relieved. In the event attack agencies are engaged with a fire at or near a common protection boundary, the ranking officers of each agency will convene during the first burn period and mutually agree upon the fire control strategy and appoint an incident commander. If it is resolved that the fire area is entirely confined to a specific area of protection, then the ranking officer of the protecting agency shall assume the role of incident commander.
The Archuleta County Communication Center, upon receiving notice of wildfire in the county from any source, will notify appropriate agencies and dispatch initial attack forces requested to suppress the incident.
The Durango Interagency Dispatch Center is responsible for dispatching and coordinating all federal firefighting resources within Archuleta County, beyond the sheriff's or fire protection district's initial attack response.
If a fire crosses, or threatens to cross jurisdictional boundaries, a unified command will be formed and will consist of all involved agencies. The purpose of unified command is to meet as a group and identify policies, objectives, priorities and strategy, resulting in one common set of objectives given to a single incident commander for tactical implementation.
In other business Tuesday the commissioners:
€ Approved the expenditure of about $300 to cover overtime expenses incidental to mapping services related to E-911
€ Listened to a progress report from Veterans Service officer Andy Fautheree. "I average signing up a new veteran every working day," Fautheree said. "There were about 750 names in the data base a year ago. Now there are about 950 names"
€ Learned that activities submitted from the county planning office resulted in approval of a notice of completion, release of improvements agreement, and acceptance of a Meadows Minor Impact Subdivision
€ Heard that, in connection with the 2002 magnesium chloride plan, a bid to supply the road salt was accepted from Desert Mountain to purchase 632,000 gallons at a unit price of 31 cents a gallon, a total of $195,920. The county has budgeted $180,000 for the purchase, according to acting road superintendent Clifford Lucero. The difference will be made up through sales to the Forest Service and to private individuals.
How well is the local economy doing? Two local economic indicators provide mixed answers to that question. Those indicators are the number of building permits issued by Archuleta County, and the volume of sales taxes collected.
Through the end of February, the number of building permits is up and the volume of sales tax collections is down when compared with the first two months of 2001.
Through Feb. 28, the county building department had issued 51 permits, 34 percent more permits than were issued through February of 2001.
Also through February, the county had received $790,696 in sales tax revenues, 5.56 percent less than the total received last year for the same time frame.
The building permit increase might be attributed to unusually mild weather for the winter. Builders have been able to work outside throughout the winter.
Pinning down the reason for slower sales tax collections is more difficult. The answer might be purely statistical, or perhaps a matter of collection practices. Sales taxes are collected by local merchants at the point of sale. They are then forwarded to the state on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Several situations could cause the collections to show up during a month other than the true month of sales. The merchant could be late sending in the monthly or quarterly report. The state could, for whatever reason, not include the total remitted with the proper month, especially if the remittance arrives late during the month. In any case, a review of sales tax results over several months provides a more accurate picture than any month by itself.
"The records we get from the state don't tell us very much," said Kathy Wendt, assistant to the county administrator. "There has been an ongoing problem. The Department of Revenue has investigated. I haven't noticed much, if any, change since the investigation."
Worse than the slowness of their reporting, the state is even more laggard about returning the money collected. Sales tax returns are typically two months later than the collections.
The January 2002 report shows collections of $430,861, 7.81 percent above the $399,651 collected in January of 2001. The February 2002 report shows collections of $359,836, 17.8 percent less than the $437,609 collected during February of 2001. The year-to-date total for 2002 is $790,696, 5.56 percent less than the 2001 end-of-February total of $837,259. As a point of comparison, the February 2001 year-to-date total was 28 percent ahead of the February 2000 year-to-date total.
Sales tax collections are directly related to retail sales. When the numbers go up, the economy is thought to be doing well. When the numbers go down, the health of the economy is suspect.
Sales tax revenues also make up a large proportion of town and county revenues. Last year the county and town split $5.1 million in sales tax revenues. Half of the county's portion is devoted to the general fund, the other half to a road improvement fund. The town's share is dedicated to capital improvements.
The number of building permits issued by the county building department is used as a barometer to gauge the willingness of people to invest large sums of money in new residential or commercial buildings, or in major rehabilitation of buildings. Again, increasing numbers indicate a healthy economy, decreasing numbers indicate a suspect economy.
This year, the county issued 51 building permits through February. Last year at the same time the county had issued 38 building permits. The estimated value of permits issued through February is about $4.4 million.
The increase in building permits issued this year might be attributed to weather, according to Julie Rodriguez, director of the building department.
"February was a big month," said Rodriguez, "but nothing really jumps out as to why. I guess it must be the weather, plus some of these may have been waiting to see what the new year brings."
Classified by categories established by the county, the number of permits issued this year are: house - 29, up from 23 last year; mobile home - eight, up from two last year; other - 14, up from eight last year; commercial and timeshare - 0, as in the previous year.
The category of other includes major modifications or additions such as new bedrooms, carports and such.
If willingness to subdivide property depends on confidence in the economy, then Archuleta County developers seem to possess considerable confidence. Since the first of the year, the Archuleta County planning office has been dealing with the paperwork for eight new subdivisions containing 1,316 acres and 324 lots.
A Pagosa Springs teen-ager is in critical condition following a March 17 rollover accident on U.S. 160.
The accident happened about 11:10 a.m. According to a Colorado State Patrol report, the driver and two other local teens were in a 1993 Isuzu Rodeo headed west about 17 miles from Pagosa Springs when the vehicle's right side tires left the roadway. The Rodeo came back on the road briefly, rotating counter-clockwise before leaving the highway, rolling twice and hitting a tree. The vehicle came to rest on its left side.
The driver, Jayme Lee, 17, was ejected. She suffered severe injuries and remains at San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington. The two passengers, Ashley Gomez, 17, and Blake Harper, 19, were treated at Mercy Medical Center in Durango for minor injuries and released.
For the latest updates on Lee's condition, go to leerussell.topcities.com, a website started by the family. A fund to help cover medical bills is being opened at Vectra Bank in Pagosa Springs.
The town of Pagosa Springs makes good use of its money; it procures funding for important projects and executes projects for the common good. The town sets a fine table. Maybe it's time that more places at the table are readied, that more people ask to share the meal.
News received this week indicates money will soon make its way from the state to help fund improvements at the site of the old Town hall, at the intersection of U.S. 160 and Lewis Street.
Last weekend, Mayor Ross Aragon and Pagosa Springs town administrator Jay Harrington traveled to the plains of eastern Colorado to make a presentation to members of the Energy Impact Grant committee that decides how funds will be dispersed in the upcoming grant cycle.
The two officials were assured the money would be coming to Pagosa. If all goes as promised, the town will receive a $100,000 Energy Impact Grant and will match that grant with $116,000 to pay for construction of a park and bell tower on the triangular property in the center of the downtown area.
This is the third Energy Impact Grant procured by the town; the first helped with the renewal project that began the transformation of the downtown area in 1989. A second infusion of Energy Impact money, $250,000, was used in the construction of the new Town Hall.
The latest project will build a bell tower with message board, landscape a small park and provide seven new parking spaces. It will be a mid-town grace note to accompany the symphony of a community center that will open this summer at its location near the new Town Hall on Hot Springs Boulevard.
The town spends its money well, in both practical and ornamental ways. With each expense, on parks or on roads, the overall quality of life in town improves.
Aragon and Harrington also worked during their trip to ensure the town continues to have money to spend on all manner of capital improvement projects. Efforts were made in Denver to gain support for a proposed amendment to an upcoming Senate bill that, if passed, will solidify the town's grip on its 50-percent share of the sales tax collected and kept in the county.
It is another attempt to make sure the steady flow of sales tax revenues remains, never again to be threatened by petitions or initiatives promoted by residents living outside town limits. In the past, attempts were made to force a redistribution of sales tax revenues to heavily favor unincorporated parts of the county - though the lion's share of those taxes are collected inside town boundaries, with a significant portion paid by out-of-town visitors. Town fathers are adamant only their constituents can alter the fiscal future of the municipality.
It is obvious town government is clear-headed and farsighted. Can there be any doubt this competence could benefit residents living in subdivisions adjacent to town boundaries? The town annexed the Piedra Estates subdivision several years ago, indicating a willingness to expand to residential areas; now seems a good time for residents of some of the subdivisions at the western edge of town to determine what must be done to be in position to request annexation and gain the benefit of this prosperous and effective administration. Then act on that information.
With the majority of sales tax-producing businesses within its boundaries, it is appropriate the town takes steps to pave the way for a greater population. One idea might be to consider Home Rule government, to allow for political districting, to provide another way to guarantee a solid sales tax base. To set more places at the table.
I've slurped my words for years
United Blood Services personnel served tasty chocolate cookies and refreshing punch last Thursday afternoon at Mountain Heights Baptist Church.
The free refreshments followed 10 to 15 minutes of relaxed reclining on a folding massage table. Windows near the foot of the table provided spectacular views of Pagosa Peak and neighboring mountains. The public was invited.
Periodically, along with the refreshments, free T-shirts or lapel pins are handed out during these leisurely visitations. About the only drawback is that folks are only eligible for this leisurely pampering every eight weeks.
Free chocolate cookies and cold punch sounds too good to be true doesn't it? Well, it is. There's a catch. Folks must pass an extensive oral multiple-choice test beforehand. You also have to pass testing on your blood pressure, pulse, temperature, hemoglobin and red corpuscles.
The test is rather easy. The choices are limited to "yes" or "no." For most folks a vast majority of the answers is "no." One question deals with aspirin intake. So depending on how the past three days have gone, your answer could be "yes" regarding aspirins.
To alleviate any fears about taking the test, a small "prep sheet" is handed out prior to the actual testing. The condensed "Cliff Notes" pamphlet titled "Information and Instructions About Your Blood Donation" is required reading.
It's a rather easy read except for the "NAT Research Study" paragraph. It advises prospective donors that a research study in which United Blood Services currently participates uses "Nucleic Acid Amplification Technology" in its "investigational assay" aimed at detecting the presence of viruses.
There's a noticeable difference between the nature of the questions involved in today's pre-donation interview and those asked in the late '50s.
As I recall, the folks conducting the interview limited the questioning to: "How are you feeling?" "Have you eaten today?" "Have you given blood before?" "Do you know your blood type?" Other than that, they wanted to know if you had a preference as to which arm would be used.
I'd rather today's extensive questioning would use a written format rather than being asked orally. Nowadays, my reading is much better than my hearing.
Prospective blood donors must answer questions that you might find on an application for a "National Geographic" assignment. Traveling outside the United States or Canada during the past 12 month could lower your desirability or lead to additional questioning. 1977 is the defining date on the questionnaire. Being born in or having resided since 1977 in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger or Nigeria could disqualify you.
United Blood Services not only rejects potential donors suffering from physical problems such as hemophilia, it disregards political correctness and social tolerance by stating that homosexual males or persons who "have traded sex for money or drugs since 1977" must not donate blood.
After responding to a lengthy series of yes-no questions it's easy to mistake a request for a question. Immediately prior to inserting an extraction needle into my arm last Thursday, the friendly technician asked if I could tell her my name and date of birth. As soon as I said "yes," I knew it was the wrong answer. For a moment I was afraid I'd disqualified myself from receiving cookies and juice. But once I gave the correct answers, she inserted the needle. In time the requisite amount of blood flowed out and I was told to help myself at the refreshment counter.
Besides enjoying the refreshments, donating blood let's me come away thinking I've accomplished something worthwhile even though I was lying down on the job.
Know you are loved and please keep us in your prayers.
Taken from SUN files of March 17, 1977
The last public meeting to be sponsored by the school board before the bond election will be held tonight. Purpose of the election is to seek approval of a $3,950,000 bond issue for the purpose of constructing a new high school. Present plans for the building indicate that it will be capable of handling an enrollment of 500 pupils in grades nine through twelve.
"Extremely poor" is the way the Soil Conservation Service described the snowpack in the San Juan drainage as of March 1. The water supply report comments, "The snow pack situation remains extremely poor with less than 30% of normal on the ground. This is particularly bad news since 85% of the winter is behind us. Water shortage is eminent. Soils remain dry."
50 years ago
Taken from SUN files of March 21, 1952
The Volunteer Firemen will hold their annual ball this Saturday night, March 22 at the new gym and have secured the Alex Chacon Orchestra from Antonito to provide the music. The funds from this dance are used to buy new equipment and supplies for the department. The past few years, since the organization of the present department, have seen a big drop in the fire losses here in town.
At their regular monthly meeting, the members of the Pagosa Rod and Gun Club named H. Ray Macht as president for the coming year.
The Junior High tournament held here last weekend drew good crowds to see some fast basketball and to see the Ignacio Utes emerge as tourney champs.
75 years ago
Taken from SUN files of March 25, 1927
Fire, which broke out in the second story of the J.A. Turner shoe and harness shop, not only caused the complete destruction of the main building, but threatened the large garage building adjoining in the rear, the H.A. Rogers dwelling on the north, and the Sun building on the south.
Six Archuleta County contestants participated in the Archuleta County spelling contest, held this afternoon at the High School auditorium. As a result, Don Rowland will represent this county at the state contest to be held in Denver next month.
Piedra school notes: Standard tests were given this week to the eighth, seventh, sixth and fifth grades. The scores were medium.
91 years ago
Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era of March 17, 1911
Three new street lights were put in this week - one in front of Grandma Day's, one in front of Jim Hather's and the third in front of Bob Howe's residence. Pagosa's streets are now lighted by five arcs at a cost of $50 per month and 12 32-incandescents.
Archuleta County received a King Junior road grader this week. If the grader proves suitable for this section it will be purchased and made to help make Archuleta County roads better than ever before.
Henry Born was down from Born's Lake this week and reports more snow in the mountains than during any spring in an experience of thirty years. He says that ground where he planted a garden last year on the 23rd of March is now covered by eight feet of snow.
By Tess Noel Baker
In the United States this year, 182,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer according to the American Cancer Society. Over 40,000 will die. Eighty percent of them, like Pagosan Carol Stanfill, won't have a genetic predisposition to the disease.
"When you find out you have cancer, you do what you have to do," Stanfill said, sitting in her third and fourth grade classroom between appointments in a busy life, "I'm no kind of hero."
"She's a real inspiration," Cathy Schaefer said. She and Alli McKinney-Smith are parents of elementary students who have been part of Stanfill's classes over the past 18 months as the teacher faced off against breast cancer. The two are currently raising funds to participate in the Avon Breast Cancer 3-day, 60-mile walk in San Diego in April.
Telling her tale
Doctors first gave Stanfill a 20-percent chance of survival. It inched up to 30 percent and then 50 percent. The whole time she kept teaching. Math. Reading. Spelling. Science. Cancer.
Stanfill sent a letter to the parents, calling them in for a meeting to discuss her disease. She bared a bald head for the students and showed them the tube near her shoulder used for chemotherapy injections. She read to them - "When Mom has Cancer" - and opened the floor for discussion. Questions were few, but one little girl did want a picture of her shiny, bare head.
"Now they (the kids) see it as a problem that needs to be solved rather than something to fear," McKinney-Smith said.
Stanfill's fight began almost before she knew it. In the summer of 2000 she noticed a lump about the size of a 50 cent piece on her breast, but a mammogram came back clear. She went to a specialist, and still she was told there was nothing to worry about. Her history was good. Her genetics clear. In fact, her only risk factor was being over age 50.
Nine months passed.
Discussions with others whose cancer had also not revealed itself on a mammogram led Stanfill to return to the doctor. An ultrasound was recommended. In May of 2001, that test revealed a lump 8 1/2 centimeters in diameter. After two biopsies, she finally received the dreaded diagnosis.
"On July 3, I got a phone call saying it was cancer," she said. "They told me to make an appointment with an oncologist. I didn't even know what an oncologist was." She would have to wait three weeks to find out. That was the first appointment she could get.
Summer is a busy season all around. Company was in town. Plans were in full force for the Fourth of July. "We came down to the parade, and I just kept thinking 'the cancer is growing,'" she said.
A visit to the American Cancer Society counselor, loads of information and an evening-long prayer vigil by her Bible study group pulled her through those first few weeks. Then came a battery of tests, and four months of chemotherapy. "I told the kids I remembered saying and thinking 'I'll just die if I lose my hair.' Well, you don't die if you lose your hair."
She did cry when little-by-little it fell out all over the house.
"One day, I looked in the mirror and I looked like a cancer patient," she said. Stringy hair and bald patches covered her scalp. Right then, she had her husband shave her head. That was the middle of July or the beginning of August 2001, and she needed to decide whether or not to continue teaching.
It wasn't easy. The American Cancer Society counselor put her in touch with a couple of other teachers who once faced similar situations. Both opposed the idea, saying a full-time job was just too much. Stanfill was also afraid of the emotional impact her death might have on the children. In the end, she went forward, finding a regular substitute to maintain consistency and holding a meeting to inform the parents of her disease and her decision.
Stanfill underwent surgery in October. Then came a second surgery in November, and three weeks off to recuperate. She filled her days reading book after book on her disease and its survivors, discovering just how many shapes and forms cancer can assume. Finally, she faced the end of treatment only to hear more bad news. Doctors were concerned a tiny piece of the tumor might have been missed. Eight weeks of radiation and four more months of chemotherapy loomed ahead.
She gritted her teeth and took half-days off, driving an hour and a half to Durango and an hour and a half back for a 15-minute radiation appointment every day until just after the holidays.
Now, she is two and a half months through the second round of chemotherapy, enjoying her regrown hair. It hasn't, so far, fallen out again. It is, however, a little different than she remembered.
"It came in like a poodle," she said. "Before it fell out it was reddish brown and coarse, now it's gray and curly."
Not only her hair has changed. Stanfill said the experience has helped her to let go, learn to deal with stress instead of boxing it up, to cry when needed and to accept help from others.
"I was totally independent before," she said. "People in the school community are so nice. They kept bringing me food, flowers. I remember Cathy Schaefer told me 'I'm going to bring you food,' and I kept saying, 'No, I can do it.'" Finally, a friend convinced her to "just say thank you," a mantra she's been repeating ever since. "People want to help, and now I realize that."
Schaefer and McKinney-Smith are now extending that desire to help locally to combat other cancer causes.
"It was just time for us to do something bold," Schaefer said, adding that three members of her family have fought cancer battles. McKinney-Smith has participated in a long-term breast cancer study for eight years. Stanfill's experience brought it all home.
Schaefer and McKinney-Smith applauded Stanfill's honesty and her courage. They've pledged to raise $1,900 each to help fund national access to care and a cure for breast cancer by gathering sponsors for the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day.
Funds raised through the walk go to support five areas of breast cancer concern nationwide: biomedical research, clinical care, financial assistance and support services, educational seminars and advocacy training, and early detection and awareness programs. It is one of several fund-raising efforts of the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, a U.S. initiative of Avon Products Inc. started in 1993.
Because they started a little late - McKinney-Smith caught a commercial about the walk on The Learning Channel about two months ago - their challenge is two-fold. They must get in shape and raise the money.
The women started with Christmas lists, mailing letters about the walk to friends and family. They are planning to canvas the local area. Donations can be made online at www.bethepeople.com. - Schaefer's registration number is 6272, and McKinney-Smith's is 6271 - or to P.O. Box 3911, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.
He's been the mayor for 24 years. It's been long enough to make mistakes and learn from them, long enough to be on a first-name basis with four U.S. senators and the last three governors and long enough to remember when the town didn't have its own street sweeper.
"The town board would get together and we would take a wheelbarrow and sweep main street," he said.
It just hasn't been long enough that Ross Aragon is ready to hand over the gavel. He has a four-year stretch left before term limits end his eligibility, and he's back on the campaign trail.
"I care very much," the director of Archuleta Housing Corporation said. "I feel if I'm going to live here, I'm going to be involved in making it a better place to live."
Over just the past dozen years, Aragon has been part of a long list of town accomplishments, including Centennial Park, the San Juan River Footbridge, Hot Springs Boulevard Bridge, paving town roads, the River Restoration Project and River Center Park, South Pagosa Park, 8th Street sidewalk project, Apache Street Bridge, the new town hall, Reservoir Hills Trails, Lewis Street and Piedra Road traffic light projects, Pagosa Springs Community Center, planning for Old Town Hall Park, and the wetland park behind the new Town Hall.
"The dearest thing to my heart is the community center," Aragon said. "I'm proud because I had a vision, and the people who got behind me stood by me and believed." After struggling to get the project off the ground, the grants started arriving. Community center construction began last summer and is running ahead of schedule.
But whether it's the $3 million community center, or one of the smaller projects, nearly all have used some kind of state or federal funds to help cover the costs. And that's where Aragon's political connections have served him and the town well.
"It can expedite things if they know who you are," he said. "It lends credibility to your name."
In addition to these improvement projects, Aragon has been part of a number of leadership and planning issues, including an aggressive annexation policy, update to the land use plan, a Hot Springs Boulevard plan, updated personnel policy, strategic financial planning for the town, conservative expansion of town staff, limited staff turnover, a significant clean-up of the town, resolution of a majority of geothermal legal issues, town management of sanitation district, upgrades on cemetery maintenance and cemetery roads, joint road and planning studies with Archuleta County, aggressive municipal court and juvenile program and planning for future recreational facilities.
Aragon is also proud of the current rapport he has with the other members of the town board and the town staff.
"I'm a team player," he said. "Being totally unified was a constant factor in the town's success over the last years."
Aragon also serves on the Seeds of Learning board and is a member of the Archuleta Economic Development Association. He is a past town trustee and, in over 24 years, has never missed a regularly scheduled monthly meeting.
"Diamond" Dave Pokorney is running for mayor of Pagosa Springs. He believes "it's time for change.
"I want to be a visible, progressive, active mayor," he said. "I'm concerned about water, children, seniors and the vitalization of downtown and downtown business."
Pokorney was born and raised in Grand Island, Neb. For many years, he worked in the trucking business, retiring to Pagosa Springs with his wife in 1993. He's operated two businesses here: Diamond Dave's Steakhouse and then Diamond Dave's Jewelry and Pawn.
He's thought about running for mayor for several years, attending town board meetings to prepare.
"I wanted to run in the last election, but we hadn't lived in town long enough," Pokorney said. He is a member of the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and serves as a Special Olympics volunteer.
Because the business only takes up about 25 hours a week, Pokorney said he has the extra time to dedicate to the town. To become more accessible to the community, he would like to have a mayor's column in the newspaper and a weekly radio talk show to allow people to call in and ask questions. He would also like to help recruit more conventions to town.
"They come and they're gone tomorrow and what do they leave but money?" he said.
Starting a town band, revitalizing the Downtown Merchant's Association and working with the county and state to ensure stability are other priorities for Pokorney.
"The sales tax issue is over," he said.
He also wants to meet with high school students to talk about gun ownership.
"I could tell them what it takes to buy and maintain a gun in the state," he said.
Pokorney said he has nothing derogatory to say about the current mayor, maintaining that it is simply time for a different face in town government.
The Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association will sponsor the first of what is expected to be an annual neighborhood garage sale on Saturday, May 4.
The association board of directors agreed to the plan last week and will provide refreshments at the scene.
All owners are invited to bring their "treasures" to the Trails maintenance building, where the association will provide tables and signs.
More details will be made available as the date approaches concerning hours, possible rain days and other specifics as the staff measures response to the plan.
Four candidates are in the race for three four-year seats on the Pagosa Springs Board of Trustees. The group includes three incumbents, Judy James, Stan Holt and Darrell Cotton, and one challenger, Jerry Jackson. Residents of the town of Pagosa Springs are eligible to vote in the election, set for April 2, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 551 Hot Springs Blvd.
Darrell Cotton is a lifelong resident of Pagosa Springs who has been a member of the board of trustees since 1984. It's a position, he said, backed by an excellent staff, that allows him to give something back to the community.
"I'm really enjoying it," he said. The work just isn't finished.
"I'd like to be there to take a look at Home Rule," Cotton said. A Home Rule charter gives a municipality some autonomy from state regulations. For instance, under Home Rule, a town can set a sales tax without consideration of a 6.9 percent cap on state and local governments that applies to statutory municipalities. This could help the town secure an uninterrupted revenue stream - a long-term goal.
Cotton said the key issues in the coming term will be, "growth and control thereof. We will need to do some serious planning on where the town is going."
Cotton, who manages a concrete business, is also a Pagosa Springs Sanitation District board member.
Stan Holt, a resident of Pagosa Springs since 1990, has been a member of the board of trustees for four years. He sees it as a way to give back to the community and enjoys working with the town staff.
"Pagosa's got its own character and a great lifestyle," he said. "I'd like to run again to ensure it stays that way. We're growing, but with planning I think we can have the best of both worlds. We can maintain our own identity and make room for the new."
Holt said besides growth, following through on the sales tax issue, linked to "maintaining an uninterrupted revenue stream," and some upcoming capital improvements will be important issues.
"I'd just like to be around to see them happen," he said. Holt is retired.
Jerry Jackson is a local landlord, overseeing several rental properties in town. He has been a resident of the area for 20 years, raising five children here.
Growth and quality of life issues are his main concerns.
"I have a deep concern and love for Pagosa Springs," he said. "It's my home. I see where we're coming into a period of rapid growth. I have some concerns with maintaining a small town atmosphere."
Wrapped up in that is his key issue - quality of life. Today, Pagosa Springs is friendly, safe and remote, attributes that are drawing people, he said, giving credit to the work the mayor, board and town staff have done up to this point. It's those same characteristics he wants to maintain for the future.
"I think we're at a point where we can call the shots, especially when it comes to franchise businesses," he said. Jackson added that continued support of the police department is another key to maintaining the small-town atmosphere.
He said his experience and skills relevant to the job include a masters degree in counseling and two decades of experience in the real estate business.
"I have a high degree of understanding of zoning and development and the purposes of zoning," he said. "Being a landlord for 10 years in the city limits has given me an idea of citizens that live within the town limits, their diversity."
Jackson was an original member of the WinterFest board. He is a former member of the Chamber of Commerce and a former member of the park and recreation board.
Judy James, a third-generation Pagosan, has been a member of the board of trustees for two years, appointed to fill a vacant seat. Her service follows the footsteps of her father, Paul Decker, who sat on a variety of local boards and helped organize the Red Ryder Roundup and Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Clinic board among other things. The Decker family crossed Wolf Creek Pass into Pagosa Springs in 1920 when Paul was 5.
James said over the last two years on the board, the trustees have been involved in several projects she would like to see through to completion, including trails, walking paths, the Pagosa Springs Community Center and the park at the site of the old town hall. Continued growth, she said, is something that must be watched carefully.
"I want to be involved in the healthy growth of our area," she said. "I think we need planned development with healthy infrastructure. We're a resort area, one of the most beautiful places in Colorado, and I want to help keep it so that everyone can enjoy it for generations."
Along with that, she would like to continue to support downtown revitalization, compliment-ing business owners on the work done so far. James is also concerned with job availability and improving the median income currently resting at about $18,000.
"We need jobs so that people who bring up families in the area don't have to leave to find healthy jobs to make a living," she said.
James is on the boards of Casa de los Arcos, the Friends of Archuleta County History, a member of Beta Sigma Phi (a service organization), and a member of the League of Women Voters. She is a former member of the Upper San Juan Planning Commission, has experience working with three family businesses and owning her own business. Currently, James is the office coordinator for a local real estate company.
The squeeze is on for the state budget.
Friday we heard that revenues have dropped again by another $232 million. That means that the cumulative budget cuts for the fiscal year ending June 30 will total $800 million. Unfortunately, this round of cuts is expected to hurt some critical programs and the Joint Budget Committee members have some tough decisions ahead.
The continuous, drastic drop in state funds makes it increasingly unlikely that the governor's demand for a guaranteed $100 million in transportation funds will be granted. While transportation is a serious consideration for everyone, the decisions we've been making all along to find funding have been weighed against any programs that might suffer, should transportation gain special consideration - especially in a year where we just don't have the money to support this kind of demand. That's what happens if you build any inflexible elements into the state budget, because such a guarantee would restrict our ability to deal with slow economic times like these. Just imagine having $100 million less to work with when revenues drop like they did this year.
The transportation bill that the Democrats introduced last month was designed to offer a balanced solution to transportation funding that won't carve away at the general fund. It was presented this week alongside the governor's proposal in the Government, Veteran and Military Relations and Transportation Committee, of which I am a member. The dueling plans took six hours to consider, listening to testimony and debating the fine points. After laying over the governor's plan, the Democratic plan passed 5-1 with bipartisan support.
On a gloomy note, an historic agreement that would have continued the Southern Ute Air Quality Commission and avoided possible extended legal court battles was killed on a party-line 7-4 vote in House committee last week. The legislation would have included a requirement that one of the three gubernatorial appointees come from La Plata or Archuleta Counties and that at least one of those three be a resident on non-Indian property inside the Southern Ute reservation boundaries. Testimony from the Attorney General's office and the legislative legal services both indicated the legislation was required. However, committee chair, Representative Lauri Clapp, said she had been told that the legislation was not needed.
To say that I'm disappointed that the bill was killed is an understatement. It was a national model for other tribes and states, and we worked long and hard to ensure a local voice on the commission. By killing the bill, they've endangered the entire agreement and exposed the state to a prolonged court battle.
On the upside, my bill to assure consumers of quality organic products shot out of committee this week and is now on its way to Appropriations. The bill, which I sponsored in the Senate establishes a certification process for organic producers in Colorado, putting them in line with new federal organic standards. Colorado's organic producers would not have to seek expensive and time-consuming third party certification. Without the bill, Colorado organic producers wouldn't be able to market their products anywhere in the country after Oct. 21, 2002. We need this legislation to ensure that Colorado's organic producers aren't shut off from a $9.5 billion nationwide market. It will be debated on the Senate floor next week.
Another bill I'm carrying permits the Board of Veterans Affairs to award grants to veterans that defray the costs of attending the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The proposal received unanimous approval in the House this February. If it passes in committee next week, HB 1284 will also go to the Senate floor next week for consideration.
Congratulations to my neighbor Brice Lee who appeared in the Senate Agriculture Committee for his reappointment to the Colorado Water Quality Commission.
I was actually embarrassed this week by the actions taken in one of the committees I sit on. The committee was hearing a fairly contentious bill that had been heavily lobbied both by lobbyists and constituents alike. The bill was 92 pages in length and basically rewrote the portion of the law it addressed. How this bill was pushed through committee should be enlightening.
Committee work is the second step on the long trail a bill must endure. After the first reading (or introduction), a bill is assigned to a "committee of reference." Committee hearings are where the public can testify for or against a measure ("public" includes lobbyists) and the committee members can offer amendments in an attempt to make the bill better. Committee members can question witnesses to better understand the bill and to assess its potential impacts. Depending on the committee chair, testimony is sometimes limited to specific amounts of time being equally given to the proponents and opponents.
After the testimony portion, a bill is put on the table for amendment. One would expect a 92-page bill to warrant a significant amount of input by members. In most committees the process is open and, while sometimes very frustrating to the sponsor, amendment after amendment can be offered and voted on. That is until the chairperson weighs in!
After a few successful amendments were attached to this bill, the chairperson declared that conceptual (non-written) amendments would no longer be accepted. Since no one had been advised of the "written only" rule prior to the hearing and did not have time to get amendments written, the amendment portion was effectively closed. This chairperson gave a significantly passionate speech championing the bill (a "no no" according to the Chairman's Handbook) and commented that some people believe that bills should simply be voted "up or down," not fixed. While that may be the philosophy of this chairperson, it is certainly not the philosophy of the majority of the committee members. Several members expressed dismay at this sudden shift in procedure and obvious attempt at eliminating further amendments by the committee. This means that only second reading amendments may now be offered before all 65 House members. Incredibly, at least three different times members who wished to comment were completely ignored!
All too often citizen testimony and amendment phases have been stymied in this committee. I have observed times when 25 or 30 citizens have shown up to testify on a particular bill only to be told that each side of the issue would receive a limited amount of time for testimony. While that occurrence did not happen on this particular bill, it is all too frequently observed.
I admit that committee work can be brain numbing and exhausting. Some committees take citizen input very seriously, in fact most committees. Giving citizens their day in the legislature, especially when this is the only time they can have direct input in the process in the House, should be honored and revered by legislators and generally is. Some committees work into the late hours assuring citizen participation. This particular committee chairman constantly targets an artificial goal of 5 p.m., no matter how many bills or how controversial. Moreover, allowing members to offer amendments to bills is a major part of the process and, even though there is still the second reading, respect and fair play must be adhered to. Finally, when a chairman refuses to call on a fellow member of the legislature, for whatever reason, it begins to erode the statesmanship and sense of tradition that bind this body.
I have purposely left much detail out of this article. My intent is to demonstrate that the process can be significantly altered by committee chairmen. Fortunately, this is not the norm.
A happy, springtime sun continues to smile on Pagosa Country, dispensing a continuum of sparkling views and warm, fuzzy days for a flood of spring break skiers.
Today, the first full day of spring, the sun should continue to dominate the sky. All of that could begin to change late Saturday. By Sunday and Monday, temperatures should be colder, conditions breezy, and a chance for rain or snow showers moves in.
At least that's what Joe Ramey, a forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction, predicts.
Today's high temperature could be a balmy 57 degrees, the warmest day of 2002. Temperatures could continue to climb and could reach the low 60s tomorrow and Saturday. By late Saturday, a fast-moving low pressure system could come in from the Pacific bringing clouds and a chance for moisture Sunday and Monday. High temperatures could drop to the mid-40s.
About 0.25 inches of snow was measured Sunday at the official National Weather Service gauging station located at Stevens Field. Sunday's snowfall brings the March snowfall total to 2.75 inches. The long-time average snowfall in town for March is 16.8 inches.
Wolf Creek Ski Area is enjoying a late season of snowy abundance. During the last storm, 29 inches of snow fell at the resort, bringing the season total to 228 inches. At the summit the snow depth is 92 inches. Down the slopes at midway, the depth is 74 inches.
Meanwhile, a storm forecast for Pagosa Country last week failed to materialize. What happened?
"I was working during that time," said Ramey. "We were watching a fast-moving storm approach. When we make the forecast on Wednesday, the weather we are looking at is still in the central Pacific. We are using satellite images and reports from ships, but we don't have balloons to send into the atmosphere. The satellite's orbit matches the rotation of the earth, so it is always above the same point of the earth's surface. As that storm approached the West Coast, it began to split. Part of it went north, part of it went south, and the Four Corners was left mostly high and dry."
The satellite measures temperature, water content, and gives a visual image of cloud cover, according to Ramey.
High temperatures last week in Pagosa Springs ranged between 28 and 55 degrees with an average high of 43 degrees. Low temperatures ranged between 9 and 21 degrees with an average low of 14 degrees.
The Town of Pagosa Springs was awarded a $100,000 state energy impact grant this week for construction of a park at the old town hall site at 5th and Lewis streets.
Mayor Ross Aragon and town administrator Jay Harrington presented the project before a review board in Fort Morgan Friday. Plans for the site include a bell tower, greenspace, restrooms, seven parking spaces and a community bulletin board.
The town will contribute an additional $116,000 toward reconstruction of the site which is slated for completion by the end of the summer. Construction bids will be solicited as early as next month.
The Upper San Juan Regional Planning Commission has recommended approval for a 10-acre gravel mine with an asphalt batch plant located in the San Juan River flood plain about 8 miles northeast of Pagosa Springs along U.S. 160.
County commissioner approval must also be obtained before work on the pit can start. County approval or denial will take place at an as-yet-unscheduled public hearing.
The planning commission is an advisory board only. At the March 13 public hearing conducted by the commission at the Pagosa Lakes Community Center, approval was recommended for a conditional use permit applied for by Nielsons Skanska. The recommendation will be forwarded to the county commissioners.
Nielsons Skanska is applying for the permit which includes the gravel pit and an asphalt batch plant, both located on property owned by the Don Weber family. Gravel and asphalt from the operation will be used on Wolf Creek Pass highway construction from May through October of this year.
Two factors favoring the proposal seemed to weigh heavily in the eyes of commission members and the county planning staff.
The first factor is the temporary nature of the proposal. Nielsons proposed to get what it needs this year, then restore the site to its former condition and move on.
Second, trucks loaded with gravel and asphalt will move between the site and the Wolf Creek highway construction zone without passing through town. The proposed work plan estimates truck traffic of up to 30 trucks per hour entering and leaving the site. If other sites were chosen, the trucks would likely pass through town.
During time set aside for public comments, 13 people addressed the commission, seven against and six for the project.
Points brought up by the opposition included:
€ The assertion the site poses a threat to the availability and quality of water provided by the nearby San Juan River Village water system
€ The claim the operation could present a noise, smell and dust hazard to residents of the area
€ The fear that heavy truck traffic entering and leaving the site could create a traffic hazard on a busy U.S. 160
€ That the site will be visible from the highway and does not measure up to standards described in the county approved Community Plan that relate to esthetics, conservation, and wildlife protection
€ That, because the project is classified as heavy industry, it is not appropriate for the neighborhood. It was claimed it constitutes "leap frogging," in that heavy industry exists at the Weber batch plant, then would jump the residential San Juan River village subdivision before establishing more heavy industry at the proposed new gravel pit
€ The idea the site has potential for contaminating the San Juan River.
As justification for recommending approval, county planning staff wrote: "We do not agree that this would be a suitable location for a gravel pit as a permanent use. However, since this is a temporary gravel pit, planning staff would make an exception for this site, particularly since the site is east of nearly all of the population in the county and truck traffic will be traveling up and back to Wolf Creek Pass. Most other sites in the county would have even more conflicts with traffic, and it is also likely that they would be located along some watercourse, where the potential for similar problems also exists."
The staff report continued: "We want to emphasize the importance of keeping this gravel pit to a temporary use. This site is not appropriate for a long-term gravel pit or any other industrial use. Any desires by the applicant or owner to operate this pit beyond this year will be required to reapply for a new county permit. A renewal of this permit would be discouraged by the planning department and would likely be recommended for denial."
The applicant intends to excavate gravel, crush it on site, and haul the crushed gravel to the Wolf Creek project. About 30 round trips per hour are estimated during the course of the summer. Work activities are scheduled five days a week, seven to 10 hours a day.
The asphalt plant will produce hot bituminous pavement at the site. Approximately 70,000 gallons of water will be used for crushing and dust control. The water will come from groundwater exposed during the excavation.
Excavation is expected to reach a depth of 20 feet across a five-acre area. The excavation should produce 100 acre feet, or 36 million cubic feet, of gravel, topsoil and clay. Of this amount, 70,000 tons will be gravel.
Because the depth of the mine will expose groundwater in the flood plain, the applicants must also have a well permit issued by a state engineer attached to the Colorado Department of Water Resources. A detached watering trench will be maintained around the perimeter of the gravel pit. The trench will drain into a settling and discharge pond. A silt fence and straw bales will be installed at runoff locations until the site is restored to range land.
Stockpiles of topsoil and overburden will be salvaged and retained on site for the reclamation process. The applicant will fill the open pit with overburden and topsoil, then reseed with a mixture of seeds. The Webers have asked that a pond be created as part of the reclamation process.
Variances recommended for approval include allowing one instead of two access roads connecting with U.S. 160; elimination of a paving requirement for on-site roads and parking; limiting the permit period to 2002; asking that all state and Army Corps of Engineer permits be issued before work starts; requiring a letter of map revision be submitted for updating Archuleta County and Federal Emergency Management Administration flood plain records.
The site is located in a flood plain, but not a flood way. A flood plain is subject to annual flooding, a flood way is subject to 100-year floods.
Except for rewriting county land use regulations, writing new oil and gas drilling regulations, writing land classification regulations, planning on how to implement the Archuleta County Community Plan, dealing with eight major subdivisions and a number of minor subdivisions and other developments, the four-member Archuleta County Planning Department staff has little to do.
On the top burner these days are proposed changes to county land use regulations. Just slightly behind are newly written regulations governing issuance of oil and gas development permits.
The proposed changes in the county's land use regulations were approved by the Upper San Juan Regional Planning Commission Jan. 23. The process remaining before final adoption includes a public hearing followed by approval, disapproval, or make-some-changes recommendations from the county commissioners.
According to information released by the planning department, the proposed changes in the land use regulations include:
€ Allowing builders more flexibility to develop on slopes between 20 and 30 percent
€ Streamlining the sketch plan review process. Basically, the sketch plan is being replaced by a beginning conference between staff and the builders. Following the conference, staff will route the proposal as they see fit
€ Reduced and standardized public notice requirements in the newspaper. All conditional use permit newspaper notices will be placed six days before the meeting. As much as 20 days before a meeting, notices will be placed on the site being considered
€ Increased filing time allowed prior to review of items by the planning commission, allowing for a better review because planning staff will have more time to react to responses from concerned entities
€ Exercise of more flexibility determining whether paving, sidewalks, or secondary accesses are needed without requiring variances
€ Simplification of improvements agreement language under the conditional use permit code
€ Reduction of the area designated to receive sidewalk escrow funds from a 5-mile to a 3-mile radius
€ General reformatting throughout the code with the object of increasing language consistency
€ Minor language changes to provide greater clarification of the regulations.
The proposed oil and gas regulations will divide permitting for those functions into minor and major classifications. The determination on whether to follow the major or minor route will be made by staff during a preliminary conference between staff and the applicant.
Down the road are a series of meetings to develop approaches for implementing the Community Plan, including land-use zoning.
A builder and real estate developer who focuses on properties in the Pagosa Lakes communities pleaded with the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association directors Thursday for rules modification in presentations to the Environmental Control Committee.
Tim Fasenmeyer told the board he has two projects under construction and another pending before the committee now.
His contention is that ECC's demand for an Improvement Location Certificate for each tract developed is unnecessary because the plats filed for each project provide all the necessary data in advance.
"My suggestion," he told the board, "is that you modify the rules under which ECC is operating to allow plats in lieu of the location certificate. Originally," he said, "plats were not required. The location certificate served the purpose. But that was when there was mostly single-family home construction. A plat is not negotiable with the county, where it must be filed."
In answer to a question by director Gerald Smith, Fasenmeyer told the board the plats clearly designate setbacks and building locations on the site. "What they don't give," he said, "is the exact footage of overlaps on setbacks or lot line restrictions."
The current project before ECC, he said, proposes six buildings and the plat already on file shows everything ECC needs "but they still demand an ILC because, they say, a rule is a rule."
Several board members agreed that construction of multi-unit buildings and multiple structures in a single development is more complex that the ILC for a single-family home.
Fasenmeyer showed directors a plat of the working development and explained to them the staking processes necessary to establish a footprint for each of the multi-unit structures.
He agreed that any construction within three feet of a setback would be staked and marked for advance pouring so inspectors can see exactly where variable shaped structures will be located on the site.
Directors Jerry Medford and Ken Bailey each lauded Fasenmeyer for coming to the board.
"Your proposal to ECC and the expertise you presented was excellent," said Medford, the PLPOA board liaison to the control committee. "I think its good that builders like yourself will come here to the board to give your input. We can improve our services and you can help us make this association better."
Bailey seconded those thoughts, saying he appreciated Fasenmeyer taking the time to express his concerns and he asked the builder to rate his experiences with the committee.
Fasenmeyer said it is his belief there is a breakdown in communication between PLPOA staff and the members of the committee. "This project and others I know of got good reception from staff, but were met with opposition by the committee. In effect, we were told 'A rule's a rule, tough luck.'"
Former director Fred Ebeling, speaking from the audience, said, "He (Fasenmeyer) has a very valid point. ECC should give him a variance in lieu of an ILC, but it should not do away with the ILC for single-family home siting. Sometimes, it seems, ECC overreacts to rules."
The suit charging Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association had oversight and was negligent in conjunction with repairs by Archuleta County on North Pagosa Boulevard, has been dismissed in 6th District Court as a "suit without standing."
Glenn Bergmann, who filed that suit and a companion action against the county, was directed in the court order signed Feb. 8, to pay the legal fees accrued by the association in defending itself.
The PLPOA board of directors learned last week that those fees totaled nearly $5,000.
Director Richard Manley, board chairman, said the association legal counsel and insurance agency have negotiated a deal with Bergmann which will keep him from having to pay and will result in no cost to the association for its defense. He said the insurance company will pay the attorneys from the deductible account and the law firm has agreed to then return the money to the association.
In the meantime, the attorneys have told Bergmann that if he will agree to cease and desist in "frivolous actions against the association" he will not be required to pay the fees as the court ordered.
"The attorney has given me a release waiving the right to go to court to get the ordered payment from Mr. Bergmann," Manley said. "I want a motion from this board authorizing me to sign the release."
The motion was made by director Tom Cruse and approved unanimously by the board.
Afterward, Manley noted, "When I came on board there were eight suits pending against the association in the courts. Now, we have none."
Bergmann's original suit had charged that faulty repair work on North Pagosa Boulevard necessitated reconstruction that cost the property owners funds which could rightly have been used for other road work in the community.
The nation's 1,200-plus land trusts - nonprofit organizations that are independent of government and work hand-in-hand with landowners who choose to conserve their lands - offer a variety of ways a landowner can protect open space lands and perhaps shave the tax bill.
For instance, land can be donated to a nonprofit land trust, donated to a conservation easement, which permanently limits the type and scope of development, or sold to a land trust in a "bargain sale" for below fair-market price.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, for most gifts of appreciated land or conservation easements, a taxpayer can deduct up to 30 percent of adjusted gross income in the year of the donation. If the value of the gift exceeds that deduction the taxpayer can carry forward the balance for up to five additional years. For example, if a landowner has an adjusted gross income of $50,000 and makes a gift of a conservation easement worth $80,000, the deduction in the first year would be $15,000. The balance can then be carried forward for each of five years until the landowner has deducted the full $80,000 value of the gift.
Because development pressures in most parts of the country dramatically increased property values during the past 20 years, many people are forced to sell lands that have been in the family for generations in order to pay estate taxes. Consider the Triple Bar Ranch, a fictional working ranch, but a true-to-life financial example. The family patriarch bought the ranch in the 1960s when land was far less expensive. Today, it is worth $1,250,000. The landowner is a widow, and the ranch comprises nearly her whole estate. She and her husband accumulated just $250,000 in other assets. Therefore, her total estate is worth $1.5 million. In nearly every state, the combined state and federal estate taxes would be around $200,000 - more than the surviving landowner children could afford to pay, even though they want to see the ranch remain as open space.
The solution may be the voluntary donation of a conservation easement, which legally limits the amount and type of development that can take place on land. An easement can be tailored to a landowner's desires. The easement may, for example, permit construction of just two more large-lot homes but protect the land from construction of a subdivision. As a result, the landowner may reduce the land's market value to $750,000, down from its current $1,250,000 value. Her estate, including $250,000 in other assets, would then be worth $1 million, and no estate taxes would be due.
The nation's private, nonprofit land trusts have been tremendously successful at land protection. Grassroots land trusts comprised more than 6.2 million acres by the end of 2001. Of that, approximately 2.6 million acres has been protected by conservation easements, according to the Land Trust Alliance. The amount of acreage protected by conservation easements increased more than fivefold since 1990.
If you would like to know more about conservation easements, the Southwest Land Alliance located in Pagosa Springs offers two brochures for landowners, "Protecting Your Land with a Conservation Easement" and "Conservation Options for Private Landowners." Individuals can get these by sending a self-addressed, stamped business envelope with their request to the Southwest Land Alliance, P.O. Box 3417, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife is pulling in big bucks for buck deer and other big game through its license raffle and auction program.
Each year, the Division works with nonprofit and conservation groups to auction and raffle off licenses for deer, elk, moose, antelope, mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Proceeds go to big game education, research and habitat improvement projects.
"We typically don't have a lot of money to spend on big game species within the Division. There are lots of other programs competing for resources," said John Ellenberger, the Division's big game coordinator. "The auctions and raffles provide another source of income. It's a real benefit for the Division."
Last year, auctions and raffles raised nearly $500,000 for big game projects, of which the Division received about $195,000. Proceeds are split between the Division and auctioning parties at different rates depending on the species. For sheep, goats and moose, the Division gets 90 percent of the profits, while the auctioning organization receives 10 percent. For deer, elk and antelope, the Division receives 20 percent and the auctioning organization gets 80 percent.
The special licenses were made available through legislative actions in 1989, 1995 and 2001. Licenses for sheep and goats were the first to be made available in 1989, followed by moose in 1995. The Division sets aside two licenses for each species - one for auction and one for raffle. Last year, legislation was passed to add deer, elk and antelope licenses to the list. For those species, the Division sets aside four licenses apiece - two for auction and two for raffle.
Raffles and auctions are conducted by nonprofit and conservation groups such as the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society, the Mule Deer Foundation, the Colorado Wildlife Federation and the Colorado Bowhunters Association. Raffles and auctions are open to Colorado residents and nonresidents. In 1999, a Wisconsin resident set the record for the highest amount paid for a bighorn sheep license at $93,000.
Ellenberger said people are willing to pay a high price for the licenses because they are subject to less stringent hunting regulations. The licenses allow hunting in all units open for big game, and permit hunting beyond the normal season - usually two to three weeks past the regular close date. There are also no restrictions on methods of take for deer, elk or antelope.
For those unable to pay thousands of dollars for a license, raffles allow a more equitable financial playing field. Raffle tickets generally sell for between $20 and $25.
"We are not just pandering to wealthy sportsmen, but also giving John and Jane Doe an opportunity to win a license," Ellenberger said. "Raffles and auctions provide a balance of opportunity."
The 2002 raffle and auctions are under way. For event times and locations, visit the Division Web site: http://wildlife.state.co.us/hunt/raffleauction.asp.
A regulation requiring residents and businesses to remove trash and other bear attractants was unanimously approved March 14 by the Colorado Wildlife Commission.
The regulation, requested by Division of Wildlife field officers, is an added tool the agency can use in its ongoing effort to reduce human-bear encounters. The regulation carries a $68 fine for each violation.
The commission adopted the regulation on an emergency basis last September because field officers were unable to convince some people to stop leaving trash, food and other bear attractants lying about their homes and businesses. Thursday's action made the regulation permanent. It becomes effective May 1. The intentional feeding of big game is already illegal.
Kathi Green, the Division's regulation manager, told the commission that human-bear encounters have been steadily increasing as the state's human population has grown.
"The number of human-bear conflicts is staggering in any year when catastrophic weather-related failures of natural foods occurs," Green said.
In 2000, drought conditions and a late spring freeze devastated the oak brush that produces acorns, bushes that produce chokecherries and other fruit that bears typically depend on over a portion of the Western Slope and the northern Front Range. In 2001, the southern Front Range experienced similar conditions, resulting in the largest number of human-bear encounters in at least a quarter-century in the area between Colorado Springs and the New Mexico border.
Six people suffered minor injuries when bears were attracted to their campsites by food and trash.
Division officers will first advise people to remove any food and trash that is attracting bears. If someone refuses to comply, the officer may issue a ticket for illegally feeding or attracting wildlife.
In other action, the commission added the monk parakeet, an exotic species that has spread over the United States in the past 40 years, to the state's prohibited species list, which bars possession or sale of listed species.
The parakeets have been sold through the pet trade and some of the birds have been released intentionally. Free-flying parakeets may threaten native wildlife populations and habitats by competing for food and nesting sites.
Monk parakeets were found in Colorado Springs last year. The birds nest on top of power transformers, which may help heat the nests and make it possible for them to survive the winter.
The Division was also asked to complete a plan that would allow for the killing of coyotes to reduce predation on endangered black footed ferrets that were released into Colorado last fall. The Division asked for the authority in the event that it becomes necessary to temporarily reduce the coyote population in a small area to protect the ferrets, one of North America's rarest species.
The Commission also considered how to regulate the live take of peregrine falcons from the wild for sport use in falconry after approving a proposal from falconers in January. The Commission agreed to discuss the fee charged to falconers who take the birds with sport and with birding groups such as the Colorado Hawking Club, although legislative action will be required in order for any change to take place. The fee is currently set at $20 per bird.
Four eyas (young nestlings) or recently fledged peregrine falcons can now be taken per year for two years (2002 and 2003) as allowed by federal guidelines. Peregrines were removed from Colorado's endangered species list in May 1998.
As snow melts in the early spring, black bears begin to leave their winter dens. Until hoped-for spring rains appear, nobody knows whether natural foods will be abundant. Last year's late frost and dry spring created patches of natural crop failure that brought many black bears into towns and communities in search of food.
For the first few weeks following hibernation, black bears will drink lots of water, helping their digestive systems to adjust. Once they are ready to eat again, they become relentless in their search for food. Bears are generally shy and usually avoid humans, but their need for food and sense of smell often draws them to human residences, where they may find bird feeders, barbecue grills and trash.
Many people do not realize that by simply altering their behavior they can minimize the chance of unwanted close encounters with bears. Right now, before bears become active in the spring, is the best time to walk your property and remove any bear attractants from sight and smell.
"Bear-proof" your property by removing any of the attractions the bear might consider potential food sources.
Take down, clean and put away bird feeders. Bear damage to bird feeders is a common complaint. Once a bear has found a feeder in your yard, it will likely look around for other easy foods within reach.
Keep garbage in airtight containers inside your garage or storage area. Clean trash cans with ammonia or bleach occasionally to reduce odors that attract bears.
Place garbage for pickup outside just before collection and not the night before.
Do not place meat or sweet food scraps in a compost pile.
Do not leave pet food or dishes outdoors at night.
Clean up and store outdoor grills after use. Sticky barbecue sauce and grease can attract bears to your yard.
Use a bear-proof Dumpster - if not available, ask your trash-removal company for options.
Never intentionally feed bears to attract them to your yard for viewing.
It's illegal to feed bears in Colorado - in addition to being bad for the bear, you can be ticketed and fined.
Some of these things may seem insignificant, but they can create behavior patterns in bears which often cannot be reversed. If there was bear activity in your neighborhood last year, you'll need to be extra careful this year, as bears will return to the same locations where they have been successful finding food in the past.
If the home or business owner does not take action to remove the bear attractants (anything that smells like potential food), it is only a matter of time before the original bear will return or another bear is attracted to their property. If you have seen a bear regularly near your property, assess the situation by discovering what is attracting the bear and taking steps to remove the attractant.
Remember, "A fed bear is a dead bear." By making food available to a bear, even a single time, we train it to associate humans with food. Once a bear learns this association, it can become a nuisance and often must be killed. Colorado's black bears receive an ear tag and markings following the first serious nuisance encounter. According to state policy, a second serious encounter, or "second strike," means the bear will be killed. Help Colorado's black bears share our habitat by keeping your property clear of bear attractants. In this situation, an ounce of prevention is truly worth 200 pounds of cure.
If you have any questions, comments,
suggestions or letters to the editor email us at:
It is time for the citizens of Archuleta County to take an active role in our democracy. Too many believe our civic duties end once we drop our ballots at the election booth. But to be true citizens, working to protect and safeguard our democracy and strengthen the communities we live in, we must be consistently engaged.
Citizens' Voice is coming to Archuleta County to help us do just this. The Archuleta Citizens Forum, Colorado Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of Colorado, the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, the Interfaith Alliance, the Colorado Environmental Coalition and the American Friends Service Committee are hosting a free two-hour activist training workshop March 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Pagosa Lakes Community Center. This is a fantastic opportunity to build our skills to be active and effective community members. Citizens' Voice provides access to valuable tools and resources, including a Menu of Five Model Reform Ordinances and access to professional nonprofit activists and legal support. The model ordinances address issues that are important to our community: government ethics, campaign finance reform and growth and development.
This is the time to come together and demonstrate that we care about our community and our civic role in it. I encourage everyone to bring friends, family and neighbors to participate in this workshop. Together we can truly move forward and ensure a strong and healthy future for our community.
It is certainly regrettable that Mr. Cruse has become so consumed by his vendetta against two special districts that he takes the liberty of attacking any special district which brings a financial issue to the voters. The $2.8 million bond issue which the Pagosa Fire Protection District has placed on the May 7 ballot, is the product of more than a year of exhaustive study by the board of directors and staff.
District policy has protected the ever-growing existing district from tax increases throughout a 13-year period of unparalleled expansion which has increased the district's coverage area nearly eightfold. Each of the four major inclusions has been required to acquire land, construct a station, staff it with fire trucks and new local volunteers, and provide an adequate tax base to support operations.
Such a policy has been successful because of the untiring efforts of community volunteers desiring to bring fire protection to their homes. Their efforts have added more than $470,000 in assets to the district. The effectiveness of this self-help policy is indicated by the fact the district mill levy for 1993 tax collections was 4.684, while today it has dropped to 4.067 mills.
President Bush has asked that each American donate 4,000 hours of volunteer service during his/her lifetime. The contributions of the men and women of the fire district who provide unpaid "24-7" protection of life and safety for the Pagosa community will often surpass that in a typical 20-year service. In 2000, district volunteers donated a record 8,153 hours of service. Can its value be estimated?
Finances of the Pagosa Fire Protection District have been carefully planned, documented, and supervised and are available for public examination. Auditors have been consistent in praise of the process. However, despite the fact that planning permits wise use of available resources, it does not add money to the coffers for needs. Some of these needs are centered about replacement and enhancement of facilities and used fire vehicles. Other requisites have been produced by technological advances and changes in building practices.
No longer does a fireman pull a bandanna across his face and charge into a burning one-story wooden house furnished with cotton curtains. Now he dons a special breathing apparatus and enters a space filled with hazardous gasses produced by the combustion of synthetic substances. He may well have to utilize a roof attack on a building 30-40 feet tall in Pagosa Springs. He may have to combat a fire in one of the new hybrid gas-electric autos - these require a special fire-suppression apparatus. Can we afford not to provide our volunteers with the best in equipment and training to master these challenges?
The district's needs for the next 10 years have been reduced to necessities in preparing for the May 7 bond issue. Full details are available in a six-page White Paper. District service remains Pagosa's greatest bargain.
Gravel pit growth
It'll take a very high IQ to understand the following, but so what?
Some people think we should have unrestrained one-way growth at all costs, but not to them. A branch of the industry they're promoting is strip-mining cheap and easy gravel out of the whole San Juan Basin river bottom and adjacent meadows. An infinite number of useless, shallow gravel pit lakes that can't support fish have been made. Instead of three feet deep, these should have been more like 30 feet deep.
Actually, as a matter of planning, there should be designated sites for real quarries where they could be big enough and deep enough for multiple uses as well as for domestic water. Four off-river sites could be mined for 20 years without ruining areas that should be left untouched.
As for the reality of the next gravel operation that has started to take place there should be a $1 trillion environmental restoration bond on the project before it goes any farther and then we'll see if gravel is still cheap enough to warrant the further devaluation and trashing of our county. There should be before and after pictures for documentation.
As for Nielson's needing gravel for work on Wolf Creek, let them get rock from on-site where there is plenty of it and turn it into crushed gravel as all gravel should be. It holds together better than round gravel, anyway.
Dumb growth, which is what we have now, is not paying its way because it is doing as much bad work as possible while at the same time using cheap resources and of course, non-career labor. This leaves us a future of having to fix today's as well as yesterday's intentionally caused problems at tomorrow's prices with less resources and a lot more work.
We will have nothing left of the original intrinsic value of this county. We will also have no progressive industry either. It's cheaper and easier to trash the place than do anything positive. It's almost as if the people have a vendetta against the environment of this county. They want us to be environmentally and financially disabled, or both.
Since round gravel is unsuitable, the shortsighted politicians could actually put a ban on it as the first step in the right direction.
I wonder what else could be considered cheap and easy and, therefore, that's how it's treated.
In January, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service announced that the coal-bed methane industry (BP, Elmridge, Petrox to begin with) wanted to drill 297 wells, construct a number of compressor plants, and build over 100 miles of road in the HD Mountains.
The HDs are a lower elevation area of the San Juan National forest that straddles the La Plata-Archuleta county line. The HDs are used by grazers, hunters, hikers, horse riders, small loggers, fire wood gatherers, birders and accommodate a small amount of coal-bed methane drilling. They have also maintained their wildness sufficiently to harbor an incredible amount of wildlife, including several endangered species and stands of old growth ponderosa pine.
With the advance of the Environmental Impact Statement, citizens have become involved, questioning the wisdom of a sprawling industrial complex in this wild area. As people talk with employees of the BLM and the Forest Service they are increasingly amazed and frustrated as they hear over and over, "It's a done deal. It will take an act of Congress to change this."
They also hear, "Companies have paid for these leases - sure, a number have 'no occupancy' stipulations, but we'll have to change that."
A number of experts in the National Environmental Policy Act process have been consulted and "a done deal" simply is not true. This type of misinformation serves only the interests of the drilling companies. We deserve federal agencies that are objective and scientific in their studies.
All wet, or not
I think conservatives and liberals alike have reason to thank Rev. Donald A. Ford for his Shepherd's Staff article in the March 14 SUN titled "God's Umbrella has shelter for all."
As a believer in the need to conserve a sense of the sacred in an environment of expanding global savagery, and a liberal in how we express what is sacred to us, I have a question for other local pastors: Am I all wet?
Michael J. Greene
Oil and gas again
It was with some amusement, and an equal amount of anger, that I read Bob Dungan's letter last week. Dungan was offered " a few hundred bucks" to allow the oil and gas company to rape his private property.
This is the proposal I received last year from a representative of Mark West Resources (owner of the gas well on my property):
"Grants Mark West the right to drill, complete, operate, maintain and/or abandon an oil and gas well on the surface of the subject lands. That for and in consideration of the sum of Ten and more dollars ... , do hereby release Mark West and its successors, agents and employers from any and all claims for damages to the surface of the lands resulting directly or indirectly from the drilling, completion, operation, maintenance and/or abandonment of Tiffany #17-2 well."
And the next paragraph releases Mark West from any and all claims for damages for loss of growing crops.
Does Bob Dungan's proposal from his company or the proposal from Mark West tell you something about the oil and gas industry?
This letter is to the person/persons who stole a whole case of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies from me. What do I say to all the people who ordered them? I am responsible to pay for them. I am only 10 years old and don't have a job. How do I pay for them? I hope you don't enjoy them.
Ann and I attended the final performance of "Sleeping Beauty" last Saturday - an impressive evening in the theater.
But someone needs to say that there might be no Pagosa Pretenders today had it not been for the vision, talent and dedication of the founders of the group some years ago - Bill Hudson and Addie Greer.
Dick Van Fossen
What does the flag of these United States of America mean to you? From the reaction of those at the parade last Friday, the flag does not command respect. Many failed to acknowledge the flag as it passed them. What did you do?
Your freedoms were hard fought for and still are being protected today. The events of Sept. 11 did not happen in Pagosa but it happened inside America! That flag has been pushed up from ruins and wars many times. You should at least show respect for it and all that has been sacrificed for your freedoms you take for granted.
As my husband stood with his hat removed in respect, we covered our hearts. Across the street were the three parade judges: two county commissioners and the new county manager. These three men did not acknowledge the stars and stripes in any fashion at all. Not only have they come to disregard public opinion, rules of order and conduct, common sense and the advice of the county attorney, but now the flag?
Very proud wife and mother
of war veterans,
Couple a nine-hit, 14-run outburst in the first two innings with mid-season form on the mound from Darin Lister, just two weeks removed from basketball competition, and you have the story of Saturday's Pagosa victory over Bloomfield on the latter's home field.
Lister, performing with elan on the hill, toed the slab already backed by a 7-0 lead, and proceeded to do his job masterfully, fanning each of the first three Bloomfield batters.
His support had come on four hits, five wild pitches by Bloomfield starter Shawn Mascarenas, a passed ball and two infield errors.
Shortstop Ross Wagle got the Pirate attack underway with a single and was wild-pitched to second and third. After Lister struck out, Wagle scored on the third errant pitch by Mascarenas. First baseman Ronnie Janowsky worked Mascarenas for a walk and raced to third as the third sacker misplayed Lawren Lopez' ball drilled right at him.
With runners on first and third, David Kern singled to right scoring Janowsky, with Lopez holding at second. After Justin Caler drew a walk, Chris Young fanned and Pagosa had runners on first and second with two out. Center fielder Jarett Frank responded with a single to center and two runs batted in.
Then came the only extra-base hit of the game.
Catcher Marcus Rivas lifted a fly ball to short left that got caught in the strong wind. The shortstop racing out had the ball go just off the tip of his glove and it took a weird bounce past the left fielder, rolling to the fence.
Rivas raced all the way to third with a triple and two runs batted in. He scored the seventh run of the first inning when the shortstop overthrew first on Wagle's ground ball and Pagosa was on top for good.
After Lister's brilliance in the bottom of the inning, the Pirates went right back to work in the second as Janowsky, Lopez and Kern all singled, Kern getting the RBI. At that point, Mascarenas was replaced on the hill by third baseman Colter Candelaria. His first pitch was a ground ball right back to him that he was unable to field. Young struck out and was ejected from the game for throwing his helmet, but Frank was hit by a pitch (the first of two such incidents) and Rivas singled to right for two more RBIs, his third and fourth of the game.
Then Wagle singled and Lister reached on a fielder's choice. Janowsky walked and on the next pitch, Lister scored on a wild pitch. After Lopez walked, Kern ended the inning with a strikeout.
Pagosa's only error of the contest came at the start of Bloomfield's half of the second inning when Lopez mishandled first baseman Jeff Howe's grounder. Howe was out pitcher to short on a fielder's choice, then Lister fanned Mascarenas and second baseman Nick Weyrauch to end the inning.
It was, at that point, all over but the celebration.
After Caler struck out to open the third for Pagosa, Robert Kern, batting for Young, grounded to second. Frank was hit by a pitch again (and warned by the umpire as he stared menacingly at the mound), Rivas struck out.
Bloomfield's only hit of the game, a bleeder through the right side with two out in the third inning by center fielder Zack Dragitch, was quickly nullified by Lister who fanned left fielder Nate Ewing to end the threat.
Wagle fanned to open the Pagosa fourth and Lister popped to short. Consecutive errors by Mascarenas on ground balls by Janowsky and Lopez left Pagosa runners on second and third but Kern fanned to end the uprising.
Bloomfield's fourth was a popup to short, another strikeout by Lister and a ground ball out to second base.
As the wind increased and skies darkened, the Pirates got only one more baserunner, Danny Lyon, hit by a pitch in the same spot in the batting order where Frank was hit twice, but he was left on first when Dustin Spencer grounded out.
The bottom of the fifth, and the end of the game by the mercy rule, featured two more strikeouts by Lister, his only walk of the game, and a fielders' choice out.
For the contest, coach Tony Scarpa's Pagosa squad had 14 runs on nine hits, all coming in the first two innings. Lister fanned 10 and allowed just one hit in his mound performance. Rivas had four runs batted in, Frank a pair and Kern 1.
The Pirates are scheduled for another non-league contest at 11 a.m. Saturday in Salida.
We may never know exactly what coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason said to his Lady Pirates soccer team at halftime Tuesday, but whatever it was should be bottled and sold to coaches worldwide.
The Pagosa team, after playing to a scoreless halftime tie against the Bayfield Lady Wolverines, came out like a team possessed in the second half, with relentless pressure on both offense and defense.
The result was a 4-0 whitewash for the Pagosans and the first career shutout for sophomore Pirate keeper Sierra Fleenor.
The contest was a slow developing affair, with each team seeming to be searching for opponent weaknesses at the start. Bayfield actually had the first shot on goal six minutes into the game when Lacy Beck's drive went wide right.
Pagosa's first chance came a minute and a half later when sophomore Melissa Diller's left footer from 20 yards was snared by Wolverine keeper Danielle Roberts. Just 30 seconds later, Pirate freshman wing Bri Scott was stopped twice by Roberts, the first time on a breakaway and the second on a shot off a drop pass from junior striker Meagan Hilsabeck.
At 11:09, senior midfielder Carlena Lungstrum's boomer from 30 yards was fumbled but gathered up by Roberts and the scoreless tie continued.
At 16:02, Hilsabeck's left footer on a crossover move from the right side was grabbed by Roberts and then Fleenor came up with three consecutive saves of Bayfield shots.
The 27th minute was a sign of things to come for Pagosa. A swarming offense kept pressure on Roberts, beginning with Charlotte Sousa's blast from head-on and then consecutive blocks of two shots by left wing Tricia Lucero.
Beck got into the act for Bayfield with a drive that was wide right and Fleenor made three more saves for Pagosa as the half wound down on stops by Roberts of shots by Hilsabeck and Diller.
Then came the break and the charge by Kurt-Mason to his troops.
It paid dividends immediately.
Hilsabeck broke from the pack with a double crossover move that left her a passing path to Scott on right wing. As she left-footed the ball outside, Diller moved in behind her and took Scott's crossing pass right off her right foot and into the goal for a 1-0 Pagosa lead.
After a pair of stops by Fleenor and a save by Roberts on senior right winger Aubrey Volger's first legitimate goal chance of the season, Hilsabeck got Pagosa's second goal just short of the 8-minute mark in the half, drilling a drop pass from Scott past a sprawling Roberts.
At the 14-minute mark of the half, Fleenor got her toughest test of the game. Bayfield captured an errant outlet pass and had a 3-on-1 attack. Fleenor stopped the first shot by Beck but couldn't hold the ball. Then her defense came to her aid with Sara Aupperle stopping one shot before it got to Fleenor and Cassie Pfeiffle blocking another, then kicking the rebound out of trouble.
After Fleenor made a great stop on Danielle Salka at the 21-minute mark, Volger had a breakaway on the right wing, deking past one defender and outracing two others. Her shot just inside the right post was nabbed by Roberts. Just four minutes later, Scott's drive from the right side was almost a photo replay of the stop on Volger.
After two more saves by Fleenor, Pagosa got its third goal, this one a picture perfect score by Scott, her first varsity marker, on a pinpoint lead from Hilsabeck. Just outside the 27-minute mark, Pagosa got its fourth and final goal when the same two attackers combined again, this time with Hilsabeck getting her second goal of the game and third of the season on a reverse drop from Scott.
As the clock ran down, Pagosa was on the attack again, Lori Whitbred's blast stopped by Roberts, then Aupperle's shot with 10 seconds left bounding off the right post.
Pagosa is scheduled to play Telluride Friday on a neutral field in Cortez.
Shots on goal: P-21, B-14; Saves: P-Fleenor 14, B-Roberts 16; Goals: P-Hilsabeck 2, P-Scott 1, P-Diller 1; Assists: P-Hilsabeck 2, P-Scott 2.
A rapidly improving Pagosa Lady Pirates soccer team gave Class 4A Montezuma Cortez all they could handle before bowing 4-1 Saturday on the winners' home field.
It was, according to coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason, "a coach's feel-good performance. I saw lessons from the practice field worked to perfection under game pressures and more aggressiveness from our offense."
"We lost," he said, "but they knew they had been in a tough game with a team that works together."
For the first 20 minutes, despite the score, "we played as well as one could hope for," the coach said.
Sophomore midfielder Melissa Diller got her first varsity goal for the Lady Pirates on what Kurt-Mason described as "a picture perfect play."
"The pass from Kyrie Beye, which set up the goal, seemed to come from nowhere and Melissa was in the right spot, just as we had practiced. She ripped it in and the Cortez keeper didn't have a clue how she (Diller) got the ball," Kurt-Mason said.
The more the Lady Pirates play, he said, the more practice they get, "the more confidence they seem to have in themselves.
"I saw good combinations after just a week of practicing them," he added. "We did more passing, more accurately, than we've done all season."
Singled out for his praise, in addition to Diller, was the play of Charlotte Sousa. "I subbed her in at every position except keeper," he said, "and she not only knew what to do at each one, she did it well."
As usual, he said, Meagan Hilsabeck "played her heart out and I got great defensive performances from both Sara Aupperle and Sara Smith, who was injured during the week but wanted to play anyway. She showed the kind of gumption we need," he said.
And on both defense and offense, said Kurt-Mason, "we got all-out physical play from both Aubrey Volger and Tricia Lucero. They both showed me they're not afraid to get in the scrums and mix it up. More times than not, they came out of midfield struggles the winners."
Three others stood out in his summation of the game.
Lori Whitbred, he said, "is beginning to see the whole field, seeing where her teammates are, and understanding how to work them into the flow of the offense and Carlena Lungstrum was a key presence with her performance at midfield."
Finally, he said, "Sierra Fleenor, in goal, made some great saves. She showed improvement to both sides and her 17 saves for the game give her 34 in her first two varsity appearances in net."
The Lady Pirates will go on the road again Friday, playing Telluride for the second time in two weeks, this time on a neutral field in Cortez. The Telluride field is under at least two feet of snow, officials said.
After playing ninth ranked Telluride on fairly even terms for a half Friday, Pagosa's Lady Pirates' soccer team bowed to a second half power surge by the Lady Miners and dropped a Golden Peaks Stadium contest 8-1.
The score, however, makes the game sound much more one-sided than it actually was. The difference in the second half was a swarming Telluride attack combined with Pagosa's delayed transitions on defense.
Sophomore keeper Sierra Fleenor had 17 saves for Pagosa, the first coming just over a minute into the contest when she turned away a point-blank rip by Telluride's Sydney Melzer.
Less than three minutes later, Melzer was on the attack again, but this time her shot from the right corner sailed high over the cross bar.
At 4:48, Telluride got on the boards the first time when Shelly Hale crossed right to left and ripped an angle shot back to Fleenor's left for the first score of the game. A minute and 15 seconds later, Hale's missile up the middle was stopped by Fleenor.
With Pagosa's offense slow to get started, Fleenor stopped three more shots in the next four minutes before Carlena Lungstrum had the first actual shot on goal for the Pirates after intercepting a Miner outlet pass. Her looping shot from 30 yards curved wide left.
The Miners made it a 2-0 game at 18:48 when Caitlin Kirst scored on a corner kick from Fleenor's left, a kick against which she had no chance. Kirst's high lob was curved into the nets high in the back corner, a position Fleenor could not reach.
Just three minutes later, Pagosa striker Meagan Hilsabeck deked left with a lead pass from Cassie Pfeiffle, cut back to her right and dropped a crossing pass to Lori Whitbred racing up the middle. Her shot was stopped by Miners' keeper Catherine Arnold.
The Miners returned to the attack and just 31 seconds later, Melzer scored again on a breakaway right up the middle. The lead was at 3-0 but Pagosa was not done.
After three more saves by Fleenor, Hilsabeck was on the attack again when she was cut down by a Telluride defender and was awarded a penalty kick.
That produced the lone Pagosa score of the game. With the defense set up in front of the net, she faked a kick left, crossed to her right and sent the ball like a dart into the upper right corner at the 33 minute mark.
Pagosa had the first scoring attempt of the second half, a shot from the left side by Bri Scott on a crossing pass from Hilsabeck, that sailed just outside the right post.
Just inside the six-minute mark of the period, Melzer scored again, and again on a breakaway up the middle, to hike the lead to 4-1.
At the nine-minute mark, Fleenor was tested by a barrage of Miner shots, stopping four, the last two point-blank rips from inside eight yards, before Sarah Lamb tipped in a rebound to make the score 5-1.
Three minutes later, Fleenor stopped Melzer twice on yet another breakaway and a rebound drive.
Hale scored again at the 18-minute mark, Kirst added her second marker at 28 minutes, and Melzer closed out the scoring at the 30-minute mark to make the final score 8-1.
Three times in the final eight minutes, the Pirates attack was blunted by a stout Telluride defense, twice sending Hilsabeck sailing out of bounds on rolling blocks during an attack.
Coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason was far from disheartened by the Pagosa performance. "Our passing was much more crisp today than last weekend in Cortez ... there was just a world of difference."
But, he said, "we need to work on transition defense. These girls are just learning each others moves and abilities. We'll get better as the season goes along."
He had strong midfield performances from Pfeiffle, Chelsea Masanz and Melissa Diller, excellent wing play from Scott and Aubrey Volger, and strong performances at sweeper from Sara Aupperle and on midfield defense from Kyrie Beye.
Shots on goal: Telluride 25, Pagosa Springs 9; Saves: T-Arnold, 8; P-Fleenor, 17; Goals: T-Hale 2, Kirst 2, Melzer 3, S. Lamb 1; P-Hilsabeck 1.
The Pagosa Springs Pirates placed in four events to open the season Friday at the Aztec Relays, braving the cold and a long day. Coach Connie O'Donnell said races were still starting after 10 p.m., over two hours past the scheduled end of the meet.
However, the Pirates ran on, and the boys opened the season with one top-three finish and three fifth-place showings.
Sophomore Brandon Samples claimed third in the 800-meter run, finishing in 2 minutes 14 seconds. Teammate Aaron Hamilton, also a sophomore, took fifth with a time of 2:18 in the same race. Both times were personal bests.
"It's kind of nice to see them start off where they left off last year or better and build on that," O'Donnell said.
In the 1600-meter relay, the team of freshman Otis Rand, Samples, and juniors Clayton Mastin and Cliff Hockett posted a time of 4:07.89 to score fifth place. Sophomore Ryan Versaw, freshman Junior Turner, junior Todd Mees and junior Jeremy Buikema ran the 1600 medley relay and also came in fifth, recording a time of 4:27.54.
The girls' 1600-meter relay team with juniors Amanda McCain and Hannah Emanuel, freshman Marlena Lungstrum, and sophomore Amy Tautges finished fourth, crossing the line in 5:23.
O'Donnell said the relays were a good learning experience for the underclassmen. Some of the upperclassmen were unable to attend, choosing to head for the state basketball tournament. With spring break starting this week, the coach is expecting others might be gone from the Bobcat Relays Saturday in Bloomfield.
"I'm excited to get past the first couple of meets and see what people are really made of," she said.
St. Patrick's Parade winners revealed
We were delighted with the number of entries in this year's St. Pat's Parade and even more delighted with the unprecedented level of enthusiasm exhibited by all the participants. It was truly a joy to see all the children, dogs, cars and candidates all decked out in green and ready for a good time. We thank each and every one of you and hope you will join us again next year.
Congratulations to the winners of the big money for Best Float, the County Fair Royalty; to the Most Green entry, Seeds of Learning; and to the Most Bizarre entry, the clown with Pagosa Bar. These folks will all be able to go on extended vacations with the dough they won: $25, $15 and $10 respectively. Thankfully, this one is not about the money but all about fun.
Special thanks to our judges, county administrator Bill Steele, and commissioners Gene Crabtree and Alden Ecker. They were, as always, great sports, and this year in particular had their work cut out for them with the number of entries.
Speaking of good sports, police chief Don Volger, his officers and the Mounted Rangers all did their best, as they always do, to keep us all safe and sound throughout the parade. We are always so grateful to these men and women for all they do for the Chamber and this community. Just don't know what we would do without them.
Thanks to Will Spears and KWUF for providing the Celtic music for the parade and specifically to Will and Thomas for helping us decorate the truck. One of these fine days, I would love to have a marching band and Will could take the day off. Thanks, too, to our board president Mark DeVoti, Bonnie Masters and Angie Dahm for gracing our entry with their presence, and to Ben DeVoti and his two pals for their youthful contribution. A good time was had by all.
Wells Fargo Bank is observing 150 years in the business and invites you to help celebrate this auspicious occasion at an open house tonight, 5-7 p.m. Governor Bill Owens designated March 18 as Wells Fargo Day in an honorary proclamation signed March 8. Please join the gang at WF for refreshments and fun at the downtown branch located at 523 San Juan. It is noteworthy that only about a dozen Fortune 500 companies founded in or before 1852 are still in business and still using their original names. Wells Fargo is one of them. Wells Fargo was founded as a banking and express company March 18, 1852, on Wall Street in New York City. Its first office opened on the waterfront of Gold Rush San Francisco July 13, 1852, the site of the company's current headquarters. Please stop by to congratulate these folks on 150 years in the business.
Red Cross chapter
A meeting will be held tonight to discuss the creation of an Archuleta County Chapter of the American Red Cross, and you are invited to attend. If you are interested, please go to the EMS meeting room located on North Pagosa Boulevard at 5:30 p.m. Please call Donna Modarelli at 731-0398 for more information.
Philip Hansen concert
Next Thursday, March 28, Cellist Philip Hansen will once again appear on stage with his beautiful cello music at the high school auditorium at 7 p.m. This year, the charming, talented young man will be accompanied by pianist, Eleanor Elkins, a faculty member at Ft. Lewis College and recent performer at Merkin Hall in New York City. Please tune in to the March 27 Chamber "Good Morning, Pagosa" show on KWUF, 1400 AM, at 8 a.m. when Philip will be my guest and give us a preview of his performance. Hansen has been critically acclaimed around the country. He frequently performs live on Portland radio and is currently preparing for a tour in China.
Tickets are on sale at the Chamber of Commerce, WolfTracks Bookstore and Coffee, Moonlight Books and the Senior Center. Adult tickets are $10, and a special rate of $30 is being offered to families this year regardless of the number. All proceeds will benefit the Archuleta Senior Citizens, Inc.
The League of Women Voters will present a mayor and trustee candidate forum on Tuesday, March 26, from 6:30-8:30 at Town Hall. This is your opportunity to hear what the candidates have to say about all the current issues facing Pagosa Springs and the future. The town election will held April 2, so please plan to attend this important evening of questions and answers. For more information, call 264-6275.
It's time once again for the annual Dirk and Colt Ross Memorial Basketball Tournament to be held this year April 18, 19, 20 and 21. There will be three divisions: Open, 6 Feet and Under, and 35 and over. The fee is $175 per team with a 10-player maximum on each team. Prizes will be awarded to first, second, third and fourth place teams, the all-tournament team, tournament MVP, Mr. Defense, Mr. Hustle, Slam-Dunk Contest, 3-point shootout and door prizes aplenty. A $100 non-refundable deposit is payable by April 1 for the first 24 teams to enter. Proceeds from this event will go to a scholarship fund to benefit local youths of Pagosa and Ignacio. For more information, please contact Troy Ross at 264-5265.
In conjunction with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in June, Paula Bain is asking for a few good, sturdy wooden chairs to be donated for a silent auction to benefit the relay. These chairs will be "artist embellished" and presented as "The Chair Event" during the Relay for Life. If you have some wooden chairs to donate, please contact Paula at 731-1009.
Week of the Young Child
Amy Hill has announced the annual Kid's Fair, to be held April 20 in conjunction with the Week of the Young Child at Pagosa Springs Elementary School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is an opportunity for your business or organization to show support for the children in our community by providing a fun activity for them at your booth at the Fair. There will be several raffle drawings throughout the day, and raffle donations would be greatly appreciated. If you would like more information or a booth registration form, contact Amy at 731-9152 and leave a message.
The Archuleta County Fair is looking for volunteers to help out Aug. 1-4. Please contact Debra Zenz at 264-0393 or 946-5993 for more information. Volunteer registration forms are available at the Chamber of Commerce or the Extension Office at the fairgrounds.
Bag of clothing
Today, tomorrow and Saturday you can take advantage of the Methodist Thrift Store annual Winter to Spring Bag Sale. They need to make room for their spring and summer stock, so you are invited to fill a grocery brown paper bag with all the winter clothing it will hold and pay a whopping $2 for it. Such a deal. You will love yourself next fall when come upon the bags of clothes, I promise you.
Food for friends
There's still time to take your non-perishable food items to Curves for Women at 117 Navajo Trail Dr. or the Chamber of Commerce to make a difference in your community. The drive will take place through the month of March, and Curves welcomes your donations as do the families who could use a little help.
Four new members join us this week along with 21 (yikes) renewals. It's always such a pleasure to welcome so many folks at once, although, as you know, we are not proud here at the Chamber, and are thrilled to welcome one or one hundred.
Deanne Silverstein joins us first with Geephers doing business out of her home here in Pagosa. Deanne specializes in custom window treatments to include draperies, blinds, valances and even stained glass. She will be happy to answer your questions if you give her a call at 264-3377. We thank Suzanne Coe for recruiting Deanne and will send off a free SunDowner pass with our thanks.
Our next new member is an old friend who joins us with a business that's been around Pagosa for some time but has a new owner in Patrick Candelaria. Patrick joins us with Boot Hill Feed and Tack located at 495 A U.S. 84, not far from Patrick's other business, Pagosa Pet Parlor and Palace. Patrick can help you with ranch feed, tack, veterinary supplies, pet supplies, pet food, for recruiting Deanne and will send off a free SunDowner pass with our thanks.
Our next new member is an old friend who joins us with a business that's been around Pagosa for some time but has a new owner in Patrick Candelaria. Patrick joins us with Boot Hill Feed and Tack located at 495 A U.S. 84, not far from Patrick's other business, Pagosa Pet Parlor and Palace. Patrick can help you with ranch feed, tack, veterinary supplies, pet supplies, pet food, fencing materials, horse packing equipment and team roping supplies. Please give him a call at 264-2640 to learn more.
Suzanne Coe joins us next with Suzanne Coe, Garden Design, working out of her home. Suzanne has been designing and installing both residential and commercial gardens since 1985. She specializes in container plantings, cutting gardens, xeriscaping, native plants and kitchen and perennial gardens. We thank Peter Coe for recruiting Suzanne and will reward Peter with a free SunDowner pass.
Our new associate member this week is none other than our Archuleta School District 50 Joint superintendent Duane Noggle. We're delighted to have Duane join our ranks and thank Chamber board president, Mark DeVoti, for whatever persuasion tactics he used to convince Duane to join. We all know how convincing Mark can be, Duane.
Renewals this week include Clinton Scruggs with Certified Folder Display Service, Inc., Castle Rock; Dustin Dunaway with the Lone Star Cattle Company; Jeff Greer with Summit Ski and Sports; Pat Stokes with the Methodist Church Thrift Shop; Nita at Point of View Eye Care; Kim Smith Flowers with the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, Chama, N.M.; Michelle Schutz with Pagosa Spring Enterprises, Inc.; Patti Renner with Nature's Creations; A.J. and Lana Schlegel with Schlegel Bilt Homes; Steve Scearce with Homes and Land of SW Colorado, Durango; Barbara Drane with Impact Printing and Graphics; Jamie Sharp with FireFly Ranch; Alice Chavez with the U.S. Forest Service; John Eustis with the Pagosa Veterinary Clinic; Pat Myers with the Durango Credit and Collection Company, Durango; Debbie Candelaria with the Pagosa Pet Parlor and Palace; Betty Delaney with Unique Mountain Log Homes, LLC; Bill Hudgins with Sunetha Property Management and Cheryl Guthrie with Mountain Landing.
Our associate member renewals this week include Jerry Dermody who joins as a Real Estate Associate with Land Properties, and Pat and Marion Francis. We're happy to welcome Pat and Marion back to Pagosa after their long and lovely vacation. Welcome back, kids.
Seniors urged to attend town election forum
The League of Women Voters will conduct an election forum for voters in the town of Pagosa Springs at 7 p.m. March 26 at Town Hall. Attendees can meet the candidates at 6:30 p.m. Candidates for mayor and town trustee will discuss their agendas and answer questions from audience members.
This is wonderful opportunity for seniors, as well as other town residents and business owners, to listen to the candidates and learn about their plans for the future of the town, so we can vote wisely.
At 7 p.m. next Thursday, March 28, at Pagosa Springs High School, Archuleta Senior Citizens Inc. will present a benefit concert to raise funds for maintenance of our facility as well as to aid seniors needing transportation and other assistance. The concert will feature cellist Philip Hansen with pianist Eleanor Elkins.
Tickets may be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce, WolfTracks, Moonlight Books and at the Senior Center for $10 each, with a rate of $30 for families. This is a rare opportunity to enjoy beautiful music, so we hope everyone will plan to attend. You can tune in to KWUF AM at 8 a.m. March 27 for a preview of the beautiful music.
Dave Jeffries is our Senior of the Week. Congratulations Dave. We appreciate your faithful attendance and enjoy visiting with you.
A big thank you to the youth and adults from Grace Thru Faith Fellowship of Dumas, Texas, who stopped by last week and entertained us with beautiful music and served our meal. The children from Head Start even joined us for the music, and some helped sing. We are indeed privileged to have had the opportunity to interact with young people several times lately.
We appreciate April Merrillee and Anna O'Reilly who demonstrated breathing and self-massage techniques for relaxation. Thanks, ladies.
Friday we all became Irish. There was a dandy array of hats, funny and pretty, and everyone was wearing their green. The St. Patrick's Day party was a lot of fun and we appreciate everyone taking part. We started decorating the Easter Tree; everyone needs to pick up an egg and apply their personal touches before hanging it on the tree.
We were happy to have several folks join us this week. Welcome to Adam Ray, Regen Jones, Anna Mae Boston, David Moore, Joey Scopy, Jeremy Rivera, Ben Stullwitz, Bill Sause Jr. and Bill Sause Sr. We hope you all will join us again soon.
Board members of the Archuleta Senior Citizens Inc. should note that this month's meeting will be March 22, instead of the last Friday of the month, at Town Hall. Guests are welcome, so if anyone would like to join us, please do so.
Muriel Cronkhite has rescheduled her presentation on salt intake for March 25, weather permitting. This is important health information, so I hope we have a good attendance.
Musetta and Laura are diligently endeavoring to start a travel club for seniors. They hope the first trip will be to Branson, Mo., this fall. Anyone interested should contact them so they can determine whether or not there is enough interest to pursue it.
We wish a speedy recovery to Barbara Schulz who is recovering from medical problems.
A wonderful person has donated a nice microwave to our organization. Any member who is in need of a microwave should contact Laura or Musetta to have their name put into the pot - there will be a drawing soon to see who wins it.
The AARP is offering free income tax preparation of simple returns. Contact Musetta or Laura to make an appointment.
Other upcoming events include:
€ Friday - Jennie from Artemesia Botanicals will discuss how herbs can help heal the body
€ Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 to 11 a.m. - free swimming at Best Western (for members only)
€ Tuesday - yoga at 9:30 a.m. and art classes at 12:45 p.m.
€ Wednesday - card games at 1 p.m. and a matinee show at Liberty Theatre for seniors at $3. Call 264-4578 to let them know how many will be attending
€ March 28 - A Durango shopping trip is scheduled. We must have 10 folks in order for this trip to go so please sign up at the Center if you are interested.
Plenty of sums - and a red hammer
I have to share this with you.
"This" is a test that arrived via the internet, from an e-mail friend. One of those tests that whizzes around through cyberspace, far faster than a space ship orbiting the earth.
It started like this. (Go ahead, take your time. Read it to a friend, if you like.)
"Check this one out!
Just answer these questions as quickly as possible. Do Not jump ahead. Start at the first question and do them in order. You do not need to write the answers, just do it using your mind. You'll be overwhelmed by the result...
How much is:
I know! Calculations are hard work but this is the real thing!
... Come on, a few more ...
QUICK! THINK ABOUT A TOOL AND A COLOR!"
I am thinking ...
A bit more ...
Just a little further ...
"You have just thought about a red hammer, haven't you? If this is not the case you are among 2 percent of the people who have a 'different' or 'abnormal' mind. Ninty-eight percent of the folks would answer a 'red hammer' while doing this exercise. If you do not believe this, pass it around and you'll see. (I'd love to know your result)"
That was the message. When you get it on e-mail, there's a lot of blank space. It takes a while to scroll down through the numbers. I actually started writing down the sums so I wouldn't forget. I thought that at the end we'd be asked to add the sums, or divide them by two, or say which was the biggest. Something like that.
When it came to thinking about a tool and a color, I had no problem. No dithering. Instant reaction. Hammer. Red.
Imagine my surprise to find out that my answers put me in the majority. The 98 percent majority.
I immediately sent this around to a few friends, including Hotshot, sitting at his own computer. A little later I heard, "That's amazing!" And I knew just what he was referring to.
And then the answers started coming in from friends. Hammer, red, was indeed the big winner. But nothing like 98 percent. Maybe 50 percent.
What started me keeping a tally was the reply from a mathematician friend, who said, "Being an amateur statistical guy, I find your 2 percent statistic somewhat arbitrary. I'd like to hear from you after you've completed your little red hammer study."
He said the 2 percent statistic is a bit like "Every Tom, Dick and Harry's name is John." I guess that means it's impossible.
Hammer was the most popular tool. There were also three wrenches, three saws, and a few screwdrivers.
And these were colorful tools. Besides red hammers, we had green hammers and blue hammers, green wrenches, blue screwdrivers, blue hammers, a blue shovel, and a yellow rake.
Even people who don't like the color red, picked red. Someone, who told me that he had thought of a green hammer, went on to say, "I really did think green, because it's my favorite color. My first impulse, however, was red." I appreciate that he likes green better, but his response got listed in the hammer, red, category.
The most unusual response was this terse reply, "tool: drill; color: black," from a very literal friend who had just finished actually building something large out of wood. The appropriate tools must have been on her mind.
With three exceptions, everyone thought of hammers, saws, wrenches, screwdrivers. There were no pens and pencils, no kitchen knives, no surgeon's scalpel. We were almost all thinking of those very basic tools, the kinds we learned about when we were toddlers.
Why a hammer? Why red?
Two people said they were searching, consciously or not, for the brightest colors that they could think of, after that non-colorful drone of numbers. I agree. Slogging thru that list of numbers somehow numbs your brain so that you can't think of anything original.
One friend found it frustrating as all get-out. But then, she is not a numbers person. She said, "I think the reason people get the red hammer is that they get angry that the bloody thing goes on and on without seeming to make any sense. The red is aggression and the hammer is to clobber the screen."
Another friend agreed, saying, "Obviously it has something to do with the way our brains work. Or else, given enough math anxiety, we all wish to whack something!"
Someone raised the gender question. "I would be curious to know whether the hammer choice is more male and whether women may choose an alternative tool?" Based on my limited, non-scientific, survey, this was not a factor.
The hammer is probably the first tool we all learned about as children, as we pounded those bright wooden or plastic pegs through the holes in the little workbench.
And finally, some of us liked being in the majority, and others did not. At first, I felt bummed that I got a red hammer, like 98 percent of the people. I wrote this to a friend, who replied, "I had a bit of that bummed feeling too, but on second thought, find it reassuring to be 'normal.'"
People who didn't think of red hammers said things like this: "I guess I'm one of the abnormal ones, but I came close. My association after all that addition was a red screwdriver."
Or, "I knew it! I'm in the 2 percent of abnormal people who did not think of a red hammer - That explains a lot ... "
Or, "Ha, I did it all, and my answer was 'hoe, and blue!'" So glad to know that I am in the rare 2 percent."
They weren't all smug. I also got this query. "Have been worrying for days about the blue shovel I picked instead of a red hammer! Any advice?" Not a bit. I do think the 98 percent is bogus, that it's a gimmick to get our interest. If that's the case, it's worked. This has really intrigued my friends.
And I know they've passed it around, because finally I got an e-mail from a person I don't know, in a town I've never been to. She wrote, "This is really strange, because I had come up with red hammer and then there it was at the bottom. Kinda scares you when it comes out that way. How does it happen, you wonder."
Yep, Debbie, you wonder.
Ice not safe on Pagosa lakes; Keep off
It seems that springtime has come a little earlier than normal this year and ice conditions on the four lakes in the Pagosa Lakes area are fast becoming unsafe. Please refrain from ice fishing and other recreational activities on the frozen surfaces of the lakes until next winter.
Also, please keep an eye out for children who may wander out on the ice, or pets that find their way onto the lakes this spring. If you do notice anything, please call the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association at 731-5636 or central dispatch at 264-2131 to notify someone.
The Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association will be stocking the lakes in April with several thousand pounds of rainbow, cutbow and brown trout as well as large mouth bass and crappie. Fishing should be outstanding this spring. Annual, weekly and daily 2002 permits are available at the recreation center or at the PLPOA administration office. The association will also be sponsoring the annual Kid's Fishing Derby in June, so be on the lookout for date and time announcements.
Kinder Morgan Inc., the natural gas distribution company, is trying to bring natural gas to residents and businesses within Pagosa Lakes on a route from Lakeside Drive extending north along North Pagosa Boulevard approximately two miles. At the intersection of North Lake Avenue, it will extend east along the avenue. At the intersection of North Pagosa and Antelope Avenue, the company will extend a line west to serve the Lake Forest subdivision. This project would mean installing a low-pressure pipeline within private and/or county roadway easements along the route.
In addition, distribution lines could be installed next to the streets within the Lake Forest and North Lake subdivisions to connect with yard lines that would terminate at a meter set at the owner's lot line. However, before the firm can start building the system, commitments from existing homeowners and lot owners along the intended route must be secured. A survey was recently mailed out to property owners within the area of the proposed work. If you would like to have natural gas available to your property, you need to indicate so on the survey. Questions related to the proposed project can be addressed to Anthony Rivera at 264-2193.
Last year, during the annual Porpoise Swimathon, swimmers from the Pagosa Lakes Swim Club logged over 71 miles in the pool. The youngsters had a great deal of support from parents, relatives and friends who cheered them on. This year, the Swimathon is scheduled for April 4, from 4-6 p.m. You can give these youngsters a good reason to swim many laps by pledging a certain amount of money per length. Each swimmer can swim up to a maximum 200 lengths, approximately three miles. Last year, most of the older swimmers - 10 and older - completed the maximum three miles. The young ones will normally complete a lesser distance.
So, if you are approached for support, give these children a pledge. It's a special kind of youngster to watch the line at the bottom of each lane, length after length, hour after hour, and day after day. Go Porpoises.
Type-O blood is still in short supply
United Blood Services is making a plea for donations - particularly type O-positive and negative.
The shelf-life of blood is 42 days. When the supply gets low, particularly during winter months and holidays, a plea has to go out. People have to know that blood is needed. Keeping enough blood on the shelf is a balancing act.
United Blood Services has strict requirements. Of course not everyone is eligible to give blood because of medical reasons or age, but it's a humane and maybe even a patriotic thing to do, to give blood.
United Blood Services comes to Pagosa on the fourth Thursday of the month, alternating a temporary headquarters at either Community United Methodist Church or Mountain Heights Baptist Church, and then there is an occasional extra collection date and place and so on.
April 1, the drive will be at Pine Ridge Extended Care Center.
The Pagosa Springs Blades completed an undefeated season of nine games and topped off the season beating Cortez 8-4 in the Durango Hockey League's Division II competition held March 11 in Durango. Durango's league has recreational and competitive divisions. The Blades play for fun and have fun.
The ice rink in Durango is covered and the refrigeration there keeps the ice solid.
Curt Johnson is the goalie and had nine wins this season. Bill Anderson is the coach and is a player. Other team members are Jean Lindburg, Tim Decker, Mark Brown, Rick Jewell, Jack Ellis, Andrew Harden, Randy Blue, Sean McMullan, Todd Peligrino, Andrew Jones, Greg Sykes, Wayne Wright, Giuseppe Margiotta, John Piccaro, Robbie Johnson, Jay Harrington and Tom Cokey.
The annual 9HealthFair will be held at Pagosa Springs High School April 6 starting at 8 a.m. The costs for tests are $30 for the blood test, $25 for the prostate test and $5 for the colon-rectal test. If you plan to take the blood test, fast for 12 hours beforehand. But, if you are diabetic, don't fast. Continue to take all medications and drink lots of water. This year the Kiwanis Club will serve breakfast for a fee so that those taking the blood test can then enjoy the rest of the health fair on the spot and not have to go out for food and then return. This will be an addition to the fair.
The annual rummage sale sponsored by the Pagosa Springs Arts Council is coming up April 27 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Joanne Haliday will be accepting donations at the Pagosa Arts Council Gallery in Town Park between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. April 23 and 24.
$1,500 deductible proposal in VA budget
Budget proposals for Veterans Affairs are being considered right now by the U.S. Congress, which could greatly impact many areas of VA benefits in the coming years. One very important benefit to many of our Archuleta County veterans is proposed changes in VA Health Care.
This year's budget request allocates $25.5 billion for its health care system, a figure that includes nearly $1.5 billion collected from third-party health insurance and co-payment from veterans.
Far down in the proposed VA Health Care budget are some funding items that could greatly affect many of us. According to VA officials, VA welcomes and strives to provide care to all veterans. But VA's primary responsibility is to service-connected and low-income veterans. As such, the budget proposes a policy change that would establish a $1,500 yearly deductible for higher income, nonservice-connected veterans.
It has only been in the past few years that VA Health Care was opened to almost all veterans with honorable discharge, active military duty, and all income levels. Previously it had some limitations toward its primary responsibilities as just mentioned. With that change, VA Health Care has seen a huge increase in the number of veterans enrolling with no service-connected disabilities and normal financial resources. Veterans in this latter group normally fall into the low Priority Level 7 health care category and as such, pay "co-pay" for their VA Health Care medical benefits.
The proposed $1,500 standard deductible would not be paid up front and veterans' insurance may cover all charges. Veterans' insurance companies will be billed for medical services at the rate of 45 percent of VA's "reasonable charges" each time they receive medical care until they reach the $1,500 annual ceiling for out-of-pocket expenses. Medication co-payments will not count toward the deductible and will be charged at the existing rate of $7 for each 30-day prescription. After the $1,500 ceiling is reached, veterans would pay the normal co-payments charged for outpatient and inpatient care.
This initiative denies care to no one. It does ask those veterans who have the means and who incurred no disabilities on active duty, to pay a larger portion of their health care, according to VA officials.
The bottom line in this budget proposal seems to be: If you do not have a service-connected disability rating, and are of normal financial means, you may have to pay a $1,500 deductible for your VA health care. Remember, "co-pay" means you and another party pay for the expense, usually the VA itself or any health care insurance provider the veteran may have. The good news is if you have health care insurance, they will probably pay for the deductible. The bad news is if you do not have health care insurance, you will be responsible for paying the deductible out of your own pocket, if you are in the lowest priority category level.
The VA Health Care program would still be a bargain even at the new co-pay rates. Individual Health Care Insurance can often cost several times this $1,500 deductible, and is continually going up. The continued prescription drug program at $7 per 30-day supply under these new proposals, could very well offset the $1,500 deductible costs, considering many veterans do not have any medication benefits and are often paying hundreds of dollars a month for their prescriptions. Currently Social Security and Medicare do not provide any help with prescription drugs.
For information on these and other veterans' benefits call or stop by the Veterans Service Office located on the lower floor of the county courthouse. Active Internet website for Archuleta County Veterans Service Office can be found at www.geocities.com/vso_archuleta. The office number is 264-2304, the fax number is 264-5949, and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is open from 8 to 4 Monday through Thursday, and Friday by appointment. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for registration with the county, application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.
Peace, security in relation with Lord
"I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a child quieted at its mother's breast, like a child that is quieted by my soul." (Psalm 131).
What a beautiful picture of peace and serenity!
Numerous works of art have depicted this tender scene. How often my own soul longs for such a time of tranquility. I am sure that it does not take a work of art to stir such feelings in the depth of your own being.
All of us, from time to time, yearn for such a moment. We fantasize about being on some faraway South Pacific island or in a snowbound cabin on a mountainside, surrounded by peace and quiet, no one to bother us, no worries or cares to disturb our moment in Eden.
But this moment does not come very often, especially in real life. The pressures of life around us, the innumerable responsibilities that each of us has, the demands of our family, our friends, our job - you have your own list, I am sure - require our attention, our energy, our time.
All one has to do is think of April 15 and tax time to lose one's sense of peace and quiet. Pressure: We are all subject to it.
Quite often the pressure is not from external forces, over which we may not have any control, but from disquieting thoughts within us. Anxieties about our future, decisions which we must make now that we believe will affect our tomorrows can rob us of a sense of well-being. Our future is out of control but we can worry about what might happen anyway.
Our daughter's older son, just barely more than a child by her accounting, is being shipped out to Afghanistan this summer. Stress! Anxiety! There is that feeling of helplessness that aggravates our worry and robs us of what serenity of soul we have. Oh, for that desert island - for just a week.
The psalmist writes: "O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest, yea, I would wander afar, I would lodge in the wilderness, I would hurry to find me a shelter from the raging wind and tempest." (Who says the Old Testament is out of date?)
Sometimes my loss of peace and security is because I put off my worries, cares and my sense of helplessness to a more convenient time. "I'll cry tomorrow." As all of us know, this delay is rarely helpful. The problem, the decision is still before us.
But this time of deep bliss described by the psalmist or pictured in works of art has little to do with time and place; it is the result of a relation, just like mother and child. Peace and security are found in my relation with my Lord.
St. Paul, who experienced as much stress as any of us, wrote, "I am able to do all things, through Christ who strengthens me ... I have learned to be content in all situations." Why worry about tomorrow, about an event or experience which may or may not happen with or without your input?
You have only ruined your joy and serenity today without affecting the future. Certainly, it is well to plan ahead while understanding that the best laid plans may go astray. But worry about it? Why? What was the Greyhound commercial; "Leave the driving to us?" Get on board, but don't worry about piloting the bus.
Peace and security which free me from energy-robbing anxiety and stress are not a matter of times and places, but of whom I am with, or better, who is with me. An infant and his/her mother are not always in the pose of peacefulness. As a "sheep" I find this quietness in being close to my shepherd, of knowing that he is near at hand, that I am never out of his sight.
There is not time or place apart from his presence, so peace and security surround me when I "quiet my soul." Actually, it is more accurate to affirm that because he is nearby, I am able to "quiet my soul."
Who is with you to gift you with this mother/child peace and security? This is not far away, you know. It is closer than you think. He is at hand.
Adult basketball tournament finals tonight
Adult basketball ends this evening with the finals played in both Competitive and Recreation leagues. Games will begin at 6:15 p.m. in the junior high school gymnasium. Do something different this evening, come down and watch some great basketball.
Last week's games in the Recreation League included American Legion over Tommy Shots 66-30, and JJ's/Pagosa Ski Rental over Viking Construction 44-21.
In the Competitive League, J.R.'s Concrete defeated Slim Shady 61-51 in the first game of a doubleheader. J.R.'s suffered its first loss of the season, 68-65, to Bear Creek, in the second game. Also in the Competitive League, it was Lucero Tire topping U.B.C. 57-30.
Tuesday's games saw Viking Construction downed by Wolf Speed 80-36, and Tommy Shots with a surprise 39-36 victory over Ponderosa.
In the Competitive League, U.B.C. got the best of Slim Shady 68-54, and J.R.'s Construction absorbed a second loss of the season, falling to Bear Creek 85-72.
In the Recreation League Wednesday JJ's/Pagosa Ski Rental defeated Citizen's Bank 41-37. Ponderosa got its act together and downed American Legion 64-37, a surprising loss for the team with the league's best record. In the Competitive League, Lucero Tire defeated Buckskin 64-49, and Bear Creek rolled over Slim Shady with a barrage of 3-pointers, 89-71.
The first round of tournament play took place last Thursday with a Recreation League game between Citizen's Bank and Wolf Speed. Wolf Speed started the game one player short and at the end of regulation the score was tied. The first overtime period proved to be a defensive struggle, leading to a second overtime. In the end it was a four-on-three game due to a player fouling out, but Citizen's got the best of Wolf Speed, holding on for a 49-47 victory.
In another rec league tournament game, Ponderosa cruised to a 62-32 victory over Viking Construction.
One Competitive League game was played, with Lucero Tire besting U.B.C. 72-60.
The recreation department will sponsor open-gym volleyball and indoor soccer games starting the week after spring break. This program will run April 1-May 2. Volleyball will be played Monday and Wednesday evenings, 6:30 to 8:30. Adult indoor soccer will be held Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 7:30 to 8:30. Youth indoor soccer, ages 6-14, will be held Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 7:30.
Formal teams and schedules will not be created; teams will be made up prior to start times each night. Cost will be $10 for youth and $15 for adults. If you are interested, show up at the junior high gymnasium, pay your fee and play. For more information about this and other programs, please call the recreation department at 264-4151, Ext. 232.
Baseball season is coming up quick. If you are interested in competing in this league contact Len Richey in the evenings at 264-4530.
Seed potato orders now being taken
Today - Cloverbuds, Methodist Church, 4 p.m.
Today - 4-H Oil Painting, Extension office, 4:30 p.m.
Today - 4-H Small Engines, Extension office, 6:30 p.m.
Friday - 4-H Ceramics, Extension office, 2 p.m.
Friday - 4-H Sports Fishing, Extension office, 2 p.m.
March 25 - 4-H Woodworking, Extension office, 4 p.m.
March 25 - 4-H Shooting Sports, Extension office, 6 p.m.
March 26 - 4-H Electricity, Extension office, 6:30 p.m.
The La Plata/Archuleta County Cattlemen's Association membership drive is set for tomorrow at the Extension Building on U.S. 84. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. with a continental breakfast. Guest Speaker for the meeting will be Terry Fankhouser from Denver.
The Archuleta County Extension Office is now taking orders for seed potatoes. There are two kinds available: the Sangre (red potato) and the Russet Nugget (white potato). Currently we are charging 30 cents per pound for both species. Those of you who are just starting out and are experimenting, it is our suggestion that you order 2-3 pounds of each species instead of ordering a whole lot of them. This way you can experiment and see if you like them and then order more next year. When orders arrive at the Extension Office each person will be contacted to pick up their order. If you are interested in ordering seed potatoes please call 264-2388 or stop by the Extension Office.
Chronic wasting disease
The Colorado Department of Agriculture has completed its efforts to eradicate chronic wasting disease in Colorado's domestic elk herds.
Test results on the first 542 animals have been completed with two animals testing positive for the disease. Both animals were among the 337 elk in Del Norte. None of the 205 animals at the Cowdery facility tested positive.
"We expected a low number of the animals to have the disease, so this isn't a surprise," said Wayne Cunningham, state veterinarian at the Colorado Department of Agriculture. "We can all breath a little easier because we've stopped the spread of the disease to the wild."
Last week, state and federal officials completed the process of depopulating about 1,500 elk at nine facilities in the state which began Feb. 8. Testing for the disease is required of all domestic elk mortalities in Colorado. Since there is no reliable live test for the disease on elk, the animals are killed, so samples of their brains can be taken for the test.
During the depopulation, the state used an air curtain incinerator to burn the carcasses and inactivate the chronic wasting disease prion, which classifies the disease in the family of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The mobile incinerator helped process the remains, leaving about a 2-percent residue
In Colorado, disease testing has been required of all domestic elk deaths for nearly four years. The Colorado Department of Agriculture was the first state to require mandatory surveillance of domestic elk herds. In addition during the past six years, Colorado elk ranchers have been required to identify and inventory all domestic elk.
Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease that attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose bodily functions and die. At this time, there is no evidence that the disease is a risk to human health.
272 of 323 LEAP applications approved
Have you ever used the phrase, "Take a leap?" Often this phrase is used to indicate that we want another person to leave, to get away from us. The word leap by itself can be interpreted as jumping, soaring, flying, or even hurdling.
LEAP also stands for the Low Energy Assistance Program. This program is designed to assist low-income households with heating costs. It is a federally funded program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
If you live in Pagosa, then you soon learn what winter months can do to your pocketbook. It was shown in a statistic at the beginning of the winter months that many families will have to make a choice between heating their homes and buying groceries for their families.
What's even harder to believe is that this is happening despite an anticipated decrease for gas and propane prices this year.
Work is scarcer during the winter months. For many, it seems as if they're stealing from Peter to pay Paul most of the time because not enough money is coming into the household due to this lack of employment. I'm thankful the LEAP program can assist such families in our community. So far in Archuleta County there have been 323 applications turned in and 272 of those applications have been approved for assistance.
I must note that this assistance does not pay for all household heating costs.
Each LEAP application is processed by household size versus monthly income. Income guidelines for consideration are as follows: family of one- $1,324; family of two - $1,790; three - $2,255; four - $2,271; five - $3,187; six - $3,625; seven - $4,118; eight- $4,583.
There are a few other requirements for LEAP. You must pay heating costs to a utility or fuel supplier, or have your heating costs included in your rent. You are required to show proof of this with your application.
LEAP benefits for 2001-02 are at a minimum of $120 and at a maximum of $700.
The Archuleta County Department of Social Services has been accepting applications since last November. The department will continue to take applications through April 30.
If you have questions regarding LEAP, contact Social Services by calling 264-2182. If you have any after-hour questions, LEAP has a 24-hour hotline available with English and Spanish-speaking customer services representatives. The hotline number is (866) 328-4357.
Gallery closed to exhibits until April 16
Pagosa Springs Arts Council Gallery in Town Park will be closed March 15-April 15.
This year's summer exhibit season will begin April 16 and extend through Oct. 31. Our new hours will be Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Each exhibit will run three weeks.
The first show will be Charla Ellis' high school art class exhibit, opening May 2. This impressive exhibit will be on display through May 22. Our traditional reception will be held opening day from 5 - 7 p.m. Complimentary refreshments will be served and all are welcome.
The PSAC will be offering one last stained glass workshop March 30 from 1-5 p.m. The instructor will be Carl Nevitt. Beginner students will learn the basics of stained glass and will complete a stained glass project. Intermediate level students will share the same class. All materials and tools will be available for participants. If this workshop appeals to you or if you have any questions, call Carl at 731-5374, Jennifer at 731-3113, or the PSAC Gallery at 264-5020 as soon as possible because space is limited. Preregistration and payment are required to reserve a place in this fun workshop.
Denny Rose a.k.a. Carol Fulenwider, will instruct two watercolor classes. The first is a beginning watercolor workshop for adults. This class will be held Saturday, March 23 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Kraftin' Post, Etc. located at 2083 E. U.S. 160. Call 264-4192 or stop by to preregister, and be sure to get a materials list.
The second workshop, "painting winter," will deal with advanced techniques. This workshop will be held April 13 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the gallery in Town Park. If you wish, you an bring a sack lunch; there will be a 30-minute break for lunch. Students will receive a special material list after preregistration and payment. Space is limited and preregistration is required, so call 264-5020 or Jennifer at 731-3113 for more information.
A special new artistic event called the "Chair Event" will be part of Pagosa's American Cancer Society's biggest fund-raiser, the Relay for Life. The big event will be held in Town Park from 6 p.m. June 21 to 9 a.m. June 22 . Our special "Chair Event", which is being coordinated by P.R. Bain, will consist of wooden chairs and/or small wooden furniture items, to be offered up for bids in a silent auction. Local artists are going to embellish the furniture with their artistic talents before the auction. If anyone can donate a wooden chair, etc., please call Paula at 731-1009.
If you are into an early spring cleaning this year, please start saving your miscellaneous items plus furniture for our annual garage sale. The sale will be held April 27 in Town Park from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Merchandise drop-off days will be April 16-20 from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. If you need help transporting items to the gallery, call Joanne at 264-5020. We will pick them up for you.
The Pagosa Pretenders Family Theatre - a division of the PSAC - presented their version of "Sleeping Beauty." Four awesome performances took place at the Pagosa Springs High School Auditorium. Congratulations to the San Juan Ballet for its darling performance of a version of "Sleeping Beauty." The dancers were Leslie Baughman, Emma Donhare, Daisy Jones, Kimberly Fulmer, and Hayley Hudson.
The Petroglyph, our quarterly newsletter, is in need of a layout person. We are also looking for businesses interested in sponsoring the newsletter. In return we will insert a flyer into the center of the newsletter as well as a public thank you in the Arts Line column and the Petroglyph. Interested businesses should contact Jennifer at 731-3113 or Joanne at 264-5020.
Listen for up-to-date PSAC information on our local radio station KWUF. On the second Thursday of every month, from 8:05 - 8:35 a.m., you will hear arts council interviews and the latest information concerning events and fund-raisers.
We would like to thank Nancy Green for lending all her creative talents to our PSAC scrapbook project. Thanks also go to Marguerite at Mountain Greenery for supplying the beautiful floral arrangements for each our open house receptions. We look forward to seeing what she has in store for us this year.
If anyone has Pagosa Springs art-related information we can use for the Arts Line column, please call Joanne at the gallery. Winter office hours are 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. For information, phone 264-5020 or check out the Web site www.PagosaArts.org.
Our male volunteers can't be forgotten
I want to thank Tess Noel Baker for her article about the library volunteers in last week's SUN. Her coverage was excellent.
But, I was remiss in not telling her more about our many gentlemen volunteers. I don't want them to be forgotten: Frank Martinez, Barry Thomas, Dave Krueger, Bill Hallett, Dick Hillyer, Dick Van Fossen, Warren Grams, Don Geiger, Glenn Raby, John Steinert, Jack Ellis, Jim Denvir, Gil and David Bright and Red Iverson have all been involved with various library activities. Volunteer firefighters have also given many hours of assistance with our activities. It's been a family affair and I count the last 19 years as the most rewarding of my life given the opportunity to work with such great people who share so much of their time.
Mo Covell, library volunteer trainer, brought us the latest issue of Best Friends Magazine that mentions Slugger, her cat. It seems that several cat owners are trying to claim their cats have the most number of toes in order to get in the Guinness Book of World Records. So far the magazine has pictures of 26-,25-, and 24-toed cats along with our Pagosa entry, Slugger who has 21. He looks quite elegant in his magazine debut. Would anyone like to challenge Mo and Slugger here in Pagosa? We have a copy of the article if you'd like to see these polydactyl kitties.
Caring for treasures
We have two handouts from the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works: Caring for your ceramics and glass objects, and Caring for your books. These are from the experts and have excellent advice on the subjects.
The man Osama bin Laden emulates came to study at the college in Greeley, in 1948. Sayyid Qutb is a long dead Egyptian fundamentalist scholar who was appalled at what he found in Greeley. He was shocked at the freedom men allowed their women. He described the many churches in Greeley as "entertainment centers and sexual playgrounds," and he was especially disgusted at the many beautiful green lawns. After his exposure to western civilization in Greeley, he knew he hated it. Qutb's writing also inspired both the Taliban and al Qaida. He eventually was hanged for his part in attempting to assassinate Nasser in Egypt. I have a handout on Qutb and his beliefs about women for anyone interested.
Ann Seale, chairman of the Youth Essay Contest for the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW brought in Rachel Hansen's winning essay on freedom. Congratulations to Rachel who won first place at the district level.
Please ask for a copy of Rachel's thoughtful essay, "Is Freedom Really Free?" Mr. Qutb would not appreciate Rachel's point of view.
I enjoyed having lunch at the Senior Center last week and talking to the members about the books on tape that are available to anyone who cannot hold or read a book because of physical limitations. Please remember that we can help anyone with this problem. Ask about it at the desk. This is a different program than the regular audiotapes we have at the library. The government will provide you with a special tape recorder and will send your choice of books through the mail directly to you. All free of charge. It's a great program - just another one Qutb wouldn't like.
Thanks for materials from Sabine Baeckmann-Elge, Ann Dancer and Sudeep Biddle, Peggy Shipman, and June Geisen.
Scott Miller owns and operates All Clean Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning. Miller is an IICRC certified technician, has worked in Pagosa for six years, and recently opened his own business.
All Clean provides residential and commercial carpet and upholstery cleaning service and specializes in oriental rug cleaning and flood damage.
Service is available from All Clean around the clock, seven days a week. Call Miller at 264-2722.
Lisa Mitchum, a senior general business major from Pagosa Springs, has been nominated for Student Employee of the Year at West Texas A&M University.
Mitchum is a student clerical assistant to Student Medical Services.
As WTAMU Student Employee of the Year, Mitchum will go on to a regional competition, according to Elise Copeland, coordinator of Student Employment Services.
All nominees will be recognized and the winner announced at an April 12 reception.
Allison: The beginning years
We've been talking about the birthing years of Allison, a small community in La Plata County straddling Colo. 151 just east of Arboles.
Why Allison, since it is not in Archuleta County? I've always felt history should be viewed according to its impact in time and space on the focus of the study. Political boundaries, such as county or state lines, are often immaterial. I can't imagine a comprehensive reconstruction of the history of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County without including the Allison-Tiffany areas, both located in La Plata County; Rosa, Dulce, Carracas, Amargo, Lumberton, even Chama, all located in New Mexico; the Upper Piedra, located in Hinsdale County; the West Fork of the San Juan, located in Mineral County; or the East Fork of the San Juan and Summitville, located in Mineral and Rio Grande Counties.
And so, we continue to look at the Allison area, the history of which certainly belongs with Pagosa Country history. We began with an interview with long-time Allison residents the Don Youngs, then continued with a history of Allison written by Georgeanna Etheridge and taken from "Pioneers of the San Juan Country, Vol. IV."
Georgeanna was born Georgeanna Crouse to Lulu and George Crouse who moved from Ohio to Pagosa Springs in 1908. The trip was made by covered wagon and included crossing Elwood Pass.
According to Georgeanna, Emmanual Luchini came to what was to become Allison from Brookside with his 9-year old son. Brookside was a Colorado coal mining community. Many Coloradans of Italian ancestry lived in the coal mining regions around Trinidad and Walsenburg.
Luchini bought the homestead of a discouraged settler, moving his family into a small, two-room cabin made of logs and topped with a dirt roof. When the house became too crowded, the boys slept in a tent. During rainy weather, the roof leaked. Lumber was scarce and expensive. The Luchini cabin was typical of many cabins in the area.
After sagebrush was grubbed from the land using hand tools and horses, crops such as potatoes, oats, and wheat were planted. The planters were at the mercy of the weather, because no irrigation was available at the time. That first crop was often crucial. Besides providing cash for family needs, the crops were necessary as food to get the family through the coming winter.
Before being called Allison, the community was known as Vallejo, or "wide valley." The name Allison probably came from that of a resident, but was not taken from the notorious Allison gang. The Allison gang plundered residents along the railroad from Pagosa Springs to Chama circa 1880-1881. Charley Allison was finally arrested and sentenced in Santa Fe.
The first church was a small wooden structure built near the Young store, according to Georgeanna. It was later moved to its present location on the hill and even later remodeled.
School was held in the church until the building currently lived in by the Simon family was erected. Miss Carrie Craig was the first teacher.
Clayton Babcock and Flora Glove were the first to marry in Allison, the nuptials taking place Oct. 23, 1906. A story connected with the wedding says it was conducted at the church. During the church fund-raising campaign, an ice cream social was being conducted under a huge tent. Just as the social began, word arrived that a long-awaited piano had arrived at the train depot. The D.W. Pollacks, who had ordered the piano, were joined by others from the community to accomplish the unloading. When they returned, they discovered the tent had blown down. Undaunted, they repitched the tent and moved ahead with the ceremony.
The Catholic Church, unused these past 40 years, was erected in 1920 or 1921. Prior to the churches being built, Catholics and Protestants met in the railroad section house.
Bert Newcomb was said to be the first of a long line of storekeepers. Another storekeeper was B.F. Thomas. Additional early merchants were Pierman, Briggs, Mrs. Dalton, and Lambie & Cook.
The Pine River Canal brought water to the area in 1906, but the supply was inadequate during early years. After Vallecito Reservoir was built, the water supply became substantial, agriculture expanded, and the area prospered.
Meanwhile, a few short miles from Allison the communities of Arboles and Rosa flourished - well, at least they existed, over a period of time. Both were probably settled before Allison was settled, but both probably owe their origins to the same source, the Denver & Rio Grande. The origins of both date to the time the railroad line was being built across that part of the country, the late 1870s and early 1880s.
More next week on the history of the Allison/Arboles area.
Parents push kids for vicarious thrills
Anyone who has ever worked a fire line and had to flee as trees suddenly ignited into a canopy of flame overhead can understand the worry among fire and Forest Service officials as spring replaces an unusually dry winter.
With, at least by the calendar, spring officially here and the snowpack in the San Juans at only 30 percent of the longtime average, there are legitimate worries that dryness will lead to more than usual forest fires this year.
At the same time, water users are being cautioned there likely will be shortages this summer, watering hours likely will be restricted again, and a violent conflagration in the fire protection district could deplete supplies dramatically.
Pagosa Country is known for its waterfalls, skiing and snowmobile trails, great fishing streams and vast opportunities for outdoor recreation.
We've had winters with snow pack measured in dozens of feet in the mountains but this was not one of them.
This year's winter was a throwback to those of the early 1940s when warm and dry southerly winds kept the area almost without snow cover.
I remember playing baseball in 60-degree weather on New Year's Day while others were listening to the Rose Bowl game on radio. (Television was not yet on the scene). I believe the year was 1944, but memory becomes vague after nearly 60 years.
Still, it was one of those years when there were no chokecherries to harvest along the country roads because the winter had been so dry. The lack of berries made the annual influx of bears one of the worst in memory and a much smaller Pagosa Springs had scores of wildlife sightings within town limits as animals looked for spring feed.
The spate of bear incidents throughout the area last year might not have happened in the year I'm recalling, because we had not yet built all these new homes in their habitat.
There were, as the year wore on, weekly reports of fire danger and fire sweeping through the timberlands. With World War II raging and most of the able-bodied young men of the area involved in action, few were left to fight the fires. Dense clouds of smoke could be seen at one time or another in every direction from town.
That was an era without all the growth which has come in recent years. We did not have home sites sold and structures built on lands featuring "adjacent to national forest." People who have constructed such homes could find themselves instantly in harm's way if a forest fire erupts near them. Dry timber burns rapidly and low water supply could mean a need for tankers to bring water from nearly dry streams to the site.
Farmers' hay fields were arrested by lack of moisture and in many instances, cattle were kept off grazing lands because there was no water for them. Wells went dry as the water table dropped and even the hot spring level was reported down over two feet from normal.
It was a year when one could walk across the San Juan without getting his feet wet. In fact, anyone with a good pucker could spit across the nearly dry stream by the end of July. Youngsters who regularly swam in Cotton Hole found it just a puddle with a few mud suckers struggling to find sustenance.
An area noted for water based activities today, Pagosa is geographically a high plains community, one where even the slightest continual wind variation from the norm can mean the difference between bountiful harvest and no harvest at all; between open highways and mounds of drifting snow hampering traffic but making skiers flock to the area.
Witness, for example, the current influx of Spring Breakers looking for the thrill of the slopes on Wolf Creek. Thankfully for them, there has been sufficient snow fall there to keep the runs open and filled.
But down the western valley, both East Fork and West Fork are well below normal levels for this time of year and hence, the San Juan in town is as low as most people can remember for the beginning of spring.
Most people are hoping for spring rains, not the thunderstorm torrents which can turn dried up ditches and arroyos into head-deep instruments of death, but long slow rains which have time to sink into the parched earth, to be drawn upon later by the crops we plant in fields and gardens.
If we don't get those rains, if summer arrives with the same degree of precipitation we had in winter, on heels of a similarly dry spring, look out for severe water shortages and fire threat.
And keep your fingers crossed that homes built beyond water lines, where wells are dry, are still there when finally we see respite, as we did 60 years ago.
The worst thing you can do to Brussels sprouts is overcook
I'm at the market the other day and I end up in Bill's checkout line.
I always have a nice, albeit brief conversation with Bill as he scans my items and this time, as he holds the clear plastic bag at eye level, a somewhat troubled look on his face, the topic is Brussels sprouts.
In the bag are ten or twelve of the little green beauties and I am looking forward to getting their cruciferous mass into the pot. Granted, the house retains an odd odor for a day or two, but I like those sprouts. I react to Brussels sprouts in a positive, welcoming way.
Bill, on the other hand, reacts in a puzzled manner, then indicates he sees no earthly reason for anyone to purchase, cook and consume these miniature cabbages. It is obvious, Bill's experience with this humble vegetable has been less than inviting. In that, he is not much different than most of his friends and neighbors.
According to Bill his misadventure with Brussels sprouts began in his university dorm cafeteria.
There was no need to describe the carnage that was no doubt levied on those poor vegetables by an unsophisticated and cruel kitchen staff - a staff accustomed to pulverizing cheap comestibles, abusing every food group, and reducing all to massa confusa over intense and prolonged heat. After all, the worst thing you can do to Brussels sprouts, or to cabbage for that matter, is to overcook it. It goes without saying, Bill's sprouts were overcooked by a crew of culinary cretins, then overcooked again, then left to overcook again in a steam table pan. For two to three days. Maybe longer. Until they took on the uniform blue-gray hue of all college cafeteria food.
I don't often indulge Ruskin's Pathetic Fallacy, but in this case, I will: It is hard to imagine how those sprouts suffered, painful to calculate their agony.
Many people have had a similar experience with sprouts, finding them powerful, bitter, icky.
That's the way I regarded them for many years. When I was growing up, they made a rare appearance on the table, preceded by their overpowering smell, swimming in an acrid liquid at the bottom of a bowl. This usually happened when my mom took a hand in the kitchen.
My mother was a tragically unskilled cook, like her mother before her. She took a perverse pride in the fact she mangled recipes, and made little or no effort to improve her ability, preferring instead to deliver the occasional disaster to the table and, if she was in the mood, to use her husband's and children's visceral, negative reactions as a launch pad for a frantic journey to a strange emotional universe. When my mom cooked, the meal was an excuse for a therapeutic experience. The sprouts were generally the better part of the meal.
Overcooking food was the key to my mother's kitchen technique and those degraded, barely coherent sprouts, emitting an odor equaled only by a serum plant, stood as her crest, the symbol of her determined lack of epicurean concern.
Suffice it to say, I was not a big fan of Brussels sprouts. If it wasn't for the evil my mom did to beef, those sprouts would have had even more power as an omen of psychic trouble.
Then, a couple of years ago, my attitude changed; I learned how to cook Brussels sprouts. Furthermore, I learned what foods they accompany best, and which foods should be kept at a discreet distance.
Bill's wife, Wynn, works in the deli at the store, and she caught me a couple of days after Bill and I had our chat. Apparently Brussels sprouts and my claim they were fit for human consumption became a topic of conversation at their house and Wynn asked how I cook the sprouts. I promised to share my limited knowledge.
Here it is.
Brussels sprouts are a winter vegetable, Brassica oleracea, a denizen of the root cellar, a traditional staple for hardy rural folk of northern European heritage accustomed to kneeling on the floors of sod huts and gnawing on moldy potatoes, turnips, parsnips and the like through the dimly lit winter months.
The sprouts should be bought fresh in the produce section from early fall to early spring; they should be firm and bright green, with few discolored leaves. I buy medium-size sprouts, avoiding the behemoths and the runts. Similar size, sprout to sprout, is important when cooking time is limited; all the items should cook at the same rate. Not a bad rule to follow in most food prep.
And, remember, we're not cooking these beauties very long.
I trim the nasty part of the stem end of each sprout. Some people swear by cutting a cross in the stem end prior to cooking. No need.
I pull off the loose leaves of the sprout, and any damaged leaves, then I plop the sprouts in gently boiling, lightly salted water.
I cook the sprouts for a few minutes, pulling them from the water and draining them well once a sharp knife pierces to the center of the vegetable with moderate resistance.
Then, I toss a clove of sliced garlic into a pan with melted butter, over medium heat. In go the sprouts and I saute them for a couple minutes taking care not to brown the garlic. Once the sprouts are in the serving dish, I add salt and pepper and a bit of fresh lemon juice. Got some slivered almonds? Throw 'em on.
Feeling daring? Instead of the melted butter, how about rendering a bit of diced bacon and using the drippings for the saute part of the process? It is delightful, ironic conjunction: the healthy little sprout blanketed with shiny pork fat. Pork fat with artificial smoke flavor (if you buy the cheap stuff) and a truckload of nitrites. Mmmmmm, progress.
Julia Child and Jacques Pepin co-wrote a book, "Cooking at Home." In it, the grand dame of American cooking proposes a method in which sprouts are simmered and partially cooked, braised in butter then baked in a 350 oven in a covered casserole for 20 minutes or so. She suggests two alternatives once the sprouts have baked for 10 minutes: the first to pour heavy cream into the casserole and finish the baking process; the second to take the sprouts from the casserole after 10 minutes, sprinkle the casserole with grated Swiss cheese, return the sprouts, sprinkling them with cheese, dot with butter, jack the oven temp up to 425 and return the casserole to the oven until the cheese browns.
Craig Claiborne, in his "New York Times Cookbook," recommends making a brown butter to which lemon juice is added before application to the sprouts. He also writes about a recipe in which the sprouts are simmered in chicken broth then seasoned with caraway. He was a stem gasher so I'm not sure I trust his advice.
James Beard gives brief notice to the sprouts, going the al dente, brown butter, lemon juice, garlic route - sometimes substituting a fruity olive oil for the butter and sometimes throwing in pine nuts or walnuts.
I think both these guys are dead. I'm sure both manned the trencher to the end.
I'm convinced, though they lived to a ripe age, both could have made it a bit farther with the bacon/sprout combo.
And a smelly house.